Yes, I’m using my pandemic time to study Korean. No, I don’t think this is the perfect time to study a language, or make sourdough bread, or write the great American novel. I think it’s a great time to listen to yourself and find out what you do when the world stops. I happen to be someone who starts studying Korean, gets addicted to it, finds themselves making flashcards at 1 a.m. and procrastinating all the things they probably SHOULD be doing by watching videos of Ollie studying Korean. I’ll probably give up soon, when life resumes, or when it gets too hard. What do I care, this part is fun.
On to the good stuff.
First Step Korean, Coursera
After watching a few YouTube videos and learning the basics of Hangul, I found a five-week beginner Korean course on Coursera called First Step Korean. I used it because I wanted structure, and since it’s free, it didn’t seem like a huge commitment. On the plus side, the structure is indeed great, and each lesson has a video, lesson notes, and a quiz. On the other hand, the course is pretty boring and doesn’t offer a ton of review, since the practice questions in the lesson notes are the same as in the videos. I had to watch each video twice, once to get a basic understanding, and once to actually follow along with the examples. It’s certainly not perfect, but it’s a really good place to start.
Quizlet (/using my phone’s Korean handwriting keyboard)
One other good thing about First Step Korean is that it has prepared Quizlet flashcards, and I love Quizlet. Well, maybe not love, but I’ve been using it since like 2009. I downloaded the app, and did most of the studying on my phone, because it has a keyboard option that lets you handwrite Hangul, which is a lot easier than painstakingly typing, and you practice writing at the same time! (Though you definitely don’t learn the whole proportion thing.)
I exported the FSK flashcards and re-uploaded them in much smaller sets by category because that felt saner to me. You can find both the originals and my versions here.
YouTube (Korean Unnie, Jolly, TTMIK)
I supplemented FSK with Korean Unnie‘s YouTube playlist that goes through all the letters. I like that she shows you how they’re supposed to be written, and a lot of the other knowledge she throws in. I’m still looking for a better guide on a pronunciation though.
Honestly, if you only take one piece of advice from here it’s to go watch Ollie studying Korean on the Jolly YouTube channel. Mostly because it’s hilarious, and a little bit because it actually teaches you a few things, and makes you realize how hard/fun learning a language is. But also because it will lead to Korean Englishman’s channel, and lots of other YouTube content in Korean.
Finally, the TTMIK (talk to me in Korean) videos are super useful. I find that it helps to have both a structured class like FSK, alongside more piecemeal explanations that start to give you a feel for the language even if it’s maybe beyond your level.
Obviously, I mean what is all this for?