Habit pairing or habit stacking is when you take one thing you do regularly and pair it with another activity. So you could exercise when you watch TV, stretch while brushing your teeth, study on the train or bus, listen to podcasts in the car, review flashcards before bed, etc.

Using habit pairing to learn Korean is a good way to integrate study in with your daily life and keep it up! I know some days you can’t sit down for a full study session and that’s okay. Even small, quick habits can make sure you maintain your Korean and still learn. I’ll get into some habits I have and some ideas to get you inspired!


Pair Learning Korean with your Habits! - Memorize Korean Numbers

Memorize Korean Numbers with Habit Pairing

This habit I picked up was actually from when I was learning Japanese! My friends and I had a trip planned out to Japan in a few months. While I took a Japanese class in high school, I wanted a refresher and to feel more confident before we left. I already had a habit of doing squats when using the microwave, so I decided to count out my squats in Japanese.

When I took up Korean seriously I added that into my habit. So now when I microwave anything I count out my squats in Korean and swap between Sino-Korean and native Korean numbers. It’s a great way to practice Korean numbers and get some exercise in! Korean number practice can be tricky when starting so it’s nice to add variety, you can pair it with Korean number exercises to memorize both number systems fast.


Review Flashcards Before Bed

This is one I started just to learn Korean. Each night before bed I would open Memrise and make sure to reach my daily goal in each course I was going through. Some days I’ll just do a review, others I’ll learn new words and go back and forth like that.

A bedtime routine is a good one to include a new habit in with. It’s already established and probably has multiple steps where you can comfortably fit something in. For example; watch show to wind down, skincare, brush teeth, read book in bed, sleep.

Of course, you can do this with whichever app or site you like best! There are many options for flashcard programs such as Anki or Quizlet, and other apps that have daily goal functions like Lingodeer.


Take Habits You Have and Swap Them Out!

Have some bad habits or things you want to do less? It’s hard to stop something cold turkey and much easier to change it into something else. The classic is using TikTok or Instagram too much. So many people pick up their phones and go into social media without a second thought, I know I can.

So replace Instagram with your favorite language-learning app! Move the app you want to use less and hide it away, and put the new app right where the old one was. You’ll still find yourself continuing the unconscious habit but now you’re opening a flashcard deck or language exchange app.


5 More Great Habit Pairing Combos to Learn Korean

Now here are some additional ideas for some inspiration! Feel free to use mine, or these, or make up your own to work with!

  • Listen to podcasts while doing chores (laundry, dishes, cleaning)
  • Message your language exchange friends when you come home
  • Read a book/comic in Korean before bed (can even be a kids’ book!)
  • Instead of scrolling social media in your downtime replace it with a flashcard app
  • if you write a journal/diary swap out some words with Korean ones you know
  • if you use Siri to check the weather or ask quick questions switch to Korean!


Pair Learning Korean with your Habits! - Atomic Habits

Use Atomic Habits for Korean Language Learning

Now how do you make sure you stick to these habits? Use the principles of Atomic Habits by James Clear! This book goes through habit building, reducing bad habits, and key tips and insights.

For a quick rundown, the book focuses on making maintaining your habit as easy as possible. By making good habits easier to achieve (and bad ones harder) you can make it easier and much nicer to keep it up!


4 Steps to Maintain a Habit
  1. make it obvious: don’t hide it away! Keep your notes and textbooks nearby to read, have fruits within easy reach instead of candy, etc.
  2. make it attractive: pick what you like! Don’t force yourself to use books or methods that don’t fit well with you. And remember just because a bunch of people recommend a resource doesn’t mean it’s the only one or that it’ll fit you!
  3. make it easy: don’t go overboard! Do something manageable for you; you don’t need to study a chapter a day or do a full set at the gym. This depends on you; what time, energy, and effort you can put in comfortably.
  4. make it satisfying: treat yourself! Reward yourself with a treat or relaxation when you finish your habit. Use a habit tracker and tick it off your list or count how long you can keep the streak going. There are a lot of options to gamify a task and make it feel more rewarding.

For example: If you want to review flashcards before bed, download the app to also play in bed or while you’re out. Put the app on your main home screen so you’ll see it and open it more easily than hidden in a folder on a separate page.


Mini story time:

Once I tried pairing working out with watching a specific YouTube channel, they uploaded almost every day so I thought it was a good match to work out while watching. Eventually, I got tired of it and stopped watching the channel as much… My brain connected the two, but I didn’t make the habit easy or attractive so I just avoided watching to avoid working out haha.

You don’t want to set up a habit connection and then either have it fall apart, or even lose the initial habit you had. Hopefully, this helps and you can make new habits, add on to existing ones, and adjust some bad ones to good!



1 Comment

Elle · June 13, 2024 at 11:54 pm

Such a smart idea! I have a similar habit to do squats while brushing my teeth

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