There is a number of “learning tasks” that can be seen as “games”. A typical example is learning the right stroke order of a writing system, like the Japanese Hiragana and Katakana, the Hanzi, Kanji and Hanja ideograms used by Chinese, Japanese and Korean people and like the Hangul writing system used by Korean speakers. In all of these cases, an “app” for smartphone and tablet is usually a better choice than paper and pen. The reason is simple: the app can actually guide and correct you. The small amount of intelligence that the app can put in this simple teaching task can do a lot of difference for the student.
As a matter of fact, the first app I used to learn Korean is “Write It! Korean”:
“Write It! Korean” does exaclty this: it teaches you how to read, write and pronunce the letter and the syllables used to write the Korean language (the so-called “jamo”).
“Write It! Korean” is a fantastic app. It works flawlessy and involves you in a very addictive “game” that leads you from zero to mastering the Hangul writing system. Of course, it cannot be used alone. You will have to rely on a good grammar book and other resources to actually learn the Korean language. Nevertheless, it can help you to learn the writing system used by this language in a fast, effective and funny way.
The best recommendation I can give you actually comes from my 8-years-old nephew Marco: “Write It! Korean” is the first thing he ask for when he cames to visit us. I told you: this app is addictive…
Another task that can be seen as a “game” is learning the numbering system(s) used by a foreign language. The Korean language uses two different types of numbers: the original pure-Korean one and the Chinese one. There is a very nice Android app for learning them: “Easy Korean Numbers”.
“Easy Korean Numbers” is another “game” application, very similar to the previous one, that leads you in the process of learning and memorizing the Korean numbers both in their written and spoken forms. Addictive…
Learning the basic vocabulary of a foreign language is usually a long, boring, discouraging task. Web apps and Mobile apps can only take away a small part of this burden. Most people use “Memrise” for this task:
Memrise is actually the companion app of a very well-know Web app with the same name. It si a “spaced repetion application” that helps you in learning and memorizing a set of purely-mnemonic data, like the vocabulary of a foreign language.
Memrise is actually a general purpose application, open to contributions coming from the users, so the quality level of its “courses” actually depend on the users who supplied them. Most “card stacks” related to the Korean language are quite minimalistic and are not well-designed so the level of user satisfaction is usually quite low. I’m using it with some user-contributed stack (without sounds…) but I’m also using it to host and manage my own stacks of cards. Most likely, this is the best way to use such a platform.
In any case, Memrise is just one of the many other “spaced repetion applications” you can find online. Another well known one is “AnkiDroid”:
Besides these two “general purpose” application, I use a couple of Korean-language-specific ones: “Learn Korean – 9000 Common Words” by InnovationApps and “Learn Korean Free WordPower” by Innovative Language Learning, LLC.
The first one is essentialy a catalog of words, divided into categories. It supplies you both the written word and the spoken sound for each of the classified term. It also has a spaced repetion system that helps you in memorizing the words.
The second one is a little more sophisticated and better structured. Anyway, differences are quite marginal.
Once you have memorized the basic vocabulary, the main problem becomes another one: how to use those words in the right way. That is: “grammar”. I have a couple of applications related to Korean grammar on my smartphone and my tablet.
“Korean Grammar Haja” is a reference grammar that helps you to find the best Korean equivalent of a given English grammar structure. It works at a “functional” level, not at the sintactic one. In other words, this app can answer questions like “What Korean language structure can I use to express this concept?”. It cannot translate an English sentence into the corresponding Korean one. A one-to-one translation at the phrase or sentence level is usually not possible between any Western language and any Eastern one.
“K’way” is much larger and much more powerful than “Grammar Haja” but shares with it the same fundamental approach.
K’Way contains almost everything you need to learn Korean, from a “beginner” section to “idioms” and “proverbs”. It even has a section devoted to Korean language news. To be honest, I’m still not using it very much. My level of Korean is not good enough for most of this material.
Beside grammar, the main problem with the Korean language is usually represented by verbs. This aspect of the language is difficult because verbs change a lot in Korean. The have to be adapted to hierarchical level of the person you are talking to. To learn how to conjugate and use the Korean verbs I installed “Dongsa”:
That’s all for today, folks. Stay tuned…