Check Your Language Learning Goals!

January 27, 2021 by Leave your thoughts
Level 1 book from Talk To Me In Korean

How to learn a language and stay motivated: Check your goals!

My Korean learning journey started with some important prep to help with motivation and to get to grips with the task ahead. Make sure to check out that blog post to see how I achieved that!

I have been studying Korean now for almost a full month and I promised to come back and review what I have done and look back at my goals for January. It’s been a long journey from preparation to starting my studies and it’s a good time to see what’s working and what’s not.

I encourage you to always take time to look back over your studies, so you can keep motivated in your studies. Sometimes we need to accept that our original goals were a bit too ambitious and sometimes they can be made more challenging. Whatever the outcome, you always need a realistic approach to feel you’re achieving something and moving forwards in the process.

Talk To Me In Korean

My first goal for the end of the month was to finish all of the Level 1 lessons on Talk To Me In Korean. There were 25 lessons and one review lesson to go through. January is a month with 31 days, so you might be wondering what happened. Did I run ahead and start Level before the month’s end?

The Kink in my Korean

The learning process has not been 100% smooth. These things rarely are. We have big ideas and plans for our studies and then something happens and reality bites. There is no different for experienced learners. It happens to us all. Welcome to the club!

I was doing very well with the lessons for most of January. The last few days have been tough though. I had some tedious admin jobs to sort out urgently and a pipe burst in the kitchen!

These types of unexpected things happen and you have to prioritise them. Before you know it the day has disappeared and you’re exhausted and only fit for bed!

Sometimes I still feel that these bumps in the road knock the wind out of my sails a little bit. There have definitely been times when it’s been the last nail in the coffin of a project for me.

As I write this I am now getting back into the saddle. I decided to complete lesson 24 just before I made a start on this update. So 28th January is my new Level 1 completion date now. I feel OK about that because I am still on target for my original goal.

Reality Check Time

Along with the delay in my studies I also have to confess that I am painfully aware that many words are not fully in my head yet. In fact I feel like there are probably a lot of things left for me to really commit to memory.

I know I have looked and learnt many things this month. They feel a little fragile though like the ice that forms on water before it really freezes. You know that even a small pebble will make a hole in it that will spread and it will just become liquid again. That’s basically my Korean brain right now.

How do you manage this?

This feeling of not knowing everything we think we should know is one that I am used to. I hear a lot from other people too. If this is you, then my advice is this:

  • Review
  • Revise
  • Remain
Here’s a breakdown of what I mean

REVIEW – It is important to take time to go over what you have done over the month. We need to see things so many times for them to stick and become automatic. Language learning is over-learning, so definitely review!

REVISE – Going through the vocabulary and grammar and see how well you can manipulate it helps to solidify things. Test yourself! For best results make this an active exercise with someone else by teaching it or by putting it in your conversations with other speakers/teacher. Revise!

REMAIN – Stick with your studies and stand firm! Reviewing and revising are great things to do. Doing only those two things can also hold you back if you get obsessed with knowing everything perfectly. Then you lose momentum and sink into a rut where you lack motivation. Things feel like they are not progressing. Instead, remain firm in your commitment to achieve your goals. If you need to update your goals, that’s fine too. The important thing is that you move forwards and keep getting that language input!

The reality of language study is that you will not simply be able to retain every single word you have ever met within a month. It takes a lot of time to be exposed to language for it to be internalised. The important things in any language tend to be repeated often and so they will come back as a natural review for you as you move on too.

You need to be firm and strong in your study plan and move forwards to get more comprehensible input. Remain strong and continue with your learning! Remember how to learn a language and stay motivated: Check your goals!

Comprehensible Input

Getting enough exposure to any new language you are learning is crucial. Keep up with the ways and means of getting the language into your life in a natural way on a daily basis. It’s amazing how much constant exposure will show you the words you really need very often. It’s this repetition that is crucial in actually learning the language.

Genuine content

The best piece of advice I gave myself during this was to follow people on my social media channels. I talked about that before and do look at the details of what I did if you didn’t see that.

The people I am following on Instagram now give me a lot of regular content in Korean without even trying. That is without doubt the best thing I have done to add Korean to my life naturally.

I have also supplemented my studied with some LingQ stories from time to time too. This helps keep things varied for me.


I started off strong with the Memrise Talk To Me In Korean flashcard set that a kind person on Twitter showed me. It lasted around 2 weeks and then it didn’t stick. I have always had a love-hate relationship with these systems. Firstly I see their benefit in terms of revising content after a lesson. It was a good bit of practice for me.

The problem I have is that I find it a bit repetitive and boring to go through. There is definitely a feeling of learning words more as a list and not in the context of the language as I hear it, read it or want to use it.

The reminders and league tables attached to these types of software also frustrate me. I find them demoralising and they make me want to leave the platform. Instead I prefer competing against myself only and I am really not bothered what Jeff in New York City is doing with his Korean vocabulary learning. I mean good on Jeff. He’s doing great and all. But his progress and results have zero impact on my life in this context. If Jeff ever writes to tell me his story, I may gain some inspiration from him. Same goes for Monica, Charlotte, Lee and a whole host of others in these apps! You go, people!

So have a given up on Memrise?

No. Well at least I don’t think so. I will get back in the saddle again and give it another shot. After all I did find something in there pretty cool for revising. In fact we can come back to that in a minute when I share my new goals with you.

The Michel Thomas Method Korean

I managed to catch up with Olly Richards to talk about our thoughts on the long term impact of going through The Michel Thomas Method Korean course. He is one of the student voices on the recordings and it has been two years since he took part in it. For me it has only been a month.

Spoiler alert! We both agreed that the structures really stuck with us. Here is more detail on what we discussed though for you:

Talking to my italki teacher

I have had two lessons on italki with my Korean teacher. He is focused on getting me using Korean and expanding my vocabulary. I have enjoyed the sessions very much and they have been a really useful addition to my learning routine.

If you are interested in italki lessons and have never signed up before, then I am happy to share the Polyglot Conference affiliate link to give you $10 off your first lesson! Enjoy!

So what’s next?

It’s always good to practise what you preach so let’s see my application of my own advice on how to learn a language and stay motivated: Check your goals!

I am happy with the tempo of the lessons on Talk To Me In Korean so far. It fits in well with my other commitments and I can manage my studies easily.

Moving forwards I will use the last few days of January to go through the vocabulary I have learnt along the way and I will pick out lessons I feel I need to review with a full re-listen of the podcast.

I will also see if I can get back into the Memrise playlist for additional review. And I will listen to some more of the LingQ Korean stories for additional exposure to the language.

In February I am going to keep my goal the same. I will do a lesson a day of Level 2 on Talk To Me In Korean and review again in another month to see how things are going.

Stack of Korean books from Talk To Me In Korean.

My books from Talk To Me In Korean arrived, so I am also going to look at how I can add them to the learning process too.

If you’d like to see more frequent updates from me on this journey and share your journey with me and the new group I set up to motivate each other in language learning, then please do join us on Facebook!

How to learn a language and stay motivated: Check your goals!

If you sign up for italki and buy a coupon for language lessons through them, you can use the Promo Code below at checkout to get $5 OFF your order! So a $10 coupon costs you just $5! Use Promo Code: RICHARD

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This post was written by Richard

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