Monthly Archives: October 2013

TOPIK scores release date: December 3rd

I noticed that this has been a search term for a few days now so I looked it up thinking that it would help some people out there: The TOPIK scores from the October installment should be published on December 3rd according to the Korean education center in the UK.

That leaves a bit of waiting time… 힘내요.

TOPIK dates for 2014 confirmed

The dates for next year’s TOPIK tests have been confirmed!

제33회: January 19 – scores announced February 10

제34회: April 19 / 20 (Both Korea and abroad) – scores announced May 30

제35회: July 20 – scores announced August 5

제36회: October 11 / 12 (Both Korea and abroad) – scores announced November 10

제37회: November 23 – scores announced December 10

Please remember that the sign-up period varies from country to country so keep an eye on your local test organiser’s website.

I’m stuck at uni… As in literally cannot leave.

I’m stuck at school because of a storm. All trains cancelled, roofs flying, trees blocking roads and railways.

From a positive point of view:
-I brought home-made cookies with me.
-I brought my tort book for the train ride even though class is tomorrow. So at least I can read for tomorrow’s class, which is taught by a lawyer I absolutely don’t want to get caught unprepared by.

The less positive aspects:
-My Korean books and electronic dictionary are at home… And I’m meeting my language partner tomorrow about that essay… And I have class from early morning.
-Uni closes at 22 so the storm better be over then and trees cleared off roads and railways by then!
-I was planning to make slow-cooked spicy Korean chicken and now I don’t get to eat it 😦

I should probably just start reading before I get sucked into some vortex of self-pity.

Sogang workbook answer keys for levels 1-4

In the comments section to the review of the Sogang books here on the blog, Walter shared a link to Sogang’s website where it is possible to download answer keys for the first four levels of the Sogang work books.

I thought this was probably too important for many readers to not dedicate a post to it.

Walter shared this link.

While I found a lot of great things in general through the link, I had problems downloading the file from the front page. Instead I was successful downloading from this part of the site. Maybe I made the mistake of asking it to open instead of save as the first time? Either way, asking it to open directly only brought me trouble while it worked the second time when I first saved the zip-file and then opened it afterwards.

In any case, here are the missing answer keys!!! Happy studying everyone! And yet again, thank you to Walter for sharing 🙂

Training new speech level

The 중급-TOPIK should be written in honorific form – which is not the form I’m most confident producing. I have no problems reading it, but when conjugating verbs and adjectives myself, I get in doubt of what exactly I’m doing.

For my next meeting with my language partner on Tuesday, I’m going to write a small essay in honorific form about travelling to begin to practice so I will be confident writing this way in the intermediate TOPIK.


걷다 vs. 걷다 vs. 걷다

These are three different verbs that share dictionary form. Beware that they are conjugated differently due to their different meanings.

Dictionary form – polite present tense – English infinitive

걷다 – 걸어요 – To walk

걷다 – 걷어요 – To roll up (e.g. your sleeves)

걷다 – 걷어요 – To take down clothes from a drying line (yes, this is a very specific usage of 걷다)

A pitiful class

A bit more personal post today since this is something that has really challenged my diplomatic skills these past couple of days: people who make no effort and expect to get your results for free.

Throughout my studies so far I have had the privilege of being around fairly ambitious people. I always wanted to do my best for my own personal pride, to give a good impression to the professor, and to not be a burden to my colleagues. Thankfully most of the others in my programme shared that attitude so the courses were always very dynamic.

Therefore I’m experiencing a downright culture shock in my new MSc and I’m wondering what exactly happened to the class I’m in now. I really don’t know if they do read and understand, but just don’t feel the need to contribute or if they are genuinely lost and so far behind the curve that they can no longer see the curve.

The drop that made it all overflow is that I was assigned to a team presentation to be held this upcoming Monday. Since our class is fairly new, our prof called us down to the front of the room in a break so we could make our introductions and exchange contact information. Only one other person showed up, an exchange student. We were supposed to be about 10 people making a 1 hour presentation based on a comparative analysis of 11 verdicts in total.
When the class started again, the prof encouraged people coordinate with me and made me wave my hand so people would know who I am. That’s how we gained a team member who was not even supposed to be in our group, but nevertheless wanted to join. The remaining people never got back to us. Yes, if all had replied, it would make for a bit crowded group, but could they at least have had a sense of decency and replied to the mail we sent after class?
I was ashamed when facing the exchange student yesterday and told her I was just as shocked as her…

As a concept I don’t mind team work. People have different perspectives and they might point out something new I had not thought about – assuming they read and show up that is.

