The 7 Best Online Korean Classes of 2020
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With K-Pop sweeping international music charts and 10-step Korean skincare routines filling up Instagram feeds, learning about the Korean language and culture has never been more in demand.
Not only will learning Korean help develop cultural bonds and friendships—the language has over 71 million native speakers—but it also seriously improves job prospects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, translation jobs are expected to grow at least 19% in the next eight years. The U.S. Department of State considers Korean to be a critical language; it even sponsors overseas scholarships for Korean language learners. For teachers or avid travelers, South Korea is one of the best destinations for teaching English abroad, thanks to high salaries and excellent benefits.
While Hangul, the Korean writing system, is relatively easy to learn, Korean is a difficult language to master. As with any dialect, the key to learning is practice. The following online classes allow for plenty of practice and a pathway to mastering the language.
The 7 Best Online Korean Classes of 2020
Best Overall: 90 Day Korean
With well-structured, organized modules, private Korean “coaches,” and reasonable pricing, 90 Day Korean tops the charts with the best online Korean classes. The platform uses strategic goal-planning to help students create traction to propel them forward in their journey. The first goal is to be able to participate in a three-minute conversation in Korean after 90 days, which is where the company gets its name.
The full 90 Day Korean course is designed as a 12-month program, divided into four modules that, according to the standard scheduling, should take three months each to complete. However, as these modules are entirely self-paced, students can take as much or as little time as they need.
The core of 90 Day Korean is the Inner Circle, where each of the lessons is delivered via text, audio, exercises, and interactive games. Members who pay for Full Access can work with private language tutors who provide feedback and support to students.
The basic membership, Course Access, without the private coaching, is around $35 per month, while the premium Full Access membership is about $47 per month. Monthly memberships can be upgraded or downgraded as needed, and annual rates are available for additional savings.
Best Budget: Quick Korean
Sponsored by the Cyber University of Korea, Quick Korean is a four-level course designed by instructors at leading Korean universities with the intention of providing high-quality Korean language and culture education online. The program, which is completely free, serves as the best budget option for any potential Korean language learners.
Classes are broken down into four levels, each progressing in difficulty. After completing the fourth level, students should be able to pass the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) with a 3.5, a basic level of proficiency.
Delivered in a traditional, classroom-style, each 30-minute lecture covers a different language topic in a structured, easy-to-follow lesson. After completing each level, students are invited to take a comprehensive exam about the course material. Students who pass will receive a certificate of completion.
In addition to video language lectures, Quick Korean also offers three-minute Korean lectures intended to introduce students to the culture of the country. Additional resources include grammar and vocabulary breakdowns of the lessons and supplemental textbooks. To access lecture videos and track progress, students only need to create a free account.
Best for Beginners: First Step Korean
Offered through Coursera, an online learning platform founded by Stanford professors in 2012, First Step Korean is an excellent online course for complete beginners. The class is sponsored by Yonsei University, South Korea’s oldest private university, and instructed by Seung Hae Kang, an associate professor of Korean Language Education as a Foreign Language.
First Step Korean consists of five lessons, each with pre-recorded video lectures, reading assignments, and quizzes to introduce learners to the basic principles of Korean, including the writing system and vocabulary for common occurrences. Each class covers speaking, reading, writing, and listening. While the course is not interactive, it does provide a solid foundation in preparation for further study.
The course is free to audit, meaning participants can watch the lecture videos for free by simply registering for a Coursera account. Students can also choose to purchase a certificate for around $49, which opens access to quizzes and assignments and offers a downloadable completion certificate that can be added to a resume or a LinkedIn profile page.
Best One-on-One Instruction: Italki
Featured by the BBC, The Guardian, Business Insider, and HuffPost, Italki offers the best online classes for one-on-one Korean instruction.
The platform, which hosts over 10,000 teachers in roughly 12 different languages, focuses on human connection through mainly private video lessons. By matching students with experienced teachers, Italki removes the student from the cycle of simply learning grammar, vocabulary, and syntax while improving real-world language skills.
