Learn korean using kpop and kdrama

Thursday, 18 September 2014

For most of us, our first introduction to Korea was through entertainment which led to a penchant for the Korean Language also known as Hangugmal~한국말. There are plenty of ways to learn this language but what about learning through the first reason why we got into Korea.

First and foremost, to be successful in studying this language there's a need to learn the alphabets known as Hangul~한글. This will not only make learning faster and easier, it also makes for a more accurate pronunciation. What I have found with the romanization of Korean words is that when it is pronounced the English way, it doesn't always sound correct and in some cases it changes the meaning of the word.

There's only so much that one can learn from a class or a textbook. And this is usually language that is used in a formal setting. With a society like Korea, it is crucial to understand the politeness level in speech. This makes the structured learning to be of importance. However, if you go to Korea and speak textbook Korean it might not sound natural or it will be too polite for an average conversation. This is where k-pop and Korean TV will help. You can learn the natural way of speaking Korean and also listening to Korean as well as picking up the latest Korean slang. This combined with your formal lessons in Korean will go a long way in improving proficiency.

You can learn a word quickly when you learn them with an association which makes using this form important. Our mind is a very interesting thing, it stores up memories without us realising. How many times have you unconsciously used the word Jinjja~진짜 or Hwaiting/Fighting~화이팅 or Babo~바보 and so on just from hearing it in a song or on T.V

I was told that when speaking in Korean, one should think in Korean. This is important because the grammar structure in Korean is different from the English language. Thinking in Korean will help you avoid directly translating thoughts and misuse of grammar structures. Although I can't tell you to what extent this is necessary for a beginner because it is a bit difficult and it takes a while to figure it out. But the longer you surround yourself with the language you unconsciously start thinking in the language.. it is a natural process.

 How do I go about doing this you ask? Well here are a few tips....


As much as structure is important, it isn't always fun. So learning through music can be a fun way to build up on vocabulary and phrases.You know how you learn the words to your favourite Korean songs, well instead of them remaining gibberish, why don't you use it to your advantage to understand what your favourite pop stars are actually saying.

One of the popular Korean song phrases is 내가 제일 잘 나가~I am the best which is the song title of one of 2NE1's songs. Now this isn't how the dictionary will translate this but it is the vernacular way of saying 'I am the best'.

Image by Keepapu Designs
 Kpop might not help you learn a lot of conversational Korean but it will help you with a lot of vocabulary and pronunciation. Take Taeyang's song '눈, 코, 입~Eyes, Nose, Lips' for example, it was the song of the summer and everybody sang along to it. Do you realise that you now know how to say three body parts in Korean and how to pronounce it correctly just by singing along to the song. This can be said of so many songs, you just have to consciously notice it thereby expanding your vocabulary bank!!

'눈, 코, 입 Eyes, Nose, Lips' by Taeyang

Most kpop fans know the show Music trend aka Inkigayo which shows the most popular songs trending and at the end viewers choose the best. what some don't know is Inki~인기 means popular in Korean. My point is new vocabulary are easily accessible if only we start noticing.

Note: If you're learning Korean you need to be aware of the formality levels of the language. Most kpop songs use informal language and this can only be used when you're among friends or when speaking to someone younger than you in an informal setting.

 Korean Drama and Variety Shows 

 From drama or variety show titles such as 아빠 ! 어디가?~Dad! Where are you going? and 연애 말고 결혼~Marriage not Dating to screen captions and actual conversations, there's a plethora of things to learn from Korean T.V. 

When it comes to dramas, you not only learn vocabulary but you also get first hand knowledge on how to react in a situation, what language to use, what phrases and so on. More often than not, I find myself predicting what is going to be said in a scene just by the feel I get in the situation. This isn't necessarily because I am learning Korean and I have a bit of knowledge on the language, but it is because I have seen similar situations a lot of times.

For instance I was watching a drama earlier in the day and one of the characters asked a question and I said out loud '모르겠어요~I don't know' which was the exact response that was given. I guess my subconscious has stored all this knowledge from the many dramas I have watched. '빨리 이리와~Come here quickly' is another phrase that I can predict when it is going to be used. I am sure most of Korean Drama fans are familiar with the words below due to the number of times it has been said in dramas.

It doesn't just take you knowing these words and phrases with an occasional nudge from your subconscious, but for this method of learning to be effective, you need to first repeat what you hear out loud to familiarise yourself with the correct pronunciation and then try and use it in a conversation, if possible on the same day. Now don't be scared that you won't know the correct way of using it, so long as the context is right, the person you are speaking to can correct you and this will help you in retaining the knowledge. If you don't know anyone who speaks Korean, you can try and use the words to form your own simple sentences using dictionaries such as Naver or Daum (I wouldn't recommend google translate). So basically, use what you learn and use it often!!

As we all know with variety shows, there are some flashy captions that are always popping up on the screens. You can find variety shows that sub the captions on the screen as well as the conversations. Try reading the captions, they are usually easy sentences, plus they are funny!! 

For example, with shows like The return of superman~슈퍼맨이 돌아왔다 you often find captions written in easy Korean that can aid your learning. Also in this show one of the kids, Cho Sarang is learning Korean, I find scenes where she is learning the language as a good lesson session for me as well and I learn a thing or two.

Sarang eating as per usual (This is an inside joke in the show)
I find that these methods help me a lot especially in learning everyday conversations and by immersing myself into conversational Korean, I have found that it has improved my thinking in Korean. There aren't always direct ways of translating Korean to English and sometimes the meaning is lost plus some words in Korean such as Uri~우리 do not have an exact English equivalent. But I have noticed that incorporating Learning through Kpop and Kdrama into my language resources has helped me in better understanding Korean.

I hope these will give you ideas on how to learn korean using Korean TV and the importance of it. 
Lemme know if you have questions in the comments. Good luck!! 화이팅!!!


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