Continuing Korean – New Strategies?

I’m back to self-studying!

After finishing 4 Korean modules in 2 consecutive semesters (June 2010 – March 2011) in our university, I have no choice but to study on my own again. I started well last summer vacation, but when the previous semester kicked in (June – October 2011), I hardly opened my notes and only get to “study” through my Korean dramas, my Korean drama OSTs, a few language exchange meet-ups, and constant chatting with my Korean friends / Kim Sun Ah fans. My Korean did improve a bit, but I can hardly see any progress.

Last Christmas break I (1) organized all my Korean learning materials – and I realized I have a bunch of unfinished books and tons of offline files that I haven’t finished studying yet and I have forgotten most of the words on my Anki deck . I also managed to (2) catch up on fellow bloggers’ blog posts – and I realized that most of them have improved a lot over the past 6 months and I feel like I’ve wasted too much of my time not studying all these time. 😦

I’m grateful to my Korean friends and to my Korean dramas (specifically Scent Of A Woman) for keeping me on track with my Korean. But I shouldn’t stay this way. Now that my load for this semester is not as heavy as it was previously, I no longer have any excuses not to study Korean seriously.

I’m also thinking of changing my strategies this time. After going over my notes and study files I realized that I’ve forgotten a lot of what I have learned before (specially words from my stupid Anki deck!) and have learned a lot of new things that I was not even consciously trying to remember.

So here’s my 2012 KOREAN STUDY PLAN:


First thing to do – discard my Anki cards!

I know, Hangukdrama and TTMIK teachers have pointed out a number of times that memorizing word lists is not a good way to study. For some people it may work, and I (stubbornly) thought it will work for me as well. So I memorized word lists for my Korean classes, for TOPIK preparation and while I was self-studying last summer. And lo and behold, after 6 months of not studying I have forgotten half of the words on my list. Was it just because I was not studying? I don’t think so. Because I haven’t forgotten half of them. And those half that I haven’t forgotten were words I’ve encountered, mostly on dramas, or words that I have personally used. I realized that the other half that I have memorized before, I have just memorized them. Have I recognized them when I read or hear them? Probably, but I must’ve probably missed them too. Have I used them? NO! Not at all! So not seeing those random words made me forget them all. It makes me feel that I just wasted my time memorizing and reviewing them before. So from now on, no more word lists for me.


As I’ve said, I realized I’ve got too many unfinished books and materials and I can only spare a few hours a week for studying. So I decided to just focus on a few materials at a time and work slowly on finishing all of them one at a time.


My great 선생님 is actually conducting an experimental higher Korean class in our university for her handpicked students (we were joking it’s like Dumbledore’s Army). Unfortunately the class is in conflict with my schedule, so I can’t attend. But I got a copy of the book and my 선생님 is video recording the class, so those who can’t attend can still follow the class. I am trying to also submit assignments and I told my 선생님 that I want to take the exams on her class too. We will be finishing the class (and the book) by the end of March.


Finally I’ve managed to catch up on TTMIK lessons last Christmas break. I first discovered the site when they were just starting and only have level 1 podcasts. But I was surprised that they now have up to Level 7. I decided to listen from level 1 even if it’s way below my level because I want to review, at the same time pick up a few things here and there. Level 1 was really just a review for me – but was not boring because TTMIK podcasts are always fun. I started picking up one or two new words from Level 2. And I get to practice more and learn a few more words from Level 3. I’m at Level 4 now. I have studied most of the lessons in Level 4, but I’m still not comfortable with some of them, so it’s starting to get really interesting. I’ve checked the titles of Levels 5-7 and I’m excited to see lessons that I am not familiar with yet. So I will now continue listening to TTMIK from now on! Yey! This is so much fun!


My memory is not so good. Things I learn from books, I often forget them after sometime, especially when I’m not using it. But as soon as Kim Sun Ah use that word or that particular grammar pattern on a particular scene from one of her dramas, will I still forget it? I don’t think so! 😀 Call me crazy but whenever I’m studying something new, then I hear Kim Sun Ah say it from her drama, I can always remember what I’ve learned along with the scene where Kim Sun Ah said it and how she said it. It also works the other way around. When I am studying something new, I can often recall a scene of Kim Sun Ah using that particular word or pattern. And 90% of the time, it sticks on my mind.

