Studying Korean

I first started learning the ‘Korean alphabet (Hangul 한글)’ in 2017, but I didn’t really pursue the language further. I tried, but it’s hard to know which way to go or what resources to take.

This year, I picked up Korean again and now have a place to actually study it. I signed up for a spot in Bangtan Academy around February and have finished about 8 classes since then. When I got in, I was only at 1B in the Sejong test. I leveled up in August to 2A. Even though the test doesn’t really show your proficiency like TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) does, it is a good way to see what you need to work on. Grammar is what I really struggle with because Korean grammar is very different to what I am used to with English. I believe my vocabulary is okay, but after a while, you will find yourself having a hard time absorbing more words. 😅 10 months of studying diligently and I feel like I can’t retain more vocabulary in my system. How do people do this for years?

This is why I’m writing about this now. Sometimes, I am losing motivation plus it’s our winter break right now, and one day without using/thinking in Korean feels like everything I have learned so far has already been thrown out of the window. 🥲

February 2021
August 2021

Bangtan Academy

Bangtan Academy is a discord server that offers free classes and different ways to study. You can take self-study if you don’t like to attend classes. You can join a club where you have to submit homework before the deadlines. Yes, we do homework. We have exams, too.

BA is really a good place to be if you want that push. I procrastinate a lot so the deadlines and attendance really keep me in check. You need to submit at least 1 homework every month to stay at the server, though. If you fail, you are out. We do a lot of fun stuff there, but we are not playing. You have to be serious with your studies or someone else will take your spot. Since it is featured in Weverse, it is now harder to get in. I’m really grateful I got in before all that attention.

What I like about BA (aside from how organized and structured they are) is the people. Everyone is so nice, welcoming, and encouraging. We all come from all parts of the globe, speaking different languages and belong to different age brackets. It is a safe space, we don’t really disclose our full names or exact age. No solicitation or promoting of any personal info/businesses. We can’t send photos/selfies of ourselves too. Classes mostly require joining the voice chat, if it’s not a speaking class, you do not even have to turn your mic on.

BA is named after BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan 방탄소년단) but is open to everyone who wants to learn Korean, not only for ARMYs (fans of BTS). I have classmates who are not, they do not know BTS names or the BT21 characters. Really, it’s open for everyone. I have classmates who are also from different fandoms. There is no drama or fanwar. You’ll get kicked out if you do not maintain ‘peace and harmony’ in the server. After all, we have one purpose there and that is to study Korean.

In BA, we have native Korean speakers who help facilitate the classes or answer any questions about Korean – even it’s about the culture and not the language itself, you will learn so much there. But we also have lots of class leaders or *sunbaenim 선배님 who are not native speakers. I think that’s one of the reasons why I don’t easily get intimidated or too afraid to make mistakes. I mean, I still get all sweaty during speaking class 🤣 but we all started at 0 and it’s inspiring to see everyone leveling up.

*sunbaenim 선배님 – senior/in this case, those who have higher level than us from 3A and above

Staying Motivated

Learning a new language is really hard. Too hard that it is so easy to give it up and just drop it. But everytime I see my alumni tags (it is like a badge that you get after finishing a class/course), I gain strength again.

I have also built a strong support system in the BA server. Some of us use the Forest App every time we want to be productive/finish our to-do lists so we plant together. It really helps me feel less lonely in this journey – seeing and knowing that there are people out there who are just as struggling as me in studying Korean. 😂

I join study groups as well on top of the classes I take. Study group is a good way for me to have that drive to improve myself. You don’t attend study groups and just sit in (tho sometimes we do that hahaha), it’s a team effort that you want to be able to bring something on the table. So you do your research and really study whichever the topic you have/signed up for.

Other than that, I don’t know how else I stay motivated. Maybe Korean dramas? I’m tired reading the subtitles, I want to watch without the need of it 😂 Also when BTS goes live, I want to be able to understand it real-time instead of waiting for the translation. Ah,,,, understanding Korean songs also help me stay motivated! Recently, we are studying Spring Day in our study group and the song has become even more beautiful to me now—more painful too. 😭

Most importantly, do not forget to set goals! Knowing where you want to be should keep you motivated enough to do the work to get there. My goal for 2022 is 3B. And the ultimate goal is to write a poem in Korean, maybe in 2-3 years time? Uh my brain.


So yea, I just really want to write about my experience in studying Korean. If you have any questions about BA, you can message me 🙂

Happy holidays!! 🎄🎁 Namamasko po~

Thank you for reading! 🤎
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