Posted in books, Personal, Resources, Selfstudy, Uncategorized

Old challenges

Now that I have gotten back into my study habits again I have been trying to decide which story books and study books I should add to my schedule. It wasn’t really a problem to pick out the study books but I couldn’t decide on a story book, despite having 5  great books to choose from. Don’t you guys know that feeling of having some books or movies that you truly love and enjoy, but sometimes it’s just not the right time for them to shine? Anyway, my boyfriend then bought me a tablet yesterday because he wanted to make it easier for me to study on the go despite my busy schedule. He said that he wanted me to have a loyal studybuddy (isn’t that the cutest thought ever?). While setting up my new studybuddy​, I made a list of useful apps and started downloading and logging in to all of then, and when I opened the Ridibooks app, the first book that showed up was 덕혜옹주.

As many of you guys know I started reading 덕혜옹주 last year around summertime and because it’s quite a difficult book it took me ages to just read a single page. After reading the prologue and the first two chapters I was in desperate need of a break. Generally speaking, I have a tendency to study with materials that are way over my level. I have always done that and to be honest I kinda like it that way. When feeling somewhat lost I automatically pay better attention, have a stronger focus and feel way more motivated. I know that most people feel the opposite but then again, we’re all different – and thank god for that! Nevertheless this book just happened to be a tad too much over my level. It was to the point where I couldn’t even figure out whether something was a difficult old word or a weird old name. Do you have any idea how frustrating it is when you spend ages on finding the meaning of a word without any luck, just to later discover that it was a name? (Thanks Jeannie! It you hadn’t told me back then, I would still be lost lol) Oh god even just thinking about it makes me all frustrated!

When I decided that it was time to take a break from reading it, I promised myself that it really just was going to be a break. I didn’t want to give up. However I quickly forgot all about it and now 10 months have passed. I feel ready and motivated to end my break and give it another chance. Maybe I’ll finish it, or maybe I’ll read 3 more chapters and then need another break. I have no idea, but I do know that I still want to complete it and even thought this last year haven’t been the most consistent year when it comes to studying, I know that my abilities have improved so maybe it’ll feel less difficult this time. I began reading the 3rd chapter yesterday and once I have read a bit more and gotten an idea about how difficult it is, then I’ll add some reading goals to my new study schedule.

Challenges doesn’t always work out like you want them to, but that doesn’t mean that you failed them. I challenge you all to pick up one of your own old challenges. Maybe it’ll be easier now 🙂

Posted in books, Guides, Resources, Selfstudy, Uncategorized

Reading books in foreign languages

When it comes to learning a language there are tons of ways to improve your skills. My best tip is definitely to read a lot in your target language since it can improve your skills in so many different ways, but I’ll save that for another blog post and stick to the actual topic of this post for now! While I recommend reading about a variety of subjects in a variety of forms, I personally find reading books to be the most helpful and interesting.
However, jumping into reading books in a foreign language isn’t always that easy. Unless you already have some fairly decent skills or a ton of patience (or stubbornness perhaps?), then you will most likely struggle a lot when you first try it out.
I know so many people who have gotten discouraged and filled with frustrations while trying to read books, that they no longer want to even try.
As a book lover I really find it sad whenever people around me fail to find joy in their books, and especially when the struggles are caused by the language and not the book itself.
I read my first book in Korean a little over a year ago and I’m currently working my way through my 7th book, so I thought I would give you guys a few tips on book reading in foreign languages!

