A valid but hard to answer question. Isn’t the answer simply to keep on listening?
I remembered vaguely that I blogged about it. Did a quick search and >> Frustration of listening in a foreign language
(I always feel like I’m gaining new insight from my past self -.-)
Someone once ask me how do I know if my understanding of what I listened was “correct”. That really stumped me and made me realise that the answer to the topic may not be so simple.
I don’t have a magic formula, but here are some tips and pitfalls to avoid.
Over-reliance on subs or transcripts
I know how scary it is to listen to something but be unable to check if you are “right” or not. It’s like removing your safety net and you start to be hyper-vigilant, wanting to catch every single syllabus/word and second-guessing yourself. Or be too afraid to try such materials.
That is not the way to go. You should assume that what you are listening and understanding is “right” if it kinda all make sense. If there are certain words you didn’t manage to catch, just move on. Don’t be overly reliant on textbook dialogues.
Even if you are using subbed materials, please listen to the stuff raw (not looking at transcript) for the first time.
Listen more, listen widely
Everyone speaks in a different way. Just like how you are unlikely to find people talking like a BBC anchor, you aren’t going to find a lot of people who speak like the person who recorded your textbook mp3 files. It’s easy to have a “favourite voice” and be reliant on it. (mine was Maybee unni from KBS radio) But NO. Listen to both genders, people of all ages, backgrounds etc.
A lot of people have problems listening to older people / non-Seoulites speak in Korean but I loveee those accents heh. A good way to practice would be to watch documentaries or those 시사 프로 like 그것이 알고 싶다. I love 극한직업 (link to youtube channel) and I watched one ep of 항아리 makers and totally gained a lot of respect for them and their craft.
Understand that listening goes hand in hand with your proficiency
Just like how you can’t expect your proficiency to grow overnight, the same goes for listening. Your listening skills is linked to your overall proficiency. It’s harder to listen to “a string of words” compared to words you already know. Don’t blame yourself for not “catching the sounds” even though you have the whole of Hangeul pronunciation / syllabus remembered. Listening is not about “sounds” but “words”. If you don’t know the grammar point / vocabulary, it is unlikely that you would catch it, especially as a beginner.
Don’t be too harsh on yourself!
I can’t emphasise this more. Do both active and passive listening. Active meaning you concentrate like mad to decipher the meaning lol. Passive being to simply let it play in the background. The former is good practice and the latter helps you familiarise yourself with the intonation etc. I listen to Korean for at least an hour or two each day nowadays. Back at my peak (lol), I used to listen to it every moment when I’m awake and at home, which means around 9 hours at least.
Do take note and not turn on the volume too loud ;;
Any other tips to share?