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❀"How can I learn to watch Korean dramas without subtitles?"

In all my years teaching Korean, this is what I get asked the most. A lot gets lost in translation, especially with the character limits that subtitles come with. People who have studied a reasonable amount of Korean can listen and start to understand that there is a gap between what is said and what is written in the subtitles. They may even start feeling impatient about relying on subtitles in order to watch the show. However, once they are able to watch without subtitles, it becomes much more interesting. 

So how can you learn to watch Korean dramas without subtitles? I will explain in the following steps (You might be thinking, "Wouldn't it be faster to just learn the language directly from the dramas?" but that is more of a roundabout method in the longrun) 

① Grammar: The Building Blocks
Learning grammar is like laying down the foundation for a building. If you put your time and energy into learning grammar you will gain solid language study skills. 

② Carefully one textbook written by a language expert
It seems like there is a whole sea of textbooks available, so it can be difficult to choose the best textbook to learn grammar from. This is what you should keep in mind when choosing a textbook (to read more about which textbook I use for my courses, please see the very bottom of this page)

・That it was made by an expert in language learning
Authors must invest an enormous amount of time and energy studying abroad and researching in order to create one textbook. All we have to do is simply make a purchase and we have all of that information at our fingertips.

・That it keeps up with the times
Culture and society changes rapidly, and language changes along with it. When I was studying Japanese, I was told over and over again to buy a new dictionary every 10 years, but the textbooks themselves never changed. Certain phrases that were used a couple decades ago may now be obselete, and locals often use phrases that won't turn up in textbooks.

③ Study from one textbook only
After carefully ing one textbook that has everything you need, the next step studying it thoroughly from cover to cover. Make the content 100% yours until you can naturally apply it as your own knowledge. It is important to learn everything completely. Bookstores may be overflowing with Korean study material, but it is much more effective to focus on one book rather than using several books concurrently.

④ Surround yourself with high quality writing
After you've gotten the grammar fundamentals down solid, take full advantage of that knowledge and read as much as you can. The key here is not to read just anything as long is it's written in Korean, but to choose work written by professional writers. Writing that is full of grammar, idioms, and vocabulary can serve as study material, so reading high quality Korean is crucial (I recommend newspaper articles, best sellers, and official web pages).

⑤ Speak with natives
If you've come this far, you are at the point where you can make "output." Mobilize all the knowledge you have acquired up until now and say what you want to say. The key to choosing a conversation partner is finding a native speaker. Finding someone who speaks your language and can fix your mistakes on the spot is even more ideal. Talk about a variety of different topics and take note of what you said well and what you got corrected on (if you can't write it down, try your best to remember it and not to make the same mistake again next time)

You don't have to be perfect. Even if there are words you don't know or if your mistakes are pointed out, it is very important for you because it serves the same role as a textbook. Don't get upset if you make a lot of mistakes, think of it as benefiting from a lesson in conversation. 

If you complete steps ①~⑤ properly
, then you will be able to understand a reasonable amount Korean shows without any subtitles. If you have trouble understanding spoken Korean or your conversations don't go smoothly when you're speaking to a native speaker, please reconsider your study methods.

There are several great methods other than the ones listed here (such as writing a journal entry every day and getting it checked) that are advantageous for improving your language ability. It may be a good to think of your own ideas and try out various different methods.  

❀ Pronunciation and intonation training with a native speaker

This is my 7th year as a Korean instructor and I make it a point to create balanced lessons that don't just focus on grammar, but also include pronunciation and intonation training. I see a lot of people who only focused on grammar for years and years and have a hard time correcting their pronunciation and intonation later on.

In my lessons, you will hear native pronunciation from the very start. You will also continuously practice pronouncing words the same way, so that once you are able to speak a reasonable amount of Korean, you will inevitably have natural, near-native pronunciation. 

❀ The constant birth of "neologisms"

Words are like living, breathing creatures coming into form. New words are created every year. However, if you do not live in the area, then you won't have much of a chance to come in contact with them. They won't be listed in a textbook or dictionary, but they are established vocabulary words that are used by many people. These are called "neologisms" and I also offer lessons based on them.

❀ Korea in real time

The information you can get about Korea in your own country is only a small fraction of the information that is actually available. Things that were announced in Korea several days ago (or sometimes, even today)  or things that are becoming hot topics are hard to find out about in real time unless you are studying abroad there. 

However, this new information is an important component of studying the language. Through my lessons and column posts, I will share brand new information from various different fields.


❀ About Korean for children

I have a son who is turning 11 this year. When we first came to Japan, he could not speak a word of Japanese and I worried about him a lot. However, children's language abilities are superb and he became fluent before he knew it. Now he is a reliable teacher who can correct my Japanese.

In order to raise him bilingually, we only speak Korean in our household. I have a lot of experience teaching elementary schoolers, so I have confidence in teaching children.

❀ Hobbies

My hobbies are fishing and making Korean food. My mother is from Jeolla, a place that is famous even within Korea for its delicious food. Ever since I was young I was raised eating delicious Jeolla style cuisine and it would be wonderful if I could share that with you.

❀ Textbook

I currently use the textbook written by Akira Kiuchi of NHK's show テレビでハングル講座  (NHK Hangul Course). They are used in Korean classes all over Japan and the content is very well rounded.

A revised edition was published in September 2013 so there is new information.

I've used several different textbooks up until now, but this one is a huge hit among students because it was written by a professional who has researched the Korean language for many years.

This is my FB page, please check it out!


English Translation: 8/5/2014 - The Cafetalk Team

Korean Fortune Telling
Language Level
  • Korean Native
  • Japanese Fluent

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