Learn Korean Online: How to Avoid Choosing the Wrong Program

When you hear the phrase “learn Korean online”, what kind of images come to mind?

1. Attending a webinar-style class at a scheduled time

2. Taking Skype lessons 1:1

3. Logging into a Korean langauge website

4. Downloading worksheets

5. Watching pre-made videos

Everyone has different views of what it means to learn Korean online, and for very good reason: There are lots of options out there!

You’ve probably also heard horror and failure stories about how these online Korean courses don’t work.

There is some truth to that. They don’t work if you choose the wrong course!

Korean is a fun language to learn, and we don’t want to see you go down that road.

Instead, we’ll give you the breakdown of what Korean lessons are like, what you should look for, and what you can expect.

Once you’re matched up with the right course to learn Korean online, you’ll have a far greater chance for success.

And most importantly, you’ll enjoy the whole experience a lot more!

Let’s get to it!

Free Vs. Paid

“Hats off to you, world wide web! Thanks to you, I can easily learn Korean for free!”

So while it’s true that there are many free Korean language sites, it’s not wise to automatically use a site or program only because it’s free.

Free and paid courses differ greatly. This makes sense if you take a look at how and why these programs are created.

The free sites are often done by people in their spare time. Many of these sites are made by people as a hobby because they love the language. Or they may be organized by a government or other organization. Since they content is free, the people creating the sites usually need to have a separate regular job to pay for their living expenses. Therefore, there the creators can’t dedicate all of their energy to making it the best it can be. Since they aren’t getting paid, they have less incentive to make sure it’s the best program out there.

Many free sites offer only pieces of the Korean language. Therefore, it is up to you to pick out what you need and build the course yourself.

There are some free courses that are more comprehensive, but you need to sort through them to know what they are and if they’ll help you get to your goals.

Conversely, paid courses are done by people as a business. It’s their profession, and they have to be the best at it! Otherwise, they’ll be on a strict ramyeon and gimbap diet for quite a while. Since they receive money for creating the courses, they don’t need a separate job. Therefore, they can make the online Korean language course their #1 focus. They can create the best learning experience possible since they have the time to dedicate to it. The paid courses have more resources available to be able to give you a better quality program. 

Does that mean that all online Korean courses are fun and exciting? Not at all! You’ll still need to sort them out and figure out which one is best for your goals. However, the value you can get from them is tremendous. They’re only a tiny fraction of what it costs to attend an in-person Korean language course, AND you get all the benefits of a developed and organized Korean language program.

So what to do? The bottom line is that free courses are good if you are willing to organize a program by yourself and sift through the content to find the best out there. This is for people who are motivated and have time to dedicate to this process.

Paid courses are good if you want programs that are already organized and planned out by experienced Korean speakers. They have already sorted the content out for you in advance and can fast track your learning. This is for people who have busy schedules and don’t want to have to learn how to structure their learning adventure.


“I don’t want to talk about goals! I want to learn Korean!”

If you skip this step, you’re bound for disappointment and failure.

If you don’t know where you’re going, it’s hard to figure out which direction to go. It’s like hopping in your car and going on a road trip, except you have no destination in mind. Maybe fun for a little while, but soon the excitement will wear off and you’ll question why you ever started in the first place.

Learning Korean is no different!

This is a very overlooked area. Doing this one thing will make a huge difference in the enjoyment and success you have with learning Korean.

It goes double for learning Korean online!

Imagine that you want to learn Korean because you married a Korean, and you want to be able to communicate with the in-laws (or just understand what they are saying). If you start up a vocabulary-heavy online program that helps you prepare for the TOPIK Korean Proficiency Test, you’re going to be wasting your time.

You’ll be much better off doing a course that teaches you practical grammar with lots of listening and speaking practice.

Or maybe your dream is to understand Korean dramas. In that case, enrolling in an online Korean speaking course won’t be that useful. You’ll have more success by focusing on listening, grammar, and vocabulary.

Not having clearly defined goals is the biggest reason why people fail when they learn Korean online. Take a few minutes to complete the following sentences about yourself.

I am learning Korean because                      (list as many reasons as possible).

I want to be able                                         , and                      in Korean.

I will achieve my Korean goals by focusing on these skills:

I will achieve these goals by this date:

I will know that I have achieve my goals when                     .

Do yourself a favor and answer these questions before you choose your course. The more detail you have, the better. Not only will this improve your chances for success, but it will make it much easier to choose your course!


The biggest advantage to learn Korean online vs the other methods is that you can learn from anywhere you have an internet and a computer. Whether you’re chilling on the beach or on a business trip in another country, you can still keep your Korean study going strong.

Not only is there freedom of independence, but the cost is significantly lower than that of in-person courses (sometimes even free!).


You can’t have the good without the bad, unfortunately. Since you’re not in a classroom setting, you may not have the chance to interact with other students and teachers. If there is no scheduled curriculum, then it’ll be up to you to make sure you keep up at the pace you want. This will not be good for the procrastinators out there!

More updates to come!

What are your favorite way to learn Korean online? Feel free to leave a message in the comments below!

Photo Credit: Karlis Dambrans

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