For native English speakers, Korean can be a challenging language to adopt later in life. Unlike the Spanish or French languages, which often feel more intuitive to English speakers, Korean is challenging precisely because it shares neither alphabet nor origin with the Romance languages. Korean is written in Hangul, and requires English speakers to navigate an entirely new character writing system. Luckily, learning to read Korean can be done within a couple hours with the help of an experienced Korean tutor and one or two private lessons.
Chinese characters share a pool of 250 radicals of which they are comprised; meanwhile, Korean is written in “bundles” of letters that are themselves consonant blocks. Each of these blocks is made of several elements—some combination of consonant and vowel—which are combined into one consonant element, then grouped into words. This means that the writing system is actually fairly easy for many native English speakers to grasp, once they have a solid understanding of the basics.
Is Korean Always Difficult to Learn?
Learning Korean is generally less difficult for native English speakers than picking up, say, Chinese or Arabic. Pronunciation is fairly straightforward: Korean phonetics tend to be easy for English speakers, and there are no tones such as in Mandarin.
Korean grammar has certain points of ease: there’s no grammatical gender, and verbs don’t conjugate much. However, the sentence structure is basically “backward” according to native English speakers: subject-object-verb.
Formality and relationships also affect how Korean is spoken. The ending of a sentence may change based on whether you are speaking to someone older or younger than you, someone who “outranks” you, or someone you are familiar with. Korean vocabulary is where things get tricky; for native English speakers, there are very few loan words from English, and Korean words can often be quite lengthy, especially during formal speech.
Overall, Korean can pose many challenges for those who do not also speak Chinese or Japanese; those that are familiar with either of these other languages have a leg up on native English speakers trying to learn Korean from scratch. That said, with dedication, practice, and the assistance of a private online Korean tutor, most students determined to master the language can do so in relatively little time!
What Are My Options for Learning Korean On My Own?
Depending on where you are, you may be able to take Korean lessons from a nearby university or college. The primary drawback of college courses is that they can be cost-prohibitive and may not work with your schedule. Some schools may not even offer Korean language classes.
If you are an ardent self-starter (lucky you), then online Korean language learning resources such as EllenJovin.com and apps such as DuoLingo may work for you. Though ideally used as a supplement to actual courses, some people can make serious headway using only language learning software and a heaping helping of internal motivation. That said, many language learning apps struggle with the nuances of the Korean language; for example, some don’t differentiate between formalities, bothering only to teach students the most formal, stilted version of the language—this has dubious applicability at best.
With a private online Korean tutor, a student has the benefits of human feedback from someone not only fluent, but able to function as a cultural point of contact. This means that a student’s resulting fluency will not only be comprehensive in terms of grammar and vocabulary, but also organic, natural-sounding, and conducive to actual conversations. Plus, on websites such as Eurekly.com, you can find a wide range of private online Korean tutors within your price range, as well as easily discern their compatibility with your scheduling needs. Local scarcity of in-person teachers is no longer an issue with the advent of video technology such as Zoom, Discord, or Skype.
Where Can I Find Private Online Korean Tutors?
Websites such as Eurekly.com host thousands of tutors, each rigorously vetted to ensure that prospective students select from a range of experienced and culturally competent teachers. With Korean lessons starting as low as $13 a session, private online Korean tutoring is something available to anyone with a computer and functional internet access. With many tutors to choose from, you’re sure to find one who is able to work within your required parameters: each tutor’s language fluencies and location are listed upfront, so you know exactly where their specialties lie. Some tutors even offer free trial lessons to ensure that teaching styles and student needs all align. Stop by Eurekly.com today and take your first steps on the journey to language mastery.