One of the biggest roadblocks to an exciting and safe trip into a foreign country is simply not knowing the local language. This is especially true in countries like Japan, China, and Korea, where little if any English is spoken.
However, learning languages is hard. People typically procrastinate learning and pay the price upon arriving. Despite this seeming difficulty (the difficulty is imagined: modern tools can enable you to learn languages very quickly and easily. More on this later), here are 5 reasons why knowing Korean is vital to your trip:
- You cannot get lost if you can read road signs and converse with locals.
- You will not get defrauded by locals, as you are not taken for a helpless foreigner.
- You can explain your situation and enlist help very easily as people understand you.
- Native speakers tend to look very kindly towards foreigners attempting to learn their language.
- Shopping, finding a residence, using public transport, dining, etc. is much easier when you can converse in the local language.
Okay, you get it, knowing the local language is important to have a fun and fulfilling trip. Maybe you’ve tried to learn languages before and failed, maybe you’re convinced of your poor language skills.
However, it was probably the methodology of teaching that was flawed.
Simple methodological flaws can cause huge learning roadblocks. These flaws leave most language learning products on the market incomplete and ineffective.
Rocket Korean succeeds in fixing most of these flaws, which have remained unaddressed so far. Let’s dive right into this review and see how it does so.
The Learning platform
The first thing I liked about this product was the lack of an old-fashioned, text-based learning platform. Rocket Korean’s teaching methodology relies primarily on advanced tools that immerse you directly into the modalities of the language.
As a kid, I could never bear the dull monotone of a teacher speaking for longer than 15 minutes, at which point I would either zone out, start doodling in my notebook or perhaps chat with a friend. My first reaction, therefore, when I learned that the audio content lasted on average 25 minutes each, was, “Wow, these are going to get dull fast.”
However, to my surprise, they held my rapt attention throughout.
Why? Two reasons:
- I was kept highly involved in the process. Throughout the lessons, I was prompted to respond to statements and converse, until I felt I had complete command over the material.
- The conversations they utilize are ones you are actually likely to have while on your trip. This tends to be an amazing motivation when all else fails, as it serves as a reminder of the upcoming trip!
Admittedly, I disliked having to judge my own performance, due to its inherent lack of objectivity. This is where a cute little feature called “Rocket record” came in handy.
Rocket Record employs Korean voice recognition technology to the conversations you learn. It enabled me to set precise benchmarks of where I stood, and overcome the all-too-common problem of going to a foreign nation falsely confident of my abilities. Knowing where you stand can mean the difference between effective and ineffective learning, and thus I was very glad they included this feature in the product.
Visual learners need not fret, however, as the audio lessons are backed up by a repertoire of video content as well as flashcards.
“Wait, flash cards?” you say. “What’s novel about those?” Well, flashcards have stuck around as a means of memorization simply because they work so well.
Flashcards employ one of the core elements to the formation of solid, long-term memories – repetition. And they do it with an efficiency that most conventional memorization techniques cannot hope to match.
So you see that this old-fashioned tool has the approval of modern science.
But flashcards are merely a tool among an arsenal offered, and its benefits would be limited if the learned vocabulary could not be put into context. In this regard, there are diverse tools such as a phrase finder offered by this product, which supplement core knowledge gained from these audio-visual lessons. Let’s move on to these features:
I’ve only scraped the tip of the iceberg so far in discussing the features of this product. Other important features include:
- Vocabulary Builder – this tool allows you to collect and save Korean words, both from within this product as well as anywhere else on the web. Whenever I came across interesting/useful words during my study, I would add such words to my vocabulary builder, for handy reference at a later time. Thus, It is a handy tool for consolidating your Korean vocabulary.
- Phrase Finder – Quite honestly, this tool impressed me a lot. Phrase finder allows you to find specific phrases that convey what you want to say, within different social contexts that you might encounter. More than any other tool, this had the most decisive impact in boosting my capability to pick the right sentence for the right occasion.
- Writing Lessons – This product includes writing lessons, complete with interactive videos that teach you how to write Korean the way natives do. At the very least, these lessons will enable you to decipher written Korean signs and instructions. If you follow these lessons religiously, however, you will actually be able to write coherent and interesting sentences in Korean, to convey whatever you need!
- Advanced Learning techniques – This is one of the more ingenious features of this product. The advanced learning techniques section includes 25 articles that examine the cutting edge of the brain and language learning. Applying them enabled me to easily cut down my study time in half whilst achieving even greater comprehension and retention.
This section alone makes this product a worthy purchase, as you will find the techniques described useful in any branch of language learning for the rest of your life.
- Progress Tracker – Finally, this course comes with a built-in progress tracker that allows you to see where you’re at and where you’re heading at a glance. Moreover, your progress is updated real-time and synced across devices, ensuring you can pick up wherever you left off using any of your devices. This is combined with a popular badge and leaderboard system for those of a more competitive bent of mind.
- Support Features – Additionally, a premium subscription is backed by 24/7 email and forum support, free updates, and lifetime access. The forums and email support serve virtually as personal teachers on call, and are always ready to answer even your silliest questions about Korean.
Moreover, there is also a 60-day money back guarantee. That’s a case of having your cake and eating it too if you ever found one since there is no downside to trying out this product if you are heading to Korea or simply want to educate yourself in the language.
That’s great, but won’t completing this course take forever?