  1. Choose a book that isn’t completely new to you. It can be a book that you have already read, a fairy tale you remember from your childhood or maybe a book version of your favorite movie. This way you will find it a lot easier to fill in the missing gaps – because you will have random gaps here and there. I also don’t recommend reading books that you already know by heart. If you do that then you risk getting bored too fast and you might stop paying attention to the actual book while reading it.
    It’s all about balance.
  2. Choose a book with novels or short stories, or a long book with short chapters. Short chapters gives you the feeling of getting somewhere. If you read 3 pages from a 10 paged chapter then you will feel the progress asap, but if you on the other hand read 3 pages from a 50 paged chapter, then you will feel like you have gotten just about nowhere. You effort remains the same but those 3 pages will feel a lot more valuable in short stories or chapters.
  3. Look up every unknown word in the first chapter. The first chapter is usually some sort of introduction to the characters and the overall story, which means that all the most important words for that specific book will show up over and over again in the first chapter. If you keep looking them up until you remember them, then you will find it a lot easier to work through the rest of the book. Of course you can look up all the unknown words throughout the entire book,but my personal experiences tells me that this method usually becomes too overwhelming. Personally I prefer looking up all the unknown words during the first chapter, and after that I only look up words if I suddenly find myself feeling lost after reading a full page or of I see a certain word being used again and again.
  4. Make an actual effort. Don’t keep the book in your bag and only bring it out when you have to wait for someone or when you smartphone battery dies. Make an actual effort to read the book. Decide on an adjustable goal every day and make sure to bring out that book in order to accomplish it- even when you aren’t bored to death!
  5. Try reading books in both digital and paper format. I have always preferred paper books as I enjoy the feeling of putting in a bookmark and then being able to see how much I have read as well as the feeling of actually turning the pages. Also I used to get really tired from reading digital books and bad headaches were pretty normal too. These days it seems to be getting better, but I definitely still enjoy paper books over digital books. It might make a big difference to you too.
  6. Try out pretty books. This might sound really stupid, but I personally enjoy books with pretty pictures. Especially drawn or painted pictures. It feels sort of like a check point whenever I get to one of the pictures, and I feel almost just as excited to reach those as I do when I reach a new chapter. I collect the Indigo books and I definitely recommend them if you want to enjoy pretty pictures while reading great stories

I’m currently reading 빨강머리 앤.

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I hope you found this post useful!

Posted in Resources, Selfstudy, Uncategorized

Christmas vocabulary

HI GUYS!
It’s finally that time of the year again! Ah yes, as you might have noticed by now, I am that friend who is always overly excited about Christmas.
I’m not planning on too many Christmas rants on the blog, however of course I need to take advantage of my Christmas love, and use it to learn some Korean! And you guys can use it too! Since there’s a lot of differences between Christmas in Denmark and Christmas in Korea, it seems to naturally become a good topic to discuss with language partners and friends. You will also naturally see Christmas related words during this season, so maybe you want to prepare yourself a bit. Maybe you just love Christmas as much as I do! No matter what your reason might be, I have prepared a long list of words that might become useful to you guys during this season!

First, here’s the list without translations. I recommend looking up the meaning of the words on your own, as it help you remember them better when you have to write them yourself. However, if you prefer having the translations immediately, then you can download the word list as a PDF here along with their translation!
NOTE, I have not used Romanization anywhere, because I personally believe that it’ll only slow you down if you depend on it too much. 🙂
I also created a study course on Memrise, so if you want to study with this list, you can do it through Memrise, via your computer or smartphone! Just click here!
Also, A HUGE THANKS to 효진쌤 (너무너무너무 고마워요! 역시 효진쌤 짱이당~) who proofread my list to make sure that I didn’t publish complete nonsense!
Lastly, please remember that I choose the words based on my own logic and experiences. Christmas in Denmark is very different from Christmas in America, so while Turkey is relevant in America, Duck is more relevant in Denmark, and therefore the relevant words will obviously change from country to country. Feel free to add the words you personally find relevant.
Enjoy guys~

