Total beginners to the Korean language would benefit from reading over the section labelled ‘Introduction’ in Korean 1’s Alphabet category. This not only takes you through the Korean alphabet character by character, but thoroughly explains the nuisances in the language that even native Korean speakers wouldn’t think twice about. The explanations make so much sense to someone who has forgotten the little details – like how there are ‘plain, aspirated, and tense’ consonants. Not to mention some useful terms I’ve never heard before and probably you haven’t either – (plosive sounds?). Plus, the beginner lessons take you through the major difference between Korean and English, the syllable block style of writing.
The Korean 1 category lets you choose between subcategories like ‘nationalities’, ‘this & that’, ‘negation’, and ‘everyday items’. LingoDeer’s alphabet lessons are definitely newbie-friendly, with big, clear displays taking you through each character stroke by stroke accompanied by slow pronunciation. That’s actually one of LingoDeer’s best features – high quality audio that other apps can’t match. So in short, those who are totally in square one with Korean can expect to be skillfully guided through that early stage of language learning.
Now to test out the more advanced levels. I went for ‘Fluent Korean’, which was just a guess because it’s labelled very broadly (TOPIK 1-3). Within this course you can choose from a bunch of different lessons with unique topics of conversation like ‘What is your Chinese zodiac?’, ‘Resignation’ and ‘Blind date’. Some of these lessons are totally free, which is clearly displayed, however some aren’t, meaning at some point in the lesson the translations will no longer be available unless you pay for the pass.
Another helpful feature of the LingoDeer app is the ‘key points’ option. The app actually explains why things are the way they are, for example with Korean names and titles. You can easily understand the cultural context behind the rules of Korean language. This special info is particularly helpful to English speakers when learning Asian languages. LingoDeer also lets you track your progress under the ‘me’ section, where you get an overview of how you’re progressing. Terrific audio quality and a neat trophy reward system are also serious pros! My favourite aspect of the app by far is the variety of topics offered and how unique some of them are. I’ve never had the chance to hear Korean conversations about colleagues quitting a job or someone complaining about their acne. Way more interesting than textbook topics!
The travel phrasebook provides you with the most useful phrases for tourists passing through Korea. The course is uniquely designed by LingoDeer in that it has an extensive list of categories, including ‘celebrities’, for travellers hoping to catch a glimpse of some Korean stars. Although games might be slightly disappointed by the not-so-useful ‘video games’ category.