Have you heard the saying “No news is good news”?
If so, I have some bad news for you: When it comes to learning languages, it’s a lie!
The truth is, if you’re hungry for some topical learning material that will bring you closer to modern Korea, reading and watching the news are excellent ways to get that language input your brain needs!
If you haven’t already, you should definitely start incorporating news into your Korean language studies.
Keep reading, then! We’ll guide you through the process of how you can learn Korean effectively through authentic local news.
Why Learn Korean Through the News?
News articles and news shows are clear and well-written, making them ideal for your Korean studies. They’re often to-the-point, using precise vocabulary and correct grammar.
Knowing that content is fresh is an additional motivational factor. Topical news stories have a breaking-news factor that can’t be found elsewhere. By reading the news regularly, you’ll have incredible bragging rights and be able to tell your friends about all the fascinating things happening on the peninsula, before your country’s news sources pick up the stories. You’ll get hooked on that!
Browsing news regularly will help you develop the vocabulary to discuss what’s in the air. This means that you’ll be able to activate your learning immediately when you find yourself in real-life situations and interact with native Korean speakers outside the classroom. You’ll quickly notice that most of the words, grammar structures and expressions that are used in a given article are used throughout the news cycle. Getting started now is a terrific investment that will serve you throughout your studies.
Most importantly, it brings you closer to Korean society. You’ll gain a solid understanding of the challenges facing the peninsula today, along with the main stakeholders and personalities that influence Korea’s future. This will allow you to become more sensitive to the local mentalities and avoid cultural faux pas.
Tips for Learning Korean Through the News
- Mix articles and news sources. This is to ensure that you diversify your vocabulary and continue learning. By reading or tuning in to multiple news sources, you’ll expand your word database and remain challenged. That’s because different writers and publications have different styles. Some may be easier for you than others, so keep at it until you’re able to understand the news without effort.
- Start by selecting appropriate content for your level. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to finding content. Your news sources don’t have to be serious; lowbrow content can also be beneficial to your learning, especially if you’re just getting started. Aim for topics and formats that interest you and that are accessible to you. For example, cartoons, advertisements, horoscopes, weather forecasts and society news are easier to understand than politics and finance.
- Remember that frequency matters. Try to read one article and watch one short clip every day. It doesn’t even have to take a long time. Practicing five minutes a day will give you “only” 35 minutes over a week, but since it’s spread out, you’ll likely see better results than if you do a single one-hour session once a week. The goal is to consistently create impressions in Korean every day.
- Work at it! Use a notebook to write down vocabulary words that come up frequently, and go over your notes every day. Review your notes again at the end of the week and periodically throughout the month until the words become fully accessible to you. To structure your learning, list words and expressions by themes in your notebooks. These can be broad categories such as “Politics,” “Religion” or “Soccer,” or event-based lists like “Elections,” “World Cup” or “수능” (“Suneung,” the Korean College Scholastic Ability Test). This will make it easier for you to anticipate complex expressions when reading articles about these subjects.
5 Essential Resources for Learning Korean Through the News
Written for Korean children, this entry-level outlet of 동아일보 (Dong-A Ilbo), one of the oldest Korean newspapers, is a fantastic resource to start reading news in Korean. Expect simplified versions of news stories, a news-themed learning center and plenty of comics. The focus is mainly on positive social news, but you’ll also occasionally find articles on science, IT and even politics.
These themes will help bring you up to speed on essential keywords and structures used in regular news. The articles tend to be concise and more approachable, making the news a lot more manageable for beginner and low-intermediate students!
Ever wished Korean news were translated into English so you could verify the accuracy of your own mental translations? Your prayers (and mine!) have been answered. The influential paper 중앙일보 (JoongAng Ilbo) publishes a couple of its own articles every day on its Bilingual Column blog. Granted, the articles are geared towards a Korean audience looking to perfect their English, but they can be easily adapted to learners of the Korean language as well.
The beauty of this section is that the editors do a great job curating diverse content. If you follow this section diligently, you’ll be able to read about serious subjects such as politics, diplomacy and economics, as well as lighter news topics including K-pop, health, technology and religion.
If you study on your own, this is also a fantastic resource to practice translations from Korean to English and make sure that you’ve fully understood an article. Try reading the article once quickly, then do it again while looking up unknown words in a Korean dictionary or dictionary app. Write down difficult words and go over the article one more time, this time trying to translate it in its entirety. Write down your translation and verify your accuracy when you’re finished by reading the English version on the left-hand side.
Naver News is a comprehensive news aggregator that curates articles from all over the Korean internet. It will help you quickly identify what’s trending in Korea and discover interesting news sources.
The best part is that you can access both written articles and radio programs. Simply click on 신문 헤드라인 (newspaper headline) or 방송 뉴스 (radio news) in the header, depending on what type of content you’d like.
Because of its incredible diversity, this is the platform of choice if you want to put your finger on the pulse of Korean society. If you’re just getting started, don’t get discouraged. Simply studying the headlines will do wonders for your skills. That’s because they incorporate very common buzzwords and expressions that will help you to at least understand what’s being discussed. It’s also a great introduction to hanja (Korean characters borrowed from Chinese), since headlines feature them prominently.
What better way than local news to learn a language? Localized news sources are often a lot more concise and easier to read than national outlets, and Korean news is no exception. With its focus on Seoul news, this is the perfect outlet to deepen your knowledge of Korean and still read important news.
You’ll be able to expand your vocabulary about a full range of subjects, along with the specific terminology of local government. You’ll also gain familiarity with Seoul’s neighborhoods, subway stations and main sights. This will come in handy if you ever plan a trip to the city.
If you have a knack for economics, you’ll love me for introducing you to this site. This reputable publication offers solid, in-depth insights into the Korean market, trade news and economic institutions. Along with factual articles, you’ll encounter some interesting graphs and charts to give you a more granular, objective view of the Korean economy.
This is the perfect source to acquire the proper jargon used in economics, including the vocabulary of statistics, polling and forecasting.
Now that you’ve unlocked the secret to learning Korean through the news, all that you need is to take the plunge and enjoy the ride!
Good luck to you!
And One More Thing…
If you enjoy learning Korean through the news and other authentic content, you’ll love FluentU!
FluentU is an online immersion platform that takes real-world videos—like movie trailers, music videos, inspiring talks, vlogs and more—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
FluentU really takes the grunt work out of learning languages, leaving you with nothing but engaging, effective and efficient learning. It’s already hand-picked the best videos for you (which are organized by level and topic), so you simply choose any video that strikes your fancy to get started!
Each word in the interactive captions comes with a definition, audio, image, example sentences and more.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab, and easily review words and phrases from the video under Vocab.
You can use FluentU’s unique Learn Mode to learn the vocabulary and phrases from the video through fun questions.
FluentU keeps track of what you’re learning, and tells you exactly when it’s time for review, giving you a 100% personalized experience.
Review sessions use video context to help embed the words in your memory.
The best part? You can access the full FluentU video library with a free trial!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Korean with real-world videos.