Talk To Me In Korean (TTMIK) is a popular online resource for learning Korean and sets itself apart from other online language resources with a somewhat refreshing onus on community and affordability.
Affordability is definitely a key selling point! The website offers instantly playable audios and PDF’s for beginner to advanced levels all for free! It is hard to believe but this is a terrific and comprehensive resource that doesn’t coerce you into paying a subscription and sign up fee. TMIK obviously earn their money through online advertising and other study merchandise which you buy on the site.
I was first introduced to Talk To Me In Korean in 2011 through a friend with an addiction to Youtube. My friend discovered TTMIK after watching a Youtube video of a girl who claimed to speak fluent Korean from online learning through the site. My friend at the time became hooked on the website but I was already occupied and struggling with learning Mandarin Chinese.
When I began learning Korean in early 2013 I immediately began using the TTMIK. From there I was hooked.
Each morning I listened to the audio and read over the accompanying PDF, and took notes over a coffee and my breakfast. Unlike learning Chinese and staring at a boring black and white textbook, it actually felt fun to get up in the morning and learn Korean.
I also couldn’t argue with the results. My Korean classmates in China had previously attempted to teach me a few Korean phrases but the pronunciation and grammar were difficult for me to pick up. Each word seemed like a tongue twister with half a dozen syllables. This was part of the reason I delayed learning Korean initially.
But I was impressed with the simple layout of the TMIK’s PDFs and the clear pronunciation within the audio mp3’s. Even as I progressed to the harder levels, TTMIK still seemed to manage to keep a language rated in the top bracket for difficulty, surprisingly easy to learn.
TTMIK has a strong community feel about it and which is enhanced by the strong personalities of the hosts. At times you may question whether you are listening to a radio talkback show rather than an audio Korean lesson, as the hosts—without fail—steer off topic in every lesson! The lame jokes of Hyunwoo Sun can also be tiresome but at the same time, this is what makes TTMIK different from the dry resources put together by Pimsleur and others.
I managed to get up to Level 9 on the website. Each level has approximately 30 lessons. However, I found that once I could up to level 8 I was starting to get a little bit out of my depth as the sentence structure became more complicated. The last two series of lessons also teach a lot of one liners which are hard to remember unless you are practising them with a native speaker on a regular basis. So my advice would be to rattle through the earlier lessons by yourself (Level 1-5) and build up confidence with the grammar and the vocab. From there you will want to compliment your language learning by actually putting into practice what you’ve learnt.
Stacking TTMIK on top of other Korean language resources
If you don’t have easy access to Korean speakers you might want to look at an app called HelloTalk. HelloTalk is basically a WhatsApp for language exchange. It’s good to start off with, as you can quickly connect with Korean native speakers from all over the world on the app for free. It’s also well suited for beginners as you can reinforce the basics by talking to numerous users on the app and practicing small talk.
However, the app is limited, as you’re only really giving your written skills practice and you need instant feedback on your pronunciation. This is where I’d then look into purchasing classes on Italki. Italki is a terrific online marketplace for Skype classes with teachers from all around the world. The beauty of learning Korean on Italki is that you can shop around for language teachers with different levels of experience, class times and class prices. You can find a teacher for as little as US$5 for 30-minutes.
Once you have picked the teacher that best suits your needs you can organise a one-on-one language class on Skype and pay for the class with Paypal. Due to different time zones around the world and the international community on Italki, you could even arrange classes in the morning before work or class – just turn off the Skype camera if you don’t have time to wash your face! You can follow this link to get $10 free to your account.
TTMIK is definitely the best free online resource I have come across for learning Korean. It is particularly useful for learning the nuts and bolts of the language and especially grammar. The key though is to complement your learning with other resources. Personally, I also like to compliment my language learning on TTMIK by testing what I learn with Korean friends (often over Korean BBQ) and to gain feedback on my pronunciation and correct usage.
More tips on how to learn Korean in record-time!
- 8 inside tips on how to learn Korean
- Beginners guide to studying Korean in Australia or your home country on a shoestring budget
- Language Exchange Meetups Guide
- Hello Talk language exchange app review
- Why 6am and daily rituals is key to learning a language
- 8 Summer Schools in Asia for 2016
- Michael Kocken on why Australians should seriously consider studying Korean
- Desi Cochrane on how to tackle advanced Korean
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