Learning Doesn’t Happen Only In A Classroom

I have a page on this blog where you can send me a message if you have something to say to me, but only if you have to, please, because I usually don’t respond to emails. I don’t ignore them, I read them, think about them, but if I don’t feel like replying, which is most of the time, I don’t. Sorry.
Can I say I’m sorry if I don’t mean to change my behavior and actually I don’t really feel sorry? I think I mean ‘sorry if I might hurt your feeling, but I’ll do things my way’ kind of sorry.

So I got a message from a girl in her teenage years that confused me a little.

She wrote that she intended to go to a school where she could learn Korean. But the school only had Korean lessons for once a week. She thought once a week was not going to be enough for her to actually master the language so she thought she was in trouble.

And she said all this to me, someone who was learning Korean all by herself, without school, without teachers, and without friends. Can you see why I was confused? You want to learn? Go ahead and learn. Get your Korean textbook, go to YouTube, internet, whatever. Why wait for your weekly Korean class?

But now I get it.

Oh my God, this is sad. So she thinks that “learning” only can happen in a special space, which is “school”, and “learning” only can happen with the guidance and permission of someone else, who is a “teacher”. And it’s impossible to learn anything at all outside this space.

That is her belief.

I have a different belief.

I believe learning can happen everywhere, every kind of place, school is not the only one. Learning happens in life, in your life. Learning is not something that happens in a vacuum, separated from the rest of the world. No, it isn’t!

I remember and retain words and grammars because they have meanings to me in my life. Korean idols that I love tweet in Korean so if I want to understand I need to know Korean. I like watching Korean TV channels (KBS World and Channel M) so I need to learn Korean to enjoy them even more, even if they have subtitles in Indonesian. I set the language of my device to Korean so now I need to know Korean if I want to use my smartphone and computer. Now that I can read Korean books, I’ve got more fun in my life. I listen to K-pop songs in the car and I brag to my husband that I know the meaning of the lyrics. I point to Korean hangul that we see on the street and I tell my family that I know the meaning (and we live in Indonesia, Korean wave is powerful here). I have a more fulfilled and enjoyable life because I am learning Korean.

I'm reading this e-book '4-Page Mystery'.

I’m reading this e-book ‘4-Page Mystery’.

My study routine lately is reading a Korean book while having a Korean program on TV on the background for an hour or two. And coffee, coffee is important. And I tweet on Twitter (to the world or nobody in particular) that I’m studying. Learning is never boring for me. And I make sure that learning happens every day, not on a weekly basis like people who think learning can only happen in a classroom. ###

4 thoughts on “Learning Doesn’t Happen Only In A Classroom

  1. I totally agree with you. Learning doesn’t only happen in classroom. We can learn languages everywhere and it’s better that we can take initiative to learn languages in our own ways, not just depend on the classroom or teachers. As for my case, at first, I took the language class to learn the basic stuffs and the Korean teachers helped correct my pronunciation. Then I self-study to explore the languages in my own way. I also join many Korean festivals or programs to explore the KOrean cultures. Internet is a great source to self-study.


    • I’m glad you agree. Human beings are born natural learners. We just need to follow our passions. Internet is available for everyone but people who have the belief that learning is impossible outside the classroom won’t know how to make use of it.


  2. I made it to the age of 50 before I challenged the idea that I could only learn a foreign language by taking a class.

    I still am not sure I know how to self teach, but I am trying. It is both liberating and a bit terrifying. If I am my own teacher, am I a good teacher?

    I still wish I had an in-person place where I could discuss learning with others. I have never had the experience of sitting down with someone who spoke Korean. I certainly haven’t been out for drinks and laughter with friends who spoke Korean around me. I think that would be very nice. For those of us who know absolutely no one who speaks our target language at the onset, it can be daunting.

    A classroom seems like a safe place with the teacher to lead. Yet I discovered much to my surprise after signing up for an online class, that I am still a self learner. I still need to discipline myself to do the work and most of the learning happens outside of the 1 hour a week I attend class.


    • 50살이시군요! Yes, it’s a common belief, isn’t it? We need to undo and unlearn beliefs that are not working for us. Maybe if you undo your doubt that you’re not a good teacher for yourself, you’ll find out that you’re indeed the best one? Because we do live our beliefs…


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