Learn Korean: The Ultimate Internet Resource
WARNING: Know all your options before getting started learning Korean!
Wanting to learn Korean, but not sure where to start?
Just do a Google search and dive right in, right? Start plugging away? Well, sadly that doesn’t pan out into being able to speak Korean in most cases.
That’s definitely not because there isn’t enough Korean material on the internet. Quite the contrary! The internet is filled with sites giving free tips and strategies, vocabulary and lots more!
It’s great that there’s free content out there on the interwebs but it’s not always the best for YOU!
Time is our most precious resource, and it can be frustrating or discouraging to spend our time on something that’s not useful. Imagine learning a thousand vocabulary words and then realizing that we still can’t form a sentence in Korean, or that a lot of those words aren’t common. Or imagine finding out that you spent six months studying formal Korean only to find out that most Koreans don’t talk like that! *Face palm*
In order to avoid these situations, we’re suggesting you go through three simple steps before choosing how you want to study Korean:
- Form a Goal
- Choose a strategy
- Match content to goals and strategy
Goals and Strategies
Think about your grandmother walking into a ‘big box’ electronics shop looking for her first new cell phone and being presented with a bunch of different options – some free, some cheap, some expensive, some with many gadgets and gizmos, and some simple and straightforward. She may just opt for the first one she sees! It’s free, after all, right?
But luckily there is someone there to guide her. What’s the first question the salesperson might ask? “What do you plan on using it for?”Well, it turns out your grandmother is somewhat tech-savvy. She has been taking a night class on computers and can now use Facebook, Twitter, Skype and email with ease! She wants to stay in touch with her grandchildren, who are spread out across the country (and the globe)! She needs that functionality in her phone because she plans on traveling quite a bit in the next year.
Well it turns out the cheapest phone didn’t meet her requirements, and if she just took the first one she saw, she wouldn’t have gotten the results she wanted!
The same goes for choosing a plan of attack for studying Korean.
The free plan may be the way to go for you, just make sure you strategically choose it and know the benefits of doing so.
But whether you just want to learn a few Korean words here and there so you can understand more of your favorite KPOP song lyrics or you want to be the next star of Non-Summit/비정상회담 (one of the hottest new Korean TV shows), you’ll need two things: a goal and a strategy!
Starting to learn Korean means having to learn lots of new words. LOTS!
And these new words and sounds are completely foreign to us, so they’re tough to remember. A lot of people give up before even getting started!
But think about it. Do you even know all of the words in your native language? How many times do you hear a new word and not know its meaning?
The same goes for Korean. You certainly DO NOT need to know all of the words in the language, and in fact, you can get started just knowing a critical few.
One strategy you may wish to take on is making use of the 80/20 Principle.
The 80/20 Principle is a law written by Vilfredo Pareto, where he showed that 80% of the wealth in a given society was held by 20% of the population. The law was also found to hold up in areas outside of economics. For example, Pareto noticed that in his garden, 80% of the peas were being produced by only 20% of the peapods.
The 80/20 Principle in general can be summarized as: 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort.
Therefore in language learning, it’s important to select the most important and relevant materials and focus on the 20% that give 80% of the results.
In English, about 300 words make up about 65% of the spoken language. The same thing goes for Korean! Find the most commonly spoken words (if speaking is your goal) and move ahead confidently with your strategy.
But that also brings us to the idea of a goal in Korean language learning. Why do you want to learn Korean?
You should have a specific idea of what you want to do with the language.
For instance, maybe you just want to use Korean to speak with close friends and have conversations. Focus on speaking and listening practice.
Or maybe you want to become a document translator for the sports industry. In that case, you’d want to focus on reading, writing, and vocabulary that are geared towards sports.
In any case, when you have a goal in mind, you can go through the process of making it more specific. It will only help you succeed in the end!
Here are some killer goal examples:
- Have a 10 minute conversation with a Korean local about Starcraft within 6 months.
- Read the full “Deathnote” series of comic books and understand 80% of the content
- Order makgeolli at the neighborhood restaurant and buy a round of drinks for friends
- Marry your Korean partner and speak Korean to the in-laws at the wedding next year
- Watch an episode of Pororo without subtitles
- Understand all the lyrics to your favorite KPOP album by the end of the year and be able to translate them into English!
- Before departing for Korea, be at the point where you’re able to confortably order in restaurants, take taxis and go about daily errand while conversing only in Korean
- Sing a full song in Korean at your next company outing with the boss
Resonate with any of these?
Each of these goals is very different, but they all have one thing in common: they are SPECIFIC!
Why don’t you take a quick second and write down your goal for learning Korean? Use this template!
My goal is to _____________________________ to the point where I’ll be able to ______________________________ within ______________________________.
With a goal in place and a strategy ready to implement, we’re ready to make a choice on our Korean language learning content.
Next, let’s talk about choosing the right content. This is a hugely critical piece of the puzzle, and without the right choice, we’re often unhappy with the results. One year of studies could pass by and we’d still be unable to do much of anything useful in Korean!
One of 90 Day Korean’s former students came to us after studying Korean at a famous university in Korea (KAIST) for a year! He had even passed the Level 3 Korean TOPIK exam.
But he could barely muster a word at our meetup and when he did, he was only able to toss in a word here and there– it was as if he couldn’t figure out the proper way to say what he wanted in a Korean sentence! All those months of academic study had gotten him to into his head and he wasn’t able to use what he knew. When asked why he decided to take the TOPIK exam, it was clear he didn’t need it for any specific reason. He just wanted to be able to speak Korean and thought that would help get him there!
How about one more example?
Have you ever heard someone who is using English as a second language use a sentence like this in English?
“Yes, that time would be appropriate for me”
What he meant to say was:
“Yes, that time would be good for me”
Most people would probably use the second one in English, instead of the first. It sounds more natural. But there are times when you would use the word “appropriate” in order to be more precise.
Do you need to learn the word “appropriate” in Korean? Well, that depends on what your goals are.
The moral of the story is that the Korean language learning content you choose should match your goals and strategies. Simple as that!
If you do opt for free methods, just make sure you follow one specific strategy and don’t hop around from site to site! If there is no outline provided, perhaps you could interview some friends and come up with an outline for yourself based on what they think is most important.
There is simply too much out there to wade through, and you can save tons of time by having someone who KNOWS guide you through the most important and critical-to-know content.
Knowing that, let’s get right into a complete list of all the options for Korean learning known to man! Yes, some of these options are only available to those living in Korea, but even if you’re living abroad, you may be able to find alternatives or language classes in your area if you opt for offline methods!
Let’s jump right into it!
Photo credit: CollegeDegrees360
Learn to read Korean and be having simple conversations, taking taxis and ordering in Korean within a week with our FREE Hangeul Hacks series: http://www.90DayKorean.com/learn