Preparing for taking TOPIK II

As some of you might know, I’m going to take the TOPIK II this upcoming spring in Korea. I decided I needed more time so I decided to take the test in April, but in case I fail I will still have enough time to take the one in July. I’m not sure whether I will pass any level or not, but I do know I need to study hard. I think the writing portion of the test is going to be a nightmare and I realized that the reading portion is not too hard if I know the vocabulary. On the other part, listening is one of my best skills as well as figuring out grammar by context.

My Achilles’s heel is vocabulary, I have a special talent of forgetting it as quickly as I see it. I have tried various methods, but the one that seems working the best (also the quickest) is memorizing vocabulary using the Leitner’s  Calendar System. I have been using it for 10 days (I’ll talk about in a separate post), memorizing 30 words daily as well as reviewing all the ones I studied. So far I’ve memorized 270 words with different degrees of success. I believe that as I keep going further in the cycle, I can remember them. The downside is that while it does help with reading, it doesn’t when it comes to writing.

I have been studying Korean for 4 hours per day. Two hours for the textbook, two hours for memorizing and reviewing vocabulary. In January, I focused on learning level 3 grammar found in Ewha Korean 3 books. I still haven’t finished with them, but I hope I can finish them in within the next two weeks. In February, I hope to focus on writing and once March starts focus on reading. Last but not least, I hope to use the few weeks before TOPIK in April for listening.

Memorizing vocabulary and grammar are not really effective if you can’t use them immediately so my next step is focusing on writing. I hope that by writing I can recall as much as possible. I’ve thought of buying a book focusing on writing for TOPIK as each time I see the short writing questions, I don’t even know what I’m supposed to write about LOL. I’m also unfamiliar with vocabulary related to statistics so it’s equally bad. In the meantime, I will focus first on the writing assignments on the Ewha books. A friend of mine suggested that I blog in Korean. So far I made a blog in Naver, but I haven’t written anything yet. 

Personally, I feel like I’m cramming and not really learning and improving (I am though). Sometimes, I wonder if it will be worth it in the end. It might be due the fact that studying is really time consuming, but then when I read something in Korean I become amazed at the fact that I understand it better. Maybe once I’m done with TOPIK in April, I will be able to look back and see how much I have improved.

I might be scarce in the upcoming months as I start working again on mid February and I need to study as much as possible. Any tips are welcome!

Until next time!~


Korean Intransitive and Transitive Verbs

There are some verbs in Korean that exists as both transitive and intransitive (like in English and other languages). Transitive means the verb needs an object while intransitive does not need it or accept it. I decided that I would unveil which one was which. Once you find out it will definitely improve your writing skills.

There are some verbs that end in 나다/내다 like 끝나다 and 끝내다. When I first encountered them way long ago, my teacher didn’t make a distinction over their use. It started niggling me some days ago so I started looking information on it. I want to point out that not every -나다/내다 verb refers to its transitiveness or not, but if you encounter two verbs that means the same but just ends slightly different there’s a high probability it’s just denoting its transitiveness.

If the verb ends in -나다: it is intransitive.

If the verb ends in -내다: it is transitive.

There also other endings as well like for example there’s the verb 서다 (to stop, stand) and 타다 (to burn). Both are intransitive verbs but they have transitive counterparts.

서다 —> 세우다

타다—> 태우다

I can assume that probably any verb ending like that will be transitive and I think 에/애 are a sign that you can use objects. At least, it is what it looks like.


That’s it for now! I will keep updating this post as I find more information about it.

Until, next time!~

Musings of a Linguaphile

I have always being a lover of languages-even the dead ones. I think it might have to do with the fact that I grew up in an arguably bilingual setting so I speak both English and Spanish. I’ve also traveled a lot since I was a newborn (I do not mean to show off or anything like that) and have spent time abroad throughout my life.  I believe it cemented my love for languages as that exposure fueled my desire to communicate with other people in their native language. I also believe that all languages are beautiful and worth learning but I seem to have a special love for Asian languages. I seem to lean over the East Asian languages.

I started learning Japanese when I was around fourteen years old. It only lasted for two years because of lack of progress and not having good enough resources. I am now 22 and can say that I know next to nothing of Japanese with the exception of Kanji’s meaning. Almost 4 years ago I started learning Korean but that first year was spent mainly in finding good learning materials and going through trial and error till I found the method that worked well for me (and being able to spend time in Korea was helpful as well).

As some of you may know my major is Translation and my university’s policy for Humanities students is to have a command of a third language (a first foreign language because Spanish and English doesn’t count) but it has to be once of the ones they offer. In my case I picked French as my third language because they don’t teach Korean. I picked it because despite my constant goings to Quebec, Canada I only picked up how to say numbers and well my childhood friends there speak French lol. I want to keep taking more advanced French classes but I’m on the verge of graduating and I don’t have any electives left.

Now that I’ve spoken a little bit about both my background and my languages, I can finally start writing about my issues with being a linguaphile -albeit a moderate one. I can say that I know 4 languages in varying levels. My type of major requires me to be native-like in the languages I know so I my goals are a little bit different when it comes to learning a language. Nonetheless, I wish to keep learning more but there’s so much time I have to properly learn them all.

I have French but I feel that since I don’t really have studied it on my own so I don’t know what books would be good for me and how to divide my time for it; I somehow feel it slipping and losing fluency although once in a while I pick up short French stories or articles. Korean really does take a lot of time from me so I don’t even know how to squeeze it in.

