Do you use any of these Korean language resources? Should I add something?
How do you study Korean? Let me know in the comments at the bottom.
How to Study Korean (and any other language for that matter)
- Don’t buy Rosetta Stone– I know, it’s tempting isn’t it? There is the answer to learn an entire language in just 6 months or less for $400. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance? When I learned I was moving to South Korea, it took all my willpower to resist the urge to go to one of those mall kiosks and get the sales pitch. I am so glad I didn’t do it! On average, I spend about $10 a month studying Korean and I am excelling quickly. Don’t let Rosetta Stone become an unused $400 desktop icon.
- Update Jan 25, 2017: The Humphreys Library and many other military libraries now offer Rosetta stone for free through their online portals. Use Rosetta stone to build up your vocab but practice your grammar elsewhere. Link to Camp Humphrey’s Library. You have to physically go to the library across from the commissary to sign up for an account. Bring your military ID.
Use multiple online resources– Studying a language is like putting together a planet sized jigsaw puzzle in your head. It’s hard and there is no quick way to do it but studying a language can be really cheap. The key is to use multiple resources to reinforce everything that has already been learned and to build on that foundation. For example, in an average week I will listen to a podcast, type to a tutor on Facebook, watch some TV or Youtube, meet with my language exchange partner, go to the market and attend my Korean class at PIEF.
- Get a language exchange partner– For every English speaker who wants to study Korean, there are a hundred Koreans who want to study English. From a very young age, Koreans are taught that studying English is essential to a successful life. There are no shortages of young Koreans who would be happy to teach Korean as long as they can practice their English.
- Go into town and practice! Every week I try to go to the market and buy food in Korean. I am terrible at it but I usually come out unscathed. Many natives are extremely flattered to see foreigners trying to speak Korean and they’ll often help with pronunciation and vocab words.
Army Community Service – Free Basic and Intermediate language classes, The Ville Tour, SMART START Transportation Class, Learn About Korea etc. Some of the programs are headed by PIEF (see below.
SKIES Unlimited for Kids – Paid private and group tutoring available for Kids.
MWR/ USO Trips – Take lots of trips into the peninsula and practice your Korean on the locals.
Camp Humphreys School System – Kids can take Korean language classes.
*Go to the Humphrey’s Happenings magazine for days and times.
The 5-Day market – Open on the 3’s and 8’s of the month, this is the best place to practice vocabulary words for food and clothing. The locals are very patient and will work with you when buying items. Check out my Youtube Video on the 5Day Market in Anjeong-ri.
The Pyeongtaek International Exchange Foundation (PIEF) – Low cost, weekly Korean courses. The first level focuses on learning Hangul and sentence structure. Basic and intermediate courses available. They also run the Head Start program and Good neighbor tours. Read about PIEF here.
Language Exchange Partners – Find a local Korean who wants to practice their English and take weekly trips with each other. Go to the market, a coffee shop or sit down and study Korean vocab words together. There are language exchange groups on Facebook and Meetup.com.
Go Eat! – There is no better way to learn about a culture and its language than through its food. We went to a Shabu Shabu place the other day and messed up how the meal was supposed to be cooked. I had fun listening to our waiter grumble under her breath and then she spoke in simple Korean words to help us for the rest of the meal. I learned a lot from a grumpy Korean!
Paengseong Coffee Social – Every Tuesday from 0930-1130 at a Twosome Place in Paengseong, I host a gathering where people of all ages socialize, relax and/or practice their target language. We also have outings to local areas like the 5-Day market, fishing cafes, hiking trails etc. Read about the Coffee Social here and send me a message on Facebook if you have any questions. Kids are more than welcomed and a few of our members will try to teach them a few words in Korean and English.
Pyeongtaek Language Exchange Group PLEX – Follow the Pyeongtaek Language Exchange on Facebook and Meetup. They meet near AK Plaza to have dinner, drink coffee, go to the bars, go hiking and to have a great time. The leader, Alan, is a great guy and this group is appropriate for adults from every walk of life.
Google Translate – This is the go-to translator for most everyone around the world but it’s not great with Korean. Remember when you were looking up language learning curriculum and all you could find was Japanese, Chinese, French, Spansih etc? Korean is not one of the big languages to learn so it has less resources available and this crosses over into Google Translate.
Naver Dictionary – Naver is a company in Korea that offers many products and their translation services are spot on. Naver Dictionary is intimidating at first with all of the Hangul but it works great. Like Google Translate you can take a picture of the things you want to translate and you can hear the words being spoken in Korean.
Papago – Another Naver translator map that is streamlined with a minimalist design and no fluff. It does exactly what Naver Dictionary does but it’s much easier to use. Copy text to your clipboard, favorite and save your translations and hear the text spoken out loud. This is my preferred translation app.
