As many of you know, Sogang University is famous for their excellent Korean language program. Their textbooks are sold worldwide, and I’ve heard several Korean learners praise the super-intense language program for the specific focus on building speaking confidence. Since I’m already working at Sogang, I thought it would be a pity to miss out on the opportunity to take Korean classes here. Unfortunately, my own teaching schedule did not allow me to take classes in the fall, so as soon as the application window for the winter period opened up I signed up.

Since I never took any formal Korean classes before, they had to test my level in order to figure out what class I should be assigned to. For your reference, Sogang Korean has 6 levels 1&2 (beginner), 3&4 (intermediate), and 5&6 (advanced). I took the placement test yesterday and was orginally offered to be assigned to level 6. However, I told them that since I had never taken any classes before, I would prefer to start at level 5 in the winter term and then take level 6 in the spring. This means that starting this coming Monday, I’ll be taking Korean classes daily for the next six months or so. Yay!! So excited.

So, how did the placement test go? I was assigned the 10:30-11:30 time slot and showed up 10 minutes before. I’d have liked to come even earlier but I was teaching in the morning, so I had to end class a bit early and then run to the test site. There were so many foreigners (mainly Japanese) waiting in line. After showing my ID card, I was shown into a room where we were to take the written test. I had expected a multiple choice (TOPIK style) format with grammar and vocab questions, but oh no, we were to write an essay in Korean. There were three categories written on the board (beginner, intermediate, and advanced) each category then had a subset of questions to choose from. I chose the advanced topic “내가 느낀 한국인의 특징” (My experience of special Korean characteristics).

We had 30 minutes to write as much as possible. I spent 5 minutes before we were dealt the paper to write up the outline in my head, thinking about which grammatical structures to use, so I could start writing freely once the timer started. Strangely enough I’m able to hand-write Korean really fast (much faster than I write English or Danish), so within 30 minutes I had filled out an entire page front and back with my personal views on Korean quirks. I was then told to go one floor up for my speaking test. When I came into the room I was to give my essay to the teacher who would interview me. She read it, smiling at the humorous parts, and then asked me to give a 자기소개 (a self-introduction), I then spent 7-8 minutes talking about myself, my Korean learning journey, and my life in Seoul until a point where she had to stop me (what can I say, I’m a talker in any language). She then asked me what kind of level I would prefer, and I said 5. She was worried that it would be too easy, since my writing and speaking skills were already beyond that level. I then said that since I also had time to enroll in the spring semester, I’d prefer to start from level 5 even though I knew the curriculum already.

So there you have it. From Monday morning I’ll officially be both a professor and a student here at Sogang. I can’t wait!!!


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