Posted in Kpop, Selfstudy, Uncategorized

Studying with songs

So as most of you lovely people are aware of, I have been a kpop fan for about 4,5 years now. Just like with many other Korean learners out there, Kpop was one of the very first reasons to why I ever even considered learning Korean, and even though my reasons have changed a ton, I still enjoy studying with songs.
Lately I see more and more people seeking advice on how to study with songs and I personally feel that it is a very useful way of studying – especially if you are running a bit low on motivation or in my case, energy. Using songs makes it a lot more fun and also a lot easier to remember. Just think about all those learning programs for young children! It really does work.
Anyway, I have been using songs to study for quite a while now, and I have found it very helpful when it comes to expanding my vocabulary and even more useful for improving my pronunciation and talking speed. A while ago I thought of a way to use songs to improve my reading speed as well, so after testing it out for a while, I believe it’s time to share it with you guys. As I go through my study methods, I’ll be using a song that I haven’t studied with yet. This way I’ll get to study a bit too!

No matter what part of my Korean skills I wish to improve, I ALWAYS start out by translating the song. This is where you really have the chance to improve your vocabulary. Translating it yourself will make it a lot easier for you to remember because you have to read every word (usually we glance over a text a lot faster and we pay less attention, if it’s in a language we are comfortable with) and spelling the unknown words over and over again to look them up, will help you recognize and remember them faster (not to mention it helps you spelling skills).
I recommend choosing a song that you have listened to at least a few times as it will make everything a lot smoother when you at least know the melody a little bit, and that way you usually know if it’s a song that you like or not, and obviously it’ll be more fun if you actually like the song that you’re going to study with.

In my case I chose 칸버스 by 포미닛 (like that would surprise anyone). I have listened to this song many times but never actually listened to the words and sentences. When looking up new words I split them into two groups:
1. = Words I don’t know.
2. = Words that I know for sure that I have heard or looked up before, but just can’t remember.
Here’s my work with the lyrics. The words in green are the words that I have come across before.

새하얗다 – Pure white
엎질러지다 – To be spilled
위태롭다 – Risky/dangerous
완벽하다 – Perfect
배경 – Background
밤새 – All night long/ overnight
색칠 – Paint
해나가다 – Rub on/along
둘만의 – One-on-one/between you and I
채우다 – Fill/satisfy
오직 – Only/solely
정밀 – Accurate/precise
묘사하다 – Portrayal
작품 – Peice/work
물감 – Paints
검정 – Black
망설이다 – Hesitate
명화 – Famous work (film, painting)
펼치다 – Unfold/open
화가 – Painter
붙잡다 – Grab hold of
비다 – Empty
물들다 – To get dyed
거칠다 – Rough
덧칠 – Paint over
닿다 – Touch
영감  – Inspiration
대충 – Approximately
명작 – Masterpiece
흔적 – Evidence/marks/trace
넘치다 – Overflow
아낌없이 – Generously/freely
감다 – Reel in
조화 – Balance/harmony

Now, as for vocabulary there’s a ton of methods you can use for improving and remembering the new words, and we all have different preferences. I like to switch it up very often so that I don’t get bored. You can create flashcards or write down sample sentences. Lately I have been trying something new and very entertaining, but I’ll keep it secret for now as I’m working on another post for that one!

As for pronunciation and talking speed, here’s what I do: I sing. Yes that’s pretty much it! Now let me just make it very clear that I couldn’t sing to save my life, however I do find it super entertaining and very helpful. When listening to music you’ll be listening to the same words in different contexts and the words are often pronounced differently as they get adjusted to the melody of the song. Pronouncing them in different ways makes it easier for you to recognize the word in new contexts as well.
When I use this method there’s a lot of memorization going on as it’ll be a lot easier to sing the full song when you have memorized the lyrics. Memorization has both good and bad points, but if your goal is to improve your speaking speed then it won’t really matter. Learning the lyrics and trying to keep up with the song is very similar to shadowing, however singing the same song over and over again is a lot more entertaining than to say the same sentence over and over. Also, when you have practiced singing the song and you can finally keep up with the artist and maybe even have memorized the lyrics, you just feel more satisfied. At least that’s how I feel!

