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Is learning Korean very hard?


Learning a new language can be a daunting experience, especially if it’s vastly different from your native tongue. Korean is one such language that has become increasingly popular to learn in recent years. But is learning Korean very hard? In this article, we’ll explore the intricacies of the Korean language and provide you with a comprehensive answer.

Background Information

Korean is the official language of both North and South Korea, with approximately 77 million speakers worldwide. The language is part of the Ural-Altaic family and shares similarities with Japanese and Mongolian. However, it also has its unique set of grammar rules and vocabulary.

Alphabet & Pronunciation

One of the biggest challenges of learning Korean is mastering the alphabet. Hangul, the Korean alphabet, consists of 24 letters that are written in blocks. Each block represents a syllable, making it easier to read than other Asian languages like Chinese or Japanese. However, the pronunciation can be tricky for beginners as there are sounds that don’t exist in English.

Grammar Rules

Korean grammar rules are vastly different from English, which makes it challenging for learners. In Korean, the verb always comes at the end of a sentence, and particles are used to indicate subject and object. Additionally, honorifics play an essential role in daily conversations, so mastering them is crucial.


While some Korean words might be recognizable due to their similarity to English or other languages, many are not. Learning vocabulary can be time-consuming as there are thousands of words to memorize. However, once you get past the initial hurdle, you’ll begin to recognize patterns and find it easier to remember new words.

Cultural Context

Understanding cultural context is essential when learning any language. Korean culture has a unique set of values and beliefs that are reflected in the language. Politeness, respect, and hierarchy play a significant role in daily conversations, so it’s essential to learn how to use the appropriate language in different situations.

Resources for Learning Korean

Thankfully, there are several resources available for learning Korean. These range from textbooks and online courses to language exchange programs and immersion programs in Korea. Choosing the right resource will depend on your learning style, budget, and time constraints.

Time Commitment

Learning any language takes time and effort, and Korean is no exception. The amount of time it takes to learn Korean will depend on various factors such as your previous language experience, motivation, and study habits. However, on average, it can take between 1-2 years to become proficient in the language.

Benefits of Learning Korean

Despite its challenges, learning Korean can be incredibly rewarding. It can open up new career opportunities, allow you to communicate with people from different cultures, and provide you with a sense of personal achievement.

Tips for Learning Korean

Learning any language requires dedication and consistency. Here are some tips to help you on your Korean language journey: immerse yourself in the language as much as possible, practice speaking with native speakers regularly, use flashcards to memorize vocabulary, watch Korean dramas or movies with subtitles.


In conclusion, learning Korean can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. With dedication and consistent effort, anyone can learn this beautiful language. Remember to take advantage of available resources and practice regularly. Who knows? You might even surprise yourself with how quickly you can become proficient in Korean.

How long does it take to learn Korean?

Korean is classified as a Category V language by the FSI, indicating that it is one of the most difficult languages to become proficient in. It is estimated that it takes about 2200 hours of study or 88 weeks of extremely intensive study to achieve fluency in Korean.

Is Korean the most difficult language to learn?

While the Foreign Service Institute ranks Korean as a challenging language to learn, it is still achievable. Do not be discouraged by the amount of time it may take to learn Korean, as it is possible to learn it quickly, and you may already have a basic understanding of the language.

Is it hard for an American to learn Korean?

Korean is considered one of the most challenging languages for English speakers to learn, according to the Foreign Service Institute. The grammar and sentence structure differ greatly from English, as the verb is always placed at the end of the sentence. Kim confirms these challenges, stating that the language’s structure is very different.

Why is learning Korean so hard?

Although there are many reasons why learning Korean can be challenging, its unique grammar structure and use of unfamiliar words are among the main factors. Additionally, the language also employs honorifics and subtle variations in verb conjugation that can add to its complexity and confusion.

Which is harder Korean or Japanese?

When you look at both Korean and Japanese languages, you will find that both are similarly difficult. Korean writing systems are difficult to master, while the Japanese alphabet is complex to comprehend with its 40 characters. However, the Japanese alphabet simplifies the process of creating and understanding sentences, making it easier to learn overall.

Can you self teach Korean?

It is possible to become proficient in this language with the right tools and methods, despite popular belief. You can even learn Korean from the convenience of your own home.


In conclusion, learning Korean may seem difficult at first, but it is definitely worth the effort. As with any language, it takes time and patience to become proficient, but with the right resources and a positive attitude, anyone can do it. Learning Korean not only allows you to communicate with millions of people worldwide, but it also provides insight into a rich and vibrant culture.

Final Thoughts

While learning Korean may be challenging, it is also incredibly rewarding. From expanding your career opportunities to gaining a deeper appreciation for Korean culture, the benefits of learning this language are numerous. So if you’re considering learning a new language and are up for a challenge, why not give Korean a try? With dedication and hard work, you’ll be on your way to fluency in no time!

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