How long does it take to learn Korean?

Last Updated on May 19, 2022 by 90 Day Korean
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Whether you want to learn Korean or already learning, the question “how long does it take to learn Korean?” has likely popped up in your mind.

It’s understandably an important question for you to ask. After all, it influences your decision to learn Korean or not. Like many other foreign languages, the Korean language is good to learn and work towards being fluent if you want to visit or live in South Korea.

It’s also worth putting in some study hours if you are interested in K-Pop, K-Dramas, Korean movies, or Korean culture.

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However, it’s important to consider that it’s an entirely new alphabet, and the language is mostly spoken in South Korea. So is it worth the time investment? In this article, we’re going to tell you what you need to know about how long it takes to learn Korean so you can make your decision to start learning Korean.

Let’s get to know the learning process!

Below is a free PDF guide for “How long does it take to learn Korean?” that you can download and take with you:

How long does it take to learn Korean?

It takes 3 months (90 days) to learn enough Korean to have a 3-minute conversation in Korean if you study for 7-10 hours per week. After 1 year of studying at this pace, you can become conversationally fluent.

However, we will give you some ballpark estimates for how long it takes to learn Korean. Then you can adjust to your own situation.

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How many hours a day should you study Korean?

How many hours does it take to learn a language like Korean?

This is really a personal call and depends greatly on your goals and timelines. If you’re studying part-time or as a hobby, a good target to start with is 1 hour a day, and then make adjustments as you go. Keep in mind that you will likely be more excited and motivated to study at the start. The real test comes when you don’t feel like studying.

In those cases, we usually recommend adjusting your study time. You may also want to come up with a small minimum to do each day, even if it’s only 5 minutes. That way, you still get some practice in but also leave yourself open to study more when you’re motivated.

If you’re studying as a full-time student, you should aim for about 4-7 hours of study per day.

How many hours a week should I study Korean?

For part-time students or if you’re studying for fun, then make a goal of 5-8 hours per week. Then make adjustments as you go. You can always add more to it, but make sure you’re keeping at a comfortable pace.

If you’re a full-time Korean student, 20-25 hours per week is a good target.

How long does it take to become fluent in Korean?

It will take about 1200 hours to reach a high intermediate level. You’ll need additional practice, so you may want to double that number to 2400 hours to get towards fluency. That would be about 23 hours of study per week for 2 years.

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“Fluent” in Korean

With the goal of being fluent in Korean in mind, why don’t we also learn the word for “fluent” in Korean?

“Fluent” in Korean – Adjective

You can say “fluent” in Korean as 유창한 (yuchanghan) which is used as an adjective. For example:

유창한 영어 (yuchanghan yeongeo)

fluent English

그는 유창한 영어를 구사합니다 (geuneun yuchanghan yeongeoreul gusahamnida)

He speaks fluent English.

“Fluent” in Korean – Verb

The original form 유창하다 (yuchanghada) is a verb that means “to be fluent.” This is used in sentences as ~가 유창하다 (~ga yuchanghada) or ~을/를 유창하게 하다 (~eul/reul yuchanghage hada). For example:

중국어가 유창하시네요! (junggugeoga yuchanghasineyo!)

You’re fluent in Chinese!

나는 한국어를 유창하게 하고 싶어요. (naneun hangugeoreul yuchanghage hago sipeoyo.)

I want to be fluent in Korean.

이 아이는 벌써 영어를 유창하게 해요. (i aineun beolsseo yeongeoreul yuchanghage haeyo.)

This child is already fluent in English.

The Korean term 능통하다 (neungtonghada) can also be used to say “fluent” in Korean. Here are some examples:

당신은 많은 언어에 능통합니까? (dangsineun maneun eoneoe neungtonghamnikka?)

Are you fluent in many languages?

그는 일본어와 러시아어에 능통해요. (geuneun ilboneowa reosiaeoe neungtonghaeyo.)

He is fluent in Japanese and Russian.

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Things to consider in learning the Korean language

Learning something new depends on the learner and other different factors. Similarly, the Korean learning experience varies among people, so it isn’t easy to give a specific numeral timeline on how long it may take for someone to learn the language. Below are some things to consider, and we’ll go over how much each step of  Korean language learning approximately takes.

How long does it take to learn the Korean alphabet?

With our Hangeul lesson, you will learn the alphabet as quickly as 60 to 90 minutes! This will teach you the basics of the Korean characters including vowels and consonants so you can read most words. You will be able to start sounding out words, phrases, and sentences right away. Naturally, you will start off with a slow pace, but once you get the hang of it, you would want to practice reading Korean faster.

As you start learning Hangeul and get more accustomed to using it, you’ll find yourself more comfortable reading Korean words, which helps you improve your learning of Korean vocabulary.

You’ll want to get a solid handle on Hangeul, so plan to spend another 30 minutes per day for the first week on it. Flashcards such as Anki are great for this. By the end of the first week, you’ll have a strong command of the Korean alphabet.

Now that we have the first few hours covered, let’s dive into learning vocabulary, grammar, and sentences.

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How long does it take to speak Korean?

If you spend about 1-2 hours per day studying Korean, you should be able to have a 3-minute conversation in the first 90 days (about 3 months). To do this, make sure you pick the right materials and focus on the parts of the language that will give you the best results. Otherwise, you may waste months or years learning things that you will rarely use.

In other words, you want to focus on the Korean words, grammar, and phrases that are used most often. In other words, follow the 80/20 rule of focusing on the 20% of the language that will give you 80% of the results. Skip the specialty words and the extra formality for later.

This is exactly how our Inner Circle online structured Korean language program is designed. You get the most useful grammar, words, and phrases to help you speak from the very beginning.

There are many excellent courses and resources out there. Just make sure you pick one that will support you in hitting your goals on your desired timeline, which should be about 3 months to get the basics down.

