Posted in Personal, Rant, taekwondo, Uncategorized

Picking myself up and mending my wounds

Two weeks ago I went on a little adventure that turned out to be quite the rollercoaster. On Thursday I drove to my sister’s house in the evening and then we took the train together the next morning, headed to køge for the annual taekwondo summer camp. I was feeling really nervous and anxious which isn’t at all unusual for me however this time it was a bit worse as we were only 3 people – including me – from my club who had joined the camp this year and the 2 others were both there as instructors for the black belt team and the children’s team, which then leaves me ‘alone’ in my team. In fact, we saw each other so little that they were both surprised when they saw me at dinner on Saturday night and asked when I had arrived since they hadn’t seen me around.. Well.. I had been there since Friday morning, several hours before they themselves had arrived haha!

I had so much fun last year though, so I was determined to go this year as well even though I knew I would be on my own during all the lessons, as my sister doesn’t do taekwondo and was only there as a guest. Also, while taekwondo has triggered my anxiety many times before I know it’s only there before we actually start. The second we start lining up and gets ready to greet the giant 태극기 hanging on the wall and the 사범님 in charge, it completely vanishes in an instant.

And that was indeed what happened on Friday when we had our opening ceremony and our first lesson as one giant team. I had so much fun until the very last 10 minutes where we had to partner up, have a 10 second long(short?) fight and then the person to the left had to jump ahead to the next row and start over until we had had a fight with people from all belt colors and degrees. I was the person on the left which meant that I was the person to travel through the rows and it was fun and interesting until I got to the very last row. Everybody had been kind and smiling up until then and took it a bit more easy if they were fighting people from lower ranks. But the at the last row I was teamed up with a guy who is basically the 대사범님’s right hand. I don’t like him. And I say that coming from a personal point of view and not a professional. He is super talented and has been doing taekwondo for ages, but I don’t like him as a person – but I believe that’s a story for another day!

I generally don’t let my personal feelings and opinions take over so I greeted him with a big smile and in return, he looked at me like I was a piece of sh*t that he couldn’t even be bothered to deal with. The 10 second fight starts and I do my best even though I’m tired from already having done it around 15 times and he then dramatically rolls his eyes at me and starts yelling in my face “MORE MORE MORE” even though the 10 seconds is up and I have run down to the very back and start over with the white belts. He forced me into an uncomfortable situation where I had to either ignore him or ignore the 사범님 in charge who at the same time was yelling at me that the time had already ended.

That night I went to bed feeling really sad. I felt like I should have stayed home as I obviously wasn’t good enough. I didn’t deserve to be there. I tried reminding myself that it was totally okay to feel intimidated by him. He’s older than me, taller than me, broader than me and he has been doing taekwondo for more than 40 years compared to my 2 years. I tried so hard to stay optimistic but for some reason, that tiny little part of the lesson had erased all the joy I had felt about being there, even though the first 50 minutes of the lesson had been absolutely great.

Saturday morning I got up early with my sister, had breakfast and got ready for my first lesson of the day. The first lesson was about – you guessed it! Fighting! – and after the Friday lesson, I was dreading the entire thing even though this specific lesson was the one that I had been looking forward to the most.
The lesson was being taught by Nuno Damaso who is insanely talented and really good at teaching as well. Our team was from white to blue belts which meant that I, as a blue belt, were the second highest graded person on the team and therefore had to stand on the very first row, and I felt like such a fraud. I felt so strongly that I didn’t deserve standing all the way up there..

During this lesson we had a few uhm.. mishaps I guess. We were only wearing chest guards during his lesson because that was the main area we would be focusing on and he said we should be able to take a bit pain from blocking with our arms and legs (Head was off limits so headgear wasn’t relevant either) and we were all pretty much fine with it. However my partner had a few issues with his aim as he started to get tired and as a result, I was left with some pretty bad bruises everywhere and especially on both of my hips, as well as a bruised rib.

But it was fun. I had so much fun and forgot all about those depressing thoughts that had been haunting me since the previous night. My adrenalin was pumping and I felt so good after that lesson, that after our 15-minute break I jumped straight into the next lesson of the day and it wasn’t even until halfway through it that I realized how bad my injuries from the fight was. I obviously couldn’t see my bruises yet but due to my bruised rib, I was struggling a bit with breathing and moving in certain ways.

I still managed to power through and then I went to change my clothes for the lunch break. At this point, I knew that the 4th and final lesson of the day would be off the table as it was self-defense and involved at a lot of grabbing, punching and throwing, but I still thought I could power through the 3rd lesson after lunch as it was about stamina and explosivity and with no contact.
My sister was not agreeing though haha! She was immediately in mother mode and wanted me to stop for the day until we had a clearer idea of the injuries I had. I was determined to take one more lesson but when I grabbed my 도복 I noticed that the thread in my pants had broken and taking another lesson would 100% end up with my pants ripping and me flashing my behind to the entire team. I decided to take it as a sign from the universe, telling me that enough is enough. It could also be due to the fact that I have gained 9kgs since December but I would like to stick to the first explanation, hahahah!

