13 In Linguistics

Learning Languages – a revolutionary approach

I came across an article on language learning while blog surfing and I am much intrigued by it. It proposes that language learning can be made much more effective through frequent exposure to its sound patterns, even though we may not understand its meaning.

Sadly, listening has not been one of the main focus in the traditional language class. When I was taking beginner Korean classes, the only listening practice that we ever gotten was those short sample converstions that come with the textbook CD. We didn’t even use the radio every lesson. Sometimes we will just repeat line by line after the teacher.

During my Japanese beginner class, the teacher made use of the sample dialogue more often and during breaks, he would play Japanese pop songs (although its the same CD throughout the entire 1 month course!).

I do agree that listening made a huge difference to the efficiency of language learning. I feel ‘more in tune’ with Korean if i keep listening to podcasts, watch dramas and even listen to pop songs. I made it a point to listen frequently to radio broadcasts too.

“Neural tissue required to learn and understand a new language will develop automatically from simple exposure to the language—which is how babies learn their first language,” Dr Sulzberger says.

Besides helping me pick up new vocabulary more readily, I can be more sensitive to how natives actually pronounce the words. It hones my intonation and helps to make my sentences more fluent too.

Everytime I watch Korean dramas, I’m so used to the sound patterns that I feel ‘deluded’ into thinking that I really could understand everything. I can’t really express how I feel, but listening to Korean feels as natural to me as watching Chinese or English dramas. IN TUNE. haha

Frequent listening also helps to compensate for not being able to go directly to the country and immerse yourself in everyday conversation and culture.

On the other hand, I’m not so into the Japanese culture and I don’t watch any dramas too. Perhaps that’s why Japanese still feel very very foreign to me and I’m not so motivated to study it. (I haven’t touch my books for er.. a month? oops)

Oh, here’s the link for the article. click here

How do you guys learn foreign languages? (:  Feel free to share!

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  • Reply
    1 February, 2009 at 8:55 PM

    Your blog really inspired me in my language learning journey! & I was shocked to learn that you’re about my age too.
    I’m really into linguistics too (almost went into it when choosing university courses), however I chose to go into arts & social sciences instead. I’m like about beginner’s in both Korean (started studying this in Jan 08) & Japanese (started in Aug 08). So we’re about in the same boat, just that I don’t have half the self-motivation as you to study on my own. T.T
    Anyways was gonna ask, do you have an electronic Korean dictionary? Do you know where to get one? (:

  • Reply
    1 February, 2009 at 9:40 PM


    wow nice to meet you too (: Yeah I do have an electronic Korean dictionary. If you are Singaporean, you can find one in taka Kinokuniya, there’s a counter near the manga area selling them.

    hmm actually I didn’t use it much in the end. ><

    Online k-dic such as those from empas is much better and comprehensive. (free of charge too!)

    haha but if you would like to have an electronic dictionary on-the-go with you, check out taka 😀

  • Reply
    3 February, 2009 at 8:55 AM


    If you live in North America or don’t mind paying a large sum, Hanbooks sells e-dictionaries too. Here’s the link:


  • Reply
    3 February, 2009 at 4:35 PM

    Hi Hazel!

    wow those dictionaries looks much better than mine! But they are expensive ><

  • Reply
    4 February, 2009 at 11:07 PM

    Hi, I enjoyed reading your blog, also went to read the article from Victoria University in New Zealand that you mentioned and was pretty interesting.
    I wanted to mention also that I have a Blog at http://www.abroadlanguages.com/blog that also has some tips on learning languages if you are interested in checking it out.

  • Reply
    5 February, 2009 at 5:43 PM

    Hi Robert! (:

    thanks for your comment! I really think that the method proposed in the article is useful. It focuses more on the effort of the individual to learn languages rather than relying on classes and teachers.

