*Updated June, 2017*
Note: Before you read – know that there isn’t one single miracle site, app, textbook or method that will make you 100% fluent. But, I do try to introduce great tools that you may find helpful. Here’s one.
I had a Premium subscription with them. I feel I have enough experience to write a KoreanClass101 review.
So, what is it? KoreanClass101 is a popular Korean learning program/website. It’s based around audio/videos courses made by teachers and voice actors and the study tools for these lessons. It’s for Beginners and all the way up to Advanced level. You can learn on any device – computer, tablet or smartphones.
- Audio/Video based Korean Language Learning Program with 1,000+ Lessons
- Learn on your Computer or Mobile Device if you’re outside or going to work
- Lessons are Bite-sized so you can learn easily
- Lessons are designed to help you start speaking
- Study Tools help you review/master what you learn in lessons
You learn how to speak and understand Korean, as well as read and write (there are video lessons for this.) It’s the sister site of the famous JapanesePod101.com. That’s how I found out about it. The lessons are done by native Koreans, teachers and focus on real conversation and speaking like a native.
How does KoreanClass101 work and how does it teach you?
There are 4 levels of accounts on KoreanClass101:
- Free Lifetime Account (the free membership): You can enjoy 1) the newest lessons, 2) word of the day lessons, 3) vocab lists, 4) top 100 words list 5) the lesson transcript and 6) their app. So yes, you can learn for free.
- Basic: With Basic, you get full access to their lesson library (1,000+ lessons) and the lesson notes.
- Premium: Here, you get the lesson library, lesson notes, Premium app access and study tools (flashcards, voice recorder, wordbank, line-by-line dialogue, top 2,000 words list and much more.)
- Premium PLUS: You get everything in Premium plus access to an on-site Korean teacher.
- Update; There’s a Secret Lifetime Membership: They don’t advertise this (they probably lose money on it but I found the link during a Christmas sale) but you can buy lifetime access to KoreanClass101 and their entire learning system. I think this would be super useful for serious learners (ONLY) that don’t want to just “try” Korean but are in it for the long term. Click here to check it out.
1) The Lessons
You learn with Audio & Video lessons and courses. These are the meat and potatoes of the site. New ones come out every week. You can find them in the Newest Lessons section of the site.
About the lessons:
- 3-15 minutes in length from Beginner level to Advanced
- Audio and Video. Also downloadable PDF guides and eBooks are available.
- 3-4 New lessons come out every week
- Very engaging and fun to listen to – whether you’re actively learning or just passively listening
- They teach you to speak and understand Korean directly.
- You get translations and lesson notes and transcripts for every lesson.
- There are also plenty of writing, pronunciation, reading & grammar lessons as well.
- You can download them to your device to review as much as you want
- You can access them on any device (i listen on my Android)
Also, the system guides you from lesson to lesson. So, you know where to go next and what to study next.
So, when you sign up, choose your learning level (from Beginner to Advanced), and based on that level, they recommend courses for you, as shown below. I’m at 20% of the Pronunciation Series. This is awesome because you can track your progress
Here’s what a typical KoreanClass101 lesson is like.
(Note: They updated their layout as of early 2017)
What you can expect:
- It’s a radio-style relaxed lesson
- You hear a Korean conversation
- Listen and repeat along
- You can also read along with the lesson
- The teachers are real Korean speakers and one of them is American as well. Explanations are in English.
- They slow down the conversation, explain all words, grammar and culture points
- You understand it all at the end.
Inside each lesson … You have the Video or Audio lesson MP3 files (Main Lesson, Review, Dialogue – Korean ONLY), the line-by-line dialog that you can read along with, the PDF lesson notes & Lesson Transcripts (printable), and once you’re done you can mark it as complete to track your progress.
Line-by-line dialogue lets you listen to the lines as well as record your voice to compare. Take a look at the screenshot below.
It’s very important to read along with a lesson, so I like this.
You also get vocabulary lists for every lesson. You can check these while you listen to the lesson, but I suggest reading along with line-by-line first. You can also read with the PDF notes that give you more detail on grammar, culture and such.
I just prefer line-by-line dialogue as it’s on the page.
And if you see that microphone icon, you can record your voice.
And grammar rules introduced in the lesson.
Once you’re done with the lesson, mark it as complete, your progress is tracked and move on to the next one. This is great because you’ll never get lost. You’ll know which lessons to study next. You can also leave a comment and the teachers will respond.
Now mind, you, this is one lesson and there are a TON more.
They have around 1,000+ lessons. And inside these lessons are study tools, as you’ve just seen.
- Voice Recorder
- Dialogue & Line-by-Line Breakdown
- Audio & Translations
- Lesson Transcript
- Lesson Notes
- Grammar Review
Now, one arguable complaint is that there are so many lessons that you’ll never do them all.
2) More Study Tools
A) Learning Paths:
They came out with a new feature called Learning Paths. Here, you can choose focused, specific courses/lessons that you want – speaking, reading, writing, romantic phrases, alphabet, grammar, etc. This is a great feature that organizes their lessons. And, you don’t need to dig through 1,000s of lessons to find what you want.
For example, here’s a course on learning the Korean Alphabet, the Hangul.
The flashcards are for studying words and phrases. They use a spaced repetition system — meaning as you study, they sort your cards for you and assign them when you need the most. The easy words, you’ll see less and less. The hard words, you’ll see more often. And, they will bring up the words every now and then to refresh your brain so you don’t forget.
- learn words and phrases
- get reminded of when to study again
- sorts words for you based on how well you know them
- you can add words from
- 1) lessons
- 2) the wordbank
- 3) vocab lists
- 4) core word lists (top 100 – 2,000 word lists)
Like the name suggests, it’s a bank or a place to save your words. If I come across unknown words/phrases in new lessons, I’ll save them here to review later.
