Tag Archive | TOPIK 중급

My Highs and Lows in Learning Korean

There are times when I feel so happy and “fulfilled” with my Korean. Like when I was able to successfully organize an event using only Korean. Or when I managed to have a decent, spontaneous and continuous conversation with Korean friends. Or when I can translate the things I read. Or when I can understand big chunks of my dramas or movies without realizing that my subtitles were turned off. Or even the simple things like recognizing a word I recently learned from something I read or heard. Just like a few days ago. I was watching a Korean movie in a cinema (during the Korean Film Fest) and I picked up 자세한 from the dialogue. 자세하다! 자세! I know that word! I just learned that from the TOPIK paper I was answering. I want to shout out loud that I know that freakin’ word!

But there are also times when I feel so frustrated it feels like (1) my efforts are going nowhere OR (2) that I will never ever improve OR (3) BOTH! And it’s usually something that will surface after a good “high”. Like last summer, just when I thought I was improving big time, I sat down in a drinking session with Korean friends and I ended up not understanding a thing they were saying. I barely talked that evening and just munched on the 안주 and drink all night but I was so tired afterwards because of my failed attempts of understanding the conversation. When will I be able to understand such kind of “free-conversation”?

And today, I am at my lowest perhaps. I spent hours each day for the past couple of weeks untangling TOPIK papers – learning new words and grammar points every day. Yet when I sat on our TOPIK review class today I barely understood anything from the 26th TOPIK paper! I highlighted words that I do not know and underlined all grammar points that are not familiar with me. Unknown words appeared one after the other until I almost highlighted the entire paragraph. As expected, I can’t understand anything. Our professor explains to us difficult words and grammar points but the thing is there are more words and grammar points on the material that I do not know so I still end up not understanding anything. I am also overwhelmed with the so many words I don’t know yet that even if words I have learned already appears, I can’t recognize them any longer. The fact that most of the members of the review class were really good since most of them have studied and stayed in Korea for at least a year doesn’t make it any better. It makes me feel all the more frustrated because they can understand more than what I can and they can express their thoughts verbally. I feel exasperated looking at my TOPIK papers. Will I’ll be able to learn all these things?

Times like this, I’d like to remind myself that a few years ago I can’t even read Hangeul; that a couple of years ago I can’t even introduce myself properly; that  last year I can’t even get more than 50 points in the vocabulary & grammar section of TOPIK.

Nonetheless, being lost in our review class and seeing my TOPIK papers almost covered in pink highlights makes me frustrated. I know I must work hard. Harder. But first, I need to get myself out of this 한국어 depression.

Unlocking Intermediate TOPIK Papers 2: Plus my newfound way to study grammar and vocabs

As I’ve mentioned on my previous post Unlocking Intermediate TOPIK Papers, I’ve changed my TOPIK review style and now I don’t just read the questions and correct answers and settle with the list of new grammar patterns and vocabs I encounter. I now search each item on Naver dictionary and read (and note down) many sample sentences per grammar pattern/vocab. And then I review them.

It’s not too long ago since I started doing this strategy and I’m terribly busy with school so I actually haven’t progressed a lot – as far as the number of pages of TOPIK exam is concerned (I’m just on the 6th page of my first paper!). But I did progress a lot! When I review the pages I have studied, I can perfectly understand everything now. Unlike before when all I can do is pinpoint the correct answers just because I have memorized what’s the correct answer. I also find the succeeding pages easier to answer because I have learned a lot from the previous pages/items.

And today, out of boredom (and probably missing my Suna Unnie) I discovered a little crazy idea. I thought why not try googling 김선아 and the new grammar pattern / vocab I’m learning.

And low and behold! News articles about Kim Sun Ah appeared on the search result one after another – with the new pattern/vocab I’m studying highlighted!  And what’s making it more fun is the fact that almost all of the articles (or at least the top 5 or so results) were articles I have opened/read before; or articles I’ve read translated in English on some fan sites; OR articles I have translated myself (or at least attempted to translate) for Suna Unnie’s English-speaking fans. It makes the recall easier!

