Category Archives: Progressing

Milestone: I used Korean at work!

Today I have used Korean at work. A few months ago I had a false start where I considered using Korean, and another time I was asked to translate just a few things for a colleague, but this time I really did use it to help someone higher ranked. I didn’t speak, though. I translated something from a report so we didn’t have to send it out of the house for translation, so I was a bit nervous about it, but decided to give it my best shot. The person I translated for said it made perfect sense given the other information he had available so I guess I passed the test!

Must study more, must study more!

Listening comprehension

Yesterday I had a bit of an aha-experience. This past semester I have been a bit too busy, working two part-time jobs amounting to a full-time job timewise while studying. That means that most of my exposure to Korean has been through less-than-structured meetings my LPs (this semester has been a bit more spontaneous when it comes to choice of subjects, and we never agreed on one before our meetings), a TTMIK lesson here and there, the occasional Korean DVD and then music – aka I have not actually sat down and studied intently as I have done in previous semesters.

Here comes the kicker: yesterday I listened to a few of the 이야기 lessons from TTMIK and found myself laughing of their jokes. It surprised me that I could understand so much of it. Of course I cannot understand 100% and I wouldn’t be able to speak like that in a conversation myself, but my listening comprehension has improved tremendously!

However, I have a problem with my concentration span in Korean. After a while I sort of zoom out because I still cannot listen “effortlessly”.

In spite of still lacking a lot, maybe I haven’t been stalling as much as I thought!

Modern Korean – intermediate reader

Yesterday was a good Korean learning day. I have read the chapter on Seoul in Modern Korean – an Intermediate Reader and started doing the substitution drills.

Ok, so the actual text is only a page and a half while the rest is vocabulary, grammar, and exercises, but when I bought the book I was unable to read it without looking up every other word and grammar point so I sense improvement 🙂 it’s a really good book and I enjoy working with it so far.

What I like:
– you learn a lot about Korea when reading it so you both learn the language and about the country.
– key vocabulary is provided in a list at the end of the chapter.
– key grammatical structures are pointed out after the main text of the chapter
– grammar exercises are provided in various forms (the sample sentence is the one from the main text and then you work from that)
– translation exercises are provided incl. a clue for which grammatical structure should be used.
– if you work with others there are suggestions for dialogues and role plays you can practice together.
– based on the topic of the chapter, you are encouraged to write an essay/ think of answers to questions etc.

Side note:
Two days ago at work I even got to use Korean! Someone at work had to decipher some invoices in Korean and asked for my help to find out what line item was what. The first word she needed was 카드 which obviously isn’t a difficult word, but people who have no idea about 한글 get really impressed. Thankfully I had my dictionary with me for the other words!!!

Today I worked 10 hours so I’m a bit tired, but I will try to read a bit more tonight.

Milestone: 백일

Yesterday Koreanstudentblog turned 100 days!
And today I received my stamped TOPIK registration slip from the Korean Embassy. So that’s TWO big events for my Korean journey – all in one week! 🙂

So what has happened so far?

Blog specs:
Posts: 108
Views: 2,761
Views on best day: 149 (whoa!)
Comments: 106 of which I wrote 50
Subscribers: 33

About you guys:
Country of origin: gosh, where to start? People from 56 countries have stopped by so far!

Top 10 countries:
1. USA: 447 views
2. Korea: 311 views
3. Denmark: 297 views
4. Philippines: 285 views
5. Singapore: 280 views
6. United Kingdom: 126 views
7. Malaysia: 124 views
8. Australia: 119 views
9. Vietnam: 102 views
10. Germany: 69 views

Top 5 commenters:
1. Alodia from My Korean Corner
2. Alli from Blue Hanbok
3. David from Autonomous Korean
4. Lan from Swanlake 1701
5. Kay from My Korean Notebook

Thank you so much everyone for stopping by to read, comment, and like 🙂 I always enjoy hearing from you and seeing which posts you find particularly useful or enjoyable to read.

