Posted in Uncategorized

Book reviews – Challenging and activating knowledge

From the very beginning of my language learning journey, I have been very clear and vocal about my love for reading. I started reading webtoons in Korean almost immediately and I continued with easy and short books not long after.
There are so many benefits, and in my case it has been one of the most giving methods for learning vocabulary and natural sentence structures, not to mention how it has been so incredibly helpful when it comes to my writing abilities as well.
And while I have absolutely no regrets and still a 100% urge everyone to read, I have noticed one frustrating thing about expanding vocabulary through reading, which is that it easily becomes passive knowledge. I can’t even tell you guys how many words that I can reckognize perfectly in an instant when I’m reading a book, but then when I’m trying to tell my friends or italki teacher about the amazing book that I’m currently reading, then I struggle so bad to recall those words that I have otherwise read and understood so clearly, so many times before. It’s so frustrating and as I have found myself reading a lot more this past year, these frustrations have been growing and growing while I have been trying to figure out how to activate all of these hidden gems in my brain.
But then, one magical afternoon when I was spending money on gmarket once again, the answer came to me! Well sort of anyway..
I knew that as with everything else, it mainly comes down to a matter of actually using what you learn actively. But honestly, I just don’t get to use words like ‘전과자’ (ex-convict) or ‘종신형’ (life in prison) that often.
So when I was ordering my new study planner and buying refill pages a while back, I discovered that this particular planner (Indigo Monster Study Planner) have other types of refill pages as well. They had some with games which I also bought, but way more importantly, they had refills made for book reviews! How absolutely perfect!
These pages comes with space to write a short review / other thoughts on the book you are reading, as well as a few questions like start/finish date, general rating, genre and most memorable sentence from the book. It’s a great way to sort of kickstart your thoughts on the book you have been reading. There’s also book wish lists and a few other goods to help track your reading if you are like me (obsessed with tracking I mean lol).


I’m basically just going to give myself this as homework for each book / story I read. Hopefully it’ll help me to actually sit down and actively think about what I have read and how I feel about it. It gives me a great opportunity to also use what I have otherwise only read, while alsobeing great writing practice at the same time.
Making such pages about movies could be a fun challenge too, so maybe I’ll try that too, but for now, I’m perfectly happy with my book reviews.
It’s time to activate this brain of mine and turn all of these words into active knowledge!

Posted in Guides, Resources, Selfstudy, Uncategorized

Getting the most out of Memrise

I have been using Memrise pretty much since I started studying Korean and while I don’t use it religiously, I still consider myself a somewhat regular user.
I know that Memrise is often connected with the idea of simply memorizing, which some are for, some are against, and others just don’t really care. I have already talked about my thoughts on memorizing here so I won’t be talking about any of the pros and cons today.
However, I do want to talk about how to actually get the most of using the Memrise App or Website.
I assume that you all know about Memrise but in case you don’t, it’s a basically a flashcard App/Website with both premade and user-made sets, that uses spaced repetition to get the best results out of the time you spend on it.

