Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Only Time Will Tell ...

Before starting a task you need to make sure you have all the necessary tools for the job, studying a language should not be any different. After a week of surfing for Korean self-study information, sieving through tons of good, not so good and sometimes contradicting advices and recommendations (too much information is not always good for the brain!!!), the tools I have finally selected to aid me in my self-study are:

A Good Old Fashioned Textbook or Two
  • KLEAR "Integrated Korean" Series

    After debating which book or book series to go for, I have ordered from Amazon the first two books from this seriers (the new 2nd Edition) - Beginning 1 and 2, and the accompanying two workbooks, all arrived last Saturday.
    There seem to be equal amount of people for and against this series (1st Edition), I have decided to get it anyway and see it for myself. A quick flick through the Beginning 1 book, my first impression is that the information seems to be laid out nicely into study units, romanisation is limited to the introduction section on learning the Korean alphabet only and the rest are in Hangeul, the fact that there is an accompanying workbook is a definite plus, even if there are no answers.


    • There are audios to go with each unit which can be downloaded from the KLEAR website for FREE.
    • Another good thing is that when I complete the beginner level, if I am still as enthusiastic about the language as I am now, then there are the upper level books from the same series waiting for me to carry on with (Intermediate, Advanced Intermediate, Advanced and High Advanced).
    • iPod/iPhone app (e.g. "Integrated Korean - Beginning") available for the Beginning and Intermediate levels, which includes Flashcard and Vocabulary List for each lesson in the text book.
    • The fact that this book series is being used by over 70 university and colleges for regular class room instruction must say something about its quality.
  • Using Korean - A Guide to Contemporary Usage

    I read quite a lot of good reviews about this book, not as a text book to be studied religiously but more as a reference book to dip in and out of. I stumbled across a free PDF version on the net and downloaded it, I am planning to put it onto my Kindle (which goes everywhere with me) so I can reference to it even when I am out and about.

On-the-go FREE Learning Aids (when you can have it for FREE why pay)

Obviously, the people using the 'Integrated Korean' book series in a classroom environment has got teachers to instruct them on correct pronunciation amongst other things, but there is no reason why a self-studier should not have the same aid. There are loads of on-line Korean learning sites about providing audio and video lessons, some free and some have free and paid services.

The two main sites I am going to use for my study are:-

  • Talk To Me In Korean (a.k.a TTMIK, see sidebar)

    The audio and video lessons plus the PDF lesson notes are all FREE, and they are all available as Podcasts, which I have subscribed to on my iPod Touch. So I can do some Korean learning on-the-go, might as well make use of my daily 3-hrs round trip on the London underground (that's not counting the frequent delays caused by signal failures ...).
    Note: For Levels 1, 2 and 3, there is a free PDF workbook for every five lessons. At the end of Level 1 you can purchase an intensive revision workbook for a small price.

  • KoreanClass101 (see sidebar)

    This is actually the first site that I came across. To see what's available I got a Free account with 7-days unlimited access to all Basic and Premium materials and features. Although, the audio lessons are free to all account holders, but the new lessons are only available to everyone for the first 2-wks after which you need to be either a Basic or Premium member to access those. And you need to be a member to download the accompanying PDF lesson notes. I am not a big fan of monthly/yearly subscription (I do not mind a one-off payment), so I have not upgraded my account and my 7-days unlimited access has expired today. I made full use of this 7-days, downloaded all the audio and video lessons, they are up-to-date and available on my iPod Touch ready to be used. I would have liked to have the PDFs as well but beggars cannot be choosers.

My current plan is to use TTMIK as my main on-line/on-the-go learning resource, KoreanClass101 as the supplement. See how it goes, I might end up getting the Basic membership if learning without lesson notes prove to be unworkable.


Learning a new language, a dictionary is always handy. Following recommandations from on-line community, I am going to use the following:-

  • Naver's free on-line English-Korean, Korean-English dictionary, I am finding this one very confusing to use maybe it is more for Korean people learning English, but I will persist and may get a handle on it yet.
  • a pocket sized dictionary for on-the-go - Colins English-Korean Dictionary (delivered by Amazon), haven't had a chance to use it yet so cannot comment on how useful it is, but it is definitely pocket sized.
A Fun Way to Increase the Vocabulary

After learning pronunciations, practicing read and write of Hangeul, cramming down of basic phrases and grammars, you cannot progress far and onto conversing with Korean speakers if you do not have the necessary vocabulary.

  • KoreanClass101 has a 'Korean Word of Day' widget (see my sidebar)
  • TTMIK has a downloadable 'Korean Words of the Week' PDF, one for each week (for a fee, but a free wks1-10 PDF booklet is available)
  • The KWOW Wednesday video series available on youtube (see my sidebar) definitely makes learning Korean FUN, don't take my word for it, give it a try and see what you think.


This is a a very effective way to review, refresh the memory and expand the vocabulary. My husband makes up his own decks for his Chinese learning, I will definitely do the same once I have located a good website or iPod Touch app for it. Two possible candidates:-

  • Korean Flashcard website - plus side you can create your own list, downside no app available for on-the-go use.
  • iPod Touch/iPhone app "Korean Audio FlashCards" by Declan Software (free lite version and full paid version) - plus side there are over 1200 words, downside no facility to create your own.

I have now chosen my tools but "Have I chosen the right ones?", I sincerely hope so, ... only time will tell.

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