Studying for the Retest… Sucks!

Next Tuesday I have my speaking retest that covers the entirety of level 2, which means that during my vacation I have been studying instead of touristing or resting which is really what I would like to be doing. I mean let’s face it who really want to be studying during their vacation… Actually I have one friend who really, really likes studying and spends her weekends and vacation studying. But let’s just agree that she’s the exception. Now if I had to study for any of the other tests: reading, listening or grammar this wouldn’t be so difficult but studying for speaking alone is really hard I mean how do you even practice speaking alone?

Actually I haven’t really been working on my speaking perse since my biggest issue is remembering vocabulary I’ve been trying to work on that. Unfortunately I have yet to find what works for me and continue to simply write and write and re write the words and then forget them 10 minutes later it’s very frustrating. I see the word, and I know that I know what it is but I can’t remember it. The words that I do remember are the words I hear daily, or certain words that I’ve heard in dramas and have for some reason or another associated to a certain scene in that drama so I remember it. I try to use Anki (which is an app to help you learn and memorize words) but I’m terrible at actually using it daily which doesn’t make it as useful. I’ve googled how to memorize vocabulary more times than I care to admit and the same techniques keep coming up but I can’t seem to apply them since I have no imagination to come up with stories to associate to words…

I’ve asked a number of my friends how they go about memorizing words and they all either seem to have better memories than I do or don’t really know how they go about it. This problem has already caused me to fall behind quite a bit so I’ll have to find a solution quickly before it crushes me… Maybe some of you reading this have had experience with this and have suggestions?? I’m running out of places to look to find a solution…


Level 2: Review and grades…maybe

Level 1 was hard, I mean we all just started learning a new language so we started with the alphabet and how to write and all that, but I had already learned all the sounds and pronunciation before coming so it wasn’t that bad. At least in the beginning, you know , when that’s all we were learning; so maybe for the first week or so? After that we started getting into vocabulary and grammar but even then our first teacher in level 1 threw in some English words here and there and all the vocabulary was written on pieces of paper with a translation in English, Chinese and Japanese. Because I mean, at this point how else do you explain to a class full of people who all speak a different language what 사과 (apple) means, actually it also means apologize…

At some point, I’m not really sure when exactly but the paper with the translations disappeared and the grammar got that much more complicated. In our books there is always an English (Japanese or Chinese depending on which is your native language, if you speak another language I’m afraid you’re out of luck) explanations on the grammar patterns, but sometimes the translations are so bad I have no idea what they are trying to say. Sometimes the practice we go through in class is helpful for this, the teacher asks us each a question which we have to answer using that days grammar pattern, and sometimes that helps it click for me. And then other times I’m still completely clueless when I leave class, those days are depressing. Those days I ask some of my friends to explain it to me and so far every time I’ve managed to understand.

Between level 1 and level 2 though it feels like there was such a big gap, and from what I’ve heard from other students that gap is even bigger between level 2 and level 3. There are 6 levels but there are also three categories if you will: beginner (1-2), intermediate (3-4) and advanced (5-6). So whenever you jump from one category to the next the gap widens even more then the usual gap that already seems to exists between levels.

OK enough blabbering on… I’m sure you’re all wondering how I did on my exams, I know I was. In fact I had absolutely no idea how I did on my exams. OK that’s a lie, I felt like I didn’t get the grade I needed to pass on my reading and also felt like I completely messed up my speaking test and spouted some nonsensical sentence at my teacher on the first question. But apparently I didn’t do as badly as I thought. I passed, everything except speaking which I will have to retest for just before next term… Should make for a super exciting holiday filled with studying 😦

Exam season again

This is going to be short…

It’s exam season again, finals start tomorrow to be exact so I’ve some studying to do but I’ve been really quiet of late so I thought I’d at least post this. I do have a few things I want to write about like my trip to Nami Island and a possible upcoming trip to the DMZ so stay tuned for that.

And of course there will probably be a post exam post, though we don’t get our grade back until next Wednesday so you’ll have to stay in suspense for that one. I might do the Nami post after day 2 of exams on Monday though, that sounds like a pretty good plan.

OMG it’s been 12 days

I knew it had been a while since I posted…. I spoke to my parents earlier today and they mentioned that some people were enjoying reading my blog; that made me realize I hadn’t posted in a while. Ok so I guess I have a few updates then.

We had the song competition last week, and my class won 3rd place out of the 12 classes, yay! I’m not really sure what we were evaluated on (probably pronunciation and accuracy I guess??). Anyway we won so we all got a pretty blue Yonsei hand towel as a present. Surprisingly there wasn’t much drama in my class with the singing competition but some classes did and ended up having only a few people participate.

