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Learn Korean with ChatGPT: How to get AI to help you!

These days, it seems like everyone is talking about ChatGPT. Some of it is alarmist, along the lines of the Terminator franchise becoming reality. Other people are concerned about AI taking over all of our jobs. Those are conversations for another day. The fact is, though, AI is not going anywhere, so I figure I may as well learn to leverage it. For instance, I’ve been trying various ways to learn Korean with ChatGPT. It is a fun way to practice on your language journey.

Unfortunately, AI is not as advanced as we may think, so at the moment it can’t necessarily teach you an entire language. It can definitely be used as a helpful resource though.

How to learn Korean with ChatGPT

How can you learn Korean with ChatGPT? Let's find out!
ChatGPT is like your own personal Korean language learning assistant!

There may be so many more tricks and tips to come in the future. While I plan to keep playing with it to find new ways to harness the power of AI with my language learning, here are 7 easy ways I use it right now.

1. Conversation Practice

AI is not currently capable of having a conversation the way two humans would. It reads your input and then spits out a response based on patterns and data. That being said, ChatGPT is not a bad Korean conversationalist.

All you need to do is start typing in Korean. If you ask a grammatical question mostly in English (more on that later), it will respond mostly in English too. But if you just start chatting in Korean, ChatGPT will respond the same way.

One thing that is really tough as a Korean language learner is the unpredictability of conversation. You can prepare all you want with phrases. Still, you have no idea what the other person will ask or how they will respond to your own contributions. ChatGPT can mimic that quite well. While it’s all in writing versus speaking (hopefully that will be possible some day!) it’s still really great practice for coming up with a response quickly.

Hey, a new conversation partner!
It’s not QUITE like a new best friend, but it’s still a good practice tool

Ask some questions, ask ChatGPT to ask YOU questions in Korean, or just start discussing any topic you would like. The AI will respond as best as it can, and give you a chance to figure out what you’d say next.

2. Learn Korean grammar with ChatGPT

Grammar is hard. Grammar is especially hard when it is the opposite of your own language. Korean is also very nuanced where different words may mean the same in English, but carry very different weight in Korean. It can be tough to figure it all out, especially if you’re not taking a class with a teacher who can help sort out your confusion.

Chat GPT is a quick way to understand grammar. While it won’t teach you in a great amount of detail, it can give you a fast explanation of a grammar rule or what the difference is between this word and that word.

For instance, I was having a bit of trouble knowing when you use 면서 and when to use -ㄹ 때 (they both mean “while” or “during this time” in English but are used differently) so I asked Chat GPT. It gave me a fairly impressive breakdown. When I asked about it in my Korean class recently, my teacher was able to give me more specific examples and asked me if I felt I understood, but overall, this AI explanation was very helpful too.

Learn Korean with ChatGPT by getting grammar explanations
ChatGPT gave a pretty decent explanation of a Korean grammar rule

I don’t know about you, but I very frequently ask myself, “wait, how does this grammar work?” or “what nuance is implied if I use this term versus that one?” Having an AI buddy quickly find the answer for me is a great time saver.

While I don’t think I would want to learn a full grammar concept this way, it’s a great tool for clarification or as a refresher, and I use it often.

3. Find Korean resources that suit your needs

You can ask ChatGPT to point you towards resources that fit whatever level you’re in or that focus on a specific need. For instance, if you’ve just recently graduated to an advanced level of Korean (congrats!), you can ask for some good textbooks to get the most out of that level. If you are finding it difficult to understand when people are speaking, ask for some suggestions for listening practice.

ChatGPT can suggest listening resources

Whether you want to improve your reading skills, find a language exchange partner to practice listening and speaking, or brush up on a piece of intermediate level Korean grammar that you are struggling with, use AI to find the resources that will help you.

4. Get insights on Korean culture

I have said this before and I will say it forever – I don’t believe that you can adequately learn a new language if you don’t learn any of the culture of the people who speak it. This is so very true in my Korean learning experience. It is already a challenge to sort out honorifics and speech politeness levels; I can’t imagine understanding it at all without learning the cultural reasons for those different speech levels.

As you learn more about the language, you may come across things that you don’t understand culturally because it’s not something that is common where you’re from. For instance, maybe you’re watching a clip about two people who are having a meal in a restaurant in order to gain some vocabulary that revolves around food. You suddenly notice that one of the people pours a drink for the other, supporting his arm with one hand. Then you see that they toast each other and turn away as they drink.

If you’ve never encountered that before, you’d probably be very curious. In this case, ChatGPT can give you a quick cultural explanation. You can type “why do Korean people turn away from each other while drinking?”

