Summer Goals

Summer’s almost here. My last final is tomorrow and yet I’m most overjoyed over the prospect of never seeing or hearing from my roommate or her boyfriend again. I’m going to truly miss the vivacity of campus life as the town empties of most of its students, but at least I know some of my friends will be here for a month or two longer. 가지마~~~ ㅠㅠ

Please, GD, kajima!

I can’t fairly complain about people leaving me though, since I’m planning on spending the fall 2014 semester in Seoul. Yes, Seoul. Is it possible to miss a place you’ve never been? I think so. In the meantime, however, I need to get ready. And by getting ready I mean I need to immerse myself as completely in the Korean language as I possibly can over the next several months, because my goal is to return for the winter 2015 semester and test directly into the second semester class of 3rd year Korean. I’ve never been formally tested to see what my level of fluency or ignorance is, and so I’ve been taking 1st year Korean during my freshman year – a seriously entertaining choice because my comprehension of grammar points reaches into much of 3rd year Korean….yet my speaking abilities were basically nil when I entered the class in the last dog days of August almost eight months ago. Or nine. I’m not sure; math isn’t my strong-point and I definitely just counted the months on my fingers and still am not sure if it’s 8 or 9.

I’ll soon be writing up some posts about my experiences taking Korean this past year (this is a promise because otherwise I’ll conveniently forget to do it while reveling in summer sunshine, bubble tea, and the hopes that Big Bang might actually make a comeback within the next decade),but in the meantime I’d like to discuss some of my language-learning goals.


1. Complete review of all Talk To Me In Korean levels up until my current one. And of course, resume actively studying new lessons and leveling up. LEVEL UP. Oh wow, I feel my gaming days returning already….Ahem, and in doing these reviews, I’m going to focus on speaking practice – my biggest nemesis in language learning. Because who really wants to hear herself mispronounce things repeatedly?

2. Establish vocabulary studying regimen (alongside my best friend/language study buddy) of exchanging lists of at least 20 words each every week and then practicing with all 40 via italki posts and my own journaling.

3. Reach a fluency level enabling me to write short stories in Korean! This is a big one for me, since one of my biggest passions since kindergarten has been writing stories. I used to write intense murder mysteries about three detective fairies while I was in kindergarten. Yeah, you’re jealous.

4. Work my way through one Korean novel per month. Now that‘s slightly insane and also mostly possible. I’ve had a book from the library that I’ve been renewing for about 10 months now and I understand the entire first page easily. I just get a bit tired by the second page…but that’s just laziness. This is summer! And summer means….study….time. Actually, summer means finally reading the books I wanted to read all school year long but couldn’t because I had twenty-some novels for my classes to plough through first.

5. Confidence in Korean. This is a big one for me. I’m all fluent and wordy when I’m practicing alone or making small talk with two of my fellow Korean-learning friends, but when confronted with the sweet ahjumma at Arirang who is asking what I want to eat, or when greeting my Korean friend’s wonderful aunt who makes jokes in Korean to me, I freeze up and retreat into the fortress of my native language. This goal isn’t really something I can specifically practice for, other than by practicing and practicing and letting go of the safety-rail of English. Mistakes are okay. They really, really are. And I usually tout this belief quite strongly until my face is burning red from mispronouncing something or randomly swapping the ending to the verb from past tense to future because I’m so completely caught up in being grammatically correct that I forget what the meaning of my sentence was in the first place. So, confidence. Confidence in Korean.


Do you have language learning goals for the summer? 화이팅!!! 그리고 감사합니다!



Counting in Korean


Recently I went on a road trip to attend a beautiful family wedding – however the road trip itself was not beautiful. It was awful. It stormed the entire ten hours it took to drive there (it was supposed to take just under eight hours), a flipped hazmat truck caused a massive backup, and at one point the fog was so dense that we couldn’t see any of the other cars around us. I sat in the backseat with my Korean notebook, reading through my notes, hoping we wouldn’t die due to rainy weather and crazy turnpike driving, and wishing I had something I could really concentrate on besides thinking I-refuse-to-die thoughts and staring at the road signs and passing semis.

Aha! I began counting the signs in Korean.

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Korean Greetings & Farewells

I have the best drawing skills, you know.

Goodbye vs. Goodbye in Korean


Greetings and farewells in Korean are quite interesting thanks to the common root of “annyeong” or 안녕. Because 안녕 literally means peace, when it combines with -haseyo, it means “Are you at peace?” While informal greetings and goodbyes usually consist of quick “안녕~”s without -haseyo’s and -hi-gaseyo’s and -hi-gyeseyo’s, it’s a must to learn the difference between them.