- send words to the Flashcards
- print your wordbank out
- organize your entries by “labels”. See mine below (adjectives, phrases, questions)
- export as PDF or CSV file
D) Core Words Lists – (The Top 2,000 Words in the Korean Language)
In the Core Word Lists, there’s the top 100 words (FREE), 200-500 word lists (for Basic users), and it goes up to 2,000 (for Premium users). Words are organized by Categories like Numbers, Nouns, Verbs, Everyday Phrases, Adjectives, Food, Drinks, Clothing and so on. Basically, you get more than enough to help you reach conversational fluency.
- words divided by Categories and frequency of use (top 100, top 200, top 300… until 2,000)
- send these words to the Flashcard or WordBank
- words come with 1) a picture 2) native audio pronunciation 3) example sentences, 4) translations
- slideshow review (which lets you put the words on an auto-play loop – pretty cool)
5) Vocabulary Lists
Vocabulary lists are different from the Core Word Lists. These are word/phrase lessons that are based around useful topics, common phrases, holidays, current events and so on. For example Olympics, New Year’s Resolutions, 4th of July, and 10 ways to introduce yourself.
- based on useful/specific topics, holidays, events
- new phrase/vocab lists come out all the time
- great way to learn new words for timely things
- slideshow review (which lets you put the words on an auto-play loop
As you can see, there’s a LOT on the site. My best suggestion is to sign up for free and explore their website completely – all the features, lessons, apps
Decide for yourself. There’s a free 7-day trial and you’re not required to pay anything.
So, when you sign up, be sure to set your learning level.
This will ensure you get lessons for your level. Then, you’ll be asked if you want to get the Korean word of the day. Basically, you get an email with 1 new Korean word a day to boost your vocabulary. I like it so I said yes.
Now, let’s get to the BUSINESS! Here’s my KoreanClass101 review.
The pros and the cons.
The Good Points:
- A TON of lessons. At 1000+ audio/video lessons, they probably do have the biggest Korean lesson archive on the internet.
- Organization. Yes, tons of lessons can be hard to get through – but they organize by difficulty level. Also, with the new Learning Paths feature, you can just pick and choose courses based on your goals.
- Learn to Speak Real Conversation. They focuses on daily conversations you’ll use if you were living in Seoul, ordering food, making conversation, expressing opinions, riding trains, etc. This is what you wish you learned after arriving at the Incheon Airport and realizing books/classes didn’t teach you anything you actually need to use in real life.
- New lessons every week. They publish 3-4 new lessons a week and the site is very active. Always something new – new feature, new apps, etc.
- Every New Lesson Is Free. For three weeks. Just sit back and tune in when it comes out without paying.
- Easy and Engaging. They have fun teaching it – which means you have fun learning. This is HUGE. This is what makes the lessons so much better than robotic conversations you often find and where textbooks fail. The chemistry and conversations between the lesson hosts makes it easy to sit back and learn
- On The Go & At Your Own Pace: All the lessons are downloadable. What I do is sync them to my iPhone and listen while on the train or going somewhere. Puts all that wasted time like driving, commuting, or cleaning to good use.
- Discounts: If you do want to learn with them, the good news is that they have occasional sales and you don’t have to pay full price.
- Apps. You can get their App when you sign up with them for your iPhone, iPad or Android device.
- Good Free Features. Korean word of the day and Vocabulary lists are very useful for that extra vocab mastery. I subscribe to the word of the day because it’s easy to pick up (or review) one new word a day with zero effort.
- 60 Day Money Back Guarantee: Important from a business perspective and I’m glad they have it. You can just ask for your money back if you don’t want to learn. Lots of courses, especially the sleazy 1-page sales pages for Korean course do not.
- No Pure Grammar Lessons: There’s no direct way to study grammar, like here’s Rule 1, here’s Rule 2, etc. They interweave the grammar in the conversations they teach which is great – but I’d want a central hub for the grammar rules alone. I think textbooks are the way to go for grammar.
- English Talk & Banter. For more advanced, serious learners that want PURE NON-STOP Korean, this will be a problem. There is English involved in the lessons as they explain. Also, since the teaching method is a relaxed radio/podcast style, the hosts go back and forth with small talk/banter as they teach.
- Don’t rely on it alone. Well, in general: no ONE book, one class, Anki flashcard deck or just watching K-dramas all day will take you to Korean fluency. That’s just what i think.
- Can’t Choose A Username. I thought this was odd. But when you sign up on the site, your username is your email address with some numbers. Would be more user-friendly if I got to choose it. (Update: You can change the username now)
Final Word: I recommend it for learners from Beginner to intermediate.
Why? I like that they have 1) TONS of lessons, 2) that you get new lessons non-stop, 3) that you can take and retake lessons as many times as you want and learn.
It’s a great way to learn Korean as it’s spoken by natives, practice your speaking, reading and listening. Very easy and friendly approach to learn Korean for self learners.
I don’t recommend it to nitpickers, grammar nuts and pedants. If you want pure grammar rules, get a textbook. If you’re hardcore, get a real teacher. If you want no English, get a real teacher or just listen to K-drama. This may not be for you.
My advice is to you is to have a “growth mindset” (meaning: you believe that intelligence can be developed, that the brain is like a muscle that can be trained- this leads to the desire to improve) and thus, use the site it for it’s value.
The best part is… A ton of lessons and new lessons every week – that’s not something many (textbooks, software, apps) can do for you – which probably what won me over.
There’s a 7-day free trial and you don’t have to pay anything. You can always be a free member and get all the newest lessons.
Thanks for reading.
– The Main Junkie