크리스마스
크리스마스 트리
선물
산타 할아버지 
메리 크리스마스  
순록
휴일
케이크  
사탕  
요정
칠면조 고기 
눈   
크리스마스 카드 
썰매
북극  
굴뚝 
예수 그리스도 
크리스마스 캐럴   
베들레헴 
기념하다  
눈사람 
벽난로
겨우살이 / 미슬토우
크리스마스 양말 
호랑 가시 나무  
지팡이 사탕  
종   
루돌프 사슴코  
눈송이    
장식  
생강쿠키 집  
진저맨 / 생강쿠키 사람  
화환 
천사
양초   
촛불  
불빛   
켜다 
촛대 
자선단체 
밤 
석탄
쿠키 
쿠키 커터
12월(십이월) 
에그노그  
선물을 교환하다   
가족  
장작 
서리  
과일 케이크  
가랜드
거위 고기
안부 
빨간색  
녹색
흰색  
금색 
은색 
핫초코 / 코코아  
행복  
껴안다 
얼음 
고드름 
딸랑딸랑/짤랑짤랑
기쁨    
징글벨  
크리스마스 전등  
사랑
벙어리장갑 
호두까개 
쿠키통 
퍼레이드  
소나무  
솔방울   
리본    
눈뭉치  
크리스마스 쇼핑      
목도리   
내리다  
포장하다   
풀다    
방한화 / 겨울 부츠

하트  
전통  
노래  
겨울
소원  
포장지  
나비리본
나비 넥타이 
오리 고기  
대림절 일요일  
대림절 달력   
크리스마스 리스   
반짝거리다   
크리스마스 모자  
평화
대림절 초
춥다

 

Posted in books, Guides, Resources, Selfstudy, Uncategorized

REVIEW – Korean Q&A sentence patterns by TTMIK

qna-1

This is a book that just recently joined my growing collection of books, and since it is one of my current favorites I decided that it was more than worthy of a review on the blog.
The funny thing about this is that I actually bought the e-book when it was published, but because I prefer physical copies I never quite got around to using it. I usually force myself to read e-books since not all books will come out in paper format, but it does take me a lot longer to work through them, which is why I currently have 2 other e-books on standby.. I will get to them soon, I promise!
Anyway let’s get to the review!
As usual I will go through the setup, good points and bad points, my general opinion and lastly my advice for studying with this specific book.

Setup
The books starts out with a short but thorough introduction to the content as well as TTMIK’s own advice on how to study with the book. This is followed by the table of contents and then we get to all the fun stuff.
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The book contains 10 categories, which each has 5 main questions. All of the main questions are followed by 3 similar questions, a main grammar point, a sample answer as well as 3 similar answers.
The book provides vocabulary lists, study notes, a real life answer from a TTMIK teacher as well as a sample dialog.
Lastly there’s a blank area for you to write your own answers in.
The book comes with downloadable audio files.

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qna-5

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Good/Bad points
The good – in no specific order:
– Visually pleasing.
– Realistic and interesting topics.
– Easy to review due to study notes.
– No romanization.
– Can help you improve listening, speaking, reading as well as writing.
– Can help you gain confidence by giving you knowledge about basic patterns as well as expected questions/answers in certain situations.
– Clean design that allows you to focus on the actual content.
– Perfect travel size.
– Answers from real people.

The bad – in no specific order:
– I always write answers on a separate paper and never in my books, but if I did then I would like a bit more answer space.

My general opinion
As mentioned in the beginning of my post, this is one of my current favorite books to study with, and I keep finding more and more ways to study with it, so personally I would recommend this to anyone who is beginner or intermediate. It’s a great way to improve your conversational skills and take a step towards talking Korean more freely, which is what I am currently working a lot on.

My advice on studying with this book
– Go through all the main questions. If you can answer them with confidence then you can move on to the next one. Sometimes you might learn something unexpected and even if you don’t, the book is made in a simple way that allows you to read it all quickly without feeling like you’re wasting your time. Not to mention that confirming your skills might give you a boost of confidence!
If you cannot answer with confidence then work through the assignments provided.
– Make sure to write your own answers to the questions. You can easily skip it or copy one of the sample answers, but practicing is really important if you want to really learn how to use these patterns. Also, writing your own answers forces you to really think about the question and the patterns and in many cases you will also have to look up words that are relevant to your specific answer, which will bring you even more knowledge about the topic.
If you find it very difficult, then start by writing your answer on a separate paper in your mother tongue. This will remove any barriers in your thinking while answering as well as it will give you a guide to what words and grammar you need to look up before answering in Korean.
– Avoid practicing wrong things. Make sure to get your answers checked so that you can learn from possible mistakes instead of teaching yourself something incorrect. You can ask friends, language partners, teachers or get help from websites like italki, lang-8 or apps like Hellotalk and HiNative (Reviews are coming for all of these).
– Use the audio files to practice both listening and speaking. These short files are perfect to imitate and practice pronunciation and intonation.
– Study with a language partner or friend if possible. I’m going to use the topics for my future italki sessions, and I’ll use the book to help me prepare for each session/topic.

