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

Canvas
여기 우리 둘만의 Canvas
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

Canvas
여기 우리 둘만의 Canvas
Canvas
여기 우리 둘만의

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

Canvas
여기 우리 둘만의 Canvas
Canvas
여기 우리 둘만의 Canvas

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