Korean grammar, or grammar in general, should not be just “memorized.” That’s it. That’s the tea. But there are other, more effective and natural ways that it can be gotten and far from forgotten.
Why? You may ask.
Well, as humans we naturally don’t work well with rote memorization. It’s time consuming and we tire ourselves out. Also, when we spend so much time learning what something means, we forget to learn how it’s used, when it’s used, and why it’s used over another, similar word.
For that reason, I have never relied on rote memorization for grammar. (The same goes for vocabulary but that’s another story.)
In school, most of us get used to memorizing things, but that doesn’t stick for too long. That’s why we take an exam and then forget everything five seconds later, and what a sucky way to learn something you love.
So, with that in mind, I have compiled a list of my favorite, tried and true, methods for learning grammar effectively so that you never forget it.
Or at least, make it easier to use and harder to lose.
1. Learn it once.
Yes, once. Don’t write it out on a card and flip through it once or twice a day in your free time. Just, don’t.
If that usually works for you, then go ahead. But if it really did, would you be here? I think not.
The reason I say to learn it once is simple; when you learn it once, your brain has time to process it, but when you keep shoving information down its throat, it won’t cooperate and you’ll reach burn out very quickly.
Would you want to eat a peanut butter only sandwich that someone was stuffing down your throat?
I would hope not.
Grammar, just like most things in language, should not be left for rote memorization. But rather it should be acquired naturally by repeat exposure. It’s how we learned as kids, so why do we feel like we should stop and change it just because we’re older?
2. Don’t make flashcards, write sentences.
I cannot stress how much rote memorization is not good for grammar. As I said before, if it works for you then by all means, keep doing what you do. But for a lot of us it doesn’t work.
So instead of making a flashcard that says “~고 싶다 means ‘want to do ~'” write multiple sentences out using that. When you do this, you can see it over and over again, so it’s like rote memorization but instead you’re practicing it with different use cases, and adding vocabulary into the mx.
When you expose yourself to a concept in multiple different ways, it’s easier to grasp it and see all the ways it can be used, whilst also solidifying what you just learned.
Honestly, grammar just shouldn’t be left to rote memorization. Period.
3. Find it in everything.
This is one of my favorite thinsg to do because it takes no effort at all!
Naturally, when you learn something new in a language you’ll often start to notice when people use it. The more you notice it, the more likely you’ll remember it and remember to use it.
With this method, you literally do nothing at all.
This is all passive.
You take in the information and really if you hear it or see it enough times, you’ll start to naturally implement it into your own daily conversations or writing.
4. If you must repeat it, just re-learn it.
I know, it’s tedious, but why do you think you can’t get it?
If you’ve done all of the above and still can’t get it, then it means you don’t undrstand it.
But don’t go back to the same source you originally learned it from, go to a different source.
I personally suck at looking over my notes, so instead I just study the same concept from two or three different sources. It helps because everyone has their own unique way of explaining things, so maybe something person A said didn’t quite click with me, but maybe person B said it just right.
If you must repeat, then just re-learn. I promise you, once you get it, you can’t un-get it.
5. Still don’t get it? Leave it.
If after all of that you still don’t get it, then just keep moving forward.
Sometimes we can’t understand
There was this one grammar particle that I couldn’t get when I was studying Korean, and it drove me crazy! Eventually, I just gave up after learning it for the third time.
But one day I was watching something and reading the subtitles very slowly when I noticed that they had used that particle.
And it was like a light bulb went on in my head.
It honestly felt like that little satisfying ‘click‘ sound you hear when you buckle your seat-belt.
It’s okay to keep moving forward even if something isn’t 100% for you. Unless you’re in a class. In that case, you should make a note to go back to it after some time has passed and then look at it with a fresh
6. Of course, don’t give up!
It’s so tempting to just throw your notebook out of the nearest window and go watch TV or something, but let me tell you this: DON’T DO IT.
There really is nothing more satsifying than finally understanding, and actually mastering, something that you worked so hard to understand before. When it finally clicks it really is hard to leave.
So if you’re feeling down in the dumps right now, don’t. You’re human and that’s normal. We all get into these moods and it’s NORMAL. But giving up is not the answer.
Just keep pushing forward and see where you end up.
7. Use it yourself.
And last on this very unordered and slightly unorganized list: Use it!
You don’t expect to master something you never practice, do you?
Of course you don’t. That would be absurd!
Once you get it, and even if you don’t get it, just use it. If you still are in that “Idk what this is and it’s driving me mad.” phase, then just take a list of vocabulary words that should fit into your grammar rule and make new sentences with it based on the examples you’re presented with in the lesson.
If by then you haven’t gotten the hang of using it, then repeat all of these methods and eventually you will.
But also remember that your brain is a muscle and needs time to ‘heal’ aka process the information you’re giving it. So don’t feel bad because you didn’t get it on the first or second try.
Grammar can be a pain in the behind. But it can be lessened. By learning it through a series of natural methods, you can master any rule.
Rote memorization works for some, but I’m advising you to be careful with it. A lot of people who use rote memorization end up not knowing how words actually fit into it and it takes longer to master.
So yeah, that was my list of tips to better your grammar acquisition affairs.
Again, they are:
- Learn it once.
- Instead of making flashcards, write lots of sentences.
- Find it in everything. This is easy because as your knowledge of language grows, so will your ability to recognize new things.
- If you must repeat it, just re-learn it. There’s probably something you didn’t quite get the first time around. No shame in going back to the beginning!
- If you just don’t get it no matter what; take a break. You probably need it.
- Don’t give up! It’s frustrating now, but you’ll be so happy with the results later.
- Use it yourself. All the time. Even to the mirror. Do it. I dare you. I challenge you, from here on out, to USE what you learn at least ONCE everyday! Think you have the guts? Do. It.
Thank you for reading, thank you for not giving up, and always give yourself a pat on the back because you deserve it.
And keep in mind that this list may have numbers, but they’re just a list of methods. You don’t need to follow these in order. Just pick one or five and try. As long as you actively try, you’ll get a result.
The old saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.” so practice until it’s as perfect as possible, but don’t memorize until you end up half dead inside!
Do you have any other tips for learning grammar? Do you agree or disagree with my POV? Leave a comment below and let’s chat!
Also, if you found this helpful, don’t forget to share it, pin it for later, or even send it to a friend who may need it!
You never know just how helpful it may be.
Until next time, my fellow lingo-geeks!