How to Speak Korean – Online Guide for Conversational Fluency

Last Updated on September 7, 2022 by 90 Day Korean
Illustration of kids talking at a table

Do you want to learn how to speak Korean?  If so, you’ve come to the right place!

Korean is the official language of South Korea, so it’s very useful to learn how to converse if you’re heading out this way for a trip. You may be interested in learning how to speak Korean so you can communicate with Korean friends, talk with Korean in-laws, or chat with your significant other in his or her native language.

Many people these days want to learn a new language, and they choose Korean because of the popularity of Korean Dramas, K-Pop, Korean movies, and Korean culture.

Whatever the reason is, we’ve got you covered! Below, we organized an online plan for conversational fluency that will help you start to practice using the language right away.

Read on for a simple step-by-step guide on how to speak Korean!

Illustration of kids talking at a table

Below is a free PDF guide that you can download and take with you:

How to Speak Korean

You may want to know how to speak Korean easily. This may be especially true if you like Korean dramas, movies, and music. Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to start speaking Korean.

Many Korean lessons are available online that will help you learn how to speak Korean. These are basic lessons to help you get started. On top of that, there are more opportunities for you to be able to practice speaking Korean.

Korean Speaking Lessons

You don’t need to learn Korean in order to speak Korean. For example, you may want to talk to Koreans, but you don’t care about reading a comic book or writing an email in Korean.

We fully understand!

However, if you want to learn how to have significant conversations in Korean quickly, then you’ll want to follow the steps below. These Korean speaking lessons and resources will show you the 80/20 for learning how to speak Korean and get you to a conversational level. In other words, you’ll learn the 20% of the Korean language that will give you 80% of the results. This will help you learn the most in the shortest amount of time.

Spend only the required learning time on each step, and then move on. Get a good understanding, but don’t worry about mastering each step for speaking Korean. You will be using the things you’ve learned during conversation practice time.

Each step also has a “related lessons” section at the bottom for additional practice and application of what you learn. You can use that after you’ve gone through all six steps, and you’ve decided you want to continue learning Korean.

Step 1: Learn to Read Hangeul (the Korean Alphabet)

Online resource: https://www.90daykorean.com/how-to-learn-the-korean-alphabet/

If you want to speak Korean, the first thing you should do is learn to read Hangeul (the Korean alphabet). Learning Hangeul only takes about 1 hour to learn. There are two massive benefits to this.

First, you’ll be able to read Korean words and sentences quickly and easily. Knowing the alphabet will allow you to supercharge any Korean learning that you do, and begin to speak Korean in no time. It’s one of the simplest and most effective hacks for having Korean conversations.

And second, it will help you understand and use the correct pronunciation of your newly-learned words. This is critical if you want to speak Korean and have conversations. Korean pronunciation is significantly easier than reading romanized English. Learning to read the alphabet is necessary if you want to become a high-level Korean speaker.

Two women sitting on a couch talking

Head over to the first of our online lessons and learn to read Hangeul before your next meal. The guide uses associations using the English alphabet. The Korean alphabet and the English alphabet have a lot of similarities, which will help you understand the pronunciation of the letters.

Once you can read the letters, move on to the next step in our guide. You don’t need to master them, just make sure you can sound out words. You may want to get some additional practice using flashcards. You can write the Korean letters on the front of the flashcard. On the back write the English equivalent and any pronunciation tips that may be helpful.

Related lessons: Korean double consonants

Step 2: Learn Korean Numbers

Online resource: https://www.90daykorean.com/korean-numbers/

The second step in learning how to speak Korean is to learn Korean numbers. There are two number systems in use in the Korean language, and we have a lesson on both of them. The lessons are explained in English, but knowing the Korean alphabet will help with the pronunciation of the numbers.

The first system is the Sino-Korean number system, which the Korean language adopted from Chinese. These numbers are used often and are quite easy to learn.  You only need to learn the first 10 numbers plus 100, 1000, 10000, and so on. The rest is all combining the basic numbers together.

For example, the number 2 is 이 (i) and 10 is 십 (sip). And 22 is 이십이 (isipi). This number system is used for multiple different things like money and calendar dates.

This is the most useful number system, so learn it first. It’s easy to learn because it’s structured. It follows patterns, and may even be easier to learn than numbers in English.

The second system is the native Korean number system, which was created later. It takes a little bit more effort to learn these numbers. The pronunciation is a bit more challenging, and they don’t follow the simple patterns of the Sino-Korean number system. For example, four is 넷 (net) and five is 다섯 (daseot), while forty is 마흔 (maheun) and fifty is 쉰 (swin).

The native Korean counting system only goes up to 99, but even those numbers can be tough to say. You’ll use these numbers to tell your age, or to count quantities like how many bananas you want to buy at the market, and so on.

