Back in the days of homework, mystery meat lunches and gum-bottomed desks, that 5-letter word was enough to make our anxiety peak.
After all, it always seemed like there was just too much material to cover.
“How can we cram all this in our heads?” we’d fret.
But in those dark times, we always had a companion we could lean on.
That’s right: Flashcards.
Whether it was the definition for “onomatopoeia” or a complex physics formula, these nifty little rectangles have proven powerful in keeping our grades intact and our memory sturdy.
And now, even if your school days may be over, flashcards can still be a good friend in your study endeavors. Yes, even if it’s something as challenging as learning an entirely different way of speaking, writing and reading.
Why is that? It comes down to the flashcard’s sheer simplicity. Not only do flashcards boost our memory with visual association, but they also encourage repetition and instant correction, both of which enhance our learning.
Indeed, this all applies when learning Korean. You can gain the best experience by immersing yourself in as many different Korean resources as possible—you may read books, pick apart catchy tunes and even actively watch TV shows. Any of these will aid your study, and with flashcards by your side, you can find yourself much more comfortable with all the Korean you encounter. Every time you encounter a new, exciting, must-know Korean word while using your learning resources, you can add it to a flashcard deck for later review.
The digital world has made it even easier by taking away the weightiness of card stacks, as well as the need for paper and pen at all. Plus, they’ve got the added bonus of SRS (spaced repetition systems) which ensure that you’re always reviewing and refreshing your memory of words you’ve learned in the past—but more on that in the upcoming app descriptions.
How to Choose the Right Korean Flashcard App for You
Although you may be swiping or tapping instead of flipping cards, flashcard apps greatly build upon the tradition of your old-school paper rectangles. They keep all the fundamentals, but can incorporate multimedia and technological systems for advanced learning. The variety of apps means there are plenty of great additional features to consider.
Since there are so many app options and there’s only so much memory space in your smartphone, you might want to be choosy.
Here are some things you should check out in a flashcard app before tapping that install button:
- Easy interface: Sometimes messiness isn’t so bad (your room included) but if you want to use a digital app effectively, you’ll probably want some sense of order. At the very least, the app’s interface should feel intuitive to you. Unfortunately, there are plenty of apps that are visually or functionally cluttered, which may be a big setback. Look for an app that has an easy-on-the-eyes, clean interface that doesn’t bombard you with information or confusing items.
- Personal touch: Many flashcard apps will provide you with pre-made decks—or even complete playlists and courses—but naturally you’ll want to make your own. A good app will let you create cards and even better apps will let you organize and customize them. By using a system that accommodates your mental palate, you ease the digestion process for your brain as it munches on information.
- Image and audio: Reading is great, but humans aren’t just text-based creatures. The best learning experience involves the use of multiple senses, and the modern flashcard has evolved to enable this feature. With all the hubbub over what kind of learning is best for whom, take advantage of apps that let you interact with images and audio. The more points of reference you have when memorizing something, the better your brain can access that information later on.
- More, more, more: That godly feeling of successfully reviewing a flashcard can become addictive, and soon you’ll probably use up all the cards you were initially given. But that certainly doesn’t mean you’re done! A great app gives you access to hundreds of more flashcards, usually via web integration. Some might find that this feeling of “it’s never over” is daunting, but it shouldn’t be. It’s what makes language-learning fresh and exciting, so swim—don’t drown—in the vast seas of Korean knowledge.
So, without further ado, here are some low-cost (or free) flashcard apps that will keep you invigorated on your Korean learning journey!
Flash Forward with These 6 Efficient Korean Flashcard Apps
FluentU is one of the hottest Korean-learning apps on the market.
FluentU offers an immersive experience that’s actively tailored to your wants and needs. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
The videos are combined with interactive subtitles to let you learn words and proper grammar, and each lesson includes downloadable transcripts, flashcards and detailed explanations of what you’ve just learned.
The flashcards are drawn straight from the video content and prompt you with text and short video and audio clips. This multisensory system, combined with a spaced repetition system that focuses on words that you haven’t yet mastered, boosts your learning in an effective manner.
Take a quick look to get an idea of the variety of content FluentU has on offer:
Each word in the interactive captions comes with a definition, audio, image, example sentences and more.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab, and easily review words and phrases from the video under Vocab.
You can use FluentU’s unique Quiz Mode to learn the vocabulary and phrases from the video through fun questions.
FluentU keeps track of what you’re learning, and tells you exactly when it’s time for review, giving you a 100% personalized experience.
FluentU also gives you an amazing degree of customization with your education. You can make video playlists, manage vocabulary lists and even design your own lesson plans.
