We always see this kind of advice on the Internet: “You should listen to K-Pop, it helped me to quickly progress” or “There is nothing better than Korean dramas without subtitles for learning Korean”.
Can you really learn a language without much effort by watching dramas and listening K-Pop?
Following this advice can bring many advantages:
At the end of the day, it seems like a great idea, but in reality it’s not totally true… Actually, it varies! We definitely recommend that you expose yourself to a lot of resources in their original language such as movies, drama, anime, music…for the reasons above. But you will never learn Korean like that.
Dramas and K-Pop as a complement to your learning tools
It’s best to see these videos as a Korean learning complement. You need to acquire a certain amount of vocabulary and grammar in order to better comprehend a Korean video or conversation.
This is our approach: KoreanClass101.com brings you tons of audio and video lessons, from songs to dialogues and cultural insights, and each of these lessons has a grammar focus, a vocabulary list, a lesson transcript and notes so that you don’t miss any points. We give you the foundation you need to be able to understand dramas and benefit from watching it.
The myth of learning by only watching Korean dramas
The “watch dramas and learn Korean” concept is just a myth. A lot of high school students improve their English level by reading books and comics, or watching dramas and movies in English with subtitles in their own language. You, meanwhile, might watch all episodes of Heirs or Running Man in Korean but still not make any progress!
The difference? Those foreign students are not starting from scratch when they use this method to learn Korean. Even though they might still be at a low level, they were working on some solid foundations.
Basically, what you will hear after 6 months of watching dramas in Korean, while hiding the subtitles, would probably be something like:
bla bla bla bla bla Hello bla bla bla bla Thank you bla bla bla bla You A**hole bla bla bla You’re so handsome bla bla bla bla bla It hurts! bla bla bla bla I love you bla bla bla bla bla bla really!?
Still quite far from fluency, right?
The key to learning through K-Pop and dramas
The key is the amount of passive vocabulary you already have. It’s all the vocabulary you understand when listening to or reading Korean, without having the need to search in the dictionary. Our brain has limited capacity and if it doesn’t recognize 70-80% of the words in a sentence, it will be incapable of filling in the blanks to give a sense to the unknown words based on the context.
Let’s look at these two cases:
1. You are at a beginner level of Korean
2. You are at an intermediate level of Korean
In both cases, you must expose yourself to a lot of Korean media: podcasts, videos and so on…
In the first case, your brain won’t be able to analyze what you hear when you’re watching dramas or listening K-Pop because you miss too many words. Of course we don’t forbid you from doing this, but be aware that you are only training your ears to become accustomed to the sounds of Korean. This is a good start, though. But you will also need to start learning grammar basics and vocabulary.
Our Korean for Absolute Beginners series will offer you the resources you need to quickly understand the foundations of the Korean language, through entertaining topics.
If you are at an intermediate level, you will need to acquire a lot of vocabulary covering a large range of topics. Challenge yourself with our Listening Comprehension series on YouTube, listen to our podcasts and verify through the lesson notes and transcripts that you understood everything, from the grammar point to the explanation of the kanji used in the lesson.
Korean dramas and K-Pop can be great learning tools because there are fun and there is a lot of it around. Just make sure to do a little extra work to optimize their use! Don’t forget to sign up for your Free Lifetime Account to access all our resources and be able to watch dramas without subtitles!