Now the new part that I have been trying out is similar to the previous part, except I avoid memorizing. After translating the song I immediately start singing along. Since I haven’t memorized anything I have to rely completely on reading the lyrics as I sing the song. If your Korean reading skills are slow as mine, then you’ll get lost quite a few times since it’s almost impossible to read as fast as the song goes (especially if you have a tendency to pick songs with rap parts in them, like me! sigh..) but it’s still fun which makes it a lot easier to continue even though you fail at it a few times. This is also why I recommend translating the lyrics as well as choosing a song that you’ve heard before as it gives you an idea about when the song is fast or slow, and you can recognize the words you read a lot faster, when you have already spelled them before. Of course you can make it more challenging by not translating the lyrics first but I find that this is the perfect balance for me – Plus you’ll be missing out on some great vocabulary.  I personally feel that this method is super helpful and I’m surprised by how fast I can improve my reading speed (even though I still have such a long way to go!).

Lastly I want to add that when you practice the same song over and over again, you will at some point naturally memorize it and it might give you a false feeling of improvement, which can be incredible disappointing in the long run. To avoid this I recommend that you try singing it once in a while without looking at the lyrics. If you are able to sing most of it, then it’s time to move on to another song.

I hope you guys find this post somewhat useful! If you are curious about the song that I’m currently working with, then here’s the full lyrics as well as the actual song.
Have fun!


