Wish your Korean studies were as fun as watching cat videos on 유튜브 (ahem, YouTube)?
Well, you’re in luck.
YouTube is the medium of choice for tech-savvy Korean learners.
Free, highly interactive and incredibly addictive, your favorite streaming platform can now help you recreate the perfect Korean immersion experience without the expensive plane ticket to Seoul.
Want to learn about the latest trends in K-pop? YouTube has you covered.
Maybe you prefer Korean movies and TV news? YouTube again.
No matter what you need, there’s something for you on YouTube.
Problem is, there’s actually so much content that finding the golden nugget can prove challenging.
And even if you’ve found a channel you like, you may not know how to turn your intensive video watching sessions into productive, efficient learning lessons. Legitimately so: Watching YouTube videos for fun in your native language is very different from learning Korean with YouTube clips.
But don’t despair.
It can actually be done, and in case you’re skeptical, yes, it works!
Here’s your game plan to study Korean with YouTube videos.
How to Best Use YouTube for Your Korean Studies
- Find content that you genuinely like.
If you’re used to old-school studying, you probably think you need to suffer through class for results to show. Well, you’re wrong! Studying a language is considerably more effective if you’re actually activating it and enjoying yourself. That’s because languages are learned through regular, ongoing effort and practice, not by just learning the theory behind them. If you find your studies engaging and fun, you’re also more likely to stay engaged in the long term.
How to do this? By treating yourself to videos that you actually like. Opt for content that discusses your passions and satisfies your curiosity for certain themes about the Korean culture. Look for videos about Korean food, customs and history if you’re interested in the Korean culture. If you love politics and diplomacy, try news clips about the Korean peninsula. Nothing worse than watching boring YouTube videos.
If you use FluentU, it’s easy to search videos by topic and get the best of Korean YouTube in a convenient, streamlined format.
- Subscribe to your favorite channels.
Use YouTube’s Subscribe feature to save time looking for the Korean channels you consume the most. This will help you stay ahead of updates and discover fresh content as soon as it’s released. To do this, all you need is to make sure you’re signed up for a YouTube account. Once you’re logged in, head over to the page of your favorite channel and click the red “Subscribe” box. The box should now read “Subscribed.”
YouTube will also suggest similar channels for you. Check the “Related Channels” box on the right-hand side and click on any channels that may be interesting to you.
On your home page, the channels that you’ve subscribed to appear on the left-hand side. All you need to do is to click on them to access them directly. You can also manage your subscriptions from the Subscription Manager page. You can easily check for new content from there. Simply look to see if there’s a number next to the channel’s name. If there’s no number, there are no new videos.
- Participate in video discussions. YouTube is more than a video streaming site: It’s a real community where viewers can interact and respond to videos with other users from all over the world. Don’t hesitate to jump in and post your comments in Korean.
Bonus points if you write in Hangul. Korean natives are all over the YouTube comments board and always appreciate when Korean learners make an effort communicating in Korean. Another great way to use the discussion board is to ask questions about things you didn’t understand. Make sure that your questions are precise, and don’t forget to thank contributors for their answers.
- Mix it up. The advantage of YouTube videos is that they’re short and varied. This will maximize your exposure to a variety of situations and vocabulary, so don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and experiment with videos you wouldn’t traditionally go for. It’s important to watch videos covering a diverse range of subjects and from different sources. This will help you challenge yourself and accumulate new vocabulary and expressions.
In addition, this is a good strategy to familiarize yourself with the honorifics systems of the Korean language. News clips, for example, are more formal than vlogs and use the most polite level of speech. Don’t neglect it, especially if your goal is to do business with Korean partners.
- Focus on the language. Watching authentic Korean videos may challenge your listening skills in the beginning, but don’t give up. The more you watch, the easier it becomes. It’s important to really make an effort when watching Korean YouTube videos. That’s a sign you’re learning and progressing.
To improve yourself, it’s a good idea to play the video multiple times or replay a particular segment until you fully understand what’s being said. Use images and textual elements incorporated in the YouTube video as a support. They can give you an indication of the overall or exact meaning depending on your level of fluency and the complexity of the video.
- Take notes. You’ll be thankful that you did, and you’ll quickly notice how rich in vocabulary YouTube videos are. Keep a notepad handy and write down any new or difficult words and expressions as you watch the video. Include the full sentences as you heard them in the video as an example.
Then, look them up in Naver’s bilingual online dictionary, read them again and try to watch the video one more time without your notes. If you’re looking for a Korean dictionary app, this article has some great resources worth downloading.
