Self-Training Korean

Arirang Korean Basics 2
Someone on Facebook sent me a message, telling me that she was stuck in her effort to learn Korean because everything in the language is so upside-down and backward, and whenever she tried to say something in Korean she got confused translating words into Korean in her head and stumbled for words. She also complained that she lived in Indonesia, never met any Korean in her daily life, and that must be the reason why she was not fluent, and it was just a hopeless situation for her.

I didn’t reply.

The reason is because I’m a socially awkward person. I just don’t know how to respond to complaints by women. I can’t decide whether she just wanted someone to listen to her problems or really wanted a solution. Usually if I give an advice right away, she will just find another thing to complain about, and then she would end up screaming in frustration because I just ‘didn’t get it’. Women. I can never get them.

But… do you know that self-training is totally possible?

Let’s say you read this sentence in your basic level textbook:
이것은 제 가방이에요. This is my bag.

You figure out why it’s that way in Korean, why ‘this is my bag’ is 이것은 제 가방이에요.
You figure out the structure, grammar, and word meaning. What’s 이것, what’s 은, what’s 제, what’s 가방, what’s 이에요.
You listen to the corresponding audio CD, or click the audio button on Google Translate to find out the correct pronunciation.
And then, you tell yourself, if I want to say ‘this is my bag’ in Korean, I would say… wait, what’s that again? I already forgot. Right, 이것은 제 가방이에요.
You point to your bag, you say it out loud. 이것은 제 가방이에요! 이것은 제 가방이에요! 이것은 제 가방이에요! Don’t take this bag, hey you, imaginary Korean person, because 이것은 제 가방이에요!

If you have enough practice speaking Korean with yourself, you don’t really need to stumble for words with a real Korean person. Although that would be fun, too. Maybe. I wouldn’t know. I also never met one in my real life. Didn’t I mention that I was socially awkward? ###


8 thoughts on “Self-Training Korean

  1. Hi Vitamin! 😀

    One method I used was to just speak with myself. No looking at textbooks, notes or anything. This way, I am replicating a situation I may find myself having to use Korean. At first, I could only speak words or phrases. But I kept trying and trying, and after 4 months, I could finally speak in complete sentences. Me gusta!!

    Another method I used was to rest. Hehe. Sometimes time away from the books do you good.


    • I love books. Why should I stay away from books that I love? Learning/studying Korean is just something as ordinary as reading books for me. Thank you for sharing your approach, I don’t understand it but as long as it works for you… 그냥 계속 하세요 🙂


  2. I can’t understand why people depend too much on other elements. For example, my friend complained that she couldn’t study Korean well because she didn’t have Korean friends. Another friend complained that the Korean class is so boring that she didn’t want to learn Korean any more.

    I think self-studying is always possible if you know the methods and stop putting blame on others.
    I don’t like studying in the institutes. They always expand the lesson so that a course takes such a long time. I remember when I studied at the language center, it took me 1 years to finish the book Seoul 1. Then I dropped and self-studied. Can you believe that I finished Seoul 2 in just 1 month?


    • I get you. I took me 1 year plus to finish Sogang 1, but I did my book 2a in two months. I have other subjects to catch up in school, so I kinda stop. Now I’m pushing myself to finish 2b. Can’t believe that it’s been that long.


    • Maybe complaining is fun, maybe people use complaining as a mean to bond with each other, maybe they want excuses to quit learning Korean, maybe they want some kind of permission to take formal classes. I don’t know. All i know that when somebody starts complaining, I need to stay away because I don’t know how to respond. ^^

      Congratulation on finishing Seoul 2 so quickly on your own. Maybe the enrichment activities were decided after students complaining that the lessons proceeded to fast and they didn’t understand the lessons very well. ^^

      Even you had your own complaints with your language institution so I guess let’s make the best with our own unique situation.


  3. I understand frustration at learning a language by self-study when you don’t know a soul who speaks the language.

    True, when someone says something like that, you have to figure out if they are just venting to release frustration or want solutions or using speaking out loud to think thru the problem. Some times I need a sympathetic ear. Sometimes I need a kick in the pants. Sometimes I need a great idea I hadn’t thought to try. Sometimes I just want a hug and a supportive shoulder.

    If someone hasn’t learned a second language, they don’t have the confidence that they can.

    Having failed to master Spanish with 4 years of classroom instruction, it was quite unimaginable that I could teach myself Korean. Yet learning in self-study has yielded many rewards. I can study only things I am interested in, I can take my time or rush ahead, I can absorb culture, meet people, read poetry, listen to music and watch KDramas while telling myself it is all learning,

    Still, the break thru for me came when I had a real person who spoke Korean to talk to. I had a great experience finding Koreans to be pen pals on Interpals. I am sure there are other places as well. So my recommendation to the self-study person who feels frustrated about learning Korean is that maybe the person can get a Korean speaker in their life to inspire their self study too.


    • I think you have to believe in whatever works for you. Because if I believe that I need to be surrounded by Koreans in order to speak their language, it won’t work for me and I won’t even try to learn it at all. By the way, I actually wondered when I read your blog posts, maybe you meant “not studying” because all what you did surely counted as learning. Good luck! 화이팅!


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