새하얀 Carpet
엎질러진 Wine
하늘도 빨간 Sunset eh
조금 위태롭게
완벽한 배경 우리의

비밀스런 우리 드라마 밤새
서로를 색칠 해나가
둘만의 Canvas 가득 채워 나가
숨마저 색을 담아

너와 나 오직 우리 둘만의
미술시간 서로를 정밀 묘사해
이 작품에 물감이 왜 더 필요해
검정배경 빼곤 오직
우리 둘만 색 있네

더는 망설이지마 더욱 날 느껴봐
이 완벽한 명화 Feel 가득한 이 밤

Canvas 가득 우릴 펼쳐봐
Hey 거기 화가 어서 와서 붙잡아

빈 종이 위에 우리 둘이
서로에게 또 물들어가 Yeah
함께 그려가는 이 시간

이 밤이 가기 전에 너의
꿈 어서 나를 데려가
뭐든지 그려봐
여기 우리 둘만의 Canvas

여기 우리 둘만의 Canvas
여기 우리 둘만의 Canvas

그래 그렇게 널 볼 수 있게
거칠어진 그 숨을 더 느낄 수 있게

그리다 만 나쁜 드라마 마저
서로를 덧칠 해나가
오늘의 Canvas 가득 채워 나가
마지막 색을 담아

손 닿는 곳 어디든 영감을 꽃피워
여기저기 대충 명작의 흔적 넘쳐
아무도 몰라 지난 밤 우리의 View
아낌없는 Idea 밤새 서로의 Muse

새롭게 날 느껴봐 두 눈을 감아봐
이 완벽한 조화 또 날아봐 Tonight

Canvas 가득 우릴 펼쳐봐
Hey 거기 화가 어서 와서 붙잡아

빈 종이 위에 우리 둘이
서로에게 또 물들어가 Yeah
함께 그려가는 이 시간

이 밤이 가기 전에 너의
꿈 어서 나를 데려가
뭐든지 그려봐
여기 우리 둘만의 Canvas

여기 우리 둘만의 Canvas
여기 우리 둘만의

둘만의 리듬 안에
둘만의 리듬 안에
둘만의 리듬 안에
여기 우리 둘만의 쉿

여기 우리 둘만의 Canvas
여기 우리 둘만의 Canvas

Posted in Personal, Selfstudy, TOPIK, Uncategorized

Final thoughts on my break

Now matter how much I wish I could continue with my current schedule, there’s no way to get around the fact that my break officially has come to an end. I’ll be starting a new adventure on Monday and I honestly have no idea how packed my schedule will be, but since my Korean studies is one of my favorite ways of reducing my every day stress, there’s no way I can keep away from my books, haha! Hopefully it’ll be similar to my previous schedule. Anyway, I’m spending my evening here on the blog to write a short (no seriously! I’ll really try to keep it short!) post on my final thoughts.

As you might remember, I made a very detailed study schedule for my break, and I am pleased to let you guys know that I managed to stick to my schedule, almost every day throughout the last month.
I made a list of ‘end-of-break-goals’ and I have been working very hard on completing these.
The first goal was to finish ‘Korean Grammar In Use intermediate’ and I’m pleased to say that I did indeed finish it. I have been eager to start the advanced book, but I told myself to wait and focus on getting more familiar with the intermediate grammar first, so that’s what I’m working on right now. I’ll probably start it soon though, as starting new books is just too exciting ㅎㅎ
The next goal was to finish ‘News in Korean’, by TTMIK, and I accomplished this as well! I also had a goal about finishing the TTMIK grammar podcast and I can mark this goal as completed as well.
The fourth goal was to finish ‘작은 아씨들’, however this goal I have not completed. I felt a lot of problems when it came to focusing on the book and in the beginning I just forced myself to continue, but as you can imagine it didn’t have any good effect whatsoever. Even though I could still just continue, I decided to just put it away for the time being. I’m definitely a ‘books-over-movies’ type of person and since I don’t count my ‘book-reading-time’ as a part of my study time, I would rather be able to enjoy the book than to just go through it as fast as possible. However, I’m glad to let you guys know that I picked it up again about a week ago and I’m currently flying through it without any difficulties. See? Sometimes it just pays better of to put things away for a while. I’ll finish it in the beginning of March, at the very latest.
Now, as for the fifth, last and most exciting goal, I wanted to improve my TOPIK 2 skills. To be more specific I wanted to improve with 3-5 points on listening and reading in a TOPIK 2 mock test. During this last month, I have taken 6 mock tests and while the results obviously varied from time to time, if I look at the one with my lowest result, I have still gotten 3 points more than my first test, on both listening and reading! Not too bad if I may say so myself.

In other words, I have successfully completed 4 out of 5 goals, and I’m really happy about how I spent my break. I have no regrets. However, I can see that I semi-failed at my attempt to keep this post short. Sorry guys!

Anyway, I just ordered a ton of books on my birthday and I am currently experimenting with a few new study methods, and I can’t wait to share them all with you guys. Lot’s of new interesting things coming up!
Have a great evening guys! ^^

Posted in Personal, Selfstudy, TOPIK, Uncategorized

Language tag

Good morning everybody! Sofie from Sofie To Korea has been so kind to tag me in a language tag, so I’ll start of my Wednesday by answering a few questions – Thank you Sofie!

What would you consider your native language?

Danish is without a doubt my native language, however it is not the language I find myself most comfortable with, and no matter how depressing it may sound, I’m actually not that good at it, haha! I stumble across words when speaking, randomly mess up my pronunciation and screw up basic grammar. Of course this doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens a lot more than when I use English. I almost NEVER think or talk to myself in Danish and my grades from English class has always either been identical or better than those from my Danish classes. Slightly depressing but nevertheless true!
My sister (and best friend in the entire world) is just like me when it comes to English VS. Danish so I keep thinking that I most have gotten in from her, however no one else in our family is like this, so I’m not sure where she would have gotten it from.. It’s interesting now that I really think about it.. Oh well, I’m sidetracking!

What was your first language learning experience?