I hope you guys found this helpful!
Let me just end today’s post by telling you guys that TTMIK is currently having a chuseok sale so now is a really great time to invest in this book! You can buy it HERE

Posted in Guides, Resources, Selfstudy, Uncategorized

Today’s expression – With Naver

I have been wanting to introduce this convenient source for a while, but due to being sick, taking a week long course related to my internship and then having my internet fail me, I simply haven’t been able to do much about it until now.
Nevertheless I am fully back on track, with 17 (yes I’m serious) drafts on my blog, ready to be tackled! I have so many things to share with you guys, and I haven’t even been gone for 20 days! Oh well!

‘Today’s expression’ is a little gem that you can find on the Naver Dictionary app (I haven’t seen it on their website but I can imagine that it is available there as well) and even though it is meant as a tool to learn English, it works pretty well for learning Korean as well! I have seen similar tools online before but because they had some questionable English translations, I wasn’t too thrilled by the thought of using them, even though English isn’t my target language.
I have been going through ‘Today’s expression’ almost every day for a while know and I am happy to report that Naver, in my opinion, is translating these sentences naturally rather than literally (which in certain cases wouldn’t have made sense at all). Good job Naver!
Okay, so let me just walk you guys through this little gem even though you probably don’t need me to. What can I say, I missed talking to you guys!

To begin with, Naver gives you an English sentence/expression along with a Korean translation of it. After that you have an English sample dialog to make sure that you have a context to put the expression into (something that I appreciate in any language).
Then the app breaks down the most important parts of the expression and gives you 3 sample sentences for each point, to show you how to use the same pattern in other sentences. This part comes with a Korean equivalent as well, which is why it can be helpful to Korean learners as well.
Lastly, the app provides a short vocabulary list from the sample sentences.
Basically it’s like learning a language backwards, and it is working fine for me!

Here’s a few examples from the app!

 

 

If you want to do some cramming or hardcore studying then this is obviously not for you, however it is a small and light lesson that you can add to your daily routine, in whatever way you wish.

I hope you guys found it somewhat helpful or at least interesting!
I’ll see you guys soon!

Posted in Resources, Selfstudy, Uncategorized

My current plans and trying to decide

On Friday I have my last day of work with my current internship. This will be followed by vacation and even when that vacation ends, I’ll still be having a lot more free time on my hands – which of course means that I’ll be studying a lot more!

I currently have 2 projects that I will be pouring my heart and soul (and time and money) into. The first one is still in the beginning stages and isn’t quite certain yet. And the other one is of course TOPIK! I’ll officially start working towards that 4급!
Even though I still have 4 days of long shifts, I’m already thinking about what I want to do with all this new free time, in order to accomplish that goal. While nothing have really been set in stone yet I did make one plan, which is to read a Korean book. As you guys know, I have read quite a few by now but they have all been books translated into Korean, and 효진쌤 urged me to read an actual Korean book and enjoy the language in it’s most natural form. So that’s what I will do!
I’ve been looking at ridibooks.com and trying to decide what book to buy, but I just can’t seem to choose. I don’t really have any criteria for the book which means the selection is quite big. Ah what to do.
I have bookmarked a few by now – maybe I’ll ask one of my Korean friends to choose one for me. That seems like a good solution!

Another thing that I have decided is that I will work diligently with the magazine that my friend sent me last week. I’ll read every note, every article and every add, and make sure to write down the unknown words. And there’s quite a few of those! I already filled a few pages with new words and I only worked my way through a few adds and the table of contents! Since I feel like this might just be my kind of magazine, I really enjoy working with it. I feel like I might become addicted to reading it regularly and since shipping is so expensive I should at least use it to study diligently while enjoying the articles!

