Korean

Want to learn Korean pronunciation and sound like a native Korean speaker? Here’s how!

Having trouble being understood while speaking Korean? Do you want to impress South Koreans with your language skills? Then, you need to learn proper Korean pronunciation.

If you are struggling with Korean alphabet pronunciation, you are in luck because our guide has got you covered. It shares some of the top secrets to saying Korean letters and words correctly to ensure that natives understand you when you speak to them.

We suggest that you grab a notebook and pen because we take a look at some of the most important aspects of Korean pronunciation. Are you ready? Let’s dive right in.

Korean alphabet pronunciation

A great thing about Korean alphabet pronunciation is that most of the sounds which are pronounced in the language have similar sounds in English. For instance, ㄱ is pronounced as “g”. Although it does not sound exactly the same, it is easy to pronounce.

Hangul, the South Korean language or alphabet has been designed with easy learning in mind. With visual associations, it will take no time until you sound just like a native speaker.

When it comes to learning Korean pronunciation, you first need to learn the Korean alphabet as it will automatically improve how you sound. Therefore, you just need to master the alphabets.

How should you pronounce Korean words

The easiest way to pronounce Korean words is by learning their pronunciation as you read Hangul characters. Learning these letters will make it easy for you to pronounce each Korean word with ease.

Every Hangul character has a sound. The characters are combined into the syllable blocks with 2 to 4 letters to create a word. As a rule of thumb, each syllable block has a vowel and a consonant. You will need to say the syllables in one go to form a word.

For instance, if we consider the Korean word 가, it includes ㄱ (g) and ㅏ (a) to create 가 (Ga).

How should you pronounce Korean alphabets

To learn Korean alphabet pronunciation, you just need to associate each alphabet with its English counterpart. Here is a table that you should go through to familiarize yourself with the vowels, consonants, and vowel combinations.

Vowels Consonant Vowel combinations
 ㅏ(a)  ㄱ (k)  ㅒ (yai)
 ㅑ(ya)  ㄲ (g)  ㅐ (aay)
 ㅕ(yo)  ㄴ (n)  ㅔ (aae)
 ㅓ(oo)  ㄷ (t)  ㅖ (ye)
 ㅗ(ou)  ㄸ (d)  ㅘ (wa)
 ㅛ (yo)  ㄹ (d)  ㅙ (wae)
 ㅜ (uu)  ㅁ (m)  ㅚ (way)
 ㅠ (ee)  ㅂ (p)  ㅝ (waee)
 ㅡ ()  ㅃ (b)  ㅞ (wai)
 ㅣ()  ㅅ (s)  ㅟ (we)
 ㅆ (s)  ㅡ (uu)
 ㅇ (t)  ㅢ (aei)
 ㅈ (k)
 ㅉ (j)
 ㅊ (ch)
 ㅋ (k)
 ㅌ (t)
 ㅍ (p)

It is a good idea to listen to Korean speakers pronounce each of the letters in order to replicate the sounds. Then, you can use associates to help with your Korean learning.

To get Korean alphabet pronunciation right, you can rely on associations to produce similar sounds as a native speaker. For instance, you can start by associating ㄱ with a gun as it looks just like a gun and sounds similar to the “g” sound produced by the word.

Another letter that you should consider is ㄱ which is either pronounced as “g” or “k”. To get it right, you can blend the two sounds and listen to a native speaker. The only letter that looks exactly similar to an English alphabet is ㄴ for “n” but it is also pronounced as a “d”.

When you say the word 네, it would have a “d” sound but if it starts with a ㄴ, it would sound like “n”. There is no need to worry as you would get a hang of things with a bit of practice.

Romanization

To learn the basics of pronunciation, you should consider Korean Romanization which refers to the use of Latin characters. For instance, the Korean word 메뉴 would be written as “Menyu”. A good thing about Romanization is that there are no rules that you need to understand.

Through Romanization, you can easily identify Korean words without having to learn the alphabets initially. Knowing the correct pronunciation of each Korean alphabet will go a long way in helping you sound like a local.

Newbies to Korean can start with associations to Hangul. It will ensure that you are familiar with the sounds. Thus, you would be able to correctly pronounce the sounds.

There are certain Romanizing sounds that do not even exist in English. It goes for regular letters and double consonants. For instance, ㄲ would be Romanized as “Kk”.

The main purpose of Romanization is to provide aid which is why you cannot rely on it alone to learn Korean.

Important Korean pronunciation rules

As you have a basic understanding of different Korean letters, you can move towards important rules.

Batchim –받침

The bottom consonants of a syllable are known as Batchim. As it determines the way a word is pronounced, it plays a huge role in Korean pronunciation. Keep in mind that not every syllable has a Batchim.

Some notable examples to help you understand the rule in practice are mentioned below.

  • 밥 where ㅂ is the Batchim
  • There is no Batchim in 바
  • 밟 where both ㄹ and ㅂ serve as the Batchim

Final Consonants Must Be Soft

To sound like a notice, you must pronounce the final consonant softly. For instance, 팬 (Paen) and 밤 (Bam) have final consonants ㄴ and ㅁ are to be said softly. If you have listened to K-Pop, you must have noticed how the final consonants are always soft.

Vowel with Consonants

The next rule that you should remember is that consonants are always paired with a vowel to ensure an effortless flow of words. Consonants cannot make a sound on their own in Korean. Thus, a vowel has to be combined.

For instance, ㄱ alone would be noting which is why it would be said with a vowel to form a word such as 가 (Ga). You have to pay attention to the words so that you pronounce each syllable correctly.

Special Rules

To get your Korean pronunciation right, you just need to pronounce words that have been written in Hangul as syllables. However, you need to be aware of certain consonants appearing next to each other. Therefore, you must go through each rule one by one.

As you get a hang of some common rules, you will start to notice that they make logical sense as consonant sounds can be difficult to pronounce when they are side by side.

What can italki help you with your Korean pronunciation

If you are looking to learn Korean, italki can help you achieve your objective. Considered to be the best language learning app, you can use it to master Korean pronunciation and more.

Anyone who is fond of learning different languages can rely on italki to learn just about every language. You can install the app on your phone or stick to its website to learn Korean alphabet pronunciation.

Besides, you should have no trouble when you have a Korean teacher ready to help you out every step of the way. Here are some reasons why italki is the perfect tool that every language learning enthusiast needs to use.

  • Work with a Dedicated Teacher: The best thing about italki is that it helps you find a dedicated teacher who can help you improve your language learning experience.
  • Fun: italki is not just a regular platform for learning a language, it is packed with features that make it super fun. You will never get bored when you use italki.
  • Instant Feedback: When you work with a teacher on italki, you get to benefit from instant feedback. This ensures that you do not continue making the same mistakes and get to actually improve your language ability.
  • Amazing Convenience: With italki, you get to learn a language at a pace that suits you. In fact, you get to control everything.
  • Variety of Options: Learn Korean pronunciation from a teacher you find interesting. You can easily try out different teachers to find out who does the best job.
  • Affordable: Instead of spending a fortune studying at a language school, you will find it extremely affordable to learn a language on italki.
  • Amazing Community of Korean Learners: Connect with the growing community of Korean learners on italki to ensure that you never feel alone.

Conclusion

Now that you know the basics of Korean pronunciation, you will have an easier time talking to South Koreans. Besides, it can be very satisfying when natives understand what you are saying.

The next thing that you need to work on is basic phrases in Korean and Korean grammar as you increase your vocabulary.

Book a Korean learning lesson with italki today.