I have been pretty regularly studying Korean on my own for the past 2 1/2 years, and I just wanted to throw in my two cents about the programs that I have used. Basically, Iím giving all the information about the language programs that I wish somebody had given me when I started studying this language. Also, there is a polyglot who became fluent in Korean who gave advice on a systematic approach to learning Korean right here:http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=7606&PN=1
In fact, the above article is probably more important than anything in the rest of my post, so you should consider reading what he wrote first.
Hereís my assessment of my Korean ability: I was conversationally fluent in Spanish after spending a year there (itís a little rusty now) and I can honestly say my Korean is not at that level yet. However, I can hold a decent conversation and itís good enough for my students to think that Iím fluent. I took an old TOPIK Beginner test and aced it. The Intermediate one gave me quite a bit of trouble, though. Anyway, listed below are the programs that I used and what I thought of them. Iíve divided my opinions into two sections: Recommended and Not Recommended
Survival Korean by Steven Revere: I wish I had started out with this book. The dialogues are great and really useful. The drills are not comprehensive enough to internalize the material, but the dialogues more than made up for that. I also worked through his Basic Grammar Skills book. Neither of his books will make you fluent, but you will understand Korean grammar more and you will get a good basic vocabulary.
Speaking Korean by Francis Y. T. Park: This book was the Korean gold mine for me. I worked through Book 1 (there are 4 books in the series) in about 3 or 4 months and saw my speaking and comprehension skyrocket. It is a really dry bookó400+ pages and everything is a drill, explanation, or review. That being said, every chapter presented something relevant to my life. The day after studying a chapter, I would invariably hear some of the vocabulary words or verb conjugations from that chapter used around me.
Letís Speak Korean (old series / first series) on Youtube: These are 15-minute videos that focus on a small aspect of the language. In the first year of my studies, I felt like I learned more from this than I did from Rosetta Stone, Integrated Korean, and Pimsleur Korean combined. Here is a link to the first one: http://www.youtube.com/user/ruthnp75#p/u/302/A93eF6Jwpow
The same user uploaded 60 episodes of that season. I was not a fan of the later seriesí of Letís Speak Korean, as they seemed more focused on entertaining rather than educating the viewer.
Click Korean: http://lei.snu.ac.kr/site/en/klec/click-korean/index.jsp
This is Seoul National Universityís Korean Language website. I found it fun and interesting, and it really helped build up my vocabulary. It was difficult the first time through, but later it became an enjoyable and easy review after I had gone through both Survival Korean (Revere) and Speaking Korean (Park). I would recommend this one.
Sogang Universityís Korean Program: http://korean.sogang.ac.kr/
Songangís program is another internet based Korean learning program. I made it through all of the Novice 1 lessons and I really liked them. All the material was relevant to daily conversation, but the recorded conversations are spoken really fastówhich, on the plus side, makes it rewarding when you finally understand them. I started Lesson 1 of the Novice 2 level and immediately quit because of the reading, which was completely boring and seemed irrelevant to conversation.
Rosetta Stone: I learned colors, shapes, and to say things like, ďThe boy is jumping.Ē This is after spending roughly 60 hours on it. Not worth the money in my opinion. Also, the lessons tend to run around an hour, and itís hard for me to focus on them past the 30-45 minute mark.
Pimsleur Complete Korean: I did parts one and two--all 60 lessons. I bought it because I had used Pimsleursí programs for Portuguese and French and they seemed pretty solid. However, I wasnít impressed with the Korean program at all. I learned the material pretty thoroughly, yet I still felt that I couldnít really speak anything.
Integrated Korean: I bought this one after reading the reviews on Amazon. At the time it had the highest rating of all the Korean textbooks on the site. I hated this one so much that I went out of my way to write a negative review of it and give it one star out of five. Itís probably the longest one star rating for that book. The high ratings on Amazon really made me wonder how much those users had progressed through the book before they decided to rate it.
FSI Korean: This was the first Korean book that I studied from. Itís public domain so you can find a free download of it if you search on Google. It was extremely difficult for me. I started and stopped it various times, and only made it through Unit 7 or 8. Pros: It really drilled the information. I felt I really LEARNED the material it covered because of how thorough the drills were. Cons: It is very dry and difficult, the speakers are not native (Koreans will laugh at the pronunciation), some of the vocabulary is outdated, and there is no Hangeul.
Elementary Korean: I liked this book, but the 2nd edition still had a lot of typos that could confuse and frustrate a student. I stopped using this textbook in protest of all the typos. I also stopped it because I found Speaking Korean by Francis Y. T. Park, which was recommended in the link at the top of this post.
Korean is not a simple language to learn by any means, but you can definitely make progress if you learn on a consistent basis and have good materials to study from. I have one final piece of advice: If you are using a program, book, CD, Korean teacher, or any other learning method that you are not making progress with, then consider changing that aspect of your learning. Donít make things more difficult on yourself by trying to stick with what isnít working. Change methods and keep searching until you find what works for you. Good luck!