Along my Korean learning journey, I found that the following online Korean language resources work the best for me.
1. Talk To Me In Korean
Talk to Me in Korean, or TTMIK as it is commonly known, is in my opinion the best free Korean language learning resource available. So what can you expect to find at TTMIK 10 levels of grammar lessons, audio/video lessons of natural conversations in Korean for a wide range of subjects, vocabulary lessons and videos, idiomatic expressions and you can always ask questions which the TTMIK will answer. The best thing about TTMIK, apart from being free, is that the team is accessible almost always on a wide range of social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube (I’m sure I’ve missed a few). If you’re not too keen on learning online, and prefer the old school method of books, then you don’t need to worry since they’ve also started to get their lessons published in the form of books. While the pdf lessons are free, published books can be bought at their store. They now also offer 1 on 1 lessons on TTMIK Live where you can practice speaking Korean with native speakers. The service is paid, but if you can’d find a language exchange partner, you know you’ll be able to find one here. In addition to all that (yes, there’re more), they even offer writing correction services at Haru Korean (see review below). Did I mention that the TTMIK team also hosts live Youtube Q&A sessions and will generally let you know when they’re travelling in case you want to meet up! Can it get any better… I’m sure they’ll think of a way. :)
2. Korean Class 101
Korean Class 101 is one of the oldest and most comprehensive online resources available. However not all its lessons are free. There is a wide range of audio and video lessons and most lessons come with a pdf but like I said, a lot of tools like flashcards and wordbanks are only accessible based on your membership level. So what can you get with a free account? Access to the most recent lessons for the past 3 weeks and the first 3 lessons of any level. With a paid Premium + account you get access to everything at around USD 50 for 1 month (as of May 2014). However, don’t let that dissuade you from signing up because they offer regular discounts and you’ll always get a chance to take advantage of some great offers! It’s all about finding the package that’s right for you.
3. SNU’s Click Korean
Click Korean is good for beginners, with 18 situation based lessons after the first 2 lessons on Hangeul. The lessons are built around typical situations that you would find yourself in such as introducing yourself, making plans to go somewhere and going shopping. Each lesson has a dialogue so you can practice your listening skills, along with a section on vocabulary. Key grammar points are discussed and there’s also a section for reading comprehension. I found Click really helpful for practicing just before my TOPIK beginner exam.
4. Sogang Korean Program
Similar to SNU’s Click Korean, Sogang offers a set of free online lessons for novice and intermediate learners. Each lesson per level contains exercises for listening, reading, grammar and vocabulary. Since the lessons are brief, I’d recommend using these as practice to reinforce concepts learnt. Since it’s not easy to find listening test material online, these lessons are good to practice listening skills especially if you’re getting ready for exams like the TOPIK.
1. Naver Dictionary
Okay. I’ll be very honest. I love Naver’s dictionary. In fact, I love it so much that I was unwilling to even try any other dictionary. There are a lot of people who swear by Naver’s dictionary, and I’d be one of them. The layout of the website is very user-friendly and the translations come with great examples placing the word in context. I usually have a tab permanently opened with Naver’s dictionary. That was until I was introduced to the Chrome Naver Dictionary extension. Once you download the extension, your translation is just a double click away. Double click on the word you’re looking up and the meaning pops up in the upper right hand corner of your screen. I think I’m in love.
2. Daum Dictionary
Daum Dictionary is easy to use and like Naver offers translation for Hanja as well. I personally prefer the Naver layout, but Daum is just as comprehensive, with a wide range of examples with the word being used in context. On their home page, they also have a “Word of the Day”, “Quote of the Day” and a “Topic of the Day” which is a nice way to pick up vocabulary. Daum also comes with a Chrome extension, but Naver’s is more handy.
Writing Practice and Correction
If you go to lang-8 and look up the company mission, it says,
“Create the world’s best social language learning service.”
