I've been meaning to write this post for a while now, but I've been quite busy! I'm still busy, but I'm going to use my ten minute break to my advantage.
Obviously, heading off to South Korea without any knowledge of Korean is... kind of not a good idea in my opinion. Since I will be going to a province and not a metropolitan area, I think basic language skills must be elevated even more.
So far I've completed Level 1 of the Talk to Me in Korean (TTMIK) online lesson series found here: http://www.talktomeinkorean.com/. I really enjoy the lessons because they are short, come with PDF notes, and provide ample opportunities to hear Korean words at different speeds and practice your pronunciation. Furthermore, the lessons provide a mix of functional language items (e.g. how to say hello/goodbye, what to say before/after eating) and grammatical items (e.g. how to form present tense verbs, how to attach particles). I find this combination especially appealing because it gives me enough tools to create my own simple sentences using words from the TTMIK lessons or the Korean-English dictionary I bought.
Sadly, it's been about two weeks since I've tried to move forward to Level 2 because: 1) I wanted to practice the vocabulary, grammar, and phrases from Level 1; 2) I wanted to be able to easily follow the Level 1 Dialogue they provide to test your comprehension (the first listen did not go as well as I wanted); and 3) I've just been so busy.
I have using the PDF notes they provide and jotting down information from the audio lessons in my 한국어 공책 ("Korean Notebook" - at least that's how I think you'd put it).
Oh! I just had a weird thought: I guess you don't ever capitalize in Korean... that's a strange feeling.
ANYWAY. Here's the first lesson of TTMIK. There are a TON of resources on this site, including (but not limited to): audio lessons, video lessons, interviews, interactive quizzes, Iyagi (for intermediate learners), advanced Korean, and for those K-culture lovers out there, Korean drama phrases and Learn Korean with K-Pop. Another unique feature of TTMIK is that you can buy grammar lessons (among a variety of other Korean language-learning aids). The store can be found here.
TTMIK also has a 1:1 Skype lesson service that you can register for. My EPIK coordinator apparently uses this service to learn/practice here Korean, so that could be considered an endorsement of sorts (Disclaimer: I am not saying that EPIK endorses TTMIK, just that I know an expat who is using it and likes it). Additionally, TTMIK partners with harukorean.com which matches you up with a native Korean speaker to help you learn Korean. I have not yet used either of these resources.
Here's a list of some of the random sentences I've put together since I started TTMIK:
이거 사전이에요. = This is a dictionary.
그거 고양이아니에요. 호랑이예요! = That's not a cat. It's a tiger!
은행이 어디 있어요 = Where is the bank?
지금 운동하고 십어요! = I want to work out now!
I think the most important thing I've discovered while using TTMIK is that the best thing to do is listen and practice at a normal volume level. Flashcards have not really been working for me either; I've been better off going through my notebook and studying from there. I have some great EPIK Facebook friends that know some Korean and are thus serving as wonderful resources.
I will report back later on my progress with Korean (which could be in August after I'm already immersed in it - who knows?). Until then!