With its infectious hooks and catchy lyrics, K-Pop is beloved worldwide by Korean speakers and non-Korean speakers alike. It has grown from a music genre to an entire subculture, resulting in widespread interest in the fashion and lives of K-Pop idols.
K-Pop has driven an increase in interest in learning Korean as a foreign language. Learning Korean as a native English speaker is a difficult endeavor; it entails not only learning a new set of vocabulary but understanding a new alphabet, grammar, and foreign phonetics that are unrelated to English.
Integrating K-Pop into online Korean lessons engages and motivates learners, making the language more accessible and learning more fun. Listed below are some strategies for how to incorporate listening to K-Pop when learning Korean.
Study Lyrics to Learn Hangul and Build Vocabulary
Following along with the lyrics function in music apps or YouTube when listening to your favorite K-Pop songs is a great way to build listening comprehension and understanding of the Korean alphabet, Hangul (sometimes spelled Hangeul). Hangul is phonetic and corresponds to sounds, as roman characters do.
Many K-Pop songs weave English words and phrases into lyrics, giving listeners immediate context to the Korean words. The repetitious nature of K-Pop songs allows for learners to cement Korean vocabulary words and how they are spelled in Hangul. Reading K-Pop lyrics in real-time strengthens a learner’s connection between Hangul characters and their associated sounds.
If you really want to nail the lyrics to a K-Pop song, try learning the corresponding choreography from the music video! Studies show that integrating movement when learning can aid in memory retention. Although many educators dismiss incorporating dance into coursework beyond grades 1 or 2, students of all ages can benefit from getting up and moving around while they learn.
Building vocabulary is essential to mastering a language, and you are more likely to recall vocabulary words when they’re associated with specific movements. Plenty of K-Pop choreography videos are available on Youtube, as seen below:
Common Korean Words and Phrases Associated with K-Pop
리더 [lee-deo] : Leader, spokesperson
The 리더 of a K-Pop group is the group’s leader, the one who will do the most talking during interviews and introduces other members of a group. Often the most charismatic member of the band, a K-Pop 리더 serves as the group’s motivator and spokesperson. This word isn’t too difficult to remember as it comes from the English word, ‘leader.’
필요 없어 [pil-yeo up-suh]: Unnecessary, no need
This is a phrase found commonly in K-Pop songs and is used in a variety of contexts and means. The video below shows just how often the phrase is used, whether in a rap, ballad, or upbeat pop song:
마음 [ma-eum]: mind, heart, emotion, feeling
It’s no surprise that 마음 is one of the most frequently used words throughout all K-Pop songs, as it can be translated to the English words heart, feeling, or interest. It can also be used to describe one’s taste or preference.
사생 [sa-saeng] or 사생팬 [sa-saeng pan]
사생 or 사생팬 is a K-Pop obsessed, overzealous fan who goes so far as to stalk their idols or invade their privacy in some way. Sa-saeng has a negative connotation and generally refers to those who take their obsession too far. The Korean language does not use the ‘f’ sound; the word 팬 [pan] comes from the English word ‘fan’ and has the same meaning.
Learn Korean Online
When you enroll in an online Korean course with LanguageBird, you can listen to K-Pop on your own to enhance your learning, or your instructor can incorporate the songs into lessons. Customized online courses with LanguageBird allow students to explore their interests and gain a greater cultural understanding of their target language. Download our free guide to learn more!