With All Efforts

November 8, 2010

I have been neglecting my Korean studies. I have missed one lesson, was one-hour late for one, and I’m going to miss another this coming Thursday. I am losing track of what I’m learning (or not) and I owe my 선생님 2 chapters worth of homework. I had decided to do self-study after this term, but at the rate I’m going, I don’t know if I will have the discipline to squeeze time out to do so. It is still ever so precious to me, the whole Korean thing. I cannot emphasize enough how the lessons and my friends are keeping me sane amidst all these craziness I get from work. How much I take pride in the fact that I am able to enjoy at least half the drama I’m watching without subtitles, that I might just have something like an ability or talent that others don’t have. I know there are (many) others out there who are way better than me, and that thought drives me to want to learn more.


In an attempt to do something, I bought a nice new notebook for myself to do some translations. I have the shortest attention span ever, and I cannot imagine myself sitting down for 2hours at one shot just to translate an article. So I’m going to start short, like a half-page entertainment news. I will 1)Copy the entire passage into the notebook 2)Check out the words I’m not sure of at Naver Dictionary 3)Make some sentences to practice usage of the new vocabulary and finally4)Translate the whole article. I have only started to do my first article, so I’ll update again to see how things go.

I have also rediscovered a free monthly Korean-English magazine “KNOW” (I think it used to be “KOZINE”) which I took from SOL Mart when I was there to buy a bottle of 막걸리. It’s good because all the articles have a Korean and an English version so it’s not difficult to find out what I was reading, and the contents are not too boring.

Ok. So I’ll head back to my translation now (I’m actually skiving off work hehe!).

PS: I wish for an offday so I can dedicate a day to studying… =/


Last night in class, we learnt about Verb + 자고 하다 and Verb+(으)라고 하다. As usual, I got confused. From my 선새님’s explanation, this is what I understand:

Verb + 라고 하다
– Someone said someone else has to do something.
선생님이 오늘 까지 숙제를 내라고 하셨어요. / The teache said that I have to hand in the homework by today.

Verb + 자고 하다
– Someone suggested to someone else to do something.
시간 되면 커피를 한잔 마시자고 해요. / (He said) Let’s drink a cup of coffee if you have the time.

So I asked my friend if “-라고 하다” is the same as “-라” and if “-자고 하다” is the same as “-자”, except that one is a direct speech (active), and the other is quotation (passive).

To illustrate my concern,
우리 식당에 가자. / Let’s go to the restaurant.
우리 식당에 가자고 했다. / (He/ She/ They said) let’s go to the restaurant.

She (my friend) told me is the same thing, and told me not to think too much about it. It’s all the same (all implying a suggestion to do something): -자고 하다 & -자 & (ㅂ)시다.

After much deliberation we concluded that I’m right.

I am… right?

제19회 TOPIK 성적확인

November 4, 2010

SOOOOOO….. It’s out.

TOPIK Results

(Right-bottom corner)
Vocab/ Grammar: 87
Writing: 95
Listening: 97
Reading: 90
Total: 369 Average: 92.25 (Grade 2-passed!)

Clearly, my Vocabulary and Grammar is my weakest link. I am highly disappointed with it because I feel that these are basics and basics are the most important in anything. I admit it, I haven’t been revising hard enough for both, and whatever knowledge I have is fast leaking. Time to study/ practice more! On the other hand, I’m pleasantly surprised with my Writing. It’s mostly luck because we happened to be learning about “Hobbies” then and we had ample practice on writing short essays on that. So all in all, you can say that there’s good and bad.

Time to work hard for Intermediate next year…?


November 3, 2010

So yesterday was a Tuesday and as I did for the past 1.5 year, I went to school. We practiced telephone booking of air tickets for conversational skills. I cleared it relatively OK, except that I stumbled over providing my own mobile number. I don’t know if anyone else ever have such weird habits, but I have a preferred language when it comes to reciting contact numbers. I recite my own mobile in English, my home number in Mandarin, and my aunt’s number in… (****DRUMROLL****) Hokkien. You can call it a habit, because whenever I need my aunt’s number, I’ll ask my Grandma – who will always answer me in Hokkien and so.. 그렇게 되었다. Apparently according to my 선생님, the natives in Korea speak with supersonic speed on the phone, and they have no patience if you can’t recite your number with equal speed.

