Korean on the Go: The apps you need to get your Korean skills from 뉴비 to 대박

There are many reasons why someone would want to learn Korean: To be reconnected to family roots, a interest in Korean culture, or maybe you’re planning a vacation or teaching abroad. No matter the case, for many people, learning the Korean language is a life goal.

But, like many languages, there’s a high learning curve, and those who aren’t studying Korean full-time often find themselves frustrated by not having enough time or resources dedicated to learning. They get discouraged by not picking the language up as quickly as they’d like – I know I’ve felt like that before.

Fear not: if you have a smartphone, learning Korean might be easier or more fun than you think. I’ve been studying Korean on and off for four years, and these are the apps that have made learning the language a breeze, all while maintaining a busy schedule. Check these out and give them a try!


Naver Papago: Google Translate can work in a pinch, but I find Naver’s translation app, Papago, more intuitive. The database of phrases is created by both Native English and Korean speakers. It gives a more authentic, less formal translation compared to the complicated phrases other automatic translators tend to give you. On the app, you can get instant translation by using the microphone, as well as hear how to say words (and not just read them). I find myself using Papago a lot. 



Duolingo: After a long, long wait, Duolingo finally added Korean to their language roster last year. Duolingo creates their own courses that touch on the full Korean language package: writing, listening, speaking and reading. When you first log in, you get a placement test and it will tailor your course to how much you know. As you progress, you gain points and you can rank yourself with your friends! I know that Duolingo gets a bad rap sometimes for their nonsensical sentences, but for me, it’s just a little bit of extra amusement. 



Memrise: If you like to study by the book, then Memrise is a great app. Memrise is user-created courses for the most part, and many language learners have made companion courses to books such as the TalkToMeInKorean series or Korean Grammar In UseI really enjoy this app because the amount and wealth of Korean you can learn on it is vast, from hardcore Korean vocabulary study down to daily phrases and verbs. A BIG bonus is that you can use Memrise on your desktop, too! If you’re wanting to focus on a specific topic of the Korean language, then Memrise may be right for you.



LingoDeer: This one’s a bit of a hidden secret; I found it while looking at reviews on Facebook one day. With LingoDeer, you can set a time goal for the day and an alarm for when it’s a good time for you to brush up on your skills. This course covers material learned in the TOPIK 1 exams. What I like about it is that each and every part of the sentences demonstrated can be highlighted, and the app will translate it into English with grammar points. Lingodeer is by far my favourite app for learning on the go.



HelloTalk: This isn’t necessarily a language building app, but it’s a great way to practice your skills! On HelloTalk, you can set your languages you know and what level you know them on. Then, you can match up with fellow language learners and exchange through text, audio and talk. Native speakers can correct your grammar directly through your posts or in chats. There’s a strict no-dating rule on HelloTalk, which means you won’t encounter any creeps. I’ve met a lot of cool people on this app, and I love updating my mini-diary when I can.


Have you tried any of these apps before? Which ones work best for you, or do you even use apps at all?

Please comment and let me know how you study!

All the best,

Lothian :)

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