Tag Archives: korean

Using Italki for Language Learning

Ever since I did the TOPIK test back in April, I’ve been feeling like I’m in a bit of a Korean studying slump. The goal of getting an advanced level on the TOPIK test was such a great motivator. I was studying flash cards every morning and reading news articles to find new vocab, and testing myself occasionally by doing old TOPIK tests. Having that goal was really helpful for me.

Now I feel like I’m floating around from one thing to another while I’m studying Korean, without a concrete goal. Some days I read newspapers, some days I listen to radio shows, some days I just watch variety shows. Not having that goal makes me feel like I never finish anything when I’m studying so it’s not nearly as satisfying. I’m really frustrated with myself!

So to get some of my studying mojo back, I’ve decided that my goal for right now is to focus on my speaking skills. Of course I still do language exchanges with friends regularly. The problem is that my language exchange partners rarely correct my Korean, which is what I really need. I worry that I will keep making the same mistakes and they will become habitual.

So I’ve signed up on a site called Italki to get some structured language practice and find someone to correct my speaking. It’s a site that links people who are learning languages with people who are professional teachers or want to do informal tutoring. It’s got a great system for scheduling sessions with teachers, and you buy credits to pay your teachers with so that you don’t have to worry about the hassle of transferring money internationally (such as added fees and exchange rates). The sessions themselves are conducted via skype.

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Toronto Korean/English Language Exchanges!

One of the best parts of studying Korean lately has been doing language exchanges. Like I mentioned in my last entry, I went to my first Say Kimchi meeting a few weeks ago. It’s a Korean/English language exchange in Toronto that’s apparently been going on for years and I never knew about it (fail!!).

It’s organized really well, with the intention of having an equal number of Koreans and English speakers so that we can all partner up. We speak in Korean for 45 minutes and then switch to English for another 45 minutes. The organizers even bring textbook printouts for the Korean learners and fun lessons about idioms and slang for the English learners, so that the partners have things to go over and talk about. Then we go to a restaurant after to talk more! So fun!

I’ve met some really interesting people, including some Koreans who are actually planning to stay in Canada and not go back to Korea after a year, which is great. I’ve made great Korean friends before in Toronto but since they were all here as international students on exchanges, they had to go back to Korea for a year and we’ve lost touch. Even in this age of 카톡 and facebook it can be hard to stay connected when you can’t see a person in real life once and awhile. So I’m really glad to find some people who are planning to stick around here!

I’ve also been running the language exchange at my university, which meets once a week. We’ve had an uneven ratio of English speakers to Korean speakers lately, with most of the students attending being university students who are studying Korean, so I went on a promotion spree and sent flyers to ESL schools and English language programs at local colleges, and it totally worked! Last week we had equal numbers of Koreans and English speakers! Woohoo!!

I’m pretty nervous though because our Korean professor messaged me the other day to tell me that the local Toronto Korean TV channel wants to come this Friday to our exchange to do a TV spot on it… and they want to interview me… in Korean. Ahhhh!! Super nervous… I told my Korean-Canadian friend about it and said that I wasn’t too worried because since it’s a local cable channel there’ll probably be like 3 people watching, and she told me “Oh, no, I know a lot of people who watch that show!”. Hmm, great…

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Taking a Breather

I’ve been feeling a little burnt out from studying today. Although it’s only the first week back of the semester, I spent almost every day of the winter break studying Korean, and I think it’s just been too much. I spent almost 5 hours today going through flash cards, to the point that when I stopped my eyes were all out of focus, haha. I’m going to take the rest of the day off and try not to feel bad about it. There’s still 3 months and a bit until TOPIK!! I need to chill out.

I’m excited though because last night I found a Korean-English language exchange group in Toronto!! It’s called Say Kimchi and they meet every Sunday evening. It looks like a lot of fun, so I’m really looking forward to it. 🙂

That’s all for now!! Time to put a pause button on studying like crazy until at least tomorrow morning! ^^

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Still learning something new every day!

