one girl's journey across kpop paradise

Category Archives: Korean Learning

…and not at all too happy about that fact. But I knew that as much as I wanted to stay in Korea forever, I had to come back to the States to finish up my Bachelor’s Degree…and to improve my Korean skills big time.

See, I’ve pretty much decided that I’m going to move back to Korea after college, and in order to do that, I need to master the language. It sounds really daunting, and often I’m asking myself why I’m even doing this. I’m fluent two of the most commonly used languages in the world (English and Mandarin), and Korean is rarely used anywhere, except in Korea. But Korea has captured my heart and soul, and I know I would be really doing myself a disservice if I just pushed aside that aching urge to become fluent in Korean, move to Korea and marry a cute Korean guy.

To be honest, I would really love it right now if I just became Korean and didn’t have to go through the painstaking process of learning a totally new language from the ground-up, at my age (I’m 20! =___=). It may not seem old, but at this point, learning any new language requires a very serious amount of dedication, time commitment, and perseverance. I’m not like those other k-pop fangirls who say they’re “learning” Korean and are stuck at oppa and jjincha – I’m committing basically all my free time to it. I’m sorry if I’m sounding snobby right now, but this language-learning endeavor has become the #1 in my life. And as slow as I feel that my progress is, I know I’m improved so much since 5 months ago. I can even understand most of Talk to Me In Korean‘s Iyagi series (before the 40s)!

Right now I am using Seoul National University’s Level Two book, and it is definitely the best textbook I have used thus far. Korea University’s Korean textbooks are complete rubbish, and if you ever decide to study abroad in Korea to learn Korean, I highly recommend you go to Yonsei, Seoul, or Sogang instead. Because just learning from a textbook gets boring really quickly, I am reinforcing what I’m learning (grammar, vocab) by watching variety shows (better than dramas, because variety shows often have Korean subtitles or related commentary) and as always, listening to k-pop.

My love affair with everything Korea has not come to an end simply because I’m back in the States. I will continue to improve my Korean skills and I hope to make Korean friends here ^^ Until next time!

Hey guys! On a cheerier note, I would like to share with you my current Korean-learning methods and how you can learn Korean, the best way possible.

Lately my Korean friends have been telling me that my Korean has improved – one friend who didn’t know I was learning Korean even told me she didn’t know I spoke Korean so well! Honestly, I think they’re just flattering me because they’re nice, but it doesn’t hurt to have Koreans recognize my continuous efforts to learn their (rather difficult) language.

A couple of weeks ago, I met this guy at Language Cast who has a Master’s Degree in English Language Learning or something along those lines. He said that the best way for a beginner to learn a new language is first by memorizing 800 (I think I remembered that number correctly) of the language’s most frequently used words. He calls it a ‘frequency corpus’ but when I looked online for it, I couldn’t find a good list. He says that after you memorize these words, you should fully immerse yourself in the language – listening and watching Korean TV shows would be the easiest way. And he says to turn the subs (even Korean) off.

So I was interested in this idea, and I tried it, but in the end, the method is not for me. I feel like I’m talking about modifying current diet methods or something. But it’s actually kind of similar, honestly. Both with weight and language acquisition, if you don’t keep it up, you will lose it (or in the case of weight, gain it back). So for me, I have developed the following method.

  1. Everyday, or as often as I can, look up words in the English Naver dictionary. This dictionary has become like my bible. It’s really wonderful, and gives every usage of a word, and usages of different words with similar meaning. The only downside is that it doesn’t pronounce the Korean sentences, just the English, because I think it’s a dictionary created for Koreans to learn English.
  2. I watch Korean dramas all the time. I make sure it’s a drama or TV show that interests me, and I have English subtitles. Many people say having English subs won’t help you learn, but for me, it’s the opposite. I’ve learned so much Korean by watching dramas with English subs. I don’t want to just fumble in the dark for the meaning of a sentence – I want to know it, so that when I hear it again, I’ll know it.
  3. Try to speak in Korean as much as possible with Koreans and with friends learning Korean. Even if I don’t know the correct/proper way to say something, I want to try saying it. Practice makes perfect, after all.
  4. I keep a Korean verbs and a Korean expressions notebook, for jotting down every new verb and expression I learn. I also write down examples and sentences next to every new verb/expression, and the act of simply writing down what I learn is helpful for memory consolidation. Plus, I really like having a reference book to look at when I’m fumbling for words.
So that’s it! My four simple steps to better Korean everyday! Trust me, I’ve tried a lot of different books, websites, and methods, but these four things are what I’ve found to be the most effective. Sure, I will keep going to Korean class, but I think this is by far more effective..and fun. I’m sincerely really excited to learn Korean this way, and I’m often bored to tears in Korean class, since the class is either too advanced or too simple for me. This way is the best, for I can always be at my own level.
Have your own way of learning Korean? Please share in the comments below!