16 In Korean learning journey (:

Being satisfied – a good or bad thing in language learning?

“you are pretty good already”

“that’s enough to survive in Korea”

“it’s good enough already. You can already do this and that in said language”

“how good you want to be? hahaha”

“don’t be so greedy. You are already so good!”

I think one of the things that I’m really scared of is that one day I’ll be satisfied when it comes to the languages that I’m learning. No matter if the satisfaction comes from within or from the compliments / comments that I get from people around me, I think it’s scary. Once you come to a certain level of ability (no matter in what), I think it’s very much in human nature that you will start to think “hey I’m pretty good” and be happy about it. No matter how much we try to deny, I’m sure everyone likes compliments and they will get to you somehow. It’s not that easy to brush off compliments and be totally unaffected about it. 칭찬이 독이다. I believe in this lol.

Come of think of it, I’m kinda guilty of telling people similar things too.

“Please.. you are super good already!!”

“You are already better than so many other people out there!”

Guilty of it. Why am I saying the same stuff to other people when I don’t like hearing things like that in the first place?

I admit that I have a lot of .. ambition(?) when it comes to Korean. I don’t want to be “good”, and I don’t want to sit around feeling happy that I’m considered pretty good for a foreigner who is learning the language (at least amongst my own social network – the world is damn large).

However, to be very honest, I find myself slipping down into the “quite satisfied” zone recently. I don’t feel any particular need to work super super hard for Korean at the moment, and I’m happily leaving Korean aside to focus on Japanese at the moment. Lacking internal and external motivation. To put it even more bluntly, I’m acting this way because I don’t feel threatened. (HAHAHA what am I saying)

But I don’t like myself for it. I think I am one of those people who needs 자극 and a poke in my pride/ego every now and then. I can get quite competitive and I like to feel that urge to improve and get better haha. Right now, I need to be be made to feel that I suck so badly at Korean that I should be ashamed to think that I am pretty good. I need to be put in that situation again when I find myself unable to express myself properly in Korean, unable to read in Korean. I think I need to be in Korea again.

To be amongst Koreans. To meet more foreigners who are learning Korean (and who are damn good at it).


Back to talking about those comments. I get them quite a lot to be honest. A lot of people cannot understand why I want to get to that “native standard” and they think that I should totally be satisfied with being functional in the language. Is it a bad thing if I want to strive to be even better? Is it becoming a norm that “good” is more than enough? D:

I don’t know.

Hard to put this into words. While I can be totally happy about being “good” or “passable” in some things in life, there are some that I really want to keep taking on to the next level. And I think Korean is one of those things at this point in life.

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  • Reply
    2 May, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    I wish I can advance in Korean as fast as you do. Cause now all of a sudden I have interest in Japanese and this is really bad for my Korean learning. I bought some Korean books and wanted to reach at least a conversational level but since my job may require me to speak more Japanese than Korean, I’m slacking towards Japanese. Now I’m kinda torn on which to focus on more. I wish I have more motivation like you do >___<

    • Reply
      2 May, 2013 at 10:34 PM

      I’m facing similar problem. I’m working in a Japanese company where my MD, manager & asst. manager are pure Japanese. Other than that 90% of our client is Japanese company. Basically they don’t need Korean speaker but Japanese speaker. This make me getting far away from continue my Korean learning. It would be fine if I could get better on my Japanese but I’m not. I’m really slacking towards it and really need more motivation too >__<

      • Reply
        3 May, 2013 at 11:54 AM

        ㅋㅋ Being in a Japanese environment itself is already conducive to language learning. You may not have noticed it, but I think it’s definitely helping your Japanese (: As for Korean, if you are interested in it, just to leave some time for it. It sucks to have a pragmatic reason being the reason you stopped learning Korean D:

    • Reply
      3 May, 2013 at 11:48 AM

      The model answer will be to do both at the same time, but having tried to do so, I know how difficult it is. ><; My Korean learning is kinda on a standstill now while I'm learning Japanese

  • Reply
    2 May, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    I can’t help you on this because I don’t speak Korean at all (yet ^^ ) !
    But anyway, good luck and I wish you to find your motivation back 🙂

    • Reply
      3 May, 2013 at 11:48 AM


  • Reply
    Clayton Wong
    2 May, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    I think your dilemma is like everything in life. For example I as an engineer came to a point where I said to myself, that’s enough learning – my expansion years in that profession were over. But that does not mean I stopped learning! Instead I constantly expand into other areas like art, plants, foreign language study, music, etc. these were all at different times, and although not all are at the front of my attention they are still all an important part if me. Eg I’m still a professional engineer lol. I think what you may be encountering is the limit of ones time – so many things to do, see, learn, yet so little time. .., so I think what you are experiencing is ok, totally natural . Korean studies will always be a part of you, but at the moment you maybe a little distracted by a newer interest. One last thing- through my study of various and diverse forms of human expression, I’ve realized that the fundumental elemental concepts of all are the same be it engineering and mathematics, music and painting, or language. Actually language is kind of in the middle of the extremes lol. My point is Korean language is only the elephants tail of the entire thing you are studying. To get a better picture of what you are looking at yiu need different perspectives ergo to study different things, and the more diverse they are the quicker you will get the big picture. When I saw you dusting off your organ u wad elated and sincerely hoped you went for it. Dirty about the lengthy message but I felt compelled to share this concept. Keep up the super work no matter what angle you are coming from 🙂

    • Reply
      3 May, 2013 at 11:50 AM

      Thanks for the comment!! 😀 yeah sometimes I feel a little bad about leaving Korean aside for awhile but I still want to try something new xD Just have to try to balance between them! I wonder what else I will be interested in the future!