I got a book called “Using Korean: A Guide to Contemporary Usage” as a Christmas present this year, and I’ve finally sat down to properly begin studying it. I will do a proper review once I’m done with it, but for now I’m really happy with it!


It’s already taught me quite a few things that I hadn’t learnt in class or on my own. For example, it breaks down how and when to use honorifics and even in what cases you would use a single “시” and in what ones you’d use two. For example, I’d always wondered where to put the 시 in a sentence with a grammar structure like ~ㄹ 수 있다/없다. 하실 수 있어요? or 할 수 있으세요? According to the book, the answer is to put it in both places! So: “하실 수 있으세요?” is correct. Also, it’s taught me that honorific terms like 댁 or 잡수시다, as well as “~시”, are not used in ~는다 endings such as in newspapers or magazines. I’d honestly never noticed that. -_- I don’t know if I’m just not very observant… But I’ve never been told off by a professor for using honorifics in that style, so now I’m kind of confused. I’ll have to look into that before I take the TOPIK in April!

Another interesting thing the book taught me was how to indirectly ask a person’s age. Although Koreans always ask other people about their ages (which we can understand considering the language and culture), it can still be insulting to ask someone’s age directly, especially if they are older. So, we know that the honorific term for 나이 (age) is 연세 and the honorific term for 생일 is 생신. But this book says that asking someone “연세가 어떻게 되세요?” is considered too direct and can be offensive (because basically it implies that you’re really old). But you can’t just say 나이가 어떻게 되세요? because that’s also offensive! Ahhhh!

So the book suggests the following indirect ways to ask someone’s age:

몇 년생이에요? = What year were you born?

몇 학번이세요? = What year did you enter college?

생년월일이 어떻게 되세요? = What is your year, month, and date of birth? (this is just used mostly in forms!).

So yeah, I’ve had a lot of “Omg really?!” moments while reading this! I’m excited to read the rest.

In other news, I’ve been avoiding trying to do any TOPIK practice tests but I finally did the vocab/grammar and writing parts of the 28th advanced one this afternoon and did pretty well! Enough to pass level 5. So tomorrow I will try doing the listening and reading parts for that one and see how it goes!No more studying for today, I’m super tired… next week school starts again!

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TOPIK Videos

So the day after I resolve to stick to consistent study methods, I end up stumbling upon the TOPIK Korea channel on Youtube and spending all day watching these vids -_-. Oi.

Oh well, it was really educational! The teachers break down the four sections of two of the most recent TOPIK tests and go through each question one by one, explaining all of the possible answer choices. Awesome, right? I learnt a lot of points that either I’ve never learnt before, or had completely forgotten. The unfortunate thing is that they only have the complete series uploaded for the Intermediate level. There is one Advanced video but it’s only one question from each section 😦 It’s like an MV teaser… that is never followed by the full version. ._.

Anyway, the teachers are really great. The instruction is done entirely in Korean, which is ideal, and they speak very clearly so it’s easy to understand. The teacher who does the Grammar section is particularly helpful, and she really reminds me of Kim Sun Ah. The way she drags her vowels out at the end of some sentences sounds just like her, haha.

I’ve embedded the videos for test 25 under the cut, but they’ve got videos for test 26 on their Youtube channel too! Happy studying!

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Happy New Year!

So it’s finally 2013… 2012 was a hard year for me, but as always I’m hoping this year will be better. 🙂 One thing is for certain, I will be keeping up my Korean studying – even if I have to start learning Japanese this year (I have to know two Asian languages to get a doctorate degree D:).

I don’t like to make resolutions, but one thing I would like to change this year is my methods of studying. I know I will keep studying, because I love it so much and because I have the goal of passing level 5 TOPIK. But I am really bad at sticking to a certain method of studying! I keep jumping back and forth between different things – like I’ll watch 3.5 episodes of a drama and take notes, and then flip through a grammar book, and then do some old TOPIK tests… but I never actually complete a drama or get through a whole book or finish all the old TOPIK tests… so I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything! Also I keep finding new books I want when I haven’t even gotten through the books I have!! I get really frustrated with myself haha.

