Using my iPod Touch as a learning tool was not one of my original intentions when I purchased it. I started out using the iTouch as an entertainment device, but in recent months it seems that its primary function has evolved into a Korean study tool for me! It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that 80% of my Korean study these days is done through the iTouch.
Between work and school, I hardly have any time to sit down and study Korean (except during semester breaks). In a typical week, only one to two hours can be spared on uninterrupted self-study, usually during the weekend. Sometimes none, when deadlines abound. This is where the weekday morning commute comes in handy! I used to spend the time reading, but sometimes the train is so crowded you hardly have space to hold a book in front of you. Since my main Korean learning materials are audio- and video-based, the greatest advantage is that I can carry them all with me in one slim device.
Without further ado, I shall introduce the tools I use for my mobile learning of Korean:
One of the best things about podcasts is that you don’t have to manually download each episode as it is released. Once you’re subscribed to a podcast using iTunes, the software will automatically download new episodes for you. I configured my iTouch to auto-download new podcasts from my MacBook during the sync process, so the only thing I have to do manually is plugging in my iTouch, really.
The podcasts I currently subscribe to, in order of most frequently listened to (iTunes store link provided):
Audio and video lessons are usually accompanied by downloadable lesson notes in PDF format. Although I do usually print out the notes (for my sit-down study time), it’s not practical to take them everywhere, especially on crowded public transport when you can’t even take them out to read.
My solution was to download the iBooks app (it’s free), import the PDFs into my iTunes library on the MacBook and configure my iTouch to download books in my library during the sync process. When you open iBooks, you’d be able to see the PDFs. The app serves its function well as a basic e-book reader; you can bookmark pages and search for text within a PDF. Although the iTouch’s screen size was not built for reading, it’s good enough for skimming Korean lesson notes which are usually just a few pages long (short?). In landscape format, the screen is large enough to read short texts comfortably. iBooks also has a zoom function, in any case.
Audiobooks / Audioblogs
When I want to study Korean but don’t feel like listening to lessons, I turn to audiobooks or audioblogs to listen to natural Korean speech. The podcasts I mentioned above include such materials as part of their lessons, but there are also standalone apps that serve as audiobooks with additional features. My favourites are the audiobooks by Talk To Me In Korean. They come in the form of apps (downloadable from iTunes Store) and standalone MP3 + PDF format. (I bought the app format to avoid dealing with multiple files.) TTMIK’s audiobooks are not only of great quality, the stories interest me – perhaps because the authors (TTMIK teachers) are also young working adults living in a metropolitan city, like me. 🙂
The tools introduced here are those I use on a daily basis to study Korean during pockets of free time I have throughout the day. I also use other apps occasionally to supplement my learning on the go, but I shall save that for another post. 😉
The iTouch has truly been invaluable to my Korean language learning. Without it, I would’ve struggled to achieve the consistency and rhythm of studying Korean on a daily basis, and I doubt I would’ve improved as much as I did in recent months. If you’re a busy bee like me using your mobile device as the primary means for language learning, I’d love to hear from you!