Friday, January 13, 2017

Best apps for learning Korean

I've been on a little break from Korea since September, but now it's time to get ready to go back. I'm mostly spending my time getting ready to job hunt again, but I'm also working on my Korean. One of my big goals for 2017 is to reach a genuinely conversational level. Not "conversational" as in I can get by ordering food and talking to taxi drivers, which I can already do, but "conversational" as in I can have a real conversation with a Korean friend.

So here are some of my favorite apps for studying Korean. You can also check out this post, where I mentioned websites, Youtube channels, and other Korean language resources besides apps.

1. Ankidroid Flashcards - Ankidroid Open Source Team

This is a must have app for anyone studying a foreign language. Flashcards are not my favorite way to study, but sometimes, they are just necessary. Especially when studying things like vocabulary or a new writing system (if you're learning Kanji, flashcards will become your life.) With AnkiDroid you can either build your own flashcards or download a set and upload it to the app. 

My absolute favorite flashcard set for Korean is Korean Grammar Sentences by Evita. You get great, authentic sentences that increase in complexity as you go, with helpful notes explaining the grammar, plus most of the sentences are read off by a native speaker. Another good one that I use is Korean 1,000 Most Common Words.

2. Memrise - PEGI 3


I just started with this app but I am already in love with it. It's a bit similar to DuoLingo, but has far more languages available (DuoLingo still does not offer Asian languages for English speakers.) Basically, it's set up a bit like a game, where you're working through the levels to accomplish goals in your target language. Words or phrases are introduced with some notes to help you understand them, then you have to recognize them through various activities like listening, typing, multiple-choice, etc. You don't need to have a Korean keyboard on your phone to use it. Certain features are considered premium, but you can do almost everything for free. 

3. TenguGo Hangul - TenguLogi

I don't use this app anymore, but it was my favorite when I was learning Hangul (the Korean writing system.) I was able to read Hangul after a day or two using this app. I really liked the way it broke the characters down into small sections to learn a bit at a time, compared ones that looked similar so you didn't confuse them, and provided short quizzes after each section. If you want to master Hangul quickly, this app is for you.

4. Chat to Learn Korean - Eggbun Education

Another app I downloaded very recently, I am not as sure about this one as the others. It starts off relatively easy, with basic conversation and vocabulary and a guide to learning Hangul. But then it gets difficult fairly fast, requiring you to memorize an entire conversation and type it in Hangul with perfect spelling. I'd recommend having a good literacy in Hangul and being able to type it on your phone before starting with this app. However, it has a lot of other great features - like realistic audio conversations between native speakers, cultural lessons, and basic grammar lessons. The overall interface of the app is very cute and interactive, which makes it fun to use, but it may not be as good as the others listed here.

5. CastBox - Podcast, Radio, Music - CastBox.FM 

This is an app for podcasts, where you can find your favorites, download episodes for free, get updates when a new episode is released, and have everything organized in one place. I really love it, and it's great for Korean, too. I use it to subscribe to Talk to me in Korean (TTMIK). TTMIK is a popular podcast/vlog series in which Korean native speakers chat with each other about topics usually related to Korean culture or language, with subtitles in English. It's very fast paced, so I find myself mostly following the subtitles, but it's still a good form of listening practice and a fun way to learn more about Korean culture.

And some apps that are not so great...

I've also tried a few apps that I really didn't find helpful for me personally. Mainly, they are the phrasebook types, such as Learn Korean by Bravo or Learn Korean Grammar by WingsApp Studio. If you're going to Korea as a tourist, or just want a little help with vocabulary when you first arrive, they might be helpful resources. But Bravo's apps in particular don't offer you much in the free versions.

If anyone reading has any apps they want to recommend, I'd love to know about them! Feel free to leave a comment below.

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