South Korea is high on the bucket list for many travelers. Many are drawn to the country by its unique and historic culture, popular entertainment and media, and the delicious food! While places like Seoul and Busan have much to offer tourists of any language, learning Korean before and during your trip will undoubtedly leave you with a unique and unforgettable experience. In this post we give you a quick list of five ways you can learn Korean while traveling there!
1. Learn the basics
Basic phrases like “please”, “thank you”, “hello”, and “how are you?”, are your first stop on your Korean language learning journey. Just knowing these everyday phrases will go a long way to helping you connect with non-English speakers. Many travelers and tourists don’t even make the effort to learn simple greetings, so just doing that shows that you respect and admire Korean culture.
Beyond greetings it’s also useful to learn phrases you’re likely to use during your trip. You can learn how to order a meal at a restaurant, make a purchase at a store, converse with a taxi driver, or simply ask for directions.
2. Use Korean as much as possible
When visiting the typical South Korean tourist haunts, you’re likely to hear a lot of English from the locals. Anyone close to the tourism industry will be used to interacting with foreigners. As convenient as it might be to keep things in English, it is important to make a concerted effort to speak Korean when at all possible. Try keeping conversations in Korean even when someone answers you in English. This is a great way to practice a foreign language.
3. Learn before you go
The more Korean you know before traveling, the better your speaking and listening abilities will be. If you are like most people, you’re not likely to up and fly to South Korea on a whim. Most likely you will need to plan and save money well in advance of your travel date. Why not use this time to start learning the language? There are a ton of online resources, courses, and programs available to help you learn a foreign language. Check out LiveFluent.com to get started learning a language.
4. Enjoy yourself
Don’t get so focused on your goal of learning Korean, that you forget to enjoy your trip. Yes it’s important to push yourself out of your comfort zone to speak the language, but that doesn’t mean that learning Korean has to be a 24/7 obligation. Make sure you take the time to enjoy the sights and “smell the roses” so to speak.
5. Don’t get stuck on grammar
Learning a language is a lot more than memorizing rules and grammar charts. Don’t get me wrong, Grammar is important and even necessary when speaking Korean. However, when you are learning a language for an upcoming trip, it is better to focus on vocabulary. Your emphasis should be on speaking Korean as much as possible. You’ll probably forget a word or two, and you will almost certainly say something incorrectly. Just remember that the ultimate goal of language is to understand and to be understood. If your sentence isn’t pretty, but it gets your point across it’s a win!
Worldwide there are over 70 million Korean speakers. With a little practice, determination, and some fun travel along the way, you can be one too!