Monthly Archives: May 2015

Listening widely

I was mentally going over vocabulary which resulted in the following stream of words:

이유 – 유배 – 배신 – 신문 – 문자 – 자금

유배: exile
배신: betrayal, treason

Maybe I should try to find a modern drama after I finish 기황후 (and after my exams) just to balance things? 😀

I think my listening comprehension has improved quite a bit, and it’s easier for me to “detect” new words when I hear them.

Just two more episodes to go of 기황후! I will make sure to watch them back to back since there is bound to be some wicked cliffhanger at the end of episode 50. I wonder if I will develop withdrawal symptoms when I finish all of them…

Learning log D-148

This week one of my LPs had to cancel our meeting because of an exam project, but I will meet my other LP next week on Tuesday. It’s been a few weeks since my last Korean meeting since both of them have been ill, I went to Sicily for a week and then exams have made our lives difficult. These days I’m reading up on my uni materials, but I have gained some motivation from being offered a student job by a big law firm (I’m so excited I can barely contain it!).

I try to sneak in some vocabulary practice during otherwise non-efficient hours by looking at my vocabulary book, listening actively and expanding on the vocabulary book while watching 기황후, and looking up words from Korean music here and there. Studying grammar points when I come home doesn’t sit well with me these days since I’m simply too tired, but I feel like I should.

Listening: 기황후 and music. I feel like I have improved my listening comprehension quite a bit since I started watching it the second time and formalised my note taking although it might be a false sense of security.
Reading: Not really… I studied some of my hanja cards while focusing on the 한글 explanations. This is totally going to come back and bite me…
Writing: Very very few text messages. It almost doesn’t count, really.
Speaking: As for speaking Korean with actual people: none whatsoever. Does the random singing in the shower count? I try to formulate sentences in my head, though, for instance while walking to/from the station. That is when I’m not going over law hypotheticals. AAARGH!

Once my exams are over I really need to hit the Korean books!

So similar and yet so different

These are words that I have come across in real life situations and while watching dramas (which should be fairly obvious when looking at the words). I just noticed how similar they are in terms of spelling so pronunciation is key here!

In random order:

충전 charge (electric). If your phone settings are in Korean, the phone will say “충전 중” when charging.
중전 queen

천하 the whole country, state, empire (context specific)
전하 Your royal highness – specific for men (anyone watching 기황후 should know this one cough-cough)

그때 at that time, then
그대 a somewhat poetic way to say “you”. It will often be heard in songs.

I will probably come up with more examples, but this is a start.

Home from vacation

This week I’ve been to Sicily with my mum and some people from our Italian school. I think I need a few days to recuperate both physically and emotionally since the trip became somewhat more of an adventure than we had hoped for. I had expected to have a bit of time to study Korean at night, blog a little, and go to bed early, but I was so so wrong… We saw so many things there was barely time to laze around at all.

This was my first “vacation” in about 8 years so when my mum suggested it back in October I immediately accepted her invitation. The first day was really tough. We were travelling with a lot of people from our Italian language school and when we met to check in together in Copenhagen, our tickets showed up as “cancelled” in the system. We managed to sort it out, but you know what they say; 엎친데 덥친격… Just as we boarded the plane one of our co-travellers got a phone call from her husband, who was supposed to join us in Rome, who told us that our connecting flight from Rome to Palermo had been cancelled, and as if that wasn’t enough, about halfway through the flight there was a message over the speakers asking if there was a doctor was on the flight since another passenger had fallen ill – one of our travel companions volunteered and thankfully there was no need for a medical landing. Then we spent somewhere between 11 and 12 hours in Fiumicino Airport in Rome waiting for a flight to Palermo at 03:50. At least there was free wifi so we bought an extra set of headphones and streamed 기황후 while waiting. It was an exercise in patience, but we actually managed to have a good time although we were exhausted in the end. The flight attendants must have been able to see from our super quiet demeanour that we had nothing more to give since their security introduction was shortened to “there are life vests under your seats and all emergency exits are marked with exit signs. If you want further information, let us know”. I don’t even think they repeated that in English or maybe I just fell asleep before that.

The first hotel (in Palermo) had four stars, but there was only wifi connection in the reception, the shower drain was almost completely plugged, the saracinesca (does someone know the English word for that?) malfunctioned, and we barely avoided a fire when my mother tried to use the hairdrier. So… that was pretty eventful. At least I got myself two pairs of really lovely sandals in Palermo, a beautiful pair of earrings in Erice, and my mum has finally admitted that iPads are not only a source of distraction, but can be super useful too when it implies access to Korean dramas while spending a night in an airport.

