Background: (Please find my revised weekly study schedule here.) As of December 2013, I have been told that my Korean reading and writing skills are at a lower intermediate level (honestly, they’re probably much lower on the ILR Scale), and my listening and speaking skills are even worse, seemingly forever mired in the beginning level.  Regarding the latter, I can hold basic conversations about daily needs and wants, but I’m still left scratching my head anytime I try to listen in on a natural conversation between two native speakers, and I have trouble articulating complex thoughts.

Unsurprisingly, I feel this can be attributed to the fact that the stark majority of the time I have studied Korean over the past three years  — albeit inconsistently — I have been reading dialogue and grammar books rather than watching a lot of Korean movies and TV shows, listening to radio broadcasts, and practicing conversational dialogues with native Korean speakers. On the bright side, I have a strong understanding of pronunciation rules by now, and thanks to an opportunity to live with a Korean friend from Ulsan for a few months, I have noticed that my stress and intonation patterns (or prosody) have been improving recently, which bodes well for future improvement in the speaking department. Listening remains a completely different animal, although the fog has started to clear a bit thanks to my recent living situation. I’m less concerned about my reading and writing skills, which I feel I have some degree of aptitude to develop with hard work and focused study. The bottom line is that while I definitely have a solid foundation to build on, I would be eons further along than I am now had I actually 1) committed myself to studying daily, and 2) spent at least half that time engaging in drills to develop my listening and speaking skills.

As I mentioned in the About Me section, I now have sufficient motivation to finally take my Korean to the next level, and I created this website in large part to hold myself accountable for my progress.  In the following section, entries recorded in My Daily Study Log will briefly summarize exactly what I cover each day, and will provide hyperlinks to the subsequent, more robust section outlining My Cumulative Progress to date in sequential notational format.  I tried to structure the website in an intuitive manner, so it should be fairly easy to navigate through the content and gain an understanding of exactly how I have been studying, as well as how I’ve chosen to allocate my time among the four major linguistic skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking.

I derived the following customized study plan for Korean Language Learning from Dr. Alexander Arguelles’ “Ideal Systematic Approach to Korean”, and The Korean’s “Best Method to Master a Foreign Language, Guaranteed.

Goal: To achieve a Level 3+ in Korean on the ILR Scale  (a true intermediate level, or professional working proficiency in the target language) within the shortest possible timeframe.

Timeframe: 2 years


  • I fully understand that I am committing myself to a very difficult task, and pledge to take this program seriously.
  • I pledge to commit as much time as possible to this program, and will develop the habit of regular daily study at fixed intervals.

Language-Learning Principles:

  • Constant repetition is the key to mastery and progress.
  • To learn how to articulate complex thoughts with strong pronunciation and prosody, I must work intimately with accompanying audio files supplied by textbooks or native speakers at all stages of learning via shadowing (explained below).

Study Plan Phases:

  • 1st Phase: Beginning Level Korean Learning
  • 2nd Phase: Intermediate Level Korean Learning
  • 3rd Phase: Advanced Intermediate Level Korean Learning


  • 1st Phase:

Name Type
The Sounds of Korean Lessons (Pronunciation)
Lonely Planet Phrasebooks: Korean Lessons (Common Phrases) Online Lessons (Dialogues) Online Lessons (Podcast) Online Lessons (Podcast)
Speaking Korean Lessons (Dialogues)
A Historical, Literary and Cultural Approach to the Korean Language Lessons (Dialogues & Hanja)
Intermediate Korean: A Grammar and Workbook Grammar (Sentences) Grammar
Quizlet (New Grammar Patterns in Cumulative Bundles of 50) Grammar
Anki – Grammar Patterns (Master List) Grammar
A Handbook of Korean Verbal Conjugation Verbs (Words) Vocab
Quizlet (New Words in Cumulative Bundles of 50) Vocab
6,000 Essential Korean Vocabulary (Anki Flashcards) Vocab
Anki – Vocab (Master List) Vocab
Memrise – Hanja Hanja
부동산114 Articles Transliteration
The Catcher in the Rye (호밀밭의 파수꾼) Transliteration LangX (Online)
Friends LangX (In Person)
KBS News Segments TV
응답하라1997 TV
  • 2nd Phase: 


  • 3rd Phase: 


Schedule: For maximum efficiency in attaining the final goal of an actual full command of Korean, I will adhere to the following schedule to the best of my abilities (subject to change as I progress through various materials during my studies, and flexible as various unexpected obligations arise):

