Monthly Archives: November 2014

Sunday Status D-321

Wow, this has been a quite eventful week from a Korean learning perspective.

Well, I think I can safely say I have spoken Korean this week.
On Monday I had lunch with a Korean friend, and I read my speech out loud for her. That was really good practice since until Friday the number of people who had actually heard me speak Korean amounted to fewer than 10. It was really reassuring that she didn’t have problems understanding what I was saying.
On Thursday I was invited to my very first Thanksgiving dinner at my LP’s flat, and while she was cooking I also went over the speech a few times just to say it out loud.

Writing and grammar
When going over the speech I made some alterations here and there during the week. I also managed to catch up bit over Kakaotalk with a friend who’s currently out of town. The funny thing is that he’s not even Korean either. However, he told me that I have improved a lot since he left for the summer holidays and thesis writing.
This week I didn’t go over any new grammar points. Instead I tried to focus on just using what I already know fairly well.

Listening and vocabulary
Of course I listened to the other contestants’ speeches at the event on Friday. I understood some of them more than others…
On top of that I’ve spent somewhere between 3.5 hours and 4 hours this week watching just two episodes of 오만과 편견 raw (excluding the time I spent on watching the subtitled versions later). I’ve added quite a few words to my word cards, and I actually recognise many of them when I hear them again later on.

Next week I’ll have to study a lot of verdicts for one of my courses and read up on some articles for another, but I will make sure to fit in a few new grammar points as well.


Korean Speaking Contest

I owe you guys an update on the speaking contest. In short: I did go, and it was great. Now for the slightly longer version.

I arrived as the very first one since it was the first time I ever went to the university campus where it was held and I really didn’t want to be late. For the past week I have been so nervous I could barely eat (I even lost weight). I cannot recall being this nervous since an exam in international economics that I did in my BSc back in 2008.

Before the contest started, there was an opportunity to talk to the other contestants (many of whom I had actually met at a Korean fried-chicken-and-beer event before, and as it turned out we were all equally nervous), get an introduction to the order of things, and look over the speech a last time.

The Ambassador introduced the event with a really nice speech about learning other languages and how it’s a necessity to learn the language to learn about a foreign culture. The first group was then asked to position themselves in the right order by the podium. The first group had studied for a year or less, the second group between 1 and 2 years (my group), and the last group was for those with up to 6 or 7 years of experience. In between each group there would be a short break for the judges to make final notes. This division of level was a great idea and it was really helpful to speak among people who have studied approximately the same amount of time (of course assuming we spent app. the same amount of time studying Korean in two years). It made it a LOT less daunting.

In total 23 participants had applied, but “only” 21 could make it to the event, which I still consider a pretty decent number of people!

This speech has been on my mind for two weeks. I’ve even been revising in my sleep, waking up when reaching a point where I couldn’t remember which sentence should come next.

My language partner, her boyfriend, and another of her friends whom I met at her Thanksgiving dinner the night before the contest were running a bit late, but thankfully they made it in time to see my group.

The speech itself was nerve-racking. It was not quite as fluent as I had planned, but I managed. By the time I sat down afterwards, my hands were literally shaking. Afterwards I wasn’t even sure if I said all of the things I actually wanted to say, but my language partner assured me I did say all of the things I was afraid I had somehow forgotten. I deliberately left out a line, because I felt I might have lost track of the timing and it wasn’t crucial.

We were measured on vocabulary, pronunciation, content, and time-management (max 3 minutes, cut down from between 3 and 5 minutes due to the number of contestants).

There were three prizes, the grand prize (a round trip ticket to Korea) being awarded to a contestant from the most experienced group, the second prize (a Samsung tablet or phone) to a contestant from the intermediate group, and the third prize (a Samsung Galaxy phone) to a contestant from the beginner group. Those are really generous prizes! Furthermore, two acknowledgments were given (one to me, and the other to a girl from the advanced group – a 13-year old who obviously spoke really well).

The grand prize winner of a round trip ticket to Korea studies Korean at the University of Copenhagen, and she spoke very well. Afterwards she told me and the second prize winner that she had had to say no to going to Korea with some friends in February due to financial constraints, but now she can go. How great is that!

I wasn’t one of the three main prize winners, but I got a special recognition for my efforts of learning Korean on my own. That was so unexpected. If it were not for my language partner I would never even have thought of signing up since I initially thought I wasn’t even qualified to participate; that I was risking total and utter humiliation. Last week I almost couldn’t get myself to press the “send” button to actually apply, and I even called my brother who assured me that I should in fact just press that button and get it over with; that it would be a good experience for me.

When the pictures were taken after the contest, there wasn’t a lot of space and thinking back I’m not sure I was in the right line for one of the photos… I keep telling myself I probably was since people were generally rearranging for that one, and one of the judges waved me closer… I was so shocked that I even got a prize that the 15 minutes that followed are a bit hazy. Which is of course the time interval when pictures were taken. I really hope I was in the right line!!! Otherwise that will take the definition of “mortification” to a whole new level when I see them.

Unfortunately I didn’t take a single photo there, so I’ll have to rely on the official ones when they come out, and get some from my language partner.

