How to succeed in a Korean course

a higher level picture

1)      The best way
The best way to learn a foreign language is to immerse yourself in the culture and live with native speakers, which is often expensive and time-consuming, if not downright impossible.  So, the second best way is to simulate the situation as much as possible -- and this, YOU have control over. During regular academic quarters, you will be asked to complete mini projects that will expose you to Korean people, language and culture.  You will also be asked to meet with at least one language exchange partner (native Korean speaker) to practice Korean twice a week.  The UW Korean Language Program’s language course schedule is usually really packed so the role of language partners is crucial.  When getting a language partner, find someone who attended or graduated from at least high school in Korea.  Also, if you are finding someone through the UW English Language Program, try to get someone who is placed to a low level of English. To request a language partner, contact the English Language Program (206) 543-6242, J

2)      Before starting a new chapter:
This is actually a good time to test your current comprehension of all the lessons covered in the past.  First, read the “Conversation” sections of the textbook, as well as the “Narration,” without using any references to see how well you understand what you are reading.  When you see a new grammar pattern, GUESS what it may mean and move on.  Once you go through all the texts, go back to the beginning and read them again; this time by checking whether your guesses were accurate or not.  It helps to have a general idea of what’s in the new chapter when the teacher explains them in detail.

3)      Learning the vocabulary:
Take one sheet of notebook paper and fold it vertically in half TWICE (making four even columns).
b.       Neatly write the Korean words in 한글 (Hangul) in the far left column and write the corresponding English translations in the 2nd column.  Repeat the procedure on the 3rd and 4th columns (Korean on the 3rd and English on the 4th).
c.       Fold the sheet in half so that just the 1st and 2nd columns are showing.  Get yourself some scratch paper and start copying the Korean words once or twice or 30 times, as you pronounce them aloud. 
d.       Fold the sheet one more time so that you can only see the English.  Write the Korean translation while looking at column #2 (English).
Check the words you missed, and practice just those on scratch paper.  After a while, try writing the entire Korean words again while looking at column #2 again.  Repeat until you can write all the Korean words on your own.
f.        Do the same for the 3rd and 4th columns.
g.       Don’t forget to use on line resources!  Listen and repeat! (You will hear a ‘ding’ if there is no sound associated with a word; you will see ‘no picture’ if there is no picture associated.  If you would like to see all words associated with pictures, you can take three to five words and find an image in the UW image repository ( for each one. Label the pictures and email them to a Language Learning Center staff member, who will make a new updated version of the Korean Vocabulador!
4)      Learning the grammar:
   It is always a good idea to learn a grammar point in a real sentence.  Our textbook is full of prime examples of each grammar point. 
a.       Just like when you memorize the vocabulary, get a loose leaf and fold it in half vertically.
b.       On the left half, copy sentences with the new grammar pattern and number each of the sentences.
c.       Write the corresponding English translation for each sentence on the right half.
d.       If you know all the vocabulary already, get scratch paper and try translating the English sentences in Korean without looking at the left half of the study sheet.
e.       Flip the folded study sheet to show the Korean side and compare it to your translation.
f.        Mark any errors, and find out why you made the errors.
g.       Keep practicing until you can translate from English to Korean with no problem.
h.       Don’t forget to use on line resources! (links to follow this guideline below)

5)      Other:
a.       It always helps to think of the answer on your own, then turn to a resource for the answer, rather than asking for the answer without thinking first.
b.       It is a good idea to do the homework AFTER studying the grammar, rather than doing the homework while learning the grammar.
c.       Reading the textbook aloud is fun and it helps you to remember the sentence structures.
d.       By knowing your weaknesses (e.g. verb conjugation, listening comprehension, etc.) and by vigorously attacking them (!), you learn ACTIVELY, not passively, and you can use your study time more efficiently.  Active learning helps you remember and understand things better.

6)      Useful Study Links:

Hangul (Korean alphabet) helper.

At the following site, you can create your own vocabulary list, and the site will generate a test for you. Site created by one of our former students!

Haewon Cho suhnsengnim’s alphabet sites:
(If you have trouble hearing the difference between , , and , this site is a must!)

For sounds and sound rules in the Preliminary chapter of “You Speak Korean!”

Eunyoung Won suhnsengnim’s practice sites:  Good for Preliminary Chapter, and Lesson 1  Good for Lesson 2 ~ Lesson 7  Mixed; Classroom Expressions, 누구 vs. 누가, Vol. II  Mixed; Lesson 8, Vol. II

Excellent site for practicing listening basic Korean sounds by yourself. The quality of the sound files is not great, but it still helps.  Go to “Introductory Korean” to begin!

This is a very good site for reviewing the early part of our book Volume I.  Contained within the site is - if you want to study/review basic sentence structures and markers. You can also visit
What they call “informal” style is our “polite present”. (You have not yet learned what they call the “formal” style). The site has what’s called an AUTO-CONJUGATOR!  If you need to review how to conjugate verbs/adjectives in /아요, check it out! (

This site helps you study/review fundamental features of the Korean language (like the troublesome markers). They have a pretty crazy vowel distinction between and , but you don’t have to buy into what they say because normal Seoul dialect speakers do not have that distinction. 
<Korean for fun> is also fun!  The site provides basic words such as food, drinks, etc. and audio files.  Most of what they provide is pretty much from the first volume of our textbook. (Lesson 10 Styles of Speech might be of interest to you.)

This site is made for Korean heritage children, but it is very useful for beginning non-heritage learners as well.  It contains simple vocabulary, animated traditional and modern short stories, some rap songs.   You can also find an opportunity to get international pen pals (you might want to find out about the age of the pals first!). The site also introduces many interesting Korean culture links as well as game rooms and story. Explore and find out what each room has in store for you!  If you choose to listen to stories, try out English (for translation) and other language versions. (You will need to register for this site, but you can do so as a U.S. resident Korean.)

This site introduces what is quite comparable to our textbook Volume I.  Find “Korean language study”, and run the ‘pretest’ (which tests your knowledge on basic expressions, grammar and reading abilities) and review what is available under ‘preliminary’ (basic consonants, vowels, and pronunciation rules). Among others, I liked the [adolescent/adult] category, but you can also explore children’s menus.

A little advanced?   Check this site out (Intermediate College Korean by Clare You and Eunsu Cho):


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