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The Best Korean Lessons

Where Can You Get the Best Korean Lessons Online?

There are many reasons why people learn the Korean language. Maybe you're a K-drama fan eager to understand your favorite binge-worthy series without relying on subtitles. Or perhaps you're eyeing a career opportunity in South Korea and want to impress your future colleagues with your language skills. And let's not forget the thrill of traveling to Korea and being able to navigate the streets and connect with locals in their own language.

Learning Korean does come with its unique challenges compared to languages like Spanish or French. For starters, there's Hangeul, the Korean alphabet, which is surprisingly easy to pick up - but still requires some practice. Then there's the grammar, with its subject-object-verb word order and intricate honorifics system that adds layers of nuance to your speech.

Wednesday, June 19th

2024 Korean Lesson Reviews

Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award Memrise Review 5 Star Rating

Memrise

5 Star Rating
  • No cost to use basic Memrise account
  • More features available (ad-free) with paid Memrise Pro subscription
  • Uses video clips of native Korean speakers in authentic environments
  • Learn from user-created content as well as Memrise lessons
  • Many fluency levels available
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award

Memrise is our all-time favorite way to learn Korean (or most languages, if we're being honest). It combines the best parts of so many of today's popular language platforms. Native speaker video clips using speech authentically (in some pretty sweet Korean locations)? Yep. Motivation to keep making progress? Yep. Content that gets updated regularly? Yep. Multiple language levels? You know what we're going to say next! Memrise says that they push you to speak another language, and "if you want to pretend to learn, choose another language learning app." Okay, then!

Let's go!

To get started, you initially create your Memrise account for free. The first thing you'll see is Korean 1, and the first lesson is Deciphering the Alphabet. Memrise goes to great lengths to help you understand how the letters combine to make syllables, and how those syllables combine to make words. Better yet, they explain the word order as you would understand it in English: for example, if you've watched any number of K-dramas, you already know that what sounds like "ka-ja" means "let's go" , but Memrise makes sure you know that in Korean, it's actually more along the lines of "go let's" . Helpful (and a big departure from the Little Green Bird App That Everyone Loves To Hate). That instruction is where you'll start to see the native speakers teaching you how they say each letter and word, in ways you'll be able to picture as you practice what you've learned.

Lots of user-created content (for now)

But that's just what you get from the Memrise-created introduction to Korean. More advanced? No worries. There's also tons of community-created content on Memrise (and some that actually syncs up with other Korean lessons we've reviewed, if you need a place to get extra practice). You'll find all of that when you go out to the main Korean page on Memrise.

Best Korean Lessons

Big upgrades are coming

In the past, it could be a little confusing trying to sync up what you might be learning in the Memrise-created content with any extras you were adding, but big changes are coming soon to the platform. What will those changes look like? Memrise is rolling out an upgrade across many of its languages; at the time of this evaluation, most of the languages we had tried were slated to be moved to the new experience "soon" . That will include ways to Learn, Immerse, and Communicate, including conversations with the MemBot Chat AI. That could mean that Memrise looks a little different when you try it out, compared to how it looked when we visited recently (but we encourage you to give it a try and let us know what you think).

Pay as little as $80 for lifetime access to all Memrise languages

You can use Memrise for free across all of the languages in its portfolio, for as long as you like. But, if you'd like to go ad-free, unlock all vocabulary lessons, native speaker videos, and conversation practice, consider getting the Pro membership. While it's typically priced at $27.99/month or $130.99 annually, there's almost always a promotion to get Lifetime Pro access for much less than the list price of $199.99. At the time of our updated review of Korean lessons, Memrise was offering that plan for just $80. It's a solid way to get unlimited access to your Korean program (or Spanish, or Italian, or... ) without having to worry about a subscription; just think about how much you might spend month-to-month on anything else you might be a member of, before you realize you're not even using it. A one-time cost of $80 sounds like a pretty good deal to us.

Millions of users who love this platform

You're going to be amazed how many people have reviewed Memrise: over 1.5 million on the Google Play store and almost 200K on the Apple App Store. People tend to have nothing but high praise for Memrise as an app, with both places showing an average of 4.5-4.8 stars. We found frequent mentions specifically for Korean, saying it's got a steep learning curve but probably the best language learning app out there. Just keep in mind that with any updates and new releases of any service, there are bound to be bugs; we read several very recent comments that made it sound like the rollout of Memrise's upgrades might have some hitches (like lessons that have to be manually stopped, which kills the user's learning streak).

Best Korean Lessons

Still our favorite way to learn Korean

While we wish we could tell you all about what Memrise's Korean lessons look like in the new release, we were just a little too early to include those details in this review. But, with as much as we've loved using Memrise in the past, we're confident that it's going to continue to be a stellar way to learn Korean in a way that's both fun and authentic. If you want to actually learn how to speak the language like a native, with words and phrases you genuinely need (and not useless ones like "the baby's cucumber" ), Memrise is the best option out there today. We continue to give the Korean lessons at Memrise a 5-star rating and our highest recommendation.

Korean Class 101 Review 4.5 Star Rating

Korean Class 101

4.5 Star Rating
  • Regular pricing: $4/month for Basic, $10/month for Premium, $23/month for Premium+
  • Frequent promotional discounts (25-45% off at the time of this review)
  • 7-day free trial of Premium plans
  • 60-day refund policy
  • 5 levels of Korean lessons (Absolute Beginner-Advanced)
  • New content posted each week
  • 1:1 help available with Premium+ plan

Korean Class 101, a member of the Innovative Language Learning family, offers a comprehensive array of language study options, familiar to those who have explored their other classes typically named as "pods" (like Spanish Pod 101 or Russian Pod 101). Whether you're a newcomer or a seasoned user of the platform, let's take a look and see how Korean Class 101 might be able to help you with your learning goals.

Ample resources you can use for free

There are a lot of resources you can use 100% free of charge by creating an account with Korean Class 101. Once you've done that, you'll need to indicate your fluency in the language: maybe you're an Absolute Beginner who can introduce herself but not much more, or you're more Intermediate and can confidently navigate Korean honorifics, particles, and clauses. Korean Class 101 lets you change that at any time, so don't feel like you're locked in. We really appreciate that these Korean lessons are suitable for multiple fluency levels, not just newbies. There's a pretest that will double-check the level you've selected; just take a deep breath, do what you can, and remember that it's okay to say, "I don't know" .

Fun + practical

You'll be assigned to a Pathway after that (but, again, change it at will). For most people taking Korean lessons for the first time, Level 1 Korean will automatically show up in the dashboard. You'll see that there are almost 200 learning tasks, starting with First Encounters. Click "View All" to preview what you'll be learning. In Level 1 Korean, that includes standards aligned with the level A1 of the CEFR and TOPIK I (1st grade). You'll notice that the lessons are super-practical but fun at the same time: from Calling on Skype (practical) to "I Still Like Kimchi. I Don't Like You." (fun... and maybe practical too?).

Best Korean Lessons

Cultural context at every step of the way

Most lessons start with an audio dialogue, and we think that you're going to appreciate being able to switch between seeing them in English, Korean, and with Romanization (roughly how you'd pronounce it with the English alphabet). Another aspect we like about Korean Class 101's lessons is how they incorporate grammar and culture from the first session. Honorific language might feel foreign to you as a native English speaker, but it's extremely important in Korean; before we took the first lesson here, for example, we didn't know that the honorific should be used either with the full name (last name-first name-ssi) or just with the first name, but never with just the family name (unless you're trying to be disrespectful).

