“You Are Not Good Enough”

I'm learning Korean everywhere.

I’m learning Korean everywhere.

“With your approach of self-learning, study with textbooks and internet only in your spare time, you will never be as fluent as people who learn Korean at school.”

Thank you. I’ve heard that and thought over it.

Here is my answer. Only to myself. Not to anyone in particular because I’m not defending myself. And because people who believe that statement above usually don’t want to know my answer. And I’m okay with that.

Here we go.

I learn Korean…
-not to be no. 1 at some famous Korean language school that I don’t have access to,
-not for grades, grades don’t matter in my real world,
-not to please a teacher in my class, because I don’t have one,
-not to pressure myself to fit into a curriculum decided by strangers, even though I like using Standard TOPIK for inspiration of what to learn next,

but I learn Korean…
-to navigate a part of my world where Korean is used,
-to improve quality of my life,
-to learn something new every day,
-to feel good about myself,
-and basically just to have a little fun during my time on this planet.

I learn Korean because I’m happy doing that. Everything schooly -goals, competition, others’ judgements, pressures- is just a distraction. Not helpful.

Who decides whether I’m doing well or not? Well, me. In reality, I will be as fluent as I should be, now. There’s no other way.

I have faith that I’m capable of learning whatever it is needed to navigate my life. Here, in Indonesia. I love it here. Not cold. I can see my family (my uncle has just passed away yesterday). I can learn Korean as a hobby, not a means of survival.

I sit and watch, and I keep seeing new resources appear to help me learn Korean. I see that the universe is on my side, it wants me to learn Korean. I remember my Korean learning journey started weirdly, with a death of a Korean actor.

I think I’m very privileged. I’m so… grateful. To life in general. Yes, go learn Korean and get enlightened. Just kidding.

Oh, and by the way, I have no loyalty to any method, any school, any theory, any language guru, or anything. I admire the unschooling mindset (un-schooling, the opposite of schooling) which inspires the way I approach my own self-learning but I don’t have loyalty to it, either, because I love using language textbooks and I read that unschoolers don’t use one. I have only loyalty to myself and my happiness. Wait, do I? Let me think about it again. Hmmm… Yes, yes I do. Myself. My happiness. Sounds good.

With that realization, I study Korean happily, and confidently, again, today. I can only get better. ###

16 thoughts on ““You Are Not Good Enough”

  1. It’s such a weird thing to tell someone who self-studies since there are sooo many factors that determine a student’s level. If a person has daily classes, treats his/her studies as a “full-time job”, and spends all available non-class time in the library studying and revising, sure that person is likely to be much better than a student who has an actual full-time job or studies something entirely different. Or so I would hope… But (sadly) many students do not treat their studies as a full-time thing. A self-learner might very well be putting in more hours than someone who officially studies it, but does not prepare for all classes and maybe doesn’t even attend all classes…
    You have obviously reached a very high level as a self-learner so it’s a moot point to even question it.
    My condolences about your uncle. May he rest in peace.


    • Exactly. I’m always good enough. Maybe not by school standard (which one?), but who cares, I’m not in one. You’re right, not everybody in school become fluent when they finish a Korean language course. I appreciate your thoughtfulness about my uncle.


  2. Wow. BIG HUG for this post. I love it!

    You remind me it is OK to learn as a hobby at my own pace.

    Is there a post that talks about what brought you to learn Korean?

    My condolences on your uncle’s passing.


  3. Hanguk Babble에서 이 항목을 퍼감댓글:
    Last week, I restarted Level 2 of Korean Digital Academy. I felt embarrassed, like I had flunked and had to retake a course. But I knew I had gotten lost along the way. I was not ready to proceed to the next Level. When I was introduced to the other students, I felt like I was not good enough because I was only learning Korean as a hobby. I was sure the other students had way better reasons.

    However, Korean Vitamin’s post remind me it is OK to just be me. To learn Korean because it makes me happy. To go at my own pace.