Thanks to making many Japanese friend during my exchange at Ewha, I started to slowly learn Japanese. However, I’m torn about how to keep learning it because like I said before Korean takes most of my scarce time. I also have to start from zero but I have stumbled upon good resources and I also have knowledge I didn’t have before -a very thorough linguistic knowledge of my native languages. That, and all the things I’ve learned for Korean which somewhat helps.

I see that many take two or more languages to keep learning but is it a good way to learn or is it better to learn one at a time. I often wonder that myself because I want to keep furthering my language skills but I do have 4 so how to balance the latter 2 and start learning all over again a 5th one? Korean and Japanese are extremely different from my mother-tongues so it means that I need to dedicate extra time to them. On the other hand, French is closely related to Spanish so the problems of learning it are different. All three need a different approach because of both the way they work and the way a method works well for effectively learning them. Also, the more advanced you get, the more time you need to spend reviewing it.

I don’t worry much about my native languages because I maintain myself reading newspapers, books and also have classes that keep me polished (just because I’m native in both doesn’t mean that I should set them aside) because I’m a translator after all and they can’t afford to just be native speakers because they’re language experts.  I speak Korean like I breathe air and learning it has become so natural that I feel like I’m studying linguistics all over again. However, that’s not the case of French because I feel it like something alienated from me and I find it hard to sit and review. I guess I need to go through a trial and error method till I get a hold of what truly works for me. I am no language genius so I have to work hard for learning even though they do come to me in a relative easiness.

In the end, I wonder how will I balance this out. My goal is to find an answer before this year comes to an end. Hopefully, it won’t mean that I will lose my scarce social time (which is almost none-existent). I love learning languages and I’m always amazed at how they work but I do worry about how to keep them because you lose what you don’t use. I’m even wondering if I should use this blog to document my learning of Japanese and French as well because it will become hard to keep track of multiple blogs. I also hope to make more post about Korean language in itself cause I miss doing that lol.


I was going through my drafts and saw this hehehe. Well, I’m happy that somehow I managed to solve how to squeeze Japanese into my schedule (I also graduated last Spring), but still haven’t figured out how to self-study French XD. Instead I teach it to some of my students for an hour (nothing professional as it’s voluntary)  and just read French novels. I live in Korea now and I have enough free time to do it all. I always worry about maintaining my proficiency in all my languages, even my native ones.

漢字 (Kanji) Readings

Kanji are one of the deepest rings of  Hell for a Japanese language learner. I, on the other hand, find Kanji to be interesting and fun. Nothing to dread about drawings (something I love). However, as I wondered how to read them, I felt confused about how to learn reading the characters. Some resources go on talking about the two types of readings, but don’t explain why they’re called such so I’m certain that was the root of all my confusion.

The first type of reading is called 音読み (On-yomi). This type of reading was imported from China (the “original” Chinese sound). It is reserved for words written with multiple Kanji only -mostly-. I stopped confusing it with it’s native Japanese reading when I learned that 音 stands for “sound”. 読み stands -more or less-  for “reading”. I made the association by thinking: reading the [Chinese] sound. Ex: 水曜日(sui-you-bi)

The second type of reading is 訓読み (kun-yomi). This one is the Japanese reading. It is usually used for a stand-alone Kanji, a Kanji accompanied by hiragana, usually verbs and adjectives. 訓 means Japanese rendering of a Chinese character. It also means instruction. I think it would be alright to assume that the instruction of the reading leads to learning  native Japanese words.  Ex: 水を下さい (mizu (w)o kuda-sai).

The kanji for water is 水. Wednesday in Japanese is 「水曜日」 which is a compound word in Japanese so 「すい」 (on-yomi)  for the water part and just plain water 「みず」(kun-yomi).

I noted some voiceless sounds change to voiced sounds in compounds. Surnames seem to be the exception to On-yomi as it seems they tend to use kun-yomi reading like 田中 (Ta-naka) -both are kun readings-.

That’s it for now. I hope it’s clear! I will try to explain simply Japanese verb conjugations next.

Until next time!~

New Year, New Goals

Hello, again!~

Unofficially, I will be staying much longer in Korea (over 1 year if it’s possible) so that means I will be able to keep studying and actively use Korean.

I haven’t made much plans as they have a tendency to not happen XD. I did decide that I wanted to pass TOPIK level 4 by the end of this year. I’ve been studying Japanese for a bit over 7 months (5 by myself) so I decided to take the JLPT N5 this year, just to see how it goes hahahaha.

Besides taking the tests, I haven’t made up my mind on what to do. I thought I wanted to return home by August and then apply for the JET Program and live in Japan for at least 2 years (if I got accepted), but now I don’t know since I want to stay much longer in Korea. I guess I’ll know for sure around summer LOL.

Blog-wise, I have a lot of drafts that I haven’t finished writing and hopefully will see the light soon. My goal is to have 3 more posts by the end of January and at least one of them about Japanese.

TOPIK I 43 Results~

Belated Happy New Year!~

I spent the last two weeks sick and it was horrible. TOPIK test results came out on December 30th, 2015 (it feels sad, to think it’s last year already). I was confident that I would pass level 2 without much hiccups.

TOPIK I test results

Ta-dah!~ I failed to accomplish my goal though. I was supposed to also get over 90 points in the reading section, but was five points short. I don’t feel disappointed at all LOL. I also wrote here that I would attempt TOPIK II in January, but after doing one of the old tests I think I have a fair chance at obtaining level 3 so I decided to take it in either March or April instead.  Also, since I would have to study hard in order to pass, it made sense to have more time before attempting it.

Until next time!~