Speaking Korean fluently is the ultimate goal of almost every Korean language learner. It is also one of the most difficult things for most learners. Improving your Korean speaking skills is especially challenging when you are not living in Korea. In this article I am listing 10 tips to help you improve you Korean speaking skills.
1. Make some Native Korean Friends
Having some language partners who can converse with you in Korean is really important. Living in Korea for a few months or years is the best way to improve Korean speaking but it’s not possible for everyone. But in this age of internet, it’s not very difficult to find some Korean friends online who would like to help you with your Korean. You can find language exchange partners in Facebook groups, sites like Italki or apps like Hellochat. If you are not able to find native Korean friends, Korean speaking people from any country should do as well.
May be, having a long phone conversation in Korean everyday is not feasible but even a random 5-minute chats over Kakao or Facebook Messenger will help you improve your Korean speaking skills.
The language of chat or instant messaging is very similar to spoken language. So it’s very close to having a verbal conversation.
2. Join a Korean Language Learners Community
There are so many communities of Korean language learners on Facebook, Reddit and other places. Join some of them, share your knowledge, ask things and help other learners. Again, communicating in a forum chat or Facebook post thread is very similar to having an oral conversation and it will help you frame better sentences and respond in an effective way. You can also find language partners in these communities and practice Korean speaking with them.
Here is our Facebook Community: TOPIK GUIDE Korean Study Group
3. Read Aloud
Read at least 10-20 Korean sentences everyday. They can be from your textbook, an online newspaper, a blog or comic book or anything else. Always read them aloud and try to focus on your pronunciation and intonation. Reading Korean aloud not only makes your vocal cords adjust with Korean sounds but it also makes you feel comfortable speaking Korean words and sentences. Your get more in sync with Korean sounds.
4. Record Yourself and Listen
Choose a random topic and try to speak about it for 2-3 minutes. Record yourself and listen to the recordings. Notice where your pronunciation was incorrect or where you were short of proper words or which grammar were difficult to use. This will help you understand your weak points better and also give you confidence that you can speak. You can also record yourself when reading something in Korean.
5. Start Writing in Korean Everyday
Most of us use social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram everyday. Try to write something in Korean on these platforms everyday. You can also create a blog (using free platforms like Blogger and WordPress) and write your thoughts or share your knowledge about Korea in Korean language. In the beginning, you will feel too self-conscious putting your Korean writing in public but with time, you will start feeling confident.
Writing and Speaking both involve language production or expressing yourself using your language skills. If your Korean writing skill improves, chances are that your speaking will also improve with it.
6. Do Virtual Role Plays
Role plays are one of the most common speaking activities used in Korean language classrooms. The problem is that you need a language partner to do a role play. But there is a way out. If we are are ready to play the role of both the characters in a conversation, we can do the role plays alone.
Let’s say if there is a role play of shopping in a Korean market and there are two people involved in conversation – a shopkeeper and a customer. You can speak the dialogues of both characters one by one. That’s a really good way to practice speaking.
Take one random role play situation everyday, create a conversation (you can write it beforehand or do it spontaneously) and do the role play.
7. Listen to Korean Radio
Listening is an integral part of oral communication skills. If you can’t understand spoken Korean well, you won’t be able to hold a successful conversation, no matter how good you are at speaking. Listening to Korean radio channels is a really good way to improve your Korean listening as well as speaking skills. You can install Korean radio apps on your smartphone or use websites like Tunein to listen to your favourite Korean radio channel.
Listening to radio can be more effective than watching visual media like movies or drama because on radio you focus only on sounds. There are no visual distractions and mostly the radio announcers speak in a very clear and soothing way. You can clearly hear every inflection in their voice, which part of their sentences they emphasise on, what their tone is, how the convey different emotions and so on. Try to find some radio programs where they have talks about general life, Korean society, culture etc. as these talks would be easier to understand than news, political or economy talks.
8. Watch Korean TV Shows
Korean movies and dramas are definitely very helpful in improving your Korean speaking skills but here I would like to specially recommend Korean TV shows. TV shows have a kind of spontaneity and authenticity that the movies and dramas mostly lack. There are many Korean TV shows that involve child actors or foreigners. The language difficulty level of these shows is generally not very difficult and they are very interesting as well. You can also try watching some popular comedy shows. These comedy shows sometimes also involve commentary of current social and political issues which will also help you understand Korea better.
9. Don’t be Afraid of Making Mistakes
One of the biggest barriers in speaking Korean is the fear of making mistakes and being laughed at. You have to get rid of this fear. There are no language learners that don’t make mistakes. In fact the successful language learners make a lot of mistakes. This is how they experiment with language and learn new things. If you make a mistake and people laugh, laugh with them. Learning a new language is like being a child again. Enjoy this phase.
10. Don’t Procrastinate – Start Speaking Koran from Today
Many learners think they would start speaking after they learn and practice a bit more. May be from next week or from next month. The thing is that you will never feel confident enough. The key is to start speaking today today, actually now.
I have been learning Korean for 10 years; currently writing a PhD thesis in Korean; and I still feel my Korean is not good enough. I still sometimes make silly mistakes and my Korean friends have a good laugh. Those are actually the best moments of the language learning journey.
Don’t think, you will feel confident after memorising 1000 more words or learning 20 more grammar patterns. You won’t. Your Korean is good enough to start speaking now. People talk to you to communicate, to share thoughts and feelings, not to judge your grammar or vocabulary. So stop worrying about it. Don’t procrastinate. Start speaking Korean from today.