Is Korean Hard to Learn for English Speakers? 5 Reasons & 5 Powerful Tips!

Are you considering learning Korean but feeling intimidated by the idea of tackling a language with a different alphabet and grammar structure? As an English speaker, it’s normal to wonder about the difficulty level of learning Korean. But fear not!

In this blog post, we’ll also discuss some tips and resources that can help you on your language-learning journey. So if you’re ready to take on a new linguistic adventure, read on to discover why is Korean hard to learn for English speakers.

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.


Why is Korean hard to learn for English speakers?

Korean is a beautiful language that has gained popularity in recent years, thanks in part to the global rise of K-pop and Korean dramas. But for English speakers, learning Korean can seem like a daunting task. From the unfamiliar writing system to the complex grammar rules, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Here are 5 reasons why is Korean hard to learn for English speakers:

  1. The Korean language has a unique writing system that includes both phonetic and ideographic characters, which can take some time to master.
  2. Korean grammar is significantly different from English grammar, with a complex system of honorifics and verb endings that can be difficult to understand.
  3. Korean pronunciation involves many sounds that do not exist in the English language, such as double consonants and vowel clusters.
  4. There are many homophones in Korean which can make it difficult to distinguish between words.
  5. The cultural context of the Korean language also plays a significant role in its complexity since it influences the use of certain words and expressions.

How hard is Korean to learn for English speakers?


It is 3/5, “Moderate”, but do lots of drills. The language learners save Korean words, Korean culture, sounds, and colour words in/her dictionary. The Korean Language is difficult because of the writing system or Hangul ( hang -Jul ) which consists of 24 letters and is relatively easy to learn compared to other Asian languages that use complex characters or logograms.

However, Korean grammar and sentence structure can be quite different from English, which may require some time and effort to master. Additionally, Korean has different levels of formality and honorifics that are used in different situations, adding an extra layer of complexity to the language.

With consistent practice, dedication, and a willingness to learn, English speakers can certainly become proficient in Korean.


It can be difficult to learn the Korean language, but with a little bit of effort, you can make progress. There are a few things that you’ll need to do in order to learn Korean effectively. First, you’ll need to find a way to stimulate your brain.

This can be done by reading books or articles about the Korean language, watching educational videos, or participating in conversation sessions with native Korean speakers. Second, you’ll need to practice and repetition.

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This will help you build your vocabulary and improve your pronunciation. Finally, it’s important to keep learning new vocabulary and concepts so that you can keep up with the ever-changing Korean language context.


Korean vocabulary is very difficult (Difficulty 5/5, “Very hard”). The blog contains vowels, loan words in Konglish, homophones, and other word problems. Other difficult words for Korean vocabulary:

  • 사고 (sageo): Accident
  • 모습 (motseup): Appearance
  • 가장한 진동 (gajang janghang): Greatest activity
  • 한국어 (hanghae yeo): Korean

In South Korea, there are a lot of cultural diversions with instances that were not accustomed to Western culture in the past 40 years, so Koreans refer to them as “Kuja gon” (culture shock). However, it must be noted however that many foreigners have arrived in the country fleeing war or tyranny only recently through globalization events such as the fall of communism.

for native English speakers, Korean may be particularly challenging due to: The complexity of the Korean writing system, Hangul. The different word order in Korean compared to English. The various levels of formality in Korean that dictate which words and grammar structures are used.


5 Tips to learn Korean faster:

  1. Start with the basics: Make sure you understand the alphabet, basic words, and how to conjugate verbs.
  2. Get a Korean listening/reading program: These programs can help you learn Korean quickly by providing audio recordings of native speakers and accompanying text files.
  3. Use online tools: There are many online tools that can help you improve your grammar and vocabulary, including blogs, forums, and video lessons.
  4. Go outside and talk to people: Exposure to real life conversations will help you learn more about the language and culture.
  5. Try different methods: If one approach isn’t working for you, try another. There is no one way to learn a new language experimentation is key!

Where to learn Korean

There are several options available for learning Korean, depending on your preferred learning style and budget. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Online language learning platforms: Websites like Duolingo, Memrise, and Rosetta Stone offer Korean language courses that cater to different proficiency levels. These platforms usually provide interactive lessons, quizzes, and exercises to help you practice and improve your skills.

2. Language exchange programs: Websites like HelloTalk and Tandem connect language learners with native Korean speakers who are looking to practice their English. Through these platforms, you can find language exchange partners with whom you can practice speaking Korean and receive feedback on your pronunciation and grammar.

3. Online tutors or language schools: If you prefer a more structured learning environment, consider hiring an online tutor or enrolling in an online language school that offers Korean courses. Websites like iTalk and Preply have a wide range of qualified tutors who can provide personalized lessons according to your needs and goals.

