Self Study vs Classroom Learning

Self study vs classroom learning

There are decent Korean language courses where I live. Why did I decide to self study Korean?


  • Saves money – A decent beginner course costs around USD1,200
  • Saves time – you can go at your own pace and it saves commute time
  • More fun – The traditional language learning course books are extremely boring but in self study you can choose exactly the material you are inherently interested in
  • More relevant – Instead of studying with outdated text in textbooks, you study with the most updated resources with how natives are using the language as of today, e.g. slangs and newly made up words (신조어). The whole point of learning Korean is to communicate, isn’t it?


  • Nowhere to ask if you have any questions
  • Fewer opportunities to practice speaking and writing
  • Online study resources are of varying quality and accuracy

Having gone through this process myself, I am very glad that I chose the self study path, as I might have given up much earlier if I attended the traditional courses using traditional textbooks. I had a stab at learning French while I was in the college. The lessons followed the typical course of learning how to introduce yourself in the first class, talking about the weather in the next and so on. I stopped after only one summer, walking away feeling I have learnt nothing useful. More recently I attended a Spanish course offered by one of the local universities and had a refreshed perspective on classroom language learning which I shared here.

Then how about the drawbacks of self study? Don’t worry – in this website I will direct you to resources, tricks and tips to overcome those.

Is it possible to self-study Korean all the way to Advanced level?

Yes it is definitely possible!

I have self studied all my way from absolute beginner to advanced level, taking in total two years to pass level 6 in TOPIK II – no face to face or classroom course taken, have not stayed in Korea, no close Korean friend to help me – 100% on my own.

In fact these days you can literally learn Korean at any level without leaving your house with all the resource you can access online – including 1:1 online language tutors and online bookstores. I did leverage on limited 1:1 sessions with native Korean tutor and had to purchase certain books to support my studies, but apart from that I have never had a day of conventional classroom study of Korean. In fact I would say self-study is the reason why I could persevere to this stage because it is a lot more flexible and fun.

What is more is that I have saved tons of money from not going to a language school to take a traditional classroom course! Where I live I would need to pay in total around USD10,000 to take all the course needed to pass TOPIK II level 6 in one language learning center!

In contrast, the total money I spent on study resources was…Less than USD500.

That is ALL the way from beginner to advanced in two years.

Is self study right for me?

Different people learn most effectively in different ways

We respond to stimulus differently. Some people learn better by reading while others learn better by listening. Some people like to remember by association while others prefer the ‘flash-card’ type of rote memorization.

In general you are good for self studying a language if you possess the below two qualities.


You should be comfortable doing a lot of Google searches, exploring language learning website and trying out new ways of learning. This applies to any kind of language learning but is even more important when you are self studying.

Good discipline

Since you will be on your own schedule and pace and no one will remind you when to do what or test you, you will need a certain level of self-discipline to learn effectively if you choose the self study path.


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