In my quest to improve my conversational skills in general and my narrative skills in particular, I have laid off all the grammar and vocab cramming for the time being. Instead I have been listening, reading, and speaking like crazy.

For listening I’ve found the most amazing resource on youtube. If you type in 세바시 you will be directed to hundreds of videos each lasting about 15-20 minutes. 세바시 is short for 세계 바꾸는 시간 and is a Korean equivalent of TED talks. I’m currently grading exam papers, so I use these as background listening while I work. I find that just listening passively to Korean improves my listening skills tremendously. For reading I read at least three random news articles from Naver news everyday and look up words that are new to me. I’m working hard on improving my reading speed. When I read in English (or Danish for that matter) I don’t r-e-a-d every word but instead take a mental picture of entire sentences which then translates into words in my head. I’m lightyears from that level of proficiency in Korean, but I’m training my brain to “photograph” words rather than spelling myself through every sentence.

In order to improve my speaking, I’m talking a lot and recording myself. This is super hard but it allows me to pinpoint my weaknesses so that I may better target them in the future. I discovered that while I’m becoming better at carrying a conversation, I lack a lot in my narrative skills. I therefore turned to 세바시 and TTMIK’s Iyagi lessons to actively look for “Korean building blocks”. By building blocks I mean bits and pieces that allow you to sound more fluent such as sentence connectors and fixed expressions. Here are a few examples, that I’ve found useful to learn in order to better express myself in Korean:

Expressing personal traits: 어렀을 때 읽었는데 어른 되고 나서도 …

Expressing personal experiences: 이렇게 하면 verb stem+더라고요

Expressing an indirect question: 제가 그런 관심이 어떻게 생기냐고 물어볼 수도 있어요

Expressing something that happened a little later: 조금 더 이따가…

Expressing personal opinions: 저는 개인적으로/ 제가 보기에는/제가 생각할 때는

Expressing habits: 평상시에는/ 평소에는/ 보통

Expressing change: 았-/었-/였다가, 이제는…’

Expressing obviousness: 분명히/ 눈에 띄게/ 듣기로

Expressing emphasis: 되게/ 막 (used colloquially)

All of the above can be mixed and matched. I’m definitely not using them fluently but they appear a lot in naturally spoken Korean so I’ve made a point of actively trying to incorporate them in my own speaking pattern. The more varied you can make your Korean, the more naturally it will sound.

이렇게 하면 말투가 훨씬 자연스러워질 수 밖에 없어요~~

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