  • Reply
    2 May, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    It seems like you’re really enjoying your Japanese studies these days. It is super impressive that you are so good at two languages which aren’t native to you. ^^

    I think for one to be truly fluent in a foreign language takes sooo much time and effort. I’ve seen people here who have studied English for ten years and are still far from being fluent. With that in mind, I guess we all have to accept that we may not actually get there. I want to be able to communicate on basic things without any issues – that’s enough for me. I have to talk on the phone in Korean often and it is so uncomfortable and awkward. ㅠㅠ But I’ll probably, like you’re worried about, give up before I get to the level I wish to reach.

    Perhaps when you get your TOPIK results it will be a sufficient kick up the bum? I imagine if you missed out on the level 6 then you’ll find that motivation again. Hopefully you achieved it, though!

    • Reply
      3 May, 2013 at 11:51 AM

      HAHAHA I can’t help but LOL at this comment xD Exactly what I was thinking. Failing TOPIK will definitely be enough as a wake up call. :/ hehe hopefully I don’t think it though. Japanese is really fun for me right now. I think that’s cos I’m at the stage of language learning that I love most 😛

  • Reply
    2 May, 2013 at 6:55 PM

    The next level is to be fluent as Native and then the next level is to be good as Korean writer or Korean master…. There are lots of thing to learn for sure and I think you won’t be stop learning unless you’re bored with Korean.
    I know this because English is my second language and I never feel satisfied.

    BTW I wish I can be good in korean as yours some say ^_^

    • Reply
      3 May, 2013 at 11:52 AM

      hehe yeah that’s always a lot more left to learn!

  • Reply
    3 May, 2013 at 12:09 AM

    Well you still have the goal of native like comprehension right ? Ie watching and understanding a kdrama or radio 100% and effortlessly. My goal for Japanese is native level comprehension which I hope to receive someday. I have made lots of progress with my kikitori and the ability to infer. I’m sure if I keep reading and watching and listening I will get there. As everyone knows native level is very high so it becomes like a matter of time with the amount of media I consume due to sheer amount of vocab and phrases and idioms and whatnot. and to accomplish that one has to find that reslly captivates him or her. ive found that so im defi itely on my way and I look up words as I watch

    I remember leaving a comment a while ago Abt how you learn from korean dramas and what percen understand etc etc. I personally don’t have much desire to speak japanese fluently simply because there’s just so much japanese tv with interesting talk that I want to watch.

    • Reply
      3 May, 2013 at 11:56 AM

      The goal is there, the motivation is not D: For Japanese, I’m quite happy with just being able to understand (for now). But I feel that I should also make some effort into trying to speak it because I don’t want to regret that I totally neglected speaking a few years later. As I progress, I think the goals that I have will change, so for now, I try to improve in all aspects without trying to choose one.

  • Reply
    3 May, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    칭찬이 독이다 I like this xD. Also thanks for teaching me two new vocabulary also! But yeah it’s almost impossible for us to not let a compliment get to our heads.
    Kinda guilty? You are guilty of it 😛 but it’s not a bad thing. Don’t girls do this all the time? Like you say to a friend “you are really pretty”, but when someone tells you are pretty then, you deny it to no end. I think it just happens, it’s not like a bad thing. We just like to spread the praise also!

    I think that poke in our pride/ego does help us know that we need to improve and become better haha. I would like to be a “friend” and knock you down a peg but my Korean skills come no where near yours hahaha I’m such a good friend xD. (I hope you don’t mind the sarcasm) I’m not sure if you have seen this but maybe this will help? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHDOvZmDTDA

    Yeah don’t let those comments deter you from what you want to do. I think it’s great how you want to become to that native level. I just wish you could find people that want to do the same as you! I’m sure there are people out there, let’s look for them~

    Great post btw!^^

  • Reply
    3 May, 2013 at 6:15 PM

    Just a quick word: I understand you very well, as I have a similar problem with English now. What gets me into a ‘want-to-study-more’ mode is finding a new challenge. Recently I started translating some stories, partly or fun, partly for practice, and I noticed how much I learnt again. Picking up a difficult book helps as well.
    Honestly, I don’t think you ever stop learning a language. It’s the same with our first language – we still need to pick up an encyclopedia from time to time (although now it’s usually Wikipedia 😉 So, I think that your wanting to learn more is totally normal. I now try to juggle my time between English, Spanish and Korean, and probably Korean is taking priority right now. But it might change in few months. And the same might happen to you. At your level of Korean it is, I guess, more learning through practicing than anything else. And you still learn only by having a contact with the language.
    Ok, that wasn’t as short as I expected. Hope we can have a chat once my Korean is good enough for it.
    Take care!

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