Learning Korean alone may be something you want or need to do for various reasons. Keep in mind that while studying alone is fine for things like vocabulary and grammar, the only way to get better at speaking the language is by practicing with native speakers through apps like Hello Talk or websites like My Language Exchange.
So let’s jump right into tips on studying Korean alone!
How Difficult is it to Study Korean on your Own?
This really depends on the type of person you are. Some people study better with others in a class, while others do better with books and online courses at home by themselves.
From my own personal experience, while I have no problem with taking classes in person with other people, I do prefer to study alone at home in peace and quiet. I get to work through my own problems and thoughts right on the spot without the interference of others, and I can make my study environment exactly how I want it.
Sometimes I play relaxing music at a low volume, get myself a cup of tea, and snack and get right to work! Hyo is the same way. She is currently studying for an exam and she spends most of her study time at home rather than going to a study place or taking classes at a physical school.
However, there are cons to studying alone. For one, it is much more difficult for a lot of people to motivate themselves alone. Studying with other people or having an actual class schedule to follow is sometimes easier to stick to since there’s more accountability and you’ve likely paid a lot of money for the classes.
When you’re at home, all of your favorite comforts and distractions are there. The TV, your cute dog, your Nintendo Switch (my personal weakness), and of course, your bed.
Now these are not impossible to ignore and stay focused, however, it does make it easier to become randomly distracted all throughout the day.
Create a Studying Habit or Schedule
We are creatures of habit and creating a schedule while difficult at first, will become easier as time goes on. It will keep you focused and your mind and body will get into study mode after you’ve been at it for a few weeks.
Your study habit can be one tailored to you and one that make YOU the most productive. It can be helpful to follow other schedules from people online, but they may not work for you.
For example, I am a night owl. No matter how hard I try, I am much more productive between the hours of 11pm and 3 am. Now when I’m working a full time job, it is not possible to keep this schedule, but when I can, it’s the schedule I prefer to keep myself busy. So keep in mind your most productive hours, but also keep in mind the time where your schedule allows you to be productive.
My friend on the other hand is a strong morning person. Up at 7am and ready to go. Not my style!
Commit to one Study Goal Per Day
This can be whatever you want it to be. Maybe you’re focusing on vocabulary. So your study goal could be to memorize all words of the chapter you’re studying by the end of the day.
I’ve had goals where I needed to make ten sentences using the words I learned that day. Having a goal keeps you focused and will make it harder to get distracted.
You should also make the goal attainable. Not something like, “I will memorize and perfectly conjugate 100 verbs in 1 hour”. I’m exaggerating, but you get the point. That will only discourage you and will probably stop you from studying.
You can write the goal on a piece of paper in big letters and hang it above your desk to periodically remind yourself throughout the day.
The Longer You Study Does Not Mean You Studied Well
Quality over quantity. You can study for hours and still not learn much. A productive one hour study session is ten time better than a 4 hour one where you burned yourself out by forcing yourself to sit at the desk. Take some breaks and even break up you study time into chunks throughout the day.
A timer would be helpful for this and you can take breaks when needed.
We talked briefly about this earlier, but this is an important one. Studying in your bedroom is a bad idea. Your soft, comfortable bed will be too tempting to resist at times. Your study area should be free of distractions.
As for people, you should let people know you won’t be available for a certain time. I’ve always found it hilarious that I could be doing nothing the whole day, but as soon as I decide to get productive, waves of texts and phone calls start coming in. Almost as if they knew the exact moment I decided to be productive!
Putting your phone on silent and putting it away would be best. However, emergencies do happen and you may need to be notified, so this is just a personal preference.
You should also limit yourself to checking things like social media during your study time.
Give yourself a Reward
There’s nothing like a motivating reward to help you complete your goals for the day! For me, I use a favorite dessert to treat myself with or a nice gaming session on the Switch. Choose something that you like and motivate yourself with it.
What are the Best Tools for Studying Korean Alone?
There are many different ways to help you study on your own. You have flashcards, books, online courses, and even watching dramas online.
Books will always be the first and most convenient way to learn on your own.
I would recommend sticking with only a few series. If you get too spread out, you will just end up spending a lot of money on books that basically contain much of the same information. You also don’t want to lug all of those books around or have to constantly remember which lesson from which book you left off on.
If you stick with a few series by the same author or company, you can see a flow and pattern to how they teach and once you become familiar with it, it becomes easier to learn. Book series we recommend for beginners and intermediates are Billy Go’s Korean Made Simple Series and Talk to me in Korean’s books. These are amazing for learning Hangul and getting started with the basics of the language. They also teach grammar as well.
However, for the best grammar series on Korean, I would recommend the Korean Grammar in Use series. There are three books which start with easy grammar structures and then progress steadily until you reach the advanced level. I have yet to make it to the advanced level as I am still making sure I’ve learned and understood everything from the intermediate level.
The great thing about these books is that they make it easy to review and study on your own. There are a variety of workbooks, exercises, and audio files to help reinforce everything you’ve learned.
Different from books, online courses give you the feeling of having a structured course in an actual classroom without actually being in one. Some people prefer only online courses, while other people use them in tandem with various books and other learning aids.
These online courses usually contain structured weekly lessons, PDF files, videos, and a membership area where you can log in and study from anywhere.
A plus for online courses is there are no books to carry around. More than likely you will only need a notebook, something to write with, and an internet connection. However, some people may prefer the physical aspect of holding and writing in a book. It’s all about preference.
And there you have it! Studying alone can be very beneficial and in many cases better than studying with a group. It offers you flexibility around your schedule and lifestyle and set goals that are important to you. Good luck!
Also remember that romanization is only a tool. Try not to depend on it too much. Learning the Hangul alphabet is the key to success!