Understandably, a tourist or other visitor might not have the time or resources to undertake an extensive study of a foreign language. Frankly, it can be quite boring and simply isn’t needed for the typical traveler.
However, there are lots of products on the market offering language training. And most of them don’t really work. They are typical scams that fleece you for money. How can we tell the two apart? How do we know what will actually work?
How can you be sure you are not wasting your time?
Having written reviews for various language tools, I have noticed a few issues common to them all.
The majority of language training tools have fundamental flaws, which can be easily spotted
The most common method of gaining a quick grasp on the language are files, pages, lists, etc. containing literal translations of specific words of another language, into English. Let’s call them translation tables.
People use these and “learn” languages all the time. And when the time comes to use the language, they fail miserably, with natives rarely understanding what they have to say.
The resort, again, to English or sign language, while cursing their training, practice, or simply “poor language skills”
What’s really missing?
I think it is the cultural context within which they could place their extensively developed yet ineffective vocabularies.
The importance of Cultural Context
As a person who has traveled to over 20 nations across the globe and struggled with various languages including French, Chinese, Japanese and Korean, I can tell you that cultural integration is, by far, the most underrated and yet most essential part of learning a foreign language.
I am not going into another one of those rants on why culture is important to understanding people thoroughly. No, my reason is far simpler and more specific to languages. And it is this:
Words in another language rarely correspond exactly to words of English.
And therefore, correct construction and use can only be determined by understanding how the natives employ that language.
Now, I can hear many of you saying “But that’s for language experts. I simply want a basic, working knowledge of Korean, fast.” But, counter-intuitively; it is precisely those objectives that cultural immersion helps accomplish, much more efficiently. Let me explain why.
Why I love immersion
To be clear, I am talking here about cultural immersion as a tool for accelerated language learning. Now that we’re on the same page, imagine this:
You are in a new country, looking for directions. You come across a police officer, a child, and a village elder. You utilize the same sentences asking for directions to all three, as they are the ones you have memorized. One of them might be surprised, another befuddled, and the third supremely offended. Yet all you did was ask for directions.
I am sure you begin to see how cultural rules directly influence the usage of language. However, in what seems to be a ridiculous attempt to deny the importance of culture in the learning of language, popular (read: scam) language websites, make another translation table to memorize how to address different persons.
Ok, but doesn’t a manner of speech also depends on the social event? Let’s make another table for that. What about the time of day? Another table. What about other factors, like age, that are essential in some cultures? Another table. So, that’s about 5 tables already. Whew. And I can think of another few cultural factors that might affect usage. But let’s keep it at 5.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I have difficulty memorizing one table, let alone 5 different translation tables. What if I could simply learn the rules instead that determine how these words are employed in various situations and be able to quickly and smoothly shift from one situation to another?
Sounds logical, right? Well, those “rules” are cultural rules, and I expect by now you begin to see how cultural immersion can, in fact, be a short-cut to gaining a firm grasp on a language.
A short-cut to effective language learning
Cultural immersion directly acquaints you to the so-called unwritten social “rules” that really determine language usage.
However, unless you are fortunate enough to have a Korean family living next door, directly immersing yourself in Korean culture a week before your trip is probably not an option.
The Language and Cultural lessons found on Rocket Korean are your next best options. They are found right alongside interactive audio lessons and constitute my favorite part of this product. Language and cultural lessons give a step-by-step guide on how Korean actually works in comparison to English.
Furthermore, and crucially, they also include cultural tips to help you understand the social dynamics you will be facing in Korea. These, combined with the hundreds of actual conversations that are included in this section, enable you to achieve a firm grasp over the mechanics of Korean, and understand them intuitively.
In other words, you will be able to adopt the unwritten “rules” that influence the usage of the language across a wide variety of practical social scenarios. I can easily say this is the most important skill I gained while utilizing rocket Korean, and it came immensely in handy.
I would rate this product worth buying solely for the language and cultural lessons. This is not only because of the value of these lessons in gaining a complete, working understanding of the Korean language but also due to the fact that this is the only product available online that offers such cultural training.
Therefore this product remains essential if you wish to learn Korean, even if you have already bought or used other language learning tools.
An even shorter-cut to effective language learning
“Wait?” You ask. “There’s more?” There indeed is, and this brings me to the final tool, available as a free bonus for a limited time, known as the Korean Premium Survival Kit.
Let’s say you read all of the above, but you couldn’t care less because your upcoming trip is in a day. Or maybe you want to brush up on Korean you already know. Or maybe you want a tool on the ready in case you ever forget the Korean you’ve learned.
In all these cases, the Survival Kit could be your best friend. The Survival Kit is made of just the most important, targeted vocabulary and interactive audio lessons. These focus on essential words and phrases you might need and their pronunciations.
These can be viewed online, or downloaded onto your smartphone or tablet and used on the go. Even if you utilize nothing else in this course, this survival kit alone can be sufficient to give you a basic, working understanding of Korean. While this kit has a retail price of $49, it is included for free in this product.
To sum up my review, I would say that Rocket Korean delivers a comprehensive, research-based training program for learning Korean that has tangible advantages over much of the competition. The variety of complex tools paradoxically simplify the learning process itself and enable you to learn Korean in a manner that actually has a direct application to real-world scenarios.
In other words, this product can take you from a helpless amateur to comfortable conversational level in Korean, with minimal effort and in an interesting, immersive and interaction fashion.