I’m looking forward to make more plans for the next few weeks!

Posted in Podcasts, Resources, Selfstudy, TOPIK, Uncategorized

How I practice my listening skills

In general I don’t think that one point or area of language learning should ever be considered more important that other points, however to me, I seem to have been the most worried about my listening skills. When I finished TTMIK Level 1 grammar lessons, I tried the audio test to see whether I was ready for Level 2 or not and when I listened to the mp3 track, I didn’t catch the words at all. I listened again and again and after 6 times I was able to follow along and I felt ready for Level 2. This was of course great, but it really freaked me out that my bad listening skills could cause THAT much trouble and confusion, so since that day I couldn’t help but to focus a bit extra on listening, whenever I was studying – And also when I wasn’t studying!

How to improve one’s listening skills obviously varies depending on what works the best for you, and during my language learning journey I have tried out several things. I try to expose myself to a lot of Korean even when I’m not paying attention, I watch Korean television without subtitles (I find that I forget to really listen if I have subtitles, but I know several people who just zone out after a while, so as with everything else, it depends on you), I’m listening to Korean songs (I try to listen to a lot of different songs so that I can get exposed to as many different pronunciations as possible. Also I find it really helpful to look up the lyrics as words can sometimes be pronounced in so many ways and be split up to match the melody. This means that you sometimes can’t recognize an otherwise well known word, and looking up the lyrics will make you aware of that specific word and then make it easier to spot it in the future.), but there’s mainly two methods that I have found really useful;

  1. Conversations! When having a Korean conversation (even if it’s just partly in Korean) I find that you focus in a completely different way than when you are just sitting at home, watching a drama. I’m not completely sure what makes that difference in my focus, but I ALWAYS find it easier to listen when I’m skyping with an actual person, having an actual conversation.
    I have talked a lot about Italki and I definitely recommend that everybody at least gives it a try. Of course you can find free language partners or friends online, but one the best parts about Italki is that since you pay for it, you don’t really feel the same pressure about being liked as a person and you can easily control how personal you want the sessions to become. Another great thing about Italki is that most people already have some experience with teaching and they are very well aware that you are not a native speaker, so they are patient and won’t judge you even if you ask them to repeat the same sentence 6 times, not to mention that you can easily ask them to adjust their speaking pace unlike with dramas and music.
    At least that’s my personal experience.

  2. Dictation! This has always been one of my favorite methods! When I was younger we did this a lot in all of our language related classed (including the lessons on our native language) and I have always felt that it really forces me to focus on what I hear and it also helps you practice your spelling skills as well as your handwriting if you want to make an effort on that part too.
    I have often done this with short podcasts or YouTube videos and usually I simply listen and write down the words. When I come across words that I am unfamiliar with then I try spelling it as well as possible and then look up the words. Sometimes I look them up as I come across them and other times I wait until I’m done writing everything down. Even if you don’t know the meaning of the word, it can still be very helpful to write it down as you hear it. It might mean that you loose the understanding of whatever you are listening to but it can also feel really amazing when you discover that you heard and wrote it correctly even though it wasn’t a part of your vocabulary. This too depends on you though. I personally don’t mind the not knowing part but my boyfriend can’t stand it when he doesn’t understand something, which is also why he never listens to anything else than Danish and English. This is also why I always wear headphones when watching dramas – I can literally see him get all tense and frustrated if he can hear them speak. If you feel this way too, then this type might not be for you! In that case I recommend sticking to dictation through materials that have a transcript. That way you can make sure that you write it correctly in your dictionary and thereby feel more relaxed when you know that you’re looking up the right words.
    I have come across podcasts with transcripts before so you might get lucky, but if not then here’s 3 resources that I have frequently used for dictation:
    1. TTMIK – You can find their free audio level tests on their website including the transcript, and they also have a ton of great e-books with corresponding videos or audio clips.
    2. YTN News – There’s plenty of videos with a transcript below. The videos are of different lengths and have different topics, so I really enjoy using this site!
    3. Previous topic listening tests – you can always find these online and on this site you can always find a transcript of the test. Here you also have different people, different situations and different lengths. Not bad right?

