Living Language Korean

A Review by

Korea’s been getting a lot of attention lately. From BTS to K-dramas, the world is starting to look at Korea and with that, plenty of people are starting to show interest in learning the Korean language. But the thing is, there are plenty of language learning programs out there and not much knowledge of which ones are the most effective and which ones aren’t.

Recently I looked at the Pimsleur program, which relies mainly on auditory immersion. You can check out my review here.

But what about the other programs out there? Living Language is another one of these language learning programs that I’ll review today!

How does Living Language work?

According to the website, there are four steps to Living Language’s programs.

The steps seem fairly simple enough. It starts with learning the basic words and phrases, progressing into full sentences and then conversational Korean. The program also includes exercises that really drill the language into your head, similar to how Pimsleur does it by making you recall different sentences and phrases by memory. Then finally, you’ll be able to develop a rather practical understanding of the language, applying these skills to any situation.

Sounds simple enough, right?

Unlike Pimsleur, Living Language provides not only audio but written and online (visual) content so that you can really retain what you’ve learned. Written content includes an 80 page book that shows you how to read and write in Korean, which I find to be really cool! Learning how to read and write in Korean definitely helps when you’re trying to learn how to speak the language.

Something I like to do once I learn a new language is writing flashcards or little stickers containing each word I’ve learned and then sticking them onto the corresponding object. For example, if I wanted to remember how to say “mirror” in Korean (which, by the way, is 거울), I’d write “거울” on a sticker or a flashcard and stick it onto a bathroom mirror. The bathroom mirror is a great place because it’s something I look at multiple times everyday. So when I’m in the bathroom brushing my teeth (or popping blackheads, because it’s SO SATISFYING), I’ll see the word and repeat it to myself. It’s an actually helpful technique!

Speaking of flashcards, the course also includes those, as well as quizzes and games to make sure you stay engaged. I know it can be hard to pay attention sometimes, but the games and quizzes really help deal with that problem.

The Verdict

I think Living Language Korean is a great program for learning the language. I found the materials to be comprehensive and they covered the really important parts of the Korean language. There are a few things I did want to point out though.

  1. There isn’t much on culture, which I think is an important part to learning any language especially if you are planning to go to a country where that language is spoken. While it might be harder to include culture in languages that are spoken by multiple countries (ie Spanish), Koreans is mainly spoken by… Koreans. So I wish there was something about the culture on there because it not only makes the course even more interesting, but can also add some nuances that I think are important for learners to know.
  2. There isn’t a lot of advanced material for those who want to take their studies further. Most Living Language programs offer an Essential course, as well as the Complete and Platinum courses for those who want to learn even more. However, their Korean course only includes the Essential and Complete. The Complete course is supposed to include more advanced components of the Korean language. However, I wish there was even more advanced content.
  3. Unlike Pimsleur, this is a course that you’ll have to sit down and work through. While it does include audio content, as I mentioned earlier it also has workbooks, flashcards and online components. So it’s not a good program to take with you if you’re planning to learn while going for a jog or commuting to work.
  4. E-tutoring is also apparently available so if you’re lost, you can consult an online tutor. However, they require credits. The online course comes with a few free credits, but you’ll generally have to buy them.
  5. The content might be a little fast paced for beginners, but you can always take a moment to pause and catch up.
  6. The online content isn’t always very engaging. The games and quizzes might help, but other parts can be a drag.

That being said, I really think that this is a great course for people trying to learn the Korean language. There are two courses from Living Language, as I had said earlier: Essential and Complete. The Essential covers the basics of the Korean language and is catered to the beginner-level learner. It contains one coursebook and three audio CD’s. It’s also cheaper. The Complete course includes more advanced topics, three coursebooks and nine audio CD’s. It’s more expensive, but it’s still very much affordable.

I’d recommend this to people looking for a more intensive study of the Korean language, especially if you’re looking for a course that provides both audio and visual/written content!

If you’re interested in buying yourself a copy, I’d absolutely recommend it and I will link both courses below. Feel free to take a look at Amazon user reviews and get yourself some Living Language Korean today!

Pimsleur Review

(Photo by Austin Distel)

While we’re on the subject of translation, learning a language can be very hard (gee thanks, Captain Obvious).

But I get it.
There’s so much to learn, from rules and grammar to vocabulary and pronunciation. It’s a lot to take in.

And while there are plenty of language learning programs out there, it can be hard to figure out which one is the right one for you.

However, I hope to give you some idea of what each of the big-name programs are like, so that you can make an informed decision instead of buying willy-nilly and regretting your purchase.

Pimsleur is one of those programs that I will review. Now while I think it can be useful, I think its usefulness depends on what you’re looking for in a language learning program. But before we get to that, let’s take a look at the Pimsleur method.

So How Does Pimsleur Work?

Pimsleur courses are based on the Pimsleur method of learning languages, which was developed by… you guessed it… Dr. Paul Pimsleur.

It’s audio-based and relies on the immersion technique of teaching language.

If you don’t know what that means, remember learning your native language? It probably involved listening to your parents speak and imitating their words, right? Well, Pimsleur is based on that kind of technique of learning.

So How Is Pimsleur?

Not too long ago, I decided to take a look at the Pimsleur Korean audio CD’s to take a look at how their program was. I already know Korean obviously, but I wanted to see what their strengths and weaknesses were, especially if I already understood the language. I also took a look at the Spanish CD to see what it would be like to a person who didn’t have any prior experience with a language.

Popping in a couple of CD’s and listening to them, I found that an audio-only program can be very helpful with learning specific phrases and dipping your toe into foreign languages. What they basically do is play phrases and have you repeat them, which I think is a good way to start familiarizing yourself with these phrases. They teach using a method called “spaced repetition”. The basic idea behind this is they say a phrase and have you repeat it 15 seconds later. Then they have you repeat it 45 seconds later, a minute later, so forth and so on.

Listening to the Spanish CD’s, I actually managed to learn a few Spanish phrases fairly quickly. I’m by no means fluent, but I was definitely able to pick up a couple of sentences with ease after repeating them a few times (as the CD directed me to).

However, there are some things that prospective buyers should keep in mind.

1. These programs are usually audio-only. The program will NOT teach you how to read or write in foreign languages. So if you’re looking to learn the basics of speaking/understanding Korean, this can be helpful. But if you’re looking for something more, Pimsleur might not be right for you.

2.  The phrases that are taught are usually the formal versions of phrases. It might be a little awkward to use these phrases if you’re having a conversation with new friends or fellow students, for example, but could be really helpful if you’re on a business trip. This distinction is important to understand, especially with a language like Korean which has different versions of the same sentence for younger people and your elders. While it might be weird to talk to a younger person using formal tenses, it’s imperative to use formal tenses with your elders.

3. The lessons can be a little fast-paced. However, you’re more than welcome to rewind and replay a few parts if you don’t understand it at first.

4.  While they do talk about grammar, they don’t go into a lot of detail, so if you’re looking to intensively study another language, keep that in mind.

Pimsleur Review Conclusion

Overall, I really did enjoy the Pimsleur program. I even managed to learn a few Spanish phrases in the process of writing up this review! However, I would recommend this as a first-step towards learning a new language. If you are looking for something more intensive, I would recommend either a different program or pairing this with other courses (especially courses that teach you how to read and write in those languages, as being literate can really help). I would definitely recommend using Pimsleur programs when you’re going on a run, or a walk, or commuting on the train/bus.

If you’re interested in checking out Pimsleur products in the Korean language, here are some of my recommendations. The three below are parts of the first level of the Korean Pimsleur program. Check them out!