Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Final

The final exam is over! It wasn't too difficult (쉬운 편였어요), so I wasn't nervous (긴장 안되었어요), and I felt pretty good about my performance all the way through. The exam was broken up into three sections: reading comprehension, writing, and speaking.

The reading section was straightforward, but on one section, we were given four sentences and had to figure out which one of them had no grammatical mistakes. I didn't think it would be difficult, but as soon as I read through the choices, I had to make sure that I was choosing the one correct sentence, not the one incorrect sentence, because I couldn't find any mistakes in most of them. I ended up guessing on those questions, and probably got them wrong.

In the writing section, the biggest portion was a short essay on a hobby. I've written about enjoying photography and working out, but I decided to go for something new and wrote about liking music (음악) and playing the guitar and the piano whenever I have time. It was an awkward essay, because I had to use specific grammatical points and wrote clumsy sentences such as, "Because I get good feelings when I am playing guitar, if I can't play guitar then I'm a bit sad." ...Yeah. Here it is in Korean: "기타를 치고 있을데 기분이 좋아 졌기 떼문에 연주 할 수 없으면 슬픈 것 같아요."

Unfortunately, I'd misspelled "guitar" (기타) throughout the entire essay: I wrote about how much I liked to play the "kuitar" for a whole page. Oops!

Lastly, there were two oral examinations. One was with a dialogue partner; we chose a scenario and had to role play. I was paired with Soon, which was a bad idea from the start because whenever Soon and I sit next to each other in class, we end up in hysterics. She's very funny, but has a knack for putting me into embarrassing situations during which I can't stop laughing. Anyway, Soon was a fun partner to work with, and it probably didn't surprise anyone that our role play ended ridiculously. I was looking for a suit to buy for teaching attire, and Soon the shopkeeper kept insisting that I buy a pink or orange suit, because those were in style.

After that, I had my one-on-one interview with my teacher. I admit I was more nervous coming into this one, but it was all right. I was asked to describe my parents ("저는 어머니를 닮았어서 눈이 큰 편이에요." I take after my mother, so my eyes are on the bigger side.) and talk about what kinds of situations made me happy, sad, or nervous. The interview didn't take as long as I thought, or maybe time passed quickly.

All in all, I think I did fine. I wanted to do well not really because my over-achiever drive was kicking in, but because I wanted to show my Korean teachers that I've indeed come a long, long way since my arrival in Korea. I mean, in all seriousness, I am so much more competent in the language now, and I'm kind of amazed at how much my class has managed to cover in five short weeks. Actually, my teacher who did my final exam oral interview was the same teacher who interviewed me during the placement test on Day 2. During that interview, I could only talk about when I arrived in Korea, tell the time, say that I like Korean food... really basic stuff. Now, I can write an essay about myself and my hobbies; I can describe peoples' appearances and personalities; I can make travel plans for winter break. No, fluency is still a long, long way off, and I still am not sure if I can successfully direct a taxi driver to a new destination, but hey, little steps!

A lot of the other students (future teachers!) were very anxious about this exam, because not passing our Korean crash course actually results in termination of the grant. But, in reality, I don't think anyone is going to fail the course. Even if someone technically receives a failing grade on the final, it's the effort that counts, and our Korean language teachers are aware of that. (And at this point, now that we've gotten our placements, the program would do anything to prevent a grantee from going home!) So, success really does depend on the amount of effort you put in.

In a more abstract way, this will apply to my year as a teacher, as well. For one, I will have to instill in my students the mindset that getting a low grade doesn't mean you're a failure (at least not in my class). It will also become apparent to them quickly enough that if you don't try to learn a language, you simply won't. For me personally, I'm also going to make plans to continue Korean classes regularly during my grant year or find a language partner to practice conversational skills. I've got to be held accountable, though, because if I don't make the effort, I won't get the results I want.

Here's to successful language learning! 아자자 화이팅!