Talk to yourself
Yes, to yourself. You do not need to have a conversation with your reflection, but if that tickles your fancy, all power to you. Dialogues with native speakers still trumps any other method regarding speaking skills improvements. Notwithstanding, as an introvert, I grow tired when this method is repeated weekly (which should never happen if you desire logengivity). For that reason alone, I like to speak to myself more often while occasionally talking to natives speakers.
Speaking to oneself does not always involve full conversations. It may simply be you repeating phrases you recently learned or reading a korean comment out loud. I, privately, have moments where I take part in a full debate with myself on some K-drama episode. This not only questions my ability to express my opinion coherently in an argument, but also helps me figure out weak spots. During the “debate”, when a phrase that is hard to translate pops up, I simply open up naver dictionary, search for the closest match and note it down. This was how the 2020 phrase list came about.
Recording your self and self analysis
Even if you lack confidence, I still endorse this step. Whether you are only capable of short statements, phrases or even simple greetings, this will accelerate your beginner/intermediate to advanced proficiency process.
Depending on your time reserves and proficiency, pick a topic, an article or a basic question, record yourself speaking on the topic, summarising the article or answering the question and replay the audio. As you listen, note down the words you found difficult to remember in Korean or found hard to express.But do not stop the audio to search for the translations on naver. Simply listen and write down till the very end of the audio and then research. It is optional to upload on an online platform such as youtube. I do this myself, not everyday however.
Hellotalk & Tandem
Apps such as these allow us to meet native speakers and improve our skills and understanding of the culture behind the language. However, if your goal is speaking fluency, you have to have a game plan and take caution when choosing your partners. You will be shocked to know the intentions of some folk on these platforms. I like to stick to one person per app and per language, it is just easier and less exhausting that way. Find a language exchange partner by asking on hellotalk ( post in your native tongue and Korean and have a chat with the person).
If you are just starting Korean, stick to written messages. Use new vocabulary or words you randomly came across in the messages.I recommend you wait 3 months before you make a drastic change to your process. One you feel comfortable, move to voice notes or voice calls ( full conversations).
I used to send voice notes to check if my partner could understand me. Basically testing my pronunciation. It is really difficult to examine this in a conversation because of the fast pace, lack of patience or non-tolerance for beginner level errors. If you notice your partner is not questioning your voice notes, then start getting your confidence ready for full conversations.
At the beginning, you will experience a lot of embarrassing moments. But look at the bright side, you probably will never make those mistakes again. You could discuss with your partner on how the time should be split to allow both of you to practice.For example, because I do not enjoy long conversations and find them counter-productive, I go for 5- 10 minutes each. My partner speaks in english, while I speak in Korean. Sometimes we speak on the same topic or article, other times we speak randomly e.g. a kdrama episode. I suggest you avoid jotting down your mistakes during the conversation because it can be quite distracting. Just enjoy the discussion itself along with your mispronunciations, awkward grammar usage and word mixups.
I recommend you use this platform for refinement rather than learning from the ground up. This is how I personally improved on my Korean. I personally only used ITALKI for 1 year; that means I am more self-study oriented at the moment.
I truly believe one should take advantage of community teachers, not only because of the relatively affordable fees but also for you to get a feel of the online teaching process. Especially as someone who has been learning on their own for a long time. Spend 3 – 6 months with community teachers. Keep in mind that you do not need to have lessons daily or weekly. Just schedule as your pocket can afford. Once you get comfortable, we can move over to professionals.
To not fritter money away, only spend when you are a bit comfortable in speaking. Use professional teachers for the refinement stage of your korean learning process. Rather than grammar or/and vocabulary, I focused on comprehension and speech during these lessons. I would pick a topic or an article, send it to the teacher and prepare an oral and written summary of the text prior to the lessons. Here, you do not only work on your reading comprehension but grammar, vocabulary and speaking abilities.
Reciting what is said in some videos may seem boring and repetitive but it works. I, however, do not recommend you do this daily, rather do it when you find a really good Korean youtube video with Korean subtitles or a good VLIVE broadcast ( plug : here ). I go through the video once, then watch again to note down all the words or grammar principles that I did not understand. After which I repeat the video several times until I can pen down the subtitles just by listening.