As you many or may not know, I started studying Korean in February 2007, which means I’ve been studying now for less than 2 years. I have also studied by myself - I haven’t taken a proper class even once, nor have I even visited Korea. Usually, when people discover this, they are first amazed, then curious about my study method.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I’m amazing or anything.. But my Korean is at a comfortable level, even in situations where speaking English is not an option. These situations are becoming more and more frequent recently, and I’m quite excited about it!
So, for this week’s blog, I’ve decided to attempt to write out my study regimen. I don’t do all of these things every day, and they are not all going to help everyone, but here are some things that have helped me immensely during my studying:
1. Koreanclass101.com: Obviously. You are already here, I’m assuming you already know the wealth of information that can be found at this website. I’ve been a listener since Keith was still hosting Survival Phrases. ^^ For me now, the only lessons that really challenge me are the advanced lessons, but I listen to all of them anyway - it is a very good review. Honestly, the more you hear how different words and grammatical structures are used, the more naturally they will come out in your conversations.
2. Arirang TV’s “Let’s Speak Korean” show: This is a 10 minute show that airs daily in Korea teaching a new phrase/grammar/vocabulary every day. There are a few hundred episodes on youtube - here is episode one, you can find the rest from there. I watched about 5 episodes a day and took notes until I had seen the whole season.
3. Klear’s Integrated Korean Book series: I just happened to find this at the local library, and it was pretty good. You can see it here but there are plenty of books that will help with grammar (I eventually went through several different books) - check your library and see what they’ve got.
4. Korean music and television: Since the very beginning, I have been listening to any Korean music I can get my hands on, and watching Korean t.v. even when I have no idea what’s going on. The more you hear natural Korean, even if you don’t understand everything, the more natural your pronunciation will be, and the more you’ll understand how things are used in natural conversation. I listen to Korean talk radio as well.. Listen as much as you can! If you need suggestions or help finding shows, let me know ^^
5. Naver’s Korean/English dictionary: Can be found here. You can search in English or Korean, and it will usually give you the correct word even if you aren’t sure of the dictionary form. It is not a translator, it is for looking up single words. I never trust an online translator.. (:
6. Skype. I am on skype every day, chatting in Korean. Chatting with someone who doesn’t speak english is even better because they type fast, so you are forced to read fast to keep up, and you HAVE to reply in Korean. My ID is: holdfastemily. I would be happy to talk to all of you, and help in any way I can!
7. Friends and Language Exchange. Having people you can actually interact with and talk to is really important. I have a ton of Korean friends now who will talk to me in Korean and correct me and answer questions. I also have friends who I meet with specifically for Language Exchange - they need English help, I need Korean help, so instead of paying for tutors, we study together. If you can meet up with someone who doesn’t speak English (or who won’t let you speak english - that works too) that’s even better. For me, I need to be in situations where I HAVE to speak Korean, or it’s too easy just to speak English..
8. Reading and translating: More recently I’ve been reading a lot in Korean - blogs and websites and books.. I will read through and look up the words I don’t know, then read through again to get the whole meaning. Lately I’ve been reading Harry Potter.. I have also been trying to translate short things into natural sounding English. My most latest project has been trying to translate Super Junior members’ Cyworld entries for other fans.. ㅋㅋㅋㅋ This has increased my vocabulary and my reading speed by a lot!
And here’s the big one:
9. Get involved in the Korean community. For me, that has been Korean church. I know that this won’t work for everyone, but if it can, it’s amazing. Right now, my whole weekend is spent speaking mostly Korean: Friday night is Korean bible study, Saturday is Korean choir practice, Sunday is Korean church. And I usually hang out with friends from church afterwards. If church doesn’t work for you, try to find some kind of Korean activity you can become involved with - ask your friends! Try to get involved in a situation where people are discussing something in Korean and you are expected to participate as well. This can be quite daunting, but don’t get discouraged! It was not easy for me to become involved with the Korean church, and there are still people who are wondering what the heck I’m doing there, but once people meet me and realize that I understand what is going on, they are usually excited to have me there. I also have my core group of friends there who understand me and understand my intentions, so that has made it much easier.
This is by no means a comprehensive list.. But my general rule is this: listen, speak, and read as much as possible. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, people are generally understanding. And most of all, don’t get discouraged if you can’t understand everything. It takes time, but you won’t get better if you don’t get in over your head a little bit and just try! Then ask questions, and ask more questions (and take notes always!). If you go into any situation ready to learn, you surely will!
I would be happy to answer any further questions! Add me on Skype or comment here!