What were my immediate take-aways from the contest?
1) I managed to speak Korean in public without suffering permanent emotional harm.
2) I proved that self-studying is in fact possible beyond absolute beginner level.
3) I learned to have more faith in my own Korean abilities.

It’s a bit interesting that my language partner had so much more faith in my Korean level than I did when she’s obviously the Korean among the two of us and therefore should know better than me. Today I’m really happy I followed her recommendation and signed up.

From a longer term perspective it was really inspiring to see the other contestants, since seeing their speeches made it very apparent how far you can get with a language even when studying it in a country where it’s somewhat difficult to use in daily life. I will definitely keep pushing myself to improve so I can come back and do even better next year.

In spite of having gone through several months last year and again earlier this year where I was stuck with full time work plus a pretty hefty uni workload and therefore heavily neglected my Korean studies (sorry about the lack of posts in those months!), the time I did put into it when I did study must have been efficient hours. More efficient than I even realised.

This is the prize I got.

This is so pretty! My parents think I won the best prize.

This is so pretty! My parents think I won the best prize since this one I will keep for many many years, whereas technology will get outdated. I happen to agree.

The details on this are amazing

The details on this are amazing. When opening it, it plays Arirang,

We (me, my language partner, her boyfriend and aforementioned friend) wrapped up the evening at a Korean restaurant with 삼겹살 and 막걸리. All in all it was a great afternoon and evening!

Here is my speech. My language partner has looked it over for “big things” (thankfully nothing too overwhelming turned up), but if you find imperfections they are “supposed” to be there because my Korean is not perfect so they shouldn’t be weeded out before I understand why they are wrong. Please be kind when reading it 🙂

제 이름은 마이 XXX입니다. 아직은 한 번도 대한민국에 안 가봤습니다.
또 학원이나 수업은 들을 기회가 없었습니다. 그래서 혼자 공부하고 한국인 친구랑 말하기 연습합니다.
많은 사람들이 말 도 안 됀다고 하고 너무 힘들거 같다고 합니다. 기끔은 저도 그렇게 생각합니다.
그럼 제가 왜 한국말을 공부할까요?
사실은 제가 엄머니와 내기 때문에 한국어 공부를 시작하였지만 지금은 그렇게 아니에요.
문법도 발음도 혼자 공부하는 건 힘들어요. 듣고 이해하는 것도 정말 어려운데 단지 내기 때문에 공부할
수 없습니다.
그 내기 대문에 한국어능력시험을 치기 위해서 지난 해 4(사) 월엔 런던에 갔습니다.
합격한 다음에 기분이 정말 좋아서 한국어 공부를 계속하게 됐습니다.
저는 주로 한국어를 듣기 위해 드라마를 봅니다.
XXX 대학교에서 법을 전공해서 한국 드라마 “오만과 편견” 하고 “너의 목소리가 들려”라는 드라다를 정
말 좋아합니다.
그래서 한국인 친구 중에 한명 이 DVD box 샀젔습니다. [Here I showed the 너의 목소리가 들려 DVD box and one of the scripts with all my post-its]
한국말은 함축성이 있는 언어인데 처음엔 스토리라인만 이해합니다.
그러나 시간이 지나면서 한국어를 더 이해하고 새로운 디테일들을 볼 수 있읍니다.
근데 실제로 대한민국에 가면 완전 다르겠죠?
한국어 공부 때문에 좋은 친구들을 만났습니다. 앞으로 공부가 어려워도 그 친구들에게 약속했습니다:
열심히 공부하고 빨리 한국에서 만나요.

오만과 편견 and listening comprehension

This week I managed to catch both episodes of 오만과 편견 raw. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such a good drama!

Obviously I didn’t understand everything, but I’m happy how much I did understand. Even without subtitles, I’m really excited about the upcoming episodes.

I have serious problems following the office chief 문희만 (portrayed by 최민수), though. There is something about his way of speaking that throws me off… I haven’t seen him in anything else, so I’m not sure if it’s a character thing or just his way of speaking. I have been wondering so much about it that I even looked up where he’s from to see if he speaks a dialect… He’s from a city not too far from Seoul so that shouldn’t be it…

The odd thing I’ve noticed is that I either understand a LOT of a scene or I understand very little. Maybe it’s because the things I understand are in specific contexts while the rest is still part of a learning process that is ahead of me.

How I watch given that I don’t understand everything:
An episode takes 1 hour if you watch it without breaks. However, it takes me between 1.5 and 2 hours to watch that one episode because I pause the video to look up and note down vocabulary.

Obviously I don’t look up everything, but a word qualifies if:
– one or several characters repeat it right after each other.
– the word has a central position in the conversation.
– it sounds funny… Yes, that’s not a very academic reason, but there you have it.

Now go watch that drama! It’s too good to miss!

D – 328

Tonight I activated a new widget on my electronic dictionary: a countdown to the TOPIK II want to attend next year.
I’ll go for the October installment, which will be on the 17th of October in Europe.

In my future learning logs/Sunday Status posts, you will therefore find the days remaining mentioned in the title.

