Mastering the Art of Speaking Like a Native Korean
Nelson Mandela once said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” In an increasingly globalised world, our connections are no longer bounded by geographical locations. We no longer only need to interact with people who speak, write and understand our language. Be it a Korean acquaintance, friend, partner, colleague or a Korean celebrity you’ve been dying to meet, being able to converse like a native Korean would definitely to speak to their souls!
1. Pay attention to the pronunciation of aspirated and tense consonants
In Korean, aspirated consonants must be pronounced with a “burst of air”, whereas tense consonants are pronounced with a stiffer and harder voice as compared to their plain counterparts. While this may seem insignificant initially, it actually sets apart native and non-native speakers, as the former will have difficulty understanding what the latter is speaking if they are unable to articulate the consonants well.
2. Listen to dialogues in K-dramas and practice to them
You don’t have to spend hours and hours on Korean dramas if you are busy or simply are not a fan of them! Instead, set aside some time every day to listen to conversations in K-dramas and repeating their words, phrases and sentences. This act of imitating the accents of Koreans will slowly develop into a habit over time and before you know it, you will be sounding like a native Korean! As the famous writer George Bernard Shaw once said, “Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery – it’s the sincerest form of learning.”
3. Listen to Korean podcasts
If you are really unable to find time to watch K-dramas at home, the best alternative is to try podcasts in Korean languages that you can listen to anywhere, on the train, bus or while waiting for someone! This would be especially effective for auditory learners, who thrive on learning by listening. There are many free or affordable podcasts available on streaming platforms such as Spotify, so be sure to check them out!
4. Make Korean Friends
What better way is there to practice the Korean language, besides speaking to native Korean speakers! If you don’t know anyone, consider enrolling in a Korean language school, where you will most likely meet friendly native Korean teachers who will be happy to engage in conversations with you. Quick tip: opt for a trial lesson first to see if the teacher is able to meet your expectations before signing up for a full course. There are also several websites such as Conversation Exchange and My Language Exchange, that host language exchange opportunities that will let you practice your Korean with fluent speakers.
5. Learn the Korean slangs
When speaking informally, it is common for Korean speakers to omit subject and object marking particles and to shorten words. These days, it is also trendy to abbreviate words even further. One such example is “chi-mek” which combines chicken and beer into one phrase, popularized by Jeon Ji-hyun’s character in the hit series “My Love From Another Star”! Other popular slangs also include “dae-bak”, which is commonly heard in K-dramas. Using Korean slangs will definitely make you sound like a local when you are in Korea and make you feel part of them!
Let us know in the comments section if you have any other ways of mastering the art of speaking like a native Korean or tell us if you managed to speak like a Korean native with our tips!
Daehan Education Centre offers free trial lessons for anyone, with or without experience, to get an introduction on the Korean language and culture with us. We are the first Korean language school established in Singapore by native Koreans with a pool of experienced and qualified teachers who are dedicated to guide you through your learning journey. Whether you are here just to learn basic conversational skills or looking to certify your mastery of the language by taking the TOPIK examinations, look no further in starting your Korean learning adventure with us!