I live in an older neighborhood in Uijongbu-Shi, Republic of Korea (ROK) primarily populated with senior citizens. I relocated to the ROK in August of this year with my wife Hyejin who is a citizen of the Korea. We previously spent seventeen years living in the United States where we had intended to live out our lives. And then life happened, yet again, and we decided that living in Korea would be right for us. So, here we are, and due to our previous plans and my earlier challenges and experiences with learning languages, I can’t speak Korean.
Years ago, I studied German, Japanese and Spanish while living in countries where these languages were spoken. Complete immersion where I was highly motivated and yet struggled to learn. I describe my proficiency with these languages as speaking like an intoxicated preschooler, and yet I could communicate, and truly enjoyed socializing, as well as learning the perspectives’ of others. Now I find myself motivated to learn Korean and yet struggle. The seniors in this neighborhood greet me with broad smiles and a few words whenever I wander about, and my wandering is frequent. Many of these folks are quite elderly and I really wish to engage them in conversation, as well as demonstrating my respect for them and their culture by learning their language. My wife is so supportive that she wrote a Korean grammar book while she was teaching Korean in Hawaii so that I might later use it to learn. And I am using it, and have spent some time learning the basics, and yet I find it a challenge. Well, enough backstory, and now on to the app I’m using to help me learn Korean.
Funny Hangul Study (Korean), is a mobile educational app designed for children learning Hangul, the Korean alphabet. The perfect level for this fifty-nine year old child. It is an Android only app that is available on GooglePlay, which is where I recently found it. Funny Hangul Study (Korean) was created by Teacher Heodang Moon (허당 문선생) and is distributed for free. The “main lessons screen” offers the following four choices, or steps: 1. According to a letter, 2. Word study, 3. Grammar Study, 4. Learning quiz. My app displays these choices in English and Korean.
The app contains a wide variety of flash cards and simple grammar lessons. The subsection that I am presently using falls under “According to a letter” and is step 3, vowels, as I’ve mastered step 2, consonants.
The lessons in this section include writing Hangul by tracing the onscreen characters which are displayed with stroke order arrows. This is critically important as when I first started writing Hangul I was uncertain of the stroke order and had resorted to printing diagrams that showed the correct order. Since the app shows the stroke order with the character I can focus, instead of glancing over to a stroke order diagram.
The app speaks the character sound each time a new character is displayed and then offers positive reinforcement by congratulating the learner with cute, childish exclamations and happy faces. A learner can touch the onscreen speaker button to have the sound of the Hangul character repeated as often as necessary.
The lessons in the main section headings 2 through 4 are more advanced and I look forward to tackling them in the near future. I have looked through the word study lessons and I find them quite appropriate for a beginner, like myself. Although this app was designed for children, I noted when I visited the developer’s blog that the recorded video comments were from adult learners of Korean as an L2. I’m not surprised by this as the app is very well designed and easy to navigate. I think that this app could be used in a wide variety of educational settings by anyone, of any age, studying the Korean language. I highly recommend this app to anyone that wishes to study the Korean language and hope that they find it as useful as I am. With the help of this well-designed app and my wife’s grammar book, I should be conversing with the neighborhood seniors in the near future.