Foreign Language Tip 2 #26 | Does Kpop Really Teach Korean Too?

Okay, so you’ve been following my blog for a while, ever so often you’ll notice that some times there’s a WOTD post entitled “Kpop Teaches Korean Too”. So you click on it and you’re seeing words and phrases being picked out and translated but the real question on your mind is, are you really learning Korean from this?

This answer is a bit loaded so I’ll answer it in two parts, yes and maybe not.


Depending on how you listen to kpop determines how much you learn. So ask yourself three questions:

  • Am I actively listening?
    • Meaning: I’m seeking to hear words I understand and listening to how it’s pronounced and/or used in the sentence.
  • Am I passively listening?
    • Meaning: I really just like the song so I’ll listen to it but I’m only really just listening. And maybe even humming along too because my part is coming up and I’m about to kill it!
  • Am I kinda listening but not really into it?
    • Meaning: I’m listening but I’m a bit distracted in my thoughts right now.

Let’s start with the positive.

Yes! You’re Actually Learning!

If you answered, “yes” to questions 1 and 2, you are actually learning. (Hey, people learn in different ways!) In both of these scenarios you are actually taking away something from what you’re listening to.

Active Listening

  • You’re paying closer attention to the lyrics and not just the song in general. It’s not just a song that you like and you’re just listening to, this is now study material and you’ll probably listen to it a few more times to make sure you’re really understanding what you hear.
  • You may even write something down that you heard but you’re not 100% sure what it means.

Passive Listening.

  • You’re paying attention to all of it, the lyrics and the beat. And it just so happens you like the song so you might put it on repeat. Of course you’re paying attention to the lyrics, maybe even humming/singing along, but it’s not like you’re going to write anything down.
  • You’re honestly just listening. But you do remember some of the words without the translated lyrics soooo that’s progress!

Either way, something in the lyrics stuck with you and you’ve learned a new word or gained a better understanding of a word you didn’t know. When you apply grammar principles to this new word/phrase, you’ll ultimately find that you’ll be able to properly use it in a sentence or in a regular conversation.

It’s like watching a k-drama. You hear something over and over again and you see how it’s used and how people react when it’s said and in those moments, you’ve learned this new word or phrase and how you can effectively use it. It’s the same with listening to kpop. You hear how it’s pronounced. You hear how it’s used in a sentence. And you can learn how to use it in other ways outside of that song because you were paying attention to the lyrics as you were listening.

I’m sorry to tell you this but…  you’re really not learning anything at all… 

If you answered “yes” to question #3, chances are you aren’t actually learning anything. This goes back to a point I mentioned a while ago about study habits. I said to pick a time and day that works for you and that the length of time is all up to your discretion, be it 5 minutes or 3 hours. If you’re paying attention to what you’re doing, then you’re learning something.

If you’re listening and distracted with a million things on your mind unrelated to what you’re listening to, chances are you haven’t even heard one word that was said and if you did manage to catch it you weren’t really paying attention to the usage or how it was pronounced. In this instance, you’re not really taking anything away from the song. It’s literally just a song that just so happened to come into rotation at that moment.

It’s basically background music.

“But I listen to kpop all the time and I learn new stuff all the time!”

Just because today you didn’t really pay attention doesn’t mean you never will. People listen for different reasons at different times during the day. It’s okay to listen for whatever reason you want, even if it means you’re just listening because you like the song. Everything doesn’t have to be study material all the time.

“But is kpop the only way to passively learn Korean???”

  • Kpop is not the only way to learn passively but it’s a good way to learn some Korean if you love kpop music.

“What if I don’t like kpop?”

  • If you don’t like kpop, then there are tons of other ways to learn! No matter what anyone tells you, you don’t have to like kpop or k-dramas to learn Korean. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it because it’ll only make you dread learning.

“What if I don’t learn that way?”

  • If you don’t learn that way, it’s fine too. It’s just easier for people who do learn through music and songs to listen to kpop and maybe even listening to children’s nursery rhymes.

“I just want to listen to the song! I’m tired of studying all the time!”

  • And this is also okay. It’s good to take breaks and have outlets that have nothing to do with studying and research and blah blah blah! If kpop is your outlet and this is a “No Study Zone”, that’s perfectly fine, regardless of what anyone tells you. There’s no need to use everything in Korean to learn Korean. How you learn best for you is all that matters!

In all honesty, I only listen to kpop just because I like the songs. But every so often, I catch a word or phrase or two that makes that lightbulb go off in my mind and suddenly, I’m all in! Complete active listening mode!


Happy Studying Everybody!


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