Remember that if you have any requests for posts, just let me know!

Do you have any ideas for how to celebrate the 100 day of a blog? 😀 (besides studying Korean ;-))

“You talkin’ to me?… Well I’m the only one here!”

Most people will probably recognise this quote from Taxi Driver even if it’s from before their time. But did you know that Robert De Niro is speaking to himself in the mirror?

Today I was looking at Hangukdrama, and the comments for the post reminder to self made me think of how we practice speaking another language.

Usually when you see sections called “speaking” in books and you don’t have a partner that you study with, I suspect many will just go through the provided dialogues and leave it at that. That means that if you don’t have a fellow learner or a native friend to “subject to” your pronunciation challenges, the opportunities for speaking decrease drastically.

But why do we need to practice speaking with someone else? If you have ever been to a presentation technique class there are no such restrictions concerning who should be present or not for your presentation (or your practice) to be valid. You’re expected to be able to hold your own in front of an audience and if they don’t interrupt you with questions, you never enter the conversation-zone, but you nevertheless speak!

When I started my BSc I was terrified of speaking in public, as in tunnel vision and sweaty palms, and our programme director knew that a lot of people feel that way so the university offered a seminar in public speaking and encouraged everyone from the programme to attend. I have overcome my presentation fear and now I actually enjoy presenting my work, knowing that I know my stuff and very few questions can throw me off – and if you do come across the odd question you will find a way to handle that too.

In the presentation class we were encouraged to practice our presentations at home so we know that we know our material and can shake the fear of the “uhm”s in safe surroundings. I even used this technique when studying for exams by talking myself through the syllabus of a course as preparation for oral exams as well as exams with a lot of material to learn by heart. I warned the family that I hadn’t gone completely crazy and then I closed my door and spoke at normal pitch when going through the material.
As I worked my way through some business case, explaining it with the theory I would realise where the gaps in my theoretical knowledge were, and I could look up what was missing before meeting the censor – and I would have an idea of how I concretely wanted to phrase my answers.

Honestly, how many of you out there occasionally speak to yourself or at least have a conversation inside your head in a foreign language?
I do. Not in a very loud, public, lunatic-way. Sometimes I just find myself going through different situations thinking “what would I reply if someone said XYZ to me in that language”. The situations can range from excusing being late for a meeting with someone to what to say in an argument – a fictive one or one where I have previously found myself tongue-tied.

From the comments on Hangukdrama it appears that a few of us do. We just don’t advertise it. But isn’t it valid practice? Why wouldn’t it be for language practice when it’s encouraged for presentations and speeches in other contexts? Does it makes you more ‘pro’ if your topic is business oriented whereas it’s the sure path to a reputation as the village fool if you practice a language? That is probably not the reason, but I have never heard anyone recommend speaking with yourself just to get a better hang of what you just learned in a study session. But one thing is to think about some sentences, another thing is to say them out loud.

When we speak, it becomes a lot more concrete that we have to think of the formality level, not “run out of words”, get the particles right, and pace the sentence correctly. And all the while you don’t want to sound like an old tape recorder set on half speed because you spend to much time thinking and your tongue does not produce the sounds you imagined it would for that particular word.

So speak everyone! With yourselves or others, as long as you practice. Though, if you insist on speaking with yourselves in public you might want to wear a headset and put your phones on mute so they don’t ring in the middle of your monologue…

2012: the year I started learning Korean

2012 was the year that I started studying Korean. But I haven’t really been sure what would count as the starting date since I wanted to learn for quite a while and after I came across TTMIK it took some additional time before I actually started studying in a more organised way. Therfore I haven’t been sure what to answer when people asked me for how long I have studied Korean.
I have looked through notes and work books to see if I hadn’t noted down some dates somewhere, and I did manage to track down some dates.

So here are the key dates of my Korean journey:

February 17th: my mum challenged me to learn Korean after my first few TTMIK lessons. After that I started searching for info about TOPIK, books, and the possibility of attending Korean classes.

