How Long Does It Take to Learn Korean?

By OptiLingo • 8 minute read

how much time do you need to learn korean?

How Long Does it Take to Learn Korean

There are over 75 million Korean speakers worldwide. As the 11th largest economy in the world, this country has a lot to offer. From career opportunities to entertainment, learning Korean can give you an insight into the rich culture of Korea. But, it’s fair to wonder, how long does it take to learn Korean? Let’s put your mind at ease. While everyone’s different, we’ll do our best to answer that question. And we’ll give you some advice on how to make the best of your Korean language classes, so you can reach fluency faster!

Is Korean Hard to Learn?

The most important factor is what your target language is, of course. Since Korean is an East-Asian language, people tend to associate the difficulty with Chinese or Japanese. But, Korean is much easier to learn than other East-Asian languages.

Unlike Chinese, Korean is not a tonal language. This means, that regardless of your accent or pronunciation, one tone equals one meaning. So, you don’t need to worry about your intonation when you’re practicing your pronunciation in Korean.

Another reason why Korean looks hard to learn is the writing system. Korean characters seem really hard to learn. However, learning the Korean alphabet, also known as Hangul, is a piece of cake. You can learn Hangul in 20 minutes if you want. It’s a very logical writing system that’s designed to help you pronounce Korean words.

FSI Estimates For Reaching Korean Fluency

When language learners wonder how long it takes to learn their target language, they often turn to the estimates created by the United States Foreign Service Institute (FSI). This estimate takes into account the difficulty of the language compared to English. However, it leaves out a lot of important factors, such as your personal motivations, your study methods, or what kind of learner you are. So, please, take these numbers with a grain of salt.

The FSI puts Korean as a Category V language. Which means, it’s one of the hardest languages to master. They estimate 2200 hours of study before you can reach fluency in Korean. Or 88 weeks of extremely intense study.

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But if you want a more accurate estimate of how long it will take you to learn Korean, you need to go deeper than the FSI estimate. That’s because there are a TON of variables that can affect how long it takes you to reach fluency. And if you don’t account for them, you might end up getting frustrated or put too much pressure on yourself when trying to learn Korean.

How Different Is Korean From English?

If you’re an English native speaker, Korean is very different than anything you’re used to. No need to sugarcoat this. But, you can also use this to your advantage. Comprehensible input is the key to language learning. It’s how babies learn languages too.

By looking at the context, and building up the lesson difficulty levels, you can easily incorporate comprehensible input into your language learning routine. This language learning method is the reason that anyone can learn a foreign language. And with Korean, you can surely succeed. Even if it’s much different from English.

The Role of Previous Language Learning Experience

Have you learned a foreign language before? Great! You know how amazing the benefits of being bilingual are. You can apply the methods you used to learn your second language with your third. And learning Korean will be much faster thanks to your previous experience. But, watch out that your other foreign language isn’t too close to Korean. If your second language is Chinese for example, you may bump into some difficulties when you’re learning Korean vocabulary. It’s quite common for people to mix up similar languages when learning new ones. So, be careful.

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How Are You Learning Korean

You need the best language learning methods to reach Korean fluency faster. If you’re relying on language learning apps that make you type, not speak the language, you’re on the wrong track sadly. You’ll never be able to build your Korean fluency without speaking. Forget how long does it take to learn Korean, you need a method that teaches you the right way.

You need to work on the four skills of foreign language learning: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Only by strengthening all four of these can you become fluent in Korean. And the sooner you know that the faster you’ll get there.

How Much Time Do You Have to Study Korean?

When you’re wondering how long does it take to learn Korean you need to figure out how much time you have to study. Even if you have an extremely busy schedule, you can always make time to learn Korean. Try to implement Korean life into your daily routine. Listen to a podcast while you cook. Rock out to Kpop at the gym. Revisit lessons on your morning commute. All of these small activities help you steal back time and get closer to Korean fluency.

As for hardcore studying, you also don’t need too much of it. If you can only sacrifice 20 minutes a day to sit down and intensively study, so be it. Just be prepared that the less you study daily, the longer it will be in the long run till you reach fluency. That’s why studying for one hour a day can help you reach fluency in Korean three times faster than if you only reviewed for 20 mins a day.

What’s Your Attitude and Motivation Toward Learning a Language?

This is the one factor nobody can account for. Only you know why you’re learning, and what you want to achieve. Perhaps you’re studying Korean for a language exam. The more you focus, the faster you’ll learn Korean. Or maybe you’re preparing for a trip to Korea. Learning the right vocabulary can make your journey infinitely cooler, and it doesn’t even take that long. So, just keep your motivation and enthusiasm up, and you’ll reach Korean fluency faster than you ever thought you could.

how long does it take to learn korean

Can You Learn Korean in a Year?

The short answer is, yes. While you can also speed up your learning process, here are some estimates based on the numbers provided by FSI:

  • You can learn Korean in a year if you study for over 6 hours every day. Or almost 43 hours every week. That’s an extremely intense study schedule, even more than a full-time job.
  • With 20 minutes of daily study, it would take 20 years to reach Korean fluency.
  • If you raise your study time to just 1 hour every day, you’ll learn Korean in roughly 6.5 years.

If you’re thinking: WHAT!?! I don’t have 7 years to reach fluency! I need to get there faster! Then don’t worry. The truth is that you can get a lot more out of the time you put in as long as you use the right techniques. And that’s what we’ll discuss next.

How to Learn Korean Faster

If the numbers above made your heart sink a little bit, don’t worry. There’s a way to achieve Korean fluency faster. You can easily speed up your Korean studies with these simple steps.

  1. Learn with the Right Resources: You need to choose a Korean language learning method that works for you. Whether you use textbooks or a great language learning app, make sure you progress steadily.
  2. Focus on High-Frequency Vocabulary: It’s not about how many words you know. It’s about knowing the right words. Look for relevant and useful vocabulary to find out how the locals speak.
  3. Immerse Yourself: Immersion is one of the best ways to learn a language. But, if you can’t afford to take a gap year in Korean, don’t worry. You can surround yourself with Korean culture from the comfort of your home. Listen to Kpop, watch Korean dramas, and read Korean news.
  4. Revise Often: As much as you want to learn Korean as fast as possible, it will all be for nothing if you don’t revise. Including spaced repetition into your language learning schedule is the only way to commit your lessons to memory.

Start Learning Korean Today!

Learning Korean can take way too long if you don’t use the right resources. If you invest your time in the best language learning program, you’ll study the language effectively. Fast-track your Korean studies easily with OptiLingo.

OptiLingo is a language learning app built on scientifically proven methods. By combining comprehensible input and spaced repetition, you’re guaranteed to remember your lesson. This app also gives you the most common words and expressions in the Korean language. So, you’ll learn exactly how the locals speak. With OptiLingo, you can see results fast. Try your free lesson today, and discover how effective learning Korean can be!