After class, we took the shuttle bus back to Clementi and then I realised I left my mobile under the desk. Panic, panic. Thankfully, my friends had my teacher’s mobile number and I quickly called her up to ask if it’s ok to go back to school to get it. Later that night, I text my 선생님 to let her know that I’d recovered my lost mobile and and she replied:

“your phone talking was great i was surprised^^”

The last time I spoke to a 선생님 I “forgot to be polite” (remember how I have problems with 존댓말?) and mixed English with Korean. This time round, I managed to converse entirely in Korean, and remember all my “요”s at the same time. So if you can just forgive me for a little smugness, I’m proud of myself. HAHA. I suppose I just have to remind myself that everyone I speak to is a 선생님 and put in extra effort.

OK. You probably got it. I’m just posting this to show off a little.
I’m sorry. I’ll keep in mind that “骄宾必败”.

PS: Oh. I forgot. The results are released tomorrow. Not today. Hehehe!

TOPIK Results

October 30, 2010

I have happily forgotten about the TOPIK paper I’d taken about 2 months back, until the topic came up in a conversation with a friend yesterday.

Then I remembered. OMG. The results are going to be released on 3rd November. That’s like, 4 days away.

I honestly wonder how could I actually forget about such a thing.

Anyway, my pals and I decided to start from scratch and took the beginner’s paper. I hope I won’t fall below my expectations. If not… The money I’ve invested in classes for the past 1.5 years would have literally gone down the drain.

If my results are satisfactory… I’ll let you know. =)
If I radio silence…. Hmm….


October 20, 2010

I used to think listening to podcasts is weird because instead of listening to the speaker, I’m actually imagining the speaker recording the podcast. Just the thought itself makes me feel weird, like the speaker is talking to himself/herself.

Despite all that, I decided that it’s time to have something (more educational) besides K-Pop to keep me company on the long journey to/from work. Hence the frantic downloading of all podcasts from Talk To Me In Korean. Surprisingly, the podcasts are really interesting and engaging, probably because every podcast is an actual conversation going on between two persoe. The best part is that transcripts are provided as well. OK, I know I’m slow in this whole podcast thing, but it’s really a pleasant surprise. Better late than never, don’t you agree? I will probably go look for more sources tomorrow.

I thought I’ll just post a quick one before I head off to sleep. 잘 자~

PS: I like my rediscovered enthusiasm. 2 entries within 24 hours!

Speech Levels . 말체

October 19, 2010

Asians have a thing for hierarchy. This is particularly highlighted in Japanese and Korean culture – it’s there in the way they bow and even in their speech.

Being an Asian who firmly believes in equality despite age, social and whatever difference, that is not something I take to with agility and comfort. After being in touch with the language for a while, I am still having trouble with 말체 (speech levels). There are seven speech levels, namely:

Speech Levels
Sorry about the size. You can see the actual (clearer one) here.

I won’t claim to be an expert in this, simply because I’m not. The common ones that I’ve comed across so far in my studies are 합쇼체, 해요체, 해체 and occasionally 하오체.

The only times I ever speak Korean are when I’m with my bunch of friends from SKS (all true-blue Singaporeans) and at school to my 선생님. My friends are all younger than me and I have the tendency to speak to them in 반말 (Banmal, which I believe is categorized under “해체”). Needless to say, I grew comfortable with 반말 and have no major issues doing simple conversatoins with that. That soon became a problem after I realise that I have the tendency to speak to my 선생님 in 반말 as well. Keeping in mind the hierarchy thing, this is a big no-no (even though the 선생님 were generally beyond ecstacy that I am putting in some effort to speak in Korean).

Throughout my short (and ongoing) experience at service frontline, I got to meet some Korean tourists who decided to choose this little sunny island as their holiday destination. Most of them can speak decent English, and if they were to ask me anything in English, I will answer them in English. Occasionally there’ll be one or two who can speak, but doesn’t seem to understand my answer. That’s when I take it as a sign to start speaking to them in Korean. Usually I get two different kind of reactions – either they are (pleasantly) surprised, or they didn’t realize that I’ve just spoken Korean and just repeat my answers naturally. A typical answer I give will go something like this: “여기에는 없습니다. 건너편에 있어요. 지하층에 있어..요”. You can notice the pattern – I go from the “ㅂ니다” to the “요” and then to 반말. So far, these Koreans customers I’d met had been too surprised to be particular over my 말체. It is still an important part of the whole culture/language and is definitely a problem I need to fix. Another issue is that I still get extremely nervous (to the extent that I start trembling) when I talk to natives.

I should try showing all my friends some respect (albeit their age) and speak to them in 합쇼체. I am also considering talking to pictures of My Favourite Men In Korea to practice.

That is, if I still remember how to talk while staring at their faces. =)