In the end, I was out of the game for the last half of the weekend but I had a lot of fun watching all the classes from the side bench. On Sunday I met up with my Korean friend whom I had never met face to face before and when the camp officially ended my sister and I continued to Copenhagen where we stayed until Monday.  While sitting at a Starbucks with my sister, all the pictures from the camp got posted online and when I saw this picture of me it suddenly hit me why that first episode had been so rough on me. 

This picture was taken right as we were ending the fighting lesson on Saturday morning. A lesson that physically took a way bigger toll on me but take a look at my face. I was totally fine. And it hit me. On Friday I didn’t feel intimidated by his size, his strength nor his belt degree. I’m okay with the pain. I was feeling intimidated by him as a person. I felt he was attacking me and who I am, and not my body. I felt worthless and ridiculous.

And on Saturday it was the complete opposite. I got some somewhat bad injuries but my partner and I was smiling and laughing through the entire thing. We were cheering each other on and the instructor was as well.

I think everybody needs to remember this. You don’t have to act like a tough person or belittle people to stay ‘strong’. Smiling at people, cheering them on and telling them that they did a good job does not make you weak nor does it make your win any less of an accomplishment. You can be opponents and still be friends.

Posted in Personal, Selfstudy, Uncategorized

100 days of productivity?

Today my vacation is officially over and I am back with my original internship. Even though I now have less time available, I actually still have quite a lot of time compared to my last internship. Lately I haven’t been doing my best when it comes to studying, and I don’t even have a ‘proper’(only oneself should decide what a proper reason is) reason. I just simply haven’t had the energy or focus to work hard. I feel like it’s important to be honest to oneself with things like this instead of making up reasons to why you haven’t done your best. Things are definitely looking better know, but I have been thinking about how to give myself an extra boost of motivation to do my best again. I have some exciting things coming up and I want to prepare myself in the best possible way.
My first plan was to join the Italki language challenge again but I even though I really liked it the last time, I don’t feel like it’s the way to go this time. I don’t have nearly as much time as I did back then and 효진쌤’s schedule isn’t very flexible either. And since she is now back in Korea, we also have to match it with the time difference. Honestly, just having 1 session a week can be more than enough of a challenge!

So what else can I do? Well, I have seen the 100 days of productivity tags on many blogs and especially on Tumblr and Instagram and I thought that maybe I should give it a try. Making a challenge out of it is always a good way for me to motivate myself and it will probably fit the timeframe for my next projects and goals. It will probably also be a good opportunity for me to learn more about my own study habits.
My goal is to study for an average of two hours pr. Day. My normal daily average is around 1,5 hours (only around 1 hour for the past two weeks) so it’s not really that big of a change, but it’ll get me back on track as well as give me the little extra feeling of a challenge.

I won’t be posting a lot about it on the blog, but I will be updating daily on Instagram and twitter.
So that’s what’s going on right now! I’m starting the challenge from today and I’ll be having the last day on December 20th. Not a bad timing if you ask me! I will be having a few busy weeks (week 38,45 and 50) but I’m sure that won’t be a problem since I adjusted the rules to my personal needs.
My rules are pretty simple.
– As long as my final daily average is on 2 hours, then it doesn’t matter how much I study each day.
– I must study some Korean every day.
– I’ll give a short update every day.

And that’s it!
I’m feeling way more excited about this than I should!
Have a great day guys!

Posted in books, Guides, Resources, Selfstudy, Uncategorized

REVIEW – Korean Q&A sentence patterns by TTMIK

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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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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 Selfstudy, TOPIK, Uncategorized

This week 07.08.16

Hi guys! I’m a bit earlier today than usual, but I figured that since I already have gotten quite a bit of studying done, and I probably wont be doing more today, I might as well write about this weeks numbers, now!

Monday – 1st of August
– Reviewing words and adding them to Quizlet, for about 1 hour.
 Worked with 덕혜옹주 for about 45 minutes.

Tuesday – 2nd of August
– Worked with 덕혜옹주 for about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
– Worked with an audiobook for about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Wednesday – 3rd of August
–  Worked with 덕혜옹주 for about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
–  Reviewing words and adding them to Quizlet, for about 1 hour.

Thursday – 4th of August
– Worked with an audiobook for about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
– Reviewing words on Quizlet for about 30 minutes.

Friday – 5th of August
– Worked with SURE magazine for about  1 hour.
– Worked with an audiobook for about 20 minutes.

