New TOPIK learning log coming up

I have finished my last final exam for this semester at uni, and now I just have to wait for the result.
While I do have quite a few working hours scheduled for the summer holidays, I will start studying for the intermediate TOPIK exam from now on. And as usual, I will keep you posted on my progress, and hopefully not too many frustrations 🙂

I think aiming for the next level warrants a new category to distinguish it from the journey to the beginner TOPIK. Therefore I have made a new category called “TOPIK 중급”.

As previously, my learning approach is going to be one that aims for an all-round improvement of my Korean. I will not follow some “TOPIK-specific method” and only occasionally will I download an old TOPIK test to have a snapshot of how far I have come compared to my target. That being said, I think my “TOPIK practice” will become more frequent around November since that will leave me with six months to catch up on things that are particularly lacking.

The base-line of my studies:
Me being me and a moderately crazy planner because otherwise I will never get around to doing everything (although I don’t always stick to it 100%), I have made an initial overview of the things I must go through. Here is my 서강-list (which is sure to be followed by hanja-lessons, listening exercises, and other tremendously fascinating projects ;-)).


I have divided each chapter into the sections given by the books: 말하기, 듣고 말하기, and 읽고 말하기. That way I will have a sense of accomplishment even if I don’t finish a full chapter at a time.
By going through the Sogang books, I am fairly certain I will go though both the vocabulary and the grammar points needed to pass. As long as I work hard enough, I should stand a chance of doing fairly well on the next exam.

New elements to be included in my studies: hanja
Last year I was not interested in learning hanja. It looked complicated, there are so darn many characters, and I just couldn’t wrap my head around all those strokes while trying to keep all the Korean words firmly stuck in my head at the same time. However, there came a point where I started looking for the hanja when looking up new words – was that 중 the same as the 중 in that other word? So why not throw some real knowledge at the curiosity that I have been building up lately?

I know some people feel strongly about Korean learners learning Chinese characters when what they are trying to learn is Korean. But if the Korean children learn hanja in school, highschool students learn hanja, and some university students are required to sit hanja tests as well, why shouldn’t foreign learners of Korean learn hanja too? When picking up a random book in a book shop you will find hanja some places in a paranthesis if the 한글 could be interpreted several ways in a given sentence. Also, most proverbs and fixed expressions will have some four character hanja associated with it.

The way I see it, having at least a basic knowledge of Chinese characters in the context of Korean, is likely to make life easier when reading books as well as help adding nuances when speaking and writing. That surely cannot be a bad thing?

When to start learning hanja?
I don’t know. I guess whenever you begin to feel that it is not an impossible task, and you have a basic knowledge of Korean on which to hinge the hanja you’re learning. I feel that I am reaching that stage now so that’s why I am opening that door now. Some learners will have reached that point before me, others will wait longer than me.
Last year, I felt a little angsty just looking at the characters that my language partner seemed to sprinkle over her notes whenever she was in a hurry and had made a list of the things she would like to tell me in our meetings. Now it looks like just another skill to be learned, one that will help expand my vocabulary and knowledge of Korean culture – after all, proverbs and idioms reflect a lot of the underlying thoughts of a people. So there, that should be enough justification for one post.

New elements to be included in my studies: reading aloud
The Sogang books have texts that are about a page long. To help on my confidence when it comes to pronunciation, I will read them aloud to myself as well as listen to the recording of someone reading it on the Sogang CD’s. I might even try to record myself reading aloud, although I’m pretty sure those recordings will never see the light of day outside my room, so don’t get your hopes up about audio posts here on the blog. At least not for a considerable amount of time to come…

I’m really looking forward to this upcoming journey towards becoming even more proficient in Korean and to share that journey with you all.

Until next time!

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