How to Memorize New Korean Words (1) is here.
I’m learning Chinese these days.
저는 요즘 중국어를 배워요.😎
At first, I didn’t think I could make time for it, but I’m having so much fun that I’m confident I can learn Chinese for the rest of my life. I’m happy to find that I can use my Korean to learn Chinese. I use Naver Chinese – Korean Dictionary. I use Chinese phrasebook apps with Korean translation. I downloaded Chinese audio files from Korean website (a publisher called Nexus). I can watch high-quality educational videos in Korean about Chinese words, phrases, and grammar on YouTube (search for: 파고다 중국어, 다락원 중국어). I’m excited that I can use all these free abundant resources on the internet to learn Chinese just because I understand Korean.
The problem is… how I can get all these information into my brain? How can I remember?
I need to memorize 150 words for HSK (Chinese Proficiency Test) Level 1 (the lowest level). The problem is I keep forgetting. I started learning Korean 5 years ago, I didn’t remember that memorizing basic words would be so hard! Is it because now… I’m old…er? 😁
So I’m having a renewed sympathy for beginner learners of Korean who happen to read my blog. If you find this blog, you must be very very serious about learning Korean! I mean, what are the odds! You must have googled persistently to find this blog. 😁
Now I’m going to give some advice to myself and every beginner in language learning who has trouble memorizing new words.
1. We memorize in order not to forget.
Our brain is designed to forget unnecessary information so we can remember things that are important quickly. We forget. It’s natural. It’s just the way it is. It’s nothing to be upset about.
And because we forget, we memorize. Because we forget, we use flashcards, Anki, and Quizlet, to remember.
2. If we forget 7 times, we memorize 8 times.
And so we still remember. 🙂
There’s a saying in Korean 칠전팔기 (七顚八起) or ‘fall 7 times, get up 8 times’ so at the end, we’re still standing. That’s applicable to memorizing new words, too. So if we forget a word 7 times, just learn it again for 8 times. If we forget 20 times, learn it 21 times, so we still remember. My English is weird. But you got me. 😀
Note: pronunciation of 칠전팔기 is [칠쩐팔기] http://krdic.naver.com/detail.nhn?docid=38406000
3. The SECRET is in “RECALLING”.
The more time we recall an information, or the more time we try to remember, the quicker brain gives us the information. The first time of recalling a word might be hard and slow (it usually is, so don’t worry), but the 2nd, 3rd,… 8th time will be quicker and easier.
4. Output is an act of “RECALLING” and output is a whole lot better way to retain information than input.
Input is reading and listening.
Output is speaking and writing.
Input is a way to get information and it is important. There will be no output (speaking and writing) without input (reading and listening). But input is a weaker way to retain information. You’re more likely to forget if you just rely on reading and listening. You will more likely to remember and not forget, if you try to “recall” the word when you try to speak or write it. Maybe brag to someone else who likes you (because bragging is annoying haha): ‘hey, I know how to say ‘flower’ in Korean. It’s 꽃. Cool, right?’ Or just on Twitter.
5. Use things in your real life as a way to “recall” words.
If you only know 100 Korean words, it’s hard to find reading material that use only those 100 words, other than your Korean textbook. But basic words (for example for TOPIK level 1) are usually simple and concrete, such as: desk, notebook, to sing. These things exist in our real life. So every time you see your desk, you can try and recall the Korean word for desk: 책상, the pronunciation is [책쌍].
If you don’t remember, you learn it again. (See no. 2).
Desk in Chinese is 桌子 zhuōzi. I remember! 😎.
6. Have fun with the language. (This should be no. 1).
“I get it! I really get it!”. “This is fun!”. “I’m so happy I understand this!”. This is the kind of experience you need to have in order to continue learning Korean. (And Chinese, I say to myself). Fun can be your motivation. And if it’s fun, we will remember!
7. Don’t quit.
Unless you have something better to do? 😁
It’s OK to quit, actually, time is limited, we make our choices, but it just means you will not master the language. If you quit, it’s ‘game over’.
8. Language is a skill and we need to put in time. A lot of time.
To become good at something, we need to put in time to develop our skills. There are 4 skills in language, you know, reading, listening, writing, and speaking. Let’s do a lot of these four.
By the way, it’s not “stuck” if you’re not moving. There were people on the internet who told me they were “stuck” but actually they didn’t do anything (I even suspected they had quit learning but refused to admit it).
Learning a language is a long journey. From time to time, I need to remind myself, too: hey, why am I stuck here? Maybe because I’m not moving? Because I’m not doing things to get me to where I want to be?
9. Translate yourself.
This is also “recalling”. Beginner level is the most exciting place to be. Because expressions you learn are short and immediately useful. Like: ‘thank you’, 감사합니다. Or ‘hello’, 안녕하세요. You know you want to say these to… people on Twitter. I still haven’t met any Korean friends. I don’t mind, though. ‘It’s OK’. In Korean: 괜찮아요. See? 😁
10. Stop believing in things that don’t work for you.
There are people who believe they can’t learn Korean because they don’t live in Korea. And there are foreigners who live in Korea who believe they can’t learn Korean because they don’t go to school in Korea. And there are foreigners who live in Korea and go to university who believe they can’t learn Korean because they don’t have time and Korean friends who are willing to teach them Korean.
Beliefs are powerful. If you think you can, you’re right. If you think you can’t, you’re right, too.
That’s all I have to say. I guess I need this long encouragement… for myself. Yes, I can do this. We can do this! 화이팅!
Wait, how do you say 화이팅 in Chinese? I learned it but forgot. Let’s check Naver Dictionary. 加油 jiāyóu! (http://cndic.naver.com/zh/entry?entryID=c_38f2bae1a86d). See? I’m doing my own advice and I know I will remember.
Oh, I blogged something related on my other blog. Input and Output at the Same Time: https://mandarinvitamin.wordpress.com/2016/08/01/input-and-output-at-the-same-time/
OK. Bye! ###