Using K-Pop To Your Advantage For Learning Korean

Tongue&Talk
6 min readJun 8, 2021

Beginners guide to using K-pop songs for learning Korean.

K-pop is dominating the global music scenario, currently has a massive audience and has a huge market for Korean artists. The craze is not going to stop any time soon, it is going to get even more gigantic. The ‘Korean Wave’ or ‘Hallyu’ is growing day by day if you are not yet into the global movement you are missing out on a lot of great content. Korea is producing amazing content with the success of ‘Parasite’ many people are looking into Korean cinema, K-Dramas are already leaving a great mark amongst drama lovers. K-pop is ruling the world of young listeners of international music. The audience of K-pop is growing at a massive rate just take a look at the number of views a single video gets just after a few hours of dropping online. The growing audience of K-pop or ‘Hallyu’ in general has developed a keen interest in learning the language itself to avoid having to read subtitles or waiting for someone to finally translate the lyrics in their native languages. People are learning through YouTube videos, private lectures or even individually.

Here is my way of learning Korean through lyrics:

What genre do you like?

A lot of people confuse K-pop for being flashy, sparkling, loud tracks with a lot of rapping or extremely fast beats well they are correct but K-pop is extremely wide and consists of multiple genres and sub-genres. In reality, K-pop is more than mere dance numbers, it has ballads, original soundtrack (ost), trot, hip hop, rock, and much much more to offer. If you don't enjoy loud dance numbers, flashy tracks you can always go for ballads or any other sound of your choice the industry has a lot to offer. Join a fandom or become a casual listener completely your choice what matters is to enjoy great music created by fantastic artists. Pick your style of music and have fun.

These are some of my favorite artists, I love listening to pop songs along with ballads. Lee Hi, Super Junior and Davichi are my all time favorites. Gif Credit: @nakadyu_12

Using Sing-alongs

Make your voice your power, use karaoke tracks on YouTube and sing your heart out. Singing will help you get better with pronunciation. Singing will also help you build confidence while learning anything new it is important to have some fun. Singing is the most fun activity while learning a language pick your favourite song, learn the lyrics and start singing. You don't have to learn the complete song just pick your favourite parts and get singing. Write down the lyrics it will you learn hangul. Writing lyrics in hangul may take some time for beginners but it can be beneficial in learning to read and write hangul. Final note: listening to a song on repeats will help you learn the correct pronunciation, try to write lyrics, read them, add the rhythm and start singing.

Sing the songs you love and enjoy. I love singing Love Shot by EXO. Illustration: @nakadyu_12

Using The Internet To Learn The Lyrics And Meaning

Use the power of the internet for learning the lyrics and meaning of your favourite songs it goes without saying that the internet has helped connect the world extremely well. Many fans wait for the translation of newly released songs of their beloved idols and rely heavily on the kindness of strangers who are the best in the community to deliver the translated lyrics. Make these people your best friend for learning the lyrics. You can find many YouTube channels that put out lyrics video with simplified lyrics along with the translation. The channel I have referred to is Elvenasia.

Begin Again Korean covering The Road by G.O.D

Why Songs Are Easier To Learn And Remember

K-pop songs are extremely catchy, consists of amazing beats, great singers and beautiful melodies. Repetition in the songs is helpful for beginners to catch on to the lyrics. Repetition is a good thing, many a time we can find ourselves being able to sing those parts quite effortlessly. We can pick words easily because of the repetition in the song without even knowing the meaning of those lyrics. Constant listening may work in favour of improving Korean listening skills. Singing the lyrics may help in improve pronunciation, repeated listening and singing can help in remember the vocabulary better. Combined efforts of singing and listening can result in retaining the vocabulary for the long term.

The song I have used here as an example is Want by Lee Taemin. It is great song and it is also my first T-Pop song, if you know want I mean. Image Credit: @nakadyu_12

Getting The Hang Of Tons Of Vocabulary

To learn the vocabulary faster songs are the best way to go. Songs are repetitive thus retaining words is easier. I try to learn at least 20–25 words through a song. I learnt cheoncheon means slowly from Lee Taemin's song Want, yeah it was just one word at the beginning but ‘cheoncheonhi’ we can learn a complete language with a good foundation of vocabulary. The words are in different grammatical patterns too but do not worry too much about the forms of the words. Focus on learning the pronunciation and meaning of the words, try to build some sentences using the word, write it down for better remembring.

The song lyrics used here are from Dear Name-IU. It is a beautiful song with heartfelt lyrics. Yes, it is my handwriting. I am trying to improve my handwriting.

Watching The Interviews Or Variety Shows With Idols

Interviews are fun because they give us a close insight into the work process of the idols and we can also learn about polite speech and plain speech. Variety shows are extremely enjoyable and amusing we can have a fun time watching these along with the understanding of the speech which is used among the idols. It can help us to understand the senior-junior ( sunbae and hoobae) speech pattern. The way they address each other helps us learn polite and plain speech. The way they address a new artist and an artist who has been around for years are absolutely different, in English we do not such distinction but many Asian languages carry this notion. The link is to my favourite YouTube video consisting of Kim Heechul, I love and respect him.

Kim Heechul seems like one of the coolest people to hang out with. KBS TV (YouTube)

Writing Lyrics In Hangul And Translating It Into Native Language

While learning Korean please do not skip studying hangul. Hangul is the alphabetic system of Korean it can help you get a grip on reading as well as writing. Yes, the internet has made obtaining lyrics and their translation much easier but if we write the lyrics in a notebook or on a page it can help us get better at writing hangul. Write the translation on top of hangul to get quick access to the meaning of the words. It might take a long time to write down the lyrics but it is an effective method.

The lyrics are from The Road By G.O.D

Make Naver Your Bestfriend

Naver is the most important app used by Korean learners. It works best as a dictionary you can use this app to get the clear pronunciation of the words. You can learn phrases, make a note of vocabulary. Getting a quick translation is easy too. You can listen to an audio conversation, learning through K-drama, you can drop a question when you are in doubt. If you have not used this app yet please give it a try.

My Spotify Playlist

I am fairly new to K-pop but I am having the time of my life listening to some of the most amazing artists from the K-pop world. If you’re interested check out my playlist and find out whether you and I share similar taste in music. Share your playlist and let’s listen to all sorts of artists veteran, new, underrated, and many many more.

The tips I have mentioned have been a great help to me in my Korean language learning journey. I hope these tips help you too. Inconclusion K-pop can serve a great deal for improving listening, reading, writing and speaking skills all together. It will take some time but it will be a worthy effort. Keep Learning.

--

--

Tongue&Talk

I am passionate about languages and artificial intelligence. I am studying to be an NLP researcher. My dream is to combine these two beautiful fields of study.