  1. Create your own sets.
    Memrise comes with a ton of already made sets for different languages and topics, made by Memrise themselves, as well as access to all of the other users’ sets. Naturally, it is very tempting to simply pick a course or set and get started immediately.
    However, by making your own set you, first of all, make sure that the words you enter, are words that you actually need learn right now. That’s why you’ve come across them in your studies in the first place, right?
    Secondly, by sitting down and looking up each word on your own, and then writing them down along with their meaning, you will already get a pretty good foundation to continue building on. The words will attach to your brain in a completely different way than when you simply see a new word and its meaning.
  2. Use the Meme option to add a sample sentence.
    Memrise has a Meme option for each added word. You can add a picture, an actual meme or my favorite, add a picture with a sample sentence on it. That way you will keep the context no matter if you are learning a new word, an expression or a new grammar point.
    You can make your own sample sentence or if you want to make sure that there are no mistakes in it, then simply copy the sentence where your first came across that word or expression.
  3. Set goals for the streak.
    Memrise has a streak system, and you can set goals for each set. That way to can create a goal of how much you wish to practice every day, no matter how much or how little time you have available each day.
    The streak itself does nothing for your learning, however, it adds some accountability as well as a game-like aspect to studying. It gives you a visual overlook of your studies and I personally find that even though I don’t really think about it on a daily basis, I do find myself slightly upset by the thought of missing a day, when my streak is over 10 days.
  4. Don’t use your hints.
    Depending on whether you have a standard or a pro membership, you might have ‘Hints’ available when you are practicing your sets, and my advice is to simply ignore them completely. The thing is, that if you use your hints to guess a word, it doesn’t get marked as a wrong answer even if you use hints to guess every single part of the words. And that means that the word will show up less and less during reviewing when you actually need it to appear more often instead since you obviously didn’t remember it on your own. Also, when the words get marked (mistakenly I might add) as correct, then the words won’t be added to ‘Difficult words’. I’ll talk more about that further down!
  5. Don’t spend too long on figuring out the answer.
    Sometimes all you need is a little time to think, however, I recommend that you don’t spend too long figuring out the answer. I usually tell myself that if I was having a conversation right now and wanted to use that specific word, would I be thinking about it for this long, or would I have skipped it and reformed my sentence by now to keep the conversation going. If I would have skipped it in a conversation then it’s time to skip it during the review as well. This will automatically mark it as wrong and it’ll start appearing more often for practice so that you will be able to recall it faster in the future.
  6. Difficult words are your friend.
    Memrise has a special set called ‘Difficult words’ under each created set. While it sometimes seems like a failure to have any words in that set, it truly is your best friend. Whenever you get a word wrong or skip it, they all end up in that set where you get the chance to practice those words a bit more than the other words. If your goal is to be able to actually use all of these words without hesitation, then don’t feel bad about your difficult set. Just give them the extra love that they need.
  7. Don’t study words without context.
    Avoid studying words from a random list without any context. Many words have several meanings and it’s SO HARD to unlearn something again, no matter how wrong it might be. The context itself will also help you remember whatever you are learning.
    Also, I don’t see any reason to learn from such a list. I mean, I already find tons of unknown words while reading and studying, so why not just work on those words, that you have actually met in a proper context?
  8. Avoid set where words are in alphabetical order.
    If you do decide to practice sets that are premade or words that are based on a random list, at least avoid sets that are made in alphabetical order. Seriously. Just don’t. The words will be introduced in the order they have been added which means that you might get 10 words in a row that all starts with 인 and it. will. mess. with. your. brain.
    Every single word will blend together and so will the meanings of each word. It is the absolute worst thing you can do.

 

I hope you guys find this helpful and feel free to add your own tips for Memrise in the comments. I think we all need the help we can get, haha!

Posted in Personal, Selfstudy, TOPIK, Uncategorized

TOPIK results and 2019

Happy new year everybody!
To those of you who have been around on the blog for a while, will know that starting a new year is a magical thing for me. Many people spend the day/night like they would on any other day, but to me, it’s the most unique day of the year and I’m always surprised by how much I find relief in the concept of new and fresh beginnings. It’s not just during the new year. I feel it every Monday morning when I wake up. It comforts me every night when my day hasn’t been the best or when I’m not satisfied with what I have accomplished. New times will come and all we can do to change things is to make efforts to do or to be better in the future.

The last few days I have been reflecting over the year that has now officially passed and I’m glad to say that, while the year was quite rough, I have managed to accomplish almost all of my goals for the year. Not only the language related ones that I wrote about here but also the ones related to my health, taekwondo and for my house.
It makes me feel more prepared for the new year that we have entered. If I can accomplish those things despite having things working against me, then I can do it again for the next 12 months.
And so, here I am, with a whole new set of goals to accomplish!
I haven’t set a lot of language goals this year as I feel like they will come quite naturally, but of course, I do have a few specific goals that I want to share with you guys.
But first I think it’s time to talk to you all about my TOPIK results!
As I shared in my last post, I didn’t feel super confident in passing level 4 but I had a really great experience and as a result, I was actually planning on retaking it in April. However, on the 20th of December, I was finally able to check my score and it turned out that I had indeed passed! Hurray!

