As some of you may know Korean is my second most used language after English. While it technically is my fourth in-class learned language after Spanish and Japanese and sixth immersed language after (Haitian) Creole, French, (American) English, Spanish, and Japanese it has become my secondary dominant language choice for professional and personal reasons over the last few years.
Having studied Korean on and off for these past few years I finally found some time to register and take the Test of Proficiency in Korean, or TOPIK exam this in New York. The reason for taking the exam this year was based on my interest to evaluate my own language ability. Like many language certification tests TOPIK is used to evaluate non-native language users skills in writing, reading, and listening. The evaluation scale used in all three sections are arranged to measure language comprehension via language dialogues, vocabulary knowledge, reading capability, and proper grammar differentiation.
The depth of one’s language knowledge is largely influenced by how far one has grown in language fluency. Prior to taking TOPIK I was aware that test preparation required more than just short-term language study. Proper test preparation requires the continuous usage and in-depth knowledge into the language one is learning. Usually, language learners who are learning their first, second, third language(*after their mother tongue) begin their studies in a language class. Language classes are most commonly chosen due to the ability to learn the proper basics of the language’s grammar, written formation, and vocabulary. However, in striving to gain a stronger grasp in a language one of the most recommend ways is through direct language immersion.
Direct Language immersion can take place in a number of ways. For example, one of the most common ways is through classroom immersion. However, if one is able deeper language immersion is possible for committed language learners. As classroom experience is the most common and the easiest way to begin one’s language studies personal language exposure provides the most advantage. Personal language exposure can be achieved through on ground presence in the mother-tongue country, or through a consistent one-on-one language exchange experience with an actual native speaker of the language one is learning. These direct & personal language exposures provide a more beneficial grasp for an individuals language learning and retention usage.
In a blog post from last fall I talked about my language upkeep and immersion living in the U.S. No longer taking language institute classes, or residing within the mother-tongue country of the language I am studying, I rely solely on one-on-one language exchange experiences in my Korean language usage in the U.S. As many bi-linguals or multi-language users know up-keeping one’s language skills is key to one’s language learning and retention. After my own experience with not continuing my Spanish and Japanese language(i.e. in a classroom, mother-tongue country, or with a language partner) throughout my post college years I have learned of the importance in using one’s language skills frequently if not daily.
Working to increase my own Korean language skills as mentioned for both professional and personal reasons I have focused on immersing myself in direct language experiences, as well as, self-independent studies. Communicating daily and connecting with close Korean friends, including my own boyfriend, I often learn new forms of speech and see how grammar is used in daily formal & informal conversations. This personal language exposure helps me tremendously with my self-studies as I move up in reviewing language study books such as Sogang University Level 3A, 3B(*for grammar/ writing) and Sogang 5A (*skipped level 4 for more reading/ speech dialog practice) that provide me with fundamental basics, which are fairly easy to understand.
In addition to one-on-one conversations and individual self-study I have been pushing myself to practice translation. Having once done translation work at a hagwon I worked for I have always been interested in seeing how closely I can read, interpret, and translate Korean into English and vice-versa. With my interest in translation rising I learned more about the Literature Translation Institute of Korea (LTI Korea) and its translation academy courses. Offering fellowships to foreign nationals interested in learning about translation, specifically Korean-other language translation, I have been interested in the idea of applying to enroll its courses and see how far I can progress in my Korean language fluency. But, this all remains to be seen.
Using my language skills professionally has always been a goal of mine, since I started learning languages. Like my parents, I also hope to become a multilingual user and upkeep my language usage both in and outside of the home.