Along with its rich culture and history, it’s the people who make Korea so unique.
So it’s only natural that you’d be itching to be able to communicate with native speakers.
Lucky for you, there are easily-accessible tools that can get you there faster.
And if you take advantage of them, you can gain fluency in Korean from anywhere in the world.
One of these indispensable tools are audiobooks.
Audiobooks do a great job of immersing you in the Korean language and culture using fresh native content. And considering the variety of audiobooks out there, you’ll be able to suit your tastes and language level without a problem.
Here are some tested-and-approved tips on how to learn Korean faster with audiobooks, plus where to find them online and book recommendations.
Why Audiobooks Can Help You Learn Korean Faster
They help you acquire listening and reading skills
Korean audiobooks do a tremendous job of allowing you to build familiarity with the Korean language. They keep the focus on Korean listening skills so you develop a greater understanding of the unique sounds and delivery of Korean.
In addition, the content is read by Korean natives chosen for their perfect pronunciation and intonation, so you don’t have to worry about picking up bad “habits” later on.
They make it easier to assimilate Korean
Audiobooks support your Korean studies by focusing on a combination of visualization and audio-based stimulation, a process that helps speed up memorization. Beyond this, it’s a more comprehensive approach to learning the Korean language. Understanding that communication is rooted in real-life situations, it targets a variety of delivery methods to better prepare you for a variety of scenarios.
Most importantly, audiobooks feature plenty of high-quality content without the tedious aspect that comes from studying books. Now, that, we like!
They make learning Korean more engaging
Learning Korean is by no means a piece of cake, so if you’re able to learn Korean while having fun, take it. Keep in mind that your journey to mastering the language isn’t a dash, it’s a marathon. Make sure to take pleasure out of it, as that will keep you committed in the long run.
Audiobooks are great helpers in this respect; they feature plenty of lively dialogues and sound effects that make the experience more realistic and—dare we say it—magical. Readers are typically chosen for their unique acting and voice-over skills, so if you’re expecting the robotic, dull voice, you’re in for a treat!
They are accessible anytime, anywhere
Carrying books can be burdensome and reading them requires your to be still, which is a problem you won’t ever have with audiobooks. Audio CDs can be digitalized to MP3 files or downloaded directly to your phone, so you can access and listen to them wherever you are—even offline without a Wi-Fi connection.
Listen to them when you have “empty” time, including when you are on the subway, driving, walking, washing dishes or doing errands.
How to Study Korean with Audiobooks
- Take notes. You’ll pick up new vocabulary while listening to audiobooks, so be sure to do your part and keep track of it. Write down all words and expressions you’ll want to remember and review your notes on a regular basis. The personal element makes all the difference: These aren’t random vocabulary lists, they are words that have been carefully chosen by you as useful words.
- Hit the replay button. Audiobooks are fantastic for listening practice because they let you replay content as often as you want. Use it to review portions you don’t fully understand. Don’t give up until you’re confident that you fully grasp what is being said, and even play it until you are able to utter the full sentence out loud without error.
- Read the hard copy. Supplement audio sessions with reading. If you’re looking to target listening, start by playing the audio first, and later work with the book in front of you. To target comprehension and reading, read first and add in the audio later. Be sure to alternate both activities, and to focus on one particular skill at a time to correct imbalances. For example, focus on reading if your listening is better, and vice versa.
- Supplement with visual content on FluentU.
- Complement with grammar materials. Most audiobooks focus on conversational Korean, but don’t explain why sentences are structured a certain way. Use grammar textbooks along the way to set the foundations and make sure you understand the rules. “Korean Grammar for International Learners,” for example, is the ally of choice if you’re using audiobooks because all roots and structures are conveniently indexed and searchable.
5 Top Sites for Finding Korean Audiobooks
Amazon offers a solid curation of Korean audiobooks to get you started. You’ll find mainly learning audiobooks on the American e-commerce giant, but there are a few stories in Korean that are worth your while. Most audiobooks can be downloaded or include a hard copy with their accompanying CD.
“Berlitz Korean for Your Trip” by Berlitz — This has everyday and travel phrases to navigate Korea with confidence. The pack includes a booklet with phonetic transcriptions, handy tips and key word reminders. The audio CD runs for 60 minutes and the contents can be easily downloaded to your iPod or MP3 player.
“Korean Nursery Rhymes” by Danielle Wright — Who said learning Korean wasn’t magical? For children and kids at heart, this beautifully illustrated book includes Korean songs and rhymes to learn the Korean language. Bilingual and perfect for multicultural families, the book includes text in both English and Korean and includes an audio CD with recordings of kids singing in both languages.
