Category Archives: TOPIK

73 Words

That’s how many new Korean words I learned this week.  That’s right, I got my exam results back from the TOPIK test and I got a 3 out of 4.  That means I’m a certified intermediate speaker, but it isn’t the score I was hoping for.  I know I’m not at that level yet though so I’m resuming my studying again.  One of the Korean teachers at school has agreed to meet with me and help me with writing and speaking (the two parts I can’t do on my own) and so here I am studying again!

I’ve bought a couple of essay writing books (called 논술 books) where I read a short story or article and then answer some questions and give my opinions.  I was studying from a 1st grade book before which already had a challenging number of unfamiliar words but I decided to really bump it up and am studying 5th grade readings now.  The kind of vocabulary is a lot more advanced but I think it’s better to start there and then just fill in the gaps of my knowledge as I go.

I also decided that I need to set some goals for myself which will help me work toward something and hopefully keep me motivated.  Here are my goals for 2012:

Korean studying goals:

  • Get 4 points on the TOPIK exam (take the test in summer or fall)
  • Learn 10 new words every day
  • Finish my 3 눈술 books
  • Finish 3 Korean novels (just started Paradise by Bernard Werber)
  • Improve my Korean to the point that I can read Korean job websites
Other goals:
  • Improve my BMR by adding muscle mass (lifting weights at home, daily walks)
  • Draw at least 3 times a week
  • Take up a new hobby


This will just be a quick summary as it’s been a while since I’ve really updated.

I completed my TOPIK exam two weeks ago and it went better than expected.  I probably won’t get the top score but I will probably pass.  It seems like the tests are hit or miss- they either have questions on topics I’ve studied or they have questions on topics that I haven’t studied.  I got lucky with this one though the time limit is pretty strict so I ran out of time on the reading portion of the test.  I believe the scores will be available sometime in December.  I can update more on the subject at that time.

Tristan’s mom is here visiting!  It’s been two weeks so far and it’s been a blast.  Our time together is pretty low key although she is going out and adventuring on her own while we are busy at work.  Tonight she was able to join us for the company dinner, and we are also going hiking tomorrow at Dobongsan with some of the administrators from our school.  I’m really excited!

We have enjoyed exposing Tristan’s mom to Game of Thrones as well.  We watched an episode every night and she’s cursing the fact that the second season isn’t made yet.  Tristan and I are reading the book series on the Kindle religiously every free moment we have.

School is going well, I love my kids more and more and I enjoy my job more and more.  Most of my time outside of work is spent coming up with some curriculum that I think will be effective or exciting for the kids, and I actually enjoy thinking about these things.  I just wish I had more time at work to actually follow through or implement these things.  Maybe there’s next year?  We are definitely thinking more seriously about next year.

Fall came quickly and the weather has turned brisk and beautiful.  This season fills me with so many good feelings and cheers me up so much.  Although none of the holidays associated with it are celebrated here, I am sure Tristan and I will find a way to keep a piece of those traditions alive in our home.

Last but not least, my sister and her husband finally made the move to Okinawa!  I have yet to even catch them on Skype, but I hope this means many visits are in our future, and we should be booking our tickets for Christmas vacation soon.

I hope all is well and all is warm! Take care until next time.


The TOPIK test site is misleading– the test date they advertised is for test takers taking the test internationally, and was listed as Saturday.  This whole time I’ve believed the test was on Saturday.  I just noticed on my test ticket, however, that the test is on Sunday.  Tristan’s mom is arriving Saturday night.  The plan was to have the weight of the test off of my mind and meet her and completely enjoy Sunday.  Now I won’t be able to spend any time with her when she arrives on the weekend, and only have evenings during the week.  I’m so bummed out.  At least I can go meet her at the airport.

Practice Test

I took a practice test today, one from a few years ago that I could download off of the TOPIK site. I’ve taken practice tests before that left me feeling hopeful, but this left me feeling like I’ve actually regressed, like someone tricked me into thinking I’ve been learning Korean all this time but actually it was just a randomized jumble of words. It was HARD. I barely scraped over 50% on the grammar and writing sections (but I need an average of over 70% on all of the sections to pass; no way!!!). In the past, on other practice exams, I got around 70% for everything.

I feel like I’ve learned so much the last few months. I can read novels now! I can understand movies! I can conduct friendships in Korean! I’ve studied my ass off and yet it doesn’t actually show on the test. It’s not all been in vain, of course, but it will be pretty disappointing to have to wait around for the next testing period if I fail this one.

Anyway, I’m feeling really discouraged tonight.

It feels like Thursday

This week is going by so slowly.

This month all of our afterschool classes have been changed around to accomodate new students and adjust for ability level, so I’ve got a handful of new students in a couple of my classes.  The one that used to be my biggest challenge is much better now– I got 3 top students now who are all hard working, clever, and brilliant.  Two of the boys are a bit disruptive but at least they do their work and understand everything.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I stay 2.5 extra hours for overtime to teach a class, and that class has gotten much more complicated.  In the beginning it was only two students!  They both wanted to be there, always did their homework, and improved so quickly.  Now I’ve got 6 other students who are all a mess.  One is in the 4th grade and feels like he needs to prove himself to everyone, another doesn’t know the difference between capital letters and lowercase letters and can’t make a sentence to save his life.  One girl tries so hard but everything she says just comes out gibberish (she knows nothing about grammar), and one girl only comes on Tuesdays so she is always lost and confused and sometimes downright hostile when she feels like the class is moving too fast.  On top of it half of them show up late so I’m always having to re-explain everything whenever another one shows up.  It’s a mess and I wish I could stop teaching that class, but then it sure is nice having an extra 120,000 won each week…

The thing is I love these students, but they all have their own needs that I just don’t have time to address.  To make it worse the ones who need help are the ones who never do any homework outside of class so even if I prepared extra study materials for them they would never do it.

Anyway, countdown: 19 days until the exam