    The second time through the course (2 classes so far) is a positive experience. Three months since I saw the material, it feels brand new, and this time I am getting all the details that slipped by me the first time. With new students and a new teacher, I can see it all with fresh eyes.


  4. I think that learning no matter how it is done, it is good in itself. Regardless of the reason, if you want to learn a new language because you like it, do so because it will open new doors.
    I’ve been both a self-learner and gone to Korean schools. I had been a self-learner for a long time before I decided I wanted to go to Korea to study as well. Honestly, I believe that I learned more outside classroom with my friends than in the class. Then again, it sort of reflected that I loved learning the language so no matter what, I would find any situation as a learning experience.
    I believe that no matter what way you want to learn it, it should be done because you want to and it doesn’t matter the reason ^^.


    • “I believe that I learned more outside classroom with my friends than in the class.” I like this. I believe so, too. I mean about learning from life being much more memorable and interesting, as opposed to learning in a classroom.


  5. I always loved reading your posts! So much though provoking topics! And this post, I couldn’t have said it better! I agree with you! Because, to me, self-studying is forever. Classes end at one point.

    I self-studied Korean for about 2 years. I got to the level where I am at the moment, which is rather Intermediate. And I took a 7-week class this year. This was my first class ever and people kept telling me “You’re good cause you had a teacher!” which I completely disagree, 100%. My level has been this way regardless if I had a teacher or not. The only thing I got from the teacher was 3 grammar points. And her way of teaching vocabulary was through memorising. Which was, a picture, the English translation and the Korean word itself. That is all! And she never speaks of those words again.

    And because of that I really feel like self-studying is much more fun. Because I have a flexible schedule and I don’t have to force myself to memorise words when memorising is one of my worse factors.

    And for one to actually say “You’re not good enough” just because you’re self studying, they need to remember that we got to where we are WITHOUT a teacher. For all I know, KoreanVitamin, you are much more awesome than them! You learnt whatever they learnt without a teacher and you are just as good, better actually, as they are!

    화이팅하세요! 앞으로도 이런 것을 듣지 말고 더 재미있게 공부하세요!❤


    • 위로해줘서 너무 고마워요. 한국어 공부는 승패라고 생각하는 사람이 많다고 새롭게 깨달았어요. 제 한국어 실력은 다른 사람에게 상관이 없잖아요. 그런데 이렇게 다른 사람의 의견도 알 수 있으니까 한국어 공부를 하면서 블로그에 기록하는 건 재미있는 것 같아요.

      True, class ends at some point. Maybe people who don’t know how to learn on their own stop learning Korean when they can’t pay for classes anymore. You must be the most motivated student among others because you don’t forget self-learning mindset. Thank you so much for the encouragement.


    • 그렇죠. 그런 사람이 그냥 부러워 하죠. 코리안비타민처럼 한국어를 잘할 수 없어서 부러워 하죠, 그들이.

      저도 에피소드가 있으면 블로그에 기록하는데 요즘 재미있는 에피소드 별로 없는 것 같아요.

      Self-studying Korean is what I’m most proud about. Because I can proudly say that I got to where I am without a teacher and that I interacted with natives and other self-learners in order to get my corrections. I wish you good luck in your future endeavours. And continue to post many more amazing content! Always a joy to read them!

      And thank you for introducing me to 바른한국어. I’m using level three and I am having way too much fun on the program!


    • 부러워하기는요. 아마 저를 불쌍하다고 생각했을 거예요. 저는 이렇게 행복한데요. I’m glad you enjoy interacting with natives and other learners, and that you like Quick Korean, too. 화이팅~


  6. I really really admire you for being a dedicated self-learner. I feel like a lot of people attend classes because they feel like they wouldn’t be able to do it without the guidance of a teacher/professor. Even if you do have a teacher, you’d still have to study on your own afterwards. For me, a lot of learning happens outside of the classroom. I have never really been a fan of language classes, so maybe I’m just biased. Nevertheless, you are still great! Haters gonna hate.


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