Friday Feature: Learning Korean with mobile apps

When K-drama marathons are not enough to acquire a new language, start with the way of least resistance.


Not everyone can get by on charm alone.

After watching Korean dramas steadily for over a year, I was failing to acquire fluency in Korean via osmosis. Sure, I knew random words like 오빠 (oppa) and 찜질방 (jjimjilbang), but with such limited vocabulary, I would surely remain starving and unloved on the streets of Seoul.

The first step to learning Korean with little to no commitment is downloading free mobile applications. I have tried a few with varying degrees of success.

Korean Flashcards

Learning Korean words and phrases with virtual flashcards seems like a good idea. The problem is that this app was far too advanced for a beginner, as it required the ability to read Hangul. While the vocabulary list is extensive, it does not demonstrate how they might be used in phrases. Thus, the student acquires the ability to say, “pentagon” or “hazardous” without context, which could make for some awkward, dead end conversation. This application could be useful with a solid foundation in Korean.
Available on Android, iOS, Windows, and Blackberry. BH Inc

Learn Korean – – Học tiếng Hàn

This application offers essential words and phrases for tourists and business people in a cheerful Windows style layout. Unfortunately, after learning some Hangul, I discovered that some of the transliteration into the Roman alphabet was inaccurate. This created doubt in the reliability of the phrases being taught, and after that, I no longer trusted that what was listed was accurate.
Available on Android. VC Apps Vietnam

TenguGo Hangul

This is my favourite Korean language app. It simply breaks down the Hangul alphabet and offers quizzes to test your knowledge acquisition at every stage as well as at the very end. No frills, but pleasant enough to look at, and gets the job done.
Available on Android and iOS. www.tengugo.com

I have tried several other Korean language apps, but I either experienced similar issues to the ones listed above, or they were so useless that I uninstalled them right away.

It would seem that you can only get so far in acquiring a new language using mobile applications alone. Apps have served me well in learning Hangul, and will probably work well for vocabulary building. Unfortunately, apps do not provide me with the depth of understanding to converse at even a basic level with confidence. For instance, I have yet to find an app that deals with levels of polite speech or sentence structure.

Next in my quest to learn Korean, I will try the good, old fashioned book, audio guides, a computer program, and even a class with a real human being. Stay tuned.

Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다


Any recommendations for Korean language apps?

Let us know in the Comments below.

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