This post is the beginning of a new affiliate/collaboration between the April Jau and 90DayKorean.com. This guest post evaluates why it’s difficult to learn Korean while living in Korea. This topic was chosen because I can totally relate to the difficulty of balancing life in Korea and trying to learn Korean at the same time. Most would think it would be easy but when you have a full time job, an active social life and trying to discover your new place of residence, studying Korean can easily take the back burner.
So here are a few tips to keep you on track when learning Korean in Korea.
Also please check the 90 day Korean side ad to the right and click for a special offer!
Hope you guys enjoy this post and if you have anything to add to the list let me know in the comments!
Why People Fail to Learn Korean in Korea
(Keyword: learn Korean in Korea)
When learning a foreign language, most people are told that the best thing to do is to go to that country and immerse themselves in that country’s language and culture. Learn French in France, learn Spanish in Spain, learn Korean in Korea, and so on.
However, there are plenty of motivated language learners who have tried learning Korean in Korea and have been unsuccessful. Here are ten mistakes to avoid if you want to be successful in your Korean study.
No clear goals
Languages have thousands upon thousands of words, and new words are being created all the time. Therefore, without a clear goal, students are bound to become demotivated and give up due to the size of the task.
Setting realistic but challenging goals helps motivate students and keep them on course. For example, if you are just starting to learn Korean in Korea, then set goals like “being able to read a menu at ‘Kimbab Cheonguk’”. Once you reach this goal, then every time you visit that restaurant you will be reminded of your success.
No plan or set path to reach the goal
Just being in Korea and trying to speak whenever you can isn’t enough to learn a language. Students need to work out a path to reach their goal.
While it is possible to make a path on your own, it is easier and more efficient to let somebody else make the path for you. You can do this be enrolling in a Korean course or by choosing a good series of textbooks and following them.
However, don’t jump around from course to course or textbook to textbook too often. This will lead you to duplicating your efforts. It is better to research courses and textbooks in the beginning to save yourself time later on.
If you don’t have any interest in Astronomy, then do you really need to know the Korean words for the planets Mercury, Venus, and Mars?
Concentrate on the language that you need and the language that fits your goals.
Also, make sure that you use a textbook that isn’t outdated. Otherwise you can end up wasting a lot of your time. For those studying for the TOPIK, especially be aware of outdated TOPIK books as the test format was changed recently.
Failing to learn sentence fundamentals
With the advent of smartphone applications, learning vocabulary and phrases can seem like an easy way to learn Korean compared with the more difficult task of learning how to make different types of sentences in Korean.
However, your Korean will only improve if you spend the time and effort to learn how to make sentences in Korean. The more effort you put in learning how to correctly make sentences, the easier you will find it to read, listen, write, speak and think in Korean.
If you only learn vocabulary, then these key tasks will still feel like a chore.
Failing to use Korean in everyday situations.
One of the main benefits that you gain by trying to learn Korean in Korea is that you have the chance to use the language in everyday situations. Some great ways to practice are:
By doing these tasks, you give the language a deeper meaning than can be gained by just using a textbook.
You can practice pronouncing the “ㅃ “ sound in a classroom, but it’s much better to put it to the test in real life situations. Try telling the sandwich maker at Subway that you don’t want any cheese by saying:
“치즈 빼 주세요”
This will force you to improve your pronunciation.
Top Tip: substitute ‘cheese’ for something that you dislike to say “please do not put this in my sandwich”
Being afraid to make mistakes
Anyone who has read a ‘How to Succeed in Business’ type book will know that ‘failure is the first step on the road to success’.
The same is true with language. Babies learn their mother tongue through trial and error, they don’t wait until they can say ‘Actually father, I would prefer to play with my teddy bear instead of your car keys today.’ before uttering their first words.
Making mistakes is how we learn. The bigger the mistake, the more you are likely to learn from your mistake.
Not choosing exciting content
Many people are still stuck in the notion that learning must be dull because their time learning in school was dull. If you like Korean comic books, Korean dramas, or K-pop, use these to study.
The more interested you are in something, the more motivated you will be to learn it. This advice applies to finding good Korean teachers, too. Don’t do a language exchange with somebody who you would naturally avoid because they bore you to death. Instead, choose somebody who is fun to talk with and you will improve far more than you would otherwise.
Having no system of accountability
At school, if you don’t learn the twenty words for the test on Wednesday, then you have to stay behind for an hour to study.
If you fail your final exam, then you don’t get into college.
There are many negative consequences of not studying.
To keep your studying on track, you also need to create some consequences to prevent you from failing. Enrolling in a university language course creates this accountability in the same way that your school did when you were younger. However, if you are studying on your own, then you need to set up your own accountability system. This system can be made by asking friends or study partners to keep track of your goals. The shame from letting them know that you failed to achieve your goals is often enough to motivate you.
Another way to implement the system is to use punishment. There are websites online that donate money to a charity that you hate if you fail in your goals. You could also ask your friend to create a punishment to help motivate you.
Not hanging out with Korean speakers
Speaking Korean in your free time is very important in improving your language ability. Even if the other speakers are language students like yourself rather than native Koreans, it is still beneficial to speak in Korean to them whenever possible.
In fact, speaking with non-natives can help your sentence building because it forces you to explain difficult words using simple vocabulary that your language partner understands.
Not studying everyday
Studying everyday keeps Korean in your mind, preventing you from forgetting what you have already learned. It also helps you to think in Korean!
Even if you only study for five minutes a day, this is a massive help. It is better to study in short sessions on a regular basis than to cram all of your studying into one long session.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you’ll make it easier to learn Korean in Korea. Then you can tell all your friends what a fun time you are having studying Korean!