I am learning Korean and I have just about enough knowledge to say greetings and order my food in a restaurant (spoken and written). But sometimes my server will assume I know more and I wont be able to understand what they say to me. When I was learning Spanish I would say "Lo siento, no entiendo, solo estoy aprendiendo" meaning "Sorry, I don't understand, I am just learning". Can someone give me some similar polite phrases I could use when this happens in Korean?

Also, to be polite, before speaking Spanish to someone in a restaurant I would usually say something like "Puedo practicar mi español por favor?" meaning "Can I practice my Spanish please?" to make sure they want to be talked to in Spanish and to let them know I am learning (they usually appreciate this and speak to me a little slower). Should I do this in Korean? I have less intuition about the culture, politeness, and formality as I do with Mexican and South American.

For context I am located in Seattle, WA.

1 Answer 1


I'm not in your shoes, but I think it's totally OK to say 죄송해요 한국말 잘 못해요(Sorry, I don't speak Korean well). For your second question, this will depend on the situation, but saying that would be no harm.

As a Korean living in Korea, much respect to any foreigners trying to speak Korean.

  • 1
    To add on to this, as a dutch person learning Korean. Koreans seem very welcoming and supportive in people learning the language and culture. Especially if you use polite wording and tell them you are learning. I think you would have to find a really rotten apple to find someone who doesn't appreciate you learning their culture.
    – Roe
    Commented Jan 16 at 15:46

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