Thirty-day Korean Language Challenge: Week One Reflections

What challenge?

I took up a challenge to study Korean for thirty days while setting goals and logging  hours. The overall goal is to experiment with different studying techniques and create a sustainable daily routine that I’ll eventually be able to stick to and use each day, even after the challenge has ended. At the end of the thirty days, I’ll create a video of myself talking about the challenge in Korean.

Today, I wanted to write a bit about how I’ve studied this past week and what I’ve gained from it.

Week 1: Vocabulary and grammar

Week 1 Study Log

Each week of the challenge, I’ll be choosing a different area of my Korean to focus on. The areas include vocabulary, grammar, listening, writing, and speaking. The focus of this week was to improve my vocabulary and grammar.

I set a minimum amount of study I had to complete each day and, if time permitted, I also completed some supplemental options.

Required tasks:

  • Around last summer I purchased Talk To Me In Korean’s book My First 500 Korean Wordsand I was supposed to learn ten new words each day for fifty days, but that didn’t last long. So for this challenge, I decided to pick it back up and complete one section of it every day.
  • I took the new words I’d learned each day and inserted them into a Quizlet set and proceeded to review old words using the flashcard and match features.
  • Lastly, I would visit Talk To Me In Korean’s website and go through one of their free grammar lessons. If you use these lessons, remember to take your time; it’s really easy to zip through them because of how short they are. Always make sure you’ve fully digested each grammar point and can form your own sentences using it. I like to read through the PDF, take notes, and when I have a bit more time, listen to the accompanying audio lesson.

This week, I had an unusually little amount of homework due to state testing, so my evenings were pretty free. Most days, I decided to a bit more than the required tasks I had decided on and tried optional tasks as well.

Optional tasks:

  • On Monday, I discovered Talk To Me In Korean’s awesome podcast, Iyagi (I’m sure that by now you’ve noticed my obsession with anything and everything from this company). The short and sweet episodes come out daily and are about various everyday topics. It’s more aimed at intermediate learners who want to listen to more natural and conversational Korean, but I’ve found it pretty useful despite not understanding every single word. Iyagi is easily accessible through the podcast app on iPhones.
  • Finally, I made use of a newly purchased ebook (also from Talk To Me In Korean…) called Real Life Conversations in KoreanI have really enjoyed using it! It features forty intermediate conversation transcripts that come with audio recordings of each one. I’ve been practicing reading through the recordings and trying to (unsuccessfully) match the native speakers’ speed.

Week 1 Takeaways

It’s only been a week, but I am very pleased with my progress. Studying consistently has never been my strong suit, so having a structured plan to follow each day has helped me quite a bit.

I have definitely seen a significant growth in my vocabulary through actively acquiring and reviewing new words each day. My Quizlet set has grown to 100 words just this week.

There’s a kind of momentum that builds when you study each day. After completing my routine, I would often watch an episode of a Korean drama or variety show, and I would hear the new words popping up all the time. It’s so strange to realize how many words have just gone over my head all these years.

And as my vocabulary slowly increases, I’ve become keenly aware of how much it is lacking. Though the focus of next week will be listening, I plan on continuing the daily vocabulary review if possible.

Total Time Spent Studying


I’ve broken my study time into two categories: active studying and passive studying. Active studying includes time spent writing down words, going through lessons, and reviewing. Passive studying encompasses the time I’ve spent listening to Korean or watching Korean shows without actively trying to absorb anything. The times are as follows.

Total active studying time: 592 minutes, about 9.9 hours

Total passive studying time: 225 minutes, about 3.75 hours

Total: 13.65 hours 

I’m happy to say that I’ve studied more Korean this week than I probably have…ever. This was an incredibly convenient week for starting the challenge, as my school workload was at an all-time low. I don’t see myself studying quite as much next week, but I will try my best.

I’m eager to see the results of continuing the challenge for the next three weeks!


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