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Creating a comfortable routine for language learning

Made a new video yesterday and some of you might have already seen it!

When learning a foreign language, one of the hardest part (at least in my opinion) is creating a routine or a system that you are comfortable with. What do I mean by a system? Here’s some points to consider

  • What books to use?
  • What to concentrate on? – grammar, listening, speaking etc
  • How to organize your studying – Anki? Flash cards? Online notebook? A physical notebook each for grammar and vocab? …
  • What to write in your notebooks
  • How to review your studying

And the list goes on. Personally, I’m a person of routines (at least in language learning). I need to feel comfortable and settled in and feel organized. This doesn’t mean I stick to one routine and never change or improve. And it doesn’t mean that you don’t continue to challenge yourself. I change my routines too. I concentrate on different areas (grammar, vocabulary) at different times and I read from different fields at different times.

But I still have a very basic way of organization that I stick to. And it works well for me.

When I first started taking up Japanese a little more seriously, I feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start because I lack a system / routine. I have a few books in front of me and an empty notebook. But I’m not sure what to approach first and how to do it.

It takes time and loads of experimenting to find a system that you are comfortable with. It took me awhile for both Japanese and Korean. I got a little more lucky with Korean though.

I’m now at my 7th notebook for Korean and I can see how much I’ve progressed over the 4 years. From my childish blocky Korean handwriting and loads of English in the first notebook to an almost Korean-only 7th notebook – it puts a smile on my face.

Looking through my notebooks reminds me of all the hard work I have put in and how it all paid off in the end.

Perhaps I will make a video to show you guys the progress of my 1st to 7th notebook 😀 That is if anyone is interested >.<

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  • Reply
    24 February, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    I am a strong advocate of routines! Having a routine makes studying systematic, dynamic, and helps keeps a structure that can benefit the learner in the long-run.

    My problem is reviewing! I’m so busy learning, I barely have time to review! Not to mention, there is always so much to review ><;;

    I mainly use two notebooks – one for vocabulary, and one for grammar. It ends up working for me because it keeps the two separate and makes it easier to reference. 😀

    I think it's important to keep things simple. From personal experience, the more complicated something is, the faster I'll end giving up becuase I'll be too tired or too lazy. ^^

    • Reply
      24 February, 2012 at 10:40 AM

      ㅋㅋㅋ I don’t review actually. oops. I just use a few textbooks and so I keep seeing the same grammar point in different books and somehow I manage to remember them xD

      • Reply
        25 February, 2012 at 1:24 PM

        진짜 대단하시네요!!! 🙂

  • Reply
    24 February, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    I am NOT a creature of routine, but I wish I was! I can totally see the benefit of it, especially in language learning. Korean is my 3rd new language I’m trying to acquire, but honestly I would never have learned French or Arabic if I hadn’t been living in a French/Arabic speaking country! Now I am living in Korea, and I know I have a huge advantage!

    I just started learning Korean a few short months ago, and I’m trying to start a routine. Since I’m just starting should I focus on learning lots of vocabulary, or also learn a lot of grammar? Right now I don’t feel like I know/understand a lot of Korean grammar at all.

    Love your blog!

    • Reply
      24 February, 2012 at 10:39 AM

      wow French and Arabic! I’m kinda interested in Arabic, but I know I won’t actually learn it unless there’s a possibility that I may live there (which is close to zero D:).

      I think you should do both at the same time, but perhaps focus more on grammar. With grammar, you can start forming sentences, even if the vocabulary is a little limited. Kinda useless if you remember vocab via vocab lists and not be able to apply them!

