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With more than 71 million people worldwide who speak Korean, an increasing number of providers are offering lessons to help people progress in their use of the language. Whether you have ancestry in North or South Korea, have business interests in Korea, or you're fascinated by K-Pop music and want to sing along fluently, these language programs can teach you how to speak, understand, and often write in Korean.
You may not know that Korean differs significantly from Chinese and Japanese in terms of its writing system. Where Chinese and Japanese both use a character-based method, Korean is based on an alphabet known as hangul (or hangeul). Here, symbols represent consonants and vowels much like the English alphabet. This can make the learning process easier for students, as they only need to memorize symbols and their pronunciation rather than thousands of characters.
Tuesday, December 1st
Rocket Language's program for learning Korean is simple and effective, giving you the skills for basic conversation and more. Rocket Korean is targeted towards those who want to bring their ability from beginner level to intermediate.
Rocket Korean's package contains the following:
Other course features include the My Vocab vocabulary builder, the Phrase Finder, progress tracking with badges and leaderboard access, lifetime course access, and two "Survival Kits" that help students quickly master targeted vocabulary within specific conversational situations. We also appreciate that, despite Rocket's focus on mastering conversational Korean, there is a robust section that includes Writing Lessons, to help students learn simple written Korean and understand the transcripts of the spoken language lessons.
Rocket Korean offers a 20-minute audio lesson as a free trial with no credit card information required, along with several "Hear It Say It! Write It! Know It!" examples on the website. We had some challenges getting the free trial to load, particularly the trial that doesn't require an email address, but we were able to listen to the lesson after a few tries. This gave us full access to all of the components of the program, allowing us to try out Language and Culture Lessons, Flash Cards, and even some of the Writing Lessons.
We love Rocket Languages' 100%, 60-day money-back guarantee, though you may not need it: more than 1500 users have given the program a perfect five-star rating.
We especially like their multifaceted approach to language teaching, the full-featured free trial, and their customer-friendly satisfaction guarantee. If you're looking to learn to speak Korean, Rocket Language's Korean program is our top choice.
Rosetta Stone is a household name when it comes to language instruction. Their language learning is done by what they call "Dynamic Immersion": rather than teaching Korean by translating back-and-forth from English to Korean and back, or by using traditional memorization, Rosetta Stone Korean tries to convey the language naturally, in the way that a child learns his or her first language.
Rosetta Stone Korean's brief free demonstration walks you through several basic words - with no translation, making the experience immersive - and asks you to match what you hear and see. We were pleased to see that the demo did include the written Korean, to give students an introduction to the Korean alphabet. However, it's difficult to tell how and where that alphabet - and the ability to recognize written Korean - is introduced and taught in Rosetta Stone's language program.
Rosetta Stone has developed a solid guarantee and return policy: although their 30-day, no risk, money-back guarantee used to apply strictly to their CD products, it now includes any of Rosetta Stone's Personal or Homeschool editions, including online subscriptions, downloads and CD-ROMs.
Given how widely Rosetta Stone is used to teach languages, it's not surprising that their reviews run the gamut: from complaints that the program doesn't actually teach language in a way that is as natural as learning to speak as a child, to compliments for the program's fun and useful approach to teaching. It may be that Rosetta Stone overreaches a bit in their hopes of delivering a language learning experience that can compare to what you would get if you actually lived within a Korean-speaking community, but the goal is still a respectable one.
Rosetta Stone's Korean program is a tried-and-true approach to learning the language, and their pricing is competitive with other programs. Although some users have said that they felt that Rosetta Stone left them a little short with respect to language acquisition, their satisfaction guarantee makes it a risk-free option for you to give it a try.
Transparent Language's Korean program aims to provide "radically better language learning, in one complete experience". Their lessons allow users to compare their speech to a native speaker's, along with traditional multiple choice questions, listening exercises, and thorough grammar lessons to help students be well-rounded in their knowledge of Korean.
Because Transparent Language offers a 14-day free trial of their online Korean lessons (no credit card information required), prospective students have the opportunity to determine if the structure is a good fit for their learning style. Transparent approaches language learning from a distinctly flexible point of view: students can easily move from one topic to another without having to master previous lessons, which may or may not be the way that you learn best.
Should you be unsatisfied with any aspect of Transparent Language's Korean program, you can get a full refund: within six months of purchase for any physical/downloaded product, and a full refund prior to the next billing cycle if you subscribed to the online language program.
Transparent Language is one of a handful of Korean language programs with options for live instruction and tutoring. Naturally, it will cost you more than the online program - $299 for an 8-week, customized online course that meets weekly, and/or $99 for 90 minutes of one-on-one online tutoring at your proficiency level - but you may find it worth your investment to get more interactive lessons and immediate feedback on your accent and use of the language.
Overall, Transparent Language's Korean lessons get high marks for offering live tutoring/instruction for those who want more in-depth help, for having a two-week free trial period, and for offering a refund if customers aren't satisfied with the program.
Living Language takes a four-step approach to studying Korean: Build a Foundation, Progress with Confidence, Retain What You've Learned, and Achieve Your Goals. For more than 65 years, they've applied techniques originally developed for the US State Department to teach a foundation of essential words and phrases, advance students to full sentences and conversations, and eventually developing practical language skills that students can use in a variety of situations.
