Tag Archives: language exchanges

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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