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Learning Korean with Social Media

Foreign language learning has been made easier with the advent of social media. In the past, language learners used to fret about the lack of pen-pals, or people to practice their new language skills with. When I first started learning Korean 3.5 years ago, I did not have a single Korean friend. It felt weird to add random people on Facebook or to use those ‘pen-pal’ sites that usually attract a sizable group of people interested in more than language exchange.

That is when I turned to social media. The language-learning aspect of Twitter has since gained much recognition due to it’s ‘bite-sized input, bit-sized output’ design. Twitter is not only the social media tool suitable for language learning, although it’s certainly the most popular and well known one. Different countries and cultures tend to congregate in different social media sites and here, I’ll cover a few other social media tools popular among Koreans, making them the most suitable for Korean learners.


Twitter is popular among Koreans and there’s a sizable and growing list of celebrities who are using the microblogging application. The presence of celebrities is a huge magnet for us Korean learners, as the majority of us enjoy Korean entertainment and probably even started learning Korean because of a certain drama/actor/singer. Their tweets provide a form of motivation for us to practice our reading skills and to tweet back messages of encouragement and love. I have many friends who commented that it’s less stressful to practice Korean on twitter compared to other mediums and they get a sense of satisfaction when the other party understands their tweets and replies them in Korean. It is also much less awkward to follow a random stranger and to tweet to that person, compared to adding the person on Facebook. Facebook is a more personal and private space, where most of us will prefer to add friends that we personally know.

Me2Day is the Korean version of Twitter and majority of its users are Koreans, although the number of foreigners have increased due to the presence of Korean celebrities using the application. It’s a comfortable way of meeting new friends, exchanging messages and learning about the Korean culture etc., and yet allows relative anonymity and privacy. Compared to Twitter, it feels like the users are of a younger age range and they primarily use the application to keep in contact with their friends. The language used is distinctly more casual and it’s a great place to pick up the latest lingo and slang words.


Kaokaotalk is the buzz these days and as pointed out by Niels, the application is enjoying a rapid increase in popularity and users. Compared to the two applications above, it’s more private and is more akin to texting instead of a social media site. I usually use it to keep in contact with the closer online friends that I’ve known throughout the years. Although the ID is tied to your handphone number, the application also allows the use of an ID when searching for friends, and thus providing some form of privacy.


Korea has several large portal sites, with others being Daum and Nate. Other blogging sites include tistory. I have been blogging on Naver since Feb 2009 and it has been a great experience. Blogging in Korean is much more interesting and a better form of written practice compared to Korean homework or exercises in textbooks. It allows you to express yourself freely and blogging allows interaction that doing homework does not. I have met many kind friends who leave replies to my posts and often, they offer suggestions on how I can make my writing better and point out some of my mistakes and awkward expressions. This is the kind of interaction that you seldom get even in a classroom setting.

It’s often difficult to sustain the passion and interest for learning a foreign language. Through the use of social media, language learners can benefit from language practice, cultural interaction and more. All of the above are available as phone applications, allowing for language learning on-the-go.

 Although I may not ever have a chance to meet them, I’m grateful to all my online Korean friends, who have given me lots of motivation and encouragement in my Korean learning journey.

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17 Comments

  • Reply
    Jeanne
    25 May, 2011 at 12:05 AM

    When following someone I don’t personally know on Twitter I feel like such a stalker, as I’m not really into celebrity gossip and knowing the ins and outs of their lives. But it’s true that it might be interesting from a language learning perspective… I might try to follow a few artists I like 🙂

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      25 May, 2011 at 8:41 AM

      haha twitter is a more open social platform so i guess it’s ok xD I got to know some of my korean friends this way too (:

  • Reply
    Mishmash
    25 May, 2011 at 1:27 AM

    Haha I used kakaotalk a lot tho I don’t understand why it’s so popular as there are other similar apps available that don’t require the person’s phone number.

    Anyway I’ve got a question for you. When you want to say a place is open 24 hours, do you read it as 스물 네 사간 or 이십사 시간? I know the latter is used widely but some told me the the former is the technically correct way.