I had a class today, yes it’s Saturday! They asked us all who wanted to come help out at the language school 1-2 weeks ago and I gave my name since we would get the level 3 reading book for our participation (I like free things). At the time I didn’t really know what I was signing up for just that it would be 2 hours on a Saturday. Turns out we were to help future Korean language teachers, they practiced teaching us. It was basically the same thing we usually do in class in a shorter version and with many teachers. Worth it for the free book I think. But OMG the texts are so long in this book, I have no idea how I’ll be able to read these in level 3…

I recently looked at the calendar and realized that finals are in 2 weeks eeek! Guess I’ll have to get to studying if I want to pass. We have another conversation exam just prior to the exams that’s worth 20% of our grade and I’ll be working on that with my partner tomorrow.

So midterms…

As I mentioned in an earlier post we had midterms last week on Wed and Thurs, so we got our grades back on Fri. I’ll give you a hint, it didn’t go well… The way exams work at Yonsei is your grade is 50% midterms and 50% finals, except for a few other evaluations which are usually speaking which only count for that particular test. There are 4 exams: conversation 20% + speaking 80%, reading comprehension 90% + pronunciation 10% (reading out loud),  listening and writing (grammar).

Because of the way the grades are given you could fail the midterm and still end up passing if you get a high enough grade to compensate in the final, or the opposite fail the final if you have a high enough grade in the midterm to get a cumulative 60% in each of the skills. There is also the possibility of a retest after the final if you fail only one of the four skills. From what I’ve heard from people who have done that test, it’s cumulative and covers all the materials from the level; as opposed to the final which only covers material learned since the midterm. So really if you have to do the retest at the end it may end up being more difficult. If you fail the retest or fail more than one skill you have to redo the whole level.

In the week leading up to the exam I was really worried about not passing the listening test since I had done so poorly on the practice test so I started thinking about what I would do if I failed. Maybe I should have just thought positive instead but you know… Before I tell you how I did you should know that during level one my best skill was reading and my worst was listening.




So the results for level 2…. I failed reading! Reading of all things, and listening was my highest grade. I really can’t figure out how that happened! Anyway I didn’t fail miserably so I should be able to make up for it with the final, at least I hope so. I also didn’t do well on the speaking test but I passed at least. Now I have to figure out how to get better grades on the final exam which is typically much more difficult than the midterm….


Midterms next week

Here in Korea we’ve been on holiday since the end of September since it’s Chuseok (sort of like thanksgiving). I’ve known since the beginning of the semester that we were going to have this time off right before midterms. When the semester first started I thought this could be good or bad, either a lot of time to study or it ruins your time off. Since the vacation is almost over and I haven’t done much of anything (studying included) I guess neither of those applies.

Before our time off I was thinking of a few things I might want to do during this time. I thought I might do some hiking or visit a few places I haven’t gone to yet. And actually a few places had free entry during this time too. All in all though I didn’t do either of those things, now that I think about it I’m not really sure what I did during that time… The one thing I did do was go to the foreigner Chuseok party that was held near my place. I went with a friend and had a pretty good time, also won a gift certificate so that’s nice 🙂

I think I wrote about this before but level 2 is so much harder than level 1 was, and I barely passed level 1. On a good day I don’t think I understand any more than maybe 75% of what the teacher says in class, on a bad day it goes down to about 50%. I’ve resorted to recording the classes which often helps me when I do my homework and can’t remember how to integrate the grammar we learned that day. A few days ago I started studying, that is I decided that I would mainly work on my vocabulary for a few days since I think this will help with all 4 exams. I had a list of several hundred words so I started working on that. I’ve been doing OK I guess but keep forgetting some words even though I keep writing them over and over. I still have a long way to go and in all honesty have no idea how I will pass this exam….

I’ve been thinking about this exam way too much over the past few days, thinking I will most likely fail. It’s been keeping me up at night actually and it’s really annoying me. I needed somewhere to vent I suppose and this blog is a nice place to do that. I will keep studying up until the exam comes and hope that it will be enough. If it’s not then I’ll just have to figure out what to do when/if that time comes. Time to get back to studying I guess….

Another speaking test…

So it seems that at every level we have a speaking test that is worth 20% of our speaking grade. During level 1 we wrote a “story” and then had to memorize it and tell it in front of the class, it was actually easier that I thought it would be but still not easy. For level 2 we have a conversation with one of our classmates. There are 3 different topics and for each we had to write 8 sentences all the while using at least 4 of the grammar points we’d learned so far. We handed our copies in to the teacher and got them back corrected, now all that is left is to memorize it…

There are 3 topics: family introduction, table manners and planning a party. The third of those has to be done in 반말 or casual speech which we just finished learning. So 3 topics with 8 sentences each, we have to memorize 24 sentences, and we are not allowed to use cheat sheets at all (just like in level 1). On the day of the presentation the teacher will pick one of the 3 topics and that’s the one we have to do. We don’t know the topic until the day of the presentation so we have to memorize all 3 conversations. It’s hard, it’s really hard to memorize so much in Korean, I mean I think I would find this hard in English so doing it in Korean is even harder.

Tomorrow we have a cultural event for Hangeul day (which is next week), it’s the celebration of the creation of Korean writing. We have no class we are just going to see some shows and stuff, should be interesting. And then of course I have to make sure I remember all my lines for the speaking test on Thursday….