Be brave and leave the assessments toggled on

You'll also see quizzes and other assessments scattered throughout your Korean lessons here. Not your favorite? You can toggle them off, but we don't recommend it. You're not risking anything by giving it a try, and why not get the feedback for how you're progressing in fluency?

Both free and paid plans

There's a ton of free content you can use indefinitely on Korean Class 101, but let's take a look at the paid plans and what they offer. While regularly priced at $4/month for Basic, $10/month for Premium, and $23/month for Premium Plus (or Premium+, as it's sometimes shown on the site), almost every time we've visited this language website, there's been a promotion in place. The most recent one was anywhere from 25% to 45% off, but pay attention to the small asterisk that directs you to the fine print: the pricing may be based on the assumption that you're paying for two years in advance. Fortunately, every Korean Class 101 plan comes with a 60-day refund policy, no questions asked.

Best Korean Lessons

3 tiers of paid membership

So, what's in each tier? See for yourself:

  • Basic
    • Access to all lessons
    • In-depth lesson notes
    • Access on Android, iPhone, iPad
    • Korean Core 100 words and phrases
  • Premium
    • All of the features of Basic
    • Line-by-line audio dialogue
    • Premium lesson tracks
    • Lesson vocabulary lists
    • HD video
    • Korean Core 2,000 words and phrases
    • Pathway vocabulary
    • Vocabulary slideshow
    • Personal word bank
    • Spaced repetition flashcards
    • Multiple choice assessments
    • Pronunciation practice tools
    • Daily Dose of Korean lessons
    • Grammar bank
  • Premium+
    • All of the features of Premium
    • One-on-one access to a teacher
    • Hand-graded assignments
    • Guidance and personalized assessment
    • Writing and pronunciation practice

More traditional approach to teaching Korean

Is it worth paying for these Korean lessons? Many people think so. Korean Class 101 is pretty thorough, and it offers more advanced content than most services out there today. But, don't go into it expecting games and competitions: while these lessons keep the learning fun, it doesn't do it with leaderboards and streaks. If you're a fan of a slightly more traditional style of taking on a new language, Korean Class 101 fits the bill.

Best Korean Lessons

Excellent choice for all fluency levels

Final take? For students who want a platform they can use for years at a time as they progress through an in-depth study of the Korean language and culture, Korean Class 101 is an excellent choice. The lessons are structured in a way that should be easy for anyone to follow, while sprinkling in some humor too. And, with ample free content and three tiers of paid upgrades, this platform can easily be tweaked to give you just the services you need (from a basic word bank all the way to working with your own assigned instructor). Korean Class 101 gets an excellent rating from us.

italki Review 4.5 Star Rating

italki

4.5 Star Rating
  • Over 300 tutors to choose from
  • Get a trial lesson for as little as $5
  • Hourly rates start at $10
  • Easy to work with tutors with years of experience
  • Customized learning can include homework outside of the tutoring sessions

Learning Korean can be quite the challenge, especially when finding someone to practice with in your immediate circle is tough. But fear not, italki is here to save the day. This awesome service connects you with community tutors (people without official teaching credentials) and professional teachers (those who've got the credentials) for personalized Korean lessons through video. Many of the tutors also have a curriculum for you to follow outside of your one-on-one sessions, so that you can come to your tutoring time after studying your Korean lessons in advance and practice what you've been working on.

Shopping for a tutor is fun

Browsing through the profiles of over 300 Korean tutors on italki is a blast. Watch their intro videos to get a feel for their vibe, see if you can understand them in English, and decide if they're the right fit for you. You can even add your favorites to a list by clicking the little heart next to their name. While there are some filters to help narrow down your search, like other languages they speak or if they're a native speaker of Korean, they don't cover all of the bases we'd like to see (like filters for ratings, number of completed lessons, or how long they've been on italki). In those areas, you'll have to do a bit of digging on your own.

Some tutors have taught thousands of lessons on italki

As you browse, you'll see there are lots of tutors on italki who are just starting out or have only done a handful of lessons. But, there are also plenty who've been around the block and have racked up hundreds (or thousands) of successful student sessions. Take Rosa, for example. Even though she's designated as a "community tutor" , she still had nearly 12,000 completed lessons to her credit and a perfect 5-star average from student reviews. There's also professional teacher "Shinnie" , with 11 years of teaching experience and almost 10,000 lessons completed on italki with a 5-star average as well.

Best Korean Lessons

Plenty of info on each profile

When you click on a tutor's profile, you'll find all sorts of info about how they teach Korean, their background, and what kinds of lessons they offer. For instance, Shinnie offers a trial lesson for $22, regular classes for $29 and customized lesson packages. You can see how many lessons he's completed in each category, with his most popular being a 20-lesson package discount (nearly 3,000 people purchased it).

Schedule your Korean lessons via online calendar

Booking lessons is a breeze on italki. The site detects your computer's time and shows you lesson times in your own time zone. Just click on a tutor's calendar to see when they're available. We were able to book a lesson with Shinnie the same day as our review, and there were tons of open slots in the coming week. Just be aware that it shows the calendar in 4-hour blocks, and when you hover over one of them, it'll show you how much appointment time is available within that block (from 8a-12p, there may be two hours of open time, but from noon to 4p there are 3.5 hours open).

Students love their Korean tutors here

italki gets lots of love from users, with both the platform and individual tutors earning rave reviews. It's reassuring to read through student feedback and see just how effective and comfortable it is to learn Korean one-on-one with a tutor. Again, going back to Shinnie as our example, his reviews from grateful students describe his unique methods for teaching, his positive attitude, and his friendly demeanor. Some of his students have worked with him for over a year: solid evidence that italki is here to stay (and so are many of the Korean tutors).

Best Korean Lessons

Trial lessons often at a discounted rate

Plus, this could be one of your most affordable ways to learn Korean, especially for conversation. Most tutors offer a discounted-rate trial lesson, to let you get a feel for their teaching style and see if it seems like the right match. In the past, some of those trial lessons were as low as $1, but we're honestly glad to see that that's gone up (because the tutors' time is worth more than that). Most trial rates we saw at the time of this updated review were at least $5 for the first lesson, and hourly rates ranged anywhere from $10 and up after that. What you'll pay will naturally depend on the tutor you select and the type of Korean lessons you choose from what he or she offers. A 30-minute lesson for a child will probably be at a different rate than an intensive prep session for the TOPIK exam, for example.

Not for the shy or for learners in quiet environments

While italki is fantastic for personalized learning, it might not be everyone's cup of tea. If you're someone who feels self-conscious about making mistakes or gets a bit anxious interacting directly with others, learning Korean through italki could feel a bit intimidating. Also, you'll need a decent internet connection and a quiet space to chat freely. These aren't Korean lessons you can quietly study while on the bus or in a library.

Top choice for improving conversational Korean and more

Despite these minor drawbacks, italki gets a big thumbs up from us for helping people learn Korean like a pro. While other platforms might teach you how to read or write Korean, italki really shines when it comes to getting your speaking skills up to speed. So if you're not surrounded by Korean speakers in your community, italki is hands down the best way to work on your fluency.

