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Stop Studying Korean for the TOPIK

If you’re reading this, then you likely:

  1. Studied for the TOPIK
  2. Currently are studying for the TOPIK
  3. Are thinking of studying for the TOPIK

I’m here to ask you to be honest with yourself and write down the top 3 to 5 reasons why you are studying Korean for the TOPIK. Once you do that, ask yourself if the TOPIK will help you achieve those goals that you just wrote.

For those of you who don’t know what the TOPIK is, it’s the Test of Proficiency In Korean. The test is designed and administered by the NIIED (National Institute for International Education) and given 4 times a year. It is used as a gauge of how well you know Korean, and is often required to work at a Korean company or to attend a university in Korea.

Often times, people choose to study Korean for the TOPIK exam to have a goal to shoot for while studying Korean. It’s a good goal because it will help you develop your reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. The vocabulary necessary also gives a solid base, especially if you know how to memorize words well. Also the certification can be a benefit if you have a use for it.

However, other times people just choose to study Korean for the TOPIK as an arbitrary goal. Studying for the TOPIK can be detrimental to your Korean study since it can be demotivating to not be moving toward your goal. For example, your goal might be to be able to hold a conversation with a new Korean friend for at least 10 minutes. If that’s the case, then the TOPIK is not going to match up with that goal. There is no speaking component in the TOPIK, so you won’t get any speaking practice. On top of that, you’ve invested a significant amount of effort into writing, which you may not use. If all you’re trying to do is impress your Korean friends, then it definitely isn’t worth it.

There is also a great deal of vocabulary and grammar that you likely won’t use in the 10-minute conversation scenario. Instead of investing additional resources into learning those essential items for the test, you can use that time more wisely. Maybe you’ll want to extend to a 20-minute conversation, learn some Korean slang, or start up on another language.

No matter what point you are at in your TOPIK Korean study, now’s a good time to take a breather and decide if this is the route you want to be taking. Maybe it’ll help reinforce your reasons for why you are studying, and give you additional motivation. Or on the flipside, you may decide that it’s time to stop studying Korean for the TOPIK. There are other books and programs out there to help you achieve your language goals, especially in Korea, so take a look and evaluate them. You may find that your goal is closer than you think!

What are your reasons for studying for the TOPIK? Feel free to leave a comment below, we’d love to hear from you!