Enrolling in the KIIP (Korean Immigration and Integration Program) 사회통합프로그램 in Korean has been a long but rewarding process. I missed the January placement test, so I was unable to enroll in Spring classes.
I took the March placement test and received a 58 out of 60. 3 point shy of making it into level 4. At first, I was disappointed in myself. Realizing as a self-studier I have huge gaps in my Korean language abilities compared to students who have continuously learned through a Korean language program. I thought about how I should have studied more and do I really want to give up 10 hours every Sunday to study Korean?
In the beginning, I really didn’t want to take the classes out of selfish reasons of wanting to be in a higher level. I was adamant about not losing one of my rest days even though a lot of the time, I don’t have major plans for Sundays. My friend, Kristen, told me just sign up and give it a chance. If you don’t like it then you can stop taking the class.
The first class was hard as hell to sit through. I was totally immersed in Korean from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. except for our lunch break, which i ate with two friends.
During that first day I realized a few things:
One that this class would be great for practicing speaking Korean as most of my classmates don’t speak English.
Two that I was able to understand explanations of unfamiliar grammar and words in Korean.
Three I realized I was placed in the level I needed to be in.
The classes were hard starting at 3 p.m. It’s when the energy zapping demon comes and I realize there is no place to grab a coffee within 10 minutes. (Biggest fucking problem with afternoon tiredness!) So my head usually bobs up and down as I try to keep my eyes open for 30 minutes. At the following break I somehow seem to have found more energy for the remaining two hours every class.
During the term we are allowed to miss up to 20 hours of class. One day we left at lunch time to attend Seoul’s pride parade. Which I will write about later and the other time was the Sunday coming back from my vacation in Thailand. Although looking back on it I should have sucked it up and just have gone to class.
One thing about the class that was hard getting used to was that most of the people in class were already friends starting in level two. Which left me feeling like a bit of a loner in class as the seating arrangements were basically divided by where people were from. My class was mostly made up of workers and wives. Being the only person who is an English teacher in the class made me an oddity. Various people would stop and ask me, “Why are you here?”
Wanting to learn Korean and choosing to attend free classes never seemed like a good enough answer. Most people in my class spoke a lot better than I do. I have to constantly remind myself they are working in Korean companies or have Korean spouses. Whereas, I teach English all day at school. I speak Korean to the teachers, but I don’t interact with them that much at school. This was my biggest frustration with myself. Why can’t I speak better? Maybe I will leave that for some reflections on studying altogether another day.
The day of the final everyone in class was really nice. A few of the Chinese ladies told me to make sure I make it into level 4 so we can study together. It was really nice to have others share food and wish you luck before the exam. After 10 weeks I took the final and passed! You only need a 60 to pass, however, I was rather unimpressed with the 79 I received. I really wanted to break into the 80s, but realistically I didn’t devote enough time to studying as I should have. I feel like I messed up my speaking test and that made me quite upset afterwards for a bit. One thing I’ve learned from this experience is that I will make sure I do my best in level 4. One of my Vietnamese friends messaged me to see if I got into level 4. Luckily , we will be able to study together~! I’m excited for classes to start on September 13th. It has been a very short break, but I’m trying to get my shit in order as I say, so that I am a better student this time around. If anyone is interested in how to apply to the KIIP program please check out this post over at Key to Korean.