I actually don’t really know. My sister is almost 11 years older than me and she always loved English. In Danish TV there’s a ton of american TV shows and movies with Danish subtitles, and watching all of this was of course very helpful, but there’s no doubt that my sister is the biggest reason for my English love. Since she loved English so much she would always talk to me in English from when I was very young, and as I grew up we would watch movies and animations in English, without subtitles. Our favorite is Happy Feet! Till this day I still cannot see it with Danish dubbing. It’s just wrong! Our favorite games was anything related to ‘hidden objects’ games and this gave me a huge advantage in school, as my English vocabulary was growing rapidly. (I suddenly wonder if I could find a Korean version? Hmm). I’m starting to sidetrack again. What I’m trying to say is that I started learning English naturally in a very early age while still learning how to talk in Danish. I don’t know how old I was, what my fist correct sentence was or when I started thinking in English. It just happened.
However what I do know, is that I had no idea that I was ‘unusual’ in any way until the end of 8th grade. In a random English class at my new school I realized that I was the only one who were more comfortable in English compared to Danish, and nobody was thinking in English, except me. When you think of your native language, you don’t think of it as something you have learnt. It’s not an accomplishment, it just happened as you grew up, right? That’s how I felt about English, but that day in that class, I realized that I was the only one who felt that way. I guess that can be considered my first language learning experience? Maybe. Haha!

What languages have you studied and why did you learn them?

Through school I studied English and Danish. For those two I don’t really have a reason. I was supposed to learn German in school as well but I ended up being absent more or less constantly from 4th-8th grade, however that’s another story! Also, that’s why I didn’t realize that I was different from many others until 8th grade, as I had never really been taught any English in a class before that. Even though I never got to study German, my understanding is pretty decent. Growing up in Ribe (Denmark’s oldest city, which is pretty close to the German border) meant that we constantly had German tourists so I would often listen to people talk in German when walking around, but even more importantly, my Mum is obsessed with German. She loves her German music, dramas, movies, and even German dubbed movies. This started a long time before I was born and as a result I grew up listening to German all the time. For some reason I never really felt comfortable with German. I wonder why I immediately felt comfortable with English and not German, since I was surrounded even more by German than I ever was with English. My dad had the same German obsession and I never understood them until I got my Korean obsession. Slightly depressing since my Mum still finds mine ridiculous even though her obsession is the very same!

Anyway, as mentioned above I don’t really have a starting time for Danish and English, so when I started learning Korean on my own ( 1 year and 4 months ago) it was the very first time I had to start learning a language (that I can remember at least) which meant that I had no idea where to begin. I had no idea where to start looking for supplies, what was basic knowledge or what I even wanted to do with my Korean skills, if I was ever able to create some. It is the best, most challenging, frustrating and scary decision I have ever made. Which is sort of a lie since I never actually decided to start learning it, but nevertheless – here I am!
I guess I don’t really have a reason for learning Korean other than liking the language and culture, however I do have a story on how it all started, right here.

How does your personality affect your language learning?

I can be super stubborn when it comes to learning and this is just as much a blessing as a curse. It means that I don’t give up easily but it also means that I can waste a lot of time because I just can’t move on due to some tiny and often irrelevant detail that I can’t figure out. Also I want to try figuring everything out on my own before asking for help, which again leads me to waste a lot of time.

Do you prefer learning a language in a class or on your own?

Definitely on my own! That special day (whoa, this sounds so dramatic!) in 8th grade, I discovered that I was on a higher level than the rest of my class which shows how much more effective it can be to learn in other ways than in a class, but in my case it also means that I can’t explain grammar what so ever. Don’t ever ask me why I choose certain answers when being tested, because I can’t answer you properly even if I wanted to.
However I quickly learned from this problem and when it comes to Korean I focus a lot of trying to remember why things work like they do, instead of just using it.

What are your favorite language learning materials?

