Monthly Archives: December 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everybody! I hope you will have a splendid 2015. 2014 has been a quite stressful year, but it’s also been a good year. The past few weeks have been tough, but there should be hope it will all end well.

This has been the most chaotic Christmas and New Year to date in our family. When my mum told my brother over the phone that she had bought a Christmas tree and we were waiting for delivery, it went like this:
My mum: it was quite dark, but the silhouette looked rather nice.
My brother: If only you knew how many have said that throughout the ages.
My mum: …

That exchange pretty much characterised our Christmas this year.

Looking back on my Korean journey, I’ve done one big thing related to Korean language every year since I started studying Korean in 2012. In 2013 I sat my first TOPIK exam, and 2014 was the year in which I participated in a Korean speaking competition – slightly unwillingly, but as you know it ended surprisingly well.

2015 is almost here so it makes sense to think about some of the things I would like to work on next year. My next “big project” will definitely be the intermediate TOPIK.

1) Study until and including level 9 of TTMIK grammar lessons.
2) Be able to hold out for at least five minutes in conversation before going into “네…” mode.
3) Pass TOPIK level 3

The first that comes to mind is to not accidently read katakana that look confusingly similar to 한글 out in Korean during Japanese class. E.g. 그 vs. コ.

I still need to figure out actual goals for Japanese. Until now I’ve just gone with the flow in class.

Happy New Year! 새해 복 많이 받으세요!

The “butter/knife matrix”. Which type of learner are you?

Today I read the post You are not good enough posted by Koreanvitamin. One thing is if you are hired to assess someone’s ability in an exam situation, and you argue that that person should not get a top grade because they simply do not meet the requirements, but in terms of unsolicited advice, such a comment only shows that the person might have passed a language exam, but clearly failed the test in situational judgment.

Here is a matrix that I have come across at work. It’s nicknamed the butter/knife matrix, but rest assured, this has nothing to do with cooking, but with personalities. It’s very low-tech, but it’s quite useful for setting some things straight.

Blunt knife Sharp knife
Soft butter
Hard butter

The sharper the knife, the better cognitive abilities a person has. The harder the butter, the more difficult the problems they try to take on.

Based on the matrix we can see that there a four different combinations. The achiever is a “sharp knife” who works with “hard butter” problems, while the “blunt knives” who laze away their days with “soft butter” problems are not setting up themselves for notable achievements. However, the same could be said for a bright but lazy person…

This is where it gets interesting. A “blunt knife” who strives to work with “hard butter” problems can actually get quite far when they set their minds on it. Much farther than a “sharp knife” who just lazes days away. A lot should therefore be attributed to dedication and perseverance.

The amount of Korean learning material out there is thankfully increasing a lot these days (much of it even under a creative commons license rather than copyright), and learners who start learning Korean today have much better possibilities than those of us who started just over two years ago, where I spent several months just figuring out how to go about studying Korean on my own, where to start, and how to get books. Many students today will not have to spend a disproportionate amount of time figuring out where to get material.

There are no guarantees for reaching a certain proficiency level when studying alone, but honestly, the same goes for attending a class. It completely depends on how a student spends his/her time. A student who is officially enrolled in a language programme in university or language school, but rarely studies and only goes to class when “feeling like it” is very likely to be at a disadvantage regardless of intellectual capabilities compared to the student who studies at home after work, but is at least consistent and dedicated. Is it difficult? yep. Is it impossible? obviously not since so many are doing it.

So next time somebody fires an obnoxious comment at you, remember the butter/knife matrix and remind yourselves that at least you are putting yourselves into the “hard butter” territory. And that’s a pretty good start, right?

Sunday Status D-300

Three hundred days left until TOPIK 2! Time flies. This past week has been focused on preparing for Christmas, but I have managed to review a bit.

This week I did’t watch any raw versions of 오만과 편견 due to time constraints, but I did watch the subtitled versions. I came across yet another word for resignation: 사직서. How many variations can there possibly be???