Busuu Review 4 Star Rating

Busuu

4 Star Rating
  • Free to use for basic Korean lessons
  • 7-day free trial on Premium plan (6-month and yearly billing plans only)
  • 14-day money-back guarantee on Premium plan
  • $83.40/year, $50.70/6 months, or $13.90/month for month-to-month
  • Premium plan gives you all lessons unlocked, no ads, personalized revision, faster feedback from native speakers, offline mode, and completion certificates
  • Connects you with a friendly learning community

Busuu, named after an endangered language from Cameroon, emerged from the frustration Bernhard Niesner and Adrian Hilti experienced with traditional language learning methods during their MBA studies at IE Business School in Spain. Recognizing the outdated, expensive, and time-consuming nature of existing options, they conceived Busuu as a solution to offer affordable online courses and interactions with native speakers. Launched in 2008 after their graduation, Busuu swiftly gained recognition as a leading player in language education. In January 2022, Busuu joined forces with Chegg, aligning with their shared commitment to empowering learners in their academic pursuits and beyond.

Get started for free with Complete Korean

It's free to get started with Busuu. There are three Korean courses you can choose from:

  • Complete Korean (beginner levels A1-A2)
  • Hangeul (beginner level A1) : strictly for learning to read and write in Korean
  • K-Drama (beginner level A1): learn the language through a TV program

However, only the Complete Korean course can be accessed at no cost. The other two sets of lessons will show you the first one in each series, but the rest will require a Premium plan on Busuu.

Best Korean Lessons

Free option is ad-supported

But, before we get down to dollars, let's look at what you can do for free on Busuu. You'll start out with the absolute basics of introductions and saying hello. No problem. Learn to say "hello" and at the end you'll be rewarded with some stars to show your progress. Busuu gives you daily challenges, so if you like having incentives like trophies and streaks to work through lessons, this platform has you covered.

Online tracker

It also lets you know how long it'll take you to complete your studies at your current pace; for example, after the first lesson, Busuu told us it would take us 66 days to complete Beginner (A1) Korean, which would allow us to introduce ourselves, order meals, have basic conversations, and fill out forms with personal information (exactly what you might need to know to start functioning in the language on a daily basis). As you work your way through the free platform, expect to have ads at the end of every single lesson, and sometimes before you move on to the next one.

Pass a level to move forward

By the way, Busuu doesn't let you skip around content-wise: you'll have to either progress through each lesson in a chapter, or if you already feel confident in your Korean skills for a particular topic, you can jump to the chapter-end checkpoint and see if you know enough (80% or better) to move to the next one.

Best Korean Lessons

Premium plan gets rid of ads and gives you more features

Once you get through that first lesson, Busuu jumps right to the subscription pitch, so we might as well too. You can keep using the free version of Busuu; just expect to have to click "not now" and "maybe later" a bunch of times. The Premium plan (with benefits like ad-free use, all lessons unlocked, spaced-repetition practice tools, personalized grammar review, completion certificates, monthly streak repair, and priority feedback from native Korean speakers) can be accessed for $13.90/month on a month-to-month plan. There's no free trial, but you can cancel at any time. If you want to take a chance on Busuu and you're willing to pay upfront for several months in advance, a 6-month plan is $50.70, and a one-year plan is $83.40. Those two tiers come with a 7-day free trial, so you can really put these Korean lessons to the test (and maybe take a peek at that K-Drama course that's Premium-only).

You won't be writing in Korean right away

The beginning lessons on Busuu are extremely basic, and we were torn between loving the fact that there were English approximations for all of the phrases (so we could wrap our heads around what we were trying to imitate) and disliking the fact that our first opportunity to produce something in Korean and send it to the community (a simple "My name is" ) used the English approximation with no opportunity to try it using the actual Korean alphabet. Busuu probably doesn't want to overwhelm anyone by jumping right into Hangeul, but it left us feeling a little... sad? But, we're glad that there are 13 chapters to work through in the A1 Beginner level of Complete Korean, even though we doubt we'd actually have that level of fluency by the time we finished.

Community connections are encouraged but optional

Because community language connections are important on Busuu, you'll be asked to befriend Korean speakers. That's so you can get corrections on your work, practice, and also help them to practice their English (by offering corrections on their assignments). That part is optional, though.

Best Korean Lessons

Hundreds of thousands of five-star ratings

Busuu can also be used very easily as an app, and users on both platforms leave enthusiastic feedback for the platform as a whole. On Google Play alone, there were almost 700,000 ratings (!) at the time of this evaluation, averaging a truly impressive average of 4.7 stars. It's not quite as popular on the Apple App Store, but it still averages that 4.7 across 80,000+ reviews. Those who use it as a paid app are sometimes less enthusiastic than students who use Busuu for free, partly due to problems with automatic plan renewals (which don't come with a refund, even if it's just because you forgot to cancel prior to the renewal date). But, by and large, language students (and even some who specifically mentioned learning Korean) often say that Busuu is their favorite free-with-ads learning platform.

Stress-free Korean lessons

While Busuu can't take you to an intermediate or advanced level of fluency in Korean, it's a great way to get started as a beginner or as a student with a bit of prior experience with the language. The lessons are bite-sized and easy to understand; we never felt stressed out as we worked our way through them, unlike some of Busuu's rivals on our list. It's 100% risk-free to give it a try, and we encourage you to see if the Korean lessons at Busuu are the right fit for you.

Rocket Languages Review 4 Star Rating

Rocket Languages

4 Star Rating
  • Free (limited) guest access
  • One-time cost of $149.95 ($99.95 with promo pricing) or 6 monthly payments of $27 ($19 with promo pricing)
  • 7 modules with 12-14 lessons in each one (plus an intro module)
  • Each module includes four interactive audio lessons, four to six language and culture lessons (which also include grammar), and four to six writing lessons (to learn the Korean alphabet)
  • Best suited to beginners
  • 60-day money-back guarantee

Embarking on your Korean language journey? Whether you're an employee seeking to enhance your skills or an individual eager to explore a new language, Rocket Languages has been a go-to platform for many, including corporate giants like Pentel and Deloitte. From homeschoolers to aspiring polyglots, learners of all backgrounds have found Rocket Korean to be a fun and effective resource for mastering the basics of the language.

One-off cost for Korean lessons, no subscription required

Before we get into the structure of the Korean lessons at Rocket, let's get the money part out of the way. One big difference with Rocket Korean is the fact that it's a one-time payment: no subscription necessary. You can opt to pay the one-time fee in six monthly installments, but that will be the end of your billing. If you tend to be one of those people who subscribes to things and then pays for it for a long time because you forgot about it. Rocket Languages might save you some money in the long run. Although you'll be given a "limited time offer" for the pricing here, we've found that Rocket Korean is always priced with the same deal: $99.95 or six installments of $19/month.

60-day money-back guarantee

Also, when you give Rocket Korean your name and email address, you'll get access to a free trial with several sample lessons. But, let's say you try the sample, pay for the complete program, but then you decide it's not what you were imagining. No problem. As long as you make that call within 60 days, Rocket Languages will give you a full refund, no questions asked.

Best Korean Lessons

8 modules + Survival Kit lessons

Now that that's settled, here's what you can expect from Rocket Korean's lessons. All of the learning here is considered part of Level 1: nothing that goes beyond a beginner level of study. There are 8 total modules in Rocket Korean, including the Intro, all with a mix of audio instruction, language and culture lessons, and writing lessons. There's also a "Survival Kit" section that walks you through vocabulary and conversations you might need to have sooner rather than later (like parts of the body, days and dates, and "Korean food at its best" ). You can move around among and within modules as you like, but they tend to work best if you follow them sequentially.

