Sample test and creating a study plan
There are 17 weeks until the TOPIK 2 Korean proficiency exam in April! Time to sit myself down and make a study plan, I thought. Bur first, before anything, I took an online past paper test to see what score I can expect and where I need to improve.
Then after crying about how badly I did on the test (kidding not kidding), I made the study schedule. I wrote down the weeks and dates, and what I plan on doing for studying. I also leave two weeks open before the exam to review all my work. I only made the schedule up to 3 weeks from now, which is by when I estimate to be finished with the current vocabulary book I am using.
Getting a book to follow
I bought a book called “한국어 벵크 TOPIK 2 한권이면 OK” to prepare me for the test and it came with a smaller handbook for vocabulary, listing all the important words that appear in the textbook. Realising that I can read two pages on the bus on the way to work and two pages on my commute back, I committed to studying 4 pages of vocabulary each day. When I’m on the bus I use a yellow pen to mark any unknown words, either main vocab words or words that appear in example sentences. I don’t try to memorize anything at this stage yet – all I do is familiarise myself with the words and identify which ones are new.
Using Quizlet to review
After finishing the last 2 pages of vocabulary on the way home, I reach home and then enter all the new words into a deck on Quizlet. I create one deck for every two days. That means Monday and Tuesday vocabulary words (8 pages from the handbook) have their own deck, and then Wednesday and Thursday’s words have another deck.
I do this so that my flashcard decks don’t get too long and that I can quickly review them and put them aside for review later. I don’t want one deck to have words from ages ago that I know already combined with new words.
I then do all the exercises on Quizlet (flashcards, matching, test) until my retention/accuracy is around 90%.
Adding words and example sentences to my notebook
After feeling comfortable with these new words, I will write them in my notebook – leaving out the ones that I’ve already memorized. Take note that there’s a difference between short term and long term retention. I’ve learnt some of these words before but just needed a refresher – I won’t write these words down – only new ones!
My note taking structure is as follows: vocabulary word in pink, definition in blue, example sentence in black. I only write the definition if I really can’t remember it or if it’s one that is easily confused with other words. I try not to use English in my notes. It’s better to learn words in context of example sentences and glean the meaning from there than rely on English translations which might not always capture the nuance. Where necessary, I will write Chinese characters (한자) if it helps me remember a word.
Review and repeat
I review the example sentences throughout the day alongside Quizlet. The next morning I’ll do the next day’s set of words on the bus and after 2 days of words I have a new Quizlet deck to work from.
This is just how I learn vocabulary. Listening, grammar and writing are other skills that need different study strategies. I believe neither of these should be done in isolation! When I watch Korean dramas, I make sure to write down new words too. It helps with my listening as well. Writing and reading go hand in hand, so I make sure to read as much Korean as I can through articles online or novels I have at home.