Friday, December 6, 2013

How To Learn Korean (Or Any Other Language) Part 1

I have received this question a lot this year, so I may as well finally write a post about it for everyone who has asked me but I couldn't give them a totally in depth answer.




So, why would one learn Korean? Surely you don't want to labeled a 'Koreaboo'. However, learning Korean doesn't make one a Koreaboo automatically. Who cares about learning Korean if I already can speak English? Sure, you're pretty much set around the world if you can speak English, but the world doesn't revolve around us Anglicized mother fuckers. "Since I live in America/Canada, shouldn't I learn Spanish/French instead?" Fuck that shit. If you have no interest in a language, learning it will be more difficult than listening to idol raps. "Isn't a waste of time to learn another language?" Well, sure. However, it's a waste of time to do anything since we'll all die one day. So who the fuck cares what someone else would say about you learning a language.

There are many reasons as to why one would want to learn a language, and in the end, none of them matter to anyone else as long as you want to do it yourself. Hell, I learned Japanese to import games because NAMCO BANDAI ARE A BUNCH OF FUCKS THAT TAKE TWO YEARS TO RELEASE ANY TALES OF GAMES IN THE UNITED STATES. As long as you have a reason, even if it is to get close to your oppar, go ahead and learn a language.

Word of caution, this blog post is so long that even Kpopalypse oppar would say "tl;dr, shorten it you dickwad". It's long to the point where you'll probably have to take a break and come back and read the rest later.

First, before I get into how to learn Korean, I feel like I should clear some shit up before someone says "Why should I listen to this fuck? He hates Kpop and Kpop fangirls and is a misogynist fucker who hates on anyone who likes Korean stuff." Well, first, that's absolutely wrong, but I know people will say it anyway. My qualifications are that I run the translation blog Hallyu Interview (Korean and Japanese interviews with celebrities) and its sister site Yeoshindeul (mainly news articles that I feel like translating), I am a main translator for the Moon Chae Won International Fansite (mainly interviews, some news), I translate shit for IATFB oppar at Asian Junkie (mainly news, and any interviews posted there are from Hallyu Interview), and I was a translator at Karaholic for Korean and Japanese news (but translating selca articles killed all the joy for me, so I quit). So there fangirls who make shit up about me, I spend an hour a week writing articles that make fun of you, but spend many more hours releasing content that helps you fangirl even more.

So, in general, to learn Korean, you only need three things: investment, execution and commitment.

So first, investment. Investment refers to investment of time, money, etc. Starting with time, you need to put in the time. This is related to commitment, which I'll talk about more in depth later on. For now, I'll just say "don't be a pussy and put the time in". The second item is money. Learning a language will cost money, just like anything else that's good in life. There are some good, free language resources out there (I'll get to those, and ones you'll have to pay for later), but the majority of the good resources are the ones you have to pay for.

Resources. You need some good ones if you ever want to get anywhere. In this blog post, I'll write about Korean, Japanese and Chinese. For anyone else learning one of the 9379593865 other human languages, Google is your friend.

For Korean, the best free resource out there is Talk To Me In Korean, bar none. They have a lot of material on there, and even more if you're willing to pay money for it. I always direct people here first for Korean because I do know that roughly 90% of people who ask me stuff quit within a week, so if you're going to quit within a week, you may as well not have buyer's remorse.

For Japanese, the best resources for free are Tae Kim's Grammar Guide and Reviewing The Kanji. Tae Kim's guide can easily be used in substitute of a traditional beginner's coursebook, as you would be ready to tackle grammar books after you're done with Tae Kim's guide. Reviewing The Kanji works in tandem with James Heisig's Remembering The Kanji series (more on that later). It's a great resource, and it's for free.

For Chinese, I don't know of any free course material, but there is a pretty great grammar reference called Chinese Grammar Wiki and for Chinese characters, there's Zhongwen. There's also a book version available, which I prefer because the book explains how the dictionary should be used.

