2018 language goals

In all honesty, I never liked setting personal goals because why bother when there’s good chance that I’ll just fail and make myself feel bad?

There are a few different things wrong with that attitude, yes, but one major reason for it is that my goals were always either 1) grossly unrealistic or 2) not concrete enough.

Re: #1, I used to live by that terribly tired quote, “Shoot for the Moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” Why not pile up more on your plate than you can handle or make your to-do list infinitely long, when even just accomplishing some of those things is an achievement, right? Objectively, that’s true. But a glass half empty-type person like me dismisses all the things they have accomplished and are consumed by what they haven’t, maybe even so much so that it paralyzes them from moving any further. So. The trick is to aim lower, maybe even embarrassingly low, so you do manage to check off everything on your list, even if it’s just for your own ego and self-esteem. If you feel good about accomplishing stuff, chances are you’ll want to accomplish even more stuff.

As for #2, if there’s one thing being in analytics taught me, it’s that it’s impossible to measure success when you’re not metrics-driven. Setting a goal like “be better at X” isn’t helpful because “being better” isn’t something you can really measure when it comes time to evaluate yourself. Setting a number to your goal helps to make it more concrete, more measurable. Instead of “run more,” something like “run 10 miles a week” is better.

So, with that in mind, my realistic and measurable language goals for 2018 are:

1) Publish 2 blog posts a month

Maybe not every month, but at least 9 out of 12 months this year (hence my rush to get this post out before the end of January). Heck, if I can publish 1-3 blog posts a week for my job, I can do it for the thing I love.

2) Study 50 new words a week

I was proud of my TOPIK II score this time around but my biggest challenge was, hands-down, vocabulary. So. As much as I hate memorizing, I will be getting very intimate with my Quizlet decks this year. This isn’t my favorite way of studying vocabulary; I much prefer learning words through context but I concede that sometimes the best and fastest way to learning new words is memorization coupled with lots and lots of practice sentences.

3) Write 1 TOPIK essay a week

Through my classes, I’ve accumulated a lot of helpful notes on how to improve my writing score; now it’s just a matter of practicing so that I can write well in the allotted time. I plan on publishing and notes to this blog as well.

4) Improve my score in each TOPIK section

I’m not setting any hard goals on how much I want each section to improve by, but if the overall number increases, I’ll be thrilled.

5) Read at least two Korean news articles a week

Ahem. My weakness is reading Korean celebrity interviews, web comics, and historical novels; needless to say, my scope of relevant Korean vocabulary is limited. I want to improve my vocabulary rapidly but I don’t have the time or interest in immersing myself in Korean economics or politics to learn through context. But reading or even skimming a couple articles a week should be doable.

I really admire people who can maintain elaborate study logs, where they carve out exactly how many hours they’re going to put into reading, listening, writing, etc. Back when I first started learning Korean, I absorbed things so enthusiastically that every spare moment felt as though I was doing something language-related. Studying wasn’t even a thing I thought about separately setting aside time for.

I think I keep saying this over and over again here, but I’ve been feeling ‘lost’ with Korean for a long while now. I plateaued in terms of how much I could “absorb” effortlessly and didn’t know how to impart more discipline in my studying. Hopefully goal-setting like this will help me add more structure to my studies and help me further improve my Korean fluency.


  1. So I take it that you don’t use anki?

    My prediction is you won’t keep up with the quiZlet thing

    Number 5 should be a breeze as long as you find interesting articles. Like recently I was reading articles about child abuse and pedophiles in Korea and how no one reads books in Korea. They’re old articles but nonetheless interesting topics.


  2. 50 words a week isn’t a lot. Why don’t you just mine 50 words from reading ?? That way you have context and care about the words.


    1. Just setting my goals low so I can feel better about myself if/when I exceed it and use that positive reinforcement to keep going, heh. I may mine words from the news articles I read, but there is also a specific vocabulary book I want to get through from cover to cover. Just trying a few different things since what I’ve tried before hasn’t worked.


      1. I just ask because in the post you felt like you were at a plateau since you don’t get or feel like you made significant gains like you used to. i like some of the ajatt posts because they were very motivating and said a lot of common sense stuff that I needed to hear. he just made posts on any topic i could think and i’m sure he had a bunch on plateau/intermediate stage though now we can’t read them since they’re all protected. and speaking of AJATT, mattvsjapan recently posted a youtube video on how to learn japanese to a fluent level in 4 years and it’s all based on his own experience using AJATT. perhaps this could be helpful source of information/motivation for your korean learning even though he’s talking about Japanese


        1. Cool! I will check out mattvsjapan. I don’t blog about it too much, but I do lowkey study Japanese sometimes. In a super unstructured and inefficient way, most likely. I really have no goals related to Japanese other than to kind of dip into the language now and again.

          Kind of unrelated, but did you use the Heisig method for memorizing Kanji and its meanings? Curious to know what your thoughts are on it.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. i used the heisig method to learn how to write kanji using anki. I loved it since it makes the 2000 kanji thing fun and not scary. i learned the meaning/readings from reading. I wanted to learn korean and japanese and i knew that learning in the order of japanese then korean is the most efficient so i learned japanese first with all the sino-words since they never write the words using chinese characters in korean writing so it would be completely unreasonable to expect myself to use hanja to learn words. i am more passionate about japanese actually.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. I just stumbled across this post, and enjoyed your wordings. I am an aspiring polyglot, and thus understand your struggles. I think acquiring a second langauge requires both a great deal of motivation and self-discipline.

    Liked by 1 person

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