Five of the ten top ideas for discovering and learning new Korean words and phrases were listed in the
where I suggested online learning tools like Memrise, vocabulary videos, books, magazines and online comics. Here is the second part, with the other five ideas:
10 best ways to learn Korean vocabulary
Another plus is that within multiple episodes of the same show certain words keep getting repeated over and over again. This is why I find learning from TV series and shows easier than from movies, which tend to have more complex vocabulary and less opportunity to repeat it. A Korean drama can run up to 20 hours or more, whereas you will struggle to find a single movie that last over 3 hours. Bad news for those like me who prefer movies, but great news for every drama fanatic.
However, even with many episodes watched, if you had been too engrossed in a plot and paying no heed to the language, you probably will come out learning nothing.
Learning a language is hard work, and leisurely watching fun shows is unfortunately not going to get you anywhere. As usual, learning takes effort and concentration.
It’s best to choose something you liked enough to watch several times and once you already know the plot to go back and re-watch it, but this time, concentrate on the sound and content of the language.
Pause often and take your time to add the words you pick up into Memrise or any other place where you keep track of Korean words and meanings. This might be a bit difficult if you can’t guess the spelling of the word just from hearing it in a scene. That’s why once you know the plot you can go ahead and use Korean subtitles instead of English, or your own language. Unfortunately, Korean subtitles for Korean series and movies as opposed to the foreign ones are a lot more difficult to find.
Korean Hangul subtitles for American, British, Japanese, Chinese etc. shows, dramas and movies
- Jamak Korean subtitles for American, British, Japanese, Chinese … dramas, movies, animation, documentaries… (You can choose the type by selecting a tab, or just search in 전체 to search all.)
- GOM Korean subtitles for American and Japanese movies and series. (If you install GOM player it has automatic subtitle search function.)
- Cineaste Korean subtitles for American, British, Japanese, Chinese … movies. (Use the lower search bar next to the 제목 drop-down menu, not the upper red one. It seems they also recently added login requirement to use the search function.)
- Cineaste Korean subtitles for American, British … dramas. (Same as above but doesn’t seem to require login.)
- Daum tv Pot for anime fans: streamed anime with original Japanese audio and Korean captions. (Search in the upper right corner next to 전체 in the drop-down menu. Just type the name of the show you are looking for in Hangul, for example: 원피스 for One Piece, 블리치 for Bleach, 디지몬 for Digimon, etc.)
- DCInside Gallery Korean subtitles for American dramas and tv series.
- YIFY Korean subtitles for a few selected American movies.
Korean Hangul subtitles for Korean shows, dramas and movies
- Korean subtitles for the deaf (It seems you need to sign up.)
- TTMIK has a series of natural Korean talks with both Korean and English captions. Make sure to choose their own subtitles and not auto-generated. Even though they try to keep it simple, their talks are not for beginners.
Keep in mind that some of the contents on those sites might be copyrighted and it’s up to you not to break any copyright laws.
If all else fails (or maybe before you even try anything else) you can always type the name of the show and add “한글자막” in the search engine and hope for the best. 한글자막 literally means Hangul subtitles.
Since Hangul subtitles for Korean dramas and movies are really rare, an alternative is to find Hangul transcripts. This will only work for serious studying and take quite a bit of effort because you will have to have the text open next to the show playing and carefully follow what is being said. Several blogs have some Hangul drama transcripts and subtitles.
SBS has the option to view transcripts of some of their dramas which have already finished airing. Click on the drama you want, then select the second tab on the right, with the title 자막보기. There is a blue button with an option to download the transcripts 다운로드, but you need to be logged in.
To help you follow Kdramas popular Korean teaching team TTMIK prepared video lessons on common Korean drama phrases.
There are also TED Talks in English with Korean captions.
Even though Korea has other genres of music to offer, foreign learners of Korean are definitely the most familiar with Kpop.
I was reminded of this and its immense popularity once again in the form of a choice made by Loving Korean readers when asked to choose Kpop song they would most like to see turned into a guide on learning the language with lyrics and song. I took your favorite song and written
By popular vote INFINITE’s “The Chaser” won, and the sheer amount of people that visited the site during those few days of voting reflect how popular Kpop really is and how enthusiastic its fans are.
And I believe that unwavering enthusiasm is the most powerful tool for learning a new language.
However, a word of caution: lyrics are poetry. They do not need to abide to grammatical rules nor do they necessarily represent the language as it is spoken. It is good to keep this in mind when using Kpop lyrics to learn Korean vocabulary.
Critics of learning Korean through Kpop assume that daily communication with Koreans is the end goal of every learner. But people learn a language for different reasons. Actually I would be willing to bet there are more people learning Korean in order to understand K-pop songs and watch K-dramas than those that will get an opportunity to travel to Korea or make Korean friends and learn the language in order to communicate with them.
The advantage of learning a language through songs is that they probably have higher repetition value than any other learning method. How many times are you willing to go through the same grammar lesson in a textbook? Two times? Five times? Ten? Yet you can easily listen to your favorite song hundred times without it feeling like a chore.
Whatever your goal is, it’s fine learning Korean from K-pop. Just make sure it’s not your ONLY source. Which actually can be said for any other source as well. Mix it up.
Korean apps and games
While there are many apps for learning many different aspects of Korean language, from alphabet to grammar, among Korean vocabulary games I find those that help you learn Korean numbers the most useful.
Learning numbers is not difficult, even Korean numbers which use two different systems. But sitting calmly and jotting down numbers from a textbook where you have all the time in the world to recall each number is very different than hearing the numbers spoken in conversation and recalling them fast enough to be able to follow what is being said.