Saturday – 6th of August
– Italki session for about  1 hour.
-Worked with an audiobook for about 1 hour and 40 minutes.
– Reviewing words on Quizlet for about 40 minutes.

Sunday – 7th if August
– Worked with TOPIK 듣기 for about  1 hour.
Worked with 서강 한국어 쓰기 1 for about 1 hour.
– Worked with 덕혜옹주 for about 1 hour.
– Worked with 빈도별 토픽 for about 40 minutes.

This makes this weeks total 16 hours and 45 minutes. I’m feeling quite satisfied with this number, though I must admit that I have been completely slacking on my 쓰기 skills, compared to my original plan. So that will be my goal of the new week. I’ll finish the TOPIK mock test that I started today (I only had time enough to do the 듣기 part), and hopefully my 쓰기 will not be too horrible!

Posted in Personal, Selfstudy, Uncategorized

This week 31.07.16

Good evening guys! This week was my last day at my internship, but even though it was quite hectic, I still got some studying done. Here’s my numbers from this week!

 

Monday – 25th of July
– Worked with a podcast (1st half of an audio book) for about 1 hour.
 Worked with SURE magazine for about 40 minutes.
– Worked with a podcast (2nd half of an audio book) for about 1 hour.

Tuesday – 26th of July
– Worked with a 만화 for about 20 minutes.
– Worked with 빈도별  토픽 for about 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Wednesday – 27th of July
Nothing.

Thursday – 28th of July
Nothing.

Friday – 29th of July
Nothing.

Saturday – 30th of July
– Italki session for about  1 hour.
– Worked with 서강 한국어 쓰기 1 for about  1 hour and 40 minutes.
– Worked with 덕혜옹주 (YES I FINALLY PICKED AN EBOOK TO READ) for about 30 minutes.

Sunday – 31st of July.
– Worked with SURE magazine for about  1 hour and 40 minutes.
Worked with 서강 한국어 쓰기 1 for about 20 minutes.
– Worked with 덕혜옹주 for about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

That’s a total of 11 hours and 10 Minutes. Not to bad when I had a forced 3 day break! I now officially have (almost) all of August to myself and I’ll make sure to enjoy all of my time and get a lot of studying done!

I hope everybody had a great week just like me!
I’ll be back in a few days with a review!

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 Personal, Selfstudy, Uncategorized

This week 24.07.16

Hi guys! Since it Sunday today I decided to take a break from the blog post I was working on (I have a few updates) and write my weekly update!

This week was intense! Due to some unplanned issues I practically haven’t been home which means that I haven’t been studying like usual. However, due to my new study diary I don’t really feel that bummed about it, since I can see the result of last week, and I have still been able to get some studying done.

Monday – 18th of July
Worked with an article for about 1 hour.
 Worked with 빈도별 토픽 for about 40 minutes.
Worked on translating a song for about 20 minute.

Tuesday – 19th of July
– Nothing.

Wednesday – 20th of July
–  Reviewed new words for about 20 minutes.

Thursday – 21st of July
– Worked with 빈도별 토픽 for about 50 minutes.

Friday – 22nd of July
– Italki session for about 1 hour.

Saturday – 23rd of July
– Added new words from my italki session, to Quizlet/reviewing for about  1 hour.
– Talked on the phone with a new LP for about  1 hour.
– Worked with a magazine for about 30 minutes.

Sunday – 24th of July.
– Worked with magazine articles for about 2 hours.

So obviously this is a lot less than last week, but it’s still 8 hours and 40 Minutes where I DID get to study. Not bad at all! I feel like this coming week is going to be a lot more quiet and free, so I’m really looking forward to next weeks numbers!

I’ll be back with my updates tomorrow!

Posted in Personal, Selfstudy, TOPIK, Uncategorized

This week 17.07.16

Last Monday I started something new in order to hopefully stop myself from certain negative thoughts. You see, I feel a need to study a lot which in itself isn’t really a problem, however it seems like I automatically start on a completely new page each day. Actually. Its more like a whole new book. If I for some reason don’t get to study a lot one day, then I will feel very frustrated with myself and feel like I’m not doing my best – even if I have been studying for over 4 hours on the previous day. It’s like the other days of hard work just disappears the second I go to sleep. Also, I try my best to take a lot of breaks during my study sessions as I know its good for my head, but when I have a lot of short sessions, I loose track of my overall amount of studying which again leaves me frustrated.

I think I have become way too addicted to these long therapeutic study sessions, and now when my schedule simply doesn’t allow a lot of those, it causes me to feel stressed even though I really have no reason to.