Time Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
7:00-7:30 Prepare Lessons Prepare Lessons Prepare Lessons Prepare Lessons Prepare Lessons Sleep Sleep
7:30-8:30 Shadowing Shadowing Shadowing Shadowing Shadowing Sleep Sleep
8:30-9:00 Commute (Quizlet) Commute (Quizlet) Commute (Quizlet) Commute (Quizlet) Commute (Quizlet) Prepare Lessons Prepare Lessons
9:00-10:00 Work Work Work Work Work Shadowing Shadowing
10:00-11:00 Work Work Work Work Work Pronunciation Pronunciation
11:00-12:00 Work Work Work Work Work Grammar Grammar
12:00-12:30 Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
12:30-1:00 Work Work Work Work Work Lunch Lunch
1:00-2:00 Work Work Work Work Work Verbs Verbs
2:00-3:00 Work Work Work Work Work Transliteration Transliteration
3:00-4:00 Gym Gym Gym Gym Gym Transliteration Transliteration
4:00-5:00 Work Work Work Work Work Gym Gym
5:00-6:00 Work/Dinner Work/Dinner Work/Dinner Work Work/Dinner Dinner Dinner
6:00-6:30 Commute (TTMIK) Commute (TTMIK) Commute (TTMIK) Dinner Commute (TTMIK) Lang-8 Lang-8
6:30-8:00 Lessons Lessons Lessons Class Lessons Lessons Lessons
8:00-9:00 Mov/TV/Pod Mov/TV/Pod Mov/TV/Pod Class Mov/TV/Pod Mov/TV/Pod Mov/TV/Pod
9:00-9:30 Mov/TV/Pod Mov/TV/Pod Mov/TV/Pod Class Mov/TV/Pod Mov/TV/Pod Review Blog
9:30-10:00 Mov/TV/Pod Mov/TV/Pod Mov/TV/Pod Commute (TTMIK) Mov/TV/Pod Mov/TV/Pod Review Blog
10:00-11:00 Anki Anki Anki Homework Anki Anki Anki
11:00-12:00 Anki Anki Anki Anki Anki Anki Anki
12:00-12:30 Update Blog Update Blog Update Blog Update Blog Update Blog Update Blog Update Blog
*Note: Hanja will be learned as I progress through Dr. Arguelles’ A Historical, Literary and Cultural Approach to the Korean Language, and Bruce Grant’s A Guide to Korean Characters (to be added to the curriculum when I reach the 2nd Phase of my program).  


(A) Shadowing & Scriptorium (Reading, Writing, Listening, & Speaking): I will start by shadowing recorded audio tapes of simple sentences along with their corresponding written dialogues.  Shadowing is a highly specialized technique popularized by Dr. Arguelles, which he explains how to do step-by-step in this video.  I will subsequently write these sentences via the scriptorium technique.  Over time, I will move on to increasingly complex sentences until every grammar pattern of the language has been covered in detail.  These dialogues will be obtained from a variety of sources in the curriculum, but the bulk of the supply will be from my carefully selected coursebooks listed above.

During each shadowing/scriptorium study session, I will:

  1. Review previous lessons: I’ll begin by reviewing the past nine dialogues.  In sequential sets of three, I will read aloud the oldest set of review lessons from my own scriptorium transcriptions without listening to the audio, I will shadow the audio for the next set while reading the Korean dialogue, and I will shadow the audio for the latest set while reading the English translation.
  2. Shadow current lesson: For the latest lesson I am covering, I will implement the following shadowing steps:
    1. Blind shadowing: I will begin by listening to the audio as many times as I can, while trying to simultaneously speak with the speaker.  Once I have a good grasp of the flow and sounds being articulated, I will simply listen to the lesson very carefully one or two more times while trying to follow the written text, attempting to identify all sounds and as many semantic elements as possible.
    2. Take inventory of unknown elements: I will then carefully compare the original text, word for word, with the translation, making notes of any words or grammar patterns I don’t understand.
    3. Shadow audio while reading English translation: I will continue shadowing the audio multiple times, this time while reading the English translation, until the meaning is fully internalized.
    4. Shadow audio while reading both scripts: I will further shadow the audio multiple times, referring to the translation only when I am unsure of what I am saying, but otherwise reading the Korean text.
    5. Shadow while reading only Korean script: Once the meaning of every sentence is understood, I will continue shadowing the audio while following only the Korean text.
    6. Shadow from memory: I will continue shadowing the audio without reading the Korean text, trying my best to emulate the speaker.
    7. Recall from memory: Once I have the passage and its meaning fully internalized, I will try to recall the passage in my mind (I won’t speak it) over and over until I am fully comfortable with it and no longer try to translate the meaning into English.
  3. Study current lesson’s original text and accompanying grammatical explanations carefully: The grammatical notes in the coursebooks are intended to explicate linguistic phenomena that have just been observed.  With repetition, the phenomena will become familiar, and the explanations will then help me form a comprehensible grammatical framework of the language.
  4. Transcribe current lesson: Once I have exhausted the lesson via the steps above, I will then write out the lesson using the scriptorium technique, further internalizing its meaning into my long term memory, as well as helping me to refine my handwriting.
  5. Videorecord myself reciting current lesson: I will then record myself reciting the lesson on my Macbook (ideally from memory, but likely from the Korean text in the beginning until I grow more comfortable with my speaking abilities) and I will subsequently post the video to my Youtube account.
  6. Transfer unknown words into Quizlet: I will then copy all of the words I didn’t know before I started the lesson into in sets of 50, which will then be set aside for further review at a different time during the day.

