*Writer’s note – Online Resource Guide for Learning Korean: None of the businesses or websites has contacted me to promote any of these products or tools below. These are simply resources that I’ve come across this past year and want to share them with you to make learning Korean easier.
If your South Korea travel plans have gotten canceled or you’re looking to visit in the future, now is the perfect time to brush up on your Korean skills before your next trip. Whether you just want to learn some conversational Korean to make your traveling a little easier or are looking to work and live in Korea, here are three online places to learn Korean.
Talk to Me in Korean
With over 890,000 subscribers, online courses, and textbooks, Talk to Me in Korean (TTMIK) has been helping people learn Korean for over ten years. One of the things I really like about TTMIK is that they have resources for a wide range of proficiency levels. Let’s break down the different resources that they offer.
TTMIK has been uploading videos since 2009 and is regularly updating and adding videos to its library. They host regular live sessions on the platform going over different types of vocabulary, grammar, and general Q&As. Some other playlists on their channel include Must-Know Words, Book Previews, Language Challenges, Interviews, and a range of other topics. Some of these videos work hand in hand with the textbooks and you may need them to further your learning experience.
You can find a link to their YouTube channel here.
The Talk to Me in Korean website offers a range of free and paid Korean courses along with their bookstore where you can order textbooks as well. So what can you get for free and what (if any) are the benefits of paying for a subscription.
After signing up for a free account, you have access to their nine levels of Essential Korean. Each of these modules will include dozens of lessons in a text and audio format. If you prefer to view the lessons on an eBook reader or want to listen to the audio on the way to work, they have the files available to download at the end of each lesson. Each lesson will typically take about 15 to 20 minutes so it’s easier to digest.
The free account gives you access to TTMIK’s 9 levels of Essential Korean
Is the subscription worth it?
Let’s talk about costs. If you choose to upgrade to a Premium account, it’ll cost you $12.99 per month or you can select an annual plan of $93 to save some money over the monthly subscription. Every now and then, they will also offer sales and coupon codes where you can save 50% off of the annual membership to bring the cost down to $46.50. But what do you get?
The Premium account adds videos where they demonstrate the dialogue along with quizzes to check your understanding. There are also additional Premium lessons such as their pronunciation guides, short phrases, and even a guide to living in Korea.
Here’s what I would recommend: Try out the Essential Korean lessons along with the videos on their YouTube page. See if you like their style and if you’re needing some additional resources, the premium account might not be a bad option.
If you’re still on the fence, I would try a month and see where you stand. If there’s a sale going on, essentially 4 months of the subscription will pay for a year when it’s on sale. More than likely, the Essential Korean courses and YouTube videos will be sufficient for most users.
For those that already have an understanding of the basics or are looking for a challenge, the premium account has lessons geared towards higher-level learners. These lessons can help you pick up on different idioms, cultural differences, intensive reading exercises, and other resources to help you become more fluent.
Their textbooks range in levels between Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced levels. Depending on what you’re looking for, they have books on listening skills, reading, speaking, and writing in Hangeul.
Their main series is their Talk to Me In Korean set and ranges in levels one through eight currently. They will typically have a textbook along with an accompanying workbook and have links to online resources as well.
Some of you may only be looking for a phrasebook or a travel/survival guide and they have bundles for those kinds of learners as well. They have a bundle of three books on their website that includes a book on learning to read/write Hanguel, Survival Korean phrases, and a traveler’s phrasebook. Each of these books offers a range of graphics that make them user friendly along with scenarios on when to use them.
Captured on 5-19-2020. The TTMIK website offers bundles and individual books
For those outside of Korea, I was able to find the books on their Amazon page. (not an affiliate link). Typically it looks like the books are around $10 (USD) more expensive than purchasing them directly from their website. You do have to factor in shipping costs if you order off of their website since the books are coming from Korea. Currently, due to COVID-19, they are only offering the DHL Fast Shipping option. For five books being shipping to the US, it was going to cost around ~$32.00 (USD).
For those in Korea, I have good news. You can find their lesson books in Kyobo and YP bookstores, with the best selections being in Seoul. I know offhand that the bookstore in Yongsan Station carries some of the textbooks so you can check there.
Learn! KOREAN with BTS
Whether or not you’re a fan of the group, their reach has put this music group into the spotlight around the world. Using footage from their various TV show appearances and songs, BTS has created a series of web episodes to help fans learn Korean.
BTS fans can learn basic Korean alongside other fans through this video series
As of this writing (May 19, 2019), there are currently ten episodes on their weverse page. The episodes are typically three minutes in length and go over some of the basics of Korean. The episodes are conducted entirely in Korean, but you have the option of having subtitles in English, Mandarin, and Spanish.
If you’re a fan of BTS and want some introductory lessons in Korean, this can be a fun and enjoyable experience. One of the unique features of the BTS lessons is that it’s hosted on the weverse app. This allows fans to comment on the videos similarly to YouTube.
If you want to watch, head over to the weverse website. You’ll have to sign up for a free account to be able to watch the episodes, but you can also download the app if you want to watch the episodes on the go. Here are links for their Android and Apple apps, but you can also use the QR code below on your phone to download the app as well.
You can scan this QR code on your smartphone to download the weverse app
King Sejong Institute
Named after the Joseon king that created the Hangeul alphabet used today, the King Sejong Institute offers online courses for people to learn Korean from around the world through their self-study program and Cyber Korean Course where you work with a Korean language instructor.
The Cyber Korean Course has fixed dates to sign up and you have a set schedule to study the program along with homework and other assignments.
For those that want to go at their own pace, the Self-learning Korean Course allows you to sign up at any time. Both this course and the Cyber Korean Course are offered free and conducted entirely online.
Throughout the world, there are various King Sejong Institute locations where you can work with teachers online from your local area. Some locations will have a cost associated with them depending on the level and certain courses have to be taken before you’re allowed to enroll for other courses.
You can see an overview of the three available options here along with available courses to sign up for.
Two of the online courses available free of charge on the King Sejong Institute’s website.
The King Sejong Institute also has mobile apps available on Apple and Android devices so that you can learn Korean while on the go.
These are just a few of the resources available online at little or no cost so you can learn Korean.
Do you know of any other websites or tools that other students will find useful? I invite you to leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts.
Over time, this Online Resource Guide for Learning Korean will be updated with new information as it comes along to make sure that I’m bringing you all the best.
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