A great way to learn Korean for free is on YouTube. There are so many useful resources! I’ve put together a list of some of the BEST YouTube channels for learning Korean. They are all channels that I’ve used since I started in June 2021 and I find them helpful for a variety of reasons. Let’s check them out together!
Let’s get started, shall we?
YouTube has been around for a long time and you can find almost anything you’ve ever wanted to watch or learn on it. However, sometimes an abundance of resources can be overwhelming. Here are some of the Korean language learning channels that have been most beneficial to me.
The Best YouTube Channels for Learning Korean
There are four types of videos that have helped me in my language learning journey. They are:
- Instructional Videos (ie classes, explanations of grammar points, etc)
- Listening Practice Videos (self-explanatory)
- Study Tips (how the YouTuber practices vocabulary, textbook reviews, etc)
- Study With Me videos (videos where you feel like you have a study buddy)
I will save the Study With Me videos for another post, but let’s look at the first three and the channels that I love for each type.
As I mentioned, these are the videos that literally teach you the Korean language. Some of them have a teacher explaining grammar points to you. Others may be vocabulary lists, for example videos that share the 2000 most-used vocab words on the TOPIK exam. I’m not personally a fan of vocabulary videos, I prefer using apps for that. Some of my favourite instructional video channels are:
Probably the gold standard of Korean language learning. TTMIK has an extensive website with full instructional courses. Their videos are amazing supplements to that. They also have a lot of really fun videos.
Learn Korean in Korean
Sounds daunting, right? How would you learn Korean if you don’t yet speak Korean? Don’t worry, 김선생님 / Mr. Kim has got you covered. I can’t even explain how he does this immersive learning magic, but it works. He will speak only in Korean and use gestures, diagrams, and patience to help you learn. I love this channel so much that I wish I could take lessons with him in a classroom!
Practicing Korean is a very special kind of channel that I’ve discovered recently. They use cartoon stories to help you learn. First they play a sentence a couple of times in Korean with no captioning. Then they play it again with Korean captions. After that they provide English subtitles with any necessary vocab or conjugation explanations. Because it’s done in a conversational way, it’s at a natural speed and not necessarily enunciated as perfectly as a classroom environment so it’s good practice for real life conversation skills.
Bonus – Most of the videos are pretty short, so you can fit them into your schedule easily!
When I first turned to YouTube for help I told myself I only wanted to learn Korean from Korean people. It makes a certain amount of sense. However, I was wrong because there is one major benefit to learning Korean from a native English speaker. Someone who learned Korean as an adult understands the challenges language learners face in a different way from a native Korean speaker. Because they’ve overcome these challenges they can explain things in ways that a Korean speaker has never had to think about because they’ve spoken the language their whole lives.
Billy – who is fluent and has been studying for almost two decades now – was the one who finally taught me how to pronounce ㄹ properly and who gave me a great tool for understanding particles (this is still a HUGE work in progress for me). He has an enormous library of resources in his channel and I highly suggest you don’t miss out on his teachings.
Listening Practice Videos
Listening is one of my toughest pieces of the learning puzzle. Reading is not easy but with a full sentence or paragraph in front of me I can break it down and understand it in my own time. You can’t do that with listening and I still have trouble following a conversation all the way through unless it’s truly within my level. Here are the channels I use that help me practice and hone those listening skills.
I LOVE the SpongeMind channel. He has a whole series of Slow Korean Conversation that is easy to listen to, even if you don’t know all the vocabulary. He and his guests all make sure they speak slower than is natural and very clearly so you can start hearing the words and grammar you’ve been learning. You may recall, I’m a fan of slowing down Korean sometimes to help with comprehension, but this is even better because there’s no distortion since it’s just real people actually speaking at a slower pace.
This channel has a lot of great content but I especially like listening to the short conversation videos. I also enjoy practicing my listening skills with the quizzes they have to see how much you understand.
Also, as shared in the previous section, Talk to Me in Korean has a great playlist of listening skill practice that you can check out (I love their Iyagi series and they have some Slow Korean videos as well), and Practicing Korean can be very useful too for catching phrases and expressions.
Sometimes you don’t want to watch a video teaching you Korean. Sometimes you just want someone who is on the same language journey as you, someone who can give you tips, resources, and reviews. Once in awhile, it’s just nice to know you’re not the only one facing the challenge of a daunting language – especially when you’re doing that learning online. It can feel so solitary. Here are some study buddies for you!
Natalia Garza was one of the first channels I found when I was looking for other people studying Korean. She even moved to Seoul to study the language in a more immersive way. More recently she has posted a lot of vlogs but if you go back a bit you will find a TON of helpful study tips and reviews. She posted a video in January 2023 mentioning she wants to start posting more helpful videos again so we may get more tips soon, but almost all her old videos are still very useful.
Lindie Botes is well known in the language learning world for good reason – she has studied a large number of languages to various levels of comprehension. One of the languages she feels she is most fluent in is Korean. If you head to her channel you can find a playlist that is packed full of Korean tips and resources, as well as some videos where she speaks completely in Korean. Very inspirational!
This is still a somewhat newer channel and does not (as of early 2023) have a lot of videos yet. However, you’ll notice she has a huge amount of subscribers. There’s a reason for that. She had taught herself Korean strictly through self-study. Also for free. And when you listen to her speak you’ll be amazed at her skills. She shares a lot of great tips for finding resources to help you learn and the things that worked for her.
Yes, that’s me! My channel is currently (early 2023) in its infancy. I’ve uploaded some speaking practice videos I’ve done for my classes. However, I have a list of videos I intend to create about my journey. I’ll be sharing things I’ve learned as I study (including topics on this blog), reviews of books/sites/apps, and even some Study With Me videos. Subscribe if you want to keep up with my videos!
Study With Me Videos
This is a type of video that truly deserves its own blog post, so stay tuned for that coming up soon. Like I said earlier though, it is like having an actual study partner sitting with you. There is a whole niche of YouTubers out there who film videos of themselves while they study. Sometimes they’re in a library or in a room of their house that offers a beautiful view. Other times they may be in a cafe or even just a corner of their living room.
Regardless, when you click play, you will feel like you are no longer studying alone. Depending on the video, there may be soft study-friendly music or ambient sounds. Other may just have the natural sounds of the YouTuber’s home (think turning pages, cat meowing, tea being sipped, etc). I have found them highly effective and motivational even though they can’t actually see if I’m slacking off or not. My brain is tricked to think they can, and that’s what makes it fun.
I’ll compile a list of my faves and post that soon!
In the earlier days of the Internet it was not easy to find so many resources to learn Korean. That’s even more true pre-Internet (trust me, I remember!). Now we have a TON available to us. I hope this list of some of my favourite channels can help you dive in!
Can you add to my list of the best YouTube channels for learning Korean?
Is there a channel that I’ve missed that you love? Please leave me a comment below and let me know! I’m always excited to check out a new-to-me resource!
Study hard! 열심히 공부해요!
This post is part of the KCC Canada Honorary Reporter project.