Trailblazer – Topik

Yes I seem to be a trailblazer when it comes to the Topik test in chicagoland area.  A few years ago on my first attempt at taking the Topik exam I was the only adult sitting in a classroom filled with kids.  They were loud,young and I seemed to be so old at the time being the only adult taking the Topik exam.

Today there were a total of 5 adults in the room where I took the exam along with 3 girls that were somewhere in the teenage years and only 2 ‘kids’.  Wow what a difference.  It was not expected as I thought I would be the only non-korean there but it was nice seeing a few other adults taking the exam.

So some points I wanted to note while still in my memory to record any things I will have to work on in the future.

  1. So this was the first time taking the topik exam for me since the new format was laid out I believe it was in 2014 or 2015.  There was no written part this time.
  2. They said you had to be there at 9:10 and the listening test would begin at 9:40am.  I left my phone in my vehicle but others had to hand their phones to the teacher running the exams.  I messed up on entering my registration number on the exam form and had to ask for white out and then had to ask them how to use the little white out device they gave me.  Funny I started off on such a good footing!
  3. Exam starts on time at 9:40 and it was a good start.  I actually thought after the first 10 questions I have this down and will pass no problem.  Once we started to get to the longer parts of the listening test it was beginning to get harder.  One point would be they asked that you write your answers on the test booklet and not the ‘exam’ sheet so if there was any mistakes you didn’t have to ask for that white out device.  Later after the listening test you were to go back and fill in the exam sheet.  This I will have to look at next time because you didn’t get any time after the listening test to fill it in.  They immediately went to the written test and I would spend the last 5 minutes of the whole exam filling in the answers from the listening section.
  4. I think I would have been better just filling in the answers for maybe the first 20  questions to save time in the back end of the exam.   Once we got to around question 25 or so it turned out that they were actually on question 29!!!!!  The one teacher told one of the younger boys we were on question 29 and that meant you had to turn to the next page.  The little girl in front of me then also turned the page with the adult next to her doing the same thing.  I had too also and was like what the heck just happened here!!!  Half the class had messed up and we were on question as far back as 3 to 4 questions then where we actually were.  I spent a bit too much time trying to figure out what just happened but wanted to record this down so in practicing for the exam next time I have a better understanding of what happened and don’t make the same mistake again.  I wasn’t the only one who made the mistake but basically that meant I took guesses at say the last 4 to 6 questions.  That was not good!
  5. No time after the listening test so we go write into the written test at 10:20am.  So that leaves one hour with the test finishing at 11:20am.  Again the first 10 questions or so of the written test were easy.  Then you start to get into the ‘paragraph’ long written questions.  And also the section where you had to pick the answer that was incorrect out of all the other answers which were correct.  This slowed me down ALOT!!!  I have to work on this.  Time management is so important for this section as I hit the 11:00 am mark and still had so much to do.  Each one of these questions was taking alot out of me and I wanted to finish at 11:15 to then go back and fill in all the answers to the listening test.
  6. Distractions were a problem after 11:00am.  I think the little girl in front of me either gave up or was really good and finished early.  The 2 teachers in the room came around and examined our id and registration number during this.  The person to my left finished ‘early’.  Outside they had a bunch of kids doing some exercise and were very loud.  Concentration during this was becoming a big problem for me.
  7. I felt the pressure and my back started hurting.  Once I saw the clock go past 11:10 I was like ok I’m in trouble.  These are taking too long.  I basically took my best guesses on at least the last 6 questions.  Then at 11:15 I filled out the listening section.
  8. I happened to be oncall at work during this test but was able to get a team mate to cover for me for the 3 hours of the test.  Funny but it was the worst time to have my oncall rotation at work on the same weekend as the Topik test.
  9. I feel without knowing the results of this test which will take about a month to get the results that I did better on my very first Topik exam than this one.  The written questions was a harder section in my opinion than the listening section which I consider my listening to be a weaker point than reading.
  10. Work still needs to be done.  I should be able to pass this Topik level by now and I even worked with Darakwon book ‘Topik Master’ which lays out previous exams in the exact same layout as today’s test.  The time management of the written test though was a big player in today’s exam and something I will have to work on in the future.  When taking the practice tests I did not hold myself to a time table when doing so even though I did well enough to pass the exams during this ‘practice’ when doing it under the actual clock I feel I barely got through the last half of the written test without just guessing alot.  Needs alot of attention on this point.

