Online Program Guide To Learning Korean

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Online Program Guide To Learning Korean

The prospect of learning the Korean language may be daunting to foreigners but the rewards are many - not simply in practical terms, but as a window to another culture. You'll also find that even your smallest efforts are greeted with wonder and admiration by your Korean friends.

For many expats here, time and money constraints prevent them from attending language school, but there's help available online. These courses won't match language learning in the classroom, but if you're a novice or intermediate Korean-speaker, they can certainly help you improve. Here's a selection of the Korean language sites around. You're likely to need a Real Audio Player, Internet Explorer Korean support and in some cases a Flash Player, but the sites usually provide links so you can download them free.

* Free

Probably the best online program up to intermediate level. The program consists of Introductory Korean, Novice Korean in blocks I, II and III, and Intermediate Korean I and II.

The site is cleanly, simply designed and comes with background information on hangul, the Korean alphabet, and several articles on Korean society, history, thought, culture, politics and the arts. There are printout templates for writing practice and you can also order the textbooks that accompany Sogang University's offline Korean language courses.

Summary: A well-designed, interactive site with good additional cultural information.

* The full course costs $8 a month, $20 for three months or $40 for six months. However, a limited version of the course is available free.

The benefit of this site is that you can prepare for the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) II in the Korean language in three months if you study between 40 and 60 minutes a day as the providers suggest. The problem with this site is its design. If you have a standard 15-inch screen monitor, you'll find you have to scroll around both vertically and horizontally to see what's on the page. Try some of the sample pages and you'll find that - though they look nice - some of the buttons don't work. The site does offer a personalized assessment chart so you can check your progress and compare your level with other students.

Summary: This is quite a comprehensive course, but irritating glitches need ironing out.

* Free

Brought to you by Mr. Oh, this site has a useful "Korean for Dummies" section for those who need a quick brush-up, but its real value is as a get-to-the-point grammar-heavy introduction to the Korean language. It's a good reference for those already familiar with language learning terminology and perhaps those who have studied Korean but want a grammar refresher. The site is easy to move around and provides a good introduction to hanja, the Chinese characters used in Korean. (Mr. Oh is a humorous host, too, reassuring us that "although the Chinese characters always look like some kind of puzzling ancient secret code," we'll get the hang eventually.)

This site probably isn't suitable for novices, as there's not much in the way of interactive practice opportunities and your eyes may glaze over at the grammar.

Summary: Though not a comprehensive course, this is a good reference site if you want the low-down on Korean.

by Rebecca Branford

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