안녕 + 하세요 = peace + you do/please do


안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo) is usually translated as “Hello”  or just “Hi” but it is informal and 안녕 alone might be more suited for meaning an informal “Hi”. And if you’ve watched any k-dramas or know anything about Korean culture, you’ll know that bows often accompany greetings. Bow and say annyeonghaseyo! It’s all about respect. Be respectful and you’ll be respected.


안녕 + 히 가세요 = peace + you go


안녕히 가세요 (annyeonghi-gaseyo) is what you say when you are staying and the other person is leaving. In Korean, the verb for “to go” is 다 (kada). Thus, “go” is 가 (ka). Look at this goodbye again: 아녕히 세요. Can you guess what it means? Go in peace. Annyeong-hi-gaseyo.


안녕 + 히 계세요 = peace + you stay


안녕히 계세요 (annyeonghi-gyeseyo) is what you say when you are leaving and the other person is staying. What does it mean? Stay in peace.


알았어요? Just remember. Ka/ga for go. Annyeonghi-GAseyo. 안녕히 가세요. But do you remember “hello”? What are the two formal farewells? Let’s use a story to put things into perspective.


안녕세요. Annyeonghaseyo – because you were walking through a huge grocery store looking determinedly for brussel sprouts so that you could burn them to release stress, and when you found them you shouted, “HA! 안녕세요. AnnyeongHAseyo, you little sprouts!” Then you saw me running in the opposite direction because I was unnerved by the weird actions of a person speaking Korean to vegetables. What did you say to me? 안녕히 세요! “Annyeonghi-GAseyo!” You said, because I was going (ka/ga = go) and you were staying. “안녕히 세요! Annyeonghi-GYEseyo!” I shouted back to you over my shoulder, hoping desperately that you would STAY and not follow me home to burn brussel sprouts in my front yard.


Please check out Talk To Me In Korean’s lessons on the 3 annyeong’s:

Level 1 Lesson 1: Hello & Thank-you

Level 1 Lesson 3: Goodbye, See you

And for a bit more learning, look at Greetings in Korean, courtesy of Rocket Languages.


Note: Informal Korean doesn’t necessarily use 안녕 all the time for greetings and farewells. While an always safe and natural fallback, 안녕 is just the tip of the ice berg. Do you always tell your friends “Bye” when you’re leaving and “Hello” when you’re arriving? No. You say things like “What’s up”, “Catcha later,” “Hey,” “See ya,” “Hallooooo~” and any other variation. Once you get the 3 annyeong’s down, learn some other ways of greeting and goodbye-ing – it’ll be great for your vocabulary and make you sound more natural when speaking informally with friends.


Slang Expressions in Korean (Talk To Me In Korean) Review


I can say without a doubt that Talk To Me In Korean is my favorite Korean study resource. It has constant updates to add to its existing lessons and it uses really fun and informative videos, audio, PDFs, physical textbooks, pictures, and more (ie social media like Twitter and Facebook) to teach Korean. Since I love TTMIK, I was excited to try their Slang Expressions in Korean lessons (they’re available online at My Korean Store). This great product allows the purchaser to choose which price to pay based on their funds or what they personally think the product is worth and is inexpensively priced at $2.99, $4.99 or $9.99.

The Slang Expressions lessons are well worth any price. The package comes as an online download; after purchasing, I waited a few minutes for a confirmation email and then an email with a link to a temporary download. The lesson package can be downloaded a couple times (if you have multiple computers, you can download it to each one rather than spending time transferring with a USB), and the download link expires after about a week (so if you decide to get this, don’t sit around for a month not checking your email and wondering where on earth your Korean slang lessons have gone).

The Slang Expressions download came as a zipped folder that unzipped to show four audio files (I copied them to iTunes and added them to my ‘TTMIK Extras’ playlist) and a PDF (if you have an iPhone, download the iBooks app for free, add the PDF to your iTunes books library by dragging it or copying it, then sync that PDF to your phone to study Korean on the go). The four audio files included three lessons – Chapters 1, 2, and 3 – and a great Mini Dialogue Audio Track to practice with at the end of the lessons.

iBooks PDFs

The audio

  • each lesson is 16-17 minutes
  • the mini dialogue is about 8 minutes
  • each lesson corresponds to a chapter in the PDF and includes 10 slang expressions
  • a slang expression is given, its meaning is explained, and different forms (ie noun, adjective, adverb, etc.) are also given
  • the origin of the slang expression is also explained
  • mini conversations between native Korean speakers (mainly in 반말 or informal language because this is slang Korean) help clarify usage at the end of the explanation: the first speaker talks, 선현우선생님 translates, the second speaker talks, 선현우선생님 translates, etc. until the conversations ends; then the conversation is repeated but without translation in between speakers
  • though the PDF is a great tool for reading Korean and reinforcing the slang expressions, the audio allows you to multitask by listening to the slang lessons while you’re busy folding laundry, working out, or getting from A to B


