The first few steps of learning a language is the hardest, but once you get the ball rolling, improving fluency can be fun. There are ways to improve your Korean without shelling out for private tuition and spending hours with boring grammar books. These 7 activities are so fun that you won’t even realise that you’re learning.
Let TV Teach You
The easiest method by far (and probably your gateway into Korean learning) is watching Korean TV. Korean drama, movies, and variety shows are extremely entertaining, easy to watch and addictive. By simply watching shows with subtitles, already you will start associating sounds with their English meaning. However you must be active in the process; listen, pause and repeat lines or mouth along to the characters on screen, or write down your favourite quotes.
Some Korean variety shows are very similar to children’s TV shows, as they repeat catchphrases and games in every episode and often playback clips. If you want to tackle harder subjects, you should try watching debate and discussion shows such as ‘Abnormal Summit’ (비정상회담), or investigative documentary shows like ‘I Want To Know That’ (그것이알고싶다).
Korean Youtubers And AfreecaTV
While TV is great, sometimes it can be a little too time consuming, or maybe you can’t find the right show for you. More and more Korean Youtube channels are being made everyday, so there is a huge variety of content to choose from. Listening to amateur Korean broadcasters will give you a access to unfiltered colloquial Korean, which is something you can’t get from watching censored broadcasts. You will be exposed to a variety of dialects, new slang terms and natural colloquial speaking Korean.
Click here to read ‘Top 10 Korean Youtubers’.
Tongue twisters (발음하기 힘든 어구) are sentences that are made deliberately hard to say. They’re not easy in any language, let alone in your second language. Repeating tongue twisters will get your mouth and tongue used to certain sounds and will help in your overall Korean pronunciation. Why don’t you try some of these right now.
간장공장 공장장은 강 공장장이고, 된장공장 공장장은 공 공장장이다
육통 통장 적금통장은 황색 적금통장이고 팔통 통장 적금통장은 녹색 적금통장이다
Singing along to a Korean song is the ultimate listening-speaking-reading test (as long as you don’t mumble the Korean). You must read the Korean lyrics, keep up with the rhythm and pitch, while preparing for the next line. If you live in Korea, karaoke (노래방) is a huge part of leisure culture, so there will be plenty of opportunities to practice. Singing karaoke will help you speed read and pronounce Korean words.
Singing in Korean is hard, but rapping is harder. Although the words are spoken like sentences which is more natural in comparison to some odd Kpop lyrics, the fast tempo and keeping the beat is a challenge. What makes rap different from pop or ballad, is that the focus is out more on the individual sounds of a word, which will help with memorising vocabulary and pronunciation. Rapping well is hard enough for Koreans so if you can rap in Korean, speaking won’t be such a big challenge.
The best way to practice a language is to talk with a native speaker. Language exchange meetings take place all over Seoul, and are advertised in English on the internet (Click here for ‘5 Apps For Making Friends In Korea’). However most people at the language exchanges will be Koreans seeking to practice their English, so you need to be determined and negotiate with language partners. Different language exchange functions will have different rules. Most take place in Hongdae, Gangnam and Itaewon.
Language Exchange Apps
If you do not live in Seoul or are unable to meet people face to face, there are social apps you can download for free on your smartphone that can expose you to a whole new community of language learners. Apps like HelloTalk can connect you to fluent speakers from other countries, and you could even start a true friendship through this app.
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