Brutally Honest And Detailed KoreanClass101 Review
- Written byDonovan Nagel
- Read time7 mins
- Loads of varied lesson content
- High quality Korean podcast lessons
- Low price
- Unpredictable (often low) video lesson quality
- Navigation and structure could be better
KoreanClass101 has come a long way since its early days. It has generally good consistency with its lesson quality, and the ‘Pathways’ feature make lesson navigation painless. Overall, KoreanClass101 is a great option for anyone learning Korean.
I lived in South Korea for over a year learning Korean intensively, attaining a decent level of fluency.
South Korea is hands down one of my favorite places in the world. 🙂
But as much as I love Korea, the time I spent was made so much better by being able to communicate in Korean with confidence.
Most of the Korean I learned while living was through interactions with Korean people in person and on italki. I tended to stick with Korean resources that suit my learning style.
Rocket Korean is a personal favorite of mine, but I wanted another audio course to supplement it so I looked at Innovative Language’s KoreanClass101 which is more of a podcast style audio course.
What I like about KoreanClass101 is that it suits a whole range of learners from absolute beginner level right up to advanced and is delivered in both audio and video format.
I sent some questions over to Innovative Language a while back. Here are the responses I received:
On KoreanClass101’s methodology:
Innovative Language believes in practical expressions, aligned to CEFR proficiency levels, in the natural context of native speech. Most lessons, then, begin with a dialogue in which a language skill is introduced in context. The rest of the lessons then go on to talk more about the cultural context in which the dialogue takes place, and the key vocabulary, phrases, morphology, and syntax that allow the learner to carry out the particular language task.
I’m a firm believer in this approach personally.
KoreanClass101 focuses on real language and grammar instruction is minimal.
I then asked about the freedom that KoreanClass101 teachers use for lesson creation:
The native speakers who create the content have a lot of freedom to choose what they teach, though we have a few standard series, such as Survival Phrases, that teach roughly the same kinds of expressions across all of our languages.
Innovative Language lessons are aligned to CEFR levels, and we typically ask that teachers try to teach to a standardized set of internal Can Do statements when preparing the dialogues and the grammar and vocabulary information.
KoreanClass101’s lesson structure (“pathways”)
KoreanClass101, like other editions of the Innovative Language series, had a huge problem until recently with messy, unstructured lessons.
But now they’ve implemented what’s called Pathways.
This is a way of grouping together lessons into topics, goals or areas of interest so you can follow a more linear path in your learning.
They’ve basically grouped lessons into modules.
Just to give you an example, they currently have a module named Flexing Your Fluency which contains 85 lessons equating to 5 hours and 7 minutes (each module has a completion time like this). You can either complete modules according to your interests or move through them sequentially.
I’ve noticed some great feedback from people on this Pathways feature and I think it’s a welcome change.
KoreanClass101 gives you flexibility in how you learn
Since the KoreanClass101 dashboard can be quite overwhelming (there is such a thing as too many features!) the Pathways feature that you can find under ‘Lessons’ is probably the best place to start.
Because the modules under Pathways provide more structure, it may suit most learners who don’t feel comfortable with self-directed learning.
It is optional of course for learners like myself who feel limited by imposed structure.
The material isn’t necessarily in ascending order of difficulty however as you’d expect them to be, even if you decide to follow KoreanClass101’s Pathways. They’re grouped together by topic rather than difficulty.
Lessons range from Introduction (covers some absolute basics as well as cultural information that may interest some people) through to Advanced (there’s quite a lot for the higher levels too).
There are 5 difficulty levels in total (with an extra “Bonus” level).
You can select either audio or video lesson content.
The good thing about KoreanClass101 is that lessons are thematic based on authentic situations you’ll find in Korea (rather than just grammar points).
While the content in KoreanClass101 isn’t quite evenly distributed across the different difficulty levels (there’s more lower level material than there is for advanced), there’s definitely plenty to keep most people busy for a long time.
KoreanClass101 video lessons vary in quality
Like some of the other Innovative editions, the KoreanClass101 videos need work.
The videos by Jae are by far the best they have (in the Beginner and Intermediate categories only) but there’s just an insufficient amount of them.
The rest of the videos are very low quality in my opinion.
It’s clear that they’ve just created video slideshows with an audio track so I’m not really sure if I’d call them “video lessons”. They belong in the audio lesson category.
There seem to be about 50 lessons in total by the Korean host Jae that are great quality.
That’s still a fairly decent amount of lesson material to be fair.
Overall (including the low quality videos) there is a lot to work through on KoreanClass101 – which will suit learners who prefer a visual learning style.
KoreanClass101 essentially offers a podcast audio lesson series
The audio lessons in KoreanClass101 are presented by multiple hosts in English with Korean lesson dialogues.
As it uses a podcast style delivery, the lessons generally consist of quite a lot of conversational banter in English which can be a little annoying to listen to in my opinion. It sounds very scripted at times!
I prefer to get straight into the meat of the Korean vocab and dialogue.
So if you’re like me then you can easily skip the English banter and select just the Korean audio.
You have the option of selecting ‘Line-by-line Audio’ or ‘Vocabulary’ to listen to specific parts of the Korean dialogue (with the English translation).
Lessons are 100% downloadable (I can’t overstate how good this is).
What this means is that you theoretically have the option of downloading the entire course content without having to renew your subscription. This is something I also loved about Rocket Korean.
You aren’t restricted to online use only as you are with some online Korean courses (you own what you pay for in other words!).
In the audio lessons, you can record your voice and compare it with the native speaker audio material (rather than use their Premium Plus correction service).
While I’m not a big fan of this method for pronunciation help (I’d prefer to use italki), it’s definitely helpful for some people.
Other features in KoreanClass101 worth noting
One note on the PDF lesson notes:
They’re very thorough and clearly had a lot of work put into them. In fact, the KoreanClass101 written lesson notes are some of the most comprehensive I’ve seen anywhere.
I’d recommend printing the material and keeping it for reference after your subscription is ended.
Like I intimated above, there is such a thing as having too many features.
KoreanClass101 has so much to offer that it can be overwhelming. It’s also the case that not all of it is very useful.
Take for instance the grammar section.
It’s really scant and quite frankly a waste of time – just a simple page of text with summary points on Korean grammar.
You could find more useful information online for free with a simple search!
But thankfully, explicit grammar instruction is not what KoreanClass101 aims to do anyway.
There are other features for Premium Plus members such as the My Teacher Messenger where you can request assistance with Korean directly from an Korean native teacher. I admit I haven’t tried this but again, I would prefer to use italki for this anyway.
I also recommend combining their word bank (in-built dictionary feature) with the in-built flashcard app they have and you have a very handy tool for memorizing words and phrases outside of the lessons.
Is KoreanClass101 worth the money?
I have a fairly good opinion of KoreanClass101.
There’s a tonne of good content at most levels that will keep Korean learners busy for a while.
There’s a lot of consistency in topics covered in the Beginner levels, but you’ll find that the Korean teachers exercise a lot of freedom in the higher level content.
This unfortunately means that the content starts to become disorganized as you move up.
The recently-added Pathways feature definitely improves this however and helps to structure the content.
Good news: KoreanClass101 (like other Innovative courses) is really inexpensive.
Overall I’d recommend creating a trial account before laying any money down (create a trial 7 day account right here).
Also check out Rocket Korean and italki.
Used KoreanClass101 before?
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