Posted in Personal, Selfstudy, TOPIK, Uncategorized

Studying with TOPIK?

As you probably know by now, I have been working a lot on my TOPIK skills lately and I do seem to be making progress, however I still feel slightly uncomfortable with TOPIK 2. It’s not so much the thought of maybe probably failing, but more the general writing part. Having practiced TOPIK 1 so many times I have naturally become very comfortable with the different questions, but as soon as I start working on my TOPIK 2 skills, I sort of just panic when I reach the 쓰기 part. Even when I understand the assignment description (which doesn’t happen very often I might note) and I know what I want to write as my answer, it’s like my mind just goes blank for a few seconds before restarting and letting me continue my test. It’s not really a problem now, but it’ll become a problem at the real TOPIK, when I have to spend my time wisely. Sigh.

I think everything will become easier if I become comfortable with TOPIK 2, in the same way I did with TOPIK 1, but since I don’t have that much time I have been trying out different things to speed the process up a notch, and as a result I now study everyday with a TOPIK 2 test. I don’t use it as a mock test though. I simply grab my grammar books and my phone (I prefer looking up words from my naver dictionary app.) and then I choose a TOPIK 2 test (usually one I have already tried and failed at) and then I go through it word by word.
It takes FOREVER to get through all three parts of the test, but I really feel it’s worth it.
Also I do not write anything down, except my answers. By doing it this way I am forcing my self to read and spell the same words over and over again whenever I forget it’s meaning and I do the very same thing with grammar. The good thing about working through a TOPIK 2 test in this manner, is that it uses grammar from both Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced, so I will not only be learning new grammar but also be reviewing all the grammar the I already worked with previously but either have forgotten or is still unsure about.
Also, since the TOPIK questions aren’t related (unless stated otherwise in the specific question) to each other, you don’t really have to worry about your possible lack of time. You can easily work though one question and then go back to living your life, without worrying about loosing some of the meaning.
I currently have that problem when reading 작은 아씨들 – the chapters are between 20-40 pages long and when I have to spend a long time on looking up words, then it’s rarely possible for me to just read 40 pages without putting away the book at some point during the chapter. Every time I return to my book and I am in the middle of some sort of situation or conversation, I easily loose the idea of what was going on and therefore have to work through the first part even slower than usual. Did that make sense? I hope so.. ㅎㅎ Anyway that was a short detour! This way of studying/reviewing can easily be adjusted to your personal situation.

Of course everybody has different preferences but I will definitely recommend that you give this method a try at some point – It just might work for you too!

Posted in Personal, Selfstudy, TOPIK, Uncategorized

Making progress! Or not?

The last week have been full of Korean studies and so far I have been loving every minute of it! I have been sticking to my schedule and I’m feeling progress already. Feeling progress makes me feel slightly more optimistic about TOPIK 2!

I’m sure many of you know this feeling very well, but let me just mention it anyway! Everyday I see my book marks moving closer and closer towards the ending in all my different books, and I just feel so incredibly excited when my effort is psychically visible! Knowing that I have read every single word on every single page just makes me feel so proud of myself.

Anyway, I try to practice all elements of the language everyday, but there’s no doubt that I’m feeling progress in my vocabulary and my grammar the most. Its’s not that I learn a lot of new grammar every day, but I’m starting to recognize a lot of the grammar that I have learned previously but for some reason just keeps forgetting, which is even better than learning new grammar. I feel like I am closing some of the blank spaces I have here and there, in my Korean learning journey.

On a less positive note, I seem to be having problems with my head lately.. ㅎㅎ Whenever I’m reading my book, my brain reads words that aren’t correct. Just recently I got super confused by the word 미안해. It made perfect sense in that part of the book, but it seemed like that part suddenly didn’t match the part that I previously read. The 분위기 of the story that completely changed in just a few lines and I just didn’t get why. After reading the entire page 6-7 times I realized that it said 그만해 and not 미안해. Even though I had read it so many times, my brain just didn’t seem to accept or understand what it actually said. I have never had this problem before, but the last few days it has happened 3-4 times. Of course it’s a lot easier to deal with now that I know about it, but it still makes me really frustrated since I have no idea why this is suddenly happening. Hopefully it wont continue!

Before ending this post, let me just give you all an update on the Italki challenge! I’m 7 hours in so far, and I’m having a ton of fun. It doesn’t feel like a duty in any way! I feel like it is my Korean themed play time instead – I’ll definitely complete my 30 hour goal!

Well, time to get back to that 쓰기 book that has been staring at me for the last hour or so!

Posted in books, Personal, Selfstudy, TOPIK, Uncategorized

Making study plans

These past few days I’ve been planning on making myself a new study schedule specially for this long break I’m currently on. Even though I get to study a lot these days I keep having this fear of wasting my time away. You know how sometimes you got nothing done during a long break because you keep thinking ‘Oh, I have plenty time so it doesn’t matter if I don’t do it today’? That’s the fear I keep having, even though I know that I am studying more than usually.
To avoid this, I am currently working on a new study schedule so that I can get to at least do some specific things, and then just study as I feel like it outside of those things.