Learn to read, speak, write, and understand Korean

Rocket Korean's lessons will let you work through all modalities, and we especially like the Rocket Record tool that lets you speak and compare your accent with that of a native speaker. And, when you work on the conversations modeled in the lessons, you can choose to speak the conversation as either of the people featured, or practice the entire exchange from start to finish. You'll see both the Hangeul and Romanized letters, along with the English translation underneath: Rocket Korean doesn't expect you to just "figure it out" , since that's a really uncomfortable thing for many language learners.

Practice everything before a short quiz

And, you'll have reinforcement of what you learn throughout each lesson of the module. On most sections, that looks like flashcards plus speaking and listening practice, ended by a short quiz. That applies whether you're understanding how "Thanking and Apologizing" works or learning how to get around Seoul.

Best Korean Lessons

A few limitations to be aware of

All of that being said, there are a few things you won't get if you choose Rocket Korean for your studies. First off, the content is relatively static: although there seem to be more modules than when we previously evaluated these Korean lessons, you shouldn't expect there to be anything that teaches you the language as it relates to current events, the latest slang, or vocabulary from the most recent song released by your favorite K-pop group. Sorry. You also won't get interaction with other learners, and that means no leaderboards, no competitions, no community forums. Finally, as we mentioned, this is a language platform designed for beginning-level mastery of the Korean language; if you've already had more than a year or two of experience, you may not find anything on Rocket that can take you to the next fluency level.

We recommend it for beginners

Still, there are many reasons that we're fans of Rocket Korean. Their lessons are truly suited for beginners, walking them gently through what there is to know about the language and culture (with some humor along the way). And, with a one-time fee and lifetime access, you're not going to feel like you wasted your money if you're not diligently following a schedule: Rocket Korean is there when you want it, quietly waiting in the background for you to be ready for your next lesson. All it takes is your name and email address, and you can give Rocket Languages a try.

Pimsleur Review 3.5 Star Rating

Pimsleur

3.5 Star Rating
  • Focuses on learning through listening
  • No practice of reading or writing Korean
  • Free one-week trial
  • $14.95/month for access to all Korean audio lessons
  • $19.95/month for Korean Premium (audio-only + "visual tools" )
  • $20.95/month for access to all 50+ Pimsleur languages

Pimsleur is a language learning method renowned for its audio-based approach, focusing on conversational proficiency and auditory comprehension. Developed by Dr. Paul Pimsleur, the program emphasizes active participation through spaced repetition and organic learning, where learners engage in realistic dialogues and repeat phrases to internalize language patterns.

Structured lessons

Pimsleur's structured lessons gradually introduce new vocabulary and grammar in context, building upon previous knowledge to reinforce learning. The program covers a wide range of languages and offers levels from beginner to advanced, catering to learners of varying proficiency levels. With its portable format and emphasis on oral proficiency, Pimsleur provides an effective and convenient option for language learners seeking to develop practical speaking and listening skills.

Heavy focus on audio learning

While Pimsleur has a fantastic reputation overall and could be an excellent option if your only goal is to be able to understand spoken Korean and be able to speak it yourself, the focus on audio learning (with a reading component only available if you're using the desktop version, as far as we could tell) is a huge drawback with a language with an alphabet different from the one you already use (you can't sound it out phonetically if you don't know how the letters translate into the sounds you recognize).

Create an account to get a free lesson

But, let's assume that maybe your primary goal is to be able to converse freely in Korean (or to understand that K-drama you're binge-watching without having the English subtitles on). Go to the top of the Pimsleur site and choose the link for a free lesson. You'll have to create an account to access it, but it's a great way to see (or hear?) how the platform works.

Best Korean Lessons

7-day free trial on paid subscriptions

You can also take advantage of the 7-day free trial of Pimsleur before you commit - just make sure to cancel before that week is up, or you'll automatically be charged $14.95 for your first month's subscription, to the credit card you entered when creating your account for the trial.

3 paid plans to choose from

That was the point where we felt a little... misled?...by Pimsleur. When we chose Korean in the dropdown box, we were taken to a page to "pick the right plan" . That's where we found that it's $14.95/month for the audio-only Korean lessons, but we could pay $19.95 for a Premium subscription with "visual tools" . Those include flashcards, a "Speak Easy" roleplay tool, and several other features. Finally, for just $1 more a month, we could get access to all 50+ Pimsleur languages at the Premium level. We would have preferred to see all of that spelled out from the get-go, and not sprung on us as a surprise when we were just trying to get to the free trial. And, by the way, if you already know you want to commit to Pimsleur for a whole year, you can save up to 34% by paying annually ($134.95 to $164.95, depending on which tier you choose among Korean Audio-Only, Korean Premium, or All Access).

Audio + Visuals is worth the extra money

If you can wade through all of that, however, Pimsleur winds up being a lot more well-rounded than you might initially think. The sample lesson for Korean pulls out all the stops, showing you not only the first full audio lesson, but previewing everything available when you go for the Audio + Visuals. These extras include a voice coach to perfect your pronunciation with speech recognition, a phonetic approach to reading (with lessons that don't always correspond to the vocabulary you're learning), flash cards, a quick match quiz, and "Speak Easy" for working on your rhythm, cadence, and accent in Korean.

You'll need to be able to speak out loud while you listen

One thing to point out: even if you're going for the audio-only style of learning Korean, you're going to need a learning environment where you can speak out loud: think of your car on your daily commute, but maybe not on a crowded subway or while walking down the streets of a big city. A big part of the Pimsleur process is repeating after the native speaker, and you don't necessarily want everyone around you to have to listen to you practicing.

Best Korean Lessons

120 lessons across 4 levels of Korean

How far can you go with Pimsleur? Their Korean lessons consist of 4 different levels, each of which consists of thirty 30-minute daily audio lessons. In addition to each level's 15 hours of audio language instruction, the Premium subscription gives you access to those additional tools; at each level of Korean, you'll get 300 digital flashcards (which can conveniently be toggled to show you the English approximation of the sounds, the Hangeul alone, or both together), 300 Quick Match Questions, 30 Speak Easy conversations, and 30 "light bulb moments" to introduce Korean culture and history.

Up to 4 people can share a Premium membership

Pimsleur wants to make it even easier for you to study Korean, by syncing your lessons across whatever devices you're using to log into your account. And, speaking of accounts, you can add up to three additional household members when you choose a Premium membership. So, you and your roomies could all be working on Korean, or with the all-access tier, you can make progress on Korean while your spouse brushes up on her Spanish and your son starts learning Mandarin Chinese.

Works very well for audio learners

So, does Pimsleur work for learning Korean? For those who love learning intuitively through audio, the answer is typically an enthusiastic "yes" . We found some users who completed the Level 1 of Korean on Pimsleur and tested into a relatively high level on Duolingo (just for comparison), which usually takes many, many months to accomplish. (We used Duolingo's Korean lessons for 30 days straight and got almost nowhere, but you can read more about that in our separate review of that platform). And, for less than $25 a month, you can access all of Pimsleur's languages, which is pretty reasonable if you're ready to invest some time in your studies.

