March 10, 2013
Publisher Penton Overseas
Price $35.99 per level on iTunes; $13.97 per level on Audible
Skill Level Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
VocabuLearn is a pretty plain product. It consists of simple audio vocabulary lessons, where you are quizzed on your ability to translate English words and phrases into a foreign language and vice versa. You hear an English word, you say the foreign word; then they say the foreign word, and you see how you did. Eventually the order reverses, and you start in the foreign language and translate to English.
I’ve used VocabuLearn for multiple languages and bought it for Korean as well, but then I got distracted by my Pimsleur lessons and never got around to trying the Korean VocabuLearn. Although I like the simplicity and repetition of these products generally, their simple linearity is not for everyone.
For one thing, you tend to learn the early words in each lesson the best, and the later ones less well, and some people would I am sure just find the technology too retro and inflexible. After all, you can’t click anything or look at pictures or dismiss words you already know.
Some modernization would be nice, but I find VocabuLearn to be an earnest and sincere product. Above all, you get to practice your pronunciation. I can’t judge the quality of the Korean accent in the lessons, but one thing I like about VocabuLearn is that it offers you an opportunity to pay close attention to syllables you will not be able to perceive in the rushed, messier world of live conversation or audio lessons with fast-moving dialogues.
VocabuLearn, by the way, nearly became a casualty of global economic disaster as we teetered and tottered towards the end of the first decade of the 21st century. The publisher, Penton Overseas, ceased publication, so physical copies of VocabuLearn Korean CDs (of which there is a Level One and a Level Two) have become scarcer. When things become scarcer, prices go up, sometimes crazily up. I’ve seen the VocabuLearn CDs for various languages selling for $300 online, which I would never pay or recommend your paying.
Fortunately, as of this writing (early 2013), I’ve increasingly seen MP3 downloads for VocabuLearn products. Audible now sells both levels of VocabuLearn Korean for the totally reasonable price of $13.97 per level. iTunes also has the two levels, for $35.99 apiece, or you can buy a 99-cent sample there of just nouns or verbs or expressions to see how you like it. My impression is that the sound quality on iTunes is better, so maybe check out the audio clips before you make a decision based on cost alone.
A final caveat: classical music plays in the background. Some people might find it annoying. I don’t.