It finally happened…
My listening skills have gotten better. I was finishing up my last 3 listening portion exams and half way through exam 30’s listening questions, I realized I understood 95% of the conversations with ease. On parts that I missed information (questions 20-30) I listened a bit more closely to the second reading and I was able to figure out the missed part. I feel like developing a skill in is kind of like losing weight. You can lose 5 pounds and feel the same, but the moment you’ve lost 20 pounds, you really feel the loss. I’m sure this whole time my listening was getting better but I didn’t directly feel it so it had me worried.
The only problem I am encountering now is sometimes selecting the incorrect answer. Before, when I didn’t fully understand the listening tracks I would try to listen for one or two words or pharses that pointed to one answer over the others. This was always hit and miss. However, now that I do understand the tracks I find myself sometimes trying to decide between answers because at least 2 of the answer choices will be brought up in the listening and I have to determine which one was actually talked about directly while the other was just mentioned in passing. Questions 27 and 28 always do this to me. Not only do you have to decide what it is about, you also have to figure out what the responses are considered. Is he disagreeing strongly? Or is he carefully disagreeing with her option? Sometimes, I can’t tell. I think this is where it become obvious that Korean culture is very well laced into the Topik exam. In the US a disagreement is a disagreement. While you can do so strongly or softly, most of the time it’s pretty neutral and no distinguishment is made.
I’m slowly learning to think “How would a Korean perceive this?” because sometimes it boils down to that. Most of the conversations in the listening portion seem very neutral to me. Like the person doesn’t feel this way or that way. However, I’ve started to realize that Koreans often convey their emotion in their speech rather their tone. I listened again and I realized the words they chose to use determined their feelings whereas in English generally tone of voice and facial emotion would convey it.
The next step after this is doing the “fill in the grammar” part of the writing exam. I absolutely suck at this but with it being worth 16-18 points I need to get at least 10 points from that portion. I have 20 days left before the test and I still feel unprepared despite preparing like hell. I just can’t wait for it to be over.