1.17 How to practice speaking in Korean - for beginners.
Do you find it difficult to speak in Korean despite recognising Korean words while watching Kdrama or Listening to K-pop music?
In this lesson, we will identify the root cause of this problem and learn the effective method to practice and improve speaking skill in Korean, especially for beginners.
1. Identify the root cause of the difficulties of speaking in Korean despite recognising the words in Korean and understand the meaning.
2. Learning and practicing the effective methods and steps to improve speaking skills in Korean.
3. It takes tremendous amounts of effort and commitment to be able to speak Korean fluently over time.
There are two main reasons you find it challenging to pronounce or speak in Korean fluently even though you are able to recognise the Korean words and sentences, including the meanings.
1. You are used to listening and/or seeing Korean words and sentences but do not have or insufficient speaking practice.
- You may know the expressions in Korean when you see or hear it while enjoying your favourite Kdrama or K-pop songs. However, you do not know how to pronounce the expressions with your mouth.
2. You may have overestimated your Korean language proficiency level.
- It is quite easy to perceive that our level of proficiency in Korean is higher than our actual level because of the amount of words or expressions you can recognise through Korean drama and songs. However, listening and looking at Korean words and expressions constantly does not elevate the proficiency of your speaking skills.
The most effective solution to this situation is to have a practice speaking in Korean consistently using methods that can help you develop your pronunciation in order to speak in Korean well. At the same time, these methods can assist you to increase your level of understanding the meaning behind the words and expressions.
A word of reminder: it is important to know that you need to be fully committed in your speaking practice because it is the only guarantee to improve your speaking skill in Korean. The process can be tedious and it takes approximately a year of consistent practice to improve your Korean speaking skill.
Step 1: Reading words aloud
- For this method, I referred to the video created by a YouTuber “새벽달”
- Choose a Korean textbook that contains basic Korean conversations with recordings of Korean speakers
- You need to read aloud the words/sentences in Korean basic conversations in the textbook.
- Pay Attention to your pronunciation and tone when you are reading the Korean words/sentences,
- You need to make sure that your pronunciation and tone resemble the native speaker in the audio recordings.
- Practice pronouncing the words/sentences repeatedly until you can pronounce them clearly and comfortably enough and your pronunciation mimics the Korean native speaker.
- For example, practice pronouncing this sentence: “잘 지내셨어요?” (Have you been well?). Read each word slowly and clearly.
- Write down the phonetic symbols to indicate the correct pronunciation because some Korean words are not pronounced exactly as in written form.
- Practice pronouncing the words while looking at the phonetic symbols.
Note: it is recommended to write and use the phonetic symbols rather than the romanised form to prevent learning the incorrect pronunciation and having to correct your pronunciation in the future.
Step 2: Reading sentences aloud
- Let’s use this sentence again as an example: 잘 지내셨어요?” (Have you been well?)
- Practice pronouncing this sentence while thinking of the meaning in your head.
- Pay attention to the sections in the sentences that have short pauses, which is also known as the sense group.
- Read and pronounce the sentence according to the correct chuck or section: 잘/지내셨어요? This sentence has two chunks/sections when it is read or spoken aloud; the first chuck/section is 잘 and the second is 지내셨어요?
- You also need to practice imitating the intonation, tone, rhythm and emotions behind the expressions in the sentences as made by the native speaker.
Step 3: Memorizing sentences
- You will need a notebook for this step
- Divide the page into two sections; one section for the Korean expressions/sentences in Hangul and the other is for the meanings translated into English
- Cover the first section with a book or paper, then try to speak out the Korean Korean expressions/sentences for each sentence in English
- It is recommended to practice memorising three sentences per day (or 15 sentences per week) and take a break on weekends.
- Overtime, with practice, the patterns of Korean expressions/sentences will naturally feel familiar and the speed of remembering them will be much faster; almost spontaneous even.
Step 4: Recording Sentences
- Record yourself reading the Korean expressions/sentences aloud; you can use your cellphone for this practice.
- Record yourself until there is no mistakes or awkwardness when you pronounce and read the expressions/sentences aloud.
- If you make mistakes during the recording, delete it and repeat the process until you can pronounce them clearly and accurately.
Step 5: Shadowing
- Listen to the recordings of you reading the Korean expressions/sentences aloud without mistakes
- Pay attention to the intonation, tone, rhythm and emotion behind each sentence and mimic them again using your mouth.
- It can be difficult to imitate a native Korean speaker, however it would be much easier to mimic the sound of your own voice in the recordings.
- Practice this method while you’re driving or taking long walks in the park.
Useful tip for this exercise: imagine yourself speaking fluently in Korea in the future and do this exercise with a smile. Enjoy the process!
You need to have a good textbook for speaking practice using these methods. You can practice these five steps by using AKC’s Top 200 Verbs & Adjectives, which is available as a paid service. Visit https://www.alphakoreanclass.com/54/?idx=1 for more information.
It is important to know that the proficiency level of speaking in Korean cannot be improved nor increased simply by watching and listening to Kdrama and K-pop songs alone. It is important to practice speaking in Korean by using effective methods and be fully committed in making the effort and performing the exercise consistently. It may take approximately a year to improve your speaking skill, however in the end it will be worth your effort. Remember to enjoy the process along the way.