Saturday, August 29, 2015

Moving to South Korea: practical considerations

In my last post I talked about the ways you have to prepare yourself mentally for moving to a foreign country. Now for the more practical things you can do to prepare. The links and resources below are for people preparing to go to South Korea like me; but for those of you preparing to move to other countries, there are plenty of similar resources to these - and many of them are available online for free. Try checking out sites like the World Mentoring Academy or Youtube, or talking with a local embassy, before spending lots of money on language courses or travel guides.

Culture, History and General Information

Eat Your Kimchi, a fun way to learn about life and culture in Korea

Obviously the first thing you have to do is learn about the place. Some good ways to do this are through resources like documentaries, travel shows, books, movies, etc. Here are some of the resources I have found for learning about Korean culture:

  • Ask Hyojin - This is a great Youtube channel by a Korean woman who speaks fluent English and answers general questions about life and culture in Korea, from the point of view of a native.
  • Eat Your Kimchi - Another Youtube channel, this time by Simon and Martina, a Canadian couple who live and work in Korea. These videos discuss life and culture in Korea as well, but this time from a foreign perspective. They also have a lot of great travel videos in Korea and other countries.
  • Local Korean Embassy or Consulate - I got in touch with someone from the Korean Consulate in Santiago, and he was kind enough to give me some books about Korean culture and travel for free (thus saving me the expense of buying Lonely Planet or something similar). Sometimes Embassies also have useful information about cultural events in your area or language classes.
  • Waygook - The name of this website is the Korean word for "foreigner", which makes sense since it's a big online hub of information for foreigners living, working or traveling in Korea. You can find all kinds of useful information there, but if you're job hunting, remember to take the job reviews there with a grain of salt.


How To Study Korean has lots of great lessons and resources for language learners

Another important thing to do when you're getting ready to move somewhere that is not an English-speaking country, is to learn the language. This can be tough when you're not yet immersed in that language, but the best way to learn quickly is to create an artificial immersion for yourself. What I mean by that is to basically fill your daily life with the other language as much as you can. When you're on the bus, listen to music or a podcast in that language. When you have a break at work or school, practice the other language using an app on your phone or by reading a book. Watch TV shows or movies in that language when you get home from work. Basically just fill every moment of free time that you can with that language.

This method can feel exhausting, but trust me when I say that it really pays off. Language learning relies heavily on input, in a variety of forms. There is no single best way to learn language; instead you need a variety of input and output and lots of it. Here are some useful resources I've found for learning Korean:

Grammar & General Language Resources:
  • World Mentoring Academy - This website offers free online courses in a wide variety of subjects, similar to Coursera but less user-friendly. But unlike Coursera it does have a number of free language courses, including one in Korean. I will warn you though - the Korean course is following the Jorden Method, which is not an easy method to learn with. But it's free, so it's hard to complain!
  • Anki Droid - A popular flashcard app which many language learners have been using for years. You can find decks of flashcards to download related to practically everything you might want to study, including many on Korean vocabulary and Hangul practice. 
  • How to Study Korean - a grammar-focused site with free resources for learning Korean. They also have PDF's, workbooks and quizzes for download (which you have to pay for, but prices are reasonable - $5 per workbook, etc.)
  • LP's Korean Language Learning - A fantastic blog with lots of free resources and a free pdf you can download of his explanations of Korean grammar. Again, it's mostly grammar focused, but he also has some good links to listening and reading practice. For Japanese learners familiar with Tae Kim's site, LP's blog is a similar Korean equivalent.
  • Change the language setting on your cellphone. This may be incredibly annoying and frustrating for the first few days, but eventually you'll have it figured out and will find yourself picking up new vocabulary or reinforcing old vocabulary on a daily basis.

Learning Hangul:

As far as writing systems go, Hangul is one of the easiest to learn. It's basically an alphabet that's grouped in syllables when written, and the phonetic rules are fairly simple. You can easily learn it in a couple of days, and then it's just a matter of practice. Here are some good resources for learning it:
  • TenguGo Hangul - A great app for learning Hangul, with explanations and quizzes to test your learning. 
  • Hangul Flashcards - An online flashcard site, which you can also access by phone. Great for practicing your reading when you're still new at Hangul.
  • Sogang University - This website only has a few activities, but they are great for reviewing Korean pronunciation and for practicing Hangul.

Youtube Channels:

99Korean is my favorite Youtube channel for learning Korean

There are a lot of resources on Youtube for learning Korean, but these are some of the channels that I think are the best.

  • 99Korean - This channel has a lot of good playlists for learning various aspects of Korean, such as how to read Hangul and basic vocabulary and grammar lessons. 
  • 99Korean (日本語): 日本語話せる人達のためのYoutubeチャンネル。日本語と韓国語の文法は似ているので、日本語で韓国語を勉強するのは英語より簡単だと思います。日本人と日本語できる外国人のみなさん、ぜひ見て下さい!

1 comment:

  1. Hey! Catching up on your blog posts. I hope Korea is treating you well and you're eating plenty of kimchi! Thanks for the learning tips!