We’re not going to lie, learning Korean can be tough. Especially if you’re a native English speaker. In fact, Korean is one of the hardest languages to learn (check out our recent article on this topic to find out why).
If you’ve ever asked yourself, can I learn Korean in 3 months, you first need to establish what exactly you mean by learning.
While it is entirely possible to have a short, basic conversation after 3 months, anything further will be difficult. If you’re expecting to be completely fluent after 3 months, then I am afraid you are in for a rude awakening.
Oops. We said the ‘F’ word. ‘Fluent’. Despite its relatively straightforward dictionary definition, many people interpret the word fluent differently.
Before we dive into our tips and tricks, let’s take a look at exactly what fluent means.
Fluency. The Other 'F' Word
When you hear the word ‘fluency’, chances are you’ll imagine yourself being able to speak Korean to a native at lightning speed. At least, that is what the dictionary definition states you should be able to do.
But let’s stop and think for a minute.
Think back to a time when you were involved in a conversation (perhaps a lecture at University, or a work meeting) where you had absolutely no idea what was going on.
You’re a native speaker, with many years of experience, but still what you’re listening to makes no sense. Maybe because of the difficult topic, the use of words you have never come across before, or simply the fact you’re tired and struggling to keep up.
Does that make you any less fluent?
Of course not!
Remove the Word Fluency From Your Vocabulary
To be fluent in a language does not mean you have to know every single piece of vocabulary, grammatical rule, tone or tense.
The human brain simply is incapable of retaining that much information.
In fact, if you’re able to hold a conversation, get your point across and get precisely what you need, then you are more than entitled to claim fluency over a language.
To achieve real fluency. That is, being able to switch between all manner of different topics, comfortably and with ease, is something that comes through years of practice. Even then, do you honestly think you are never going to trip up over a stubborn piece of vocab, ever again?
By changing the way we understand ‘fluency’, you can become fluent in Korean faster than ever.
It’s not cheating, we promise.
Fluency. Myth Busted
Now we’re on the same page, there are some very real and practical pieces of advice we can give you to have you speaking Korean in 3 months (or even less).
Let’s take a look at some things you can implement right away.
Can I Learn Korean in 3 Months? Start With the Basics
If you’re brand new to Korean, don’t go diving in headfirst. Trust us, it won’t end well.
Trying to bite off more than you can chew will impact your motivation and increase the chances of you just giving up altogether. Instead, take baby steps and start slowly.
A fantastic and logical place to start is by learning the Korean alphabet (hangul), which can be done in just 90 minutes.
Our friends over at 90 Day Korean even provide a completely free PDF guide to help you on your way.
This is one of the most important pieces of advice we give to brand new Korean learners.
Start putting in the practice right away. Like today.
The best way to learn is to make mistakes. Find someone who you can speak to in Korean and start chatting.
To find a language partner, we cannot recommend iTalki highly enough. Italki is an online language learning platform which allows you to search for either tutors or language exchange partners so you can practice Korean.
Other apps such as hellotalk are also a fantastic option – we’ve reviewed some of the best apps to learn Korean here.
The 80/20 Principle
The 80/20 principle states that 80% of the reward comes with 20% of the effort.
To put it into context, the 100 most commonly used words in the English language make up around 50% of all printed material.
Take a minute and read that again.
That means if you concentrate on learning these top 100 words, you can immediately read half of any book. Ever.
The same works with Korean too.
To cut a long story short, forget learning words you are rarely going to use. Focus on the basics, and you will make progress, and quickly.
Don't Be Too Hard on Yourself
If you’re an English native sitting an English literature exam, it makes sense that you would hold yourself to a high standard.
Grammatically, your paper needs to be spot on.
Holding yourself to these standards when learning a new language is unnecessary. In actual fact, it’s pointless.
Forget about learning everything by heart, and focus on making yourself understood. Go back and read the paragraph on the 80/20 rule if you need to!
Speaking is just a piece of the puzzle. If you can’t actually understand someone speaking to you, then what’s the point.
A great way to perfect your listening skills is to listen to Korean podcasts and radio stations.
There are a tonne of podcasts available for you to dive into right away, the best part is you can listen to these when you’re unable to do anything else, for example, driving, taking the subway or even at work (shh…we won’t tell anyone).
Recent studies have shown that on an average day when communicating, we spend:
- 9% of the time writing
- 16% reading
- 30% speaking
- 45% listening
Neglecting your listening skills means you are potentially missing out on understanding half of all daily conversation.
Tell Me About Yourself
If you think about the last time you met someone for the first time, I am pretty sure I could guess how the conversation went.
Not because I am in any way psychic, but because most of the time, when meeting new people, we cover the same old ground.
Learn to introduce yourself, where you are from, what you like to do and how long you have been studying Korean.
Given the number of times you are going to use these limited phrases, it makes absolute sense to learn them right away.
While we love the work courses like Duolingo and other language apps are doing, they are really a one-stop-shop for many languages.
By spreading themselves so thinly, they can’t be great at one particular thing. That’s their business model, and it works very well for them, don’t get us wrong.
You can read more about our Duolingo review here.
If you pick a specific course built for Korean, you can have peace of mind that the work that went into creating this course was specifically done to help you learn that language.
Learning the quirks of the language will be a breeze, because they are being taught properly.
Practice, Practice, Practice
There is no doubt about it, learning Korean in 3 months is a challenge. The most significant part contributing to your success is how consistent you are.
That means you gotta put in the work. Show up and get it done.
There are some really great productivity apps that can help you when learning Korean. We love the use of the Pomodoro technique which sets out short, 25-minute study sessions followed by a 5-minute break.
It works, give it a try.
Learn Korean in 3 Months With 90 Day Korean
So now you’ve got to the end of the article, want to hear our recommendation?
90 Day Korean is one of the best choices on the market for beginner learners. They follow the 80/20 principle in all their lessons, with the goal to have you holding a 3-minute conversation with a native Korean in just 90 days.
And you know what – it works!
We put our graphic designer through the course, and in 3 months (actually, it was less) he managed his first Korean conversation.
You can read our complete review on 90 Day Korean here.
Why not head over to the 90 Day Korean Website and check out their free resources before you make up your mind.
If you’re a complete beginner, you can sign up to their free, 90-minute challenge which teaches you hangul in just…90 minutes!
Why We Recommend 90 Day Korean
There are a tonne of reasons why we love 90 Day Korean, here’s just some of them:
Best of all, 90 Day Korean offers a money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied, so you have complete peace of mind.
So, Can I Learn Korean in 3 Months?
We hope by now you see this is not such an easy question to answer.
3 months is not a long time at all, but it does give you enough time to master the absolute basics and start your very first Korean conversation.
Get yourself a routine and stick to it. Use a course such as 90 Day Korean to get you there faster. Simple.
The most important thing is just to do it. Less reading and more action.
Chop chop! You’ve got work to do.