I have decided to take on the TOPIK 2 (my mock test was less tragic than expected but nevertheless still tragic.. Sigh..) in April, so there’s no way that I will let this break go to waste!
Here’s what I have decided for now:

Everyday goals:
– Go through 1 article from ‘News in Korean’, by TTMIK.
– Go through 1 article from Naver.
– Go through 1 story + assignments from ‘Korean folktales and Aesop’s fables’, by TTMIK.
– Listen to a TTMIK Podcast (grammar or 이야기).

– Go through 2 grammar points from ‘Korean in Grammar intermediate’.
– Review 2 previous grammar points from ‘Korean in Grammar intermediate’.
– Complete 2 assignments in my TOPIK 쓰기 book.
– Complete 2 assignments in my TOPIK 읽기 book.

Weekly goals:
– Complete 5, 1 hour sessions with my italki teacher.
– Study with a practice TOPIK test from my ‘Pass new TOPIK intermediate’ book.
– Read one chapter in ‘작은 아씨들’.
– Write a short review of all finished chapters from ‘작은 아씨들’, using the narrative form.
– Go through each written review with my italki teacher.

End-of-break goals:
– Finish ‘Korean in Grammar intermediate’.
– Finish ‘News in Korean’, by TTMIK.
– Finish the 9th level of TTMIK grammar podcast.
– Finish ‘작은 아씨들’.
– Improve with 3-5 points on listening and reading in a TOPIK 2 mock test.

All of the things mentioned above is obviously just my lowest goals, and the more the better. Outside of these goals I will also be continuing my plan to surround myself with Korean, which so far is going very well!
Also, I got some other pretty awesome news today. Apparently the office at my soon-to-be workplace made mistake so I will be adding an extra week to my break. I can’t even believe my luck!
I made myself promise not to waste any time, so I’ll end my blog post here and return to my books!

Posted in Selfstudy, TOPIK, Uncategorized

Study vacation?

Yesterday I had my final exam at my current school and because of some ridiculous rules, my classmates and I have to wait 4 weeks before we can start on the next part of our program. This also means that I will not have an income in February and in March I will only get half my usual pay, which quite honestly is bothering me more than it probably should.
Anyhow, there’s also a lot of good things about this forced vacation of mine and I’m sure you can already tell where I’m going with this!

6 months ago I decided that I wanted to take TOPIK 1 in London this coming April, but lately I have been thinking about taking TOPIK 2 instead. I haven’t completely decided yet but I think I’ll do it. I’m positive that I can pass TOPIK 1, but if I were to take TOPIK 2 at this very moment, I would probably fail it, and I would hate failing my first attempt at a TOPIK test.. On the other hand, it’s more fun when you’re really challenging yourself and I know I would feel more motivated in my studies if I’m reaching for something that I might fail. Or maybe I just enjoy torturing myself.. I’m not sure. But that’s where these 4 weeks might come in handy!
I never got around to trying that TOPIK 2 mock test, but I’ll be doing that later today, when I’m alone. Hopefully my result won’t be too tragic and I’ll have a more clear idea of what I can and what I cannot do. After that, I will be able to use these 4 weeks to really immerse myself in Korean. Since the registration is from February 15th to February 24th, I’ll be able Study for these 4 weeks  and then decide if I want to go for TOPIK 2 or not. It really couldn’t be timed better.
Also let’s not forget about the italki challenge! Starting from Monday, I’ll be having 1 session every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and then 2 sessions every Friday. This means that I will be able to really immerse myself in Korean.
I’ll read articles, my webtoons, my books, my Korean TOPIK preparation books, as well as my usual text from Korean friends. I’ll basically be reading all sorts of texts.
The same goes for writing. I’ll be texting with different people in Korean, I’ll be writing when I complete the different assignments in my books, and I’ll be writing a short note in my new notebook every time I finish a chapter of 작은 아씨들 to make sure that I have understood everything properly as well as to practice my writing skills.
For listening I’ll be listening to music as usual, watch different dramas and movies, stream whatever is on MBC (It’s currently news in case you were wondering ㅎㅎ), have conversations with my italki teacher and exchange voice messages with a few of my closest friends. These things will also give me many opportunities to speak as well.

You can accomplish a lot in 4 weeks – especially when you have so many great opportunities at the same time! Just by writing this post, I have more or less convinced myself to go for TOPIK 2, haha! Ah I’m so excited!

Posted in Personal, Selfstudy, TOPIK, Uncategorized

Have I become lazy?

‘Have I become lazy?’ is a thought that has been appearing on and of throughout the last month or so. Lately I have found it quite difficult to remember all the things I go through in my books and especially in my grammar book. The thing is, my overall Korean skills are definitely improving in a decent speed, but when I compare my progress from ‘Korean Grammar in use – Beginner’ with the progress from ‘Korean Grammar in use – Intermediate’, it just isn’t working as well as before. I don’t find the jump between Beginner and Intermediate too big, so it’s not that Intermediate just happened to be a lot more difficult. These thoughts have been joggling around in my head for a while, and a few days ago, I started to realize that I have simply gotten lazy.