They’re definitely doing a great job. Lang-8 is easy to use and doesn’t waste time with distracting visuals. Sign up is easy, through email, Facebook or Twitter. Once you’re in, it’s straightforward. Post an entry in the language you want corrected and wait for people to correct it. While you wait, you can correct other people’s entries, make friends and join language learning groups. There are so many users, that you can count on your entry being corrected at least once, if not multiple times. The key to lang-8 is give and take. Correcting other people’s work gets you points and posting good corrections gets you thanks, and native nods. The more your points, the higher your post will be listed so other people can see and correct it easily. The more stars and native nods you have is an indication of how good your corrections are so people are more likely to become friends with you and correct your work, so you can help them. If you’re on lang-8 go ahead and look me up: Username: SarZ
Haru Korean was developed by the Talk To Me In Korean team and was designed to help Korean learners practice what they’ve learnt through lessons and through writing practice. Haru Korean is not a free service but offers 3 different packages: Beginner Booster Membership, Basic Membership and Journal Membership. Beginners may find the first two options tempting but I’d advise more advanced learners to go for the Journal Membership which is similar to lang-8. Unlike lang-8, Haru Korean offers a guarantee that all your work will be checked by native Koreans, whereas on lang-8 anyone can correct your work, including people who are learning, just like you. If you’re confused about what kind of membership is right for you, don’t worry – there’s always the free trial! :)
1. Hey Eonni
About: Hey Eonni is an online store which offers a wide variety of items from books to Korean snacks, stationary, Kpop albums and much more. They have a wide range of books from learning Hangul for beginners to Korean novels for advanced learners. They keep adding items so keep checking to find newly released albums and books.
Requests: They take requests! If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can drop them an email request asking to stock the item.
Previews: If you’re looking to buy a book but aren’t sure if it’s the right level for you, never fear! Hey Eonni has previews of the books so you can go over them before adding them to your shopping cart. Actually, Hey Eonni has previews of EVERY product on the store so you know exactly what you’re buying.
Shipping: Worldwide shipping (Yay!)
Payment: Payment can be done through Paypal or by credit card.
Discounts: If you’re looking for a bargain, Hey Eonni usually has a sale on some of its products and they sometimes also have a discount for sharing their site on social media, so keep a lookout!
2. Two Chois
About: Two Chois is one of my favourite online stores specializing in books for learning Korean. Books can be found in English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean. Two Chois is huge. When I say huge I mean you can find almost everything here.
Requests: If you can’t find what you’re looking for (I’m not sure that’s even possible), you can always use their Special Order Request facility.
Previews: All books have previews, so you can flip through and see if they’re the right fit for you.
Shipping: Worldwide shipping (Yay!) They offer two options for shipping- Airmail and EMS. The price and delivery time vary depending on the shipping option so go through both and pick the one you like. One of the reasons why I love Two Chois is because their come neatly shipped and you can usually find a surprise inside! :)
Payment: Payment can be done through Paypal or by credit card.
Discounts: Two Chois has a category of books that get shipped for free (you don’t say!) so look there is you’re looking to save on the shipping fees. I actually came across Two Chois on their blog, http://twochois.wordpress.com where they hold Lucky Draws where you can win free books. Make sure to take part and leave a review if you win! :)
3. My Korean Store
About: My Korean Store is run by Talk To Me In Korean and exclusively sells TTMIK lesson related content, in the form of e-books, audio downloads, textbooks and gift cards.
Requests: Since the store is only for TTMIK content, there is no request option.
Previews: All books have previews, and audio files even have audio previews.
Shipping: Worldwide shipping (Yay!)
Payment: Payment can be done through Paypal or by credit card and they even offer the option of payment through bank transfer.
Discounts: My Korean Store runs discounts on special occasions, so make sure you follow them on their different social media platforms to catch the latest discount codes. When launching new products, they usually have special pre-order prices so if you’re really sure you want the product, don’t wait till it launches (You can also get some goodies during pre-launch!) :) Some products (E-Books) even have the option of picking how much you’d be willing to pay for the product (I’ve never seen a store with no fixed price before WOW!).