About how long might it take to learn basic Korean?

Enough to at least "make it" in Korea if I was, say, stranded in a small-town-non-english area? I know how hard of a question this is to answer, but it's not really an easy question to ask either.

I've studied Japanese for a few months and have a pretty basic, yet solid foundation on the language, and Id like the same with Korean. Japanese was not too-too difficult, I caught on pretty quickly.

7 Answers

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    It's not easy to learn Korean, but it's easier than Chinese or Japanese. The Korean language is like a puzzle, You have the two assortments of letters. The "consonants" ㄱㄴㄷ... etc. and "vowels" ㅏㅓㅗ...etc. The Korean language is the combining of letters that make up words. Once you get the basics, it'll be easy.

    Consonants all sound the same, and vowels all sound the same. For example, ㄱ is the sound "G" as in "Get" sound. And ㅏ is the "Ah" sound. Add them and you get 가, which is pronounced "Gah".

    More complex, are the bottom consonants. But it's similar to the normal consonants, you'll get it easily. Those guys look like 각, or adding another ㄱ or ㄲ under the normal letter. It's just 가 (Gah) + ㄱ(G). Which is 각 (Gaak). More complex will be ones like 값, which is a bit hard.

    So in conclusion, as soon as you get the basics in Korean, you'll have no trouble with it. The question is, how long does that take? My friends got to that point in a few months.

    Man, I feel like I rambled on for too long :D

    Source(s): Being Korean, having friends who learned Korean.
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  • 4 years ago

    Learn Basic Korean

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  • Anonymous
    4 years ago


    Source(s): Get Better in Chinese Language http://enle.info/LearnChinese
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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    If you've picked up some Japanese, Korean will probably feel a little easier.

    The biggest question is what level you're trying to achieve - functional, conversational, proficient, etc. You can learn to read hangeul in a matter of hours; building up speed will take practice, but it's not difficult.

    As for learning Korean, vocab and sentence structure will take more time - again, it depends on what you're going for. To answer your question, I'd plan on three months to get functional, six months (of serious studying) to get conversational, and more to get proficient.

    Best of luck :) Chris in South Korea

    Source(s): Living in Korea - my website (chrisinsouthkorea.com)
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  • 9 years ago

    That completely depends on your dedication and what your definition of "make-it". I have friends that learned Korean and are living in Korea with very functional language skills after a year and a half of rigorous study (40+ hours of study a week). They could easily go into a business meeting and be able to conduct themselves and communicate in an intelligent manner. But if by make it you mean be able to go into a restaurant and order dinner you could probably get that down with a couple months of study on a language learning program.

    Source(s): Linguist
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  • 9 years ago

    Some people are just naturally faster at learning languages than others for whatever reason. i know people who have diligently studied languages for years and can barely handle the basics. then you hear about people who can learn any number of languages with no problems.

    I also think that if you are in a situation where you HAVE to learn a language, then you will be able to learn it quickly. a person living in Korea will probably be able to learn Korean faster than someone living in, let's say, Kansas, as long as you actually move outside of the english speaking foreigner circle and actually talk to people who either can't or won't speak english with you.

    It depends on a lot of things, too. How similar the language is to your native tongue, how many languages you've already learned, your affinity for language learning. I achieved Japanese fluency in two years, and passed their hardest proficiency test (JLPT1) in only one year. If you ask me, the best thing you can do when learning a language as different from your native tongue as Korean is to study and practice a lot. Memorizing the vocabulary just flat takes time, but grammar, word choice, and syntax can be learned as fast as you study and practice, and those are what are fundamental to fluency. It's why it's so much easier for an American to learn and start speaking Spanish than Japanese - both require new vocabulary, but Japanese (which is like Korean with different words) requires utterly different grammar, word choice, and syntax.

    Also, to a certain degree, time is a tool. I think the seven-year rule comes from two ELL studies that showed that it took 6.5 years for college-level non-natives to achieve native-level vocabulary (~20,000 words). I also think that you can only study so much vocabulary a day before your efficacy starts to decrease, at least in my experience. However, there are also hardcore 8-week immersion courses that are designed to improve your competency stupid-fast. And they do it by utterly surrounding students in the language - they study a bunch of different things (so your mind doesn't lock up) and present material in a lot of different contexts (the average student has to see a word or grammar construct 7 times before he's able to use it effectively, the average AP student 2-3).

    And if you ask the US government, it's not a question of years. It's a question of weeks. They train their soldiers to functioning fluency (which would if anything only leave out vocabulary) in Korean in 60 weeks, 4-5 class hours and 2-3 class-prep hours a day.

    So based on this and my experience, I'd say it ultimately depends on you, but also that time is exponentially valuable. If you are college-level and study for 2-3 hours a day, it may take 7 years. Yet if you study 8-12 hours a day, you can reach amazing levels in a couple months. Or, if you're just army-level with an affinity for language, you can achieve fluency in about a year. But you have to know yourself because not everyone has the mental endurance to devote that much time to studying something. If it's just 8 weeks, and the person does it during a home-stay program, he may have the stress-relief available to study 12 hours a day. But realize that at some point, everyone burns out and becomes less effective at learning. Once you know where your point is, you know how to effectively utilize your time, and you know from where to start working on your mental endurance.

    So all of that to say, I don't really know how to answer your question. There's no way to judge "fluency" or how long it will take you to get there, since everyone is different. But keep studying, and keep going, and you will get there. Especially if you can find a situation where you NEED to use Korean, even if it's just finding someone online to chat with that can't or won't speak English with you.

    Hope I helped

    Source(s): Expert in Korean Language
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  • Anonymous
    6 years ago

    These days you can learn how to speak Korean over the internet. Check out this online course, it's voted as the best Korean online course of all time: http://www.rocketlearner.com/korean The course is very easy to follow, I was able to learn Korean in just 3 months.

    I live in New York City, I wanted to go to a Korean language teacher but that would have cost me over $800 per month. Good thing with this internet, $800 it's a lot of money for me.

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