The fundamental purpose of this process is to learn all the grammatical rules such that I am able to write increasingly complex sentences correctly.  I will memorize how these rules operate in different sentences and scenarios.

The list will be long, but it is finite.  And without knowing these rules, I will not be able to use complex sentences.

(B) Flash Cards (Reading & Passive Vocabulary): Once I have a firm grasp over grammar, all that stands between language mastery and me is the number of vocabulary words I can punch into the different sentence structures.  I will try my best to memorize every word I encounter and do not know.  I will set a very high standard for “not knowing” a word – if I cannot produce a definition under 3 seconds, I do not know the word.  My goal is to memorize at least 30,000 words, if not more, within this two-year timeframe (41 words per day).  To provide perspective, the Nagy-Anderson language study found that an average high school student knows around 60,000 listemes, and a superior high school student knows twice as much. I need to make up that ground somehow.

Flash Card Studying Strategy: As mentioned previously, I will organize my vocabulary cards into sets of 50 on (on days where I don’t feel like studying words in Quizlet,  .  I will then memorize a set until I get everything right without regard to the order of the cards, and then move onto the next set.  When I complete five bundles, I will repeat the entire five bundles before moving onto the next.  Within a year, should not need the flashcards for the initial bundles – I should be able to recite them all by heart, backwards and forwards, with words matching the definition.  Other techniques I will use to memorize vocabulary I have trouble retaining are:

      • Reading and writing out loud
      • Pictures
      • Mnemonics

(C) Watching, Re-Watching and Shadowing Korean TV and Movies (Colloquial Listening & Speaking): To further enhance my listening and speaking skills beyond the results achieved via shadowing recorded audio along with written dialogues, I will watch at least two hours of Korean movies or television every day (focusing on those that are either in closed Korean captions, or where I have the accompanying script in Korean).  I will either have the caption on, or will read the script as I repeat each short segment of the drama – and mouth each word exactly as they sound.  While doing this, I will input important vocab words, sentences and grammar patterns I don’t know into Quizlet for future study.

Shadowing: It is very important to listen to words that are difficult to distinguish, and imitate the sound as I listen.  I will recite the difficult words over and over again until I get them right.  I will get into the habit of talking aloud to myself to make sure what my speech sounds right.

(F) Language Exchange (Colloquial Listening & Speaking): I will meet with a bilingual Korean friend every so often, hopefully a few times a week. She/he will correct my pronunciation on my video recordings, practice both scripted and freestyle dialogues with me, identify more colloquial idioms, proverbs or expressions, and explain any important connotational differences between words.  

(D) Verb Conjugation Practice (Reading & Writing): In order to gain proficiency in conjugating verbs, I will chant aloud the rhythms of the patterns of the paradigms to be found in A Handbook of Korean Verbal Conjugation (Dunwoody Press).

(E) Hanja Study (Reading & Writing): During the course of my shadowing/scriptorium and flash card review sessions, I will systematically master the introductory Hanja found in A Historical, Literary and Cultural Guide to the Korean Language (1st Phase), and then following that up with the 1,800 basic hanja from Bruce K. Grant’s Guide to Korean Characters (2nd Phase).

(F) Writing Passages on Lang-8 (Writing & Active Vocabulary)Finally, I will try to apply the new sentence structures and vocabulary words I have learned by writing original passages and submitting them for review on