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3 Core Principles

1.  Acquiring a language is more effective than learning it.
2.  We acquire languages through comprehensible input.
3.  Use spaced repetition systems to maximize retention.

How to Acquire Korean

Acquiring a language is more
effective than learning it.

Currently, mainstream methods attempt to help students reach fluency by having them consciously “learn” grammar rules then practice applying the rules through test questions and drills. Under this form of education, you’ve spent hours memorizing vocabulary definitions only to forget them after a couple of days and significant energy analyzing grammatical structures only to be unable to use them in real life. We’re here to tell you that it’s not your fault. 


Traditional education is designed to help you “learn” a language, while we help you “acquire” one. “Learning” involves consciously building up knowledge about the language. On the other  hand, “acquisition” involves the natural development of language ability. 


If someone is explaining something to you, then you are probably “learning.” 

This includes explanations of: 

    Vocabulary definitions

    How to conjugate words

    When to use or exclude words

    Grammar rules

    Exceptions to grammar rules

    Nuances of phrases/words

If the language ability is developing unconsciously, then you are “acquiring.” 

Why you should acquire a language.


“Learning” a language is hard.  


Typically, native speakers know 15,000 to 20,000 word families, or lemmas. However, a study spearheaded by Professor Webb at the applied linguistics department in the University of West Ontario, found that those who have been studying in traditional environments struggle to remember 2000-3000 words, even after years of study. Another experiment in Taiwan corroborated this finding, indicating that students failed to recall 1000 of the most common words even after 9 years of study.

If students can’t even memorize basic vocabulary definitions, how are they supposed to recall tens of thousands of grammar rules, verb conjugations, and exceptions to the rule?


Not to mention there are hundreds of thousands of situation-specific nuances that they have to remember.


For example:

  • “I’ll take all three shirts” is right, but “I’ll take all two shirts” is wrong.

  • “According to Jon, she’s sick” is right, but “According to me, she’s sick” is wrong.

  • “A fat old lady” is right, but “An old fat lady” is wrong.

  • “She talks funny” is right, but “she talks funnily” is wrong. However, “she sang bad” is wrong, and “she sang badly” is right.

Native speakers use these word-specific rules every day without thinking. They wouldn’t be able to tell you why something is correct. It just sounds right. They have an intuition about the language that we believe anyone can develop. 


Rather than “learning” a language, we should utilize what Noam Chomsky calls the Language Acquisition Device (LAD) in our brains and “acquire” a language. This is how we developed our first language and is the reason we don’t consciously know a lot of these grammar rules and nuances.


Now that we know “acquiring” a language is more effective than “learning” it, how do we actually go about doing that?

We acquire languages through comprehensible input

According to Dr. Stephen Krashen’s Input Hypothesis, we acquire languages by receiving comprehensible input. 

  • Input: related to receiving messages (reading books, watching videos, etc.)

  • Output: related to producing messages (speaking, writing)

  • Comprehensible input: input that is understandable


This means that output is not practice. Rather, it will come naturally as a byproduct of large quantities of input. 

Stephen Krashen. PhD in Linguistics from UCLA. Professor Emeritus at USC.

Why we shouldn't output


The trap that a lot of students fall into is that they spend too much time doing unnecessary things. We’ve established that developing language ability is a time-intensive goal. Therefore, we want to make sure you are spending your time as efficiently as possible.


It’s counterintuitive, but output does not actually lead to acquisition. When you speak, you are not exposed to new vocabulary and grammar structures, leading to a cycle of practicing what you already know which results in plateau. 


Additionally, outputting too early can create bad habits. As a non-native speaker, you are bound to speak incorrectly which can lead to the internalization of mistakes that are hard to get rid of. 


Input alone not only leads to acquisition, but also output ability. Richard Boydell couldn’t speak or write due to body paralysis until the age of 30, when he was given a special typewriter that allowed him to communicate. Researchers found his writing was excellent, with advanced grammar and vocabulary.

mindblown gif.gif

This is not to say that you should never speak, but it is unnecessary and potentially harmful in the pre-fluency stage. 



Why should we input?



Acquisition is a process that is hypothesized to be facilitated by the Language Acquisition Device (LAD) in our brains. The LAD helps us to recognize patterns and make sense of large amounts of language information. Just like any pattern-processing machine, it needs a large quantity of data to make sense of patterns and we can only get that by getting lots of input. Output, listening to lectures in your native language, and answering practice questions do not provide enough data in a time-efficient manner. This is confirmed by numerous studies indicating that classes that allow students to start outputting when they are comfortable and contain more comprehensible input were found to be superior. 


Not only do you need to input, but you also need to have fun so that the Affective Filter does not block information from being processed by your LAD. Our platform personalizes the acquisition process so that you can enjoy level-appropriate videos catered to your interests. 


Use spaced repetition systems
to maximize retention

One of the most frustrating things about language learning is the cycle of learning, forgetting, and re-learning the same information. We use spaced repetition, or SRS, to break the wheel.


Cognitive psychologists found that we tend to forget information at regular intervals. When we first encounter a new piece of information, we forget it quickly. The second time we encounter it, we forget it less quickly. The third time, even less quickly. Spaced repetition systems, aka SRS, take into account how many times you have seen a piece of information to determine when you are going to lose the ability to recall it and tests you only before that moment. This keeps the review load manageable and has been proven to ensure you remember what you learn. 

Hypothetical retention curve

SRS learning graph.png

Each line represents a learning curve. As you can see, the first time we learn material, we forget it quickly. However, the more we are exposed to that same piece of information. The longer it stays in our memory before we forget it. SRS  keeps track of your learning curves to determine the optimal time to review.

Note: These are hypothetical learning curves. Each flashcard and person will have its own learning curves.

*Graph information from wranx

Click here learn more about Dr. Krashen's hypotheses.

Stephen Krashen Second Language Acquisition.


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