Korable Blocks for Language Learning

IMG_2668Given that our whole family is now learning the Korean language, I’m always looking for language helps. And since my son is multi-sensory learner, the more hands-on the language help is the better. So I was very excited when I stumbled across Korable Blocks (http://korableblock.bigcartel.com/) on Pinterest.

I was even more excited when Korable agreed to send me a review set of the blocks for me to share with you. The set that I’m reviewing includes the four blocks, a storage tray, a book of words, and a brochure about using the blocks. The book includes 120 words that you can build using the blocks, including animals, numbers, directions, and more.

While the idea is simple, I have to say I think these blocks are really cool! There are so many ways to use them that several levels of language learners can benefit from the blocks.

True beginners, like my husband, can role the blocks like dice and practice saying the sound of the character that they rolled. The font used for the Korean characters is modern, which is also good for my husband who struggles with confusing some of the characters when they are written this way.

Then for our son, who is just learning to read in Korean, they are great because he can build words using the book and practice reading them. Building the words helps make a solid connection between the Korean characters and their sounds.

For me, a more intermediate beginner, I can quiz myself by trying to build as many words as I can with the blocks.

With the one product, you can do alphabet drills, reading drills, speed drills, and much more. Since we homeschool, I see us getting a lot of use out of these Korable Blocks. The product is well-made and, I believe, will stand up to use.

So if you’re looking for a fun way to practice Korean, check them out. In addition to this set, their other products include a set of just the four blocks (having two sets of blocks would enable you to build many more Korean words) and a matching game with words in Korean and English.


Introduction to Korean for Kids by Dino Lingo

A random Internet search several weeks ago yielded a new Korean language resource for kids (or beginners). But when I inquired about the products, they hadn’t been released yet. Now the products are ready for release and last week I received a review copy of the first DVD in the series, as well as the flashcards and posters that accompany it. The language program is byDino Lingo, and it can be found at DinoLingo.com.

The first DVD in the series (and the one I reviewed) is the Greetings and Animals Set. Included are the DVD (which is about 35 minutes long), a poster, a fold-out booklet, flashcards, calendar, and a parents’ guide.

In the DVD animal names are repeated in Korean several times, as are common phrases such as hello, how are you, and it is a …. . Toward the end of the video there are little quizzes with the phrase “what is this” asked in Korean and time given for the child to answer.

My son is 6 and really enjoyed the DVD. Some of the cartoons are little silly, which of course he loved. The flashcards are business-card size, which I actually like since they are easier to take with us and quiz while we’re out and about.

The two things I would suggest are more for the parents than the kids. Since the program is recommended for children 7 and under, the written stuff likely won’t affect the kids. First, I would suggest that the Parents’ Guide include a list of the phrases and greetings that are said throughout the DVD. The poster, flashcards, etc., are wonderful at sharing the words for the animals, but unless you’re already familiar with the Korean language, you might be a little lost when the greetings and phrases are being said. UPDATE: I’ve just heard back from Dino Lingo that are working on adding a guide for the greetings and phrases. Yeah!

Second, I don’t believe the romanization follows the current standard for putting Korean sounds into English. This isn’t a huge bother for me because I personally hate romanization and think it hinders rather than helps in learning Korean since so many of the sounds just don’t correctly translate. In these products all of the animal names are written in hangul on every piece. So my suggestion is to ignore the romanization on the products; they’ll likely not help you pronounce the words and phrases correctly in Korean.

What will help is the pronunciation, which is right on (I double checked with our Korean exchange student). And if you stick with reviewing the hangul as you listen, you’ll begin to pick up the sounds that each hangul character makes.

The Greetings and Animals DVD set is available now and can be purchased from the web site DinoLingo.com. The full set (5 DVDs) should be released in the a few weeks, according to the company.

So if you’re looking for a Korean language resource, you should check it out. You can see a clip from the Greetings and Animals DVD on the web site. I’m sure our son will be watching this one regularly.

Korean for Kids Flash Cards

A couple of years ago when I started looking for Korean language resources for our son, it seemed like there was very little out there. Now there’s more than I can afford to buy. Sadly, I’ve yet to add today’s product to my collection, but I’m sure it will be purchased in the not too distant future.