Inspired of the Drama Monologues of Acquiring Korean, I thought, why not take advantage of my insane addiction to Kim Sun Ah and learn through her dramas?

I’m so excited with this one. This makes studying Korean 100000x more fun! I’ll probably be posting a lot about this later.

I’m going to start with her Scent Of A Woman.


Since I want to take TOPIK Intermediate on September, I must work on previous TOPIK papers too, little by little. My goal is to complete one paper per month for now. And probably make it 2 by June.


I have a lot of Basic Korean books that I haven’t finished. I want to read them one by one to practice. I think I can breeze through a book a day. I just want to finish them. 🙂


My speaking skill is betraying my Korean level. I can breeze through a TOPIK grade 2 paper (and the easy early parts of a TOPIK 3), but if there was a speaking category for TOPIK, I probably would have to struggle really hard just to get a grade 1. It’s just so hard for me to open my mouth and get the words out. It feels like the words are somehow stuck somewhere in the middle of my brain and tongue. Give me a paper, I can fill it out with my thoughts in Korean. Give me an easy book and I’ll read  and probably explain it to you (if it’s an easy one). IM chat with me and I can chat with you until 3AM. Give me a drama and I can listen to it and translate about half of  what they were talking about. But talk to me and I’ll just stutter and stammer from the get go as I try to construct the most basic of sentences.

So I’m thinking of opening my mouth more often. Instead of silently reading, I’ll try my best to read out loud. Instead of practicing constructing sentences with my pen, I’ll practice constructing sentences out loud. And whenever fan girling, I’ll read news and Kim Sun Ah’s posts out loud. And also copy her drama dialogues.

I’m still thinking of getting a language exchange partner (or just get one of my friends talk to me over skype!), but I’m quite shy and at the same time I’m not yet sure if I can keep up with the schedule. I don’t want to inconvinience nor disappoint somebody. So I’ll have to think about it. Maybe after the semester is over, I can consider doing it.


Instead of doing useless things, I’d rather surf on Junior Naver and read/watch children’s stories and Korean.


I’m making my 2012 studying more fun. I hope these new plans and strategies will work well. I’m excited to see improvements by the end of the year. 여러분 공부합시다~


10 thoughts on “Continuing Korean – New Strategies?

  1. I’m gonna give up my anki cards too.My korean bf keeps telling me that memorizing a word is not a good way to improve my Korean.He keeps telling me that for almost a year now.Instead I must listen to audio and watch my favorite shows repeatedly.I hate to admit that he’s right after reading this post of yours .This year I will also study korean in a fun way.
    Thanks for sharing the Junior Naver site.

    • I don’t want to tell people to give up their word lists coz it may work for other people. But I must say your bf, Shanna and TMIKK staff are all correct. The Junior Naver site is soo fun and cute, right? I particularly like the 생활동화 section. 🙂

  2. Using Anki for sentences is a much better approach. . .and it works even better if you have audio as well. . . but it takes time to clip audio from TTMIK podcasts or dramas.

    • Yeah, that’s way better than plain word lists. I’m not loading them on Anki anymore, but I’m clipping drama scenes instead and playing them over and over. Makes me remember words and sentence structure more, it takes time to clip audio files. For my Mandarin, I’m clipping audios from podcasts/textbook CDs and just playing them on loop. 🙂

  3. ah Cool! Thanks for the refreshing blog post! I just stumbled upon your blog! You’ve given me some good ideas.

    You are right about wordlists. I find it very hard to remember outside of context. And Honestly I need that context to keep coming up over and over again for me to recall properly.

    I don’t think I’ll be fluent within a year, but I’ve got to keep on studying and reading and listening. It’s good to know people who are as serious about Korean as I am. 🙂

    • Hi Zach! Thanks for dropping by. I was at your blog a few days (or was it a week?) ago. I think I left a comment – or I TRIED to leave a comment on one of your posts, but I don’t know if something’s wrong (or something not compatible) with my browser that I kept getting redirected to a blank page after entering the security codes, so I gave up. O.o
      Yeah! It’s always fun to meet Korean learners! ^^

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