So my plan for the new year is to try my best to continuously work on one method of studying until it’s completed so that I can feel like my time isn’t being wasted. I’ve spent a lot of time studying over the break but because I can’t say that I finished any project, it’s hard to feel satisfied.

Speaking of my inconsistent studying methods, I’ve updated pineapplegame again. For some reason, I find the ~니까 grammar structure different to wrap my head around because there’s so many different ways to use it – and yet they’re all very specific. 헐. Anyway. Happy studying everyone!

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Studying Korean through Dramas without Subs

I’ll admit it, I am not a big drama fan. Although my first exposure to Korean culture was through watching Full House back in 2006, I think I’ve only gotten through 3 or 4 dramas from start to finish since then. I really prefer watching films or variety shows (I am addicted to Running Man!!). But since megaupload was taken down, it’s gotten harder to find films for download. And watching variety shows to learn Korean isn’t ideal because they always caption what people are saying… this makes it way easier to understand but also makes me reliant on that crutch, which isn’t helpful since in real life Koreans don’t have subtitles underneath them when they talk. Unfortunately. 😦

So since I wanted to improve my aural comprehension, I decided to attempt to start watching a drama again. I knew I wouldn’t be able to understand everything, so I planned to watch the drama without any subs once and then consult a Korean transcript or Korean subs to look up the parts I didn’t catch.

But finding those transcripts or subtitles was difficult… I tweeted TTMIK and asked if they knew where students could find Korean subtitles for Korean dramas, and they kindly RTed my tweet. I got A LOT of replies from fellow learners. Unfortunately they had all misread my tweet and assumed that I was looking for English subtitles and therefore linked me to streaming sites. I appreciated their help, but I definitely needed Korean subs.

After some more searching, I had only come up with dead links that had promised scripts or hangeul subtitles. Once again, the death of megaupload was foiling my plans. But then I stumbled upon SBS’s Video on Demand site. They have hundreds of current and former SBS dramas, and while you can’t watch them without registering and paying for membership, you can access their transcripts for free!

To find the transcript for the drama you’re watching:

1. Go to the SBS VoD site.

2. If the drama is recent, it will show up under the 최신순 category on the home page. If it’s not, click on the 가나다순 tab to find it through an alphabetical search.


3. Once you click on the drama, it will take you to the video player page. Note that you won’t be able to watch the video unless you pay for membership. But this is where you get the transcript! In the box on the right side of the player, there are two tabs at the top. The second is 자막 보기. Click that, and you’ll get all the dialogue from the drama! Great, right?

4. To watch the drama, I’d suggest downloading a raw file or using a site like Viki.com. Viki is awesome because not only does it allow users to create and share subtitles in various languages, it also gives you the option of having no subs at all! Most videos don’t have Korean subtitles (or only have say 10% of it subbed in Korean), but you don’t need them now that you have the transcript, right? 🙂

Sadly, although MBC also has VoD services, you can’t get the transcripts for free. I’m not even sure if there are subtitles or transcripts included in the purchase of each episode. KBS has a VoD site as well, but it requires a Korean SIN number or a foreign passport number to sign up, so unless you’re willing to enter your passport to check it out, it’s not an option either. But SBS has plenty of great dramas!!


I’ve been watching 내 여자친구는 구미호 (My Girlfriend is a Gumiho) this way for the past few days, and really enjoying it. If you’re just starting out with dramas, and are like me and don’t enjoy melodramatic or overly romantic storylines, I’d highly suggest dramas written by the Hong sisters. They’re always funny and don’t take the romance part too seriously!

I hope I can keep this up and actually make it through to the end of this drama! ^^

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