As I mentioned before, the main reason why I decided to study the Korean language and take the TOPIK 1 is to understand the Korean culture by reading Korean books and watching Korean films, dramas, and TV programs. By the same token, I want to communicate with my students in their native language, for I believe that having the basic knowledge of their language can help me build a strong rapport with them in my ESL class. Consequently, I had been so busy pulling an all-nighter. All I had always done was to memorize the words by heart, read a Korean grammar book, watch free Korean tutorials profusely available on YouTube despite that I was always up to neck in my teaching job. Furthermore, studying the Korean language had rendered me refrained from reading the books I should have started with. No wonder I am now falling behind my Goodreads friends.
Last week, I already took the TOPIK 1. The experience was so surreal. It was my first time to take a test which is synonymous with international standardized tests. We were all fewer than 60 applicants, for ,as far as I remember, there were ten desks in six rows. There were a few vacant desks which owners must have been late or missed the test day. Par for the course, I had a hard time taking the test because it was composed of two parts: listening and reading. I always fear the listening part in any kinds of language tests since I am hard of hearing. The worst part was that I was seated at the last desk in the first row, so I could not hear the volume well. I was trying to cup both my ears and figure out what the contents of the audio were all about. When I proceeded to the reading part, all the passages in Hangeul were intelligible to me, and I wasn’t able to remember the vocabulary I had committed to my memory at all costs. I was trying to grasp the meanings behind those characters I still am not able to overturn in my mind.
What surprised me while taking the test was that I didn’t have butterflies in my stomach which I usually experience whenever there is a bloody test I have to take. I had just been assuming an air of complacence and insouciance ,but I had a throbbing headache when I was on the verge of finishing it because I had not even filled myself up nary a tidbit. Perhaps I had set my mind that I still can’t make it since I had known all along that I am not too linguistically genius to waltz through it. Besides, I believe that mastering the language takes a long period of time. I estimate that I need another year or so before I can be fairly fluent. On that day, I will have been too confident to take it again. I am so excited.
As a matter of fact, I feel now as if I have been relieved myself of a barb stuck in my brain which had been making my mind boggle for a long time, as though there was a strict deadline I had to meet; otherwise, I would be in a dog house. (But no, the reality is there is nothing to be ashamed of as long as you know that you are responsible for all the consequences of every decision you make. Life is a moral consequence of choice.) So, now, instead of boning up on the lessons and words buckling under the pressure, I can enjoy studying the Korean language naturally as an average student studies by osmosis.
If you are interested in studying the Korean language, click the official FB page of the Seoul Language and Cultural Center here. I am pretty sure you will enjoy the class at the academy because my teacher here is terrific ; he really knows his stuff. 🙂