Reading and writing
I wrote a few text messages in Korean, but it’s been limited.

This week was less than ideal from a speaking perspective. I’m not entirely sure why… maybe because my Korean studies have been so limited? maybe because my attention has been spread a little too thin and I’ve been sleep deprived?

On a positive note, it seems that my father will be discharged from hospital in time to be home for Christmas. We’re still waiting for the final OK, though. Fingers crossed!

This week I also received the date for the first of my upcoming exams: 8th of January. It will be a 20 min oral exam without any preparation time. I’ve known the format all along, but now I also know the exact date.

“Already” or “yet”? and what type of resignation?

While watching 오만과 편견, I looked up a few words that puzzled me. I therefore asked my LP about the nuances of them, and thought I would share the answers with you. I admit that these are fairly specific words, but I guess it just shows the type of linguistic oddities I pick up while watching dramas.

이미 vs. 벌써 or 아직:
I have forgotten the specific context, but Chief 문희만 used the word 이미 one time and it for some reason caught my attention.
To complicate matters, my dictionary said “already; yet; (not) any longer; by now; by this time”. Great, now I had more questions than I had before looking it up.
How does it differ from 벌써 (already) and 아직 ((not)yet), which by the way are describing two very different situations?

It turns out that 이미 is closer related to 벌써 than 아직. However, 이미 implies a certain amount of planning compared to 벌써. In other words 벌써 is sudden and somewhat unexpected whereas if some event happens “이미” you’ve prepared for it. She gave the example that if a 9 month old baby is walking perfectly, the correct wording would be 벌써 rather than 이미 because it’s unexpected and unplanned for.

사표 (-를 제출하다) vs. 사임(하다):
Both mean “resignation”. However, they are not entirely the same.
Unlike 사임, 사표 is by definition a physical document. However, there is one more difference: 사표 is more colloquial than 사임, which is more business-like and has a formal air to it.

It makes sense in the context of the drama as well: When Prosecutor 이장원 looses his briefcase containing the case files in the nightclub (for those of you who don’t watch the drama – yes, that mistake is as stupid as it sounds), he’s told by 유광미 that he better prepare a 사표. However, when Prosecutor 구동치 is told by Chief 문희만 that he will effectively be told to resign, Chief uses 사임.

Now it makes a lot more sense 🙂

Sunday Status D-307

Hi guys, sorry about the delay. The last week was a bit turbulent since I was busy with my last week of lectures this semester, and had to deal with a medical emergency in my family. For that reason my Korean studies have been fairly limited last week.

I did, however, learn something new related to nuances of vocabulary I learned in 오만과 편견 which I will post in a separate post 🙂

Sunday Status D-314

This past week, I’ve been working my way back into my usual routine.

Writing and grammar
I didn’t write anything for this week, but next week I’ve agreed on a writing challenge with my LP. I cannot say much more about it at this point in time, though 😉

As usual, I watched 오만과 편견 raw and then with subtitles later on. However, I’ve been feeling more tired when watching it this week than usual wherefore I’ve looked up fewer words.

Given how much focus Korean has had for the past two weeks, we focused on Danish this week with special attention given to pronunciation.
Next week we will continue working with pronunciation for both Korean and Danish. Danish is spoken a bit further down the throat than e.g. English which seems to be an obstacle when it comes to getting rid of a foreign accent in Danish. The fact that this is even one of the primary concerns for my LP shows how far she has come. As for my Korean, I will work on sounding a little less like a news anchor…

I’ve been meaning to wrap up and post the book review, but the weather has been so dreary lately that I’m not happy with the lighting in the pictures. As soon as I catch a glimpse of sun light, I will be ready with my camera and finish it 🙂

Soon it will be time to make goals for 2015. are you already thinking of some? For me TOPIK II is the overarching goal for the year (until October at least), but I will have to divide it into some slightly more concrete tasks. 열공!