which books do you use

My Korean Bookshelf

Sorry about the lack of posts for the last 10 days. I hate not updating but I was working or CIIS and just all around busy being a teacher.


I decided to make this video about my Korean bookshelf. Until today I didn’t realize how many Korean books I have and how I need to stop dreaming about buying more. Many people are always so curious about what books other people use to learn Korean and here are all of mine. I haven’t used them all and I’ve definitely wasted money on more than a couple but overall, I’m happy with 95% of my Korean book purchases and having all of them have greatly contributed to improving my Korean ability!

Which books do you use to study?




p.s. There are 10 days left until the exam grades are announced. 10 days. I’m “excited” now, but I’ll be feeling dread leading up to it.



Good explanation for particles 은/는, 이/가 and 을/를

I understand the use of the object marker 을/를 but since I first started studying Korean, I could never understand the difference between 은/는 and 이/가. I stumbled across this explanation of it on Lang-8 while milling around.This is the best explanation so far that I’ve seen for it. While I’m still a little fuzzy on using them in the same sentence, this definitely helps me understand them separately. It was written by audioslave on Lang-8. You can find the original here.

을/를 are object markers. They go after the object of the sentence 
피자를 먹었어요. I ate pizza. 
In this sentence, the noun “pizza” is the object of the verb, so we use the object marker 를. 

은/는 are topic markers. They go after the topic of the sentence. 
나는 행복해요. I am happy. 
In this sentence, “I” am the /topic of the sentence, so we use the topic marker 는. 

이/가 are subject markers. They go after the subject of the sentence. 
사과가 너무 비싸요. Apples are very expensive. 

This is where it becomes a little tricky. You may have noticed that 이/가 & 은/는 are similar in usage. This is true. Context is important to knowing which one to use (for sentences with no context, like, on an exam or something, ask your teacher what they prefer. my professor told us to use 은/는 on exams when there’s no context, but others may want something else). The best way I can describe the difference between the two is to compare it to English. 

If I am telling a story in English, I introduce something to the story by using “a/an.” This is similar to 이/가. After I’ve introduced the subject, I can continue to talk about it using “the” (it becomes the topic of conversation). This is similar to 은/는. If I want to change the topic, I introduce something new using “a/an” again. For example: 

“There was [a] woman.” (woman = subject.) 
“[The] woman had long hair.” (woman = topic.) 
“[The] woman had [a] best friend.” (woman = topic, best friend = new subject; its possible to have multiple subjects and topics within one sentence) 
“[The] best friend… (best friend = subject) 

A good way to check if you’ve used the particles correctly is to remember that nouns followed by 을/를 always have an ACTION VERB at the end of the sentence. The nouns followed by 은/는 (or 이/가) will have an ADJECTIVE (or 이다/아니다 & 있다/없다) at the end of the sentence. 

Hope this helps! <3


If you understand the use of ‘a/an’ versus ‘the’ in English, this could definitely help you in understanding the use of these four particles. I’m hope it benefits you as much as it did me.




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Knee deep in advanced grammar and it has me thinking

Or is ankle deep? I’m only just now starting the third chapter.

So far, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. For some reason I was under the impression that “advanced” anything would just be difficult. I’ve only learned a total of 8 grammar points in the last few days and if anything, I find that Korean is getting easier. Not because Korean is an easy language for a native English speaker to learn, but because I’ve exposed my brain to Korean for so long that it was bound to feel easier at some point, right?

Then something hit me. Beginner’s grammar is, of course, easy. Intermediate grammar is a bit more complex, but the grammar points themselves aren’t difficult to comprehend, so why would advanced grammar be any different? When I finished my intimidate level Darakwon book last year and opened up my first intermediate level reading, I struggled. Not because I didn’t know the words, not because I didn’t know the grammar, but because I wasn’t able to fully understand the sentences in front of me. Korean, just like English, has complex sentences that use dependent clauses, independent clauses, relative clauses etc which I found difficult to read.

Will I encounter the same problem once I learn advanced grammar?

This is what I’ve been thinking about these past few days. I would like to be an advanced student of Korean after finishing this book, however my writing ability, and reading ability likely are not up to par. So, to fix this, I’ve decided to hire a tutor. I plan on meeting with this tutor only a few hours a week to help me with my writing (I’m currently only focusing on writing to the intermediate level since I still need to learn advanced grammar) and my my reading. You might be wondering, “What about listening and speaking?”. To me, these are less important because I’ve always been a visual learner so my listening and speaking abilities have always been affect by my writing and reading abilities.