Everything! Haha! I generally love books so anything in book format is usually a good start, but looking outside of that, I just love anything that’s natural. Novels, dramas, movies, music, newspapers, blogs etc. Anything that isn’t made for language learning purposes can make my day. I feel like it’s a lot more useful and I feel a greater sense of accomplishment when finishing anything from those categories.

How much time do you spend learning a language per day?

Normally I would spend about 2-3 hours per day, not counting things like watching dramas, listening to music, using memrise etc. but for the last month I’ve had an awesome break that means that I have been able to study for about  4-5 hours per. day. Sadly this is coming to an end soon!

What are your short-term and long-term language goals?

My short term goal is to pass TOPIK 1, in April. I will be taking TOPIK 2 as well, however I have no goals about passing this one yet. I just want to try it out while I’m in London anyway, and hopefully it will help me feel less nervous about it in the future. Though it isn’t a goal to pass TOPIK 2, I’m still working hard to get a good result.

I’m not sure what my long term goal is yet. I want to feel just as comfortable with Korean as I do with Danish and English, and I also want to pass TOPIK level 6. I guess that’s all I know for now!

What is your favorite language?

Definitely Korean!

What is the next language you want to learn?

I have no idea. Maybe Japanese? Maybe. For now I only know that I want to learn more languages in the future!

What advice could you give new language learners?

Don’t worry too much about pace and goals. Don’t compare yourself to other learners.
If you know yourself very well then use that knowledge to find what works for you, and if you don’t know yourself that well then think of your language journey as way of learning more about yourself. Just enjoy yourself. 🙂


Thank you for reading all of this! As for tagging new people, all the people I wanted to tag has already been tagged, so I’ll think carefully about it and get back to you later!


Posted in Personal, Selfstudy, Uncategorized

Finding a matching Language Partner

In my specific case, my Korean language journey didn’t really take off until I made my first Language partner. Despite not being able to create even simple sentences at that point, it really took off faster than I ever could have imagined as soon I started talking with Korean people every day.

For quite a while now, I have noticed so many people struggling with finding a good language partner. Not because there aren’t any, because with a little WiFi access you can find plenty of people in a short amount of time. It seems like there is just more and more language learners out there who are giving up because they either don’t get properly along with their partners, because they get overwhelmed by the amount of crazy people out there or because their partner just disappears or simply end their contact.
Seeing how much language partners and Korean friends have helped me during the last year of studying, I really feel sad when I see people give up on this amazing resource, and since I too have met my share of weirdos and felt my share of disappointment, I thought I would make this post to help out and give some advice to those who feel discouraged, as well as maybe explaining some of the reasons behind these problems. Let me just start out with a warning and a disclaimer. This post will be one of my longer ones and as with anything else I post on my blog, this is 100% my own experiences and they might not help you at all.

When I first joined HelloTalk to search for language partners I was extremely lucky from the very first day, and if I hadn’t been so lucky, I might have given up like many other learners. On the very first day I wrote a message to a girl on my age and we immediately got along. We still talk today even a year after, though not as often as in the beginning. Just a few days later I was contacted by another person whom I consider one of my closest friends today. Unlike many people, it took me a while to discover all the odd people ㅎㅎ

