7 Study Techniques That Will Supercharge Your Korean Listening Skills
7 Study Techniques That Will Supercharge Your Korean Listening Skills

We all know that practice makes perfect…

But it’s not always quite so simple.

Of course, practicing Korean is crucial to progressing toward fluency, but the type of practice you do is just as key.

This is especially true when it comes to training your ear in the language.

After hours and hours of study, you might be able to read a Korean text or identify tons of new vocabulary but still struggle with deciphering the sounds of spoken Korean.

If that’s the case, it’s time to take a hard look at your study methods and try out some new, targeted techniques to get your listening skills on track.

So read up, and learn the best-kept secrets to dramatically improving your Korean listening comprehension.

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

7 Secrets to Improving Your Korean Listening Skills
1. Identify Problem Areas When Listening to Korean Sounds

Korean pronunciation is different from that of other languages in many ways. When first learning the language, you might rely on the romanization of words and phrases. However, this will only confuse you when you eventually try to converse with or listen to Korean natives.

That’s because certain Korean sounds don’t exist in English or other Western languages. Leaning on the sound equivalents in romanizations will make it a lot harder for you to learn and distinguish sounds as they’re really used in Korean.

To remedy this issue, try to identify which sounds are most difficult for you.

An easy way to get started is to watch a Korean movie, preferably using bilingual subtitles so you can more easily verify spelling and words, pausing frequently and writing down what you hear. Then, compare your writing with the actual words. The way you write the words tells you what letters you’re prone to confuse.

Generally, simple, aspirated and tense consonants are the most difficult for learners to distinguish.

  • Simple consonants (ㄱ,ㄷ, ㅂ, ㅈ and ㅅ) are the closest to English. They’re plain and pronounced without exaggeration or stress.
  • Aspirated consonants (ㅋ, ㅌ, ㅍ and ㅊ) are pronounced with a burst of air.
  • Tense consonants (ㄲ, ㄸ, ㅃ, ㅆ and ㅉ) are said with a harder, stiffer voice than their plain counterparts. The hard d sound in “duck!” is like the sound made by the Korean ㄸ.

To familiarize your ear with these sounds, try to find three Korean words with the same consonant—but with each one’s pronunciation falling into a different category.

Here are some examples to get you started. You’ll see the three versions of each consonant appear in this order: 1) simple, 2) aspirated, 3) tense.

  • The Korean K
  • The Korean P
  • The Korean J
  • The Korean S
    • Simple: 사람 (person)
    • Tense: 싸다 (to be inexpensive)

The next step is to play them over and over again using the listening tool in the Naver dictionary. Open different tabs in your browser so you can easily navigate between pages.

2. Use Technology Hacks to Improve Your Korean Listening Daily
Use Your Phone to Record Conversations

Why it works:

This is a fantastic strategy to practice listening by turning your personal experiences into custom lessons. In so doing, you’ll be focusing on words that are relevant to you while also improving your own pronunciation skills. What better way to detect your own listening patterns and errors than to listen to yourself?

How to do it:

Use your smartphone’s built-in voice recorder to record your Korean dialogues. There are helpful tutorials to guide you through the process whether you’re an iPhone or Android user. Alternatively, use a voice recording app if you prefer to record longer conversations. These articles list some useful options for iPhone and Android.

Then, simply record all your lessons, reading practices and friends’ conversations in Korean and play them often. Try to focus on sounds that you missed, if any, and repeat what you hear.

Listen to the Same Podcasts Over and Over

Why it works:

Podcasts are word-rich audio recordings that feature real-world conversations and presentations by teachers and/or native Koreans. Better yet, podcasts are typically educational and will bring color and culture to your Korean studies.

How to do it:

The best strategy is to download a diversity of podcasts so you can listen to them without burning your data and when you don’t have access to Wi-Fi. This will allow you to truly incorporate them into your daily routine and turn down time into productive Korean listening sessions.

Great moments to listen to podcasts include your commute, when you’re doing chores around the house or when you’re grocery shopping.

SBS features some fantastic podcasts to propel your Korean listening. This article will help you identify some other terrific Korean podcasts based on your interest and fluency level.

Set Up Your Voice-activated Devices in Korean

Why it works:

Turning on your voice-activated devices is a smart method to surround yourself with Korean sounds and immerse yourself in a Korean environment without leaving your country. It’ll also allow you to develop precise listening skills and help you to acquire specific terminology along with plenty of useful action verbs.

How to do it:

Simply change the language settings on all your devices that use voice command to Korean. Your smartphone is a great place to start, but go a step further and set up your car’s voice-command system, your tablets, your GPS and any other voice-activated devices in Korean as well.

Read your owner’s manual if you’re not sure how to access language settings, or look up instructions for your device on Google.

3. Download Korean Songs

Why it works:

Songs are a terrific tool to train your ear to detect common Korean sounds using repetition, rhythm and rhymes. In addition, songs are catchy and fun to memorize, making it easy for you to learn new vocabulary and practice pronunciation without much effort.

How to do it:

The key to improving your Korean listening skills through songs is to maximize your listening opportunities. Create a playlist on your favorite streaming site or app such as YouTube or Spotify, or purchase your favorite songs on iTunes so you can listen to them offline as well.

Opt for upbeat K-pop songs during your workout or walks and opt for peaceful ballads during your commute or while you meditate. KBS World Radio is a great place to find a diversity of Korean songs. In addition, this article will give you some nice ideas to keep building your Korean music library and find songs that match your taste.

Source: FluentU