(Don’t want to read my wordiness? Click here and here.)
So you’ve learned to read and write in Korean. You forget a letter now and then and you feel like a child struggling through simple sentences – but cheer up! Everybody has to read that way in the beginning. You’re about to get much better, and the way you’re going to do this is by learning Korean words, phrases, grammar, and culture.
Different people have different methods for how they learn. Some people need to see, some need to hear, some need even more interactive material. To learn Korean, you need all of the above. In this post, I’m going to introduce some of the best language resources that I’ve used to learn Korean.
1. You should head over to Talk To Me In Korean and explore. They have countless audio, PDF, and video lessons available for free, not to mention they recently (per the time of this post) came out with textbooks! I recommend that you subscribe to them on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. The more regular language-learning sources you have, the more you will remember even when you’re scrolling mindlessly through your news feed.
TTMIK currently has several levels of lessons, each level with about 20 or more audio lessons that range from five to twenty minutes in length. Download these lessons individually for free or in bulk for cheap and save them to your Automatically Add to iTunes folder. (Music>iTunes>iTunes Media>Automatically Add to iTunes) and then listen to them on your iPod or computer anytime. Start with Level 1 Lesson 1. Play the first audio lesson, pull out that Hangul notebook and open up the corresponding TTMIK PDF from their website. The teachers are very funny, helpful, and real – these are people who genuinely want to help you! You’ll enjoy their lessons and discover that learning Korean isn’t as hard as you thought.
In summary: TTMIK provides extensive language material (audio, PDF, textbook, video) for completely new students to linguaphiles aiming for fluency.
There’s so much to Talk To Me In Korean that I’ll discuss all their available resources in a later post. Please wait for it! ^_^
But if you use no other resource to learn Korean, then use TTMIK. They’re the best I’ve used, and while other sites provide excellent things here and there, TTMIK is the all-around winner
so why bother with anything else.
2. Livemocha is a huge and growing language site for people across the globe. Sign up for a free account, choose your native language and the language(s) you want to learn, and start learning! The site first introduces phrases in Korean by associating them with pictures captioned in the target language (ie a woman waving while a voice rolls out of your speakers with a nice loud annyeonghaseyo! and 안녕하세요 appears beneath it) but it expects you to already know Hangul. Livemocha, unlike TTMIK, doesn’t provide a method of learning Hangul.
Following the phrase introduction, Livemocha users review through mini-quizzes that test their memory with written, spoken, and visual cues. An image of a woman waving appears, and the option of 안녕하세요 pops up as one of the answer options. A voice cheerily speaks hello in Korean, and the woman waves from one of the answer options. Once every question has been answered the next step is a test.
There are two tests for each lesson. The first is written. A simple prompt will be given (Introduce yourself / Write six sentences saying what something is (house, a dog, a man, a woman…) / Describe six objects.).. and then the user enters the writing submission. Likewise, each lesson provides the user with a small piece to read aloud (for Korean, it’s provided both in Hangul and in romanization). It’s necessary to have a microphone for this so that you can record your audio submissions. After completing either exercise, the user submits and awaits a review. The beauty of Livemocha is that native Korean speakers review your submissions. You’re getting real people here. Real Korean speakers who know what they’re talking about and they know it better even than the cut-and-dry Korean phrases that Livemocha just drilled into you.
In summary: Livemocha’s greatest claim to fame is that native speakers tell you what you’re doing wrong and what you’re doing right. You might even be lucky and meet a Korean speaker learning English. Exchange Skype names and start chatting! Don’t be shy. Or at least, be shy but be shy while typing in Korean. PS, you get to review the English submissions of other language speakers on Livemocha, too.
But hey. Listen up. All these resources are no good if you don’t practice. Doing a lesson each day or every few days isn’t enough. I like italicizing things. Write some Korean on the side of some notes from another class. Make a couple note cards* and flip through them between classes, while waiting in the check-out line, and not while driving. Murmur phrases at appropriate times without freaking out the poor passerby who has no idea that you are speaking Korean. Before you fall asleep, recall the new grammar and vocabulary you learned today. Because practice is that important.
Learn it, know it, use it, or lose it.