Visual learners will probably be frustrated

But, for us personally, the mostly-audio approach was frustrating. We wanted to see how the letters work to make what we were saying, and found ourselves creating English-alphabet approximations in our head to try and match what we were repeating. You probably won't be shocked to learn that we had a pretty big headache after just the first 10 minutes of the sample Korean lesson. As more visual learners, we weren't "wowed" by the way Pimsleur teaches the language, but at the same time, we can see (pun intended) how it would be the perfect option for those who learn by hearing or even for those who have challenges with reading (such as dyslexia).

Best Korean Lessons

Worth it to take the free lesson first

Our advice? Take Pimsleur's free lesson for Korean. All you have to do is create an account, no credit card info required. If you fall in love with it, or if you want to see if their more advanced levels are a good fit for the Korean you already know, sign up for a one-week trial of the Premium service on the month-to-month plan. You can always change your membership to the annual subscription once you know that Pimsleur is your absolute favorite way to learn the language and you want to save money in the long run. $20/month isn't a huge spend on the month-to-month plan (or $25 if you want to use all of the languages in the Pimsleur library), and you can cancel your membership at any time.

Great platform but not everyone's perfect fit

Overall, we give Pimsleur an above average rating for its Korean lessons. There's something to be said for the way it approaches language learning, trying to approximate the natural way we all acquired our first language. And, if you love learning through friendly, thorough audio lessons on the go, Pimsleur has that and more. It's just that the audio-focused approach will miss the mark for many students who crave the visuals right from the first lesson, which keeps Pimsleur from a higher ranking among providers of Korean lessons.

Coursera Review 3.5 Star Rating

Coursera

3.5 Star Rating
  • Free Korean courses from top universities worldwide
  • Paid completion certificates available (usually $49/course)
  • Self-paced, asynchronous learning
  • Options for multiple fluency levels

Coursera is an online platform that offers a wide range of courses, specializations, and degree programs from top universities and institutions around the world. With Coursera, you can access high-quality education on diverse subjects, including business, technology, arts, and languages.

Self-paced learning

The platform provides flexibility through self-paced learning options, allowing you to study at your own convenience. Coursera's interactive courses feature video lectures, quizzes, assignments, and peer-to-peer discussions, fostering a dynamic and engaging learning environment. Additionally, you can earn certificates and even degrees upon completion of your chosen programs, making Coursera a valuable resource for lifelong learning and professional development.

Searching for "Korean" turns up hundreds of options

Your biggest challenge with Coursera will probably be narrowing down all of the options for Korean lessons. At the time of this review, we found 188 courses for beginners, 121 courses for intermediate students, 8 for advanced learners, and 25 that were designated as "mixed" . You'll definitely want to use the filters to narrow down what you're looking for: maybe you have a specific timeframe in mind and the "duration" filter would be helpful. (Most of the Korean lessons lasted from either 1-4 weeks or 1-3 months.)

Best Korean Lessons

Some classes are IN Korean, not about the language

But, that brings us to another hurdle with using Coursera: when you use those filters, you'll also be shown courses that are taught in Korean, and you're probably not looking for an English language class for Korean-speaking learners, for example. Expect to spend some time working your way through the platform until you find the Korean lessons that are the best fit for your current fluency and your learning goals.

Over a million students enrolled in First Step Korean

But, let's assume you're starting at square one with learning Korean. The Coursera course that will likely be your best bet is First Step Korean. This intro to Korean is extremely popular on Coursera: there were nearly 1.5 million people enrolled when we signed up. It's presented by Seung Hae Kang, a professor at South Korea's Yonsei University. (By the way, she has over 22,000 student ratings and an impressive 4.8-star average.) This course will take you about 17 hours to complete, and you can enroll at any time.

Learn to use basic Korean in written and spoken form

We appreciate the well-rounded nature of this class. It includes instruction across all modalities (reading, writing, listening, speaking), as well as basic knowledge of Korean culture. You'll work your way through six modules: a brief introduction, the Korean alphabet, greetings and introductions, family, time and date, and daily life.

Best Korean Lessons

Easy-to-understand progression

Here's how each unit is structured in Coursera's First Step Korean:

  • Learning objectives are presented
  • Listen to a conversation and repeat what was said
  • Practice pronunciation of keywords
  • Study the explanation of the words and sentence structures
  • Practice the sentences with additional vocabulary
  • Take the end-unit quiz

Don't miss the extra tools

It's really helpful that for every lecture, there's a transcript. You can use that to follow along, remember where you left off in the lecture, or read the lesson if for some reason you can't watch or listen to the video. You can also use the Notes tab to write down anything you'd like to remember, use the Downloads tab to save presentations and transcripts for offline use, or click on the Discuss tab to visit the Forums page and talk about what you're learning with other First Step Korean students.

Tells you the rich history behind what you're learning

We fell in love with the beautiful explanation of how Hangeul, the Korean alphabet, came to be. It was a huge step up from the first Korean lessons we took (*cough* Duolingo *cough*) that threw us into the deep end of characters and pronunciations without any kind of background. After the introduction, First Step Korean's Professor Kang proudly and lovingly describes how the vowels came from Chinese metaphysics, representing the three elements of the universe. Isn't that beautiful?

Best Korean Lessons

Easy to see how to write and pronounce the letters and words

You couldn't ask for a clearer explanation of the vowels and how they're formed. There's even a little animation/video that pops up during the main video, showing you a closeup of a mouth pronouncing each one. You then have the opportunity to practice writing each vowel, so have something handy to try it for yourself.

Take all the time you need (and ignore the "end date" )

And all of that is just the first lesson in the first unit. You can obviously pause the videos, practice, and take the time you need to really understand what's being presented: there's no deadline here, even though you "enroll" on a particular date and are given a target "end date" to finish your Korean lessons.

You only pay if you want a Certificate of Completion

And did we mention that all of that is 100% free? You could pay $49 if you'd like a Certificate of Completion, but we're guessing that most people happily take these Korean lessons for personal advancement (or fun) and don't sign up for that. However, if you plan on using Coursera for certifications in multiple subjects, take a look at Coursera+. It costs either $59/month (cancel anytime) or $399/year (14-day money-back guarantee) and has a 7-day free trial. It means you'll get unlimited certificates for as many programs as you complete. Most of those courses are IT-based, but hey, if you're looking to become a Korean-speaking cybersecurity expert, why not?

Tens of thousands of five-star reviews

Nearly 50,000 students have reviewed First Step Korean, and a staggering 98% of them give the course a rating of 4 or 5 stars. Although a very small number of reviews felt that this course moved a little too fast, or that it might be better for students who have at least some prior exposure to the Korean language, the vast majority of learners (coming from multiple starting languages, not just English) felt that it was a perfect start to their language acquisition.

Best Korean Lessons

Just a few cons to balance out the pros

So, what are the downsides to using Coursera for Korean lessons? They're minor, but they do exist. First off, there's no way for you to compare your pronunciation to a native speaker's and have it evaluated. Many language-learning platforms are programmed to give you that kind of comparison, but that's just not part of Coursera's structure. There's no gamification here, so if you need that kind of motivation to help you learn Korean, Coursera's classes won't be your best match.

DIY course progression

Finally, there's a certain amount of DIY expected, especially once you finish First Step Korean. You can't expect to have a seamless transition from that course to the next one in your learning progression: you'll have to look through the additional Coursera courses for Korean and see what you like. There are some suggested courses (six at the time of our review) at the bottom of the page for First Step Korean, before you enroll, so that would be the best place to look for your next learning path.