The Librivox free public domain audiobook library features a good selection of Korean books read by native speakers. All titles on this popular site are available for free online. The focus is primarily on literature, poetry and history, and you’ll find numerous exciting titles to help you advance your Korean studies.
“인권 선언” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) by United Nations (U.N.) — For those interested in learning more about history and diplomacy, this audio document will make your day. It’s a reading of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ratified in 1948 by the U.N. General Assembly, which famously defines the fundamental rights of individuals.
“금수회의록” (Assembly of Animals) by Geum-su-Hue-I-Lok — “Assembly of Animals” is an allegorical tale published in 1908 about animals meeting together to criticize mankind. In his dreams, the narrator sees a group of animals gathered to discuss everything they believe is wrong with man, from his inability to say proper thanks to his narrow knowledge or his thirst for power. It was the first modern novel in Korean, and its publication was banned by the Japanese in 1909.
Operated by two sisters, this online bookstore features a nice selection of Korean audiobooks with illustrations, perfect for children. The series available online focuses on folktales read out loud through lively, animated storytelling with plenty of realistic sound effects.
“이솝이야기” (Aesop’s Fables) by Aesop — What better way to learn Korean than by using books that Korean children actually use to learn proper Korean? Designed for Korean children, this audiobook reads 30 popular Fables by Aesop, a slave and famous storyteller believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 564 BC. Appropriate for intermediate Korean learners, the book contains 30 stories in over 62 minutes of CD recordings, including “개미와 베짱이” (The Ant and the Grasshopper) and “배부른 여우” (The Fox Who Ate Too Much).
Note: This book is no longer available on TwoChois, but you can access 30 Aesop fables in Korean on Talk to Me in Korean. Each is recited in slow, clear Korean and includes a PDF document of translation practice, quizzes and grammar help.
Learning Korean Through Traditional Fairy Tales by Darakwan — Learn Korean through Korea’s most iconic folk stories in this book featuring 15 fairy tales. Be sure to check out our favorites, including “해님 달님” (The Moon and The Sun) and “금도끼 은도끼” (The Honest Woodman).
The website of Korea’s notorious book publisher Darakwon offers an extensive choice of language learning audiobooks. Suitable for beginner to advanced students, the site features a solid variety of books, from old-school textbooks to more colorful, out-of-the-box learning methods, or TOPIK guides.
Audiobooks are available with their hard copy and MP3 files or CDs. For orders outside of South Korea, place your request by email or purchase directly from the Darakwon English website.
“설화로 배우는 한국어” (Learning Korean Through Folk Tales) by Soon-lye Kim and Ha-na Kim — This colorful audiobook includes 16 stories read by lively actors. Designed for intermediate students, it’s designed to help you acquire new vocabulary with ease. For maximum efficacy, complement your listening sessions with reading practice using a hard copy of the textbook.
“이야기가 있는 한국어 한국 문화” (A Story of Korean Language and Korean Culture) by Multicultural Society Institute — Based on storytelling scenarios, this book discusses various elements to help Korean students better understand the language through culture, lifestyle, customs, traditions and art. This is a great audiobook if you’re looking to grasp the ways that Koreans think.
This will become your go-to platform if you’re looking for the latest Korean audiobooks. Audien is the best Korean e-commerce store to access Korean audiobooks. Why? Because that’s all they do! Audien offers a great selection of the latest novels, essays, autobiographies, fantasy books, economics books and classics. Most audiobooks are available for purchase, but some content is free as well.
To get started, sign up for an account by clicking “환영가입” (welcome subscription) on the site header, accept their terms and click “해외거주 외국인 환영가입” (welcome subscription for foreigners overseas). Then, fill out your information and accept to create your account.
Note: We can’t provide direct links to the two books below (because the site simply redirects you to the home page), but if you want to buy the audiobook from Audien, just copy and paste the title into the search bar and click “바로가기” (shortcut).
“마음을 실험하다” (Testing the Brain) by Park Yong-beom — Selected as one of Naver’s top 20 picks when it was published, this fascinating book explores the potential of the human brain through experiments and the latest psychological discoveries. Make no mistake, this is for curious minds looking to better understand psychology while having fun. If you’ve ever wondered what your brain is capable of or why you’ve become a slave to your smartphone, this audiobook has all the answers!
“왕의 초상” (The Mourning of the King) by Jeon So-young — This captivating novel won first prize for Public Choice Award in Korea in 2013. “The Mourning of the King” tells the fascinating story of a man looking to avenge the death of his father by killing the King. Cast against the background of Korea’s Choseon dynasty, the man becomes the King’s portraitist to get closer to him, and eventually plots his assassination.
We hope you have as much fun listening to these fantastic audiobooks as we did! Happy studies!
And One More Thing...
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Each word in the interactive captions comes with a definition, audio, image, example sentences and more.
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