Learning Korean: The first thing you should learn in Korean.

Learning Korean: The first thing you should learn in Korean.

A lot of students try to learn Korean, and they fail to get past the basics. From my experience with thousands of students, I know a way to get past that point where most people give Korean up. It starts with your very first approach to Korean which will set you down a fun, and rewarding language learning path. Before I get into the Korean content, let me quickly ask you a question: have you ever started to learn Korean, with a book or class, and then quickly lost motivation to learn?

The answer for most people is YES. People lose motivation to learn Korean after they’ve started studying because they first start with the nuts and bolts of the language. They start with the alphabet, then simple sentence structure and vocabulary, etc. etc. Yes, the nuts and bolts are absolutely necessary, BUT, from what I’ve seen with thousands of students, the continued desire to learn the language is just as necessary. What good is knowledge of the Korean alphabet if you don’t care enough to use it?

The first thing I always teach the students in my Korean workshops is how to make a bare bones self introduction.  Even if they can’t read the Korean Alphabet (Hangul 한글) I always teach this lesson first. Before I go any further about the self introduction, it’s really important that you understand why it’s so important. This is because a Korean self introduction is relevant, repetitive and interactive.


We learn Korean because we want to talk with Koreans and know more about Korean culture, right? The first thing you do when you meet someone new is make a self introduction, am I wrong? When I see the students in my Korean workshop, I can see them mentally preparing themselves and visualizing themselves using the self-introduction phrases I teach them.


Unlike grammar forms and vocabulary, you will use a self-introduction with every single Korean that you meet (in real life or on HelloTalk). This is perfect because you’re forced to pull these phrases out of your memory and say (or type) them in a way that can be understood. The best part is you’ll only get better, and more confident with time.


When I see my students use these phrases just minutes after I teach them, I can see their eyes light up. After awkwardly asking in Korean for a new friend’s name, they quickly reach back into their memory to provide their own name in turn. This is communication. The short exchange of 4 or 5 questions feels like a conversation. And as my students progress, I can see them start tweaking their bare bones self-introduction into something a bit more personal and complex. The self introduction serves as a framework where they can tack on extra phrases and words here and there.

Isn’t this what language is about? We don’t have to wait until we have all the grammar and vocabulary that we just might need to use. We can start to speak in Korean immediately with a self introduction.


So, let’s get into it. It’s really simple. Below is a chart with the questions and answers that you WILL encounter in just about every self-introduction.  


To have a native Korean teacher explain and train you on these expressions, you can join our Korean workshop in Gangnam or Hongdae. Also, you can always use the Language Exchange App HelloTalk to have a native Korean help you with them online.


David Woodworth
Founder at Global Seoul Mates


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