  • the PDF is efficiently organized into three chapters that correspond to the audio
  • everything spoken in the audio is included in the PDF
  • Korean words and dialogues are written in hangul without romanization pronunciation guides, so it’s best to listen to the audio alongside reading the PDF (at least for the first time)
  • dialogues and examples of the word in other usages are on the left side; translations are on the right (the following picture is zoomed in on the examples and dialogue)

Slang Expressions screenshotOverall…

One big reason why I love TTMIK is that their lessons, while being extremely relevant, helpful, and informative, are never boring, and just about every sample dialogue is funny (I often find myself laughing while I’m studying). Each useful phrase is either a common real-life example or a conversation that sounds like it’s straight out of a funny and romantic Korean drama. These Slang Expressions in Korean lessons include some of my favorite funny dialogues.

Slang Expressions dialogue

Beyond being funny and memorable, the phrases are surprisingly relevant. I hesitated to buy this at first because the phrases that the product description mentioned seemed irrelevant to most regular conversations – yet the lessons’ examples showed me that these phrases are a great asset to my vocabulary; I can’t wait to begin using them naturally in conversations and understanding their use in music, shows, and real life.

I definitely recommend that you check out the sample audio and PDF and then purchase these lessons to add to your Korean study resources. If your Korean isn’t high enough to understand complex grammar and all the ins and outs of how a sentence is put together, don’t worry; these lessons are very simple and easy to follow, and you can always begin by memorizing terms. Save the sentence dissection for when you get to that level. Speaking a language is all about sounding natural, and these Slang Expressions can set you on the right path.

NOTE: The majority of the Slang Expressions lessons are in informal language or 반말, which means just because you’re feeling high and mighty and like a G-Dragon perty boy (Crayon? Anyone, anyone?) you can’t just casually use slang to an older person or someone you’re supposed to be polite to. If you’re not sure, don’t use it – in case it’ll offend the other person. You might seem more rude and stupid than fluent and intelligent.


Talk To Me In Korean Review

안녕하세요! This is a review of the language-learning website called Talk To Me In Korean. TTMIK uses a variety of materials, from audio to PDFs, videos to textbooks. Native Korean teachers constantly update the website with new lessons and are extremely interactive with their students, both online and in person. They’re very good teachers and they know what they’re talking about – and they’re never boring.

The break down:

  • 9 Levels, average 25+ lessons per level (exception for Level 9 which currently has only 1)
    • Explore Levels 1-7 curriculum here
    • Lesson length ranges from 1-30 minute(s)
    • Covers Hangeul, vocabulary, grammar, common phrases, verb conjugation, pronunciation, and more, for students anywhere from beginner to advanced
  • Free workbooks, quizzes, reviews
  • Everything is free or very cheap (with different pricing options)
  • iPhone Apps available for free – access all these materials on an easy-to-use App that allows you to listen while you look at the PDF on your smartphone screen
  • TTMIK teachers and materials accessible through smartphones, Twitter, YouTube, their own extensive website, Facebook, Google+
  • Created by native speakers living and working in South Korea
  • A whole lot of extra material available via TTMIK’s store and through their connected website, HaruKorean, where students pay about $6 a month for daily new lessons, 24-hour feedback, and more practice, practice, practice

Overall, Talk To Me In Korean is definitely my favorite language learning website. I would make a list of the pros, but those are already listed above because everything TTMIK does is a pro. The teachers are fun and interesting, making each lesson dynamic, and TTMIK just keeps coming up with more material in new and exciting ways! For example, if you like TTMIK on Facebook, you’ll find vocabulary pictures while scrolling through your newsfeed-they post pictures tagged in Korean to teach vocab. You’ll also hear about new materials that they create and events that they hold. You can subscribe to them on YouTube to enter contests, learn native pronunciation, and review vocab. The teachers Tweet, too. You can’t help but learn Korean from this amazing language resource!

However, I would still recommend signing up for a free Livemocha account even if you use everything that TTMIK offers and none of Livemocha’s lessons. Livemocha is an excellent supplement because it provides a platform for you to meet native Korean speakers who are learning English and chat with them in real-time. I talk more about Livemocha here, as well as explain how to utilize TTMIK.

You want to learn Korean? You can do it. Be brave. Don’t shy away. Start learning right now.

Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.
‒Oliver Wendell Holmes

Learning Korean: TTMIK and Livemocha are Fantastic (Baby!) Language Learning Resources

Created in Photoshop 11

(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.