Korean learning tips : Why you should do more reading in Korean 2020

Reinforce already learned words

This point is mainly why I love this method. As I despise reading lists and repeatedly cramming words, I work on my understanding of previously encountered words in a less boring environment by reading. Besides, do you even look forward to your anki lists? If you do, all power to you, but I am really not a list person. Reading almost always reminds me of a word I already know. Most times, I do not remember the meaning of the word. When this happens, I simply open the naver dictionary, search for the term, read it and close. However  this word does not get added to some list, nor do I attempt cramming it on the spot. When this occurs again, I repeat the process until my brain recognizes the “commonness” and importance of the word that I never need to open the dictionary for that specific word. Cramming with a list may seem similar to this, but the main and most important difference is FUN. Reading a story while randomly learning new words is why it is more interesting and manageable in the long-term than cramming from a list.

I personally like to choose a webtoon, or an article from naver and re-read it until I know 80% of the vocabulary and grammar principles. With time, you will spend less time on an article with this process.

Learn new contexts of already known words

Yes, yes, yes to this. one cannot overemphasize the importance of this, especially when learning Korean. Now there are other and significantly better ways to expose yourself to the context of a word such as listening or watching a video.But reading is right up there in the top 3. For this to really work, you need to read content stemming from different genres. This is because our goal is not just to learn where a specific word can or should be used, but with what emotion it can be expressed. Now you could go a bit further with audiobooks.

Exposure to new words

You can, but you really don’t ALWAYS have to. If I notice a word pops up more than once in a text, book, article etc… it will definitely be looked up. However no cramming is involved in this. I usually leave it to fate to decide how important the word will be to me. So, if I encounter the word randomly in another text, I’ll just have to repeat the “reinforcement strategy” described in the first point.

Hidden grammar principles

You would be shocked to find out the grammar principles that are left out in a lot of popular korean grammar textbooks. Now, if you bought all the existing grammar books, you probably won’t be missing much, but are you really up to spending that amount of money ?

Reading comments, articles on naver or community posts on nate pann would not only provide practical context to abstract grammar principles, but help you get to know new ones.

Improvement of confidence in comprehension

This applies to every language really. The more you are exposed to a language, the more confident you are using it. However, whether you have more confidence while speaking, listening, writing or reading in a specific language, especially in Korean, very much depends on how much practice you invest in each area. By reading interesting content, your desire to understand not only the grammar principles and the vocabulary but the content itself will skyrocket your comprehension skills. Besides, unlike speaking and listening, you aren’t in a rush. You can take your time and re-read some chapters. So take advantage of this.

Focus on more common and natural words than random vocabulary you do not even know in your own language

Based on my experience, this really depends on the type of content you are reading. If you decide to read an article on diabetes in Korean, you are most likely going to learn some medical terms you may never use. So to really exploit this opportunity, attempt reading the comments under a youtube video or instagram posts of a korean. But try not to focus too much on the grammar, because you will come across some comments that will make you question the accuracy of your korean grammar textbooks. Forgetting that even native speakers could make mistakes or/and typos. If you get bored of reading comments, read the “korean” subtitles on Korean youtube videos. Do make sure they are not AI generated; we do not want to sound like robots. Here you could find a list of korean youtube videos with korean subtitles.

Closing Remarks

  • You do not have to read every day.
  • One does not need to read the same book, article, comment section, subtitles every day
  • You could take a break and jump to webtoons or listening practice or even watch a show with subs
  • Try to be flexible.
  • For longevity, the goal is consistency which demands interest and desire. Flexibility keeps everything fresh and engaging.