For plugins on Firefox or Chrome, you should download Rikaichan for Japanese and Peraperakun for Chinese. These are popup dictionaries that are extremely useful to use while reading on the Internet. Sadly, there isn't a good one for Korean out yet, and I'm sure by the time one comes out, I won't need it.

However, maybe you don't like studying on the computer because you know you'll be watching shit on YouTube instead of studying anyway. You need some real God damn textbooks to use so that you'll actually concentrate on them. Well, I'm here to help you.

Starting with Korean, I have used Elementary Korean and Continuing Korean. I have also used the first two books of the Integrated Korean series. They're good as well, but they are tailored for classroom use while it is easier to use Elementary Korean and Continuing Korean as self study courses. Just a word of advice, don't bother with buying any of the workbooks for the Integrated Korean series as there aren't any answers that come with them. (In general, I don't recommend workbooks at all, and I'll explain why later.) I never had a need to try any of the higher levels. For a grammar book, I used Korean Grammar For International Learners. It's really thorough, and I don't really see many grammar structures while reading that aren't covered in this book unless the structures are really advanced or rarely used. After going through Elementary Korean and Continuing Korean, you'll be good to go to tackle whatever you don't know through this grammar book.

For internet dictionaries, Naver and Daum have the best ones. 

Onto Japanese, I used Japanese For Everyone. It's fairly cheap, but it doesn't come with any audio. I personally didn't need the audio because of the massive amounts of anime that I watched in high school, so I was already used to hearing Japanese. I have heard a lot of good things about the Genki series, then moving onto Authentic Japanese: Progressing From Intermediate To Advanced. However, I didn't use them, so I don't know. For kanji, I used Heisig's Remembering The Kanji. It is soooooooo much easier to learn kanji through mnemonics instead of rote memory that classes teach you. They are taught in a systematic fashion in this book instead of order of frequency that classrooms will teach you. However, there are people who don't like the method and prefer the Kanji in Context series. I never used it, so I have no comment on it, though they seem pretty popular. For grammar, you'll need an arm and a leg to afford A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar, A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar, and A Dictionary of Advanced Japanese Grammar. They're well worth the cost, though.

For online dictionaries, I use Denshi Jisho, which is what (I assume, but I'm not sure) Rikaichan is based off of.

For Chinese (Mandarin), I used Teach Yourself Chinese. It's alright, but I wouldn't recommend it to someone learning a language on their own for the first time. I have read and heard great things about the Integrated Chinese series and the New Practical Chinese Reader series. For Chinese characters, I used Chinese Characters: A Genealogy and Dictionary , but others have used Heisig's books for Chinese. I didn't need to buy Heisig's books for Chinese because I'm already used to his method from Japanese (and already know a lot of characters), so I bought the first book. Just a warning, Chinese Characters uses traditional characters while Heisig has a simplified character version and a traditional character version. Depending on what languages you want, go with the traditional. It will be easier to learn Japanese kanji, and Korean hanja is all traditional. If you only want to learn Chinese and only care about mainland Chinese, choose simplified. For grammar, I have Chinese: A Comprehensive Grammar while I have heard a lot of great things about Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar. Either one will be a great choice.

For Chinese dictionaries, I mainly use nciku.

Now, for general resources that anyone can use, they are Lang 8 and Shared Talk. Lang 8 is like writing in a journal and other people correct your journal entries and you correct other people's journal entries. Shared Talk is a language exchange site where you can text chat and/or voice chat with UCAADs all over the world. This is really a great site.

Do not buy Rosetta Stone. If you do, you are a dumbass. 

Next part will tackle execution and commitment parts. Commitment is short, but the execution part will be longer than the investment part in this blog post, so I may as well split this into two posts because this is already long as shit.


28 comments:

  1. "Do not buy Rosetta Stone. If you do, you are a dumbass. "

    But I've seen the commercials. They very clearly state the Rosetta Stone is the only way to learn a language.

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    1. You can keep your insurance and your doctor if you like them. Just ask Barry haha.

      In part two (which I'm writing right now), I'll explain why part of the philosophy for RS works, but why the actual product is ass.