For some reason 328 days doesn't seem like a very long time in this context!

For some reason 328 days doesn’t seem like a very long time in this context!


Sunday Status

This week I have actually been doing a lot related to Korean. To the point where I have even been dreaming about Korean.

Essay writing: I wrote an essay this week! It’s been such a long time since I last wrote something, but it’s not as bad as I feared it would be.
Texting: I’ve been texting with my LP and a few others in Korean.

That sort of goes with writing; you need to find an appropriate grammatical structure to say what you really want to say. However, I need to develop my grammar more.

I have also been speaking a little and reading the essay out loud with my language partner. I think my pronunciation isn’t too bad, but I really need to focus and listen very carefully to be able to understand what I’m asked. Then there is of course the issue of being able to formulate a somewhat coherent reply on the spot.
In London I bought some small word cards, and I find them super useful.

Dimensions: 6.8 cm x 3 cm

Dimensions: 6.8 cm x 3 cm

Word cards 2

The key ring makes revision very convenient

I bought three sets of each £1 in a Japanese book store, and whenever I learn a new word in language exchange, I write it down. Three sets should keep me going for a while, but it’s so much cheaper and easier than creating my own by cutting blank business cards into several word cards. I try to make a point of reviewing the new vocabulary on the way home from my language exchange while on the train and again in the evening.

I think practicing speaking with more people will help me get used to differences in pronunciation and enunciation, though…

I’ve watched the one episode of 오만과 편견 that aired this week (with subtitles since I didn’t catch the raw one in time). Sadly the other episode was preempted due to a football match. I try to watch the episodes both raw and with subtitles, because not having subtitles forces me to focus more on what’s said and on any written things that the camera focuses on, while the subtitles allow me to fill in the blanks.

Sunday status

I’m not sure how this post suddenly disappeared from the blog, so here is a re-post… How odd…


This weekend, I’m visiting family in London, but I’ve been studying some Korean too.

Writing and speaking
I met with my language partner the day before flying to London. We spoke a lot of Danish, but also some Korean. I’d like to think it went marginally better than the week before, but I still have such a long way to go.

I’ve agreed with my language partner that for every week, I have to prepare a small speech to get used to it. It allows me to work through vocabulary at home as well as get used to speaking more.
I spent the flight to London working on next week’s assignment, which was apparently very fascinating for the guy sitting next to me. At some point I started wondering if he understood Korean.

Listening and drama
For those looking for a new drama to watch (and listen to), I can definitely recommend Pride and Prejudice (오만과 편견). I try to catch the raw versions to practice my listening ability, but watching with subtitles is a lot more enjoyable.

Anecdote of the week:
It seems that Gangnam Style has caught on among todlers in London as well. At least my two-year old nephew has managed to sing “sexy ladyyyyy” as a reply to my brother’s “eeeeeeeh!”. After that my brother tried to shield him bit to avoid future embarrassment on the playground. For two days I’ve tried to get him to say it, but so far he only gives me a “what the…?!” look. Yes, I’m doing my best to play the part of the disreputable aunt.

Sunday status

I think my learning logs have been suffering lately and I therefore decided to make a schedule for them: every Sunday I will post an overview of what I’ve been doing related to Korean.

With my LP:
– Texting in Korean
– Speaking Korean/Danish – mostly Danish
– Watching a few videos of 비정상회담

On my own:
– Listening to music
– Watching 오만과 편견 episodes 3 and 4 (one word: 대박!)
– Thinking of what to say at the speaking contest – should I eventually sign up. I actually started writing a little bit… Just a tiny bit… I’ve decided that I will prepare some sort of speech next week and then see where it goes. If nothing else, it’s a good exercise.

This upcoming Friday I will go to London for a family visit so my schedule will be a bit tight, but hopefully it will be manageable.

Book reviews coming up

It’s been a while since I made any reviews.

Coming up:

1. Complete Guide to the TOPIK (beginner and intermediate).
2. Modern Korean – An Intermediate Reader

Please note that the TOPIK books are for the old format, but that’s exactly why I want to review them – so people have a better idea of what they get if they decide to buy them anyway.

Foreigners speaking Korean

Yesterday I met up with my language partner for another lunch/coffee/speaking about anything that comes to mind meeting. The funny thing is that although I grew up in Copenhagen she’s been introducing me to a part of the city where I have been just a few times before and don’t know at all.

Over coffee she showed me some youtube videos of the programme 비정상외담.
Some of you might already be familiar with them, but I only just came across them. If you don’t know them already, make sure to check them out.

The concept is that a group of foreigners from various countries talk about all sorts of things with the Korean hosts – in Korean. Each video is just a few minutes long, but rather entertaining, which makes it easier to watch one whenever you have time such as over breakfast or if you have internet access while commuting.

I’ll have to be honest; I struggle a bit, but it’s a really good exercise. First we watched a video in full, and then again cut-by-cut where she made sure I understood what was going on and she explained puns and new words.

New expressions count:

바람피우다 (shortened to 불륜): used to describe someone who is unfaithful – one who’s romantic loyalty changes everytime the direction of the wind changes.