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[Herald Interview] TTMIK CEO on upgrading online Korean learning

By Lee Yoon-seo

Published : Jan. 29, 2023 - 15:51

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Sun Hyun-woo, CEO of Talk To Me In Korean (Im Se-jun/The Korea Herald) Sun Hyun-woo, CEO of Talk To Me In Korean (Im Se-jun/The Korea Herald)

For English speakers, mastering Korean can sometimes feel like an impossible feat to achieve without taking classes at schools and academies -- as the language's vastly different word order and characteristically diverse colloquial language render it as one of the hardest languages to study.

However, a Korean language educator says attaining fluency in the Korean language can be facilitated with help from diverse online platforms.

Sun Hyun-woo, CEO of Talk To Me In Korean or TTMIK -- one of the most popular Korean language educational services with some 1.4 million registered users across 190 countries -- says that online platforms such as YouTube and Instagram assist the process of language acquisition and allow learners to have fun during the process.

"We are taking advantage of multiple online platforms to keep the language education interesting and effective," Sun told The Korea Herald during a recent interview.

TTMIK teaches English speakers the language on a variety of online platforms including their website, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Discord -- a chat and video service.

"Main lectures on Korean are uploaded on our website, but separate content is regularly released on other online platforms to propel learning and invite newcomers," said Sun.

"For example, there is diverse content on our YouTube channel. They range from giving foreigners tips on difficult Korean phrases, interviewing self-learned Korean speakers, to fun facts about the language itself," he said.

According to Sun, the featured content helps learners to learn the language more organically and develop more familiarity with Korean.

TTMIK's YouTube channel has 1.56 million subscribers, their Instagram has some 215,000 followers.

Sun holds a livestreaming session on YouTube. (Talk To Me In Korean YouTube ) Sun holds a livestreaming session on YouTube. (Talk To Me In Korean YouTube )

Sun also said the company is further utilizing interactive functions of online platforms including YouTube livestreaming and Instagram Live to bridge the gap between in-person learning and remote learning.

"Held once a week on average, the live sessions with students all over the globe allow for frequent interactions that are not confined by time or space," he said.

The idea to launch a completely online-based learning experience came from talking with his foreigner friends living abroad, who had little access to online resources on quality Korean-learning materials.

"The global demand for learning Korean is growing exponentially, but the supply for it was not enough. That's why I thought to launch this company, which operates on multiple online platforms to maximize accessibility, entertainment value and effective language education," he said.

"Many deem online courses to be poorly planned and low in quality. However, with help from all my team members who have experience of having learned a language on their own, we developed a curriculum that takes into account problems a foreigner might face when learning Korean," said Sun.

For the company's plans going forward, Sun said they will continue to add lectures on detailed themes that have yet to be covered in their regular curriculum.

"Compared to other schools or institutions, we are more agile, so we'll continue to work on projects that sharply catch the needs of foreigners trying to learn Korean," he said.