      Take things slow and enjoy learning! Since you are in Korea now, it will be a lot easier and perhaps more rewarding and interesting ^^

  • Reply
    journi (@twilightjourni)
    24 February, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    Right now I’m concentrating more on verbs and conjugations along with sentence construction. Don’t know about having a routine, but try to stay focused as much as I can. And I also concentrate on learning since my listening skills are still iffy at best. When I’m listening to the TTMIK lessons I try to mimic the speech as much as I can. My biggest problem is cramming too many lessons probably in a short time. I’m excited about learning and think I need to slow the pace down. My first copybook, which I thought at the time looked fine, seems scattered to me now. I also have a bad habit a starting a book from the first page and then flying to the last and meet in the middle. Not doing that anymore. It’s a strange lefthanded thing for me since sometimes I’ll look at magazines from back to front.

    I’m also printing Hangeul words, underneath I’ll do the sounds the proper way and in red underneath those print the English sounds to my ear. It helps but now I’m trying not to do that because I’m relying on reading those and not the Hangeul. I also keep a separate vocabulary copybook. This way I can reference or study when the need arises. I still have a long, long way to go.

    • Reply
      24 February, 2012 at 10:42 AM

      ahhh. Try to stop using English sounds when learning Korean. They have very different sounds and if you see Korean sounds via the English sound system, you will end up speaking an English-ized version of Korean. which will sound super weird. ^^

      Following native speech is the way to go. Try to rely on your ears rather than your ermm logic and what you already know ^^

  • Reply
    24 February, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    Why will anyone be no interested in the notebooks? Come on~ we are all busybodies

  • Reply
    24 February, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    Definitely interested to see how you organise you’re notes. I’ve not found a good system yet but I’m trying out vocab lists in my blog. Working okay so far.

  • Reply
    Lucie Dvorakova
    24 February, 2012 at 8:54 PM

    I would definitely love to see how you progressed through the 7 notebooks. I’m on my third one, but the use of English hasn’t reduced in them.

  • Reply
    25 February, 2012 at 5:51 AM

    Wow. You’re really organized! I’m also learning Korean, but I’m not really a routine person. It does seem to be usefull though, because I’m kind of stuck at the moment. I’d really like to see your progress through your notebooks!

  • Reply
    25 February, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    you should look into srs programs like anki. or did you already look at it and don’t want to use it?

    Well I find it really helpful and I don’t want hvae to worry about forgetting words for the rest of my life lol.

    • Reply
      25 February, 2012 at 1:30 PM

      good for you. anki and srs doesn’t work for me. O.o

  • Reply
    25 February, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    As a self-confessed obsessive-compulsive, I also like… no I NEED to be organized! I just can’t work if things are not organized. I have my notebooks (colored pens) and my reading materials and other lessons. And I work on a routine too. I change it from time to time depending on what I want to focus on and how much time I have. 🙂

  • Reply
    27 February, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    Yesterday I tried to learn from Check Check (a very brave step since it’s not my level yet haha but it’s a good break from my usual Korean learning routine).

    I saw you seldom wrote on your textbook. Me, I love to see my handwriting on textbook (e.g new words definition), that way I feel like I really use the book. ㅋㅋ
    Anyway, when you review your textbook and forget the words, do you write it again in your textbook or just browse your notes?

    • Reply
      27 February, 2012 at 11:02 AM

      hahaha. i dont do reviews xD i usually look at something just once. ^^
      And I prefer to keep my textbooks clean unless there is enough space for me to write on it – which that particular book does not provide.

  • Reply
    27 February, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    I Couldnt have done a routine but i wish i hadve made a notebook. At least to be able to look and have concrete evidence of my progress as opposed to “hmmm i dont think i could read that last month”

  • Reply
    27 June, 2012 at 12:59 AM

    Routine doesn’t necessarily mean doing the same things over and over again, it also means becoming comfortable with your style or preference of learning. It doesnt mean that we cannot add variety to those methods, it just means that we know what we need to do in order to fully understand whatever it is we are trying to achieve. With that being said, routine can be a very great thing. Great article!!! Think of children, in which through programs like Muzzy and Dino Lingo ultimately encourages routine in variety, that is, accomplishing tasks in a timely yet fun and activity filled manner. Wonderful article!

  • Reply
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