Just start with the Sino-Korean system lesson and learn to count to 100. Then move onto the next step. You can bookmark the lesson and then learn more about the native Korean numbers later.

Even if you aren’t using the correct number system when you speak, people will understand what you’re saying. That’s the goal—to get you speaking Korean as soon as possible!

Related lessons: Korean months, Korean counters

Step 3: Learn Korean Phrases

Online resource: https://www.90daykorean.com/korean-phrases/

To help develop your speaking skills, start learning the most common phrases for Korean language learning. Using these phrases will allow you to have Korean conversations quickly.

There are many phrases on this list, but you don’t need to learn them all. Just start with the essential and everyday phrases that will get you talking in Korean. These are simple phrases like “hello“, “excuse me”, and “thank you“. In other words, learn the phrases that are used in English most often.

Once you learn the essential and everyday phrases, consider adding them to your flashcard deck or notes so you can practice speaking them. Bookmark this page for later use, and move on to the next step.

Related lessons: Survival Korean

Step 4: Learn Korean Words

Online resource: https://www.90daykorean.com/korean-words/

Now that you know how to read Korean, the numbers, and some basic phrases, it’s time to learn some of the most common words in the Korean language.

Start by learning Korean nouns first. These are the words that you will come across most, so they will be the most useful when you practice speaking Korean. You may recognize some of these words that appear in the phrases you already learned. Some sound very similar to their meaning in English.

Learning Korean words alone will not be enough to start making sentences. However, when you know the Korean vocabulary well, it will help you to form those sentences. These are Korean words that you will want to memorize as soon as you can so you can start creating sentences.

The way you memorize the words is up to you. You may want to make associations in English to help you remember the Korean words and phrases that you are learning.

A great tool you can use to practice reviewing these words is the flashcard system called Anki. It allows for space repetition learning, and is quite fun!

Become familiar with these, and then move on to the next lesson.

Related lessons: Shortened Korean Words, Korean slang, Colors in Korean, Parts of the Body in Korean, Fruits and Vegetables in Korean, Animals in Korean

People having a conversation

Step 5: Learn Korean Sentence Basics

Online resource: https://www.90daykorean.com/korean-sentence-structure/

Once you have a handle on some of the basic phrases and commonly used words in Korean language, it’s time to start learning how to make sentences! This is one of the most effective lessons because you can make 30+ sentences by learning only a few words and endings.

Learning the sentence structure in Korean is quick and easy, which is great because it’s essential for speaking Korean. If you learn the Korean sentence structure with us, you can begin creating sentences in just minutes!

There are some additional Korean grammar sections in this lesson on sentence structures, but you can skip them for now. Just focus on the verbs and the conjugations, they will be the biggest help. You can go back and practice Korean grammar later.

Related lessons: Korean particles, Korean grammar, Korean conjunctions

Step 6: Practice with Conversation Partners

Online resource: https://www.90daykorean.com/korean-language-exchange/

Congratulations! You have now learned all of the basics of talking and having conversations in Korean. You have a fantastic framework for speaking Korean. That only leaves one more step: actually starting to talk in Korean!

Language exchange is one of the most popular ways for foreigners to practice Korean speaking. It’s also a popular way for Koreans to practice talking in other languages. That makes it a fantastic way to practice speaking Korean, no matter which level you are.

A couple sitting outside talking

You don’t need to be in Korea to have a conversation partner for Korean. We have compiled a list of great language exchange websites that you can start using today. You can also practice speaking Korean with a friend who’s learning the language so you can help each other learn Korean together.

Related lessons: Korean Texting, How to Meet Korean Friends Online, Korean emoticons

Conversational Korean

When you learn Korean, one thing that gets you to speak the language early on is conversational Korean phrases. These are basic phrases that you often hear and use in conversations.

They are easy to learn because native speakers commonly use them.

For example:

  • 안녕하세요. (annyeonghaseyo.) – Hello.
  • 만나서 참 반가워요. (mannaseo cham bangawoyo.) – Nice to meet you.
  • 감사합니다. (gamsahamnida.) – Thank you.
  • 천만에요. (cheonmaneyo.) – You’re welcome.
  • 어떻게 지내세요? (eotteoke jinaeseyo?) – How are you?
  • 잘 지내요. (jaljinaeyo.) – I’m doing good.

Once you learn these words and phrases, you’ll be able to indulge yourself in a quick and short conversation in Korean.

Korean Conversation

As Korean language learners, the ultimate goal is, of course, to speak the language and be able to engage in conversations. 

You don’t have to learn a lot of grammar points to indulge in a Korean conversation. All you need to start with is a few words and phrases that are commonly used in a Korean conversation or in a particular situation. 

Korean Conversation Practice

In this section, you’ll learn two Korean conversations you can use for practice. The first conversation can be helpful when you meet someone new. The second conversation can be useful when speaking to a friend.