How long does it take to become conversationally fluent in Korean?

You should be able to have conversational fluency in less than a year. Again, you want to follow the parts of the Korean language that are used most often. By the time you can have a 3-minute conversation in Korean, you can start to direct the focus of your studies. Then you can talk to people in Korean in the situations that interest you most.

For example, if you want to talk to Korean in-laws, then you’ll want to learn Korean honorifics and use them more often. You can put more slang into your vocabulary if you’re talking with friends. And if you’re a Korean drama fan, you’ll want to focus on listening to everyday conversations so you can watch Korean dramas without subtitles.

You could define Korean fluency as roughly being at an intermediate level. However, it all depends on your goals and what kind of Korean language skills are most important to you.

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Other factors that affect how long it takes to learn Korean

Below we have separated some of the different factors that affect how quickly you can learn Korean. These are also relative to just how fluent in Korean you want to become!

1. Your native language

Depending on what native language you speak, learning Korean might be just a little bit easier or a little bit tougher for you. For example, Korean is thought to be especially difficult for native English speakers to become fluent in.

Meanwhile, for speakers of other East Asian languages, such as Japanese, Chinese, and Arabic speakers, Korean can be an easy language to learn. It could take far few hours (or years!) to become fluent at the same level as a native English speaker.

Don’t worry, though! Your native language may slow you down a little bit, but it isn’t an obstacle you cannot overcome! For example, you can use associations in your native language for Korean words you want to learn.

2. Your previous language learning experience

You’re at an advantage with learning a new foreign language if you were raised as bilingual or have the ability to speak a foreign language. Having developed fluency with speaking more than one language as a child over the years has made you naturally more adjustable to learning a new language.

Illustration of 3 kids studying at a computer

Aside from that, other languages you have learned will help as well. One reason your previous language-learning experience of a foreign language is a plus is that this will have helped you develop good learning habits. This will get you started quickly with Korean as well.

Your brain will have already adjusted to the type of learning that studying a new language follows. Thus you’ll have an easier time learning Korean as well. This is especially so if you’re adept at learning new languages!

3. The learning methods you are using

Learning Korean in a classroom setting is the best way to get clear information on grammar structures. It will also give you a well-thought-out plan to follow for learning vocabulary. However, if you aren’t learning, practicing, or applying the Korean you learned in situations outside of the classroom, then your progress will be slower.

Instead of just focusing on getting the minimal homework done, try actively watching K-dramas and movies or listening to K-pop songs to start. You can then practice through apps or language exchanges, talk with native speakers, and use eBooks and Korean learning websites. You can try these to help develop your skills and achieve language proficiency faster.

If you have the chance, traveling to Korea to attend language school is the absolute quickest way to learn Korean and become fluent in Korean.

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4. How much of your time you are dedicating to learning Korean

The more hours you spend each day studying Korean, the quicker you can grow your fluency. Your time dedication is also connected to your general language learning ability and learning methods.

For example, you may be learning new Korean nouns or Korean vocabulary daily. Spending more time reviewing this material is going to help you become more familiar with it.

If you know your pace of studying and the results it gets you, you can calculate how much you will improve if you adjust your study time. Using calculations like this will be helpful if you want to measure how long it might take you to learn Korean at your desired level. The more time you spend learning a language, the faster you’ll have language proficiency.

5. Your attitude and motivation toward learning Korean

It’s no secret that these two are the key to unlocking your language learning potential. Having a positive attitude towards learning Korean can help you keep highly motivated.

Your motivation is what keeps you studying, day after day, even on the days when you’re feeling frustrated because you are working on some challenging new grammar. Do you want to know why learning Korean is fun? Find out here.

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The Fastest Ways to Learn Korean

The quickest and best way to learn Korean is to be around the language as much as possible. There are many ways to accomplish this, so we’ll give you suggestions.

Attend language schools in Korea

One option for this language learning is moving to Korea and attending a language school here. In these Korean language schools, if you start from the bottom, you will typically study through 6 levels, with 4 levels a year. That would take you 1.5 years from the basics to graduating from the program.

Each level lasts for 10 weeks and includes 20 hours of classes per week. That means it will take 1200 hours in total to learn Korean using this method. This estimate of hours does not include homework and time spent outside of class practicing your skills.

Learn Korean online

A second option is to learn Korean online. You could do this by joining an online Korean language learning program. Alternatively, you can create your own program with various online resources.

In either case, you can use the 1200 hours as a basis for how long it takes to learn Korean at a high intermediate level. How many hours a week are you prepared to study? When you know your weekly amount, you can have an estimation for reaching the milestone of Korean fluency. Take your time, and make sure you enjoy the learning process.

We hope this was helpful. We look forward to hearing how you’ll enjoy Korean movies and music and the Korean culture better as you learn Korean too! Let us know how far you are with your Korean studies in the comments below!

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    81 replies to "How long does it take to learn Korean?"

    • Avatar for Billy Billy

      I learn 550 words in Korea it’s enough to fleuntu in Korean

    • Avatar for Hayeon_Kim¹³ Hayeon_Kim¹³

      I’ve been learning korean for 1 year and 1 month now, should I learn more grammar or more vocabulary?

      • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

        Great, thanks for sharing! It depends on how far you want to take your Korean language skills and which skills you want to focus on. Grammar and vocabulary both complement each other. We suggest that you learn more Korean vocabulary as you study and review the previous grammar lessons. If you want to improve your grammar then we suggest you learn Korean grammar more. If you want, you can read these articles: Korean Grammar for Beginners and Korean Words and Basic Vocabulary That Are Used Most Often.
        https://www.90daykorean.com/korean-grammar/
        https://www.90daykorean.com/korean-words/

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