People often wanna know what is my level in Korean. Some Koreans consider me as intermediate. I would say I am more advanced beginner. I can read, write Korean. For everyday life conversations, I might understand about 50% of what Korean people say at a natural speech speed. For more technical or business like conversations, it clearly drops down to 10-20%. I’ve started reading 엄마를 부탁해 (Please Take Care Of Mum) by 신경숙 (Shin Kyeong Suk) but I find my Korean a little poor to read comfortably. I read with the dictionary on the side!
People also ask me often how I learn Korean because they wanna learn too. They wonder if I take classes or not. The answer is… no! I have the money but I really don’t have the time. I work during the day and go to school at night so not so much time even for socialization but still we’re trying. What do I study? Photography! (little self-promotion here! ^___^)
So how do I do it? Well, it’s pretty simple! When it comes to personal development, one’s need to shop around to see what suits them the best. I’ve tried several websites and the best for me was…
In my opinion, this site comes first in terms of grammar lessons which I really enjoy. The recordings are really dynamic and fun. I put their lessons in my mp3 player and listen to their lessons on my way to work in the morning. To complement what I learn on TTMIK, I also use LingQ and KoreanClass101. While LingQ‘s multi-lingual platform offers lots and various free content (conversations, fairy tales, news reports, etc…), KC101‘s lessons are more thorough. LingQ is good for people who already have a grammar knowledge or even writing system knowledge for Hebrew, Russian, Arabic, Korean, Japanese and Chinese as they only provide translations and no romanization (which I find a great idea because it forces you to read hangeul, hanja or whatever it is you study. It is good practice!) As for KC101, I’ve tried their premium version for a couple of month. It’s really good and helps you progress fast in conversation. They have nice tools like flashcards and exercises. The only thing is it’s worth paying if you are really willing to study intensively, 2-3 hours a day minimum, otherwise, if you are too busy like me, you would just end up wasting your money. Their free content is good enough.
I got my hand on Pimsleur‘s full Korean program. It’s only good to practice conversation. They don’t have any grammar lesson. It’s good but I find their method a bit boring. I usually fall asleep in the middle of conversation practice so sometimes I play it sometimes and practice my pronunciation while doing the dishes! hehe I’ve also tried Livemocha. Just like Pimsleur, it’s good to practice pronunciation and conversation but for me it is a bit boring too. I love correcting French submissions on that website when I have time though.
I also recently found out this blog, Seoulistic, which provides tons of quick and fun tips about Korea. To my opinion, it is one of the best blogs of that kind I have seen about Korea. It’s very interesting and complementary to my language learning. (And I’m not paid to say that!)
Eat Your Kimchi is good too but just a little too focus on K-Pop music for my taste. K-pop not being my central point of interest in Korean culture, Simon and Martina’s blog would be secondary to me although they provide some good tips about Korea out of their experiences and have some hilarious videos. Another interesting stuff was K-Wow by Oh Mi Na (I think it is Oh Mi Na, not sure! ). It has ended now but her videos are really nicely done and she continues to provide a different kind of content, always around Korean culture. By the way, if you know interesting blogs or websites (even all in korean) about Korean Cinema, Korean Traditional Arts, please let me know! Leave a comment! This said, there are tons of websites to help you progress in Korean. Check out my Link Page to know where to start!
What helps me to progress in Korean as well is that I have a lot of Korean friends now. Although I’m shy to speak in Korean, they can speak to me in Korean and I would understand most of what they would tell me. They often introduce me to new colloquial expressions. Sometimes I remember them and sometimes I just can’t! One of those good friends chats with me all in Korean several times a week. Sometimes, she would prevent me from using either English or French. I would use them only if I’m really stuck or if what I say in Korean really doesn’t make sense to her. I’m surprised how much Korean I know though. When I don’t know a word, always try to find other ways to express my ideas and it works!!!
Ah, I forgot! I am also the social media manager for the Korean club I am part of, Montreal Korean Language & Culture Club. It is a very dynamic group with various activities around Korean culture. Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+! Yes, we’re everywhere! hehe