How do people react when you tell them you are self-studying Korean? So far I have had mostly positive responses, though of course I have also been met with a few obnoxious comments as to my choice of language.
But one thing most people find particularly hard to believe is that it is actually possible to study Korean on your own. I’m not going to go into the whole “can you learn a language outside of class?” because we all know the answer to that question. We’re doing it!
But what are the good things about studying on your own? For many of us it’s a mix of choice and necessity. There may not be classes in our city or even country or some have already been in classes only to choose to go their own way when the term ended.
While having a class with whom you meet and study can be really fun and rewarding, self-studying also has its perks. I’ve tried to compile a few:
When you study on your own, you are not tied to the learning pace of others. If you know a grammar pattern, you can move on. If you feel well-versed in a certain topic, you can move on. On the other hand, if you find something difficult, you can spend as much time as you want without slowing other people down and without feeling stupid because others have already understood.
One of my friends is learning Farsi and in one of the first classes she was getting disillusioned when they spent 20 min on ‘a’ and ‘b’ only to have someone nervously chime in “this is the beginner class, right?”. That was an uncomfortable moment both for my friend who was getting impatient and for the person asking the question who obviously had as many reasons to learn Farsi, but needed a bit more time to become comfortable with a new alphabet.
Freedom to schedule:
Of course there can be a certain beauty in going to a class since then you know that Monday at X hour you are in Korean class and you better prepare to not make a fool of yourself. However, what if Monday is just really inconvenient for you because that’s when you’re working late or you have a really tough exam period coming up so you fall behind in your Korean class?
As a self-learner, you can structure your studies entirely as you see fit. If you’re one of those who is really efficient between 11pm and 2am you can study when the house is quiet. If you have a long train commute you can sneak a Korean book into your bag and no-one will blame you for “reading ahead”.
Freedom to structure your progress:
Above I mentioned both the cases of falling behind and getting ahead of the class. In a class setting neither is usually popular. Basically there is a set syllabus and you better follow it. The teacher expects people to be at about the same level and structures the classes accordingly.
We all have periods when we have more time to study Korean and times when we wake up in the morning knowing that the day won’t bring a single quiet moment to study anything of our own choice. Many self-learners have goals for how much to complete in a certain time frame, but as a self-learner, you are much freer to deviate from the plan. You can do less than planned, but you can certainly also do more!
Freedom to choose your own material:
As a self-learner nobody will decide what you should or shouldn’t read/ listen to/ watch. If you like the TTMIK system you are free to immerse yourself in those lessons, if you have a weakness for the Sogang/Yonsei/some other university system, you follow that. If you are type who learns from reading drama scripts and watching the drama, you are free to do that too. If you want to follow several systems at once for the sake of variation, who is going to tell you not to?
Why are you self-studying? What do you particularly enjoy about self-studying? Please share your experiences and thoughts in the comments 🙂