I got distracted from this goal (new baby!) but I’m trying to get back to it. My original goal was to learn 5,000 flash cards, but now I’m thinking I’ll need a better measure of my success. Advanced-level (Level 5) TOPIK would be a great goal, but I wonder how much effort it will be to get to that level. Perhaps I should aim for Level 4 (high-intermediate), which I feel is much more realistic.
PS. I looked into descriptions of the difference between Level 4 and Level 5:
4th Grade: Comprehension of news articles, general social issues and abstract topics with accuracy and fluency. Comprehension of Korean social and cultural contents relying on essential idioms and understanding of representative aspects of Korean culture.
5th Grade: High fluency in using the Korean language in professional research or work. Understanding and discussing less unfamiliar topics in politics, economics and other fields. Usage of appropriate expressions, distinguishing formal and informal, written and spoken, by context.
This makes me feel better! Looking at old tests, I feel like I can pass Level 4 with just a little effort, and really Level 4 is probably the level I need for now (no need for Level 5 until I actual go work in Korea, if that actually happens!). Level 5 looks quite, quite difficult.
I bought a pack of 240 index cards, which messes up my count. In any case, this latest round of 240 cards really took a long time! It’s because my study has become much less vocabulary-focused and much more well rounded. Despite only making only 240 new flash cards in the last 6 months, I’ve actually learned quite a bit! My writing has improved leaps and bounds, and my listening comprehension is getting better as well. My speaking opportunities, however, are a little limited, and I’m still a little shy about that. But little by little….
In any case, it may take a long time to get to my goal of 5,000. I’m no longer driven by this goal, however, as I’m learning in a lot of other ways right now. At this rate, by the time I actually get to 5,000, I should be pretty close to fluent!
Favorite new phrase: 겹치는 친구 = Mutual friend (literally, overlapping friend)
One more word about my progress—the type of vocabulary I’m learning is different now. Some words are technical enough that a single English word suffices for a translation (결승선=”finish line”). Others are sufficiently nuanced that I need to write a bunch of examples on the flash card describing how to use the word/phrase (최소=minimum). Also, I’ve gotten a lot more choosy about which hanja I bother to write. I am better at detecting the obscure hanja from the more important ones. So even though the flash cards take a little longer now to write out than they used to, on average they don’t take that much longer. I seem to have gotten out of the rut where everything seemed like a synonym for something else. Or maybe I’m better at distinguishing between the nuances of similar words…?
Wow, I just found out about Lang-8.com this weekend…it’s an amazing site for improving writing skills in any language. Basically, you write a little passage, and native speakers will correct it. In exchange, you do a little correcting of people’s English passages. And the set-up makes it easy to do the correcting and the navigation. I’m so impressed.
Though I’ve been working (very slowly) toward my goal of 5,000 flashcards, I’ve decided to make another, more practical goal for myself: passing the TOPIK test at level 4 or 5. Level 5 would be fabulous, but I don’t know if I have the wherewithal to actually attain it. I need to take a couple practice tests and figure out what my level is right now.
About my current studying: I feel like I’ve been working on my Korean a good bit, but the old flash-card rote memorization thing has been slowing down a lot. My skills are getting to the point where I can struggle through reading blogs and newspapers. So reading is getting reasonably strong, while nothing else has improved quite as much. I still have trouble trying to understand kid’s shows for 7-year olds. In particular, the cartoon 아기 공룡 둘리 totally baffles me…are they all speaking dialect? I don’t know what to make of it. So I’ve been spending a good bit of time working on my listening skills. And now that I have lang-8 as a resource, it looks like I’ll be working on my writing as well.
To break it down:
Vocabulary: still working on flash cards. I need to set a daily quota again perhaps.
Reading: my main reading is Naver webtoons and the Chosun Ilbo news website.
Listening: children’s programs (it’s tempting to use subtitled adult programs, but I think I learn more when there are no subtitles). I think I need to do a little more listening to/memorizing songs.
Writing: lang-8 (I’ve already written 4 passages—I learned so much this weekend just from the corrections to my writing!)