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, Rant, Selfstudy, taekwondo, Uncategorized

All the things

As most of you guys already know, I’ve had some pretty intense last months of 2017. It seemed like all important things had to be done at the same time which left me running around all confused for a while!

I had my very first taekwondo belt promotion in the end of November and it scared the poop out of me. My anxiety was all over the place and I felt like I was going to fail, despite knowing that I knew everything that I needed to know. It was a really rough morning, but the second our coach said 차렷! My brain completely shut down and my body switched to the same taekwondo mode I experience during our normal practices. When my name was called I got up, did my thing and sat back down. Being a white belt there wasn’t a lot of things for me to show compared to many of the other colors, so I spent the next few hours focused on what my team mates where doing. I felt super encouraged and motivated to continue when I was looking at them. In the end I passed and got a yellow stripe on my white belt. That means I’m halfway to a new belt – Yay!

I got home late that Sunday and I was completely exhausted, but I couldn’t relax.
You see, I was working on my important, final exam at the same time as I was preparing for the promotion. I had been working on that project since early May. First I had to create a project idea and make a plan, which I then had to present to my teacher and boss for approval. Once that was taken care of I wasn’t allowed to do anything related to the project until August (that’s a long story). In August I had to prepare for the project which then had to run for 2 weeks in September. I then had to spend the beginning of November on gathering results and then spend the end of November on writing a report on all of my goals, my methods of accomplishing those goals, the final results and so on. The report had to be submitted the morning after my belt promotion and believe it or not, it still wasn’t over.
After submitting my work I then had to start preparing and practicing for an oral presentation of everything written in my report. I had the final, oral part of the exam a week later, and after that I was finally done! I’m so happy to finally be done with the entire project!

These super stressful months took their toll on my body though. After the exam I started feeling really tired all the time and my general anxiety became a lot worse, but due to the Christmas season, there was just no way I could slow down. I was working overtime for several weeks and when I finally had my last day of work this year, I felt like crap. I immediately got sick with the flu which have now lasted for two weeks. I’m positive that this is my body’s way of telling me that enough is enough.
It’s so important to take good care of yourself!

I finally started to feel alive again yesterday and I felt even better today. I made sure to eat a ton of fruits and veggies! I spent a lot of time studying before and after getting sick as well.

As some of you might know, I have been taking a course on Kmooc. I wasn’t planning on doing it at all but I accidentally joined a course while looking for more information about it, because I’m an idiot that apparently can’t read, haha! The funny thing is that I had just talked to a friend about wanting to finish a lot of all my current books and projects before starting any of my new books (I’m only using one of the books I bought in Korea. I’m not allowed to even open the rest until I have completed a few of the ones I’m currently working with), so obviously I have been teased quite a lot about this.. Anyway I joined a course by 울산대학교 called 가족과 건강: 행복한 삶을 위한 정신의학. I actually really like the course and I feel like I have done a lot better than expected. I especially worried about the essays since writing is one of my weakest assets. But that’s why I’m glad I joined it. Throwing yourself into a new challenge, head first and with no safety net, is a great way of improving. I have finished all of the weeks and the accompanying homework, and now I’m just waiting for the final quiz to start next week. I’m also (im)patiently awaiting feedback on the biggest essay from a few weeks ago. My total score needs to be 60% or higher to pass, and I currently have 47%. With the final quiz + the essay, being the two parts that gives the most points, everything is depending on those results. I feel somewhat confident in the quiz, but I’m more interested in the essay results haha!
I think I’ll do a proper post about my experiences once my result is out. If my essay results aren’t too horrible then I might post it here as well!
The course have been pretty rough though. Obviously there’s a ton of new vocabulary and it takes ages to look up all those words all the time. I haven’t been studying with any other books during these 7 weeks because all my time was spent on going through new material or doing the homework. I’ve really missed ‘normal’ studying and I’m really happy to start working with my books again. It’s kind of exhausting to study a language through a course where your language ability aren’t even being evaluated.

I was planning on talking a bit about my goals for 2018 as well, but I think I have been blabbering for long enough now, so that will have to wait til tomorrow, haha.

Well, it has been some intense months, however I still have a full week til I return to work, and even then, all I have to do is work! No more work related studying, no more exams and hopefully a lot less stress. It’ll be great to have more study time!

Posted in Personal, Uncategorized

Study room

So.. We bought a house. We didn’t even see it coming but we suddenly had the opportunity to buy a house that we really liked and we ended up doing so. The house needs a lot of work and the last month have been absolutely insane. I haven’ had time to even think about opening my Korean books as I have been busy with the whole moving process as well at having exams.
While the timing kinda sucks (I mean, shouldn’t I be studying more now that my Korean trip is approaching?) I don’t regret a thing, because in our new house I now have a study room. A room just for me. A room where I can peacefully submerge myself in my studies. A room where all my books have a place and there’s enough space to add a lot more books (Let’s face it, I’m going to Korea in slightly over a month – I’m gonna need more book space).
This room is going to be my own little stress-free temple and I’m constantly thinking about how to decorate it. It’s going to be worth it.

As I said I haven’t had time to open my Korean books, but you guys know me right? Of course that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been studying! I’ve been sticking to my italki lessons twice a week and by discussing everything that’s going on with my teachers I’ve learned a lot of situational Korean. When else would I ever be talking about wallpaper, renovations and heating sources?
I also discovered the ‘Free books’ category on ridibooks and because of that I have been reading quite a lot whenever I had some spare time. I read during my lunch break and when there’s not a lot of customers in the store. I have a few pens and some paper in my work locker and I make sure to write down all the unknown words when I read. I have quite a few vocabulary list lying around at this point!
I have also kept a personal diary in Korean for a few weeks. This meant that I got some writing practice done, however, since it’s quite personal I didn’t want anyone to read it and that obviously meant that I couldn’t get it corrected either. That makes it a lot less effective and I might get used to using wrong expressions and grammar, so I decided to stop. Instead I’ll be practicing my writing with less personal subjects.

There’s still a lot of work to be done but at this point it’s mainly things where I can’t be helpful anyway, so now I’ll probably be able to study a bit more effectively. My study room isn’t close to being ready yet and most of my books are still in packed in boxes, however I did unpack a few things this morning and will be making a new study schedule as soon as I finish this post.
I’m going to be doing my best with what I got until my study room is finished, and once it’s ready I’m sure everything is going to become a lot easier! I’m already browsing through my ikea magazine to find inspiration. I want this room to overflow with inspiration and I can’t wait to show you guys the finished result.

To end this post I want to share this song with you guys. It’s a song that I enjoy studying to and I thought you guys might enjoy it too. 🙂

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!