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Let's Speak Korean: Program Review
Let's Speak Korean is a pretty fabulous resource for anyone who is interested in learning to speak the Korean language. It is a television program that was originally aired on the Arirang TV network in South Korea that teaches the Korean language using a combination approach focused on speaking and pronunciation as well as grammar. There are a female and a male host, Lisa and Stephen, and two beginner-level students, Miriam and Jason. Each segment is 10 minutes long and focuses on a different aspect of Korean culture, and what you would have to say in that given situation. It is not designed to be your sole resource for speaking Korean, but as a daily 10 minute supplement to however you are already choosing to study.
It was cancelled a while ago, but since being canceled, continues to be available on YouTube.com -- unfortunate if you were watching it on the Arirang network, but great news if you are looking to learn a little Korean and don't have access to that television channel. Korean is a really interesting language to learn, but it can be a little difficult -- especially for those of us who's first language is English -- but it really is worthwhile to put in the time and learn a little if you are planning on spending any amount of time in the Land of the Morning Calm.
There have been many claims that one need not learn any Korean to function in Korea, and to an extent that may be true, but even in Seoul the majority of people in the service industry -- with whom you will be having most of your interactions -- can rarely say more than 'Hello' and 'Thank you' and maybe 'discount' if you're lucky. Outside of these most basic utterances, and outside of Seoul, you will be pretty much out of luck. That being said, if you are ridiculously good at charades you may still be sitting pretty, but if you're not, the quality of your experience in Korea can be greatly increased by spending a few hours to learn a little of the Korean language -- even if only to increase good will in the people that you will (not) be communicating with.
As mentioned above, Let's Speak Korean was designed as a 10-minute daily supplement to your Korean language learning. It still airs in a new version on the Arirang network, with new students and a new male host. In the version available on YouTube.com there is a female host named Lisa, a male host named Stephen, and two students named Miriam and Jason. The lessons are in ten minute installments and go over many aspects of the Korean language including vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar. The only downside of this is that you really have to learn the Korean writing system, Hangeul, before you can get the most out of this series of videos, as it is assumed right from the first lesson that you can read or are at least familiar with the Korean alphabet. Watching these videos online is great because you can stop and start as often as you want, and easily replay the most difficult passages until you can understand what's being said. The segments move along at a fairly quick pace, and you shouldn't expect to watch a segment only one time and remember everything from it. Just like anything else, practice makes perfect and these ten minute clips can really help you do just that.
Let's Speak Korean: First Lesson
Just like learning any language, learning Korean using this or any other method requires hard work, study. memorization and dedication. After watching a dozen of these videos you will not be able to walk around speaking Korean as if you'd been born and raised in the beautiful country, but you will be well on your way to learning the basics, and hopefully ready listen and learn even more.
This link will take you to the first lesson. It is set up on a play-list, so you should only have to click play once and the lessons will cycle through on their own. If that doesn't work for you, you can just click on the next lesson just as you would with any other YouTube video that you wanted to see.
Pros and Cons
I found this video series particularly useful because there were very limited resources for learning the Korean language in my hometown before I left to come to Korea. Essentially I learned the alphabet using my Lonely Planet phrasebook, and then spent a fair amount of time just learning the basics using this video series and some of the other resources that I mentioned in Teach English in Korea: Speaking the Language.
Plus sides to this program include:
- Ease of access: because its available on YouTube.com you can watch it whenever you want, for as long as you want, and as many times as you want.
- Continuity: Although you don't need to watch the lessons in order, they do build on each other and get progressively more challenging as well.
- Humour: Language learning can be pretty dry, and although the humour in this video series is a little goofy, it still got a little chuckle out of me from time to time.
- Challenge: I found this program challenging because the students are pretty fast learners, but it was not too hard that I lost interest either.
- Informative: The teachers are pretty good at what they do, and often point out relevant questions before you really get the chance to ask them.
Negative sides were limited, but included:
- Hangeul: although I could read and write the Korean alphabet, or Hangeul, before I started to use this video series, this could be a stumbling block for some people as you really must learn to do that first. I found in gave me motivation to become even more familiar with the alphabet than I already was.
- Cheesy humour: Personally, I think cheesy is better than no humour, but if cheesy humour gets under your skin then I don't think this program is for you.
A decent program that's available free on YouTube.com, you should definitely check this program out and see if it works for you!
Agree or disagree with my assessment of this video series? Please feel free to leave a comment in the comments section!