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I really have to make sure I finish up this blog quickly because I was looking back at my Laundry List of Blog Posts post and realized that, in addition to NOT finishing a post a day like I said I would,  I’m starting to forget exactly what I wanted to write about in the first place. So, I’m going to be a good blogger and try and get them all written down this weekend. I’d hate to look back at this in a few years and see some line about how I wanted to write about something but couldn’t remember it, because if I can’t remember it now, I’m certainly not going to be remembering it in a few years.

Anyway, procrastinating some more, I’ve recently been introduced to a website called Quizlet , which basically lets you upload, download and study flashcards for different subjects. It also has a “learn” and “test” program set up to help you along. And of course, now I’m using it to help learn more Korean. For Korean, the flash cards are written in Hangul with the English below them. However, if you don’t yet know how to read Hangul, there’s audio for the cards (or at least the ones I’ve been using) to hear what the Hangul sounds like. So you can use them to learn Hangul too, yay!

I stumbled onto to it because my sister had been making flashcards (by hand, not by computer) to study for her college final in a Japanese course. Unfortunately for her, they ended up being basically useless. But it did remind me of how nice it is to carry around cards that you can just whip out and begin studying if you have random free time, like while riding on the subway or waiting to me up with someone. Some people play Angry Birds on their iPhone, I study vocabulary! Of course, unless I’m using a smart phone, I can’t really carry Quizlet’s flashcards around with me, but whatever. It’s another free resource to use.


The past couple of weeks I’ve had to squeeze in studying Rosetta Stone between teaching. I’ve been trying to get in the habit of doing a lesson or two before going to work since after work there’s almost no point. I don’t get back to the apartment until 10:30pm at the earliest and by then I can’t focus enough to feel like I’m actually learning.

But it seems like I am learning! Last week I overheard my students telling one of the counselors saying that the classroom we were using that day (we couldn’t use my normal one that day) was too hot. I was going to (and should have) turn around and say in Korean that the room is too cold.

And today when I was riding the bus, I noticed I could read all of the station signs very easily and could find Suwon Station (수 원 역) and the Yeongtong Bus Terminal without needing the English. I’ve known Suwon Station for a while but being able to recognize the Bus Terminal and other stops just by looking at the signs and not necessarily needing to sort out all the letters is definitely nice.

But the funniest thing I’ve learn has been from Karen and her friend Annah when they came to visit us in Suwon. Karen and Annah have just started taking Korean classes in Seoul and they were telling us about their first class, which sounded pretty interesting. Rather than teach them hangul or something basic, the teacher taught them how to say ‘Kakae juseyo!’ (I think -가 개 주세 요), which apparently means ‘Give me a discount!’. And the teacher kept saying that you need to say it whinnier. A very useful phrase, but I haven’t yet had a chance to use it.

Okay, so I’ve gotten majorly off track this past week. I blame finishing up my job because it’s thrown off my sleep schedule. I’ve pretty much studied zero Korean for several days now. And yesterday my TV remote completely disappeared so I think that’s a sign I need to get back on track.

I will say the one Korean-related thing I’ve been doing (although even that I haven’t done since Friday) is check out the website Galbijim. I put a link for it on the Korean Resources page, but thought I’d just check it out here. It’s a wiki of Korean culture and actually has pages dedicated to people who are going to be teaching English in Korea – people like me! That page was really helpful and I’ll definitely be writing some of this stuff down so I can have it when I first go other there, since I don’t know how long it’ll take me to get internet set up. It has a lot of other information too, like free online resources for learning Korean and pages for geographical areas.

Also, here’s the blog by the guys who run Galbijim.

A few days ago, my dad recommended I take a look at Live Mocha, which is a free language learning website anyone can sign up for. I’ve been checking it out for the past couple of days and I’m fairly impressed. It’s billed as a superior alternative to Rosetta Stone. I don’t know that I would necessarily call it superior but it’s definitely a very good learning tool. And if you don’t want to pay a lot of money for an expensive class or a program like Rosetta Stone, Live Mocha is a really good alternative.

