How I’m Studying Korean, Japanese and Chinese

I always try to be as organized as possible when I’m studying foreign languages. I started learning Korean a bit over three years ago- I think-; I picked up Japanese again last year and started learning Chinese about a month ago. I still remember when I first started Korean I was all over the place and it took me almost a year to get some semblance of progress and order. I think all my trials and errors during that time helped me figure out how to plan efficiently for the additional two languages. I usually try to tailor most of studies to a specific goal, but still maintain some sort of balance between skills.

My first step is to establish a definite short term goal (something you can actually measure and test). Right now these are my goals for each language:

Korean: Pass at least TOPIK II Level 3 in October/ November 2016.

Japanese: Be able to write a simple 5-sentence-long paragraph.

Chinese: Master the Chinese tones and be able to distinguish between them when I hear them.

My second step consists of figuring out where I was failing. First by asking myself what are my weaknesses and then how to remedy that using my strengths (and change strategies if one doesn’t work).


Problem: I can’t do the writing section of TOPIK because I lack vocabulary.

Solution: Read, read, read and read. Then, write, write, write and write.


Problem: I can hear the difference but I can’t produce it.

Solution: Listen and practice the tones as much as possible while a friend corrects me.


Problem: Lack of pretty much everything, but especially vocabulary.

Solution: Write the vocabulary down and make up simple sentences using the vocabulary.

My third step is to figure out how much free time I have and how much I can dedicate to each language. In this case, Korean is my main language so I tend to devote a lot of time daily to it and alternate between dates among the other two. For example, I dedicate 3 hours daily to Korean and study the rest for an hour on alternate days.

My last step consists of figuring out the material I will be using and then spreading them out. At the end I get something like this:

Korean (each block 1 hour):

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Textbook Textbook Textbook Textbook Textbook Textbook Textbook
Grammar V: list/quiz R: Yonsei Grammar V: list/quiz R: News W: TOPIK
R: Novel R: News Writing L: Drama R: Novel W: TOPIK L: Drama

Chinese/ Japanese (each block 30 mins): 

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Japanese Chinese Japanese Chinese Japanese J/Ch J/Ch
V: review Tones Writing Tones Grammar Textbook Textbook
Listening Vocab. Writing Writing Listening Tones/ W T/W/Gr

My study blocks change once I have accomplished my goal and set another one. That’s pretty much how I manage to study all three. Then find out how much time I have during a period of time.

That’s it! Until next time!~


6 thoughts on “How I’m Studying Korean, Japanese and Chinese

  1. I need motivation to get back to my language studies (same three + German) and this helped me gain some. Thanks and all the best in your studies.

      • Well I just personally believe that in the overall scheme of things it will take longer to learn Korean and Japanese to let’s say conversation level if you learn them at the same time versus doing one then doing the other.

        for me I learned Japanese because I wanted to learn it more than I wanted to learn Korean and my goal for Japanese is fluency. Because fluency is my goal it never occurred to be to do them at the same time. Now I’m doing Korean because Japanese is easy though like English there’s always going to be new words to learn.

        If your goal is fluency in either Korean or Japanese or even a high proficiency I would recommend you really think about your strategy. From the looks of what you wrote Japanese is collecting dust anyway so maybe go full throttle Korean instead of feeling guilty all the time if you feel guilty

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