I'm not going to pretend that I can speak Korean or am even remotely fluent. What I can help you with though is learning hangul (the Korean alphabet) and some tips on pronunciation, I can also direct you to some places online that I know for learning Korean! So come with me and we'll learn some Korean together!
Do you want to be able to write or speak first?
Prioritise! I wanted to be able to read Hangul first so I started with that rather than focusing on the pronunciation, you can't really just jump in and do everything at once. I find learning the alphabet really helps for me, when learning Japanese I learnt hiragana and katakana before doing any vocab...also you'll notice that the chart has the sounds underneath you'll be able to break up the sounds correctly after learning Hangul so I recommend doing that first!
Why do you want to learn?
I actually wanted to learn to read Korean for really trivial reasons, I wanted to be able to read the packaging on my products, browse Cyworld better, sing-a-long on music shows (Inkigayo, Music Bank etc all have Korean lyrics in the bottom corners of the performances).
How do we start?
I really recommend throwing Korean in your face, familiarise yourself with it. They say the best way to learn a language is to go to a country, if you can't do that...then put it around you as much as possible. I watched lots of Korean variety shows, music shows (nothing too heavy...don't attempt to watch a drama without subtitles or anything! It'll just put you off).
Listen to Korean radio. Nope, I don't mean Arirang. I mean something like KBS, SBS or MBC. You don't need to pay attention to what they're saying as much, just listen to it in the background. I used to listen to MBC when I was studying as background noise, it didn't distract me because I wasn't paying attention to the words but I was subconsciously learning Korean. I started to pick up the pronunciation just because I was listening to it regularly.I personally would say it's pretty much impossible to learn a language without listening to the native speakers, listen to Koreans speaking Korean. Blast the K-pop, grab the tissues and watch some K-dramas and sit and laugh to the Gag concerts and variety shows! Remember your English subs though (or whatever language you're most comfortable with!) you want to be able to follow the program!
At this point we're still not actually learning any Korean phrases. We probably all already know ones like "Saranghaeyo" and "Annyeonghaseyo" but we probably can't form sentences right? Well I can't teach you how honestly, because I haven't learnt yet myself!
But we've got our Hangul charts, we're listening to the Koreans speaking so we're picking up the pronunciation! Occasionally try to repeat some of the words they say, even if you don't know the meaning of the phrase itself it's useful to get the pronunciation!
Luckily there's only a limited amount of combinations of sounds, unlike English which is so unstructured and free to make whatever sounds you like (that's probably not that far from the truth is it?) Korean - like Japanese - has a set of sounds and "phonetics" for you to learn from which makes everything easier!
Hangul is easy!
Yeah. I said it. I hope Kate doesn't mind me using her as an example - well it's too late otherwise ;D so you'll have to get over it ♥ - but she's a pretty recent k-popper...she's a good example unlike me (who's been around Korean stuff since before Suju debuted....xD).
I think she must have started learning Hangul just before Christmas...by sort of January time I was asking her to translate for me. Sure she's usually pretty fast at picking these things up, but I'm just saying that Hangul is easier to master than Mandarin or all of the kanji in Japanese...
Don't fool yourself into thinking that once you've learnt Hangul, you've learnt Korean. You're not even 10% of the way there...but trying to learn Korean without knowing the alphabet is honestly going at it backwards.
Why should I start with Hangul?
I'm going to assume that most of you are K-poppers or drama watchers? Hallyu wave, although has led some shows to put English in...it's not enough to make a difference. Once you've learnt Hangul you can read phrases such as "내가 제일 잘 나가" (2NE1's I Am The Best) and put your artists in Hangul on your iPods. It seems like a small thing to do, but it's so much easier. When I download music, all of the titles are in Hangul...knowing the pronunciation is so much easier. Sure I don't know the translations of the titles but I can tell you the artists names and say the name of the song in Korean.
Also, if you go to Korea what language will everything be in? Korean of course! Words like "커피" don't have a Korean equivalent. You just need to know Hangul to know that says "coffee" so that will help you order a coffee when it's written in Hangul, or find a coffee shop!
Now I've learnt Hangul...where do I go?
Well I can't help you passed that honestly. My knowledge of the Korean language itself is limited to drama phrases and basic touristy stuff. I can probably marry someone in Korean or get angry with people in Korean (thanks Key xD) but that's about it. I know too many random phrases that are of very little use to anyone xD
But you can visit TalkToMeInKorean because they're great and on the more serious side. If you just want to get on and learn Korean online then go for them, they're probably the biggest Korean teachers on the Internet and they've got podcasts, youtube videos and posts. They're the biggest and that also means there's the biggest variety, there's not really much they don't have on their side and it's a great starting place!
For corrections, go to HaruKorean! They're a service also by TTMIK and try to make your Korean sound more natural like a native speaker! I've tried this a lot with English and it really makes a difference! I used to help Indonesian people in particular make their English sound more like a native speaker, to do this you really need to be critical and the native speakers themselves know best so listen to what they have to say ;D
My favourite place for Korean though is the Youtuber Sweetandtasty and she hosts a show called KWOW which I really love. It's funny, it's basic and she just breaks it up into the right amount to remember! You can visit her site here: http://sweetandtastytv.com/ which has some really interesting facts and is just generally great :)
Those are the main people you need really, of course nothing beats having a proper real-life tutor but sometimes this isn't possible! I want to push learning Korean whilst I'm at university next year, but I'm finding it really hard at the moment to find a Korean tutor, there's plenty of Japanese and Mandarin ones but no Korean! xD
Well that's really all I have to offer, print off the Hangul chart and stick it up on your wall somewhere you look often! Listen to Korean Radio - you can either play it online or get an app called "Radio Korea" on the app store! And watch plenty of television!
Remember the easiest way to learn a language is to surround yourself in it so don't slack on the Hallyu stuff! Don't neglect your K-pop, it's more useful than you think ;)
Have a great day everyone, stay beautiful, hwaiting and keep your milky skin! ♥