As a person who learned about Korean through Korean entertainment, since I started, so many things have changed. Due to the Korean Wave, many fans began to learn Korean, but due to various reasons, stopped. I conducted a poll to discover how other fans felt about this and to find out what motivates them, makes things hard, or what stops them from learning Korean.
These views are subjective and do not reflect every single person who is or isn’t learning Korean or any language for that matter.
I plan to list out the top 3 motivations and the top 3 obstacles to learning Korean. Please bear with me while I ramble on about this for hours and hours. I mean I literally could talk about this for hours but the good thing is that this is just a blog post so you won’t have to hear my voice. I really hate the sound of my voice, by the way.
So! Shall we get started?
TOP 3 MOTIVATIONS
- Korean Entertainment (K-Pop, K-Drama, K-Variety etc)
- Love for the Korean Language and Culture of Korea
- Desire to go to University, Get a Job in Korea (or anywhere)
1. Korean Entertainment
Like I and many others, I first learned of the Korean Language due to the Korean Wave, whether it be K-Pop, K-Drama, K-Variety, K-Fashion, or K-Beauty! Whoo, that was a mouthful. Anyways, there are so many aspects of Korea that could draw your attention. Because of these various things, you may want to watch them 24/7 and surround yourself with them however there is every fan’s number one issue….subtitles!
Due of this, fans want to be able to watch their favorite shows and content without the need for subtitles so this is why they decide to start studying Korean. My motivation was different but I know this is a major reason for many. Of course, to actually be able to do this is a super awesome feeling, Not easy to reach but definitely worth it in the end.
2. Love for the Korean Language and Culture of Korea
Korean is a beautiful language. The Korean alphabet or Hangul (한글) is known as the easiest alphabet to learn for people of all age ranges. This is because the king who created it, King Sejong, wanted to create an alphabet that even small children could learn because, during that time, only the educated knew how to read and write. In the Korean language, there are beautiful idioms and phrases that would make any one’s heart flutter. I think this is one of my big motivations.
As someone who didn’t put a big emphasis on nor have a sense of appreciation for traditional clothing, I have fallen in love with the beauty of Hanbok (한복). The colorful silk pieces, long dress, and embroidered jacket can make you feel like you just stepped out of a fairy tale. Also, Korea’s history goes back hundreds of years. It has backgrounds in art, music, sports, education and that’s just to name a few. These types of things can really motivate you to learn Korean if you really want to have a deeper look into these various aspects.
3. Desire to go to University, Get a Job in Korea (or anywhere)
Nowadays, in order to get into a good university or a job anywhere, you must have something on your résumé to make you stand out; something that’ll make people want to hire you. Learning a language and being able to speak it at a fluent or near-fluent level is definitely that something. Especially if you are already interested in Korea, Korean will probably be your language of choice. As Korean is the lesser learned of the major 3 Asian languages, taking on this challenge may really make you stand out.
More specifically, if your goal is to go to university or get a job in Korea, speaking Korean is a must. Unless you are enrolling in a language program or working as an English teacher, most jobs and work visas will require that you speak Korean, at least at a proficient level. If your classmates or co-workers speak only Korean, you’re going to have a hard time so many feel this a great motivation to move forward in their Korean studies. Who knows? Work hard enough and I know you’ll be dancing like Choi Aera from ‘Fight My Way’ in this below and nail that college application or job! (Park Seojoon^^)
So are you feeling motivated? Are you?? Hehe well, let’s move on.
TOP 3 OBSTACLES
- Too Busy
- Too Hard/Too Hard To Do Alone
- Too Boring
1. Too Busy
Being in school, taking care of family or whatever other responsibilities we may have in our everyday personal lives, taking the time out to learn a language may seem difficult to near impossible. Because learning a language takes a lot of time and effort, some may want to learn but just really not have the time for it.
From research or tips from other Korean learners, you may hear them tell you that if you really want to be proficient in Korean, it requires that you study for at least a few minutes every day, sit down and make flash cards, speak to natives from Korea, take a free online course and the list can go on and on. These types of things can really make taking the time out to study very daunting and intimidating. Also, having a job, being in school or having a health issue that takes up your time, fitting in this time for deep study may seem impossible. There are many obstacles that one may face. What’s yours?
2. Too Hard/Too Hard To Do Alone
In a world where everyone is connected and are able to speak with someone from all the way across the world, studying alone can be lonely and really stunt your progress in Korean. Not being able to use it every day and practice it with friends who’re also trying to learn can make you forget what you have learned and each time you try to study, you may end up reverting all the back to square one.
Maybe there’s a subject related to Korean that you just can’t understand or you feel that you want to make friends while doing something you really love. In learning any language, there are just some things you won’t be able to understand unless you live in the country or are friends with natives or someone who has lived in said country for a long time. Because of these certain subjects, you may feel that want to give up even trying to do it all because you just can’t get it. I can tell you that this is definitely an obstacle.
3. Too Boring
Okay, now this is a big obstacle that I personally can relate to. A lot of times, if you try to find a good course to find for learning Korean, you run into a lot of course speakers who sound very monotone and don’t in any way try to make it enjoyable at all. Because of this, you may feel like there are no fun and enjoyable ways to learn Korean.
For instance, when I first started, there were many free resources and courses out there. However, most were related to the military or work, had huge textbooks with fonts hard to read, and quite honestly used words that I just couldn’t understand. Maybe that way works for others but for me, it was really hard for me to follow. When doing anything, we as humans want to have fun and when what we want to do doesn’t allow that, it can become a big obstacle.
Now we have examined the motivations and obstacles of learning Korean. Did you think on this on a personal level on what yours could be?
Okay, okay. So you may be asking, “What does this have to do with whether or not learning Korean is necessary and/or the Korean Wave?” I will answer that now.
In the recent years, as the Korean Wave continues to spread, there are subtitle teams in numerous languages. You can now watch dramas fully subbed with no need to even understand Korean. Many more idols are speaking English rather than Korean in order to cater to international fans’ needs so because of all this… you may begin to feel like, “It’s all accessible to me now so why waste my time?” From my observations, it seems like there are a lot less number of people who are learning. I can’t tell you whether you should or shouldn’t do it. But in the words of my favorite quote, “Pick a job that you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
My point is… Look at your motivations and look at your obstacles… which path(code) will you choose? Most important is that you have fun.