With people’s thirst for K-Pop and K-Dramas comes a need to want to learn Korean. Besides recruiting the help of native Korean speakers, perhaps the best way to learn is through being forced to do it by living in Korea. Many of us Koreaboos may not have the time and money to travel to and spend time in Korea, so language learning has to be done using other means. Thankfully, with the rise of Hallyu, more sources have become available to help with Korean learning. Perhaps you may find some of these sources helpful!
If you prefer to learn language using the Web, there are several Korean learning websites available that can help build speaking and writing confidence through the use of videos, quizzes, and digital flashcards. Through online learning, you can learn some useful phrases and hear pronunciation, something a textbook cannot do unless it has a DVD.
Talk to Me in Korean
Launched in 2009, TTMIK provides many sources for Korean learning.
If you are an audio and visual learner, the site has many YouTube videos that can take you through vocabulary and word pronunciation to help with language development. The TTMIK team, Hyunwoo Sun, Stephanie Morris, Hyojin An, Kyeong-Eun Choi, Seokjin Jin, and Kyung-Hwa Sun, provide easy-to-understand videos with clear instruction that will help anyone from absolute beginners to advance learners.
The site has many other perks besides videos. TTMIK also has audio books for vocabulary, verbs, and basic sentences and character writing that can help get learners started. Some other special features include:
- Ask Hyojin: A podcast where users can ask Hyojin language questions and she’ll respond with helpful responses.
- Learn Korean with K-Pop and Korean Drama Phrases: While these sections haven’t been updated since 2012, there are some valuable videos here for those who want to learn through the music and dramas that is spreading internationally. TTMIK picks simple, useful phrases from the songs, breaks them down, and explains how they’re used, adding an element of fun.
- Grammar: The grammar section is broken up into levels, so you can start anywhere you feel comfortable. You can start with easy phrases like “hello” and “excuse me” and work your way up to tougher idioms.
- Culture Ramblings: The staff discusses Korean culture and Korea in a relaxed setting.
TTMIK also offers paid memberships to certain services. For example, Haru Korean provides daily exercises through your smartphone or tablet, and you can go here to see corrections for your writing via one-on-one sessions. You can also sign up for live one-on-one sessions with TTMIK staff to help you learn how to speak.
The benefits of TTMIK are plentiful, though one of the downfalls is the erratic updates. Some content hasn’t been updated in years while others haven’t been updated in weeks or months. Since it’s a learning site, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue, but with special sections like learning with dramas and music and culture, times and subjects do change, and the group is behind the eight-ball here.
Visit Korea is the official site for Korean tourism. The section titled “Let’s Learn Korean” has links to KBS’ “Let’s Learn Korean” pages.
There are 30 chapters listed on the Visit Korea page that can help with basic phrases if you travel to Korea such as what to use when navigating the airport, subway, or taxi. There are also basic phrases about holidays, introductions, and making appointments. The lessons are simple, so anyone may find them helpful.
For beginners, one of the advantages “Let’s Learn Korean” has is that phrases are written in Hangeul with the Romanization underneath, a helpful tool for anyone learning characters and how they sound.
The page is pretty basic, but it’s effective. However, it does have some drawbacks. For some features to work, users would have to have Windows Media Player installed to hear “Dialogue on Demand.” Users will also need an updated version of Adobe Flash for interactive content.
The free language lessons on LOECSEN provide some useful phrases and content that will get language learners heading in the right direction. Plus, the cute stick-figure images may make learners feel more at ease with learning since content feels more accessible.
Like Visit Korea’s content, LOECSEN focuses on simple phrases that can help you get by in Korea. There are different categories like “Essentials” that can help you speak politely to the people you meet to even learning color names.
As you go through and learn the basics provided, you can quiz yourself by listening to the words and clicking on the corresponding phrase. The quizzes are a nice touch in helping to reinforce what you learn.
There is an option to download the audio and learning tools, but these have a fee payable by PayPal or credit card. However, since the quizzes and audio are already available, this may not be necessary.
If your preferred mode of technology is a mobile device, there are some apps available to help you on your language-learning journey.
Ubik Technology’s free version of Hangeul 101 is a nice source for learning Korean characters and how they sound. The app provides Romanized forms of the characters so you can see what they say, and there is audio so you can hear how the characters sound. Users also have access to 28 quizzes that can help with memorization.
The pay version of the app has ads removed, audio for 140-characters, syllable quizzes, and a Korean keyboard for further practice.
The app is really only good for practicing Korean characters, which is good if it’s an area of which help is needed. The app is easy to use, though audio sounds muddled at times. There are times when characters sound alike, so it’s hard to differentiate between different sounds depending on which character family you’re listening to at the time. But, it is worth a shot.
If you’re a traditional learner who prefers workbooks and CDs over Internet sources and apps, there are plenty of workbooks available in bookstores and online retailers that may be worth your while.
Korean for Beginners: Mastering Conversational Korean
This workbook does well with making Korean accessible to learners. From teaching Hangeul writing and speaking and Korean phrases to the helpful CD-ROM featuring native Korean speakers, the workbook makes it simple for a learner to approach the language at their own pace.
The book does well explaining grammar rules and adapts these rules so they’re easy to understand by an English speaker. The content isn’t dry either, which makes the workbook engaging and fun to use. The cultural tips and tricks and humor sprinkled in make learning fun, so it can be engaging for many.
Living Language Korean, Complete Edition
Living Language packs a punch because it comes with a lot of tools to help with learning. The complete edition comes with three course books, a reading and writing guide, nine CDs, and access to the online classroom. Each provides learners with vocabulary-building exercises, flashcards, games, writing and speaking exercises that are designed for different stages of learning. If you’re a beginner, the whole series will be useful for building and reinforcing what you need to be a successful Korean speaker; for those in more advanced stages, Living Language can serve as a way to “brush up” on past learning.
For Living Language to work, you will need to dedicate a lot of time to studying because each lesson builds upon each other. If you don’t have time to keep practicing, this may not be the series for you, but an app or website learning system might be. It all depends on your time and patience levels!
If you’re lucky, local universities may have students from Korea who are interested in learning English as you are in learning Korean! Setting up a language exchange can be beneficial for everyone involved as you learn about each other and your cultures while forging a new friendship!
With so many sources available, there’s no excuse to not learn Korean! Let’s learn together starting today! Hwaiting!
— Joelle Halon
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