    It’s nice to meet people like you who love languages too. I’ll definitely check out your blog. 😀

  • Reply
    How to learn Languages Effectively « my korean learning journey
    5 February, 2009 at 10:40 PM

    […] it drama, music, movies or podcasts – Listen to anything and everything. As mention in a previous article, immersing yourself in the sounds of the L2 language does contribute to effectiveness of foreign […]

  • Reply
    29 June, 2010 at 8:19 AM

    wow, i feel the same way about the korean dramas. and i think i can relate to the japanese learning. i stopped watching japanese dramas and anime and it seemed like my japanese was weird… i stopped studying it now. and i do believe that listening frequently is the best way to learn.

    • Reply
      29 June, 2010 at 4:53 PM

      agree! listening skill is one of the harder ones to acquire and practice doesnt help loads!

  • Reply
    30 January, 2011 at 7:59 PM

    [Frequent listening also helps to compensate for not being able to go directly to the country and immerse yourself in everyday conversation and culture.]

    I agree!
    And I do the same too. I watch movies and dramas, and only listen to korean songs (mostly drama osts) on my computer, ipod, cellphone. I listen to podcast lessons too.

    And just recently, I decided to LISTEN to Korean dramas. I went back to school and it means lesser time to study Korean and lesser time to watch dramas. I usually have my music on whatever I do (review for an exam, reading readings, writing a report), but I thought, why not listen to dramas instead. So I extract the audio of my favorite drama and I listen to it while studying, and while on my way to and from school. Sometimes even during classes if I can sneak it.

    It doesn’t matter whether I understand everything or nothing at all. Just familiarization with the sounds, intonation, expressions. And you’ll get to pick up vocabs and grammar patterns as you listen, intentionally or unintentionally.

    Of course this method will only work for some people. It may sound really boring, but since I’m so addicted to a particular drama I wouldn’t mind listening to it over and over until I memorize all the lines. ㅋㅋㅋ

    Funny thing though, I was told, about 3 times already, by 3 different groups of Korean friends, at 3 different times, that I sound very much like Kim Sam Soon. Yeah, that’s the drama that I listen to – My Name Is Kim Sam Soon.

    So I guess that’s a proof that you’ll get to pick up something from listening. I was not mimicking Sam Soon at all. I don’t even know how to mimic her. But it just came out naturally.

    Unfortunately Kim Sam Soon sounds a bit strange (Kim Sun Ah too), I think. But at least she sounds Korean. Hehehe.

    And just a few months ago, I decided to study the script too of MNIKSS so that I’ll be more familiar to what I’m listening to.

    And that’s my concern when I start learning Japanese next semester. I am not exposed at all to Japanese. In my lifetime, i think I’ve only seen 2 Japanese dramas, 1 anime series and no more than 20 Japanese movies. I have 6 Japanese songs out of my 500+ Korean songs in my netbook (and no Japanese song in my ipod) and I don’t remember the last time I played any of them. ㅋㅋㅋ My only consolation, Kim Sun Ah speaks fluent Japanese. So i guess i just have to watch video clips and interviews of her speaking Japanese over and over and over. :'(

    • Reply
      30 January, 2011 at 8:50 PM

      I’m taking japanese this semester too! like you, i dun think i have any jap songs in my ipod and when i do watch jap dramas, i dont concentrate on the audio but instead read the subs. heh my motivation comes from the jap songs that big bang has xD

      i think listening to dramas is a real good idea! I wanted to do that, but I’m very scared I’ll end up looking at the video. extracting the audio file is a good idea! ^^ if you go to dramabeans.com, they have the scripts for some dramas. you can download them! 😀 i love fantasy couple and sometimes, i’ll read the script pretending i’m han ye seul! 😀

      • Reply
        30 January, 2011 at 8:55 PM

        Haha. I actually started just playing the video of the drama in the background, but I just end up watching it, especially if I know that the scene is interesting. Thus I decided to extract the audio, that way I have no choice but to just listen to it. ^^
        Then I guess Kim Sun Ah’s interviews in Japanese would be an enough motivation. ^^

  • Reply
    Listening to K-dramas « My Korean Corner
    30 January, 2011 at 9:41 PM

    […] Jan This started as a comment in Hangukdrama and Korean blog’s Learning Languages – a revolutionary approach entry. And after clicking the POST COMMENT button, I was surprised that it was really long and that it […]

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