Fantastic as a free resource you can take at your own pace

Still, there's no reason not to give Coursera a try if you'd like a no-cost, popular introduction to the Korean language. Study at your own pace, practice as long as you need, and with just a few hours a week you'll have a basic understanding of how Korean is written and spoken (with some culture and history thrown in for good measure).

90 Day Korean Review 3 Star Rating

90 Day Korean

3 Star Rating
  • Korean lessons broken down into four 90-day modules
  • $35/month or $299/year for Standard
  • $59/month or $500/year for VIP (includes personalized coaching and homework correction)
  • Family membership available upon request (25% discount)
  • Free "Korean Reading Cheat Sheet"
  • Certificate of Completion available upon request at no charge

Since 2013, 90 Day Korean has been promoting an appreciation of the Korean language and culture through free content on Instagram, YouTube, and other places around the internet. The team behind the platform includes both native speakers and enthusiasts learning Korean as their second language, and they love sharing their knowledge and cultural insights with people like you.

Check out all of the free resources first

We recommend that you go to the "Start Here" link found at the top of the page. It'll give you for free what a lot of platforms charge for, like alphabet and number basics and an introduction to Hangeul. You could easily spend hours getting started on recognizing Korean words, getting some background on K-dramas, or getting introduced to new facets of Korean culture.

Subscription required

But, of course, 90 Day Korean hopes to spark your interest in learning even more, so that you'll want to sign up for their subscription-based Korean lessons. There are two routes you can go: Standard is ideal if you already have a native speaker of Korean to give you feedback, and the VIP is worth considering if you would like personal coaching and homework grading.

Best Korean Lessons

Four 90-day modules for a year of studies

There are four included levels of Korean instruction in 90 Day Korean. The first module is designed to take you from having no fluency in the language to being able to hold a 3-minute conversation. The rest of the modules help you to advance, bringing you to an intermediate level of fluency by the time you finish the fourth module. You can skip around as needed to study what you need at the moment (which is helpful if you already know some Korean) but everything is designed to be sequential to help you progress smoothly. Those lessons are referred to as the "Inner Circle" .

Community forum to connect with other students of Korean

What else do you get with your 90 Day Korean subscription? There are community forums you can use to interact with other learners, about the language, the culture, or virtually anything. Which K-dramas are people recommending on Viki? Is there a good Korean restaurant near you so you can try some tteokbokki? This is a solid place to get those answers and many others from your peers on the platform.

Get a language workout in the "Korean Gym"

Another feature is the "Korean Gym" . No, you're not going to learn weightlifting terms or take a yoga course here; instead, this is an area to get short "workouts" for your language learning. If you're looking for a quick course on a particular topic, like travel vocabulary or culture, this is where you'll find it.

Best Korean Lessons

VIP membership lets you work with a native speaker coach

Finally, if you subscribe to the VIP tier, you'll have access to the "Korean Coach" section of the site. This is where you'll connect with your designated native speaker who will give you feedback on your homework assigned through the site and help you make progress as you take the lessons on 90 Day Korean.

No free lessons

So, now that you have the overview, let's look at some of the details. It took a lot of work to find the option to get a free lesson from 90 Day Korean. Eventually, we found it at the bottom of the Testimonials/Student Reviews page. But, all that gave us was a free "Korean Reading Cheat Sheet" , and nothing that would let us preview how the platform structures its language lessons. While most Korean lesson platforms let you try the site for a while or give you one full, free lesson, 90 Day Korean doesn't pull back the curtain very much. In the past, the site let prospective students pay $1 for a trial (and we're not sorry to see that go, honestly), but that doesn't seem to be on offer now.

All you get is a peek at the member dashboard

Would you at least like a peek at the Member's Area? When we went to navigate away from the 90 Day Korean site, we got a pop-up offering a 4-minute preview of the membership. (That may be available somewhere else on the website, but that's how we discovered it.) It's a good way to really see what Inner Circle, Korean Gym, My Korean Coach, and My Community will look like if you sign up. Still, it was disappointing to us that we had to look at third-party sites and bloggers to see screenshots of how 90 Day Korean presents its lessons. And we actually liked what we saw there.

Best Korean Lessons

Prices have gone up

As with everything these days, pricing has gone up at 90 Day Korean since our last review. You'll still pay just $35/month for the Standard plan, but the discount for paying annually has gone down: in the past, it was $239/year, but at the time of this review that had increased to $299. For the VIP plan, the monthly cost increased from $47 to $59, and the annual discount went way down: you'll now pay $500 for a year's membership, when it used to be $327. Ouch. But, keep in mind that if you have more than one person in your household learning the language, you can get a 25% discount on each person's registration if you reach out via email and ask for a family plan.

30-day money-back guarantee if you don't love it

We wish we could say that thousands and thousands of people are using 90 Day Korean and loving it. That might actually be true. But aside from some testimonials on their website, we didn't find an overwhelming amount of feedback. The good news is that there's a 30-day money-back guarantee here, and we didn't see any indication that the company doesn't honor it completely, so you could comfortably give the platform a try for yourself.

Could be great but needs to let people see more before signing up

Bottom line? 90 Day Korean is thorough and if you use it to study Korean for a full year or more (4 modules of 90 days each = a year-ish), chances are good that you'll be pleased with your fluency through the lessons presented. You're protected by that 30-day guarantee if you want to give it a go, but you may want to sign up for a monthly subscription first and then change to the annual plan if you plan on really studying consistently. However, because this service makes it so difficult to see specifics of how they teach Korean and what learners can expect, we can't give it anything beyond an average rating. It may very well be worth the $500/year or $59/month to get access to coaching and homework corrections, but 90 Day Korean doesn't do a great job of selling you on what they offer.

Mondly Review 3 Star Rating

Mondly

3 Star Rating
  • Free version of the main app/desktop platform includes access to Daily Lessons, the entire Hello category, and a chatbot lesson
  • 7-day free trial of Premium
  • $9.99 for Premium month-to-month plan (just Korean)
  • $47.99 for Premium annual plan (just Korean)
  • Frequent promotions for lifetime access plan with all Mondly languages included ($99.99 at the time of this review)
  • Uses VR and AI
  • Very gamified learning structure
  • Can use many languages other than English as your starting point (learning Korean as a native speaker of Japanese)

Looking for a more flexible way to learn Korean that fits into your busy schedule? Mondly might be just what you need. With its app-based lessons and interactive features like games, contests, and leaderboards, staying motivated to learn daily becomes almost effortless. Plus, you can practice conversations with Mondly's Chatbot and even dabble in Augmented Reality for a unique learning experience.

Easy to get started (even if English isn't your first language)

Starting with Mondly is easy and free: simply create an account and dive into the introductory lesson for any of the 40+ languages offered (including Korean). Unlike most language platforms we've evaluated, Mondly doesn't require you to use English as your starting language. So, if your first language is something else, there's a great chance you can use it as you learn Korean. There are over 1000 language combinations on the platform, making it accessible for learners worldwide.

