Not that I'd recommend my Frankenstein-ian (yes that's a word!) language study method to others, but I thought I'd at least note down what I'm doing to learn the language, since many people ask. At first, Mom bought me a great audio CD series, but it turned out they were on more of an intermediate level, so I had to step back after spending far too many overwhelmed and harried hours listening to the first lesson. I realize that I will be overwhelmed when I get there, but I don't always find that the most effective method for me to learn because I need someone to break down the patterns and theories for me or I just can't make sense of anything. It does happen after a bit of immersion, but since I'm not really immersed yet, the isolated immersion of the tapes were ineffective as learning tools at this point in my beginning studies. I think they will be very helpful as supplements when I'm in Korea (or more likely, as tools for maintaining my skills once I return to the US).
I found some old videos produced by Arirang, a major television production studio in Korea--apparently named for a famous Korean folk song--in a series called "Let's Speak Korean" posted to dailymotion.com. You can find this 60 part series here. Although out of date and kind of elementary, they seem to go at a good pace for someone like me who is trying to learn a very difficult foreign language in a Korean void (I did sort of teach myself hangul--the Korean alphabet--first, using some different internet sites, finding this one the most useful).
The ladies in the video are very sweet and take the time to explain grammatical concepts and meanings of expressions in various contexts. I'm working on 9 and 10 right now (I get through 2 in about an hour--sometimes I have to repeat or review parts until I can hear it). Two lessons a day is about all I can absorb right now.
I've been repeating many of the phrases I've learned as often as possible in the hopes that they stick! (Thanks to my friends who are letting me randomly greet you with "annyeong haseyo" and telling you over and over that I'm an American and that I'm a teacher and other such beginning language phrases). I usually also start to look for these expressions in some expat blogs/message boards (either in hangul or in the transliteration), which helps reinforce what I'm learning.
More than the language study, at this point I'm just reading whatever I can about the culture and history of the country, which often introduces me to some Korean vocabulary. And I plan to sign up for the YMCA language class as soon as I get settled in at work, which should have the added bonus of helping me meet people over there. (At least the last three years of battling my major shyness issues will be put to good use, right?)
Cheonun Diana imnida. Cheonun idiot imnida, but I'm learning...