A Quick Guide: Learn How to Type in Korean on Your Phone or Laptop
Typing in Korean can seem like a bit of a mystery unless you've learned how. For example, we know that Korean writing is formed of character units called Hangul, but how do these translate into typing? Do you need a new Korean keyboard? Is typing Korean a different process on a phone or laptop? The answers are actually a lot more simple than you might think and today we're going to try and teach you the basics so you can go and get practising on your own!
For those of you who are completely unfamiliar with Korean language and/or don't know basic Hangul characters, we recommend checking out our article on how to learn the Korean alphabet in under 2 hours! We promise you it is entirely possible and once you've spent some time doing that, you can come back here and learn how to put Hangul into everyday use!
Step 1: Installing a Korean Keyboard
First things first, you don't need to buy a Korean keyboard in order to type Korean! You can type Hangul using a regular QWERTY keyboard. In fact the Korean alphabet uses the same 26 alphabet keys, just reassigned to Korean vowels and consonants instead of Latin ones. Below is a diagram showing which Korean vowels and consonants are assigned to which Latin letters.
Using your QWERTY keyboard to type these Hangul is actually very simple. All you need to do is find the keyboard settings on your device and install a Korean keyboard. This is very easy to do on Apple, Windows and nearly all smartphones.
For iOS enter settings > General > Keyboard > Add New Keyboard
For Android enter Settings > System > Languages and Input > Add New Keyboard
Then simply select Korean from the list.
Step 2: Understanding Your Korean Keyboard
So now you understand that each letter on your QWERTY keyboard represents a Korean vowel or consonant and you know how to install a Korean keyboard on your device, but how do you know which letter is which while you're typing? Do you have to memorise it all? Actually the answer is sort of yes...but we promise it gets easier the more you type! One way of helping you to memorise which letter corresponds to which is by using Korean keyboard stickers such as these. You can also refer to a printed diagram or make your own tiny little post-it notes for each keyboard key :)
Generally speaking, consonants are placed on the left hand side of the keyboard and vowels on the right. By pressing the correct keys you can build up Korean syllables or Hangul by combining the necessary consonants and vowels in the same way we type words in English. The order we work in is from top left > top right > bottom left > bottom right. Let's look at some examples.
Let's take a simple word 가 (ka), meaning person. To type it we must first type ㄱ(r on a QWERTY keyboard), then ㅏ(k on a QWERTY keyboard). The order is from the left of the character to the right.
OK let's look at a more complicated example. To type the word 삼성 (samseong) we must start with the first syllable (sam). To type this we must first enter ㅅ(t on QWERTY) thenㅏ(k on QWERTY), then ㅁ(a on QWERTY) to get 삼 (sam). The order is top left > top right > bottom.
To get seong, we follow the same process ㅅ(t on QWERTY) + ㅓ(j on QWERTY) + ㅇ (d on QWERTY). The result is 성 (seong) and the order is top left > top right > bottom.
For further examples check out the below video!
Step 3: Writing more than one word
Once you understand how to write one word correctly using your Korean keyboard, writing whole sentences is easy because it follows the exact same process. In fact, the Korean keyboard is so smart, it will automatically know what words you're trying to type as long as you enter the vowels and consonants correctly. In this way, you will never have to tell it where one word ends and another begins because it will already know! In some ways it's even easier than writing in English!
OK maybe that's a long shot and while the process is the same, it is important to know the basic structure of Korean language and grammar in order to ensure the keyboard recognises the words you're trying to type. Luckily for you, we have tonnes of free online resources to help you in this regard or you can even book some course time with one of our expert teachers!
Step 4: Practice!
While you can spend hours making sure you've brushed up on all the grammar and every keyboard sticker is perfectly in place, there is no substitute for actually typing in Korean as much as you physically can. At first it can be really difficult to memorise where everything is on a Korean keyboard layout but we promise if you persevere you will pick it up in no time and be able to type without even looking at the keys! A great way to practice is by finding a Korean language partner who you can converse with either by text or email. Luckily there are loads of great apps out there that can help you do this. Check out some of our favourite Korean language learning apps below.
Texting in Korean
One question we get asked a lot is whether typing Hangul with your phone is more difficult than on a laptop. Actually it's even easier! It follows the same process but the keys are already labelled with the correct characters so you don't have to memorise which letter relates to which. Texting is also a great way to pick up on more casual language you wont find in a textbook. For example do you know how to type hahaha in Korean?
Check out this helpful video and see how many phrases you can use in your next Korean text message!
Now you know how to type in Korean, why not supplement that knowledge by improving your Korean vocabulary and grammar with one of our expert teachers?
We have both private and group courses available for all levels of Korean learners. Get in touch today and see how we can help you!