Today I’m featuring Korean for Kids Flash Cards and More Korean for Kids Flash Cards. Both of these sets are done by Laura Armitage. Armitage taught for four years in middle and high schools in Seoul.

Korean for Kids has 64 flash cards, which feature words about family, numbers, colors, food, and more. Most importantly this set comes with a CD so you can hear how the words are pronounced. In addition to pronunciation, the CD includes sample sentences and Korean songs to add learning. And the set also comes with a 16-page booklet and a wall chart.

More Korean for Kids Flash Cards provides 64 more Korean words. This one also comes with a CD, booklet, and wall chart.

The publisher of these sets is Tuttle. I have seen flash card sets in other language by this publisher at our local Borders bookstore, but our store does not carry the Korean sets. However, you can find the online at www.littleseouls.com.


Time for Korean

When I first started looking for Korean language programs for kids, there didn’t seem to be a lot out there. But in the last year I’ve come across several. So far I’ve only bought one and it’s Time for Korean Book 1.

It’s really for kids a little older than my son. But still we like it. This program comes with a workbook and CD. Each lesson has a theme in which you’re learning words and phrases. There’s a song that helps with the phrase and the workbook has writing exercises that teach hangul. Right now the workbook is beyond my son, but good for his dad and I. But since he loves music, the songs are his favorite part.

We enjoy these lessons and I think this program is one that my son will grow in to as he gets older. For those reasons, I’d recommend this program to adoptive families.

Pimsleur Korean Course

I’m always looking for ways to learn more of the Korean language. My latest endeavor is the Pimsleur Language Programs’ short course, which I checked out from our library. The short course consists of eight 30-minute lessons. Our library has the Playaway version. It didn’t come with any written lesson notes so I’m not sure if a purchased would come with that or not.

The premise of Pimsleur courses is to get you talking right away because after all, that’s how you learned to speak English–by listening and repeating what you heard. So the very first lesson starts with a conversation in Korean that you listen to. After hearing each sentence individually, the conversation is broken down word for word; you listen to each word and repeat it. Then the narrator asks you to begin putting together sentences with the words you’ve learned.

My only real complaint with the course is that there are no notes with the words/sentences/conversations written in hangul. I know the aim of the course is to get you speaking Korean, but since some of the characters have similar sounds, I think it would be easier to see the word in hangul, as well as hear it pronounced.

Plus I’m a visual learner. I’ve begun taking my own notes but as I listen I’m only able to write the words in romanized Korean. I have, however, figured out that I can take my learning to the next level by trying to write out the Korean words in hangul, then checking my dictionary to see if I’m right. I guess I’m geeky that way.

As with some of the other language resources I’ve highlighted so far, it’s easy to work this course into your day since the lessons are only about 30-minutes long. For a mom of a busy 4-year-old, that’s a definite plus.

Teach Me Language Series

I’ve read that many experts feel that one of the best way to introduce a new language to children is through song. Our son’s a musical sort of fellow anyway so we’ve found this to be true.

One series that uses this method is Teach Me Tapes (www.teachmetapes.com). They currently have three volumes of Korean language books available. We have Teach Me More Korean and Everyday Korean, and I’ve been looking at the Teach Me Korean and More Korean combined edition.

Once thing I like about the original two volumes (Teach Me Korean and More Korean) are the teacher’s guides that are available. I have the one for More Korean, and I think it expands how you’re able to use the CD. The teacher’s guides have vocabulary lists and activities to use in conjunction with the CD. The only drawback I see of these teacher’s guide is that everything is romanized. I would like to see the vocabulary lists, in particular, be included in both hangul and romanized versions.

And a plus to getting the combined version of the original two books–part, if not all, of the teacher’s guides are included with the coloring books and CDs.

Also, if you have any questions about this series, I’ve found customer service through the Web site to be very helpful.

So if you’re looking for a fun way to start your child learning Korean, you might want to try this out. Just listening to it in the car driving around town could lead to your child picking up some Korean words or songs.