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So these are my final results, and while I was obviously ecstatic about passing, I actually didn’t think too much about my scores or new goals until I shared my results with my amazing italki teacher. She was so happy for me and instantly started planning what we need to work on for me to be able to pass level 6 in November.
It’s going to be a challenge but she believes in me, and so do I!
So there you have my first and biggest language related goal for 2019!

As for the smaller goals to help me achieve it, they are:
1. Read at least 12 books throughout the year
2. Practice 50 random words every day, from my italki lessons
3. Write at least 1 diary entry in Korean per week.
4. Write at least 12 essays throughout the year
5. Do translations

Those of you who have been around for a while knows that I always buy myself new years presents, that are related to my goals, to motivate and inspire me to actively work on them.
This year I bought myself:
1. 3 sets of mildliners (first time trying them, believe it or not!)
2. Extra Muji pens (I bought a set in London the night before my exam and I’M IN LOVE)
3. KBS 생활 한국어 고급 (For study and review purposes)

Posted in Personal, TOPIK, Uncategorized

This and that

Hi guys!!
Gosh, it sure has been a while. The last few months has been so hectic and I don’t even know where to begin updating from.

As you guys know I was studying diligently for my TOPIK exam and I flew to London on November 16th as planned, with my Korean friend, ready to tackle whatever came my way. And thank god for that because I woke up with a sore throat which then quickly evolved into a full on cold.
I was determined to do well on my exam anyway, so the next morning I stopped by a pharmacy to buy a nasal spray and some kleenex, and then I headed straight to the test location. Everything was going according to plan until I talked to the supervisors to get my papers checked, and she asked me if I was sick – Even though I very obviously was. So, apparently they don’t really want sick people taking the test because it easily disturbs the rest of the test takers – which is totally fair, I just didn’t think about it.
So there I was, trying to explain that I didn’t cough at all and that I had brought nasal spray and kleenex so I wouldn’t be sniffing either. I thought that would work, but that just brought up another problem. During the test, we’re not allowed to have anything on our table except the papers, our pen and something to drink. So then I had to unwrap all of my tissues and lay them on my table to show that I had no secret notes and what not, as well as to avoid being noisy while unwrapping them during the test.
What. A. Mess. Anyhow, in the end, they let me in and I was, in fact, the quietest in the room lol.
As for the actual test, we started with the listening test which went okay, I think. We then moved on to the writing test which is my weakest point so I figured that it would be perfect to “get it over with” and then I could finish strong with the reading test which is my strongest point. Or so I thought haha! Instead, the writing test turned out the be easier that imagined (though I still didn’t manage to finish the final essay before the time ran out) and halfway through the reading test I had a few questions where I felt completely lost. And then I made the mistake that I ALWAYS TELL MYSELF NOT TO MAKE! I kept re-reading the questions – which by the way didn’t help at all – and that obviously meant that I ran out of time and had to speed read through the last 5 questions and just guess the answers.
Honestly, I’m still a bit frustrated with myself for falling in that newbie trap, but what can you do? Just have to keep going.
So all in all, things went okay, but not at all like expected so I literally have no idea what my results will be. I’m not super confident that I’ll pass level 4 as wished, but if that’s the case, I’ll simply take it again in the spring.
It was also a really great experience! As most of you guys know, I had some intense anxiety issues when I took the exam the first time a few years ago, but I didn’t have any problems this time. Also, a lot of the other test takers said that they found it really difficult to stay focused around halfway through each test, but I didn’t feel that at all. I’m so used to using Korean for hours and hours at a time so I just felt super relaxed and basically just in my right element.
The results will be out on Thursday so I’m impatiently waiting, haha!

