It has been awhile since I’ve posted here and today I thought I would bring something a bit different. Learning a new language, specifically Korean!
I am a native Cantonese speaker and I took 3 years of Japanese in high school, so learning Korean was not too difficult due to some similar words and syntax. I first decided to learn Korean because, just out of sudden interest, I wanted to know how to read. It was really fun and once I started, it took me only a few hours to learn the basics of Hangeul and in another few hours the next day to be able to read basically anything in Korean. You can learn basic Hangeul anywhere, but my favorite is: 15 minute Hangeul
To keep practicing after you learned the basics, you can use the following (click for full-size):
Important tip: Learn to type as soon as possible! It is not that difficult, but once you learn to type it will allow you to look up words and phrases faster and more accurately.
For grammar, I highly recommend Talk to Me in Korean. It is a website filled with free tools. I basically learned all my grammar and most of my vocabulary from this website. The teachers here are amazing and even make videos and posts on Korean modern and traditional culture. Assuming you’ve made the decision to learn the language, you know a bit about Korean culture so this website understands that and provides more subtle bits of Korean culture that I find so interesting.
If you would like a more interactive learning experience, but do not have the time to go to study abroad or pay for an outside class, I recommend Haru Korean. It’s a service built by the same teachers as TTMIK where you can discuss your progress and get personal feedback and corrections. Another website is iTalki, a forum based site where you can ask and answer questions. Please note that it is recommended that you already have beginner fluency under your belt before you consider these services.
Reading and Pronunciation
Practice your reading and pronunciation skills with Online Intermediate College Korean and Sogang Korean Program. Basically go through and read the conversation out loud, listen, and then repeat. Certain words may be pronounced differently, so this helps you pick up these patterns and fix your pronunciation.
I know this might be strange at first, but if you are interested in Korean programs like variety shows or dramas, repeat after them! Actively read the little phrases that pop up on the screen and you will pick up Korean more naturally and voila, you’re studying!
Vocabulary is the most flexible part. Before you start learning, try to decide where you want to start first. Are you learning Korean for an upcoming visit? I would start with travel terms to get around Korea. Below is a list of tools specific to certain situations.
- A little bit of everything: Matthew’s Korean Reference, Common Vocabulary
Now, this is the part where typing comes in handy. I would say my favorite vocabulary tools are online dictionaries:
- Naver: Click 영어/영어 and you can search Korean or English words/phrases.
- Daum: Make sure the Aa bubble is selected.
- English Learning Dictionary: Pretty straight-forward
Note: Romanized Korean will not work on these sites (unless it is a proper noun).
I use Daum the most to provide information on new vocabulary words. Not only do I get a definition, but I also get sample sentences in both Korean and English so I get a feel for the connotation of the word. As you approach intermediate proficiency of Korean, you will start noticing that Korean words and phrases has many nuances that might be difficult to pick up or understand. Use these tools to help you understand the nuances and connotations of each word before using them!
For a bonus kick, I will include some Seoul YouTubers I am subscribed to.
- Talk to Me in Korean aka TalkToMeInKorean
- Hyunwoo Sun aka Hyunwoo Sun
- Seoulistic aka Seoulistic.com
- Megan Bowen aka ChoNunMigookSaram
- Josh aka 영국남자 (not really in Seoul, but his proficiency is inspiring)
I also watch a lot of Dad! Where are you going? (아빠!어디가?) and Superman Returns (슈퍼맨이 돌아왔다) unsubbed, which surprisingly taught me a lot of Korean because they use simple vocabulary when talking to kids.
Compared to studying abroad, this taught me a lot more but definitely takes time and patience. I highly recommend being proactive in learning Korean before your visit because it will make your trip so much more enjoyable, not to mention easier!
Okay! So I think I covered almost everything. Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll be happy to assist~ Thank you for reading!