Emphasis is on fun, not on grammar

Although Mondly describes itself as being suitable for all fluency levels, most content on Mondly is geared towards beginners. Topics range from Family to Travel, each packed with around 120 new words and 30 phrases, providing a natural way to expand your Korean vocabulary. The learning journey begins with simple exercises matching pictures with words, gradually progressing to more complex phrases. A helpful toggle switch allows you to switch between transliteration (the English approximation of what you're saying) and Korean script, easing you into the language at your own pace. However, Mondly places less emphasis on grammar explanations, which may leave some learners wanting more guidance in constructing sentences.

Best Korean Lessons

You'll need a subscription to play with AI and VR tools

To unlock additional features like Chatbot (AI) and Augmented Reality, a subscription is required, offering an opportunity to enhance conversational skills in a simulated environment. You can get a peek at how Mondly's AI and VR work on the main page, even before you create your account.

Month-to-month, annual, and lifetime subscriptions

Visit Mondly practically anytime and you'll be likely to get an "exclusive sale" deal on those subscriptions. During our most recent visit, we got 95% off on lifetime access to all Mondly languages for "just" $99.99. Otherwise, you'll likely see a month-to-month subscription to Mondly's Korean lessons for $9.99 or an annual plan for $49.99. Just be aware that there is absolutely zero money-back guarantee here: it doesn't matter what your reason, Mondly will never give you a refund if you wind up not liking their Korean lessons.

Acquisition by Pearson might not be a good thing

In May of 2022, Mondly was acquired by the global learning company Pearson. Given our experiences with that company across several spheres, we're not sure that's a positive for Mondly, or that it means that any kind of improvements will be made to the language-learning platform (just check out what college students have to say about Pearson's MathLab, unlovingly referred to frequently as "MethLab" ).

Best Korean Lessons

Priority may not be given to updating these Korean lessons

We also don't feel like we can count on Pearson to keep Mondly updated with respect to the Korean lessons specifically. Given that their press release at the time of acquisition highlighted their excitement at being able to "offer a full range of ways for people to learn and prove their English skills" , we wouldn't hold our breath waiting for Mondly to roll out big upgrades to the other languages on the platform. (Can we also point out that the awards that Mondly so proudly displays... were from 2017 and 2019? Where are the more current accolades? *crickets*)

Positive feedback is likely out of date

It's true that there are thousands upon thousands of five-star reviews for Mondly, especially when you look at the two app stores' ratings for the mobile version of the language platform. But, it's hard to tell how many of those perfect scores came from several years ago instead of more recently, and more current feedback shows a fair number of complaints about how the app works (or doesn't), how language mistakes are perpetuated across multiple updates (even after sending in reports to Mondly's team pointing them out), and so on.

Nothing beyond "average" here

Granted, you're only going to be out $100 or less if you decide to give Mondly a try past the free account features and don't wind up liking the Korean lessons you get. And, fortunately, there's that 7-day trial that makes it even less risky to see if the Premium features are worth the investment. Just keep in mind that if you take the leap and buy lifetime access for all of Mondly's languages, there's no guarantee that you're going to keep enjoying what the platform offers after its "collab" with Pearson.

Rosetta Stone Review 2 Star Rating

Rosetta Stone

2 Star Rating
  • $47.97 for 3 months of Korean lessons
  • $126 for 12 months of Korean lessons
  • $199 for lifetime access to all 25 Rosetta Stone languages
  • Teaches Korean through immersion
  • Voice recognition tool helps you practice your accent
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Rosetta Stone is a language learning platform renowned for its immersive and intuitive approach to language acquisition. Founded in 1992 by Allen Stoltzfus, Rosetta Stone utilizes dynamic immersion techniques that mimic the way people learn their first language.

Immersion learning

Rosetta Stone focuses on visual and auditory cues rather than translation. Through interactive lessons, learners engage in real-life scenarios and conversations to develop speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. Rosetta Stone's emphasis on immersion and contextual learning has made it a popular choice over the years.

No free trial, just a 30-day money-back guarantee

Unfortunately, since our last evaluation, Rosetta Stone has done away with the 3-day trial it used to offer. Now, you'll have to pull the trigger and buy a subscription to the platform ($47.97 for 3 months of Korean lessons, $126 for a year, or $199 for lifetime access to all of the languages in the Rosetta Stone catalog), relying on the 30-day satisfaction guarantee if you don't love the way the Korean lessons are structured. Given what a hassle and waste of time it is to cancel things in general, we aren't thrilled that Rosetta Stone doesn't offer that preview anymore.

Immersion is tough when learning a new alphabet

But, here's what we can tell you about the way Rosetta Stone teaches Korean, so you can decide for yourself if you want to give it a go. The intuitive approach that the lessons take is better suited for languages like Spanish or French, where the alphabets are familiar even if the pronunciation isn't. But, that immersive style is downright daunting for newcomers who are trying to tackle Korean's unique Hangeul writing system.

Best Korean Lessons

Some help from English prompts would be nice

When you first start the Korean course, you're asked to pick your skill level and learning goals, as well as your speaking profile to tailor the experience. But as you dive into the lessons, you're bombarded with Korean words and images without any English crutches. And forget about getting help with pronunciation - there's no Romanization here to guide you as you try to use the voice recognition tool to practice speaking. So, you're left trying to match sounds to unfamiliar characters without a roadmap, which can be frustrating.

Extras aren't much help

Yes, Rosetta Stone throws in some extra features like the ability to skip around lessons and explore more content. But even these extras don't make the Korean lessons any clearer. The Grammar section, for example, offers more of the same - just more images and words in Korean without any real explanations. It's like trying to solve a puzzle without knowing what the picture is supposed to look like.

Better options available

We used to tell prospective students to try Rosetta Stone's Korean lessons for a day or two before subscribing, to make sure that they wouldn't be frustrated by the immersion-based approach to language instruction. Now, we can't even do that. Our experiences with using Rosetta Stone for Korean were so underwhelming, it's hard for us to recommend it even with a 30-day refund policy to minimize the financial risk of giving the platform a try.

Duolingo Review 1.5 Star Rating

Duolingo

1.5 Star Rating
  • Focuses primarily on reading and understanding Korean, with limited options for speaking and writing
  • 100% free to use for all available languages
  • Can upgrade to Super Duolingo to get rid of ads, get unlimited "hearts" , and access personalized practice ($6.99/month)
  • Can pay for a family plan and invite up to 5 additional Super users, not just family members ($9.99/month)
  • Use on the app or desktop version

Anyone who has even thought for a second about learning a new language has undoubtedly toyed with the idea of using Duolingo to do it. Just one scroll through your social media feeds and you'll almost always come across someone who just hit a new high in their streak and is posting their humblebrag about it. But, is anyone actually getting any meaningful fluency from using Duolingo, particularly when it comes to learning Korean? After our own 30-day streak as a beginning learner of Korean, we would give that a resounding "no" .

Works better if you have experience with a similar language

Now, we'll give credit where it's due. Duolingo might have its moments of glory for languages where we already have some background, like brushing up on our Portuguese when we're already fluent in Spanish. But when it comes to Korean? Talk about an exercise in futility. You can't "read" Korean phonetically like you might be able to fudge with languages that use the same alphabet as English, and you're certainly not going to be able to pick out cognates (words that come from a familiar root, so your best guess is likely to be a good one). English hasn't exactly borrowed from Korean; if anything, it goes the other way around, and maybe that's why some of the earliest words you'll get on Duolingo's Korean lessons are "message" and "donut" (because the Korean spelling of those words is pretty spot-on phonetically... if you can read the Korean letters).