I had some fun days in London with my friend, and a few days after I got home I started a new internship, which slowly sucked the life out of me. Okay okay, I’m being dramatic. It was really rough though. I didn’t have a lot of time to myself and when I finally did have some time, I didn’t have the energy to do anything at all. The work I was doing just wasn’t a good match for me but I learned a lot and when I finished the internship last Friday, I got a lot of praise from my boss and coworkers, and they even gave me a present. It was rough but I’m grateful for the experience.

I’m now officially on my Christmas break and I’m looking forward to just relaxing and having a great time with my boyfriend.
I have a lot of things that I want to get done, but I want to make sure that I actually get some proper rest.

I hope you all are having a great holiday time with your loved ones!

Posted in Selfstudy, TOPIK, Uncategorized

Study Log: August

AUGUST STUDY LOG

Goals for August:
– Have a daily study average on 3 hours.
– Work on my vocabulary.
– Work on Taekwondo specific vocabulary!
– Study with TOPIK tests.
– Work on writing.

Results:

A Tracker:
90 Hours, which gives me a daily average of: 2,9 Hours.
Close enough to 3 hours, haha! I’ll consider it as a succes!

TOPIK:
My TOPIK practice results for July were:
듣기: 35/50 correct answers.
I’m pretty happy with this result! It’s not a new record but it’s a good result for mig 4급 goal.

읽기: 29/50 correct answers.
Not too happy about this one! For the first half it went really well but then it just went down hill from there. That just happens sometimes, but since my exam is coming up, it would be nice if it didn’t happen right now, haha!

Other results: 
I super satisfied with the hours I put into studying in August, especially because I have been studying very effectively and with a ton of different materials.
I have been working a lot on my vocabulary throughout the month, and not just reviewing. I’ve been making a sincere effort to actually use the words I learn. I use them in conversations, my diary or I pick out a few random words from the day before, and create some sample sentences. I can feel my vocabulary growing and hopefully it’ll be noticeable in November! I have also been working a little bit on my Taekwondo specific vocabulary but not nearly as much or as actively as my overall vocabulary. And that’s ok!
As for studying with TOPIK tests, I have actually bought a new book set, with practice tests, tips and even more importantly, it also comes with a ton of examples. I’m working through the books little by little and I’m sure it’ll help me out on the 쓰기 test.
My last goal was to work on my writing, which I also managed to do! I’ve been practicing with the assignments from 서강 한국어 읽기 (which I have now finished) as well as doing practice tests from the new books.

Overall I’m just really satisfied with my efforts!

To work on in September:
– Work on my new Kmooc courses. I believe both of them will help me learn the language while learning the actual content.
– Practice writing. I want to continue working on my writing skills and especially become better at structuring my essays instead of just winging them. My kmooc courses also comes with different written assignments so I’ll be practicing writing almost daily.
– Make sure to use my books. I have a tendency to just go all in on my courses and not make time for my books. This time I want to make sure that I find a proper balance (since my courses lasts for 12-15 weeks) and still make time to my study books and even more importantly my novels!
– Finish 죽고 싶지만 떡볶이는 먹고 싶어
– Finish 미생

The two last point are simply to make sure that I also make time to just read and watch dramas.
Also, as you might have noticed, I didn’t add any time goals this time. I already know that I’ll be studying a lot so I just felt like it would be pointless to make such a goal. Even If I don’t touch any books, my courses will have me practicing reading, listening, writing as well as my vocabulary 6/7 days a week and I also still have my Italki lessons every week so speaking will be practiced often as well. I know I’ll be working on all aspects, so I’m already pretty happy with myself.

Posted in Personal, Resources, Selfstudy, TOPIK, Uncategorized

Challenges —> Opportunities

So.. I told myself to not join any Kmooc courses until after my exam in November, as they take a lot of time, and I feel like I’m better off with my books right now. So obviously I signed up for no less than two courses. Whoops^^
They have so many interesting courses lately and it’s just so hard to not sneak a peak once in a while, and as soon as something catches my eye, I can’t let it go, haha!

