“English is the most difficult language in the world to learn.”
Who hasn’t heard this? The fact is that all languages are equally as difficult to learn but some can be more difficult than others depending on your native language. For English speakers like myself, Korean is very far removed from the characteristics of English in many ways so it can be more difficult to learn than it would be for a native speaker of Japanese or even Chinese, but it’s not impossible. It helps to know where to start.
I cannot stress how important it is to learn the writing system first. The writing system is called 한글 [han-geul] (lit. “great script”). A lot of linguists and language learners alike will tell you that learning the writing system is a great tool for jump starting your language learning. When you learn a foreign language that has a different writing system using your native tongue’s alphabet, you are creating an extra step for your brain to go through in order to process the information (i.e. interpreting sounds and words from your native language into the foreign language and finally back to your native language). That’s a lot of work. It’s more efficient and effective to go through the one step. Also, your language’s alphabet has its own set of sounds, some of which might not be found in the language you are learning.
SayJack (I found this website that lets you not only play with the letters and hear them, but learn how to build syllables. There are also practices and a little “test”)
Once you have the writing system down pretty well, I encourage you to start learning the basics. There is a wonderful website I have followed since its creation. The lessons at Talk To Me In Korean are amazingly fun to listen to, informative, and although they focus on a grammar point, there are tons of extra for all different levels, interests, and learners. I definitely urge you to check out Talk to Me in Korean.
Some other websites for learning Korean are:
busyatom.com (I used this website when learning the alphabet, but he has some practical lessons you might like.)
I will always try to update as I find more information and resources, but I cannot say enough that you should look for a variety of sources for your Korean input and output. Feel free to share them on this page if you find something you think is useful! And…keep it fun and stress-free!!!!! This is so important. Don’t get discouraged and make it interesting. Korea is a wonderful country with a lot to offer. If you are not able to make the trip in person, having access to the internet and the Korean language gives you so many ways to enjoy some of the things the country has to offer in the comfort of your own home. Don’t think it is impossible, because it isn’t. It is never too late to start, and you will find that there is also never an end to the learning process!