Person holding Korean textbook in bed
Self studying Korean

Learning Korean on my own – The Beginning

Self studying Korean language from bedThis is the beginning. Not the beginning of my Korean learning journey, but the beginning of trying to chronicle it and share my triumphs and defeats. Many many defeats. This is a Korean self study blog with a twist.

The twist? I can never sit down at a desk to study. Let me explain.

I first started self studying Korean around 2012. It went pretty well, I memorized Hangul and basics of Korean grammar rather quickly. Back then I was spending more time looking for where and how to learn Korean rather than actually studying. Now, in 2018, the tables have turned. I know every obscure place where Korean materials are hiding and I am well-equipped to study, but my brain isn’t.

You see, some time after I started learning Korean, I got sick with severe neurological illness.

Person holding Korean textbook in bed
On a good day I study Korean while lying on my back with textbook propped on my knees. Edit: I have since found a DIY book holder that helps me study while lying down.

It has left me bedridden, with memory issues, learning difficulty (learning impossibility, more like it), unable to read more than a few sentences at a time, and memory issues that would make a goldfish seem like an elephant compared to me.

Did I mention I have memory issues?

Let’s face it, learning Korean takes a long time and is often difficult even for the healthiest among us.

I am not one of the healthiest. I need a nap after reading one paragraph in a textbook. I don’t have the strength to hold a pen for more than a few seconds when I practice writing. And when I use online resources screen light hurts my eyes.

The most recent ingredient my brain decided to throw in the mix is a seizure every now and then. And these seizures love to rear their ugly heads (technically they rear my ugly head) every time I see movement on screen or hear sound from speakers which means Korean video lessons are out of the question.

I’ve broken every rule of best language learning practices. I’ve spent months, years, without revising what I’ve learned. At times I studied just vocabulary for months because I couldn’t get my inflamed brain to understand grammar. And now I’m studying Korean without ever hearing it.

So why don’t I just give up?

The truth is, I love learning Korean. In all of this mess, I love making some progress, I love colorful textbooks with that enticing smell, I love the look of Hangul, I love filling out notebooks, and above all I love the idea of having access to Korean culture (and online shopping, ahem) that someone who doesn’t speak the language can never have.

I started this blog for several reasons.

One is to break the isolation of studing alone. Another is to chronicle my progress, as sometimes it seems I’m not making any. That can be very discouraging and embarrassing. Honestly, it makes me terrified that 6 precious years of my life have passed and that I haven’t improved as a person.

But it’s not true! I’ve come a long was from confusing an ใ…— on top of ใ…‡ with an ใ…Ž.

Mixing up Hangul letters
Difficult to believe I ever got confused by things like this.

My vocabulary has grown, I understand more and more grammar patterns and am even able to use them, I know how to touch-type Korean…

And yet another reason I started this blog is that I had to find shortcuts to overcome my limitation, I had to find the best Korean learning resources to make any progress at all. I want to share all I have learned and discovered in making studying efficient, because one thing we all have in common is that there is never enough time.

12 thoughts on “Learning Korean on my own – The Beginning”

  1. I just finished a course about Korean language and reading this words make me fight for my dream, I always loved the sound of Hangul and now, I have the opportunity to study it, you make my night happier because I need to put more effort and someday I will be proud of my desition.

  2. Congratulations for your efforts; you are really very courageous.
    Which book did you start with ? You don’t mention the title or the author.

  3. C est trรจs touchant ta maniรจre de raconter. Tu as une chance de faire de ta maladie quelque chose de rรฉversible ?

  4. This is so inspiring. I have been working to learn Korean in different ways since 2016, I’m trying to find the ways it will click for me. I tried a night course at a JC here in California but I felt self conscious being the only 50 year old in class, others being barely 20, and the pace they teach at was hard for a beginner. I don’t know any Korean speakers so I’ve listened to countless YouTubers and watched Kdramas and listened to music trying to decipher words for fun. (I adore BTS)
    I’ve bought many books, visited used book stores in search of children’s books and searched the net where I’ve fiound you. I identify with the way you express your thoughts and how you are enjoying the journey of learning even with your limitations. Thank you. ๐Ÿ’œ

    1. Thank you!

      You’ve had quite a journey yourself. But that’s part of the fun.

      As for the being the only 50-year-old, I have this funny quote: “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you donโ€™t mind, it doesnโ€™t matter.”

      I hope to see you around here again as we get better at Korean and good luck!

  5. This was very inspiring. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I hope you achieve all the goals you set yourself <3

  6. It is hard to learn Korean. I am learning again after 3 years of stopping. I too have been diagnisied with a neurological disorder last year that is trying to take my vision. But I am still learning in a class and sometimes by myself Good luck to you!!

    1. I’m so sorry to hear you have neurological condition too. I hope they find a way to stop it, although I know how complicated research and treatments get when brain is involved.

      Still, I’m glad you managed to pick up Korean again. It’s nice to be able to take our mind off darker things and feel like we’re improving ourselves.

    2. Please donโ€™t stop learning the Korean, it is difficult at first, slowly it will be easy, wish you all the best, and I will pray for you, wish you all the best.

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