17 Things I learnt studying Korean the unorthodox way

I think I developed a strange routine of studying Korean via translating tweets, articles, posts, drama, variety shows, webtoons, reading tons and tons of colloquial ‘speech’ and then backtracking to search dictionaries for vocabs and grammar points then build my notebook of study notes. (I’ll write about my experience studying this way some time). Not the most legitimate way to learn, but learn I did. Kinda.

After 1 year of self study via translating, here’s what I learnt the hard way:

  1. When something you read doesn’t make sense even though you know the meaning of the words, read it in a different way. Or try again and again.
  2. Sometimes it’s not that the dictionary doesn’t have the word you are looking for, but you don’t have the dictionary form right
  3. When you’re starting a new language, the core foundation is crucial in determining whether you are able to take off and progress learning. Therefore, learn basics from textbooks first (esp grammar) before freestyling.
  4. When you can’t find what a word means, sometimes it’s a name, so use google.
  5. A wall of foreign text will always be intimidating. Chip it down into sentences or clauses and read from there.
  6. Naver-daum-google translate-google can get you through almost anything.
  7. The moment the material you’re studying becomes manageable, it’s time to challenge yourself with something harder.
  8. Slangs, modern acronyms will never be available in dictionaries. Exposure is the only way to learn them. Start with twitter.
  9. Nothing makes you learn faster than making mistakes and being corrected by people.
  10. Procrastination is normal.
  11. Once self studying becomes laborious, it marks the end of learning. Find creative ways to make it interesting.
  12. Korean language in a drama doesn’t necessarily mean it’s day to day colloquial korean.
  13. What you learn depends on what kind of material you surround yourself with. If you read Sports all the time, you’ll only know sports terms.
  14. It’s okay to get it wrong.
  15. you should never freestyle guess grammar. Always look it up.
  16. Sometimes, it’s better to read the korean explanation in dictionaries instead of english.
  17. Sometimes, people like to misspell a simple word and stack them up to sound ‘cuter’. Not as hard as you think.

(BTW, National day, Singapore!)


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