I still feel like I should be focusing on my books, but in my defense both courses are a lot less intense than the ones I have taken before and I do honestly think they can turn out to be helpful. I think they might give my studying an extra boost while also serving as a breath of fresh air during my otherwise exam focused studies. Just as importantly, I think they might add some value to my life in general. It’ll be worth it.

The first course I enrolled in is called 인간과 삶, and it covers a bunch of topics like life, death, society and economics. I’m thinking that this course might come in really handy for the 쓰기 part of my exam, as the essay will most likely involve some (or maybe even all) of those topics and I’ll be able to learn words and phrases that can secure me a few extra points or at least cause me to give more thought on these topics.
I’m actually really excited to see what this course will bring!

The second course I enrolled in is called 소통-행복과 변화로 가는 길. This course is not as much about exam preparation but rather about me learning in general. I’m sure it’ll plant a few good words or phrases in my head anyway though!

None of the courses have begun yet, but I’m really looking forward to it. It probably wont be easy as I have so many other things I want to do as well, but rather than thinking of it as a challenge, I’ll think of it as an amazing opportunity to grow.

Posted in Selfstudy, TOPIK, Uncategorized

Study Log: July

JULY STUDY LOG

Goals for July:
– Have a daily study average on 3 hours.
– Work on my vocabulary.
– Practice reading aloud!
– Work on Taekwondo specific vocabulary!
– Study with TOPIK tests.
– Work on writing.

Results:

A Tracker:
75 Hours, which gives me a daily average of: 2,4 Hours.
So I definitely did not reach my goal this months. A lot of family stuff came up and I had to prioritize my time. I guess this just happens sometimes, but I’m still a bit bummed out. Oh well, it’s a new month now so let’s see what happens!

TOPIK:
My TOPIK practice results for July were:
듣기: 32/50 correct answers.
This is the same score as last month so I guess there isn’t really that much to talk about here, haha.

읽기: 33/50 correct answers.
This is 1 more than last month, however it’s not a new record so it doesn’t really say much.

Other results: 
Okay, so I completely failed 4 of my 6 goals. Not the best stats, haha!
I didn’t reach my study goal for time (though hours spent doesn’t equal things learned, so I’m not too worried about that) and I didn’t look into Taekwondo related vocabulary AT ALL. I also didn’t practice my writing (I don’t even think I wrote in my diary) nor did I work through my previous TOPIK tests. These 4 points will be moved to my August goals, as they are things that I really do need to work on.

I have been practicing reading aloud quite a lot, and I’m finding it really helpful for a lot of things. I do it during all italki sessions as well as when I’m studying on my own.
I have also been working on my general vocabulary. I’m making an effort to actually use the words I come across every day, and to write them down and say them out loud to myself.

To work on in August:
– Have a daily study average on 3 hours. Hopefully I’ll make it happen this month, haha!
– Work on my vocabulary. I’m not making any changes to this goal as it really seems to be helping me. I keep having those moments where you learn something new and then suddenly hear and read it everywhere. God I missed having those moments!
– Work on Taekwondo specific vocabulary! I really need to do this, and I have already found myself a few resources. This is not a goal for my general language skills, but its really important for me personally.
– Study with TOPIK tests. This is my biggest and most important goal for August. I took all the practice tests in my books and the ones online as well, so I ordered a new book in order to continue my monthly testing. Until then I’ll be working through the results from the old ones. I need to analyze my answers and the reasons why I got them wrong.
– Work on writing. Writing is my weakest skills (unless it’s everyday chatting), so I really have to focus on this. There’s a few 쓰기 examples that I want to analyze properly and I want to start working with one of my writing books again. I’m not sure I be able to do it this month though, as I want to finish at least one of the books that I’m currently working with.
I’m working through YTN 뉴스로 배우는 시사 한국어, and I’m finding it really helpful. I think it’ll help with writing too.

I have exactly 100 days left for my exam. I already signed up, I’m buying the flight tickets soon, and I’m really looking forward to it. Those of you who have been around for a while knows that I had my first really bad anxiety attack, when I took the exam 2 years ago, so I was really worried about doing it again. But so far I feel nothing but pure excitement!