Midterms중간 시험 @ 서강대학교 언어교육원

I just finished midterms this week at Sogang U. We had four exams which corresponded with our classes, Speaking written, Reading/Listening written, Writing composition, and Speaking interview. We were given two days in the schedule to review grammar and vocabulary in class. We began our exams first with our Speaking class written exam (this involved practicing all the vocabulary and expressions we had learned) and our Listening/Reading class written exam (involved listening to dialogues and answering questions in multiple choice or short answer). The following day we took our Writing Class  exam (this seemed varied by classes but generally we were given three compositions and 50 minutes to write). After receiving the comments back, I think the best thing to do for the exam is memorize all of the dialogues in the book. In Korea do as the Koreans do.

The following week we took our speaking interview exam. I had read online that Sogang’s language center focuses on speaking, but I did not know exactly what this meant. At Seoul National in the past, we had to be prepared to talk about various topics using hints from the questions to answer in a proper way. But the Sogang teachers gave us interesting feedback that I have never seen before. This was the first time I realized that Sogang is a bit superior in their feedback. The following items were listed and graded 1-5 (representing your level of ability; i.e. if 5 is circled you would enter at level 5):

1) *말하기 유창성 overall fluency (this listed your average level based on all scores)

2.)문밥 grammar (이해 comprehension/사용use)

3.)어휘 vocabulary (이해 comprehension/사용use)

4.)주제/상황 범위 topic knowledge

5.)담화 단위 연결성cohesion of speech

6.)발음 pronunciation

7.)억양 intonation

8.)의사 소통 전략 communication strategy

9.)언어 사용 적절성proper usage of expressions

After receiving my scores, I realized that my scores for 1-4 were much higher than for categories 5-9. So how can I improve this?  Sometimes personality really helps in languages.  If you are quiet and detail-oriented grammar comes more naturally and maybe you learn very systematically. However, if you have an active personality you are more adept at speaking and communication.  In my case, I tend to be more detail-oriented and quiet. This can be bad for getting over the beginner/intermediate hump and into the advanced zone of Korean. So I started to evaluate how I can improve. While there is no program that focuses purely on pronunciation, rhythm, and tone,  I discovered that I have to improve my speaking and communication strategies.

Improve Speaking http://www.selfhelplobby.com/improving-foreign-language-speaking-skills/

1)  The spoken language should be phonetically correct, with the right stress, intonation and rhythms.

2)  Grammar should be used correctly.

3)  The spoken language used while learning foreign languages should be socially appropriate. You need to keep in mind who you are speaking to, and what kind of norms of speech apply to you when addressing an audience.

4)  You should be able to optimize interaction with audience by changing your conversation strategies.

Improve Communication Strategies (Oxford’s Classification of Language Learning Strategies) http://iteslj.org/Articles/Hismanoglu-Strategies.html

This is a bit dry, so I just included the chart. If you want to read more please see the above-link. What I found interesting is that your learning can be broken into two main categories: direct and indirect strategies. Yes, being in the country helps but fine tuning your skills, being an active listener and speaker require much more effort. I want to call attention to two categories highlighted below: 1.) Compensation Strategies and 2.) Affective strategies.

First Compensation Strategies could be really helpful to study. Many books are situated in ways that we can memorize particular words and situations, but if you can create new ways to handle when we don’t know something rather than just saying 몰라요(I don’t know) then we could be much more active. Second, Affective Strategies seem to go hand in hand. If we change the way we think about handling these kind of situations, our attitude changes indirectly and then we become problem solves. Now this is much easier said than done so I hope that I can give some useful tips in the coming months on improving Korean.

    • I. Memory
      • A. Creating mental linkages
      • B. Applying images and sounds
      • C. Reviewing well
      • D. Employing action
    • II.Cognitive
      • A. Practising
      • B. Receiving and sending messages strategies
      • C. Analysing and reasoning
      • D. Creating structure for input and output
    • III. Compensation strategies
      • A. Guessing intelligently
      • B. Overcoming limitations in speaking and writing
    • I. Metacognitive Strategies
      • A. Centering your learning
      • B. Arranging and planning your learning
      • C. Evaluating your learning
    • II. Affective Strategies
      • A. Lowering your anxiety
      • B. Encouraging yourself
      • C. Taking your emotional temperature
    • III. Social Strategies
      • A. Asking questions
      • B. Cooperating with others
      • C. Emphathising with others