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 Selfstudy, TOPIK, Uncategorized

Study Log: April

Back in March I began tracking all my study sessions because I wanted a more visual overview of my study habits. I wanted to see where I put in the most effort and where I put in the least and then compare it to the aspects that I feel need the most work. It’s easy to complain about a certain skill not improving if your not actually working on improving them.
I have now gotten into the habit of tracking almost all my sessions (I don’t track things like chatting with friends, listening to music etc. I also only track drama watching if I’m not doing anything else and is actively watching, which is pretty rare these days.) and I’ve been contemplating whether or not to share my results on the blog and have now decided to keep a monthly study log until my exam in November. I want to actually write down my thoughts on my progress for my future self, instead of just look back at a bunch of numbers.

I track in two different ways.
I use my TTMIK 100-days planner to create goals and plan out how I’m going to reach them. I write down what I want to accomplish, how I’ll accomplish it and I give myself a realistic (though slightly optimistic at times) time frame for accomplishing it.
Then I use my tracking app to actually track my work. I simply create a few categories like reading, writing, listening and also categories for specific books that I’m working on, because many of my books can be used to improve several of those aspects within the same chapter.
I then write the results down in my TTMIK planner and use those numbers to adjust my next goals.
Lastly, I have been taking a TOPIK practice test at the end of each month, which is how I evaluate my progress and figure out whether or not my efforts have worked, in order for me to create a new and better plan for the next month.
It’s basically a way for me to learn more about what works for me and what doesn’t, while at the same time trying to prepare for my exam.

MARCH STUDY LOG

A Tracker: 85 Hours, which gives me a daily average of: 2,8 Hours.
My daily average back in march was 3,1 hours so it’s not a super big difference, and I had 4 days off from studying when I went to my hometown, so that’s probably why it’s lower this time. I enjoyed my free time and we all need days off, however I would still like to keep it on 3 hours or above, until I start working again.

TOPIK:
My TOPIK practice results for April were:
듣기: 34/50 correct answers.
This is 2 correct answers less than in March. My listening skills pretty much felt the same as the last time. I didn’t do a lot of specific listening practice as I chose to prioritize other things that needed more work.

읽기: 30/50 correct answers.
This is 3 correct answers less than in March. However I felt like my reading speed and stamina was pretty good and my correct answers have been increasing every month since January, so I’m not really too bothered by my result. As long as I’m making overall progress.

There’s always a chance that my results are due to good or bad luck – sometimes the questions are simply harder than other times, and sometimes I just happen to know a lot of vocab on a certain topic that appears in a test. However, rather than luck, I think it’s due to the kmooc course that I have been working on every day. I haven’t really been working with a lot of other materials throughout April which means that the majority of the things that I have learned are all related to the same specific topic, and most of the vocab is super fancy linguistic related terms that I didn’t meet anywhere throughout the test, so it makes sense that my results would reflect that.

To work on in May:
I feel a bit silly writing this when we are always halfway through May, but oh well!
I still want to work hard on my kmooc course even though it isn’t really the best way of preparing for my exam, but it’s still really important to me, and I’m halfway through it so I’m not giving up on it.
I will however try to prioritize other types of studying. I’ve been reading a lot lately and will continue to do so.
I’ll try to practice listening a bit more as well.
I’ll make sure to keep my daily average on 3 hours or more. (I’m currently on 3,1 – So far so good!)
Most importantly I’ll try to enjoy myself a bit more, and do whatever type of studying I feel like doing, whenever I have some extra free time.

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, taekwondo, Uncategorized

A day full of Taekwondo

Saturday was a very exciting day to me. My taekwondo club was hosting a Dan promotion (Black belt promotions) and there are many reasons as to why this was so special.
First of all, Dan promotions are usually hosted by our Grand Master Shin, in his Dojang in Hamburg. The second reason is that Dan promotions are held on separate days from the normal promotions, which means that those of us who aren’t actually being promoted are not able to watch the Dan promotion take place.

This time however, my tiny club hosted the big event with black belts from all over Denmark, and even I as a white belt was allowed to watch the entire day unfold.
This in itself makes the day special but another reason was that it was the first promotion without our Master Wandy, who sadly passed away just recently. We all knew that he wouldn’t be among us for much longer and this is also the reason why we hosted the event. That way he could take part in his last promotion without having to travel all the way to Germany. Sadly he didn’t make it to the promotion but we know that he would have been incredibly proud to see this big event unfold in the club that he dedicated his life to.
Our Korean Grand Master Shin and his lovely wife also took part in a short memorial service and prayed for him. It was all very beautiful and I hope he knew how much we all cared.

A few of my main coaches were being promoted on that day. They originally wanted to wait but ended up joining the event because they knew that Wandy would have wanted them to, and they all did incredibly well.