Once you’ve signed up with Live Mocha, you can enroll in up to 30 different language lessons. There are also premium lessons that you can pay for, like a Travel Crash course (which is unfortunately only available in Spanish, French, Mandarin, German and Italian) but even these are fairly cheap. After you sign up for your language(s), you gradually progress through the lessons. Each lesson starts with introducing you to knew words using pictures, audio recordings and the words in the target language. Once you’ve finished those, you can choose to finish the lesson or do one of their practices. There’s reading, listening and ‘magnet’ practice (magnet is basically sentence construction practice) and you can also quiz yourself. To finish the lesson, you have to complete exercises from the practice sessions (so it’s useful to do them, even if you don’t have to) and you’re done! You can move onto a new lesson or redo your earlier ones.

Right now I’m doing Unit 1 Lesson 5 of Korean, which introduces numbers 1-20. Unfortunately, it’s only introducing the set of Korean numbers used for counting things, while Rosetta Stone does both. It’s a little hard to learn both at once but I like knowing them both. There are a few things that Rosetta Stone has that Live Mocha doesn’t. My big issue with Live Mocha is I feel there’s way too much English being said. For the magnet exercises, example sentences are given in English but it wouldn’t be hard to have them in Korean.

But there’s also one major thing Live Mocha has that Rosetta Stone doesn’t: social networking. Aside from being able to have friends through Live Mocha, you can also interact with people who are fluent in the language. You can also do exercises, either written or spoken, in the target language, which native speakers can then correct. It’s pretty cool. So far, they don’t have any of these exercises in Korean, but they do have them in English so I some times correct the exercises of people learning English. I really like the feature so I hope they expand it to all of the 30 languages you can learn.

If you want to learn a language for free, Live Mocha is definitely a route you should consider. If you’ve already paid for classes or software like Rosetta Stone, I would still recommend checking this out. It’s important to vary the things you do to learn a language and this is definitely worth incorporating into the other things you’re doing.

PS. Just for fun, I also signed up for the introductory lesson of Japanese. They present new words in both Japanese and romanji, which is nice but I think I’ll be focusing on just Korean for right now!

So I’d like to talk up Sogang University’s Korean Language program, since I’ve talked a lot about Rosetta Stone but also want to present other methods of learning Korean. I really like this website they have set up. It’s not really enough to use as a primary source for learning Korean but it’s been really, REALLY helpful for practicing reading hangul and for polishing up my Korean grammar. Of course, I’m only the first lesson on the Sogang program.

In addition to an Introductory Korean page, which basically introduces you to hangul, they’ve broken down their lessons into Novice Korea (levels 1,2,3) and Intermediate Korea (levels 1,2,3), and each level has 10 lessons. And each lesson has key expressions, reading, listening and vocabulary activities and grammar lessons. Personally I was drawn to the grammar lessons. Like I said before, I’ve studied German and German is a grammar heavy language so I think for me, being able to understand the finer points of Korean that I can’t learn (or haven’t yet learned) through Rosetta Stone is kind of like a safety net for me.

I’ve been going through the lessons (okay, really only lesson 1 so far…) and copying down the grammar lessons into a notebook so I can keep studying Korean even without my laptop. (Right now, that’s been a problem since all my methods of studying are computer based). On that note, I would HIGHLY recommend getting a graph paper notebook for writing hangul. The blocks make it a lot easier to get the 자모 (jamo – that is, letters) together and properly sized. I picked up this trick when I (briefly) studied Japanese. (Chotto nihongo ga hanaseru!)

Plus, the website is completely free. It’s a pretty good deal if you ask me so definitely check it out.

As of my last post, I had made a good amount of progress and more or less kept to my goal of studying Korean for an hour a night.

As of this post… Let’s just say, I’ve been side-tracked. But with good reason.

