How To Expand Your Korean Vocabulary With The Help Of Music
It has never been easier to learn Korean in Singapore. Even if your immediate circle isn’t fluent in the language, there are still a wide variety of sources available for you to aid you in your language learning journey. The Hallyu wave has increased our access to all sorts of Korean media, from K-dramas to Kpop music. Korean media is expressive and exciting and opens up many doors for learning new vocabulary.
A vast vocabulary is important as it helps you express yourself concisely and accurately. It is the key to effective communication, and an extensive vocabulary will also shape your creativity in writing and speaking.
In this article, we will primarily focus on Korean music. Korean music goes beyond Kpop; there are so many other genres such as ballads and rap music. There are many skilled musicians and lyricists who have written creative, nuanced lyrics that are as good as poetry. So, follow these three steps in order to turn Korean music into an interesting and effective learning tool.
Step 1: Find a song with exciting lyrics and pick out unfamiliar words
If you attend Korean classes in Singapore and have been a diligent student, it is likely you are already capable of understanding new vocabulary based on contextual clues within the entire song. However, determining their relevancy may be difficult as you may not frequently use these words. There are only so many words you can learn, so here is a handy rule to keep in mind when you encounter such a predicament: pick out new words based on their frequency and/or position to subject or object markers.
This rule will help you sift out the more common words used in everyday conversation. Many songs may use dated or niche words for artistic purposes, so you can use this rule to filter them out. This way, you will be able to efficiently improve your vocabulary by only focusing on valuable additions that will come in handy when conversing with native Koreans.
However, no one is stopping you from learning these interesting, beautiful words, even if they may not be useful for everyday conversation! You can save these words for later; to start off, you can pick out around five to ten new words per song.
Avoid learning a song with too many words you have yet to understand. Instead, save these songs for later when you have advanced your proficiency in Korean. Similarly, if you are struggling to find new words in a song, you may want to find something more challenging.
Step 2: Understand the rationale behind the writer’s word choices
When you are listening to music, avoid solely focusing on the individual lines alone. It is best to link these lines together to help you decipher the song’s general message and context instead. This way, you will understand the thought process behind the songwriter’s word choice and how the various words add meaning to the song.
All languages contain words that have multiple meanings. Korean is no exception, so pay attention to the various contexts in which a word can be used.
It is also important to think about the connotation and implied meaning of a word. For example, in English, “pathetic” and “piteous” are both adjectives to describe something pitiful. However, “pathetic” has a more negative connotation than “piteous”. Likewise, there may be words in Korean that share a similar relationship.
A dictionary or translation will not always be able to capture the nuances unique to a language. Hence, learning vocabulary by understanding the context in which it is used will be the most effective method. You can also develop your comprehension skills, which will be useful in following conversations and consuming Korean media without the need for subtitles.
Step 3: Put the song on repeat to internalise its meaning
Music is an incredibly useful tool when it comes to memorisation. Our brains process information better when the auditory cortex is activated, so feel free to put your favourite song on loop!
Listening to a song over and over again helps your subconscious internalise the meanings of your newly learned vocabulary. This method helps you review their meanings and familiarise yourself with the context until you understand them by heart.
You can maximise this fun learning technique by singing along! Impromptu karaoke sessions are an amazing way to help you practice your pronunciation of these words as you mimic the singer. To really improve your memory retrieval process, you can try creating new sentences with your new vocabulary.
Many people underestimate the importance of a wide vocabulary, and its various benefits are overlooked. However, vocabulary is what makes language expression so diverse and beautiful, so start curating your new playlist of Korean songs and put these skills to good use today!
You can also add structure to your learning schedule by signing up for Korean classes in Singapore. Engaging a native speaker as your teacher is a great way to complement your learning, so get started and sign up for a Korean course today!