Aug 8, 2010

Language Learning from my Sofa

Yesterday I bought a package of recipe cards and spent my Saturday night making signs. For an hour I traced out careful hangul lettering in a bright green highlighter. Pure geek fun.

In total, I made forty-four labels to stick around the apartment. 

 on the window

우유 on the milk carton in the fridge

예쁜 on my mirror (...which means "pretty." Nothing wrong with a little kindness to oneself)

I'll be off to Korea again soon, and it's time to get serious about language learning. With the exception of menu vocabulary, I've forgotten most of the Korean that I picked up a few years ago, teaching there.  Hells bells, I even forget the swear words.

I have just enough time pre-departure to make some headway with the language, but not enough time to register for a full class (though I'd love to once I arrive). Instead, I'm studying on my sofa, uttering vowel sounds to myself, trying to get my head around their subltle differences. 

In this battle, I'm well armed. 

My little Korean-English dictionary has made a home for itself in my purse, pulled out on long Skytrain rides to work.

Hal Amen's Korean for Beginners arrived in the mail last week, and I'm digging it, big time. One awesome element is that the book addresses cultural elements of the language that had me stumped when I tried to "just pick it up" in Korea. The honorific system, for example, is explained in this book, along with why Koreans say "yes, I can't."

Livemocha is a site that mirrors the Rosetta Stone's audiolingual language learning style, parroting and parroting, without isolating the grammar of structure of the language. It's not my number one method of language learning, because I'm a grammar nerd and structure feeds my rules-y Left Brain. However, the lessons offer great vocabulary practice and the site itself is awesome; networking, peer-correction, a chance to chat with other language learners. All free! 

LingQ is another free site, which offers real-life dialogues. The language level might be too intense for beginners, though. I've bookmarked it for when my Korean improves past the hangul kiddie pool.

I'm also poised to start on Rocket Languages, who offer free 6-day trials of their language learning software. Yeah, I'm cheap like that. I'll let y'all know how it is. I'm keen to try the program, it was well-reviewed on Matador, here.

I know this isn't ideal language learning, as it's missing the most vital part; communication. Without Korean people to talk to, or classmates in a language classroom, the learning can only go so far.

Brace yourself, Korea, I'll be talking your ear off soon enough. 


  1. Very cool and informative information. Thanks a lot for sharing. Looking forward for to have more from you as Learning language is my passion and hobby.

  2. Great list of resources here, Anne. Thanks for including me, and I hope you're still digging the book!