I’ve only been learning Korean (formally) for about four years now, and although I’m far from mastering the language I think I’ve gotten pretty far in a short amount of time. Learning a new language can sometimes be a pretty daunting task, but if you have the motivation and the right methods it can definitely be enjoyable. So, I’ve laid out a few things that have helped me throughout my language journey.
Ask yourself why you even want to learn this language
Don’t learn a random language just for the sake of having an extra boost on your resume. One very important part about language learning is that there should be very strong intrinsic motivation for doing so. In my case, I’ve always had an interest in Korean culture because of my best friend, so it seemed natural to learn Korean.
If you aren’t truly interested in learning a certain language, you won’t get very far. Once you get past the basics, its hard to find the motivation to study and practice if you weren’t very enthusiastic to begin with. That extra amount of enthusiasm is what will have you learning much quicker as well.
Don’t rely too much on your native language
When learning the basics of a language, its natural to try and rely on your native language as a crutch. We all do it. We think of what we want to say in our native language and then try to find a direct translation.
However, once you become more advanced you have to let go of this method. In my case, English and Korean are probably as different as you can get. There isn’t always a direct translation between the two. I’ve had to try and stop thinking in English in order to actually increase my Korean fluency. Once you stop translating in your head, you know you’re on the path to success.
Watch TV without subtitles
I know this sounds crazy. If I don’t know what they’re saying how am I supposed to learn? However, having subtitles on the bottom of the screen really isn’t helping anyone if you’re really trying to absorb the language. You focus too much on the words on the screen rather than listening to the words being spoken.
Lately, what I’ve been doing is watching an episode without subs and then finding the synopsis online to fill in any gaps. Or if I really need some kind of subtitles that day, I’ll watch with Korean subtitles. At first, it is admittedly frustrating to not understand everything that you’re watching. But, with time you’ll realize that you’re understanding more and more. Also, it helps you get used to how native speakers speak naturally and you can practice listening to different intonations.
Listen to music with lyrics
This is the complete opposite of what I just said with TV but hear me out. Music is much faster than TV speech and there’s also the background music as a distraction. Reading the lyrics with the music a few times will help you to actually hear each individual word properly. Then, after awhile, you won’t need the lyrics anymore to hear exactly what the singer is saying.
For beginning level learners, ballads are the perfect genre to start off with. Ballad singers tend to really enunciating each syllable so its easier to understand. For advanced learners, rap is the way to go. Rap is where most of the slang and cultural references are used so its definitely more of a challenge.
Talk to yourself in the target language
Many people talk to themselves even though they don’t want to admit it. Try talking to yourself in your target language, so you can learn new vocab that you would use often and practice different intonations. Also, if you’re one of those people who talks to TV shows, do that in the target language too. It may seem awkward at first but it really does help. It is especially helpful when trying to shy away from using your native language as a crutch.
Until next time,
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