Elaborate Spreadsheet for Studying Korean Courtesy of Excel V2

On and off, for the last few years, I’ve been using Microsoft’s Excel to track how I study Korean.

My motto/tagline for studying the language: “one hasn’t a why or because or although.” People like to ask me why?! as in why do I study Korean? It’s a fair question and there is a story, but it’s a convoluted, extraordinarily long, and doesn’t-make-a-lot-of-sense kind of story. The simple truth of the matter is that I like it. I don’t have a reason. Some people feel as if they were born to write, read, paint or … Me? I study languages, play instruments, read, write, and volunteer because if I don’t do those things, all of them (which is a lot, trust me) life feels wrong. I’m not the person I want to be.

Why I Made the Charts &c. Below (My Justification for Using Excel to Track my Progress in Korean)

  • I majored in history → I love records. Korean has also been a lot of work and I want to record that. I want to be able to say that I learned Korean in a very simply way: I put hours into it. I don’t have any special talent for languages. Still, I haven’t done that much. I spend a lot of my “study” time watching TV and reading comic books. Doing those things at a leisurely pace hasn’t made me progress quickly, but they are enough for progress.
  • Math is my BFF → I like pretty charts and statistics, but more than that, I like analyzing statistics, seeing things as numbers, and seeing those numbers grow.
  • It’s motivational → I made the spreadsheet to record things. If I have nothing to record, the spreadsheet goes to waste and I’m annoyed.
  • It keeps me realistic → I’m ambitious. At times, I can be too much of a perfectionist. I get frustrated easily and there’s something magical and sobering about seeing numbers. If X requires approximately 100 hours of study, I can’t get mad at myself for not being there when I only put in 20—I’m not broken; I’m not stupid; I just didn’t put in the time. If I put in the time, I’ll get there.

How I Use Excel to Keep Track (2013 Version)


The first two boxes, “Days Studied (Chain),” is of how many days I’ve studied in a row. The more the number grows, the more annoying I think it’ll be to see it suddenly drop to zero. Average time per day comes after that. If that drops too low, I think I’ll feel the same annoyance I’d feel at seeing the other number fall to zero.

I prefer keeping track of most things in minutes as opposed to hours. I can get something worthwhile finished in 1 minute. Minutes also grow 60 times quicker than hours.

Thanks to Excel, all the statistics in the chart above are automated and I don’t have to manually do a thing. The numbers on the Y-axis track time in minutes.

I divided my studying into five categories because it’s important for me to engage Korean in different ways.

  • Purple → novels (and perhaps non-fiction and probably other books; I haven’t decided yet)
  • Blue → textbooks, books made for people learning Korean (these are for native speakers and non-native speakers)
  • Teal → news (articles on the Internet written in Korean)
  • Olive Green → TV (TV shows, movies, dramas, &c.)
  • Orange → review (recently, I haven’t spent any time reviewing anything, but I still think reviewing is important, so I threw it up there to remind myself: reviewing is important, maybe)
  • Red → misc. (random stuff like classes, workshops, language exchanges, manga, &c.)


This second chart is similar to the first. It’s just easier for me to see the categories this way.

My Korean spreadsheet is public. It’s a work in progress. I may change some categories. I may delete other parts of it. I may add things. I want to keep track of as much as I can without letting the task of tracking become a burden. If you have any suggestions, let me know. Thanks!

If not, you can still stalk my studies by viewing the sheet. It’ll change whenever I update it. For the curious, here’s my 2011 version.

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  • Reply Clem May 26, 2013 at 2:38 am

    This is really interesting! I use a spreadsheet to track my writing for similar reasons. It definitely keeps me motivated, and I do generally like having that record. Plus, it makes it a lot easier to make sure I’m on track with the goals I set myself.

    I like the chain idea – that seems like it would be a really useful motivator.

    • Reply chantelle May 26, 2013 at 4:54 am


      Using one for writing is a good idea. :) I never thought of that.

  • Reply Jem May 26, 2013 at 4:06 am

    I don’t know whether to be impressed or sick with jealousy at how organised and sensible you are. Probably both. (I say this because I should be working and yet here I am reading blogs. Maybe I need more spreadsheets in my life.)

    • Reply chantelle May 26, 2013 at 4:52 am

      That’s okay. When I’m supposed to be productive, I read blogs too. It’s fine, though, because we all need down time. Also, there’s no need to be impressed or jealous. I’m neither organized nor sensible. I just make Korean a priority. Other (sensible) things get sacrificed.

  • Reply Stephanie May 26, 2013 at 4:36 am

    This is awesome, especially since it works for you. And the very fact that you live in Korea as a non-native speaker, to me, should be an obvious reason to study Korean. I do not understand why people ask, but I do hear that speaking English can get you through a lot of places.

    I hope that one day, you will become epically fluent, and then you can publish your spreadsheet as an example for everyone.

    • Reply Chantelle May 26, 2013 at 4:47 am

      The biggest culture shock I experienced after moving to Korea was realizing that foreign-born native English speakers don’t speak Korean. It’s getting easier to learn, but Korean is … so they just don’t. 10 years, 15 years … it doesn’t really matter how long they’ve been here or if they have Korean spouses. They can’t speak Korean. And so those people always ask me why.

      Thanks. I hope I can become epically fluent too.

  • Reply Trisha May 29, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    This is amazing~ *cue in that meme with sparkly eyes here*

    I wish I could do the same but I don’t really have enough knowledge on how to utilize Microsoft Excel. Haha!

    I took a Basic Korean class for three months and ever since then I’ve been doing self study whenever my schedule allows it (work has been too hectic lately). I wish I could be able to read books as well. Right now I have collected a handful of Korean magazines to practice on but I need to expand my vocabulary. Hopefully I get to read them all soon without having to consult the not so unreliable Google Translate. But yipee! I can actually construct simple sentences and read short sentences now~^^

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