We had a few more complications counting a bus change because some obscure engine part malfunctioned somewhere in the vicinity of Camporeale (which isn’t exactly the most urban place in Sicily) and our very last hotel had a problem with the water supply resulting in us having no water whatsoever, BUT we also had some very good experiences that I will remember for a long time to come. 

Although my Italian communication skills leave a lot to be desired, I was happy I understood most of what was going on around me – even explanations about particular wine production methods. Two people have praised my pronunciation (YAAAAY!) but I have to say I feel more comfortable speaking with native speakers when I’m not surrounded by other learners.

Remembering vocabulary

Yesterday I met one of my language partners for a quick study session before I headed off to Korean Movie Night at Copenhagen University and she had to return to her exam revision. We didn’t have time for much, but she tested my vocabulary retention from my new vocabulary book. I remembered the words from 기황후 much more easily than those from my text books. Also, I had to write them on the whiteboard to make sure I could also spell them (yay, not even one mistake!). Maybe I should just watch more dramas, but make sure to fit in some modern ones so I don’t end up with a vocabulary consisting of the likes of 혈서, 후궁, and 환관? 😉

Since it can be difficult to find a place to study we stayed in the lecture hall where I had just finished class. It’s not uncommon that students do this so we were joined by three random guys who seemed to have a field day watching me write obscure vocabulary on the whiteboard whenever they looked up from their laptops.

Often when I failed to remember one, the following happend “…that’s a blue word, right?” “yes…” “… how many syllables?”. Twice I managed to get the comment  “it’s correct, but your grammar is a bit Japanese. In Korean it’s perfectly ok to just say… but when you write, you should write what you said” when translating something on the spot. Well that’s new! However, I’d like to think my translation skills are improving. If nothing else I feel more confident even if making mistakes.

At Korean movie night we watched The Thieves (도둑들) which was absolutely hilarious. It’s a heist movie and super entertaining. If you have time, I can definitely recommend it.

Learning Log D-164

These days are just flying by. D-164. 164??? How did that happen??! This week is the final week of lectures for two of my courses and then I have to revise for my exams. So far it seems to work out, but I have to admit it’s a bit much since especially these two courses are super heavy on the readings. Literally… One of the books even caused a bruise on my back a while ago because I brought that + my law collection with me several days in a row.

Anyway, back to Korean: My vocabulary book is slowly expanding, but I try to not just add words indiscriminately. I have started adding words from other sources too so I colour code to be able to tell them apart. Just writing in different colours helps me remember where I heard the word, which in turn helps me remember; Black ink is for drama words, blue ink is for words from my books, and green ink is for words I learned from texting/mailing/talking to people. Just knowing that a word is from a drama, I can pinpoint more or less the specific drama scene I learned a specific word if it’s not a recurring one. It sounds a bit crazy, but that’s how it works for me. I bring my vocabulary book pretty much everywhere since it’s very thin, and I try to look over the words while on the train if I’m not doing kanji practice for my Japanese class. Whenever I learn a new Japanese word or grammar point I also try to think of the Korean equivalent – I just cannot help it!

Over the past week I’ve had some moments where I learned a new word and then suddenly realised it shared a hanja component with another word I already knew. E.g. the new word 표시 (mark, sign) shares the hanja for 표 with the word 대표 (representative) which I already knew from another drama. I suddenly remembered 대표 and wondered if they had something in common and my hunch turned out to be right. Now I just seem to connect the two even if I cannot remember the specific strokes for the hanja… I guess I will have a lot more of those moments as I learn more kanji for Japanese and that way get to know the underlying hanja for Korean words I already know.

Tomorrow one of my language partners will test my vocabulary and my understanding of the first three grammar points of my TOPIK grammar book before we move on to speaking. I hope things stick as much as I think they do.

I hope all of you who got TOPIK scores today did well! 🙂

Hanja: 冷 cold

Without spoiling too much, I can reveal that at some point in 기황후 the empress is sent to the “ice palace” as a punishment. Not surprisingly it’s a dreadful place where even the cobwebs that decorate the walls are more or less frozen. They call this palace 냉궁 (冷宮) – literally frozen palace. For some reason this word stuck with me. Or rather the 냉- part.

: This is the same 냉 that you find in 냉면 (iced noodles), 냉장고 (refrigerator), and 냉동식품 (frozen food). 

Leave it to me to immediately think of food related words 😀