Two general tips for studying:

– Get yourself in an comfortable environment. In my case I don’t listen well if I’m surrounded by people  like on a train or bus. I can focus completely on a book but not listening. Also I can’t focus if my desk is messy. I can handle a lot of mess, but if my desk is messy then I can’t do ANYTHING. I can’t enjoy a movie on my laptop, I can’t read a book, I can’t study – NOTHING. I know this part of myself very well and if you have any problems like these, then you need to fix them before even trying to practice. If not it might lead to unnecessary failures that will cause even more struggles
– Remember to stick to short dictation sessions if you aren’t very comfortable with listening. Focusing as much as you can on listening and writing down, can be extremely exhausting and there’s no reason to make this an uncomfortable part of studying.
– Correct your mistakes in your notes as soon as possible so that you won’t make the mistakes become a habit. Also, review new words if that usually works for you!

Posted in books, korea, Podcasts, Resources, Selfstudy, Uncategorized

Blind listening

While my biggest strength has always been listening, I discovered quite early in my Korean journey that I seem rely a lot on my other senses too. It didn’t really bother me until I started preparing for TOPIK 1. When doing the listening part I would suddenly feel all panicky because I couldn’t follow along as well as I usually could when watching dramas or anything else really.
Obviously it bothered my quite a lot and I immediately started to practice blind listening. It was incredible frustrating for such a long time, but never the less I started to improve. I would find small audio clips or news videos and then put all my focus into understanding the short clips while closing my eyes. In the beginning it didn’t work at all since my general Korean knowledge was quite lacking, but after some time I was able to at least catch most of the words even though I didn’t know their meaning. When I was doing other things or just felt to tired to fully focus on listening, then I would find longer clips and let them run as a background sound, hoping that it would still help my listening skills as well as my intonation. I feel that it did indeed work and this is basically how I met one of my best friends:
PODCASTS
I found a few different ones while using my practically non-existing-google-skills. It worked out fine but after a while I discovered a site that seemed to have all the podcasts that I was listening to and a ton more. I have now been using this site for a little over 10 months (Find it here) and I find it incredibly helpful for my listening skills. There’s so many podcasts to choose from so there should be something interesting for everyone. Go check out the recent uploads, the most popular uploads or search for a topic that you like. Want news? Language learning podcasts? Radio-style podcasts? It’s all there.
Another reason to why I love this site is that they have an app that just makes everything incredible convenient. You can easily listen from your phone when you’re on the go and even if you don’t create an account, it’ll still remember your history and last played podcast. I listen to a lot of long podcasts which means that I often need to stop in the middle of an episode and I just LOVE the fact that it remembers how far I got and just starts me back up exactly where I left it.
I’m currently listening to a podcast called 소라소리 which is a series of free audio books. Each book usually has 1-4 episodes and each episode is around 1-1.5 hours long (Though they just started a new one which is 12 episodes long!) and you can even download them if you know you wont have internet access later. You can also skip back and forward with 10, 15, 20, or 30 seconds in one go, so you can easily listen to certain parts over and over again til you get it right, or you can easily go back if something interrupts you and causes you to loose focus.
In my case I just really enjoy audio books so I searched around and found 소라소리, but I got even more hooked when I discovered that Book 2 and 3 are both stories by Roald Dahl! If you have read about my London adventures then you might remember that I bought a book full of stories by him, and luckily both of the audio books are in my paperback as well! Double bonus! I just started book number 3, and I think I’ll just let it keep playing in order until I have listened to all of the current books. I definitely feel like this one is one of the more difficult podcasts as you only have one reader playing different roles and during certain dialogues the speaking gets really fast, but I still find it so helpful, challenging and kinda therapeutic too.

Wow this became a lot longer than expected. Anyway I just wanted to share my best friend and absolute favorite way for listening practice. There’s so much gold here! I hope this will be just as helpful to some of you guys, as it has been and still is for me!