For the past week, I’ve been getting over this pain-in-the-butt cold. At first I had a sore throat and stuffed nose. That eventually progressed into an even more stuffed nose that was just unbelievably annoying since everything seemed to irritate it. Including stuff I have to handle regularly at my job, where I don’t have immediate access to tissues or anything else I could use to blow my nose. And through it all, my most problematic symptom was exhaustion. I had about enough energy to get through work and not much else. Especially by yesterday. I was pretty much dead on my feet yesterday.

Thankfully, today I had a day off so last night I went to be at the early hour (for me) of 11pm and slept for about 12 hours. And then I pretty much lazed around for the rest of the day since I think there’s still just a little bit of cold lingering.

BUT! I did manage to study for around two hours today. Unfortunately, when I tried to pick U2L2 (Unit 2 Lesson 2) back up again I had some issues with it (although all things considered, I’m impressed that I actually remembered a lot from U2L1 and U2L1). So I redid the Core Lessons of Lesson 1 and Lesson 2 before finishing off the last couple activities of Lessons 2.

I have to work tomorrow, so it sounds like I’ll probably just be reviewing stuff. But Wednesday I have another day off so HOPEFULLY I’ll be able to move ahead with U2L3.

As it turns out, learning Korean numbers wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be but it was still a challenge at first. It was tough to master 1-6, especially because there are two different sets of numbers in Korean: one set in Native Korean and one set in Sino-Korean, which is influenced by Chinese. I still haven’t figured out exactly when which is used when, but Native Korean is used for counting things. I’ve heard Sino-Korean is for telling time but I haven’t gotten to that in Rosetta Stone yet. Luckily, once you have 1-6 (reasonably) down, Rosetta Stone is set up to make it easier to learn later numbers.

I’ve just started Lesson 2 of Unit 2 (woo-hoo!). In L1U2, they introduce numbers 7-12. But they mix them up with the 1-6 numbers that you (should) already know, so its easier to remember the new numbers. And L2U2 is continuing to drill numbers and colors while introducing new information.

As for the progress on procrastination, I’ve been doing really well with studying, but unfortunately not 1-hour-a-day well. It’s a little difficult since my work schedule sometimes makes it difficult to study for an hour. This weekend I worked both Saturday and Sunday. I probably could have studied on Saturday but chose to watch a movie with my family instead. And Sunday I was waaaaay to pooped. BUT – to make up for not studying this weekend, I studied for over an hour today. I went back to Unit 1 of Rosetta Stone and made sure I had 100% correctness on all my lessons (except the Pronunciation lessons…), then chunked out the beginnings of L1U2 and L2U2.

And I found some new Korean language resources (now on the Korean Sites page), so it was a pretty good day for me, in terms of learning Korean.

When I first got Rosetta Stone, a couple people asked me if the fact that I already know German fairly well somehow gives me an upper-hand in using this software. I didn’t have a really good answer for any of them at the time, since I had only just started using it and thus couldn’t tell. I have been thinking about it, though, and I’ve wanted to do a small post about it since benefits of other languages and is the program easy are the main questions I get asked.

First of all, I’m not fluent in German. English is my native language and the only one I’m fluent in. So I don’t have the advantage that bilingual/multilingual kids have, where their brain actually adapts through knowing extra languages and makes it much easier for them to learn new ones.

Second of all, although I love learning new languages, I don’t have any kind of gift for it like some people. I’ve known a couple people who can just hear a few phrases in another language and immediately have them down, or can mimic an accent almost fluently. I am not one of them. Well, except for maybe with the accent thing. I have a pretty good ear, which does help me, but it’s not good enough to offer me a great advantuage.

So those things said, I don’t really have a natural advantage that can work with Rosetta Stone and somehow let me excel at it better than other people. But I will say that studying German (and French and Polish) has definitely given me two tools that have really come in handy for focusing one what Rosetta Stone presents.