6 Life-changing YouTube Channels to Boost Your Korean Studies
The YouTube channel of Korean learning site Pinkfong features hundreds of colorful video animations, including songs and stories focused on language learning for beginner to intermediate learners. New videos are uploaded every week and include Korean subtitles, allowing you to practice reading in Hangul and verify new vocabulary.
Whether you’re a child or a kid at heart, you’ll be charmed by Pinkfong’s happy, imaginative videos. Backed by a simple storyline and superb graphics, it won’t be too long before you’ll find yourself humming to some of their songs.
Check out “여행갈 때 차에서 들려주는 동요” (They’re [songs that] shake your car when you take trips) for a collection of popular children’s songs, karaoke-style.
Alternatively, try “트리케라톱스의 뿔은 정말 멋져” (Triceratops’s horns are very nice), a story about a young, self-conscious, horned dinosaur who learns to love himself.
The Kebikids YouTube channel and site is developed by Familyschool, one of the leading Korean cyber-education sites for children. Fun and highly interactive, you’ll find animated videos about songs, stories, science and lifestyles that are suitable for beginner to intermediate students.
Videos follow the adventures of Toto, including his routine and lifestyle, and other characters like his friend 뽀롱이 (Porong), a green creature.
You might particularly enjoy practical lessons like “Cross the crosswalk,” where Toto learns to safely cross the streets, and “맛있는 식당” (Good restaurant), where Toto and his dad go out to eat.
너랑나랑 (You and I)
Looking for a way to read funny, short Korean stories online? This YouTube channel has you covered.
Featuring authentic, funny situations that have happened in real life, this account is a fantastic way to learn intermediate Korean through humor.
Focused on reading practice, videos are straightforward and mix pictures with witty captions in Hangul or screenshots of funny content such as text messages in Korean with upbeat music. It’s a fantastic way to learn casual conversation and how Korean-speakers write text messages.
You’ll laugh with “나 새벽에 알바하다가 연예인 닮은사람 봤어” (After going to my part-time job in the early morning, I saw people who looked like celebrities), where friends discuss a surprising encounter in a light-hearted fashion.
You’ll even find yourself relating to “닭다리 두개를 다먹은 여친” (My girlfriend ate two whole chicken legs) where a couple finds themselves in the hilarious situation of arguing about eating the last chicken leg and being stuck with less desirable cuts.
The Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) YouTube channel is a goldmine for fresh, culturally enriching videos about Korea today.
Intermediate learners will particularly like that these are authentic extracts from videos that were actually broadcasted on SBS, offering you a glimpse into Korean culture while saving you considerable viewing time.
Videos are uploaded every day, but you may want to check out “행복한 어르신들, ‘일이 있어 행복해요’“ (Happy elderly people: “If there’s work, I’m happy”), which follows active older people with a positive mindset, and “다이어트-건강을 한 번에! ‘햄프시드’의 효능” (For both diet and health! The effectiveness of hemp seeds), a video that explores the benefits of incorporating hemp seeds into your diet.
On their highly popular YouTube channel, Korea’s Educational Broadcasting System (EBS) publishes high-quality videos that are perfect for high-intermediate to advanced learners.
Entirely in Korean, videos are often accompanied Korean text and subtitles as is customary on Korean TV, which makes them more interactive and easy to follow.
From customs to food, lifestyle to entertainment, science to politics, the list of themes featured in these videos is endless and will more than satisfy your thirst for knowledge! Videos are on the longer side and they often post entire documentaries, perfect if you’re looking for in-depth content.
Be sure to keep an eye out for new videos, as they post quite frequently. To start, you could watch “원더풀 사이언스 21세기피사의 사탑 베일을 벗다” (Wonderful Science: Unveiling the 21st Century Leaning Tower of Pisa), which follows the development of unconventional development projects in Singapore.
Alternatively, watch “극한직업 – 통발 장어잡이” (Extreme Job – Catching eel with bamboo traps), which showcases the difficult job of eel fishermen and their lives at large.
If you’re looking for high-intermediate to advanced authentic Korean content, the Yes! Top News (YTN) YouTube channel will not disappoint. Featuring topical short videos on subjects including politics, economics, global news and Korean society, this is your go-to YouTube page to stay in touch with Korea today.
New clips are added daily, but you may particularly appreciate “와 방학이다!…그런데?” (Wow, it’s the holiday! Now what?), a fun video where several Korean youngsters share their holiday plans, and “도시, 첨단 콘크리트를 입다” (City put on cutting-edge concrete), a longer video about how advances in concretes support the development of modern cities.
Now that you know how to use YouTube videos to advance your Korean studies, all you need is to get started.
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