A week has passed, and yesterday we actually wrote to our professor and informed him that we had been very discouraged by the apathy of the class, but recognising that we can learn a lot from the excise, we would like to do all of the work on our own anyway and deliver an analysis to him without sharing it with the class. He was understanding of the additional work load and our disappointment with our colleagues, but suggested we pick the verdicts we like the most and then do a short presentation, ignoring the initial scope if we prefer.

We will naturally do a presentation as our professor requested, but we will base it on knowing the material by heart. No slides to support us equals no slides to share afterwards. If the others want notes, they can damn well write their own.

Korean food links

I have a thing for cooking and sometimes I go into Korean cooking mode and subject my family to various dinner experiments. So far the family has liked it, but I continue to wonder how Koreans manage to cook so many dishes per meal.

For others who would like to try the wonders of Korean home-cooking, check out the following links:

Korean Bapsang – a Korean mom’s home cooking

Since it’s pumpkin season, I will try my luck with stuffed pumpkin pancakes this upcoming weekend 🙂

Do you often cook Korean food?
What is your favorite dish to cook?

Music and learning – tuning the brain to learn

Today I found Alice’s blog about living, studying (and working) in Korea.
Her post about playing an instrument made me think since I too used to play. To be honest, instuments have been on my mind a few times this week since I found out that a guy in my class used to play the clarinet like me (what a coincidence), and it used to be a relatively big part of my life as a teen.

Ok, a little disclaimer here: I was no prodigy, I played only a few years and had to be reminded to practice fairly often. I was regularly praised by my teacher, but when he suggested I join an orchestra I was not convinced I could manage.

However, I firmly believe that playing music helps learning in very concrete ways that are useful for learners of other things than music:
– It helps you focus: you have to think about what you’re doing when playing an instrument.
– You improve your ability to combine thinking and acting: reading notes while doing one thing with left hand and another thing with the right hand.
– You improve your ability to see patterns.

Then of course there are the character aspects that Alice also mentions: to become a good musician, you have to keep going even when it’s tough, it doesn’t sound right, and you would much rather do pretty much anything else.

Why is it worth considering in the sphere of languages?

Attention span:
Nowadays people’s ability to concentrate seems to be close to non-existent. When looking at my classmates, people are constantly somewhere else mentally, be it on facebook, a news site or doing something else that is completely unrelated to the lecture they are supposed to be following. And this is graduate school… These are the people who have supposedly picked a programme that actually appealed to them.
When was the last time we did something and allowed it to absorb us completely? I have yet to meet someone who managed to update facebook, check the news, text a few friends and play Bach on violin at the same time… However, I have met people who seem to think it is perfectly possible if the activity you should be doing is learning something academic.

Improving memory:
I’ve met people who can barely remember their own phone number and say about everything “I can always look it up”. And yes, we can most of the time, but even though knowing things by heart can be an aweful lof of work, it just helps tremendously if you don’t have to look up the most basic things. If your prof can make you feel embarrassed about not remembering something then imagine the day someone is paying you to know. In some professions, you might even end up with a liability suit if you don’t know and someone makes a very expensive mistake because of it.
Playing music helps us tune our memory as most teachers will include some element of rote learning even if not following the Suzuki system. One thing that annoys me when studying Korean is looking up the same word every few pages.

Seeing patterns:
Being able to see and remember patterns, similarities and differences is the learner’s version of finding a gold mine. This is something that is automatically trained when playing music, but it comes in really, really handy when you’re studying grammar patterns and vocabulary too!

Recharging batteries:
Playing an instrument is not always associated with happiness and rainbows, but that being said, it can be quite fun too.

So why did I quit playing? There are several reasons for that… Work load to get the grades for my uni programme, vocational training classical ballet on the side, and some other things which were relevant for my decision, but I will not burden you with in this post. I sometimes miss playing and when I go to see a performance the place my teacher still plays, I always listen for his warm-up routine if I cannot make my way to the orchestra pit before the performance.

I have played since then, sometimes just for fun, other times as a way to let out frustration in a socially acceptable way. And practicing scales has also proven a brilliant way to retaliate against a particularly noisy neighbour after a night of particularly loud second-hand party music.

Out of curiosity, how many of you play an instrument or used to play? Which instrument?

If not even Koreans can read Korean when using romanisation…

The other day was 한글날 in Korea, and TTMIK published a video on what it would be like to read Korean if 한글 did not exist.

They asked some Seoulites to read some sentences for them in Korean – based on the romanised versions and then afterwards they were allowed to see the proper Korean sentences.

It’s quite funny to see since it becomes clear that not even Korean people can pronounce Korean easily when seeing the words in romanisation. That would explain why my brain also shuts down when I see it written like that.

Another great incentive to use romanisations only as a guideline while learning the 한글 alphabet and then abandon the concept altoghether when expanding vocabulary and learning grammar.