I don’t have any worries that it will distract me either. Though I’m a big fan of Kim Sun Ah, long Korean articles scare me since I probably can’t understand more than half of it anyway. Plus I don’t really have to open the articles all the time because almost everything I need is already in the short excerpt appearing on the search result page.

Then, I thought why not do it on Kim Sun Ah’s dramas too? So, I compiled the scripts of my top 3 favorite Kim Sun Ah dramas into one html file (color-coded by drama) and open it on my browser and Ctrl+F my way to the grammar pattern/vocab I’m learning! I’ve been doing this for quite sometime – looking for words in Kim Sun Ah’s dramas, but only when I recall a particular scene where whatever I’m studying was used. And it’s quite time consuming to search one episode at a time. Ha! Why have I not thought of compiling it into one file before?

Anyway I’m glad with these two new strategies! And will definitely gonna stick with it – not only for TOPIK preparation!

*Urgh! Don’t know what’s wrong with me today, but I think I wrote quite sloppily on this post… probably due to tons of papers I’m trying to finish writing – all my writing skills (if any) seeped out of my system. But anyway, I’m just eager to share (to anyone who stumbles upon my blog, if there’s any) and hopefully can give ideas to other Korean learners looking for new learning strategies.

Unlocking Intermediate TOPIK Papers

I took the beginner TOPIK last 2010. Despite getting a grade 2, the intermediate TOPIK is still difficult for me. Unlike for the beginner TOPIK, I don’t have a textbook for the intermediate TOPIK. I borrowed one book before – KLPT Intermediate (and I liked it), but I think I’d rather go straight to the TOPIK papers instead. When I attempted to take the intermediate TOPIK last year, all I did was:

1.) answer the questions on my own

10% of the questions I understood perfectly; 40% of which are guesswork (relying heavily on context clues and the process of elimination); 50% of which were based purely on luck (♬ 어느 것을 고를까요? 알아 맞춰보세요. 딩동댕! ♬).

2.) check and mark the correct answers

3.) look for unfamiliar words in the dictionary and jot down the meaning.

4.) read the questions over and over (urgh!).

I think I end up not really learning anything. So this time I changed my TOPIK study style.

1.) Answer the questions on my own (still relying heavily on guesswork and luck O.o).

2.) Check and mark the correct answers.

3.) Go over each item and note the grammar patterns and words that I am not familiar with.

3.a) For unfamiliar words: I wrote them down, then search it on Naver Dictionary and now, I don’t just stop on checking the definition, but I also read and copy as many sample sentences as I deemed enough, and then write sentences on my own. And as I review the words on my notebook, I don’t just read the definition, but I also read the sentences I wrote and I try creating impromptu sentences using that word.

3.b) For unfamiliar grammar: I search the pattern first on Korean Grammar Database. I wrote down the explanation and the 2 or 3 sample sentences. Since Korean Grammar Database is not a textbook, there’s not much explanation about the grammar and the sample sentences are very limited. So, afterwards, I go to Naver Dictionary and search for the grammar pattern (and sometimes I pair it with words), then sentences that will appear on the search result. And I write them down and I also try creating sentences on my own. Sometimes I also freely google the patterns/words just to see how people use them on say news, or personal blogs, or twitter.

I’m learning a lot with this method and I find it easier to remember the words and grammar patterns. I even find it addicting to “unlock” those difficult sentences on the TOPIK exams! 🙂 I’m also loving Naver Dictionary more now.

*Nibbling on some chocolates to keep myself awake! Too sleepy today, I don’t know why… O.o

Cramming for TOPIK

Due to unexpected HEAVY load this semester, I didn’t get to prepare for the upcoming TOPIK. Nonetheless, as advised by my dear 선생님 I’m still gonna take it – for the sake of taking it. LOL

I’m not expecting – and not even wishing to pass the 조급 level 3.