4. Local universities or language institutes: Check if there are any universities or language institutes in your area that offer Korean language courses. Many universities have language departments that offer Korean classes for beginners and advanced learners.

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5. Self-study resources: There are plenty of self-study resources available for learning Korean, such as textbooks, grammar guides, and online resources like KoreanClass101 and Talk to Me in Korean. These resources can be helpful for individuals who prefer learning at their own pace.

Remember, consistency and practice are key when learning a new language. Find a method that suits your learning style and make sure to set aside dedicated time each day or week to study and practice Korean.

Some FAQs:

1. How long does it take to learn Korean as an English speaker?

It can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months to learn Korean as an English speaker. However, the amount of time you will need to learn the language depends on how much effort and dedication you put into it.

2. Is it easy to learn Korean if you know English?

No, Korean is not easy to learn if you only know English. Korean is a tonal language which means that the pronunciation of words can vary depending on the tone that is used. Additionally, Korean has a complex grammar which requires learning a variety of rules in order to communicate effectively.

If you want to learn Korean as a second language, it is recommended that you start by learning basic English first so that you have a better foundation from which to build.

3. What’s the hardest part of learning Korean?

The hardest part of learning Korean may be mastering the alphabet and the pronunciation of Korean words. It can be difficult to find materials that are both comprehensible and interesting, since most Korean texts are written in a complex script that is unfamiliar to many Westerners.

4. Is Korean or Japanese easier to learn for an English speaker?

Many people feel that Japanese is easier to learn than Korean, but this is not necessarily the case. Both languages have their own set of rules and syntax that must be learned in order to be able to properly communicate in either language.

It is important to find a teacher who can help you learn the language properly and efficiently. It can take a few months or even years to become fluent in either Korean or Japanese, depending on your level of dedication and commitment.

5. Is Chinese or Korean easier to learn as an English speaker?

As an English speaker, both Chinese and Korean can be challenging to learn due to their different grammar structures and writing systems. However, it ultimately depends on your personal learning style and preferences. Here are a few factors to consider:

1. Grammar: Korean grammar is considered to be more similar to English, as it follows a subject-object-verb (SOV) word order. Chinese, on the other hand, has a subject-verb-object (SVO) structure, which may require more adjustment for English speakers.

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2. Writing system: Korean has a phonetic writing system called Hangul, which is relatively easy to learn as it consists of 24 letters that are combined to form syllables. Chinese, on the other hand, uses characters that represent words or concepts, which can be more challenging to memorize.

3. Pronunciation: Chinese has four tones and Korean has a complex system of vowel and consonant pronunciation. Mastering the pronunciation of either language may take time and practice.

4. Vocabulary: Chinese has a large number of characters, which means more memorization is required. Korean, while still requiring vocabulary acquisition, has a phonetic writing system that can aid in learning new words.

Ultimately, the difficulty of learning Chinese or Korean as an English speaker will depend on your dedication, resources, and exposure to the language. It may be helpful to consider which language aligns more with your interests and goals, as this can provide motivation and make the learning process more enjoyable.

6. Is Korean alphabet hard?

The Korean alphabet, known as Hangul, is often regarded as one of the easiest writing systems to learn. It was intentionally designed to be simple and logical, with each character representing a single sound. Here are some reasons why Hangul is considered relatively easy to learn:

Phonetic System: Hangul is a phonetic alphabet, meaning that each character represents a distinct sound or phoneme. There are 24 basic letters in Hangul, each corresponding to a specific consonant or vowel sound.

Logical Structure: Hangul characters are formed by arranging simple geometric shapes (e.g., lines, circles) into square-shaped blocks. The shapes of the characters are based on the physical articulation of sounds, making them intuitive to understand and remember.

Syllabic Blocks: Hangul characters are grouped into syllabic blocks, with each block representing a single syllable. This makes it easy to visually identify and pronounce syllables, even for unfamiliar words.

Limited Characters: Unlike many other writing systems, Hangul has a relatively small number of characters, making it easier to memorize and master. The basic alphabet consists of 14 consonants and 10 vowels, which can be combined to form complex syllables.

Regular Pronunciation Rules: Hangul follows consistent pronunciation rules, allowing learners to predict the pronunciation of words based on their spelling. Once you learn the sound of each character, you can accurately read and pronounce Korean words.

Overall, while learning any new writing system requires time and practice, many learners find Hangul to be relatively straightforward and accessible. With dedication and consistent effort, you can quickly become proficient in reading and writing Korean with the help of Hangul.

In summary, learning Korean as a second language can be difficult, but manageable with the right resources and effort. If you are interested in learning this language, it is best to start by learning some basic English first.


  1. OptiLingo. (2022a). How long does it take to learn Korean? OptiLingo.,can%20reach%20fluency%20in%20Korean.
  2. Is Korean hard to learn for English speakers? (2023, July 19).,and%20grammar%20structures%20are%20used.