Upon hearing of the name, 90 Day Korean, my initial reactions were something along the lines of, “There’s no way you can get fluent in Korean in 90 days. If that’s what they’re claiming, then it must be a scam.”
Luckily, they aren’t pretending like you only need three months to master Korean. In fact, there are four separate 90-day modules which actually makes this a year-long course.
Breaking a big course up into these small chunks makes it more digestible and less intimidating.
After all, becoming fluent in Korean is a huge goal. So, first setting the smaller goals like being able to have a 3-minute conversation in Korean, to order food in restaurants, take taxis, and write Hangeul are much more appropriate.
That’s how far the first module is designed to take you. Of course, 90 days isn’t enough to reach fluency, but it’s still a very important timeframe as that’s when you’ll set the foundation for the rest of your studies.
In order to write an in-depth review, I decided to take advantage of 90 Day Korean’s 30-day money back guarantee.
I tried out their first three weeks of content and although I don’t know much Korean myself, I’ve tested out so many different language learning resources that I know what is needed to make a quality product.
I’m also quick to say when a course is disappointing even when every other review claims that it’s an amazing product.
Take, for example, Rocket Korean. It’s highly praised, but not particularly good.
90 Day Korean, on the other hand, isn’t recommended nearly as often but is actually a far better course.
In this review, I’ll show you exactly what it’s like to use 90 Day Korean.
90 Day Korean is set up a bit different than most courses.
Instead of throwing their whole library of lessons at you, which would surely feel overwhelming, they break things down into weekly plans.
Initially, you’re only shown the course materials for the first week. However, you can move onto the next week’s materials whenever you like by marking that week complete. Or, you can wait for the next week’s content to be automatically released on a weekly basis.
This is something that I haven’t really seen any other courses do but is actually pretty cool. If you’re shown 12 weeks or even a full year of lessons right up front, it’d be easy to get discouraged and give up on studying.
After all, that’s a ton of stuff you have to do.
But, you’re probably not going to feel any anxiety about completing the materials in any given week. For most students, it only takes around five hours to complete a week’s worth of lessons.
90 Day Korean does a lot of these little psychological tricks that make language learning more effective.
While I don’t think anything like this exists, I’d love to see a study that compares the likelihood of completing a course when all the material is given right up front versus when it’s broken down into weekly units. I’d be really surprised if this built-in schedule didn’t prove more effective.
Again, if you study faster than others, you can still get the next week’s material whenever you like, so it’s flexible enough to fit any learner.
Having the lessons organized in this manner can also prevent students from just skimming the material and moving along too quickly without mastering it.
Another unique, and awesome part of 90 Day Korean is that you’ll have the option to work with your own personal Korean coach. You can message with them as much as you’d like. This is a great way to have any of your questions answered or get feedback on writing assignments.
After registering and paying for the first month, you’re able to get started with the first week of lessons. This begins with a description of how to use the course and then jumping into their 90 Minute Challenge.
I loved this part. Starting with the 90 Minute Challenge really did wonders for demystifying the Korean writing system. This made everything much easier and worked as an excellent foundation.
In just 90 minutes, you’ll learn how to read Korean. The lessons are explained in such a simple way that it really feels like anyone could learn. They use a lot of psychological tricks to help you remember all of the sounds. You can also click on the hangeul in a lot of the lessons to hear the pronunciation.
By the time you reach the end of the 90-Minute Challenge, you’ll be given a few words to read. It’s pretty impressive how quickly you’ll feel like you have a solid beginner’s grasp of Korean.
As I mentioned, I had previously tried Rocket Korean, and in doing so, never really felt like I understood Korean as much as I did from this short exercise.
This is the strength of 90 Day Korean. They break things down simply and teach you what you need to learn, right when you need it.
Moving past this lesson, the other lessons you’ll find in this first module tend to fit into one of the following categories.
- 80/20 Vocab
After that, there are quite a few extra materials as well – but we’ll get to those later.
I believe the 90 Minute Challenge would fit into this category of fundamental lessons. These lessons require your full focus and teach critically important parts of the Korean language. They’re scattered throughout each week’s materials.
Some example topics include special vowel combinations, sentence structures, introductions, verb forms, and a lot more.
These tend to be somewhat dense topics, but they’re explained so clearly and straightforwardly that they feel rather simple. Often times, the descriptions can seem a bit silly, but they really do make things easier to remember.
Another thing that I like about these lessons on 90 Day Korean is how often you’re given questions to answer. These work as great ways to test yourself and see how well you’re understanding the material. You’re given the answers as well, so you can get instant feedback.
The next common type of lesson you’ll find in the modules are the 80/20 vocabulary lessons. They’re meant to teach you the 20% of vocabulary that you need to know to get 80% of the results.
The process is laid out for you very clearly, but you’ll need to do the work to make sure you remember these words.
First, you’re given a list of around ten words to learn, with an audio file to listen to the pronunciation, hangeul, romanization of what the word sounds like, and its meaning.
The following steps are all optional but definitely worth doing.
Next, you’ll want to make associations for each word. These can be anything that helps you to remember it. The stronger the associations you can make in your mind, the easier the words will be to remember.
An example here would be remembering the word for yesterday (어제) pronounced as “eo-je” by making a connection to “Yesterday, I drank OJ (orange juice).” Doing this for each word will take some time, but it’s also a very effective method.