I am so glad I did everything today to at least get back on the horse so to speak and take the exam.  Going through all the motions and what I feel I will come back next year alot stronger.  Even if I somehow passed this year I am still going to try to take the Topik every year till I pass the last one.  If next year is 3 and 4 that’s cool but if I have to conquer 1 and 2 next year because I fell short this year I will do it.



Topik – April 20th

So some computer problems and life I guess and I see I have not updated in awhile this blog.  Korean learning still went on though and the next attempt at Topik is coming up very soon.

Korean class on italki tonight and watching some new korean drama on  One of the things that bothered me was closing shop.  I had just renewed last year and a week after you went to the website and it say’s it had closed.  I did end up getting a refund but I really had liked dramafever and it worked well with my Apple TV.

Viki just for some reason seems to have less or should I say not the korean drama’s I want to watch so I end up watching korean dramas from other sites but that it requires watching on your computer and not my big screen tv.

Nothing exciting to report at the moment.  Till next update.

Memrise – One solid month

So using memrise all month…no breaks…every day has been interesting.  The app on the phone is useless and I wish they would take feedback I see in their forums seriously.  They want you to pay for this product which I would do no problem but they doing the opposite and I see so many users in their forum wishing another company would come in and replace them.

I wake up at approximately 4:30 am everyday now.  Even on my days off I tend to wake up still around 5 am.  Before I leave for work I make sure to hit the streaks of each of the memrise courses I’m going through including the main one for Talk to me in korean.  Since I’m in deep now I have hundreds of ‘reps’ as I call them for the memrise courses.  It’s not uncommon to see 60-70 waiting for me for the TTMIK memrise course alone.  I do not want any excuses though so I spend at least an hour in the morning doing them before I leave for work.

It doesn’t stop there.  There’s alot more rep’s waiting for me when I get home and I’ll do them at various times before I go to bed.  I also do the ‘make sure it shows 0 rep’s beofore you go to sleep’ thing.

  1.  I could come up with some other alternatives to do ‘reps’ since I don’t like their phone app but basically I just do them on my main computer at home.
  2. One person created TTMIK memrise course so there are mistakes and some wishes I had for the courses in memrise.  He should get a medal for doing all this work which he said took 2 years !!!!!!
  3. If there was a easy way to add a meme for when the question showed alot of problems could be solved that I have encountered.  Things like mistakes or places where you might have to make sure ‘우리’ is in your answer otherwise you get it wrong would be so helpful!!!  Object marks are needed in some answers but not others, sometimes you should be using a specific verb form but you use a different one,  sometimes you have to put it in the format the author of the course created it and other answers you have the flexibility of not putting ‘저는’ to start your answer off when your going to refer to yourself.
  4. Oh how it would be great TTMIK crew worked with this gentleman that created the memrise course or created another one.
  5. I find SRS training extremely helpful in getting the knowledge to go deeper and deeper into your brain.  It’s a lot of work though going through a course like this because when you don’t get the ‘answer’ just right sometimes …it’s wrong so that means you get it again much sooner and those items start to pile up waiting for you.

I made it through one whole month so here’s to Sept and another month of memrise reps.  Just in terms of making me do ‘something’ everyday with korean though it’s been great.  I’m addicted to all the orange checks on the courses and the streaks that I have kept going all month.


I even added a picture from a korean movie I like to my profile on memrise.  Whatever you can do to keep the studying going …..keep it up!


Korean Studying – 5

5 – ‘I don’t really think about a structure when I post on this blog’

Ok last of this series of posts.  I simply put what I feel or did at any particular time on this blog to simply record what I did.  It’s been going on since 2010 and I still keep going with it.  I could probably think better and plan better blog posts but it’s really just for me as a form to record my progress for myself and if anybody finds anything useful than even better.

I can see from stats that people visit my blog on a regular basis and I could probably structure things better or make posts more interesting but this blog is really just a moment in time for me to write down my journey so one day when I’m fluent in Korean I can look back at my own posts and the many steps I have taken to get there.

I’ve seen so many blogs of other korean language learners disappear through the years but even though it’s not at the level I would like to be at in 2018 this blog continues on with my record of my own korean language learning journey.

