I recently finished my first book in Korean, and I’m now over halfway through my second one. I’ve really come to enjoy my Korean reading time, and I love the satisfaction that comes from seeing a newly learned word in a new context and immediately understanding it. In fact reading in your target language when being a language learner is probably one of the best and most efficient ways you can spend your study time. When you’re reading you’re exposing yourself to many more words per minute than you would doing any other activity. It automatically makes you think in correctly constructed sentences and you gradually increase your reading speed. I like to think that watching a Korean drama with Korean captions is just as effective, but I’m afraid I must admit that with all the scenes where nothing is being said, because the main couple is kissing to romantic background music, does not further my vocabulary or reading speed. Still, it’s much better than just watching with English subtitles.

Obviously it’s important to find a book that fits your level since choosing a too advanced book will have you quit before you’ve finished the first page. For absolute beginners even reading a children’s book may prove helpful and also help boost your confidence. When you find a suitable book then make a habit of reading a few pages or even a whole chapter every day. You’ll soon discover that your reading speed increases and your vocabulary expands. By all means do look up essential unknown words, but avoid killing the fun by looking up every word you don’t know. If you do so, you most likely won’t remember any of the words let alone the content of what you’ve been reading.

Not looking up everything by far seems to be the hardest part but I must admit that reading feels a lot more fun, and even to some degree relaxing, when I’m not constantly reaching for my phone to consult my Naver dictionary.

As a final remark of motivation, always remember that in order to become a better writer you must first become a better reader.

6 Comments »

  1. What do you do when you come across a lot of unfamiliar words? I find that I come across such instances many times which clearly suggests I need to work on my vocabulary. But then, I wonder if trying to understand the context they’re used in is enough.

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    • Good question. In that case it may be necessary to look of many new words. If there are too many unknown words, the context is often very unclear which makes looking up words necessary. I’m not against looking up words per se, I just recommend that you don’t let it kill the joy of reading in a foreign language.

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  2. What I love the most about reading books is that every book has a different theme and therefore has a specific set of words that are often used, so in the end it is almost impossible not to remember those words. The same goes for grammar, since each author has a tendency to use the same grammar points to express themselves. Does that even make sense? I hope it did, haha!
    For 어린왕자 there’s words like 별, 보아뱀, 그림, 비행기 and a ton more. For 크리스마스 캐럴 there’s 과거, 현재, 미래, 유령, 새까맣다, 어둑어둑 as well as 만큼 which was used SO often. I’m not finished with 작은 아씨들 yet but I already have plenty words that comes to mind, like 자매들, 부인, 불쌍하다, 천사, 전쟁, 군대 and I could go on and on. When thinking about this, I just can’t wait to read more books and see what new set of words will become imprinted in my brain!

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    • I couldn’t agree more! I’m almost done with 어린왕자 and I’m learning so many great words from it. Don’t know if you already do this, but you should really start watching dramas with Korean subtitles. Viki has a lot with full Korean captions. I love learning this way. I strongly recommend “Kill me, heal me”. I’m watching it now for the second time. Great story, and lots of great vocabulary to be learned.

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