I once read that a language can only be taught up to a certain point. While most of a language can be explained and summarized nicely in a book and given to those who aim to learn it, a large chunk of it remains highly ambiguous. I felt this ambiguity when I crossed the threshold from beginner’s reading to intermediate. Without black and white “rules” my writing and reading abilities got better, but they aren’t as good as I’d like them to be.

For the past few months everything that I read or hear in English automatically gets translated to Korean in my head. I’m confident in the accuracy of these translates about 75% of the time. The other 25% of the time, my brain knows it has the information there to translate it, but doesn’t know exactly how the sentence would work. I’m stuck in the awkward phase of language learning, if there is such a thing. Language puberty anyone?



The Topik intermediate 34th test is already up!

I can’t look at it. I refuse to download it. I will be kicking myself if I find out now which answers I got wrong. I feel like I did well, and I want to maintain that sentiment for a while. I have to wait 5 weeks for the results and I plan on feeling like I did well up until that point. If I didn’t do as well as I thought, then so be it. But for right now I think I deserve that high. The test was just yesterday and I prepared so much. Nothing would be more defeating than to realize I blew it.



21 days until Topik 34

Last night I finished all of the writing section’s “fill in the blank” portions and despite understanding the majority of the reading passages, still failed at it. I’m starting to think that part is just over my head. Not only will I be timed while taking the grammar/vocabulary and writing together, but I will have to also write a 400-600 character essays, so I’m coming to the conclusion that I just need to worry about that part a little less.

As of right now, I have all of the tests (17-33) finished and corrected in every section. I have all the words I don’t know underlined and all the grammar I’m unsure about marked. Now I just have to review it. This morning I was very slow to start despite having woke up at 8am with 5 hours left before I have anything to do. I spent about 3 hours procrastinating so far. I took my dog on a much longer walk than usual and then I rested my eyes in the bed for about 30 minutes and then I read around the internet for a couple hours or so. I’v managed to do anything besides review my tests.

About 20 minutes ago I decided to start reviewing the vocabulary in the reading section by reading the passages again as it is easier to remember words when they have context. Then it struck me: I really don’t feel like doing this. I really don’t feel like reviewing. I don’t feel like studying Korean. I don’t feel like doing anything.

As I mentioned before, I started studying for the Topik Intermediate in January of 2013. I studied for it all year. However, I had quite a few breaks in there. Out of the 12 months that made up 2013, I probably spent a combined 4 or so not doing anything related to Korean. I can study diligently for a couple of months (damn near daily) and then I hit a snag and need to take like a 2-3 week break. So far this year I haven’t taken one. For the past 3 months I’ve been studying Korean daily. Sure I had a couple “fuck this I’m catching up on my TV shows” days, but they were quite sparse compared to what I’m used to.

So now, I find my brain fried. It’s filled up completely and just tired of Korean. Studying for the Topik has taken a lot of joy out of learning Korean. Even though I’ve taken 17 practice tests, spend probably over a hundred hours studying for this test, I still don’t feel like I will do well. This isn’t me being pessimistic either. I look at the reading section and all of the words I don’t know. I look at all the questions I consistently got wrong and how most of my grades have been between 50% and 80% overall (in every section) and I find myself worrying. One would think that because I’ve prepared so much, I am sure to get at least an 80% overall on the exam, but I seriously don’t know. How can you truly prepare for a test when you don’t know exactly what will be on it?

What if I studied those thousands of words for nothing? What if there are thousands of new words I don’t know on the new Topik and I fail because of that? What if the style of this exam is (for some bizarre reason) different than all the ones I’ve studied?

It’s making my head spin. I have 21 days left. 21 days to get a handle on 17 tests worth of words and grammar. 21 days left to improve my listening to the point where I can understand it 100% clearly. 21 days left to study daily and not slack off. 21 days to see if my hard work has paid off.

21 fucking days…and that’s it.

And due to the Topik format changing drastically after the 34th exam, not getting a level 4 on this exam is not an option. I think I’d stop studying Korean if I knew I had to go from beginner’s grammar to intermediate/advanced all smashed into one. It just wouldn’t be worth it anymore.

I’m not excited to take the Topik, but nor am I dreading it. I find myself just wanting to get it over with. Wanting to open up the test booklet and skim the questions to see if I could even do well on the test. The Topik as become the equivalent of a shot. I don’t fear them but the anticipation of one makes you just want to get it over with so you can go on about your day. Regardless of the outcome of the exam, I just want it to be April 21st, 2014 so that I can be on the other side of the test.



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