Language, Recent, South Korea
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한국어 공부 aka Korean Cram Session After a Two-Week-Before-Leaving Panic Attack

I like to tell people that I self-study Korean when I have the time.

That is the socially acceptable, resume approved version of what I actually do–which is half-assedly belt the (sometimes correct) lyrics to Korean music as I drive alone in my car, and about once a month binge on Korean TV shows as I avoid doing the things that are actually on my To-Do List.

So for months as I planned to go to Korea I thought more about the clothes I would bring and which movies I would watch on the airplane, tricking myself into thinking that since I study Korean when I have the time my language level was up to snuff.

Then suddenly about two weeks ago–perfectly timed with my rush to move out of my apartment, host a friend visiting the US for the first time, and planning to leave for Korea–it dawned on me. Holy Mother of God, I haven’t really spoken Korean to a Korean person (much less anyone else) in basically a year, and I haven’t actually properly studied the language in the past three years since taking an actual class.

Oops.

And since I don’t want to be stuck in a remedial class for stupid people who have learned Korean and forgotten it all, I decided that now was the time to buckle down and learn. Which has gone both fantastically and poorly since I know how to study, have some great resources, and also because it is so last minute.

There are five resources that I have been using every day *cough*when I am excessively motivated*cough* that I am going to share with you in the case that you would like some help in finding ways to study language.

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1) 서강한국어 (Seogang Hangukeo)

This is a Korean textbook made by Seogang University, and of all the Korean textbooks I have ever seen this is by far the best series. I worked through 1A-2A with a teacher, and over the past few years had made it through 2B and part of 3A. To review and also to learn a few new concepts, I have gone through all of 3A and 3B in the past two-ish weeks.

Each textbook has 8 chapters–each chapter having roughly two grammar points, two dialogs, a listening section, a reading section, and a vocabulary list. I made it my goal to go through two chapters a day–which I know is an incredibly fast pace since one textbook is equal to one semester at a university, but at the same time some of the material is vaguely familiar and I am also trying to skim concepts and refresh my memory; I am by no means trying to perfect my understanding on the subjects nor am I trying to memorize every single vocabulary word.

However because the pace is so fast, and I don’t have a Korean teacher, I write down my questions as I go and then kidnap a Korean friend in order to understand the most pertinent concepts later on.

Also as a side note, this textbook has the most hilarious and detailed characters, who have these subtle love-triangles in addition to real problems that foreigners might face abroad, so have fun with that 😉

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2) Talk to Me In Korean

This has been hands down the best resource for someone who only studies when they have excess time on their hands, because there are so many kinds of lessons and ways to study. TTMIK offers podcast lessons that are usually 10-20 minutes long, and go from absolute beginner to advanced learners. Over the past several years I have listened to all of their lesson podcasts, and also occasionally use a series they call 이야기 or Story, in order to get the hang of native speakers and the pace and intonation of spoken Korean.

Because TTMIK is so well organized, free, and entirely online, I have been utilizing the site to search for specific grammatical points–knowing that I need to brush up on certain skills like passive voice and indirect speech. Just by Googling the concept I want and “TTMIK” I haven’t had to waste time searching for concepts in the books I have, or wading my way through all the other websites to find something that is trustworthy and reliable.

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3) Memrise

I only recently got into Memrise, but let me tell you, I am hooked. Being competitive, something like this is the perfect way for me to study. On the website I searched for “Intermediate Korean” and then tried out a few lists in order to brush up on my vocabulary and also grammar.

Memrise keeps track of how much you have done, what you have committed to long term memory, and other such data, but it also times each lesson you do and gives you points for being faster and making fewer mistakes–which really encourages me to focus and remember what I am learning instead of trying to watch Netflix at the same time. 😉 (I am not kidding probably my biggest stumbling block in studying is convincing myself that I really don’t need to be rewatching 30Rock at the same time lol).

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4) How to Study Korean

This is a website that I only recently discovered, but it is another great resource when you either want to start from the beginning or you have something specific in mind that you want to study, because everything is so precisely organized. I haven’t yet used the site much so I don’t have a ton to say, but I wanted to share this resource since it seems like a really quality site for people wanting to study Korean.

…and then the most important resource…

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5) Running Man

Really any variety show works, but this is my all time favorite one. If you have never seen Running Man you are missing out.

The at first bizarre and later amazing part about Korean variety shows is that basically everything is written on the screen. Explanations of games, things people say, random words…everything pops up in huge, brightly colored block letters all over the screen as you watch the program. I don’t know how Korean people feel about this phenomenon. But as a foreigner learning Korean, it is the perfect way to learn not only new words, but the correct spelling of these words.

Okay so mostly I just watch the show and try to pay attention to what is being said, which isn’t exactly studying, but I do sometimes watch Running Man or some other Korean show, notebook in hand, writing down new words or interesting phrases.

I know. Now is the point in the post when you get ashamed to know me. It’s okay, I know how big of a nerd I am 😉

And now that I am studying like this on a daily basis, I am able to…… introduce myself and then awkwardly stand and smile when I am around Korean people because I have absolutely no practice or self confidence to speak the language out loud. LOL.

Ok it might not be as bad as I am making it out to be, but my number one goal of going to Korea (ON MONDAY OMG THATS IN THREE DAYS) is gaining confidence and fluency in speaking the language–not fluency as in I-speak-like-a-native-speaker-now but as in I-can-communicate-when-I-want-to-using-what-I-know.

So. So long America and my American studying habits.

This is going to be the last blog before I leave the country! Next time I will be writing you from probably my dorm room at Yonsei!

Hopefully this was helpful to anyone studying Korean! Let me know what you do to study Korean or if something similar is helpful to you!

じゃ、またね〜

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