Korean, the national language of both North and South Korea, is spoken by 78 million people. There are many dialects, but learning standard Korean allows you to communicate with and be understood by Koreans from both countries. Whether you want to learn a few Korean phrases because you’re planning a trip to Korea, or you wish to build a foundation for a goal of becoming fluent in Korean, learning any foreign language requires time and dedication.
-The first thing you need to do is purchase an English-to-Korean dictionary and Korean phrasebook. There are many to choose from, and many are available at your local bookseller (Barnes & Noble, Borders or Books-A-Million). They are also available at Amazon.com and other major online booksellers. Webster’s English-to-Korean is pocket sized and costs less than $10. Lonely Planet’s Korean Phrasebook is another good choice, as it is handy, travel sized, and also costs less than $10.
Carry your dictionary and phrasebook with you everywhere. Read it in line at the supermarket, the drugstore, the post office. Spend as much time per day as you can familiarizing yourself with the language.
For an extra boost, purchase a basic Korean language course (most are under $25) which are chock-full of important communication guides for travelers such as how to ask for directions, how to conduct store transactions, how to order food, how to check into a hotel, and what to do if you get sick. Pimsleur’s Basic Korean has native speakers record basic Korean phrases on audio cd, so you can listen in your car or on the go. Other companies who produce reasonably priced audio courses are Berlitz and Barron’s.
Practice every day. Learning a foreign language requires a time commitment; devote time each day to memorizing and properly pronouncing the words and phrases. Speak the phrases aloud; this will help you both to become a better speaker and to remember what you’ve been hearing.