Some words you may have no trouble remembering, so it’d make sense to just skip this exercise for those.
The next step is recognizing the Korean and being able to match it to the English for each of the words. You can click to see the answers afterward.
In the fourth step, you try to remember the English when given the Korean word. You should first try to read the word before checking your pronunciation with the audio that’s included. Afterward, you should turn the card over to check your answer.
In the fifth step, you’ll be given the English and need to remember the word in Korean, again turning the card over to check your answer.
Next up is a bonus step where you’re asked to type the Korean word when given the English. If you haven’t yet learned to type in Korean (which you can learn in the extras section) then you can skip this.
Finally, after completing all the exercises to help you learn the vocabulary, there’s a ten question multiple choice quiz. This works as a nice final way to check how well you’ve learned these words.
These 80/20 Vocabulary lessons are pretty common, with one or two each week (at least for the first month that I tried).
In these optional lessons, you’ll learn a bunch of vocabulary related to a specific theme. The lessons are named according to the topic, for example, JobLingo is about different jobs, and StudyLingo is about classroom items.
There are quite a few words found in this lesson for you to learn. The process is made up of three steps:
- English Recall
For the review part, you’ll listen to the audio of each word, see how it’s written and what it sounds like, along with its English definition. You’ll want to practice saying the word quite a few times until you’re confident with your pronunciation.
In the association part, you’ll want to take notes of any associations you can make that would make it easier to remember the word. Maybe it sounds like another word you know or it makes you think of something somewhat unrelated. Anything that sticks will help here.
It’s also nice that you can take notes directly within the lesson, making it easier to organize and review your notes.
The English recall part of the lesson is basically flashcards. They’re okay and helpful but nothing too special. First, you’ll want to try to read the Korean word aloud, then check your pronunciation by listening to the audio. After that, you’ll try to say the English and then flip the card over to check.
My little complaint here is that it’s not at all difficult to say the meaning in English since you’re given the picture on the front side of the card. It works well for practicing reading and pronouncing the word and even reinforcing the meaning.
Unfortunately, it’s not really effective for making sure you’ve remembered the meaning of the word since you can simply refer to the picture.
Still, this section quite useful and a good way to grow your vocabulary about different topics.
They’ve also made an Anki file (found in the Extras) that has all the vocabulary from the first module. I’d highly recommend using Anki as a way to review the vocabulary, so I’m really glad that this is included.
Another positive point is that some of the exercises found in the next “Challenges” part will give you opportunities to practice these words by having you practice writing sentences.
Challenges are a really great way for you to finish off the week and demonstrate what you’ve learned. This is a great time to fully utilize the personal coach that comes as part of your subscription plan.
Each week, there are a few different challenges included. They’re called missions and are written in a sort of fun way.
This is a good time to get some practice writing Korean, become more comfortable forming sentences, and practice the vocabulary you’ve learned. I like how it really ties together the different pieces that you learned throughout the week.
If you’ve opted for the plan that includes coaching, getting feedback here is a huge benefit.
These challenges create a really rewarding feeling of accomplishment. Being able to learn so much in a week and then use it like this feels great.
When you get started with 90 Day Korean, you’ll get access to the first week’s materials, along with the extra materials for the whole first module.
These are all optional to do, but I found them to be really worthwhile.
In total, there are 15 extra materials included in the first module. Some examples are the anki decks to help you memorize Hangeul pronunciation and vocabulary, learning to type and text in Korean, getting a Korean name, using the Naver dictionary, a beginner’s guide to asking questions, and three ReadnRight lessons.
I can see these ReadnRight lessons being a great way to take your Korean a step further.
You’re given several sentences. First, you’re meant to read them to understand their meanings. You’ll then read them again while listening to the audio file to make sure you know the correct pronunciation.
It’s also useful that they’ve color-coded each of the words. Green are the words you don’t know yet, red are question words, blue are vocabulary words you’ve already learned, and the black words are markers that you’ll learn later.
The second step is to respond to the questions that are asked. Doing this will get yourself speaking aloud and putting together the Korean that you’ve learned.
In the final step, the conversation has been filled in for you. Here, you’ll read the conversation, then listen to the audio file and mimic the speakers.
All of these ReadnRight exercises are really useful and effective for practicing multiple skills. I’d highly recommend not skipping past them.
Is 90 Day Korean Worth It?
I think 90 Day Korean is a course worth paying for. I’m impressed with how manageable they’ve made learning Korean feel. The simple and clear explanations really can provide you with a great foundation.
Although I’ve only tried the first three weeks of lessons, I would assume that the content remains as consistently well-done throughout the duration of the course.
For $30 per month or $47 per month (with coaching) you get access to a ton of quality content that’s laid out for you in a clear manner.
It may also make sense to sign up for a year up front since the year-long subscription costs less than five months when purchased separately, so it could save you quite a bit of money.
The fact that they offer a 30-day money back guarantee gives you a chance to make sure it’s a good fit for your learning style.
Overall, I came away really impressed with 90 Day Korean. The lessons are structured in a way that naturally builds upon what came before. They manage to teach a lot, without going too slowly and making you feel bored, but still simplifying things enough that you don’t become overwhelmed.