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      25 May, 2011 at 8:39 AM

      hahaha the emoticons are cute there! xD and since they allow for an ID to be created, it’s not really tied to your phone number too.

      mmm that’s an interesting question. I always read it as 이십사 시간 and I’ve always heard it pronounced as that in dramas. I’ll try to check it with my friends! 😀

      • Reply
        warp3
        2 June, 2011 at 2:31 AM

        According to the “numbers” section of “Using Korean” (which I’ve found to be a very useful book) expressions like 24 시간 and 48 시간 are read as Sino-Korean, not native Korean like one does when counting hours normally.

        So, based on that, 이십사 시간 seems to be the “standard” pronunciation.

  • Reply
    Niels
    25 May, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    Nice roundup, Ms Hangukdrama, and thanks for the pingback!
    I’ve learned a few interesting expressions via Twitter, but a lot of the time they’re so full of abbreviations and slang I can’t understand them at all 🙁

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      26 May, 2011 at 3:32 PM

      It’s the only few places I can try to pick up slangs, since normal textbooks wont touch on them at all. ):

  • Reply
    Learning Korean with Social Media | Nanoomi.net
    25 May, 2011 at 3:22 PM

    […] can read the original post at Hangukdrama.  var addthis_language = 'en'; blog comments powered by Disqus var […]

  • Reply
    sophia
    26 May, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    Is it still limited to 140 characters for Korean Twitter, too? So intriguing. 🙂

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      26 May, 2011 at 3:32 PM

      i think it’s 150 characters for me2day. that’s quite alot, given how korean words are made up of very few characters.

  • Reply
    Charles Montgomery
    26 May, 2011 at 12:53 PM

    I’m with Niels..

    I thought Twitter would be a quick and easy want to learn, but it takes the Korean habit of abbreviating words to a new level, and the slang and colloquialism is impenetrable…

    Nice site, though!

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      26 May, 2011 at 3:34 PM

      Thanks! ^^

      My eyes usually skip past the chunk of long korean texts in twitter. Its amazing how much content there can be within 140 characters.

  • Reply
    mishmash
    27 May, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    I had to read the eng/kor substitles…I completely ‘catch no ball’ HAHAH

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      27 May, 2011 at 5:11 PM

      WOW. that’s so awesome!! thanks for sharing 😀 yeah i can only pick out certain sentences. the 가가가가 totally stumped me though xD

      • Reply
        mishmash
        31 May, 2011 at 10:53 AM

        ‘왜 나대다가 디비지는데’ ㅋㅋ

  • Reply
    warp3
    26 June, 2011 at 9:41 AM

    Yesterday I decided to take the “follow a celebrity on Twitter” part of this advice (though I didn’t even have a Twitter account until that day I registered to reply your tweet about “go through the roof”) and I’m glad I did. I’ve probably gotten more Korean reading practice in the past 24 hours than I’d gotten for the whole week before that. I’m following a fair number of Korean celeb accounts (mostly K-pop group members; I started with T-ara’s 함은정 that I found in your “following” list and branched out from there) so there is plenty of Korean text filling my Twitter feed now (well except for the members of Kara who seem to be on a Japanese posting binge lately…lol). Since the posts are so short (by Twitter’s own design) it takes very little motivation to actually read them. However, even that doesn’t really matter as much since I’m motivated to read them anyway as I’m genuinely curious what they are saying.

    Plus it was an interesting feeling reading a tweet from T-ara’s 박지연 apologizing for the on-air mistake on Music Core then a while later seeing All-Kpop post an article referencing that message (including a translation of the tweet that I was pleased to see matched what I had gathered from reading it initially).

    • Reply
      hangukdrama
      26 June, 2011 at 10:39 AM

      은정 is one of those that tweets really regularly so you will get updates very often ^^ It’s a great way of practicing reading and the sense of satisfaction that you get when you understand their tweets is great motivation too 😀

      I probably should start following Japanese celebrities and add more jap to my twitter feed 😀

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