Anyway, as mentioned earlier it seems to me that many people are giving up because they either don’t get properly along with their partners, because of the crazy people or because their partner just disappears or simply end their contact. So what’s up with all of this?
Well first of all, there’s crazy people everywhere and the chances are that you will probably run into quite a few of them. By crazy people I mean everything from people who wants your contact information even though you just met, people who wants to date and so on. I even had a random man propose to me in his second message as well as French person who practically bombarded me with French messages despite the fact that I made it very clear that I don’t speak French at all. However these people aren’t really that big of a problem in my opinion. They usually accept it when I turn them down and those who doesn’t, goes away after ignoring them once or twice. If you are super unlucky and they just won’t let you be, then remember that you always have the option of blocking them.
I know that writing all of this probably just makes some of you guys feel even more worried about language exchange, but it really doesn’t happen that often. I just want to make sure that you all have considered this part so that you can overcome the problem a lot easier, without being surprised or shocked. Once you have prepared yourself to the craziness you can move on and think about how you personally want to handle these situations and thereby move on from these episodes faster.
The next thing I want to talk about is when you get ignored. Either from the very beginning or after talking for a while. This is definitely the problem I hear the most about and I think this is one of the biggest struggles to overcome.
The first and most important point about this: DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY! There can be so many reasons for this to happen and if you take it personally every single time, then online language exchange will be nothing but self-torture. I really can not stress this enough! Got it? Okay then.
As for the reasons. First of all, not everybody is as serious about language learning as you are. Some people sign up because they find the idea/concept to be brilliant, but they don’t really feel like actually using it. Think of it as a diet. Signing up for a certain program seems like a brilliant idea but after a week or two, your interest might have disappeared completely. The same happens for many people on apps like HelloTalk, and there’s simply nothing to do about it. Another reason could be that they just don’t feel like they match with your personality. This is also something that you just can’t change and you can’t really blame them either. I agree that being ignored sucks when they could just tell you the reason, but some people just really hates to be honest in that way, and therefore find it easier and more comfortable to just stop answering. A tip for this could be to carefully read the self introductions from your new possible partners, and then think about whether you would match or not. Most people only write a sentence or two, so this might be really difficult in some cases, but it is definitely better than searching blindly, right?
Another reason that I noticed very often in my own cases as, well as I have gotten confirmed from a few language partners, is that the amount of your replies depends a lot on your first message. In my case, when I write the first message to someone in English, I have a bigger chance of getting a reply, than if I write in Korean. Not because of my message itself, but because it shows a lot about my language skills. Let me explain: Not too long ago I wrote about how I easily ended up writing a lot in English if my language partner was good at it too, and therefore I learned a lot more when talking to those who doesn’t really know any English. The same goes for those who are trying to improve their English skills. I have talked to several of my Korean language partners and friends about this and most of them say that they find it very difficult for them to stick to English with me because they know that can understand them just as well (and usually better) when they use Korean. Of course you can make a deal about one person only using Korean and the other only using English, but that just often feels awkward to many people. If you are serious about learning a language and you know that you feel this way too, then it’s only natural to avoid those partnerships. Again you can’t really blame them. I couldn’t turn people down in the beginning which resulted in me talking to over 20 people constantly, and only 2 of those people where actually Korean. The rest were just random people who were bored and wanted to make friends. I don’t mind that people use language learning apps for this purpose,(you can learn a lot from those people too) but in the end I had to stop most of those conversations as it took all of my time away and I didn’t learn anything from those conversations. What I’m trying to say is, that if you don’t receive a reply from someone then it might just be because they are taking their learning seriously too. My best tips to overcome this problem is to always introduce yourself in Korean (or whatever language you are learning). This means that you might get ignored more often but it also means that the ones that does answer you, usually don’t mind you using mainly Korean, and then it’s more likely that they will keep in contact instead of just disappearing. Another tip is looking for friends instead of language partners. As mentioned just before, there’s many people who aren’t interested in learning languages but are just looking for new friends. My experience is that when you talk to someone who isn’t trying to learn anything themselves, then they usually prefer speaking completely in Korean too and they are usually more than happy to help you when you have a question. This is where I usually find the most ‘matches’. Again I’ll recommend that you look at their self introductions and choose the ones that write ‘I’m here to make new friends’ instead of ‘I’m here to learn’. Especially if you learn the best through casual conversations.

This blog post is mainly written based on HelloTalk as this is what I usually use, but the advice and reasons mentioned above is more or less applicable on every type of app/site.
I hope that some of these reasons made everything make more sense to those who are struggling and who maybe take things too personally, and I hope that the tips mentioned above can help you guys avoid getting in to those situations in the first place. 🙂
This post will be updated whenever I have something new to add.