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Some tips for studying Korean grammar structures

Grammar structures are not meant to be memorized, they are meant to be understood and you need to be able to pick them out using the conjugations and particles from a sentence in a second. It’s a skill that take time to be developed and probably most people will find it harder to recognise a grammar pattern compared to recognising a word in a sentence.

1. Don’t rely on one grammar book / guide

I always believe in using a wide variety of textbooks / guidebooks and websites in my Korean study. No one book is perfect and not all explanations are adequate or sufficient. From my personal experiences, I always learn something extra when I read up a grammar structure in a few different books. It may be a note explaining the minute differences between a few similar-meaning structures, or an additional nuance, or that one particular structure is found more in formal texts than everyday conversation etc.

It helps to reinforce my memory of the structure when you read about it in different books and different times. For example, I may come across ~면 좋겠다 in Book A today and a few weeks later, I read another explanation of it in Book B with different examples. In that way, you don’t feel compelled to commit it to memory right from the start. Even if you don’t have a photographic memory, I think it’s likely that you will find the structure vaguely familiar and checking it out again helps alot.

2. Don’t force yourself to remember

Some of the people I’ve talked to voiced out that they find it really frustrating when they find that they CANNOT remember anything. I understand that kind of frustration, but it can be avoided if you don’t plan to remember anything in the first point. As in, don’t try to force yourself to remember.

It really works, trust me. We all learn better in a relaxed state and probably that is why you have no problems remembering details from kpop news that you read through once rather than history facts that you forced yourself to remember. I’m using the same method with Japanese now and I think I’m progressing well. I pay attention to what I’m reading and learning but I don’t memorise. I do forget time and again but I’ll just go back to check out the grammar structure again. Korean does not have that much conjugations when it comes to verbs, but if you try to memorise those in Japanese, I think you are giving yourself a hard time. ^^

3. Take things slowly

We all want to see progress and one way is to keep learning new grammar structures. It may work in the short term, but I don’t think you will be able to absorb much in the long term. Personally I prefer learning grammar structures for awhile until I hit a ‘limit’. It’s hard to define the limit, but I am now more sensitive towards my learning capacities. If you feel that you are taking more effort than usual to learn a grammar structure, or that you are getting a little sick and tired of grammar, or when you simply feel that you can’t absorb anymore, stop.

Switch to something else. Usually I’ll start reading passages or short articles. Doing that can help to consolidate your understanding of all the grammar structures that you have picked up so far, learn some new vocabulary and basically training your reading skills.

Reading skills in a foreign language is not directly equivalent to knowing the vocabulary and the grammar structures. It’s a separate skill that needs time to be developed, if you wanna be a fast reader in the foreign language.

I’m quite a decent reader in Korean now xD But I’m still perfecting my skills in speed reading. 😀

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1 Comment

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    1 August, 2011 at 8:53 PM

    Thank you for tips! Those will be helpful for me =] I think I just hit the “limit” or at least soon. 😀 Maybe I now need to find some basic (beginner) readings.

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