advanced korean

fail or pass charm

Making Progress with Advanced Grammar and Topik 34th Results

So it has been a 10 day mini vacation in between getting burned out from advanced grammar to finally re-opening the book up again. Thankfully I was able to make it through about 6 or 7 grammar points yesterday with very relative ease. I feel like it definitely added a little bit more motivation to get finished before the end of June. So far I’ve made it through about 32 of the 83(?) grammar points of the book. I wanted to make it to the 40th grammar point in the book yesterday but I felt my brain getting a bit bored and preoccupied so I decided to just be happy with what I did yesterday.

Today is Sunday and I have to work on my essay writing video as well as go to work for a few hours so while I am hoping to get in a few hours of advanced Korean tonight, it may not be in the cards. I’ve been so busy working on things and teaching that I keep on forgetting that the days until the Topik results are announced are numbered. It’s Sunday today, and the exam grades will be announced on Friday of this week.

How crazy is that?

I was looking online at past exam grade announcements and noticed that all the past exams were announced within a 3 week period but this exam was announced in a 5 week period. I am going to go out on a limb and say it is because they had much higher numbers of people taking this exam compared to the past ones because it would be the last one before the format change? I was talking with my boss about my grade and were both certain I did well. I want to get crazy and say I did *really* well, but nothing would be a bigger shot to the ego than to click enter on the Topik site only to discover that I failed it.

If you read my Topik experience post you will know that I finished early and found the test overall quite easy. A breeze even. Now I’m kicking myself for being so confident. Anything could happen, right? Anyone who knows me knows that I am a “worse case scenario” preparer to the fullest degree so I’m sure Friday morning I will be wearing my “prepare yourself for failure” cap. I will be winching at the screen with my eyes nearly closed as I peak at the score. All I really care about is seeing level 4 합격! in the corner of the screen. Then after throwing some cold water on my face, I’ll likely re-open the tab to see the breakdown of my score.

I’d like to get an 85% overall with nothing lower than a 75-80% in every section. I worked ridiculously hard for that grade so I think my expectations are definitely reasonable. Despite having the 34th test in my Topik One app, I’ve not ventured one wink at it. To me, doing so is a curse. I know that a few people have already checked and ball parked their score, but I know I will give myself like 90% right (even if I got some wrong) and it’s already to late to check anyway. So now the true waiting game begins.




My Korean Notebooks

To date, I have 4 notebooks for Korean. I started my notebook collection 1.5 years ago when I decided to really start studying Korean. I keep notebooks with all the information in it because I like to have things in one place rather than spread across many books.


My main notebook is my Korean grammar notebook. It is by far the largest notebook that I have. It has 400 pages in it. This notebook includes all of the grammar I have learned from the beginning to end. When you open it up to the first page, it starts with 은/는 and ends currently at (느)ㄴ 답시고. So right now I have about 255 grammar points in one place so that I can review at any time. I write down the grammar point, highlight it, then the explanation and all of its conjugation form. Then I write down all the practice problems and answers. Despite having several Korean books, I’ve never written in any of them as I remember more when I write it all down. Here are so more photos from inside my grammar book:

My notebook index. Its handwritten. It goes for 400 pages so I can easily find stuff. 

This is an inside page of my notebook.

Notice my handwritten numbers and highlighted grammar and practice problems. I probably could have saved so time had I just written stuff in the Darakwon books, but I like it this way.



Next up is my vocabulary book…..



This is my second favorite book for Korean. I’ve written nearly 4000 or so words in this book. Many people seem to discourage writing words down in a list and memorizing them that way because many people think that reading them in context is better. I agree, it’s easier to recall them in context, however, there are many words I’ve been able to learn long before ever reading them in context anywhere. A while ago I bought a vocabulary book with 3500 words in it and learned all of the parts of the body (inside and out) which wouldn’t come up in reading until the advanced level. Also, I can just carry this around if I want to review words rather than all the readings that include them. Here is a shot from my vocabulary book:

This a a page from the beginning part of my vocabulary book. 

I usually write down all of the words in groups. I number them to keep track of how many words or in a group and how many I study a day. I used to memorize about 50 or so a day when I was studying for the intermediate Topik.

20140430_102227Next in line there is my writing notebook…



Many people struggle with Korean writing and before the test I decided it was a good idea to start practicing writing. I put all of my writings in one notebook so that I could review them at anytime or look up sentence patterns and grammar I’d previously written but couldn’t remember well. I think that anyone studying Korean seriously should have a writing-only notebook. I love being able too look back on the things I’ve written and to see how far my writing abilities have come. Here is the inside:

This is a previous essay I’ve written. 

I usually write the essay in English. Then, I translate it into Korean. Then I have my tutor look at it and correct it. I re-write the entire essay and include all of the corrections in read so I can visually see what I did wrong and how many mistakes there were.



My final notebook is my Korean grammar practice book.



I started this book a long time ago. When I first started reviewing the beginner’s Darakwon book, I wanted to make sure I knew how to use all of the grammar points in that book correctly. So I started a new notebook in which I would just make practice sentences for every type of grammar conjugation. This helped me to practice grammar which helped me to remember them.


So those are my 4 notebooks. I like to keep everything Korean related in its own separate place so that I can focus on each part at one time. If I did combine them, I think it would be very hard to find stuff without leafing through half of the notebook. Also, if I want to practice writing and I need to look up the correct form of a grammar point I can do it easily with another book rather than trying to do it within the same. To some people, 4 notebooks might seem like a lot, but it sure beats the 6 books that I found all of this information in.

How do you keep track of your Korean studying?




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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?



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