Top Social

My thoughts about self-learning Korean (How I did it)

December 25, 2016
I actually wanted to write a post of this topic quite awhile ago then I stumbled across a Singaporean blogger's blog few days ago which she wrote about her journey of learning Korean and Japanese where she began from self-learning and it is quite similar to my situation so I guess maybe I can give my two cents too? Not sure if it would help anyone out there but just wish to share what I know so far. And I will go by the usual question and answer form so you get to know it clearer.

Q : How do you feel about self-learning a completely new language? Was it hard for you?

It was not hard at all for me to be honest, I started receiving info and knowledge of foreign language when I was 14 cause I was so into Kpop and it used to make me feel closer to my oppas (roll eyes). So ya I was already very interested in it when I started so I could say I learned and adapt quite fast. And what I wish to say here is everything is not tough anymore if you really like it (smiles).

Q : How and where did you learn it? 

10 years back I was not really good with net surfing and all so I started off with copying lyrics. I used to buy those albums and they always came with a lyrics booklet so I would normally copied them down to a notebook and translated word by word. I didn't even know what I was copying but I just wrote them down and translated to romanization. And I did that every day without fail, anyhow I will squeeze out an hour or so every single day to copy them. Basically I learned my pronunciation from listening to Korean songs (I can listen to the same song for more than 10 times a day, and Korean songs blasting day to night).

I would also looked up to online tutorials when I got more familiar with the whole internet thing. What I did was I downloaded some of the worksheets (for beginners) and tried to do them with the help of google translator and dictionaries. I actually bought quite a few Korean grammar books, I was really picky in getting these guide books. I suggest you to get those without translation/romanization (especially those translated using chinese words, they sound really funny and you would probably get mislead and also to prevent you from being too dependent on the translation given). I prefer translating everything on my own in my mind but it is also better to do some short notes sometimes. This was how I learned to read fast (without knowing 100% the meaning though) but good enough to read lyrics (raises eyebrow)

Q : Do you need to spend a lot of time in it since you're doing self-learning?

Not really, as I mentioned I would spend an hour or two sometimes less if I was busy with exam preparation or so. But doing it everyday keep you fresh and attended, because it is not something that we learn since young so it definitely needs longer time for us to process the info received. I would suggest the beginners to try practicing every day, even just half an hour from writing, listening or reading. It helps really, trust me. It is all about persistence here, you can't rush.

Q : How do you know if pronounce correctly since you have no tutor to correct you?

HAHA, at this stage google is quite helpful but not all the time. I watched many Korean dramas and listened to close to or maybe more than 1000 Korean songs already in the past 10 years. And I really like repeating the lines in drama (sometimes pretending I was the one acting), I would follow what and how they said it for a few times, listened to myself and repeat the lines for a few times to check if I did it correctly. Besides, I watched short videos too and I will repeat the scenes again and again till I got to listen clearly of what the person saying. I'm quite fussy in pronunciation, be in for other languages as well. I always try my best to speak as accurate as possible cause to be honest it sounds annoying to me when people strengthen on the "r" so much when they say saranghae (roll eyes). Of course I'm not the best, but I always try my best.

Q : How do you understand if you are watching something without subtitles?

Because I only did self-learning all these while so I have very very bad grammar. I could understand words and short sentences but not formal and long ones. But I can still understand about 50-70% depending on what kind of videos. As for songs a little bit more as they are usually about the same (especially love songs). I used to force myself to watch videos without subtitles just so I could practice my listening and also get my brain used to this language. For me it worked quite well, cause I improved quite a lot in my listening and I sometimes watch drama without subtitles and still know if the boy loves the girl or not, or he is dying from some disease bla bla (smirks). Simple to average is fine for me but big NO NO for ancient story background kind of drama, I understand nothing cause I know not much about formal language (I really wish I could understand them one day though). Overall, I think it is about practice again. Try it once in awhile to watch a short video without looking at the subs and force yourself (not like force force la if you get what I mean) to understand it and remember the meaning of each line. It definitely made a difference after some time.

Q : Where and how did you practice it?

I talk to myself a lot (no I'm not crazy), and I sing. I used to own a Korean twitter thing called me2day, and it was where I made friends with Korean people. And I tried to chat with them in my very very broken Korean I was lucky la most of them too kind and complemented on my Korean (which was quite bad actually at that stage but I used to think I quite geng hahahah) so it gave me lots of courageous to use Korean more in my daily life. I tried to write short passage or sentences in my secret notebook (now gone liao) or I would just post it on me2day since nobody used it (my friends only Jenn knows la).

Oh there was a thing I did too, quite rude actually. I listened to people's conversation every time when I met Korean people around me. (kepoh I know) but I wanted to try understanding what they saying cause Korean speak 10 times faster than what you hear from your whatever guide CDs or tutorial videos. I failed la most of the time, still adapting to their speed of speaking (sighs).

There was a time I really got to practice it though, I went Korean for a trip in around 2011. I chatted a lot to the driver who brought us around. He was like appa to all of us and I actually called him that too. I would always go next to him while waiting for the others before we left to next station and tried my best to make conversation. And through our conversation I found out that he has a son studying in KyungHee who is a few years elder than me and he also went around telling people (restaurant owners most of the time) I was cute (I said WAS ah not cute anymore I know). At the end of the trip he even wrote his phone number down in my notebook and told me to contact him if I was going to come Korea again (cause I told him I wanted to pursue Korean language in Korea). I tried to speak Korean to them locals too when I was asking for stuffs or buying things instead of speaking English to them. Ok back to story, so I think it is really great if you have someone to talk to in order for you to really practice it in real life but I never tried speaking Korean to my korean friend before la I paiseh. (last time buey paiseh see people I talked ba liao)

Q : Do you think self-learning is enough to master it?

I do not think it's enough for you to really master it through only self-learning. Because most of the time you need to speak and write a lot for you to fully adapt into using the language cause it is not our mother tongue afterall. And we forget easily after few months not using it (me la goldfish memory). It's really better if you can sign up for class after reaching more than average level, and try to get tutors who speak Korean as native cause it is where you get to learn the most accurate information, pronunciation especially. But I think there are still people who managed to master the language despite doing only self-learning (cause you know genius everywhere). I strongly suggest you to start with self-learning though at the beginning stage, quite a waste of money if you spend few hundreds just to learn how to read the basic which you can always learn from internet.

After writing this post I think I should have done this a lot earlier, I always wish to share useful info on my site instead of spamming with my emotional posts. Oh ya, I just signed up for Korean class as I think it is really time for me to make it to a more advanced level, I have stopped half way for way too long already wasted a few years time in between. I hope whatever I have said could help any of you out there who is interested in picking up a new language but too afraid of wasting too much money on it. So self-learning it is! It is not hard at all trust me, anyhow you will find a way to get there if you really have a strong interest here.

See you in the next post!
Post Comment
Post a Comment

Auto Post Signature

Auto Post  Signature