I LOVE THIS PODCAST! Talk to Me in Korean is perfect for any level Korean speaker. The episodes are 10-15 minutes long and are simple enough for my 8 year old to understand. I listen to one podcast a day. Well, I really listen to 3 podcasts a week but I tell everyone one a day. Makes me sound smart. Anyway, I want to emphasize that these podcasts can be the bread and butter of a Korean language curriculum, even kids can enjoy them. The boys and I will listen to a podcast together during a meal.
There are accompanying textbooks available from their website or Amazon but they aren’t required to listen to the podcasts or to enjoy the videos. This podcast is a must for anyone studying Korean. Buy their books at any local Korean bookstore, from their store or on Amazon.com.
This app takes the user through Hangul one step at a time, using English words spelled in Korean script. A little practice every day and reading hangul will be a snap.
The Egg Bun app takes students through a Korean course by using a pretend text messaging service. Be sure to activate the Korean Keyboard on the cellphone before using. There isn’t as much review in Eggbun as I’d like but in conjunction with other learning resources, it is the perfect pocket method to learn Korean on the go.
This is a faux Facebook / Messaging app where users select their birth language and their target language. Then they will be able to post (with photos as well) and other users can correct their writing and respond. So far, the moderators have done a great job of removing problem users but it’s best to be 18+ whenever typing with strangers, just in case.
Online or on the phone, this is a great program to start hammering down vocab words, the biggest hurdle of any language study course. Memrise is fun, colorful and easy to use. It uses a variety of flashcards, mnemonic devices and long term memory review. Plus, you can download Talk to Me in Korean vocab packs and study new words that you learned from the podcast.
Coursera grabs all of the free online college courses and puts them together in one easily accessible location. Students can learn new computer languages, intro to childhood education and (of course) intro to Korean. Go to Coursera and search for the Korean class. It will ask if you want a certificate but just say No and the class will be free. Be sure to use other apps and resources during this crash course in Korean.
The Defense Language Institute (DLI) is where American soldiers learn foreign languages. Here is where I first began my journey into learning Korean. I’ll never forget that fateful day, fifteen years agom when a drill sergeant from Bravo Company stared me in the eye and yelled “YOU’RE LEARNING KOREAN!” 18 year old me was convinced that said drill sergeant wanted me dead so I jumped right into my new language without being able to point to Korea on a map.
The resources available on the DLI page are rather impressive. The Headstart2 program is great for beginner Korean speakers. These programs are primarily for soldiers who are looking to gain promotion points but anyone can register and begin the course, no AKO account or CAC card required.
Watch Korean TV or Netflix
If you live on offpost housing, go ahead and turn on the cable TV. There are a lot of entertaining shows that don’t require a vast knowledge of Korean to enjoy. Find one of those crazy eating shows where everyone watches one person eat a meal and comment about it for thirty minutes. I love ’em! Netflix offers the luxury of English subtitles which can be helpful for studying. But Korean Netflix is still building its collection and is poorly stocked compared to its American servers. For kids there are a lot of great cartoons in Korean like Peppa Piga and Yokai Watch.
*If studying from the states, get a VPN to turn Korea into your country of origin to watch Korean Netflix. Netflix and Amazon have been cracking down on VPN’s so this might be more difficult than it was a year ago.
Search for ‘Learn Korean’ or ‘Learn Hangul’ and the videos will keep on coming. There are a lot of free videos out there for adults and kids. To get started, search for my two favorite songs: “Korean Milk Song” and “Korean Three Bears.”
Did You know? Larva, a popular cartoon on Netflix, is Korean made?! Ok, the bugs don’t talk but I had to convince my kids that learning Korean was the cool thing to do. Screaming and farting cartoon characters were the right way to go for us.
Listen to K-Pop
Korean music is taking the world by storm and it’s a great way to study Korean. Here is my personal favorite, HATE by 4 minute.
Find Pronunciation Charts Online
There are many charts available for the Hangul characters. A designer named Byeoung Cho created these beautiful charts, free of charge. Go to his friend’s blog post to download all of the charts.
Dave is an English Speaker living in Korea who has perfected his Korean over the years. He posts satirical and comedic videos that often compare living in Korea to the rest of the world. He and his guests speak in both English and Korean, it’s great practice for intermediate speakers.
Professor Oh is hysterical. She plays a myriad of characters who teach everything from culture to basic Korean phrases. Great for beginners and intermediate speakers alike.
This Canadian couple give the low down on living in Korea as an expat. There is not as much Korean language learning but they discuss the many essentials to living in the land of the Morning Calm. This video gave me my first look into how Koreans drive. Everything they say is so true! They’ve moved to Japan now and are hosting Eat Your Wasabi but the videos aren’t any less relevant.
See anything I need to fix? Am I missing something? Email me at SigFlipsTheTable@gmail.com or leave a comment.
January 25, 2017
Updated Rosetta Stone for Library. Added Translator Apps.
Aug 28, 2016
Added Egg Bun and CoursEra