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Sunday, December 5th
Rosetta Stone is a big name in language learning. The program used to be delivered via CD-ROMs that you could buy from kiosks at the mall and other places, but the cost was often prohibitive. Not anymore! You can easily access Rosetta Stone's Korean lessons online for less than $15/month, or pay under $300 for lifetime access to all of the languages in their course offerings. There's a 30-day money-back guarantee on any paid plan.
Korean taught through immersion - no English
This company is best known for their immersive approach to language instruction. What does that mean? Picture what it would be like to learn Korean by being dropped off in the middle of Seoul: sink or swim! While Rosetta Stone isn't quite that drastic, they do jump right in with everything in Korean and no English to help you along. In theory, that sounds like a great idea and a solid way to learn intuitively - but with a language like Korean that uses a very different alphabet, it gets frustrating pretty quickly.
3-day free trial
One plus is that Rosetta Stone offers a free trial for three days. It's not the first thing you'll see on the main page, where you're taken immediately to subscription options when you select Korean as your target language. Instead, scroll down towards the bottom of the site where it asks for your email address. Choose Korean in the dropdown and enter an email (notice we said "an" email: if you'd like to try it out under the radar, you can make one up instead of giving your actual email address).
Set up your profile carefully
To begin, you'll need to specify your current fluency level in Korean. Rosetta Stone doesn't go much further than the basics, so if you have any familiarity with Korean already, it might be wise to choose the advanced setting to see if the content will be challenging enough for you. Next, indicate why you're learning it: you'll get lessons that revolve around travel, family, or general topics depending on what you select here. Finally, you'll set your speaking profile as an adult male, adult female, or child, enabling Rosetta Stone's voice recognition software to track you accordingly.
Overwhelming for beginners
Take a deep breath, because the easy part is over. At the beginner level, the first lesson starts out with images paired with words in Korean: girl, boy, juice, tea, water, eats, drinks, etc. You'll need to listen very carefully to match the sounds you hear with the pictures and the written words, and also to mimic the sounds into the microphone. Unlike many Korean lessons, Rosetta Stone doesn't give you the "Romanization" : the way the pronunciation might be approximated using the English alphabet, like "Annyeonghaseyo" for "hello" . If you're like us, you'll find yourself confused a lot of the time, and wondering how the sounds you're making correspond to the unfamiliar characters on the screen.
Lots of tools, but still confusing
Rosetta Stone doesn't make it obvious, but you can skip around inside of lessons and among them if you like. You'll need to go to the main dashboard for your course to do that. You can also click on "Explore All Content" to find extras like audio lessons and an alphabet tool. Unfortunately, none of those features made us feel any more reassured with the Korean lessons here. For example, we were hopeful that the Grammar section of the intro lesson would go into some detail about all of the words and phrases we'd been imitating. No such luck: it was just more pictures with words in Korean that we still didn't understand. Even the alphabet tool left us more confused: how do those characters make those sounds when put into a word? How are the letters composed when stacked on top of each other? It just never got any better, no matter where we clicked, because we were constantly asking "Why??" Supposedly that gets better over time, but the headache we got in the first lesson alone was enough to make us quit.
Good for many other languages, but not Korean
If you're learning Spanish, German, French, Italian, or any other language that shares an alphabet system with English, Rosetta Stone isn't so bad - because you can use the language you know to more easily grasp the one you're acquiring. Unfortunately, with a language like Korean (or Japanese, Russian, Arabic, and so on), the immersion-based approach is extremely challenging for beginners. We're grateful that Rosetta Stone offers a free trial that lets students see how it works ahead of time, and that their pricing has gotten much more affordable - but even those benefits aren't enough for us to recommend their Korean lessons. You'll have a much less frustrating experience if you choose one of the higher-ranked language programs in our review.
The language is surging in popularity: just look at the number of K-Pop songs on Spotify and the K-dramas on your favorite TV streaming services and you'll see what we mean. Spoken by 72 million people in North and South Korea plus another 3 million throughout China, Japan and the US, Korean is anything but a dead language!
However, it's not easy to find somewhere to learn it. Sure, you could try and watch a familiar movie with the audio set to Korean, use Korean subtitles, or look for a dusty textbook somewhere, but that's probably not going to help you master the language in a meaningful way. And, unless you happen to have a Korean-speaking community or a university near you, in-person lessons aren't going to be an option either.
Lucky for you, there are lots of ways to get effective, affordable Korean lessons online. It doesn't matter if you're learning the language for travel, business, or just for fun: you'll have no shortage of options to get the type of instruction that's right for you. Do you want an app that can be used for bite-sized lessons on the go? Video clips with native speakers? Live lessons with your own private tutor? All of the above? You guessed it: there are Korean lessons that deliver in all of those ways.
How can you tell which Korean language program is your best fit? While some of that depends on you - how much time you have to study, your learning goals, your budget, and so on - there are several factors that you should look for as you decide which service to choose for Korean lessons:
To help you in your language studies, TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked the top options for Korean lessons today. We're confident that you'll have all of the information you need to find the right program for you!
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