After registering for an account, Italki users can browse through a list of private teachers. Instructors can be either community tutors (native or near-native speakers) or professional teachers who are licensed to teach a foreign language. Other filters include price, availability, and additional spoken languages. After signing up, every student receives three, 30-minute trial lessons. Once the student chooses a teacher, they have the option to purchase single lessons or bundle up for extra savings.
While researching the best online Korean classes, we filtered out non-native speakers, community tutors, and non-English speakers, and we were left with a list of 63 professionals whose rates ranged from around $8 per hour for new teachers to about $30 per hour for experienced instructors.
All teachers on Italki also set trial rates at a fraction of the price of hourly rates to ensure student satisfaction.
Best for Auditory Learners: KoreanClass101
With thousands of podcast-style audio and lessons, KoreanClass101 is the best option on the market for students wanting to improve their listening skills. The content is produced for all student levels, from absolute beginners to advanced learners. Still, mastery of the language will likely require supplemental materials from other sources.
KoreanClass101 stands out because of its unparalleled listening experience. Not only are lessons available online and on the app, which is free to download, but the company also produces short, digestible podcast episodes for free.
The program is built on pathways, or broad topics, that include a variety of language and vocabulary lessons offered in both video and audio formats. New lessons are released on the site every week, making sure all of the learning is up to date.
Pricing is built into four different tiers that can be paid via subscription. The first tier is free, giving learners access to the first three lessons in every pathway, while the Basic tier includes access to all lessons. Premium and Premium Plus subscriptions include line-by-line audio translation and one-on-one chat features. Pricing starts at around $8 per month for a Basic subscription, roughly $25 per month for a Premium package, and about $47 per month for the Premium Plus bundle.
Best for TOPIK Preparation: My Language Connect
The Test of Proficiency in Korean, also known as the TOPIK, is a written exam administered by the Korean government to determine Korean language ability for university eligibility and career advancement. Test levels range in difficulty from one to six and often require specific practice and tutoring to achieve desired results.
Based in Vancouver, Canada, My Language Connect is a language school specializing in Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese, and more. Instructors are native speakers, certified to teach foreign languages and experienced in educating students of all ages. Though My Language Connect offers in-person courses, they offer customized, one-on-one lessons online for students preparing to take the TOPIK.
With one-on-one sessions via Skype, students have the opportunity to work closely with private tutors from My Language Connect to develop the listening, writing, reading, and speaking skills necessary to complete the TOPIK. Instructors use specialized textbooks and practice questions designed to prepare students for the exam. But, as courses are private, instructors have the freedom to adapt lessons to the specific needs of each student.
Private lessons cost around $29 per hour for 10 hours, with a minimum of two hours of classes weekly. There's the option of taking up to seven sessions per week for a more intensive learning experience.
Best for Learning Hangul: Talk To Me In Korean
When King Sejong the Great developed Hangul, the featural writing system of Korean, he intentionally made it easy to learn in order to improve literacy across the Korean peninsula. Most of the 24 characters represent the speaker’s mouth or tongue while producing the sound. This makes learning the Korean writing system a logical place to start for language learners.
As one of the most popular Korean-learning platforms available, Talk to Me In Korean (TTMIK) offers comprehensive online courses, video lessons, and textbooks to language learners. These classes have been known to lack structure and personal interaction, but what TTMIK lacks in interactive lessons, it makes up for in engaging lesson videos. The premium course Learn to Read and Write in Korean (Hanguel) stands out as the best online class for learning Hangul.
The eight online video lessons that make up the program cover everything from vowels and consonants to the basics of writing in just under two hours. While basic access is free, premium access, which is necessary for this course, is about $13 per month, though this fee can be paid annually for extra savings.
How We Chose the Best Online Korean Classes
Skipping past the flashy advertisements, we dove deep into search engine results, social media recommendations, and government-sponsored learning programs to source a long list of the best online Korean classes. We compared prices, scheduling flexibility, and TOPIK preparation. We also considered the use of native speakers and certified, professional teachers in the curriculum to narrow down our choices of the top online Korean classes.
For instance, Quick Korean was a top pick because it was budget-friendly and helped students prepare for the TOPIK, while 90 Day Korean was a fully immersive learning experience for those interested in mastering the language.
As with any language, learning is possible with dedication. The secret to learning Korean isn’t really a secret at all; all you need to do is practice.