I just wanted to report about the graduation at Sogang. It was interesting because we first met at our classrooms and then looked over our exam on the day of the graduation. We had enough time to look quickly at our final exams and what we got wrong then gathered and went to the ceremony together. Those who completed level 6, or a six month program received awards. Also, if you have perfect attendance you get acknowledged. I guess perfect attendance would be good if you want a free gift. It was a free umbrella, so I guess I feel a bit 속상해 that I didn’t get one. If you want a free umbrella 결석하지 마세요.
In terms of the final grades (성적표) the breakdown was interesting and I am still not sure if this is an accumulation of the entire term or mostly weighed heavily on the final exam. In any case this is what you will receive:
1.)인터뷰 평가 Oral Proficiency Interview Evaluation
This is broken into four sections and you are ranked between Novice (Level 1, 2, 3), Intermediate (Level 4, 5, 6), and Advanced (Levels 7, 8). Within each individual level there are three ranges (so I guess if you are Level 4, you could be at the lower/intermediate/higher end of Level 4). I am not exactly sure what the categories mean, but they gave us a sheet before the exam and we had to memorize the questions and the types of grammar that should be used with those questions. I think if we did not use the exact grammar then we lost points.
a.) 종합적 언어수행 능력 Global Tasks
b.) 상황 및 주제 Context & Content
c.) 문법 및 어휘 정확성 Accuracy
d.) 발화 단위 및 연결성 Text Type
2.)말하기 시험 Speaking Test
3.)필기 시험 Written Test, 4 categories: Grammar/Expressions, Writing, Reading, Listening
4.)9시 쓰기 9am Writing Exam
5.)수업 활동 평가 Classroom Participation: just scored between failure, unsatisfactory, fair, good, excellent (unnecessary grade)
6.)종합성적 Total Grade
7.)다음등급 Next level
I have no idea what the difference between the oral proficiency interview evaluation versus the oral test results. I think the former tests ability, and indicates your level. I think this trumps the oral test results which are just searching for you to answer precisely according to the grammar we should have studied with the questions. Overall, the only grade that is important here is the last grade: Next Level. You want to be able to go to the next level. If you score below 70% in any area then you have to repeat the level. My classmates generally scored around 90-97% in written categories, and around 80-93% in speaking abilities.
My personal impression of the exam is that Sogang does not check for pronunciation and intonation as they had indicated. I thought that the program would focus on this because it markets its speaking campaign so well. While I believe that level 3 was spot on with spoken Korean, the classroom format was not strict enough to force us to correct our own mistakes. Also because they did not require homework, and gave us an answer sheet to check our own workbooks, we weren’t forced to be strict in our own learning. I think the hardest section for me was the listening section, and most English speakers agreed that this was difficult for them. While the Japanese students said listening fared well, I think that believe English speakers have a harder time (due to language differences) it would be better to have more practice.
As for afternoon classes, I took the 어휘 수업 and we learned a lot of fun words, but we didn’t have homework or much chance to talk and practice speaking. The pronunciation class was held at the same time so I couldn’t take it, but I heard it was geared mostly toward Japanese speakers since there are many students studying at Sogang from Japan. I took the music class once, and I think it was interesting but it was held on a Friday afternoon and who really wants to sit and analyze a song on a Friday afternoon? The one class made me realize listening to music is really helpful, but I haven’t really been listening too much. Americano, 2am, that sort of stuff here and there.
Last thoughts, I wish I knew more grammar. I feel like I am lacking a bit in grammatical structure, transitions and connectors. However, if you are good at speaking and want to read then I don’t think that it is the right program because it isn’t strict and doesn’t teach written Korean (which is very different from spoken). Also I found the program does not focus on 높임말, 반말 so I have had trouble switching as easily due to lack of practice. But I don’t blame the program, just myself. All the programs in Korea are apparently very similar because they are all teaching to the TOPIK. I think a good environment, fun readings and good people are the most important to learning. I think Sogang was really fun and a great place to warm up my Korean speaking brain so I would recommend it for those who want to get back on the saddle, want to speak, and want to just have fun with it.