I’m not sure when it really hit me, but there’s definitely no doubt that I have found the cause of my change. I have been thinking about it a lot these past few days while preparing for my IT exam (Korean will always be more interesting to me ㅎㅎ) and I have come up with quite a few examples, so now I’ll share the most important with you all.

When it comes to my grammar books, I’ll try to illustrate the differences like this:

– I used to look up every word that I didn’t know, with no exceptions.
– When there was something I didn’t understand I would immediately look it up somewhere else or ask someone to help me.
– When I made the assignments after each chapter and I got something wrong, I would go back and reread it until figuring out what part I had misunderstood. If I didn’t know what to answer while making the assignment I would also reread it and then return to the assignments.
– When reading I would focus mainly on the Korean parts and pay full attention.

– I only look something up if I’m lost. If I understand a sentence or situation through pictures or context, then I’ll move on without looking up the unknown words.
– When there’s something I don’t understand I move on and tell myself that I will look it up somewhere else later, that I’ll understand it when I make the assignments in the end or that I will ask someone at some other time (spoiler alert: It almost never happens).
– When making the assignments in the end of the chapter and I get something wrong, I’ll just correct it and move on. If I don’t know the answer to a question I’ll just guess without rereading (This part is something I started on deliberately. I’m using it as a way to test how well I can remember everything and obviously it isn’t working).
– When reading I don’t focus properly. I just sort of force myself through the Korean part and then rely mainly on the English parts.

Do you see what I mean? These things are the most obvious ones but there’s many small things that has changed as well.

However I also want to point out that becoming lazy isn’t always a bad thing.
Another lazy point of mine is when I’m reading. I used to be very strict when it came to my notes and I would always write ALL unknown words down like this:
Word – Wordtype
English meaning
Korean sample sentence

It worked fine but it was extremely time consuming and also quite demotivating when I could easily see how many words I had to write down.
When I started reading 어린 왕자 I stopped doing it like this and instead just looked  up the words and moved on. If I couldn’t  remember the words the next time I came across them, then I would simply look it up again.
This seems to be working so much better than the other method! Having to spell the word over and over again to look it up, has made it stick to my brain so much easier, plus I go through the books a lot faster and thereby feel more motivated to continue. There’s no way I’m going back to the other method – lazy or not.

So.. What am I going to do about my laziness? Well first of all, I am going back to looking everything up immediately if it’s possible. I’m going to focus on the Korean parts instead of the English ones and I have started working with some of my other books that only has Korean explanations. They are still way over my level, but I’m working my way through them and I’m already finding it easier to focus fully on Korean. Lastly I’m going to stop guessing the answers when I don’t know and instead keep looking up the grammar points (the Intermediate book’s assignments are designed in the TOPIK format and it often uses grammar from different chapters and not just the one you are currently reading, so you get to practice different parts of the book) – basically just as I do with unknown words. I have been doing this for 3 days and I already feel like I’m improving, so if this feeling continues, then I’ll work though my PASS NEW TOPIK books, in the same way!

Wow this really turned in to a much longer post than expected. ㅎㅎ

Before ending my post I also want to give an update on the Italki Language Challenge, as I know some people have been waiting for this, so here’s my final decision:
I’ll be aiming for the 30 hour goal! Woohooo, I’m feeling pumped already! I’ll discuss it further with my teacher tomorrow to see if she has time enough for me and her other students, and if not then I’ll start looking in to other teachers as well. Though to be honest I prefer to just continue with her, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed. ^^

I’ll finish of my blog post with one of my favorite ‘background-music-for-studying-Korean/-relaxing’ songs (Yes, that’s totally a thing… I think..)

Posted in Personal, Selfstudy, TOPIK, Uncategorized

Italki Language Challenge – January 2016

It’s finally here! As some of you guys already know, I have been wanting to try joining an Italki Language Challenge ever since July and I almost signed up for the one in October, but in the end I had to be realistic and accept the fact that I simply didn’t have the time. However I also made myself the promise that I would join the next one for sure, so when I saw that the countdown for the next challenge had started, I immediately signed up before I could change my mind.

I believe they have changed a few things since the last challenge, but since It’s my first time to join then I’m not really sure. You can go read about it here 🙂

I’m not really sure what goal I want to reach. Obviously the 30 hour one would be awesome but 30 hours is a lot of time and money. On the other hand I will be have 4 weeks forced vacation from January 15th (That’s a looong story) and the challenge is from January 16th to February 29th, so it matches perfectly! I mean come on, who knows when I’ll be able to put that much time aside for a challenge? Plus I’ll be taking TOPIK  1 (and maybe 2) in April – That would be an amazing thing to add to the list of preparation plans, right? 아.. 어떡하지… I think I’ll talk to my italki teacher on Monday and see what she thinks!

I’m feeling really excited already, haha! It’ll be fun! I’m positive.

Anybody else joining this time?