There are two primary approaches to learning Korean with Living Language, and students can take advantage of both of them if they desire: Korean Essential and Complete, which consist of lessons given through books and audio CDs, and the Korean Online Course.
Living Language offers a free Language Lab for subscribers and visitors alike. While we think that the vocabulary and alphabet games in the Lesson 1: Essential Expressions area will be fun and useful for students, it didn't give us a feel for how their language lessons themselves are structured. We would prefer to see some sort of free trial of one of their actual lessons, to determine how easily students can pick up on the language using their Korean program. Because there is no return/cancellation policy, it might be wise for students to choose one of the lower-priced book/CD packages or a one-month subscription before committing to one of the higher subscription levels.
Also, we were disappointed that Living Language doesn't currently offer their Platinum package for the Korean program. For many other languages, the Platinum package is the best value, because it includes 12 e-Tutoring credits where students can get personalized help from a native speaker, with no more than three other students meeting online with that tutor at the same time. Many reviews of Living Language's other programs rave about the effectiveness and flexibility of the e-Tutoring program, but students of Korean will have to pay for access a la carte (with the exception of the 12-month online course, which does include two credits). As Korean becomes more popular as a language, we look forward to seeing the Platinum package offered.
Many users of Living Language indicate that it is best suited for those who either have some experience with the target language already or who are very comfortable with a less structured approach. Where many language programs require you to achieve a level of mastery in a certain topic before moving on, Living Language allows you to move between lessons and levels as you wish. If you are beginning student, this might lead to confusion and take longer for you to make progress. On the other hand, if you love being able to jump right to a topic you need, such as Using the Telephone and Making Appointments or Doctors and Health, that flexibility may be exactly what you're looking for in a Korean language program.
Famous for teaching foreign languages with 30-minute audio lessons, Pimsleur helps students of Korean to learn basic conversational skills via CD or MP3 downloads. Although Pimsleur has expanded its offerings to include software DVD's that include flashcards, games, and other more visual methods of instruction to accompany their audio lessons, Pimsleur does not yet offer Korean language instruction that includes that software package.
Pimsleur does offer a free 30-minute audio lesson on their website. Our trial run left us feeling like we had a good understanding of a basic exchange in Korean.
Rather than providing a satisfaction guarantee, Pimsleur has Proficiency Guarantee with very detailed requirements: you have to purchase the Level 1 Korean program , complete the full course of instruction, and take a novice-level test using a particular contractor (which, incidentally, gave us a 404 Error when we tried to follow the link from Pimsleur's site). If you fail the test, Pimsleur will give you full refund. We were unable to determine how rigorous the test is, how it's conducted, or if it involves recognizing any written Korean - which would be decidedly difficult given Pimsleur's audio-only approach to teaching Korean.
Of all the products we reviewed for learning Korean, Pimsleur is the most expensive by far, especially considering that there is no instruction provided that allows students to learn written Korean. Their Korean language program may be ideal for students who want to learn strictly by audio and like the ability to get lessons via MP3 format (for their iPod or other portable device), so we strongly recommend that you try their free audio lesson before making such a sizeable financial commitment to Pimsleur's audio-only approach to learning Korean.
LingQ (pronounced like the word "link") takes texts from authentic Korean materials like books and newspaper articles, provides audio lessons to review, and helps students make connections with native speaker helpers and tutors in order to teach the Korean language.
Because most learners of Korean will be unfamiliar with the characters used in its alphabet (in comparison with the traditional Roman alphabet used in languages such as English German, Italian, and Spanish), it would have been useful to see exactly how LingQ helps students to make the connection between the spoken and written language.
In the free sample lesson, we see a page with a conversation written entirely in Korean, with the accompanying audio file, but with no English transliteration of the characters. Without a knowledge of the Korean alphabet, we were left wondering how the sounds we heard matched the Korean words and phrases on the page. It left us questioning LingQ's successfulness at teaching "meaningful Korean", as they describe it.
And, while it's helpful to have easy access to native speakers, it's also quite expensive. A one-on-one conversation with a native speaker costs $5 for 15 minutes, and a 100-word writing correction costs $5. It might be more cost-effective to make a real-world connection with someone who speaks Korean outside of what LingQ offers.
We definitely encourage you to try LingQ's free trial before you commit to a membership.
When choosing a Korean language program, you should have your language goals in mind. If your primary focus is to master conversational language - perhaps you'll be teaching English in Seoul for six months, or just visiting on an extended vacation - you may not need to focus heavily on understanding the written language, and an audio-based approach may be the perfect fit.
On the other hand, if you expect to use the Korean language in a variety of settings and need to be able to read and write in Korean as well as speak it, be sure to choose a program that will address those needs. No matter what your goals are, the best Korean lessons use a variety of strategies to help learners, from flashcards and images to audio lessons and pronunciation practice.
What should you look for as you compare Korean language programs? There are several factors to consider, including the following:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Korean Lessons programs available today. We hope these reviews help you learn Korean quickly and easily!
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