Below are two Korean conversation examples:

Example 1:

A: 안녕하세요. 저는 크리스입니다. (annyeonghaseyo. jeoneun keuriseuimnida.)

Hi, I’m Cris.

B: 안녕하세요. 저는 소라입니다. 만나서 반갑습니다. (annyeonghaseyo. jeoneun soraimnida. mannaseo bangapseumnida.)

Hi, I’m Sora. Nice to meet you.

A: 저도 만나서 반갑습니다. 저는 미국 사람입니다. (jeodo mannaseo bangapseumnida. jeoneun miguk saramimnida.)

Nice to meet you too. I’m American.

B: 저는 일본사람입니다. (jeoneun ilbonsaramimnida.)

I’m Japanese.

Example 2:

A: 세희 씨는 주말 계획이 있어요? (sehui ssineun jumal gyehoegi isseoyo?)

Sehui, do you have plans for the weekend?

B: 아니요. 계획이 없어요. (aniyo. gyehoegi eopseoyo.)

No, I don’t have any plans.

A: 그럼 주말에 영화 보러 가요. (eureom jumare yeonghwa boreo gayo.)

Then, let’s watch a movie on the weekend.

B: 알았어요. (arasseoyo.)

Okay.

How to Speak Korean Fluently

The ultimate goal of most if not all language learners learning Korean is to be able to speak the language fluently. There are several fun ways how to speak Korean fluently.

You can start with learning to read and pronounce Korean letters. This is your first step to fluency. Knowing to read and pronounce the letters correctly will help you read and speak basic Korean words and sentences like a native Korean speaker.

For example:

같이 (gati) is pronounced 가치 (gachi).

You can also learn to speak Korean fluently by listening to Korean music and watching Korean TV shows and dramas and following the words and sentences you hear from them.

For example:

오해 하지마 (ohae hajima) means “Don’t misunderstand”.

If you want to have someone check your pronunciation and grammar, you can join a community that would give you the support you need to reach your Korean language fluency goal. You can find a language partner to practice speaking in Korean so you can have the confidence you need when you speak to locals or to your Korean friends on your next visit to South Korea!

How to Talk in Korean Every Day

If you want to get good at speaking Korean, then you’ll want to maximize how much time you talk in Korean. You can do this by setting up your day to talk in Korean as much as possible.

How can I improve my Korean pronunciation if I don’t have any Koreans near me?

Talk in Korean Over Messenger

One way to do this is to send voice notes over KakaoTalk to your conversation partner. Then you can listen to your conversation partner’s voice message. Be sure to specify that you want them to talk to you in Korean. This is especially true if you share the same native language with your partner. Another way to talk to Koreans every day is to be mindful of how you set up your day. Here’s how.

Talk to Me in Korean, Please

You can get Koreans to talk to you in Korean no matter where you are in the world. If you visit a Korean supermarket or restaurant in your area, then you can talk simple phrases with the staff. If they reply back to you in English, you can ask them to talk to you in Korean.

You can say 한국어로 말해주세요 (hangugeoro malhae juseyo) or 한국어로 이야기해주세요 (hangugeoro iyagihae juseyo). They are similar to saying “talk to me in Korean, please”. You can also say 저는 한국어 공부하고 있어요 (jeoneun hangugeo gongbuhago isseoyo), which means “I’m studying Korean”. Remember to smile when saying it!

Practice saying “talk to me in Korean, please” on your own so you are able to say it when you need it. You might say it out loud by yourself a few times a day until it becomes second nature.

Remember the staff who talk to you in Korean

Some staff will like talking to you in Korean, so you can look for that staff person each time you visit. If they talk to you in English, just say 감사합니다 (gamsahamnida | thank you) and make a mental note for the next time. You can apply the same principles for talking in Korean if you are in Korea. Be mindful of how you set up your day, and you’ll be talking in Korean on a regular basis in no time at all!

How do you ask “Do you speak Korean” in Korean?

Memorize the Korean Speaking Phrase

The phrases “talk to me in Korean, please” and “I’m studying Korean” can be a bit long to remember. You may want to write them down on an index card and read them when you’re talking to the staff. Even if you have memorized the phrases, it will be good to have a backup.

There you have it--our framework and a step-by-step plan for learning how to speak Korean quickly and easily! We hope you love it and are ready to start talking using what you’ve learned right away.

If you liked this, then you may want to check out our in-depth guide on how to study Korean in a fast and efficient way, so you get to start talking in Korean quickly. It contains everything we covered here but also has extra lessons on learning other parts of the language to help you become a polished Korean speaker.

Korean Speaking Course

We also have a structured, step-by-step online Korean course that will teach you how to have a 3-minute conversation in the first 90 days. You can learn Korean from anywhere in the world using our fun and easy method.

How can we help you with learning to speak Korean? Let us know in the comments below!

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