Tool # 1: I’m fairly sure this comes from studying other languages. I can pretty easily pick up a word if it’s said to me once or twice. I might not (and probably won’t) remember it in the long run if I don’t continue to use it. But I can repeat it and use it almost immediately. It’s from all those years of basically repeating what the French/German/Polish teacher just said, except with a different subject/verb/object. This comes in handy with Rosetta Stone because when they ask me to repeat something they just said, or to match a word that was just used with a picture, I can do with that pretty easily without fully knowing what’s being said. And then I’m able to master the meaning by using the word correctly enough times.

Tool # 2: Grammar. This is entirely thanks to studying German. If you are a native English speaker, you probably don’t have a great grasp of English grammar (unless maybe you went to a really good school… or are British. I feel like they might understand their grammar a little better than the rest of us.) If you study German for more than a year (for me, five years), you WILL and MUST learn grammar. The rules of German grammar are very clear cut and there are several aspects of grammar that you need to be familiar with in German that don’t matter as much (or at all) in English, like direct/indirect objects, verb placement, separation of phrases. I could go on. And although I definitely make mistakes, my German grammar is very good (and now my English grammar is too). Thanks to that, it was very easy for me to figure out how Korean sentences are set up (Where’s the verb? Where the subject? Do they use articles?) and that REALLY helps me learn new words. I don’t get stumped when they throw a new element in. I just pause, figure out what the rest of the elements are and I can pretty easily figure out the new one.

Those are the main advantages I think I have. But I still have to drill for hours like everyone else.

It’s Hangul Day in South Korea! And in celebration, I’ve been practicing my hangul writing abilities. Which I haven’t really been practicing. Reading, yes. Typing via Rosetta Stone, yes. Writing with pen and paper, no. I have to say, I kinda suck at it. Hopefully I’ll get better with practice because even if I won’t need to write in Korean when I’m there (which I might – I don’t know), I still want to be able to do it.

Also, I’ve pretty much decided that my favorite letter (자모) isㅎ, which is ‘h’ in Korean. It was the first Korean letter I fully mastered and I just think it looks happy, like a little person wearing a hat that’s just happy to see you’re reading it.

In other news, I’ve started lesson 4  (the last lesson of Unit 1, woo-hoo!) of Rosetta Stone, which focuses on learning numbers. Wow. I knew I was going to have trouble learning numbers because in Korean there are two set of numbers, one native Korean and one that’s taken from Chinese, which they use in different situations. Each lesson is a little tricky at first but after running through it once or twice (twice for the colors) I usually have it mostly down and then I just have to wait a day or two for it to full sink in. I’m definitely going to have to go over the numbers many times before I fully master it because it’s not clicking for me.

One of the side effects I always experience when learning a new language (and I hope I’m not the only one…) is that when I try to speak the language or even just focus on learning the new vocabulary I get really, really tired. I’m the kind of person who can (despite being vertically challenge) do physically demanding things and end up with sore muscles and no sleepiness but then do something that’s mentally challenging and just feel exhausted and in great need of a nap. Because of this, I’ve been seriously procrastinating with learning Korean. The upside to Rosetta Stone is you can study it whenever you want. The downside is it doesn’t force you into a schedule like a class would. I promised myself I’d study for an hour a day (eventually increasing the time once it stopped exhausting my poor little brain). Sadly… I think I’ve kept that promise far less often than I’ve broken it.

BUT THEN! I was wondering around WordPress and I found another blog that’s pretty much doing the same thing I’m doing (Yeah, I figured I wasn’t even close to original with my little blog). Chocokorea’s Bold Korean Learning Adventure: Language Learning Journal. Okay, so this blog kicks my blogs butt (Have mercy I’m only a few weeks old!). Of course, I’m doing this mostly  for me, so it’s fine if my blog’s not the next inspiration for a Perez Hilton empire or a Julie & Julia-esque movie. But I do like a lot of the features Chocokorea has and will definitely be checking out the resources provided. And I will be forcing myself to, at the very least (if I can’t rally my strength for Rosetta Stone), practice writing hangul everyday.

On that note,  looking at other Korea blogs, I think I will have to start including hangul in my entries. I feel it’s a must. Plus it looks cool.