I was very proud for getting 100% correct answers each time I translated numbers. But first time I tried to understand someone saying a number I was in trouble. “Was it 3 or 4? 삼 is 4. No, wait, 3. Ok, that’s 3… What did she say next? Ten thousand. Ah, 30 thousands… Wait, slow down! Which number came next???”
The most efficient way for me to speed up was to use Learn Korean numbers games. They are fast-paced and force you to recall numbers quickly which is great exercise for real life.
I liked these the most:
LEARN KOREAN NUMBERS, FAST! This app has a short explanation about Korean numbers as well as two beginner lessons where by clicking you can hear the correct pronunciation of Native or Sino-Korean numbers.Practice of Native Korean numbers runs up to a hundred, and Sino-Korean numbers all the way up to ten million, the largest I ever encountered in an app. Every exercise has audio. You can turn on or off English Romanization displayed alongside Hangul.There are three modes of practice: from numerals to Hangul, from Hangul to numerals, and from Korean audio to numerals. The big downside is lack of automatic checker for the first two modes. You are given a number, and a hidden answer which you reveal by clicking a button. It would be very nice if you could input your answer and have the app automatically check if you were correct as well as track the percentage of correct ones.There is also an extra practice in telling time.Learn Korean Numbers is available on Android, iPhone and the Apple iPad. LEARN KOREAN BUBBLE BATH FREE This app only covers Native Korean numbers. The bubbles in the game start from the bottom of the screen and float upwards. You have to select them one by one and match them with numbers in the margins, whether it’s Korean to English, English to Korean, Romanization to English, etc. As you progress through the game the bubbles speed up. You start off with 5 health points represented with hearts. If you lose all five of them you have a chance to retry that level.Numbers are pronounced every time you select them, and there is a mode where nothing is written on the bubbles and you only get to hear them which is good for honing your listening skills. Last level is mixed audio and text.There are options to choose difficulty, which as far as I could tell, influences just the speed of bubbles.The app overall is the most pleasant one I encountered, both in the sound and picture quality, as well as Arirang background music. It is unfortunate that it covers only native Korean numbers up to 10. But it does have other word categories too like animals, body parts, etc. KOREAN BUBBLES! Out of all other app games this one forced me to be the most concentrated and had the best selection of game modes. However, it is also the least pleasant to look at and actually made me nauseous a few times even when I turned off the background and slowed the bubbles down. I did play on large tablet screen so maybe that won’t be an issue on smaller phone screens.The options to choose from are Native Korean numbers, Sino-Korean Numbers, both of which run up to a hundred, and colors. There are 4 different options, either from 1 to 10, or from 1 to 99. And they go both ways Korean to numerals or numerals to Korean. This app keeps your score and has highscore list.Settings offer different speeds, number of questions in each round (5, 10, 20, 50), and backgrounds, including a blank black one. KOREAN HANGUL NUMBERS This app is a take on the viral 2048 game.While you may have fun playing this game it is unlikely you will learn much as there is no audio for pronunciation, no Native Korean numbers, and you can just match the tiles visually without even having to consider which numbers they actually represent.Still, a nice fun past-time while giving you the feel like you are not venturing far away from your Korean studies.
I found another app called Kmaru NUMBER but it is constantly crashing and I can’t start it up. Let me know if you have more luck.
Changing device language is really fun, if not a bit unnerving, but it feels great to get a real world experience with Korean language. This is not beginner stuff, this is the real deal that native speakers themselves actually use. Just make sure you know enough of the language before you make the switch so if you get in trouble you are able to change the settings right back.
Making the switch on Windows 8 is really easy and not overwhelming because all programs will remain in the same language they were before, and all your file and folder names will remain unchanged as well. Names of default folders like 사진 for “Pictures”, 데스크톱 for “Desktop”, 파일 for “file”, 홈 for “Home”, date format, OS commands etc. will be in Korean. Not only are these words short and easy to learn, but most of them are derived from English so it won’t be difficult to guess their meaning even without a dictionary. And you probably already memorized the layout of icons and basic commands by now.
What you will encounter when you make the switch on Android is similar. Some apps will change their name to Korean while some will remain the same. System controls and settings will all be in Korean. And all your folder and file names with not change.
I list this last not because it is the least important, but rather because you will use it as a supplement for finding the meaning, pronunciation and usage examples of the words you discovered using the other nine methods listed here.
There is a way, however, to use a dictionary as a tool for discovering new Korean vocabulary, and not just as a tool for Korean words translation of the ones you have already found.
As you can imagine, trying to randomly pick out Korean words to learn from a dictionary is a really bad idea. Even worse is learning the words one by one alphabetically.
When searching for a meaning of a word you have discovered using the other nine ways, make sure to look at the sample sentences provided. Seeing the word used in a natural Korean sentence helps in truly understanding its meaning. Some sentences are too complex so feel free to ignore them as a beginner. Most are simple enough. And when it happens that you don’t understand only one or two words in a sentence, write those down (have you tried calligraphy?) or add them to Memrise. While you are looking up the meaning, just repeat the process: find sample sentences, pick the ones where you only don’t know a word or two, find those words, and so on. You can continue this process for a long long time, so make sure to actually take the time to memorize the words at some point.
There is probably no reason for a beginner learner of Korean to go and invest money in a dictionary. Naver online dictionary and Daum online dictionary are free, available online and enough to satisfy the needs of any beginner.
Example of how to find the sample sentences can be shown with the word 준비 in Naver dictionary. Scroll down to 영어사전 and click on the first blue link which is located above English translation.
The same word 준비 in Daum Dictionary has sample sentences listed under the tab 예문.
There you have it, the 10 best ways to learn Korean vocabulary I have discovered so far. Do you have another efficient or fun way to enrich your Korean vocabulary list?