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An online magazine about Korean culture, food and hallyu based in Toronto, Canada

My Journey to learning Korean and Hangul: The Prequel

Hello, my name is Cristina. I am a full-time student, have two part-time jobs and I’m an avid hobby enthusiast. I have always been interested in Asia Pacific countries and cultures. Since I was 15, I’ve been going back and forth between learning about Japanese and Korean culture and history, with a lecture or historical event about Chinese culture added in occasionally. Now I’m 20 and I have been thinking of going abroad to the countries of the cultures that have interested me. I found plenty of opportunities, but all of them ask for an advanced knowledge of Korean and Japanese, or Korean and Chinese, or ALL three…

First look at the materials

Currently, I decided to try learning Korean and then move on to Japanese, and maybe Mandarin, but that has proven to be harder than I anticipated. Did you know that the pronunciation of the months of the year, sound quiet similar if you aren’t familiar with the terms? And while with Latin-based languages they are generally similar, it’s a completely different ball game in Korean.

Unfortunately, I’m a person with limited time and financial means which means I either can’t afford a class or when I can pay, things come up and I’m unable to attend those classes. So I decided to try learning on my own, with various tools and guides I could buy.

Complete Korean

Complete Korean

What did I use first?

The first tool that I have begun the journey with is “Complete Korean” by Teach Yourself. This package is supposed to move a person’s level from Beginner to Intermediate.

I bought it new on eBay for about $25 with shipping and all. It is useful tool that includes in the package:

1 – 400 page book

2 – 30 minute long CDs

And apparently online content that I wasn’t able to access yet. I have emailed the website, and will update the situation as soon as I can clear it.

Inside the package

Inside the package

Even more in depth

This wasn’t easy to process as a first-time course and language, at least to me it feels that way. I mean as soon as you open the book you are thrown into a pool of characters with a minimum knowledge of what’s going on. Actually, the method this course is taught is more like throwing a child in a pool, hoping that they will come out being able to swim (*note I heard this from my grandfather, I wasn’t taught to swim that way). But back to the book, this book is small and compact, so there is no room for pictures, tables or diagrams. Basically, there are no visuals at ALL. Take a look yourself.

Inside the book

Inside the book

I mean, what was I expecting in a course that is claiming that this will give you an understanding of Korean for people with busy lives and schedules. In CD #1, the content is very brief in each audio example or exercise. I don’t mind but the speed at which the audio goes makes it confusing for a person who hasn’t really grasped the language yet. The files range between 1-3 minutes. But they carry lots of audio sounds of the language that once you grasp it, you feel like you own the world.

A screenshot of the audio files

A screenshot of the audio files

My impressions and views for the next chapter

This is the first blog post of many to come on ATK, documenting my feelings and discovering as I try (struggle) to learn Korean. This is a nice setup is nice and all, but I have a saver for when the course seems like it will be hopeless. This is a guide for travellers that has written and explained the information in such a way that it’s super easy for this difficult and confused person to understand (for me to understand).

I mean, I just started with the course and haven’t got much past the first exercise, due to my busy start of the new year, but I hope at the start of the Chinese New Year, I will be able to fully immerse myself into this course and write more about my journey.

If there are any questions, or anything you want to know about the above information and products, let me know by commenting below, I will try to clarify and answer everything. Of course, constructive criticism is welcome, but please try to be very nice about it, I am very sensitive of my work. Thanks.

All the information written in this post is my opinions and experiences, if it ruffles some feathers in any way, I am sorry.

Until next time,

Cristi Ray

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