Understand cultural references by asking ChatGPT to explain
If you’re curious, you can find a quick answer with ChatGPT

And lo and behold, you have a quick response to better understand the deeper meaning of what is happening on your screen. Of course you could search through Google and find articles that explain it, but when you’re studying it’s best to get the quickest response possible so that you don’t end up scrolling all over the internet instead of studying!

5. Work on reading comprehension

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I am a huge fan of the K-pop group SHINee. They recently released a new album for the first time in years now that the members have all finished their military enlistments. It was very exciting!

I found an article that looked like it was interesting, but news articles are still pretty advanced for my lower intermediate level. Still, I thought it would be a fun way to practice reading comprehension with a topic that I’m excited about.

SHINee!!
SHINee: Image SM Entertainment (L-R Onew, Taemin, Minho, Key – and always a space saved for Jonghyun)

I copied and pasted the article into ChatGPT and asked it to first summarize the story for me. This gave me a good starting point to know exactly what topics were in the article.

After that, I worked on one paragraph, looking up words in the dictionary and doing my best to translate it. Once I was done, I pasted just that specific paragraph into ChatGPT and asked it to translate for me. I was able to compare it with my own work. I was also able to see where I needed a better understanding of grammar points or how certain words were used. It was a fun exercise made easier with AI.

And speaking of understanding how certain words are used…

6. Learn Korean idioms with ChatGPT

Korean idioms are one of my favourite things about learning the language. They are also frustrating because they are difficult to understand without context and years of natural exposure.

One of my favourite idioms right now is 눈이 높다. I even used it in a speech for one of my Korean classes – I said 눈이 높아서 한국어를 열심히 공부하려고 돼요.

Now if you know that 눈 means eyes and 높다 means to be high, you would be confused the first time you see the phrase. My eyes are high? Is my face out of proportion? Because it translates literally to “My eyes are high so I intend to study Korean diligently.”

But what it really means is that you are gazing high up – because your standards are high. When I first learned this expression I loved it SO much. However, it’s confusing to come across idioms as a newer learner. Asking AI to explain it is a quick reference.

You can have quick a-ha moments by learning Korean idioms with ChatGPT

It will explain what it translates to in English but it will also explain the actual meaning behind it. Then, armed with that knowledge, you can understand my own sentence really means, “I intend to study Korean diligently because my standards are high.” Makes a lot more sense, right?

7. Find K-drama or variety show recommendations

It’s hard to learn a language without hearing it. A fun way to practice your listening is with various types of media. You can ask ChatGPT to suggest some K-dramas or Korean variety shows to help you with listening.

I was particularly amused when I asked for this specific list of resources; of the five dramas that it recommended to me, I had seen four (Crash Landing on You, Itaewon Class, Descendants of the Sun, and my all-time fave, Goblin). I guess it knows me well, and I should probably watch Reply 1988 as well now, since that was the fifth one it listed.

Learn Korean with ChatGPT by getting it to suggest amazing shows like Goblin
It will take a lot for a drama to knock this out of my first place spot

For variety shows, it also recommended Running Man and Knowing Bros which are both shows I pull up on YouTube often.

As an aside, even if you don’t use it specifically for language assistance, you can use this method to find something to watch for pure entertainment purposes. If you watched The Glory and loved it (you have great taste by the way!), you can ask ChatGPT to suggest other shows you may enjoy that are similar. (You could also check out my list of revenge-themed drama suggestions since you’re already here!)

Caveats and trying it out for yourself

It’s really important to remember that although you can find ways to learn Korean with ChatGPT, it will not replace actual real-world experience. Taking classes with Korean teachers will give you more personal input for your learning as well as important feedback. Finding native Korean speakers who would like to do an English-Korean language exchange will give you more actual experience with speaking and listening. Even just ordering your food in Korean at a restaurant is more one-on-one personal.

Another thing to consider is that when you read a blog post you get someone’s personal experience and guidance. AI – for now, at least – can not provide you with that extra layer of depth. As much as I like the quick response from ChatGPT, I still prefer to read more personalized information from people who have their own real-life input. And news articles are researched; you can see what their sources are and decide whether they are trustworthy. AI will simply gather information and at this time, there’s no way to know what sources they’re using.

But that being said, you can definitely use ChatGPT to give you a hand along the way.

Will you try to learn Korean with ChatGPT?

Leave me a comment below to let me know what you’ll try first. And be sure to tell me if you’ve discovered a fun way to use AI in your Korean language learning journey that I haven’t tried yet!

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