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고려대학교 한국어의 수업 시작한다!! posted at 04:05

I know I promised in my last post I would update more about my activities before classes started but...classes did start and I have been far too busy studying and socialising to update :(

However I thought this would be a more important post to make first, because as a SOAS student I was very concerned about both the placement test and start of classes at Korea University. It was very hard to find information, or people blogging about past experiences so I believe this post will be helpful in preparing for the SOAS (and other universities) students of the future ^^

Placement Test - 28th August 2013

Literally as I finished my last exam in May I opened up my study notes and didn't waste a second of my summer reviewing grammar and vocabulary. For the exam I managed to nearly remember all the vocab in both textbooks we studied, but in order to keep it refreshed in my mind I would revise them everyday. I even took it upon myself to write various compositions of different topics, in order to keep my writing standards up. I would read more blogs in Korean and started re-watching various of my favourite dramas without subtitles. Studying but with a bit of fun!

When it got to the week before I left for Korea, I panicked slightly. It left me no time at all to study as there were so many people to say goodbye to and also the amount of last minute preparations I had to undertake. For SOAS students we had to enter a minimum level of 2 at Korea University in order to return at level 4 after three semesters in Korea. As the worrier I am though I thought it would be difficult to even scrape a level 1 with the lack of study time I had nearer the placement test.

Additionally when I got to Korea, even though I had done well in my final speaking exam at SOAS, I was hit with anxiety by the amount of times Koreans wouldn't understand me. However after making Korean friends, they assured me it was less of the fact I didn't pronounce it correctly but instead they were more shocked that a foreigner was speaking Korean so it threw them a little!

In every spare second before my test I was revising like crazy, looking over vocab, grammar and writing multiple compositions. In my panic mode and no real background information to create a study guide from, I found help from the SOAS students who had just completed their year abroad. They said that the writing part of the placement test was only 20 minutes long on the topic of 'self introduction' and the speaking test was 5 minutes long in a very comfortable setting. This made me far less anxious and I still to this day thank the older students for helping me with my ridiculous amount of questions!

Actually the night before the placement test, I went out to a bar in the local area with my KUBA buddy group. I insisted I would stay for only 2 hours but missing it would have been a good chance missed to make friends within my group. However my advice is, whatever time you set yourself always add an extra 2 hours on to it, because Korean students are very insistent you stay. However whilst I was there the students were so nice and even let me speak Korean with them to practice =^= and I returned home by 9pm, ready to study everything quickly before catching an early night.

On the day of the placement test, we entered a big room with hundreds of other students, and we were given a presentation in English, Korean, Japanese and Chinese. Before we entered we were given information packs in our language which included a sheet that said 'self introduction' that had a box no bigger than half an A4 sheet of paper. I knew instantly that this was the writing part of the assessment but with such a small space I was worried I wouldn't have enough allocation to show how much I know.

After the presentation was completed they told us we could start our writing element of the test and after had to go to another room to wait for a speaking test. Everyone was talking during the first 5 minutes and I even heard a few "what shall I write?" and "how do I spell this?" being asked, that's how relaxed it was. In fact SOAS students were moved to a separate room to complete our composition before we went in the next room for our speaking test. In the room we had as much time to write down anything and chatted with each other and the supervisor the whole time. I managed to write quite a lot and had enough time to check everything was correct so I was happy ^^

After a while I was one of the last to do the speaking test and many of my class had come back already saying it was relaxed and nice. However when I walked in I completely stumbled the whole way through. Whilst a lot of my class were asked multiple questions, I was only asked "is this your first time in Korea?' which I mucked up even for such an easy question. However after the test was over I explained to my teacher than my stress usually gets the better of me, but I felt doomed either way. She showed me a sheet of the various levels and went pointing her pen towards it she was resting it upon level 1 and I thought I could see my life flash before my eyes. Then she pointed her pen at level 3 and said she was happy to put me there. I was really shocked, even after that awful speaking test, I managed to get in a level one higher than I planned to. The teacher told me plainly that my speaking is weak for level 3 but my reading and writing skills could even be level 4 if I pushed myself. My composition was the best one she read so far, and she said as long I put the extra time in practice my speaking and learning more vocabulary then I would be far in intermediate level. I kind of pleaded actually for level 2 but she was very insistent on level 3 ;c but I was sure to never give up!

Start of Classes - 2nd September 2013

Before my classes started I thought it would be a good ideas as I would be one of the weaker students, to review both chapters in depth that we would cover that week. I semi learnt all the vocabulary so I wouldn't be stumbling in class, and made sure I knew all the grammar points (which I luckily knew before). 

However first day of classes was dreadful. I walked in there and was already intimidated by the other students talking comfortably with each other in Korean and for 75% of the lesson I had no clue what the teacher was saying in Korean. I remember telling my friend that I was going to run to the head of the department and ask for level 2 the next day it was so painful. After a relaxation trip to a cat cafe in Myeongdong, I decided to try one more day of classes and then speak to the department about moving down a level.

Though surprisingly, I understood even more the next day, and decided to stick around. As the week went on my understanding would increase more and more, and I was less terrified to speak in Korean. I am still one of the weakest in class but after to speaking to other classmates they all said they have trouble with understanding. After feeling like I disappointed both my teachers on the Monday, they told me on Friday that even in one week they noticed a great improvement in my speaking level. Even my classmates told me I did well, and they may shove me forward to do more speaking but they are all really nice and helpful, I couldn't ask for a nicer class =w=

My Korean friends said at the weekend that they noticed a lift in confidence and I was able to converse more and more with them in Korean. They always ask me each day what I have learnt and even though it's not much, the fact they praise me over even a little thing really boosts my spirits! I really have been gifted with the most wonderful buddy group.

Today was actually the start of my second week, and I had a weekly test that surprisingly went well. I made a few mistakes but seeing as I was convinced I would fail I was really pleased with myself ^^ I had a little muck in the writing task where I had a quite a few mistakes so I had to write it out again but my teacher didn't make me feel bad about it and in fact was really encouraging. I really love my lessons here C;

So everyone! No matter how hard it seems at the start, you must not give up! 아무리 힘들어도 포기하지 마세요! Also to any new SOAS students starting in the next few weeks, good luck and remember even beginners can go far!

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My name is 루시 (Lucy) and I am a 2nd year student of BA Korean in London, but currently I am studying at Korea University in Seoul.

This blog will include helpful tips and hints on how to learn the Korean language but will also show my own progress in studying.

I will also aim to post reviews on Korean products and will post videos of my adventures.

Layout and header image by mymostloved with base image, brushes and background.