So you have finally started learning Korean? (If you haven’t, check out my previous blogpost where I gave tips on how to start learning this language!)
You started with your 한글 but you want to speak fluently even faster?
Everyone knows, that learning a language takes time. It takes a lot of patience and endurance. You also have to have dedication, otherwise you will forever be stuck in the ‘beginners’ level. Which is already awesome! How many people can say, they studied a whole different language all by themselves? But let’s be honest. We started it. So we have to see it through!
Just like learning a second language at school, studying a new language, especially if you’re doing it by yourself, will give you anxieties and sometimes you might think of just staying where you’re at. But being able to speak another language fluently, apart from your mother tongue or the language spoken in your country, just gives you so many more opportunities!
Before we start with my tips on on how to improve your Korean, here are some book recommendations for you!
1. Master your Hangul
First of all, if you are still unsure in how basic phrases are written or read, take your time and get those vocabularies down. Write them, if needed, 10 times or use the words frequently. That will build up your confidence and it will automatically want to you to use korean more often.
If you are still overwhelmed by longer paragraphs, take your time and read each sentence one by one. Start with easily understandable phrases and try to translate each word. It will take time, but the korean language is definitely not an easy one, and you can only master it, if you don’t stress yourself in understanding it.
2. Find learning style that fits you best
If you have studied something else before, you might have heard about the 4 Learning Styles.
And if you have been in school long enough, you have also probably realised yourself, what you have to do to study effectively.
If not, then it’s time to find it out!
The 4 Learning Styles are ‘Visual’, ‘Reading/Writing’, ‘Kinesthetic’ and ‘Auditory’.
Visual Learners: You are someone who needs to draw things to be able to remember them. In this case, instead of just writing the translation to ‘냉장고’, just draw a fridge instead!
Reading & Writing Learners: If you are someone who needs everything written down in order to remember it, get yourself a pretty notebook for vocabularies and one for grammars or phrases and write down everything you hear and learn. If you need something on-the-go, make use of your phone and apps. Those will be helpful gadgets and whenever it’s time to study, just take out those notes and write them on your notebook. That will also help you with your revisions.
Kinesthetic Learners: The Type 3 are the ‘Kinesthetic Learners’. Those are the ones who need the practical experience. Meaning, you learn best by doing things. Studying a language being a kinesthetic learner might be a bit difficult. Especially if you are younger and can’t just go to the country to practice the language or do not have people around you who you can practice the language with. But on the other hand, I think those learners will be the fastest to catch on a new skill if they get the chance to experience it on hand.
Auditory Learners: Last but not least, the ‘Auditory Learners’. Those are the people who learn best when they listen to someone while studying. If you are this type, then voice recorders will be your best friend. Just record yourself saying phrases or vocabularies you are currently learning, and then play those out a few times. Also listening to K-pop or audio files (Talktomeinkorean.com has amazing audio files!) will definitely help you!
3. Talk to yourself in Korean
This one might sound a bit weird, but believe me, it helps! What do I mean, with ‘Talk to yourself in Korean’. Have you ever caught yourself talking to yourself when thinking about something? For example, if you are looking for the toilet and you asked someone, then keep on repeating ‘Ok, now I have to go to the left/right after this sign’. It happens unconsciously, but if you think about it, it’s an amazing way to start thinking in the language you’re currently into. As the sentence structure in Korean is different to other languages, thinking IN korean will improve your speaking skill by a lot.
If you start thinking certain phrases, the chances are, you will sound much more fluent and natural when you’re actually talking to people.
4. Write your journal in Korean
The same thing, but in the written form. Writing a journal about daily happenings in the language you are currently learning, will improve your vocabulary and sentence building by a whole lot. Imagine you wanting to say something but you just can’t find the word for it?
If you write your journal, you have much more time to get that dictionary and find out the word for that phrase you have in mind. If you have problems to express yourself infant of people, or if you are still afraid of using the language, writing your journal will be a great step in improving your conversational skill, because you will use many words very often and the more you use a language, the faster you will get to your goal in speaking fluently!
5. Improve your Korean with other Korean speakers
Dont be afraid to be corrected. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Surround yourself with people who correct you with having your improvement in mind. Find yourself native speakers on people who have studied and are already fluent in this language. Some people might laugh at the way you express some phrases, but it is very important to try building your own sentences. That way, you can tell for yourself much easier in the future, if a phrase sounds weird or not.
Don’t forget, that you are learning a new language. As long as you let the other party know that you are not yet fluent, they will most likely understand and even help you out! If you keep on holding back talking in Korean, you will never get the confidence in using it in the future and maybe you will miss on those people, who might have been great tandem partners!
6. Build your vocabulary
This is probably self-explanatory, but it is one of the most important thing, whenever someone studies a language. Because, how will you be able to express yourself, if you don’t know the word or at least words to explain a certain phrase? It is said that one needs approximately 1,000 – 3,000 words in Korean to be able to hold basic conversations. Of course, the more words you can use, the easier you can express yourself.
Write down a list of the most frequent vocabularies that you hear/see/use. Once you got those down, having a conversation even in Korea, will be an easy one for you.
Check out this book for your first 1,600+ words!
7. Build your grammar
Korea has by far the most grammar structures I have encountered when studying a language. Plus, I am extremely weak, when it comes to grammar, so I’m always on the verge of giving up. But then again, having so many grammar structures to choose from, gives you the opportunity to express yourself much better.
For the beginning, it is important to get down the basic grammar points, but if you want to get more fluent in this language and if you are eager to understand the culture more, you should always be open in building up your grammar repertoire.
Talktomeinkorean.com has been my number 1 go-to, when it comes to grammar. If you finish all their levels, I’m pretty sure, that you got most of the important grammars down.
If you want to learn even more grammar structures, check out this book!
8. Attend a Korean Language Institute in Korea
If you are the lucky ones who can get the chance to travel to Korea to attend a Korean Language Institute, then take the opportunity! Nothing beats the on-hand experience and being ‘thrown into cold water’ if you want to learn a language. Not only will you be exposed to a lot of Korean phrases in your everyday life, but you get to meet a lot of other fellow korean language students.
Also, you will be confronted with many Koreans who have not studied or are not conversational in another language so you will be forced to bring out all the korean knowledge you have. (Plus, Koreans are the best motivation speaker with their ‘Oh you speak so good!’ <3 )
Aside from all the points I have mentioned above, the most important thing is, KEEP LEARNING. Watch your korean shows and dramas. Read those korean books and listen to that korean music! Whatever you choose, expose yourself to as much korean as possible and don’t give up 😀
Let’s take on this korean journey together!