So these days I’ve been super busy! And I know a lot of my Canadian and Korean friends alike have also been really busy. I guess what with ESL school, university, and work, plus the fact that it’s “summer vacation” and so everyone wants to see their friends and hang out, people don’t have a second to breathe in between it all. That means that my Canadian friends who’ve been studying Korean have had next to know time to actually study Korean and a lot of my Korean friends have been so stressed that they haven’t made time to study English either, outside of their ESL school.
This is a problem and everyone feels it! Because a language needs to be constantly used in order to learn it! So I decided to share some helpful study tips and guides with you guys today! I try to do all of them (although I also don’t have time for all of them) but, honestly, even if you only implement two or three of them on a daily basis you will notice yourself improving! They’re really easy things you can do every day at home!
Study Tip # 1
Pick one day of the week, for example Tuesday, and every Tuesday (or whatever day you choose) pick one of your favourite songs in the language you’re learning. For example, this week I chose “Coma” by B.A.P. Make sure to pick a song you will listen to almost every day that week! One of your absolute favourites!
Buy a notebook (a cheap one from the dollar store even) open it to a new page and write down all of the lyrics to that song, in the original language!
Now, grab a highlighter and highlight all of the words in the song you don’t know (I usually skip this part and just write down all of the words, but it may be easier for you to be more visual). Now, turn to a fresh page and write down all of these words in a list.
Go on 네이버 사전 (Naver Dictionary), or use any dictionary you’d like, and search all of the words. Write them down in your native language as a translation.
Once you’ve found all of the words, go back and translate the entire song into your native language! If you get stuck, ask a friend who speaks the language you’re learning to help explain what something means.
Now you have the song in both languages, as well as a list of new vocabulary words! Take this notebook with you on the bus and subway! When you’re traveling to and from school or to visit friends, listen to the song and pull out your notebook. Try to memorize all of the new words and sentence structures. As you probably already know, it’s really easy to memorize all of the words to a song you like, and it’s also easier to remember new words in a foreign language when they’re placed in context, as opposed to just a straight list you need to memorize.
Study Tip # 2
You’ve probably heard a lot of people say “watch TV/dramas/movies in English/Korean”. This is definitely a good idea, but there’s one problem. TV, dramas, movies, talk shows, you name it all use A LOT f English and A LOT of Korean, and people speak really quickly, as well as sometimes talk over each other. This makes things really difficult to understand and so everyone needs to use subtitles in their native language in order to fully understand what is being said. This is useful, but only to an extent, because you are listening to the language, which is great to help with your pronunciation, but you are not really learning any new words or grammar structures because it’s so fast, and you’re reading everything in your own language.
My suggestion is to pick one TV show, preferably with shorter episodes, like 20-30 minutes, and watch the same show over and over again. If you notice, sometimes when you really love a movie and you watch it more than once you start to memorize the lines, without even trying. This is good because it’s a fun way to pick up slang and commonly used expressions in the language you are learning. Also, if you need subtitles, try to use subtitles in the language you are using instead of your native language.
Furthermore, watch interviews or clips from talk shows with your favourite celebrities. For example, I sometimes watch clips of “Weekly Idol” and “Star King”. A clip that is about 3-7 minutes in length is probably best. Watch it with subtitles in your native language first, so you fully understand everything, and then continue to watch it over and over with subtitles in the language you’re learning. Eventually, you can try to watch it without subtitles. The first time watch it all the way through; the second time, stop it every time you hear or see a word or sentence structure you’re unfamiliar with. Write down the word and/or sentence, and then look them all up. Watch it again with the list in front of you. You’ll probably understand a heck of a lot more! And if you start to memorize lines, you’ll be learning pronunciation, vocabulary, and new sentence structures.
Study Tip # 3
Start a blog! Lots of my Korean friends write their own personal diaries in English, which is still good practice, but there’s one major problem – no one reads it! So no native English speaker can tell them which sentence structures are correct and which are incorrect.
Blogs are better because many people can see them. A native speaker of the language you are learning can help fix your mistakes! And that’s a great way to learn! Mistakes are all part of the learning curve, but if no one points them out and corrects them for you, how will you know they are mistakes?
You don’t have to write the blog every day, but even if you write a blog once or twice a week, you will notice yourself improving!
You can check out my blog if you’d like! You’ll see it’s not perfect but I’m trying to learn!
I can even read other people’s blogs and my friends’ blogs as practice, which is also good!
Study Tip # 4
Read! Read! Read! Read!
Read books in the language you are learning, even though it’s difficult. Pick young adult or children’s books to start with. For example, I’m currently reading 어린 왕자 (The Little Prince), which I originally read in French. So I already know the story! If you pick a book you’ve already read in your native language (or another language you are fluent in) it’s much better, because you already know the story, you can guess certain words’ meanings from the context!
Now, most people think it’s okay to just read the book all the way through and guess the meaning. This doesn’t really teach you anything, though. When you were little and you’re capacity for learning a language was that much higher, sure, it might have been helpful, however, now it’ll take a lot longer to learn a language in a passive way like that. So, the best thing to do is read one to two chapters every day. The first time you read the chapter, simply underline or highlight the words you don’t know. After reading the chapter all the way through, look up these words and write them down, either in the book or on a separate sheet of paper, or both, whatever works best for you; then re-read the chapter with the list of words next to you. You should be able to understand the whole thing a lot more now.
Once you do this for the whole book, sit down and re-read the book all the way through this time. Try to remember all of the vocabulary you learned through out.
Study Tip # 5
Speak! Make friends who are native speakers of English or Korean and speak the language with them! I know it’s easy to be shy when learning a new language, I am too! But you have to try to speak with native speakers because they can help correct you and sound more natural!
Attend language exchanges! Text people and send them messages in the language you are learning.
When you’re alone, just thinking to yourself, try to think in the language you are learning! Translating from your native language too often will make you sound foreign! Try to think in the language you are learning directly as opposed to translating!
Those are my five study tips! I hope they help! Everyone is always asking me “what’s your secret” and “how are you so good at Korean?” I’m really not that good, and if I don’t follow these five study guidelines every day, I notice my Korean skills decreasing.
Good luck everyone!