Time passed… I was searching for additional material online to see how much I needed to know for the TOPIK, writing to people in various countries and eventually found out about the Sogang books.

April 22nd: I ordered the first set of Sogang Korean books (which the post office misplaced)

June 21st: I completed TTMIK level 1 lesson 15. Before that I don’t know the dates.

June 25th: Sogang Korean 1A arrived and I started working with the books.

So I guess that means that I have studied Korean “properly” since June 2012.

새해 복 많이 받으세요!

Happy New Year everyone!
I hope you all had a wonderful day and evening yesterday.

Since it’s the time of New Year’s resolutions, I thought I would share mine with you.

1. Complete 1 Sogang book per month on average
2. Listen to TTMIK 이야기
3. Make a header for this blog
4. Pass TOPIK level 2 in April, more about this choice of level in another post.

1. Do push-ups every day to avoid unnecessary embarrassment in judo warm-up.
2. Not get injured in non-judo activities in the judo club (my sister actually gave me a skip rope for Christmas so I have something else to do for cardio training while the others play hockey, I will take that hint)
3. Read more non-academic books.

What are your resolutions? 🙂

Thank you 은지

As you know I have been meeting with a Korean girl twice a week this past semester to improve my Korean and to speak English with her.
Her flight back home was yesterday evening so I think she has arrived in Korea by now.
Looking at all of my notes and corrections I can see I have come a long way over the past few months, which wouldn’t otherwise have been possible so I thought she also deserves a public thank you here on the blog.

I have been “inherited” by one of her friends who is going to stay for one more semester so if you wonder how ‘she’ suddenly turned to ‘he’ when I refer to my language partner, there’s the explanation 🙂

열심히 공부하려고 해요! 😀

Learning Korean in Dramaland

A brilliant way to justify watching dramas for an extended period of time in my home is to iron clothes while watching.

Yesterday I was re-watching an episode of City Hunter while ironing, realising that I understand a lot more than last time I watched it 🙂 That should also be the case, but it was still nice to experience that all of my studies have paid off even if I haven’t progressed as fast or much as I had hoped.


What have I gotten myself into?

Oh dear, this has been a bad week Korean-wise.

I did only one TOPIK section all week and it wasn’t impressive so I really need to up my game. I have been feeling really busy during the week days, but when I look at my planner now that the weekend has come, I am not entirely sure where the time went. I haven’t been wasting time facebook stalking people or something like that.
I had some classes that took quite some energy since it’s the final week of the term and they required me to get up “before Satan puts on his shoes” as we put it in Danish. I also had a few “errands” that couldn’t be postponed (Christmas presents and the like), but where did the time go??! I even went through vocabulary during my lecture breaks.

Today I have done 3 TOPIK sections while commuting, and in the 쓰기 part there was a question requiring you to know how to say “breaking” a leg. I learned how to say that last week or the week before, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember it! That question was worth 6 points…

Going through the tests I’ve already completed to find my weak spots feels like crossing a mountain without having spent time in base camp. It takes an aweful lot of time, you suffer, and you feel like you might get a better return on investment if you did something differently.
Perhaps I should focus more on completing more of the Sogang books and listen to TTMIK to gain more overall Korean knowledge and focus less on the old TOPIK tests before Christmas?

With this speed, I’m not confident I can sit level 3 in April. I know it has been ambitious all along, but January is approaching and we all need to sign up. What to do?
Sign up for the intermediate level and hope to dodge disaster?
Sign up for both beginner and intermediate, knowing that after three hours of beginner exam, sitting the intermediate exam is not going to be fun?
Admit defeat and only sign up for the beginner level?

If I sign up only for the intermediate level and fail miserably I don’t have on paper that I “would have passed” level 1 or 2 even if that is the case so that would leave me with nothing to prove the skills that I do have…

Do you guys have some tips or thoughts to share?