Recently I’ve been struggling with my Korean listening skills. Whenever I would stumble across a Korean variety show on youtube or watch unsubbed interviews with K-stars I realized how much I lacked in terms of listening comprehension. Sigh… What to do?

I realized that the problem wasn’t that I didn’t understand the words, as my Korean vocabulary is steadily increasing. It was the pace and the natural way that native Koreans tend to simplify pronunciation by shortening words, and almost omitting endings just like we do in English when we say “gonna” instead of the very clearly enunciated “going to”.

Solution: If you can say it, you can understand it… Hence, learn to speak just as fast as them! But how? By playing the shadow game! Remember driving your parents or siblings crazy with this as a child? Just like children acquire their speaking skills by repeating what is said to them, we language learners should apply the exact same principle of repeating spoken words. If you’re currently in the same situation as I am – studying alone without no native speakers around you, here’s what you can do:

1) Go to http://www.language.berkeley.edu/korean/10/index.htm (also works with TTMIK’s Iyagi lessons)

2) Choose any of the lessons

3) Read one sentence to yourself, then press the blue play button in front of each sentence and listen to the voice reading the sentence out loud in fast-paced natural Korean. Listen a few times.

4) Repeat the sentence imitating the original pace, pronunciation, and intonation. (Warning: huge risk for looking and sounding like a complete fool the first times you do this – so make sure you’re either alone or in the company of a very understanding person – preferably one without any Korean skills^^)

5) After having done this with a few sentences – try reading them out loud in fast-paced Korean right after each other.

I’ve only been doing this for a few days, and this may be a placebo effect but I feel I understand slightly more now when listening to Korean radio, youtube clips, etc.

Happy shadowing! ^^

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