The last four years, I have been tackling learning Korean on my own. I did take two courses in university during my third year, but honestly they were such a low level that barely anything above the basics was covered and at the point that I took the class, nothing was new to me except some vocabulary. I felt confident in class, but when I spoke to native Koreans or went to speak to other foreigners, I felt so many gaps in my learning, and I was discouraged. I was really lost, but now I am sitting back and reevaluating myself as well as my progress and making a new plan of action.
I have been looking for more resources to just test myself in order to gauge where I am at and to get an idea or where I am going. Of course, I love TalktomeinKorean.com and cannot praise the site enough. What Hyunwoo Sun (선 현우) has put together here is one of the easiest, accessible websites for learning Korean and more than anything it’s very interesting. He and his team give learners all over the world a view into Korea while learning the language. I highly recommend it to anyone starting out. (I know some people feel overwhelmed that the site is already pretty far along, but don’t be. You can bulk download lessons and go through them at your pace. I find myself going back to review often despite having been following the site since it’s first week).
There is actually a test for determining your level in Korean. It’s called the TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean or 한국어능력시험 in Korean). The test has two versions: standard and business. In it are four sections: 1) Vocabulary and Grammar (어휘 및 문법), 2) Writing (쓰기), 3) Reading (읽기), and 4) Listening (듣기). The maximum score is 400 and there are 6 grades that you could test into. 1-2 are beginning (초급), 3-4 are intermediate (중급), and 5-6 are advanced (고급). The test is only available in a little over a dozen countries, but popularity has been growing since it was first administered 15 years ago. Currently there is not a speaking section.
If you decide to test yourself this way, I have a few things that I recommend you studying with. Some are tumblr pages, some actual websites, but whatever your method of studying, these are fantastic resources:
- 날다람쥐 (Flying Squirrel)
- TOPIK Guide-
- TalktoMeinKorean I cannot recommend this site enough. The teachers are amazingly fun, knowledgeable, and great models for language learning. They don’t only teach the language but the culture.
- Studyhangukeo Tumblr – For a mix of levels of Korean grammar and culture, it’s fun to check this every few days.
- http://ezcorean.com/ – This is great for bulk study material like grammar explanations and vocabulary lists.
As I find more, I will be sure to share on this post or directly on my learning Korean page. I hope these are helpful! I suggest going through TOPIK Guide because they also have some good articles about learning Korean and tackle some language myths while giving some suggestions and tips for studying.
I do want to leave you with a bit of wisdom from my own language learning experience and life in general. Language learning is very difficult. We want to think it it is the same as learning our first language, but it isn’t. So it is important to take heart and to carry on despite failure.
Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism.
-Dr. David M. Burns*