In The Interim
I should learn Korean before leaving the US. I don't want to hop off the plane and be lost in translation. That would suck. Since October, I've been trying to find a suitable program. Rosetta Stone's out, because I don't have $300+ in my back pocket and native Koreans say that it is largely incorrect. Rocket Korean was next, but it was also too pricey. I bought Pimsleur's Chinese version in high school and couldn't get pass the first chapter. It was too dry, the audio wasn't the best, and it had no pictures. With the brand names out of the way, I turned to my friend Google.
I've searched every possible combination of "learn free, beginner Korean," and "online," and largely, I failed. There are plenty of sites that seemed to copy the exact same information from previously listed sites. Lame! Two sites stuck out to me: LearnKoreanOnline.net and Livemocha.com.
Learn Korean Online is taught by a man named Rob Julien who learned the language in Korea and now teaches classes. While he does teach in a classroom, he tapes the sessions and makes them available online for free. Each week, he emails the lessons, worksheets, and any questions that have been asked by members. So far, I've received four lessons and a handful of questions. While it is free, there is an option to pay, which gives you precedence in asking questions and attending the live courses, but... *shrug* I like free things. I started using this site first, because the Mr. Julien speaks English and can explain things in a way that I can understand. What I don't like is how the site is set up. The videos sometimes play, and sometimes they don't. Refreshing 10+ minute videos gets old really quick. And, no offense meant to Mr. Julien, I got bored of him fast. The lessons were good, but my attention span.... There was zero interaction.
Over Thanksgiving break, I found Livemocha. It had me on the homepage! As a New Media Design major, a well-designed webpage is attractive, so I signed up. The idea behind Livemocha is to learn just about any language on the planet with the help of other people learning other languages. It's a global community! So I'm learning Korean, but my submissions will be reviewed by a Korean who might be learning French, etc etc etc. It was a superb idea, except it fell way short. Livemocha breaks Korean up into four courses (Korean 101, 102, 201, and 202) each with about three sub-units. Inside, it gives you vocab words, a descriptive picture, and a voiceover. Pretty darn advanced for flashcards! This is the Learning part. After, there's the Review which consists of reading, writing (typing), and matching. Okay, that's great. The next section is Writing. This is the interactive part of Livemocha. I was supposed to write a paragraph introducing myself that a Korean speaker would then peer-edit and give suggestions. Well, Livemocha failed to teach me how to construct a sentence. How do you expect me to write a paragraph? So, all I did was install the Korean keyboard plug in and learned to type what was on the flashcards.
This was my submission:
안녕! 저의이름은Jasmine. 좋습니다. 저는United States에서왔습니다. 잘가요.
(Hello! My name is Jasmine. I am fine. I am from the United States. Goodbye.)
This was the feedback I received: Average Rating: 3 stars Spelling: 5 stars Proficiency: 3 stars Grammar: 2 stars
'안녕' 은 예의를 갖춘 말이 아닙니다. '안녕하세요' 라고 하는것이 더 적합합니다.
'저의~Jasmine입니다.'가 맞는 표현입니다.
'좋습니다' 라는 말은 기분을 표현할 때 말하는 말입니다. 자기소개를 할 때에 기분은 상대방이 물어보기 전까지는 잘 표현하지 않습니다.
'잘가요' 라는 말은 거리상에서 사람을 만났다가 헤어질 때 쓰는 표현입니다. 소개하는 가운데 적합하지 않습니다.
*직업에 대한 표현도 적었으면 좋겠네요^^
Paste that into Google translator. Do you see my confusion? I am learning Korean... How am I supposed to understand? I puzzled out her response dug around the 'net til I came up with this:
안녕하세요! 저는 Jasmine 이에요. 저는 United States 에서왔습니다. 나도약간의한국어를쓸수있습니다.
(Hello there! I am Jasmine. I am from the United States. I know a little Korean.)
I stopped using Livemocha. Plus, the website looks awful past the homepage.
Yesterday, I searched again, but this time on Youtube. It should have been one of the first places I looked. I immediately found a channel called Sweetandtasty. "Professor Oh" and her "friends" teach Korean and its culture in an entertaining way. Oh (I'm not sure if that is her real name) dresses up as different characters to create situations in which viewers can better understand. It keeps my attention. Oh also has worksheets for the first few episodes that are super simple. She also has a website. So far, I'm on video four. I'll let you know how it goes!
Update: December 30, 2012
Happy almost New Year! I am still attempting to learn Korean before landing! I'm just having an extremely hard time getting myself to focus. It was so much easier learning Chinese in class, because I had 10+ people to practice with. I feel silly practicing conversations in the mirror or in my mind. I'm signed up for a language exchange site, but, wouldn't you feel odd messaging a stranger a world a away with baby Korean phrases? I sure do.
While Sweetandtasty (the Youtube video series I reviewed last time) is entertaining, she hasn't taught language structure, only words commenters ask for. There's about 60 or so videos on her channel that are from 2 to 15 minutes, which adds up to several hours that could be better used elsewhere (if I could get some self-discipline -_-).
I looked back at Google again and eventually found Monash University's free Korean textbook-PDFs with audio accompaniment. It's like, 500 pages long, so I probably (definitely) won't finish it in 56 days left to me, but I can at least learn some useful phrases. For example (and I am typing the characters by myself! *boast*)
Jasmine 라고 합니다.
(Am called 'Jasmine.')
Well... That's more of an [insert name here] type of phrase, but hey, it's better than "nosebleed" (코피)!
Yeah, so I need to muster up some discipline and motivation to get through most of this textbook. Wish I had a partner T_T