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    2. yeah, choke up $500 and see how it works for you XDDD

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  3. I can personally recommend the Genki books. Very easy, very straightforward. Most college intro-Japanese language classes use it as their main textbook for teaching too.

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    1. Yeah, by the time I had learned about them, I didn't need them anymore, so that's great if they work. They're fairly affordable too, so that works out well.

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  4. "Word of caution, this blog post is so long that even Kpopalypse oppar would say "tl;dr, shorten it you dickwad"."
    + 10

    I'm lucky in that my University offers a course in basic Mandarin, which includes a study-trip (?) that I plan on taking next year, but these seem like good additional tips. Thanks man!

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    1. Yeah, definitely try out the tips I laid out in part two so that you'll be prepared when you take that trip.

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  5. I am disappointed that my university doesn't offer Korean. They do have Chinese and Japanese though.

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    1. In my state, the only college that I know to offer Korean is the largest one. It really seems like only schools on the west coast offer it.

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  6. As I've said some time ago, I'm in my 6th year of studying Japanology at a university and the most important thing is having somebody to talk to. Be it a teacher or just a normal native speaker. You can find people easily on lang8.com, however, they usually also want you to educate you about their language. Having a partner of some kind really helps you with keeping motivated.
    We use(d) Japanese-only books in class, so I don't know any English books for learning nihongo.

    The two best Japanese dictionaries are Jlex.org and translate.weblio.jp imo. Jlex is good for looking up specific kanji and having example sentences next to a lot of words.
    If you want to look into bungo (classical Japanese), there's kobun.weblio.jp

    I can highly recommend the program "Anki" (it's done in Java [unfortunately], so it should even run on a toaster) for learning specific kanji or words.

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    1. I wholeheartedly agree that having people to talk to is the most important, but people need a way to work on their weaknesses in between speaking sessions and such.

      I'll have to check out those dictionaries sometime in the future. I've always just stuck by Denshi Jisho and Rikaichan haha.

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  7. tl;dr, shorten it you dickwad

    Actually these posts are quite inspiring and one day when I can actually put in some time, I might try to learn Korean.

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    1. You'll be able to understand what IU says when you two take a suspicious picture together and upload it to Twitter.

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    2. Dr. Kpopalypse will be there to help sick idols in need.

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    3. "Clara, I'm going to have to check for lumps in your titties to see if you have breast cancer. I'll have to feel them for about 15 minutes just to make sure."

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    4. Here, let me apply some of my anti-cancer cream. Don't worry, it's all-natural.

      Delete
  8. I can assure you that even if I had all the time in the world, I still wouldn't be able to learn 3-4 languages the way you do. I think you have to accept the fact when it comes to languages, you are smarter than the average person.

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    1. I'm a math and science person haha. Languages have always been my worst subject.

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  9. Man I just never have the right motivation to learn Japanese and Korean even though I always envy people (non Korean and non Japanese) who can.

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    1. Isn't Jiyeon enough motivation? haha

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    2. Well who gives a rat's ass what she says as long as she continues to look jjangbak XD

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  10. My high school only offers Spanish (blllllllllllergh), but since i'll be in college in a couple years (hopefully in another state -_- I hate living in the southwest), I can take an Asian language then.

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  11. I learned French for like 4 years and I still don't know shit (because the teacher annoys me and I only had it once a week). I know how to read, write, and understand (the teeniest bit) Korean. Only learned the language so I can read lyrics and search for worth-editing pictures in places beyond Tumblr and Fiddle.

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  12. I'm watching dramas and listening to kpop for almost 4 years and I can't pronounce annyeonghaseyo or whatever it's written.
    But I learned English (not prefect) and my language is Spanish, realmente necesito clases de coreano juseyo....

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  13. Wait, do you speak Chinese/Japanese/Korean AND English? That would make me really happy because I speak French/English and I've wanted to learn Chinese/Korean but it seems like most people who speak English only know one Asian language, as if it's too difficult to learn another or something

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