Maybe one day a youtube channel….lol

Korean Studying – 4

4 – ‘Unsure of what levels would be considered beginner, intermidate or advanced’

Sure there’s stuff out there to tell you that but again that doesn’t mean I really looked at it or maybe even find it.  Now that I’m going to settle on ‘korean grammar in use’ series of textbooks I can see the exact grammar points for each TOPIK level.  I’ve had the beginner book for years but barely got past the first few chapters.

Now with one of my italki teachers we have the list of grammar points that are considered TOPIK 1 and starting to go over the ones I’m weak in or could not even remember (maybe I studied them in the past but don’t remember).  We went through each one and rated if I knew them or weak in them.  There’s alot.

Again there are a host of techniques and methods but I’m looking at if I don’t know all the grammar points for say TOPIK level 1 why am I studying levels that are in the intermediate or advanced levels.  When we would go over some points or exercises at the beginner level that I couldn’t handle it’s like wait.  I need a strong foundation before I get into the deeper part of the pool.  I have yet to really develop that foundation and I have to be self critical in reality when it comes to what I have done up to this point and the actual level where I am at today.

Solid beginner level foundation is my goal with this point.

Korean Studying – 3

3 – ‘Limited Accountability’

Ok so I made the investment to finding tutors back I think in fall of 2016.  italki is great to find different tutors and a godsend in terms of other methods which someone may not have available in their geographic area.  I can go on about trying to find ‘official’ course to attend and I probably wrote about some in past posts but italki and skype (or google handouts, zoom, whatever app the tutor takes) have been fantastic!

I’ve tried out a number of the teachers on italki and settled on 2 that I felt would be helpful to me.  Of course as I was worried about I ended up losing both teachers due to different reasons and now I once again have settled on 2 others.  I’m a working adult so it’s basically a investment that I look at as.  But again you start off with 2 different people and I’m a unique student for them to figure out exactly where I am in my korean language learning journey.

They have been super nice and I shared to them my new goal and have been it known that I need to hit this basic level and get that under my belt.  Looking at another resource that I have revisited is the Korean Grammar in Use book series.  They break the levels of the TOPIK with grammar points covered in each level.  I went through it with my one italki teacher and found I was very weak still on a number of grammar points and without a plan seemed to be jumping around all over the place learning things when I couldn’t even do so many grammar points at what is considered the ‘beginner’ level.

So we are going to focus on these lessons from this series till I have it down for next year.  I am very good at showing up for class and always on time for class but one of the problems is the study after class that I have not been so diligent on doing.  Well I shared my thoughts and actually spent one whole class talking with each teacher on my progress and goals.  It was an eye opener to myself personally after all these years that was so weak on grammar points I should have done by now!  I think you have to spend some class time (even though you end up paying for it) giving your teacher enough background to let them know what you’ve been through in your language learning journey especially when your an adult like myself that have taken, tried and done so many things along this korean language learning journey.

I show up for classes 3 times a week, I have to invest this money in myself and try to make sure I use this as a one important source of accountability for what I’m trying to do.


Korean Studying – 2

2 – ‘ I’ve not really ever created any goals’.

Sure yes I have at times said this or that and did this or that but sticking with it for the long term has been a problem of mine.  Ok so looking at the TOPIK again is my new goal.  Why?  Well I’m looking at it like I do for a certification test for computers that I did this year with a friend of mine and you plan on the test and then study like crazy to pass.  Same thing here but on a larger scale of course.  In Chicago there’s only 1 time a year to take the TOPIK and that’s every April.

Back in 2013 I on a whim decided to sign up that year for the TOPIK.  It was for level’s one and two and I didn’t pass but I wanted to see what it was like.  As more and more resources are available on the internet you can actually see what tests are like and find past tests for study help out there.  I did none of that in 2013 but I can at least say I tried it and have the experience of taking it one time all ready.  Sign up is in beginning of next year and that is going to be my new major milestone goal.  Pass at least TOPIK 1 which has now changed since the last time I took it.  TOPIK 1 is level’s 1 and 2 and from what I can read does not include any writing portion on the test.  If I can keep this plan going I should be able to pass this level I would think without a problem.  Again we’ll see how the next 7-8 months go.