You'll waste time learning words you don't need

For starters, the content feels completely disconnected from reality. Do we really need to know how to say "the baby's cucumber" or "Oh, a fox" in Korean? We're all for quirky phrases, but when they take precedence over practical vocabulary and grammar, we've got a problem.

Best Korean Lessons

Don't expect any overt teaching here

You should also understand that Duolingo does almost zero teaching, expecting you to learn intuitively how the letters work together to make sounds, subject-verb order, and almost every other grammatical nuance. Yes, there are "guidebooks" you can look at when you start a new unit, but they're not so helpful. For the earliest stages of Korean, they tend to be more of a phrase list, but more of the "Ah, donut" variety and not the "How are you?" and "My name is" kind you would expect as a new language learner.

Almost zero meaningful learning after 30 days

Even with the repetitive nature of the lessons, after 30 days in, we still didn't have the basic (disjointed) words memorized. Milk. Baby. Message. Fox. Chicken. Student. Newspaper. Seoul. Not a chance we'd recognize any of those words the next time we pull up our favorite K-drama of the moment. But hey, at least Duolingo has cute little animations, right? Because nothing says "effective language learning tool" like a dancing owl or a cheering duo of robots. Give us substance over style any day of the week.

Your streak will matter more than your learning

But perhaps the most infuriating aspect of Duolingo is its obsession with streaks. Yes, we get it, consistency is key when it comes to language learning. But when our main motivation for logging in every day is to maintain a streak rather than actually learning something useful, something's seriously wrong. We found ourselves "cheating" (like looking at the hint by clicking on the word) just to keep our streak, where if we hadn't been worried about running out of "hearts" (you lose a heart for every mistake you make, and when you lose 5 hearts, you're locked out for several hours until they're "full" again), we might have spent more time trying to figure it out.

Best Korean Lessons

Pay for Super Duolingo for ad-free learning and extra tools

However, as you'll see after you've spent even a few seconds on Duolingo, there are paid options you can upgrade to, if you don't like the threat of "losing your hearts" . Upgrade to a Super plan (they'll repeatedly offer you a two-week trial of that for free), and your account will become ad-free with unlimited hearts. You'll also get access to personalized practice for working on your weaker areas in the language. Duolingo doesn't make it easy to find out what happens after that, but expect to pay about $6.99/month for one Super upgrade. More recently, Duolingo introduced a Family Plan that lets you invite 5 other people to join you; friends, coworkers, literally anyone can be added as one of your 5 users. We had a hard time finding anywhere in the app or desktop version what the Family plan costs, but research indicates it might be just $9.99/month.

It just doesn't work

But, even with the paid subscription, these Korean lessons just don't work. If you're thinking about using Duolingo to learn Korean, save yourself the headache and run in the opposite direction. Trust us, you'll thank us later. The only people who might get something meaningful out of the platform are those who already have a basic understanding of the language and just want to use it as something to supplement their Korean learning.

Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

But don't let that intimidate you. With dedication and the right resources, you'll find yourself making steady progress in no time. You'll be opening doors to a whole new world of culture, entertainment, and connections that come with being able to speak Korean fluently.

Learning Korean online gives you plenty of options to choose from, each tailored to suit different learning styles and preferences. You can dive into listening-only programs, where you focus on authentic conversations to sharpen your ear for the language. If you're into games, you might enjoy gamified platforms that turn learning Korean into a fun challenge, with points and rewards (and streaks) to keep you motivated.

Interactive courses are another great choice, offering a mix of videos, quizzes, and exercises that give you instant feedback and guidance. They're perfect if you like a structured approach to Korean that covers all the bases, from reading and writing to speaking and listening.

Or maybe you're more of a people person and thrive on interaction. In that case, tutoring platforms would be your go-to. You can connect with native speakers for real conversations and cultural exchange, making learning Korean a social experience.

Ready to get started? There are so many Korean lessons to choose from, it could feel a bit overwhelming to know which one to use. Here are some things to keep in mind as you get excited about learning and want to pick the right platform:

  • Current fluency level. Do you already speak (or read) some Korean? Or are you a newbie? No shame in that game. Make sure you choose the Korean lessons that match where you're at.
  • Method of language instruction. How are the Korean lessons delivered? Is it through an app, audio files, an internet browser on your laptop, or something else? What do you think will work best for your learning style?
  • Listening, speaking, reading, writing. Do the language lessons teach you Korean mostly through listening and speaking, through reading and writing, or a mix of all four modalities? We're all for being well-rounded language learners, and because Korean uses a different alphabet than the one you're reading right now, you can't fake your way into reading it unless you know how the letters are pronounced and combined to make syllables and words. Keep that in mind if you're using Korean lessons that are primarily audio-based.
  • Cost. What will you pay for your Korean language lessons? Is it a one-time fee or an ongoing subscription? If there's a free option, what do you get at no cost and is it worth it to upgrade?
  • Learner reviews. Pay close attention to what other Korean students say about their experience with the lesson platform. Did they experience a meaningful improvement in their fluency by using it? How long did it take to see improvements?

To help you find the right Korean lessons for your language goals and favorite way of learning, the experts at Top Consumer Reviews have tried some of today's most popular options and given you an honest take on what you can expect from each one. So what are you waiting for? Dive in and start your Korean learning journey today!

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Korean Lesson FAQ

Over 75 million people speak Korean across the globe. That includes nearly 50 million in South Korea and 25 million in North Korea, plus significant Korean-speaking communities in China, the US, and Japan.
Yes. The dialect used in Seoul is the one you'll hear and read most commonly. North Korea has its own dialect, which is heavily influenced by the Russian language.
Korean is ranked as one of the most challenging languages for English speakers to learn, according to the Foreign Service Institute within the State Department. (Arabic, Chinese, and Japanese are the only other languages with that level of difficulty!) Of course, any language is within reach if you put in the work!
Begin with studying the Hangul alphabet: just 14 consonants and 10 vowels, many of which have similar sounds in English. Next, get a feel for basic grammar and some commonly-used phrases - and be aware that basic word order in Korean sentences follows a subject-object-verb pattern (unlike English's subject-verb-object structure). And, of course, feel free to enjoy K-pop, K-dramas and any other entertainment that will help you pick up on the language naturally!
You may have a hard time finding any other way to study Korean! Unless you live near a large university, you probably won't have the option of attending in-person classes. That's okay: studying online gives you access to lessons that fit your schedule and for much less than you'd spend for a semester or two at a college. There's no need to ask a teacher to repeat a phrase so you can catch the pronunciation: just hit "replay" and listen as many times as you want!
There are a couple ways you can use your computer to write in Hangul (the Korean alphabet). The easiest is probably to enable a Korean keyboard; the steps differ by operating system, so search based on whether you're using a Mac or PC. Otherwise, there are online Korean keyboards that don't require you to change your computer settings.
Not at all. You can choose among many different language programs, some of which offer monthly subscriptions and others that give you an entire course as a one-time purchase. You could pay as little as $17/month for a membership or $150 for a complete Level 1 package.
Sometimes. Depending on which language platform you choose, you might get a satisfaction guarantee of up to 60 days or the ability to cancel your subscription without penalty. Many Korean language lessons have a free trial or sample lessons, and we encourage you to make full use of those before committing to a program. That's the easiest way to determine if the Korean lessons are presented in a manner that will be a good fit for your preferences and learning style.

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