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120 Days to TOPIK #13 – Turning Google Images into an Illustrated Storybook


The following Comment was left on our 9th 120 TOPIK Challenge called: Learn More Now, Recognize Patterns, Achieve Fluency Faster. In that post, I remarked about how creating 30 flashcards per day was taking me around 2+ hours. Here’s the feedback I received from one of our readers:

I also found that the flash cards take about 2 hours to create 30 a day. That’s a considerable amount of time. Especially only on vocab… but the results tend to be the best. To bad that timing is taking away my motivation for getting it done regularly.

And there’s the problem:

  1. Creating flashcards is taking too much time and killing motivation for regular practice

Here are a few solutions:

  1. Reduce the time required to make flashcards
  2. Reduce the number of flashcards per day

Personally, I don’t want to reduce the number of flashcards per day because I know language learning takes significant time and reducing what I study each day will increase the overall amount of time I must study.

So, how can I rather reduce the time required to make the cards WHILE STILL maintaining a high level of memorability and personal connection with each image?

Reducing Time

Recently, I’ve cut my flashcard making time in almost HALF (1-1.25 hours), so it’s really helped me stay motivated to do it. Plus, I’m seeing results (I ask my Korean tutor – my wife – to quiz/review the cards with me everyday before our main study session. The study session sometimes ends up being only 30 minutes due to the review. But the review is effective!) AND I expect to continue getting faster and more efficient at flashcard creation as I continue the process.

So, my strategy these days for making flashcards looks like this:

  1. Wake up crazy early (like 4 or 5am – I’m an early riser anyway).
  2. Hit the vocab FIRST thing (I used to code websites or do design then). If I don’t do the HARD things first, they never get done.
  3. Read the words + sentences 3 at a time and try to hold the three in my brain as I Google Search
  4. TRY to use the FIRST page of Google Image results (without scrolling down) to find an appropriate image (i.e. spend only 2 min max looking for that “perfect image” – I found a GOOD image quickly beats a PERFECT image that takes forever to find)
  5. OR, if I know the English meaning and can’t quickly find an image of the Korean word, I switch over to English to search something I already know and love. (Case in point, one word I learned recently was “반복” which means “repetition”. So I searched for an image of “The Rock” Dwayne Johnson working out and used that. I’m a big fan.)
  6. I TRY to check the time and keep myself to 15 words per 30 minutes. Sometimes I go long, but mostly I can finish now in 1-1.25 hours

Hope some of those tips help you reduce your time!~

Making Words MORE Memorable

This is where our Illustrated Google Images Storybook comes into play. Google Images is already a VERY effective search tool, but what if you could make it MORE effective? Here are FOUR strategies to do just that:

  1. Search in Google Images in your TARGET language
    1. Switch over to for a more efficient search tool
    2. Always search for your vocab FIRST in Korean (only switch to English if necessary)
  2. View Google Image CAPTIONS (these give very efficient FULL sentences using the vocab IN CONTEXT)
    1. In Standard View, click on an image to see more image information
    2. Switch to the Basic View (as seen on older browsers) to see ALL the extra info as captions below EACH image. Here are two ways to switch to the Basic View:
      1. Click this link
      2. Add the following to the END of any Image Search query:
  3. View and Create memories IN CONTEXT
    1. Here’s the biggest reason why you should use Google Images in Korean ( You can see the images and vocab IN CONTEXT – spread all across the page. Examples:
      1. What does a KOREAN grandmother look like?
      2. What does a KOREAN cake look like?
      3. What does it mean when KOREANS say “wish” and “hope”? (They are relatively the SAME in Korean – I always have to remind my wife of which is which)
      4. Recently I learned “issue” in Korean (“발급”). When I read the English translation in the book, I thought I knew what it meant: “A hot topic issue, right?” But looking it up on Google Images helped me see what it TRULY meant: “issuance” as in “VISA issuance” – I found TONS of images of stamped passports and things. “Ah ha!” I thought, ” so THAT’S what that means!” (And the “Ah ha!” moment forms a STRONGER memory connection.)
  4. Use Google Images + Google Translate
    1. This is a great suggestion from the Fluent Forever blog (more details can be found at that site):
      1. Use in KOREAN – you’ll see tons of pictures in a Korean context, with Korean captions
      2. Click “Translate to English” at the top of the Chrome browser – now, all the Korean captions will be in English and when you hover your mouse over the images, you can see the original caption again in Korean. Now, you have a dual language picture book! Learning Korean visually and in context makes the MOST memorable memories. 


Try out some of the ways listed above to:

  1. Reduce the time you spend creating flashcards
  2. Make Google Image searches more effective and memorable

Over to you:

How goes your language learning? Any other tips you’ve picked up that might help? Let me know in the Comments below or with #120TOPIK on social media.

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