It was so amazing to see them do their things and the hours just flew by as I saw them performing and fighting. There was a few injuries but it was all handled quickly and without any drama. I guess it was pretty much expected. I mean it is martial arts after all!
I felt incredibly proud as I was watching them all and I felt so motivated afterwards. I’m being trained by these awesome people. I WILL become one of these awesome people.
I arrived just before they had their first break and they immediately came over, when they saw me, and started to fill me in on what had happened so far, as well as made sure I could get a good seat in the crowd. These people were under such an immense pressure and they still made sure to take care of the rest of us. If that isn’t amazing then I don’t know what is.
I feel like my club members always take pride in taking care of others, being polite and being well balanced.

When the promotion ended we all sat down to eat dinner together. 140 people gathered in a big room, eating yummy food and just talking about everything and nothing.
After a few relaxing hours it was brought to our attention that the wife of Grand Master Shin, had made a huge amount of Kimchi and I was lucky enough to get a whole bucket! 아싸!

Guess who’s making 김치전 this weekend!

I got home super late and I was exhausted, but I would do it again if I had the chance. With my own (and very first) promotion coming up, I’m really happy that I got to experience this promotion and also that I got to leave with such an amount of motivation and inspiration.

I wasn’t able to get a lot of photos but here’s a short video if you would like to see a bit of what they did.
I was really impressed by this because they are doing different things based on their levels, and they still manage to stay completely focused on doing their own thing. Well done guys!

Posted in Personal, Rant, Selfstudy, taekwondo, Uncategorized

Pronunciation fears

I have been having a few fears related to pronunciation lately. I have always considered correct pronunciation as one of the most important things when speaking in a foreign language – I mean what is the point of knowing a bunch of grammar rules and fancy words, if nobody understands you when you try using them? I still have a lot to work on but I consider my pronunciation decent enough to get by without too many struggles. However after I started doing Taekwondo, I have been having some serious  issues and minor mental breakdowns.

Everyone in my club is Danish hence they all speak Korean with Danish accent. A very strong Danish accent. This isn’t really a problem in itself, however because everybody in the club (with me as the exception) has just about no knowledge about the Korean language itself, it becomes a problem. Everything is learned through Romanized Korean. This is the big issue because it makes the pronunciation way more complicated. Also the romanizations are usually based on English pronunciation which isn’t the same at the Danish one. When 장 is written as Jang, it only ‘works’ because of the English ‘J’ sound. With the Danish ‘J’ sound 장 suddenly become 양.  Because of that we have people saying both 장 and 양, and even 챵, even though they are all talking about the very same thing. New members without any Korean knowledge obviously struggle with these things, as they have no idea how to pronounce it correctly and they keep hearing the same word with a changing pronunciation.
It makes it really difficult for me at times too, when they tell me something very basic, but pronounce it so differently that I simply can’t recognize the words.

Also when I try to look up things at home, it sometimes causes quite the trouble. When I first joined the club, everybody was talking about 타이코 1양  and 타이코 2양. I tried looking this up when I got home so that I could practice and improve for the next session (Since I started out of the ‘new members season’ I was the only one who knew nothing. I wanted to improve fast in order to not slow everybody down. I thought my Korean skills would be an advantage but it didn’t quite end up that way.) but that turned out to be a bit more difficult than so. Why? Because 타이코 1양 is actually 태극 1장. Not. The. Same. At. All. I don’t even know how 태극 ended up being pronounced as 타이코!
These are the moments where I really hate the romanizations!

I’m also the only one in the club who pronounce Taekwondo as 태권도 and not 타이권도. Makes me feel like a real know-it-all nit-picky douche, haha!

A while ago some of the members were talking about the struggles they had in Germany. In Germany we have a Korean Grand Master who takes part in all of our belt promotions, and whenever he is the person to give out orders, nobody understands him, because he is pronouncing everything correctly. Ah the irony.. I face that very same problem. When asking a question about a certain kick or defending block, I pronounce it correctly and the coaches are struggling to understand what I’m talking about.

This leads me to my actual fear.. I love doing Taekwondo and I want to improve. I also love the Korean language and I find it hard to teach myself wrong or improper things. Until now I have been kinda blocking out all the names for the stands, blocks and so on, and completely been avoiding to say them out loud, which now means that I can’t really remember any of the names. This is something that I need to know in order to continue improving and obviously that puts me in quite the dilemma.

What if my usual Korean pronunciation starts to become bad or weird because I’m practicing it incorrectly during Taekwondo practice?
I don’t want that to happen. But I want to continue growing and improving in my Taekwondo journey..

I guess it’s no different from Konglish.. My English skills are not getting worse even though I pronounce words the Korean way. And I doesn’t confuse me either..
So what’s the difference? Maybe it’s because English feels like my native language and Korean is still so far from that.

In that case I guess the solution is to study harder.
Study Korean harder and study Taekwondo terminology harder.
What about you guys? Do you have any similar issues?
Any advice? Do share. 🙂