Have any of you ever tried to learn a foreign language on your own, like from a book or tape? I’ve decided I’d like to learn Korean, but I can’t find a single language school in the city that offers it. Now I’m wondering if I could do it on my own. I found a helpful website, and I was thinking I could get a book or tape to go along with it. If you’ve done something similar, do you have any suggestions? Is it too difficult to learn without other people to converse with? What kind of materials should I look for?

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  1. I’ve studied French, Spanish and now I’m starting Italian. The best way to learn a language is to live in that country for an extended period. Otherwise, buy a book/cassette/CD pack. I’ve always liked the textbook approach because you can see the syntax, grammer e.t.c. in print. A tape/CD is good for practising pronunciation and improving your accent. That’s my experience.

  2. Difficult but not impossible to learn a language on your own. Yes, I made the most progress in my chosen language (Chinese) after I enrolled in a university course, but even dabbling taught me a few things that I put to good use later on. In the absence of such a thing as a course, though, you’ll absolutely have to find someone with whom you can practise conversational language — all the various bits and pieces don’t really jell until you get involved in the cut-and-thrust of everyday usage. [Afterthought – materials: if you’re a) a true beginner, and b) you don’t mind being treated like a five-year-old, then children’s language primers are always a good place to start.]

  3. Thanks for the input, guys. I’m going to look around the bookstores and see what I can find.

  4. hey kris – i tried this once. i even own a korean/english dictionary you can borrow when you come in the fall. but korean is TOUGH – definitely get some audio to go with that shit. (but even on the tape, when they speak slow, it’s reeeeally fast!!!) i tried italian (remember?!) and was feeling okay about it, because the book spelled words out phonetically as well as the way they were ‘sposed to be spelled. but i got lazy. you’ll do well – you’ve got the time, plus i think linguistics-type stuff is something we howard children have a knack for. let me know how it goes!

    (i wouldn’t go tapping grandma for info – i think she’s probably got a crazy accent and would have trouble teaching you the shortcuts she’s known for years and years.)

  5. Well, I went to Dymocks (the big bookstore) and managed to find three books to help me out: a Korean/English dictionary, a textbook called “Elementary Korean” (with a CD), and a fun kids-type book called “Your First 100 Words in Korean”.

    The textbook looked intimidating, so I started with the kid book first. It’s great. It’s got flashcards and worksheets and stuff. First I learned words for parts of the house. (Television is my favorite: “tel-le-bee-jon”.) I can even recognize them by their Korean script! Now I’m up to articles of clothing. I also cracked the textbook yesterday. The CD’s cool, and I ripped it all to mp3 and loaded it onto iPod so I can practice at the gym. I actually played it last night while I went to sleep, and I had all these weird dreams of people saying “How are you, Mr. Kim?” over and over in Korean. Weirdness.

    Anyway, I’m making progress. Snookums bet me that I’ll get bored and stop, so I’ve got a reason to continue. 🙂

  6. any ideas on which books/tapes or websites might be helpful in my learning basic Italian?

  7. Nope. The discussion was about Korean, Paul, and it occurred over two years ago… so you’re probably out of luck. Maybe try a forum instead.

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