9 In Korean learning journey (:

Active listening in language learning

The 4 skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking are all important subsets of learning a new language. There are many ways to learn a language, and recently, I feel that the best and fastest way of going about it is through listening.

I used to not pay much attention to listening. I do use the CDs given in textbooks etc and I will repeatedly listen to the sample dialogues again and again while reading the text. But upon reflection, all I did was passive listening. Even while watching dramas, I tend to focus more on the subtitles and not pay too much attention to the dialogue. Passive listening again.

No wonder my listening skills developed rather slowly. If I remember correctly, it took me close to 2 years to be able to follow the speed of speech in dramas/variety shows etc. It has nothing to do with UNDERSTANDING what is said, but to HEAR what is being said. Meaning, you should be able to ask questions like ‘I heard this sentence XXXX, can you tell me what it means?’

Listening also affects your speaking skills. I was quite slow in picking up the tone and contours of Korean speech and passive listening meant that I usually pronounce things the way I think it is, instead of looking at how native speakers do it.

As you may know, there are alot of sound changes in Korean, depending on the context the consonant occurs in etc. It’s good to know the rules explicitly, but active hearing can help you learn them in a much faster and effective way!

For example,

있는 거란다 is supposed to be pronounced as [인는 거란다]

In 하지만…, the 하 is usually pronounced at a higher pitch and given more emphasis

These are just 2 of the many many things that I’ve learnt when I learnt to pay much closer attention to speech around me when I was in Korea!

So, if you want to improve your listening and speaking skills, start to listen actively from now on!

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9 Comments

  • Reply
    creativityjapanese
    11 October, 2010 at 11:10 PM

    I can relate to what you are saying cos I adopted the same method when I was learning Japanese. Therefore my listening skill is the weakest.

    However, I’m not adopting a different approach to Korean, that is what you’ve mentioned (thanks to Jeannie for the tip). This method really helps a lot in my learning process~ ^^

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      16 October, 2010 at 1:09 PM

      having the experience of learning a foreign language really helps when you are learning another new language!

  • Reply
    prashanth
    11 October, 2010 at 11:42 PM

    that was a very good post. Yea.. listening (active) is very important. I hardly have ‘passive listening skills.. your post reminds me of my ‘listening’ skills again and the need to improve my listening (not just for language learning but even in general)..

    thank you…. prashanth

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      16 October, 2010 at 1:09 PM

      thanks for leaving a comment! ^^ how’s your korean study going?

  • Reply
    Courtney
    12 October, 2010 at 12:57 AM

    Okay, a bit embarrassing, but what do you need to do to actively listen? Given my poor listening and speaking skills, I’m sure I’m NOT doing it. But what do I need to do to be an active listener?

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      16 October, 2010 at 1:06 PM

      sorry for the late reply! I think the most important thing is to look out for intonation patterns and where the stresses on a word are. Also, compare what you hear to what you say and see if there are any differences. ^^

  • Reply
    lyrynne
    12 October, 2010 at 1:55 PM

    listening is very important indeed and you really have to hear out what your listening to means. I agree that listening might affect your speaking skills. when i was still starting to learn korean i really wanted to sound like a native speaker when it comes to accent and how to express myself with expressions with tones so whenever i hear something i imitate what i hear, i guess this is a good practice because it also helps the way you pronounce words.

    i know i’ve mentioned this a lot of time already ㅋㅋㅋ but not depending on subtitles is a BIG BIG factor in learning. It challenges your listening and comprehension skills.

    thanks creativityjapanese for the mention^^I like this post shanna~ i think you’re already good in all 4 skills!

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      16 October, 2010 at 1:08 PM

      heh thanks jeannie~ yup I agree on the point on subtitles! I’m still trying to reduce my reliance on them >,<

  • Reply
    alodia
    5 February, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    Thanks! I would make sure to listen actively from now on. If I will choose which aspect of Korean i’m good at, I will say listening. But I realized that it was more of familiarization with words, phrases, expressions. I would understand / know what word was used in a sentence, simply because of context. Say for example I would know a speaker says 빵 and not 팡 or 방 because of how it was used in a sentence, and not because I was able to distinguish the ㅃ sound vs the ㅍ and ㅂ sound. 🙁

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