So far I’ve only reviewed 2 pages of the grammar part of a previous exam. And has joined one review session completing one listening and listening to explanation on chosen numbers of the grammar part.

I feel bad because I realized that I really really wanted to prepare for it. But I really don’t have time either…

But during the one and only review session that I attended, I was so happy. There were items that I get to answer correctly because of words, expressions and grammar I learned while watching my current drama addiction, Scent Of A Woman. There were also new words that I learned during the review that I have encountered on the drama as well. And it does makes me feel so excited!

I know one week wouldn’t make much of a difference. I’m sure I won’t pass (though I passed the listening part during our review class – but I swear I just guessed most of it). But I’ll try to learn as many as I can this week. I borrowed a book (KLPT Topik 대비서 – 중급) that I’ll be “browsing”. But I’ll be taking a copy of it because I find it a really fun book to read and study. It’s my first time to study a Korean book without any English (apart from the few grammar explanations).

I’m so excited and so happy. I don’t know why Korean makes me feel this way.

First attempt at 중급 TOPIK

So, I don’t have time to study Sogang Online Lessons throughly and the date for the next TOPIK is getting nearer and nearer each day. So I decided that even if I haven’t started the intermediate lessons, I’ll start completing TOPIK papers – slooooowly.

It is way difficult for my current level. And not being able to comprehend even the first question scares me. But when I found the courage to work on it, I realized it’s not that bad after all. Yes it was difficult. And I have to check every other word on the dictionary. Some grammar patterns are either new for me, or confusing. But I didn’t realize that answering and studying it can be so much fun! Especially when I encounter lots of words from dramas I’m watching, or ‘chatting’ with fellow Kim Sun-Ah fans in Facebook. It excites me and it makes me happy. It can even make me forget that what I’m studying is actually difficult.

Here are some of the words that I learned/recognized that makes me happy.

짧은 글은 작가의 마음을 잘 표현하고 있다.

  • (On Air) 서 작가님!


  • (City Hall) 조국: 상상해 봐요.

반드시, 소원

  • (My Name Is Kim Sam Soon 소설) 삼순: 엄마! 평생소원이야! 나, 이것만은 올해 반드시, 절대로, 꼭 해야겠어!”


  • (My Name Is Kim Sam Soon) 삼순: 내 수준에 맞춰서 간단하게 말 해.


  • (random dramas) 어머나! 갑작이야!!!


  • (Year-end drama awards) 연기 대상

점차 – 점점

  • (두근두근) 특별한 나만의 님으로 설렘이가득찬 선물로점점 다가서는 그대를어쩜 좋아요

마침 – 마침표

  • (City Hall) 고해: 신미래 조국이란 남자 인생에 그저 쉼표도 뿐이예요. 마침표가 아니라.
  • 미래: 전 그 사람에게 마침표도 아니지만, 쉼표도 아닙니다.

소방수 – 소방관

  • (Secret Garden) 길라임의 아버지


  • (Facebook) 아유: 저도 코끼리 타보고 싶어요…^^
  • 디야: 저는 싫아해요… 무서워요. ㅠㅠ 선아언니도 아유언니도 진짜 용감해요. ^^
  • 아유: 디야… 겁이 많구나…

조언 – 상담

  • (City Hall) 미래: 미녀 상담원 항시 됩니다.


  • (My Name Is Kim Sam Soon) 삼순: 다른 patissier 구하세요.


  • (Secret Garden ost) 왜 내 눈 앞에 나타나


  • (Secret Garden) 거품처럼 사라져주겠다


  • (City Hall) 미래: 인주 시민도 당신도 나 포기 못해요.

개나리, 진달래

  • (City Hall) 미래: 봄에는 꽃이 피우죠. 개나리 진달래 기분이구요.

I never thought that studying Intermediate TOPIK can be this fun!!! Bring it on!