Maybe you've noticed K-pop music in the background of a commmercial or playing on the radio. In part because of its catchy melodies and intricate dance sequences, K-pop has become a globabl phenomenon in recent years. But did you know that listening to K-pop can also help you to learn Korean? In fact, K-pop can be a useful tool to help you speak better Korean. So what are you waiting for? It's time to become a fan of K-pop and speak more Korean.
The Rise of K-pop
You may be wondering why K-pop has become so popular in countries outside of Korea. Since Gangnam Style became the first YouTube video to reach more than one billion views, Korean pop, more commonly known as K-pop, has ascended the ranks of American pop music charts. But K-pop is more than just a musical genre; it is an entire Korean cultural experience.
Korean idols are handpicked from a young age and trained to be the object of fangirls' and fanboys' affections. The bright colors, the dance moves, and the catchy lyrics are loved by millions around the globe. This is not a coincidence.
The growing popularity of K-pop was planned. So was the phenomenon known as Hallyu, or the Korean wave, which can be traced back to the 1990's. It was then that the South Korean government, in order to advance Korea's economy, pushed for the exportation of pop culture and media. Their aim was to use Korean popular culture to gain worldwide recognition. And it worked.
Not only is Korean culture- skin care, movies, music, and food- gaining worldwide popularity, but K-pop is also currently one of South Korea's biggest exports. In 2019 alone, the boy band BTS accounted for $4.65 billion of South Korea's GDP.
K-pop also played a major sociopolitical role during the 2018 Winter Olypmics in South Korea. Athletes marched to the parade of nations accompanied by Korea's greatest K-pop hits. EXO, a famous Korean idol group, played during the closing ceremony. EXO is the perfect example of K-pop's appeal: the band is multilingual and performs in Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean.
So as you can see, K-pop is a pretty big deal. It's an important part of Korean culture, and it is trending worldwide. Furthermmore, K-pop's fun, infectious lyrics will be stuck in your head all day, and what better way to practice your Korean skills?
How K-pop Can Help you Learn Korean
Maybe you're tired of just studying from a textbook, or maybe you've already gotten into Korean movies and are looking for more fun ways to practice Korean. It may seem too good to be true, but listening to music really can improve your skills in any language you choose. There are a number of benefits to supplementing your Korean studies with K-pop music.
For starters, studies show that listening to music helps improve your memorization and vocabulary skills. Have you ever heard the first line of a song from childhood and been surprised to realize that you remember every lyric? Why do you think children are taught the alphabet through song?
Repetition through song lyrics is a great way to memorize new Korean vocabulary and phrases. Most K-pop songs repeat the same vocabulary over and over in the refrain, which will help you recognize them quickly. By watching K-pop videos with subtitles on, you will also be exposed to new words in a fun and exciting way. You'll have a wider vocabulary and be speaking more Korean soon!
If you don't know where to begin, try listening to some songs by the world famous idol group, BTS. Their song 'DNA' is about young love, and you can learn some vocabulary about love.
When you listen to K-pop, you will definitely learn some Korean slang. K-pop usually uses trendy, informal Korean, which you can use when you're speaking to closee friends or to someone younger than you. When you're listening to the lyrics of your favorite K-pop songs, try looking up new phrases. The meaning might surprise you, and you'll definitely surprise your Korean friends if you use slang in a conversation.
If you're looking for an example of slang in K-pop, you can listen to 'Heart Attack' by the girl group A.O.A. In this song, simkung (심쿵) means heart attack, but it isn't talking about a disease. Rather, simkung means your heart is overwhelmed by something cute.
Even if you've been studying Korean for a long time, speaking Korean aloud can be overwelming. Because Korean is so different than English, forming words can feel unfamiliar and awkward.
One way to minimize your pronunciation errors is by listening to native speakers. If you don't have any Korean friends nearby, K-pop is a convenient and fun method to listen for proper pronunciation. Just tune into your favorite artist and sing along with the lyrics. You will become familiar with pronouncing Korean words in no time, and your Korean speaking skills will definitely improve.
'Cheer Up' by TWICE is so catchy- it will get stuck in your head all day. It's a great song to use to practice your Korean pronuncation.
Unsurprisingly, tuning into to K-pop will sharpen and strengthen your Korean listening skills. But did you know that even having it on in the background can help you learn Korean? Studies have proven that listening to another language outside of formal study time will speed up the learning process.
So even if you are listening to K-pop while doing something else, your brain will reconigze words and phrases that you've already studied. And it takes minimal effort. Pretty cool, huh? I recommend listening to EXO's 'Love Shot' in the background while you do an energetic activity!
Even the best student can get frustrated and hit a roadblock. Sometimes you need a reason to keep going. K-pop can be a way to motivate yourself to continue to learn Korean. It's a fun way to break up the usual, mundane study routine. Once you find a K-pop group that you like, you'll feel motivated to understand their lyrics and sing along! Also, the fan groups online are active and thriving. Such groups, along with K-pop, can introduce you to all different aspects of Korean culture.
It's also motivating that K-pop is everywhere. You'll feel so proud when you hear K-pop in a store and understand it for the first time. K-pop songs, like Blackpink's 'Kill this Love' will give you something to talk about with both Korean and non-Korean friends!
Make Learning Korean fun!
You've just learned some tips for learning Korean through K-pop, so what are you waiting for? Join the millions of people who are already K-pop fans and improve your Korean speaking skills at the same time. Learning language through music makes studying fun. After all, speaking a new language should be enjoyable and not feel like a chore.
You can practice what you learn through K-pop and K-pop communities online with a personalized Korean tutor. Speechling is a one-on-one language tutoring platform where users are given personal attention from native speakers. With awesome Korean language tutors, you'll be singing all of the K-pop lyrics in no time!