To stop all of that stress I have decided to start keeping track of my studying. More precisely I time my study sessions, even when it’s just for 15 minutes and I add it all up at the end of the day. I also added a few notes on what I have been studying with during the day. I figured that it could help me regain overview of my studies, and surprisingly enough it has reduced my frustrations quite a lot. Therefore I have now decided to keep doing this for 5 weeks and see how it affects me and my way of thinking, and I’ll update on the blog each Sunday so that I can look back at my overall progress. Here’s how my week went by!

Monday – 11th of July
Worked with 서강 한국어 쓰기 1 for about 1 hour.
– 
Practiced essay writing for about 1 hour.

Tuesday – 12th of July
– Worked with 서강 한국어 쓰기 1 for about 50 minutes.
– Worked with useful Hanja words for about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Wednesday – 13th of July
–  Worked with useful Hanja words for about 1 hour.
–  Worked with 빈도별 토픽 for about 1 hour.
–  Worked with Korean grammar in use (advanced) for about 50 minutes.

Thursday – 14th of July
– Worked with 서강 한국어 쓰기 1 for about 3 hours.

Friday – 15th of July
– Italki session for about 1 hour.

Saturday – 16th of July
– Going through corrections from my essay for about 30 minutes.
– Worked with 서강 한국어 쓰기 1 for about 1.5 hours.

Sunday – 17th of July.
– Worked with 빈도별 토픽 for about 1 hour.

 

Today I actually woke up with an awful headache and I didn’t really feel like doing anything what so ever. However, I got out of bed in decent time, I went jogging for the first time in 6 months and then sat down to study. At this point my headache became worse despite painkillers and I decided to stop studying. Normally I would feel really frustrated by studying for only 1 hour on a Sunday with no other plans. These days its so rare that I have that much time on my hands so I would definitely feel upset over wasting that time.
But today, I was totally fine with it because not only can I see right here and now in my notes, that I have been studying for over 14.5 hours this past week, but I can also see that I have been studying such a variety of things. I have been working on my grammar, I have been practicing writing, I have been reading, I have been talking and listening and I have practiced specifically for TOPIK (which I will be taking again in exactly 364 days from now – if you were wondering!). The fact that I am not able to use my Sunday in any efficient way, does NOT in any way mean that I have wasted my time or that I’m not doing my best. I’m working my butt off.

It feels really good to see everything over a larger period than just one day. If you – like me – feel frustrated over these so called ‘wasted’ days, then try to keep a small diary like me, over a longer time period.

My Sunday is almost over and as soon as I have published this post I’ll lie down on my couch and probably play some random game on my phone, without any regrets or thoughts of wasted time.

I hope everybody had a great week!

Posted in books, Personal, Uncategorized

Quiet Sundays

These last weeks have been quite intense and this is the first weekend in ages where I haven’t had any forced plans or work. A very needed break I must say. I decided to make this weekend all about myself and my needs and I definitely made the right choice!

Yesterday I took a trip to Aarhus and met with Sofie from Sofie To Korea for the first time! We had lunch and got to talk a lot which was really great! After that I decided to go shopping for a bit on my own. I really can’t remember when I did that the last time and while I usually prefer smaller cities, I actually really enjoyed watching all the people walk around, doing their own shopping. I spent more money than I should have but since I usually don’t shop at all, I’m actually okay with that.
I ended up getting on the wrong bus home and was suddenly stuck in a random small city. Sigh.. Anyway, Mr. 남친 suggested that he could come and pick me up, and then we could pick up some pizza and grilled chicken and eat it at his parents house, which was on our way home anyway. I guess yesterday was my most unproductive day in a long time, but never the less it was truly needed!

When I woke up this morning I decided to continue it like yesterday. I have the house to myself so I can literally do whatever I want! I cleaned my desk aka my holy place, I binge watched 마녀보감 while doing some dishes and laundry. I went for a quiet walk in the rain and took a long hot shower. While today is very productive compared to yesterday, I still feel just as great and relaxed because I’m doing exactly what I wish to do. I’ll make sure not to forget about what I WANT to do in the future. I just made myself a nice cup of tea and opened up all of the windows. Its still raining and its also a bit chilly today, but I feel like I need the fresh air, so I’ll keep warm with tea and my favorite cozy blanket instead. I’m currently sitting on my couch with a lazy bunny by my side and is just enjoying the quietness in our little home.

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I’m now going to enjoy my tea and read another chapter of 이상한 나라의 앨리스 and then I’m going to move on with my to do list. I want to review everything from my last italki session and finish the first chapter in 서강 한국어 쓰기 1 – Simply because I want to.
Later tonight before Mr. 남친 comes home, I’m going to cook us a nice delicious meal and then we’re going to sit down together and watch some criminal minds – Because I want to.

I was actually going to talk about about why I find it important to take notes, but honestly I didn’t feel like doing that today so I’m not going to.

Don’t forget about what YOU want to do.

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!