And if you’re one of those dedicated students who takes every outside opportunity to learn, FluentU has your back by letting you import the vocabulary you’ve encountered outside the app and showing you how it’s used in videos across the site.
Offering 300+ free Korean phrases and words, the Simply Learn Korean app focuses on vocabulary that’s essential for surviving in Korea covering 11 different categories. All are offered with high-quality audio recorded by a native, and you may adjust the speed at which you hear the proper pronunciation.
You can train your brain with flashcards using the provided spaced repetition system, a study method that lets you review pre-learned material at gradually increasing time intervals. This strategy has been shown to help you bulk up your memory as information is pushed from short-term memory to long-term memory. What’s more, with such an organized system, you’ll also save time.
The app offers quizzes and progress tracking. There’s also the option to adjust the quiz and flashcards settings for Korean to English, English to Korean, phonetics to English or English to phonetics.
The Pro version lets users access 900+ phrases and words from additional categories, including “Advanced Conversation,” “Business Talk” and, for the particularly curious, “Romance.”
Korean Flashcards by BH Inc. provides a simple interface for a flashcard system that integrates text, image and audio. With over 4000 pre-made flashcards, you can learn common phrases and words from 9 main categories. You can also make your own flashcards, access cards from Super Flashcard or import card sets from Course Hero, Quizlet and Flashcard Exchange.
To spice up the challenge, the app also boasts different learning modes: study, slide show, matching, memorize, quiz, spelling and rearrange. The games, which review the material, can be played on your own or with other users. A nifty statistics feature also enables you to track your learning progress.
For a reasonable cost, premium users have access to a text-to-speech feature, the ability to download flashcards for offline study and the ability to customize the text color, background color and images of cards.
With Bravolol’s Learn Korean, beginners will have a smooth experience learning essential vocabulary for 23 different topics, from weather terminology to emergency situations. A search feature lets users find phrases by keyword, and if there are some you’re particularly fond of, the app lets you store and manage them for your use.
Studying is made all the more fun when you interact with Bravolol’s mascot, a parrot that helps you practice your speaking and listening skills. But the parrot won’t be the only one talking since you have the option to record and compare your pronunciation to an authentic one.
Conveniently, the app doesn’t require internet connection, which makes it perfect for spontaneous, on-the-go learning!
Price: Hangul – Free
Korean Vocabulary – $1.49 (Android); $0.99 (iOS)
TenguGo not only provides an app for Korean vocabulary, but also one specifically for 한글 or Hangul (Korean alphabet). The Korean Vocabulary app teaches common terms along with verb and adjective conjugation. The Hangul app goes deeper by offering lessons on the history and structure of Hangul, along with special animations to aid your learning.
Both apps feature lessons, quizzes and complete native-spoken audio. The material and quizzes are spliced up in a way that won’t overwhelm you and are thus very beginner-friendly. While it’s your choice as to which app you download, it’s highly recommended that you use both (especially since the Hangul one is free). Starting with the Hangul app would serve as a great segue into the fleshier Korean offered in the Korean Vocabulary app.
Supporting Korean, German and Chinese languages, Flashcards Deluxe provides a powerful flashcard system that will sincerely aid your efforts to learn. Thanks to the app’s integration with Quizlet, users can have access to over 4 million flashcard sets with provided text-to-speech audio in 18 languages.
The app offers two study modes: one that focuses on cards you don’t know well, and one that utilizes a more advanced spaced repetition technique. You can assess your skills with multiple choice or spelling tests, and instead of the standard correct/incorrect reaction, you can even gauge your genuine comfort level with a flashcard in three response levels: “Wrong,” “I kind of know” and “I know really well.” If you consistently get specific cards correct, these cards can be automatically “turned off” and pulled out of your study session.
There’s a lot of room for personal customization as well. You can organize decks in folders and combine them as you wish. Along with text and background color options, images and audio can also be added to flashcards to make them more personal. Note that the free lite version has a limit of four decks and six cards per deck.
Lastly, because the app supports Dropbox, Google Docs and USB transfers, users can back up their flashcards to their own computers!
So now you’ve had a brief taste of language education à la digital.
Learning Korean is an enriching adventure, and with helpful apps and determination by your side, the journey can be made fun and stimulating. Remember to go at your own pace and take advantage of the resources around you. With work and effort, you’ll soon be basking in the opportunities open to you as a Korean speaker.
Good luck, or as a native Korean friend would say, 화이팅! (hwaiting! — fighting!)
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Korean with real-world videos.