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Tips for Korean Language Learners: Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid While Learning Korean

article Mar 31, 2023
Tips for Korean Language Learners: Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid While Learning Korean

- Author: Good Job Korean team 
- Editor: Good Job Korean team 

 Learning Korean is an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Many students find joy in the process of discovering and mastering Korean as it expands their understanding of Korean culture and allows them to connect with new people and communities. However, learning an entirely new language can sometimes be challenging and overwhelming. It requires time, effort, and persistence to keep on improving and mastering the language.

 With that being said, it is extremely common for language learners to make mistakes while learning Korean, especially if their native language is significantly different from the Korean language. Here are the top 10 mistakes you should avoid while learning Korean:


1. Skipping Hangul

 The Korean alphabet ν•œκΈ€ is the basic of learning Korean which is probably the easiest part of the language-learning journey. There are 24 letters in the alphabet and it may take between 30 minutes to 2 hours to master.  One of the biggest mistakes for Korean learners is that they rely heavily on the romanization of Korean words not realizing that the pronunciation of some letters in Hangul is actually different from the English letters.

 p/s: Click here for our free Hangul course to see what we mean :)


2. Neglecting listening and speaking skills

 Mastering writing and reading in Korean does not mean you are automatically proficient in listening and speaking skills as they are entirely different skill sets. You may be really good at writing essays in Korean and you may be able to finish reading a Korean language novel but you may feel self-conscious while speaking or face difficulty in understanding native speakers and being understood. Therefore, it is crucial to also look for opportunities to interact with native speakers or language partners to build fluency and confidence.


3. Relying heavily on translation tools

 With easy access to translation tools online, many students tend to translate word for word from Korean to another language and vice versa, without learning to think in Korean. Overrelying on translation tools actually does more harm than good in the Korean learning journey as learners may become overly dependent on them instead of trying to understand the language on their own. Furthermore, translation tools, even the most accurate ones, can make mistakes and produce inaccurate translations that can lead to misunderstandings and errors in communication.


4. Putting too much emphasis on grammar and neglecting vocabulary

 Most Korean learners may spend a lot more time revising grammar as Korean grammar is significantly different from English grammar, especially with all the confusing particles and verb endings. However, it is equally important to focus on vocabulary as well. It can be challenging for beginners to learn these words that have multiple meanings and can be used in different contexts. Blindly memorizing vocabulary lists without context or practical application may make learning Korean a frustrating process.


5. Being inconsistent in language learning habits

 Inconsistency leads to slow progress. This may end up demotivating learners as they will feel like they are going nowhere with their learning process. Being consistent with your learning habits helps to retain information more effectively and you will then spend less time reviewing materials whenever you continue where you left off. Consistency in practicing also helps to build fluency in the language as you will be regularly exposed to the language.


6. Overlooking/overusing honorifics

 The Korean language and culture put great importance on the usage of honorifics. Koreans highly value respect for others, especially those who are older, holding higher positions of authority, or having higher social status. Using appropriate honorifics is also a way to show politeness and consideration for others.

 On the other hand, overusing honorifics may make the speaker sound insincere, unapproachable, or unnecessarily formal. Overusing formal language can create a sense of distance between the speaker and the listener. As a relationship develops, especially outside of professional settings, the casual language "반말" (ban-mal) is more frequently used to show intimacy and closeness in their relationship.

 Thus, failing to learn the appropriate honorifics or neglecting to use them can lead to awkward social situations. It's important to strike a balance between using honorifics appropriately, depending on the context and the relationship.


7. Learning Korean without a clear goal

 Having a clear goal is important in learning a new language as it helps learners stay motivated and focused on their objectives. Without a set goal, one may feel lost and uncertain of what they should be focusing on, and this subsequently leads to procrastination and loss of interest. Besides that, with a goal in mind, one can keep track of their progress and see how far they are from their desired level of proficiency.


8. Learning Korean alone

 It is always advantageous to have a language buddy to practice with. Bonus if you have a native speaker friend who can help you with your pronunciation and listening skills. Having a language buddy not only keeps you on your toes to practice but also keeps you motivated for progress. There are a variety of online platforms where you can meet people virtually to do language exchange programs. These communities are often very helpful in providing corrections and feedback so you will be able to improve your language skills more efficiently and effectively.


9. Learning the incorrect sentence order

 Korean sentence structure is different from English sentences. For example:

 English: I study Korean.,.

 Korean: μ €λŠ” ν•œκ΅­μ–΄λ₯Ό κ³΅λΆ€ν•΄μš”. (Literally translated as “I Korean study.)

 Korean learners with English as their first or second language tend to get confused and make mistakes in word order while trying to form sentences. They sometimes find it hard to grasp the concept and feel the Korean sentences do not make sense. Therefore, it is important to understand how the subject, object, and verb are arranged in a sentence in order to convey meaning.


10. Being too hard on yourself when you make mistakes

 Despite all of the above, let us acknowledge that making mistakes is totally okay. Making mistakes is part and parcel of learning Korean and we actually tend to learn more from mistakes. Being too hard on yourself for making mistakes not only demotivates you but also gives you unnecessary pressure. If you find yourself feeling lost, take a breather and start again with a clear mind instead of pushing yourself harder to understand something that may not make sense to you.


 In conclusion, while learning a new language is fun, it also comes with various challenges. It is inevitable to make mistakes in the process. However, with effort, persistence, and practice, you can improve your Korean language skills over time. Do remember that everyone’s learning journey is different and unique to its own. Being aware of these common mistakes can help you overcome language hurdles that come your way. Therefore, don’t give up if you ever feel like you are not making much progress!

- Author: Good Job Korean team 
- Editor: Good Job Korean team