5 Ways to Use Music to Learn Korean


When I’m learning any language, music always plays a crucial role in how interested I’ll be and how far I’ll want to take that language. Are you the same? If I just described you too right there and you’re learning Korean, it’s probably important for you to find ways to use music to help you learn Korean.

In this post, let’s look at how and where to find music to help you with Korean and what to do with it once you’ve found it.

Are you ready to use music to learn Korean? Whatever stage you are with your studies, it's fun to include music. Click through for your free toolkit. >>

If you don’t have time to read right now, you can download your Using Music to Learn Korean Toolkit with clickable links by clicking the image below. Woop! Here’s to speedy living.

YouTube is always a great place to start a music hunt, even if all you’ve got to go with is “Korean music”. In fact, to show how useful it is, let’s do just that:

Are you ready to use music to learn Korean? Whatever stage you are with your studies, it's fun to include music. Click through for your free toolkit. >>

Ok, so already we’ve got Girls’ Generation, K. Will, 20 Kpop boy bands, and 2 playlists of 334 songs combined. Not bad for search number one. Let’s start with that Girls’ Generation video.

Are you ready to use music to learn Korean? Whatever stage you are with your studies, it's fun to include music. Click through for your free toolkit. >>

We’ve got loads more Girls’ Generation in the sidebar, some non-Korean songs that I’m obsessed with, a playlist of 50+ songs, and a new band 2NE1. This is going well. But let’s not get carried away. Let’s watch that first video we found before we lose ourselves…

Ok. That was fun. What next? How do we use this to help us learn Korean?

1. lyrics

If your Korean is as young as mine, you’re probably going to want some lyrics with your hotpants and doves, otherwise it ain’t much good to nobody.

There are a few places I like to look for lyrics for new foreign music but the first stop to get there is normally Google. So, let’s do that.

Are you ready to use music to learn Korean? Whatever stage you are with your studies, it's fun to include music. Click through for your free toolkit. >>

Azlyrics has been my favourite lyrics website since…probably since I first got the Internet at home and I used it to look up S Club 7 and B*Witched lyrics. Although it’s very thorough, when it comes to international songs, sometimes it’s worth considering other sites too.

Hmm…what’s this second most popular result? Color Coded Lyrics? Awesome, that’s what that is.

This is a site that’s perfect if you’re learning an East Asian language (Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and a little bit of Thai) and want to use a little music in your learning. They color code the lyrics by who’s singing, which is cool, but the really cool thing is that you get a romanisation, native, and English translation side by side, with the video ready to play above it. A little bit like this:

Are you ready to use music to learn Korean? Whatever stage you are with your studies, it's fun to include music. Click through for your free toolkit. >>

So now we can read along to the song and eventually start to read and sing along out loud. AND, as a bonus, because of the translation, we get to know what the heck is going on. Which is always nice.

If you’re not learning one of the languages available on Color Coded Lyrics but still want to get a translation of your song, check out Lyrics Translate.

2. Exercises

But just listening through and reading the lyrics in Korean and English can be made even more worthwhile if we take it a step further.

The simplest thing I recommend, which was a long-standing activity with my face-to-face students is to print the lyrics, cut them into chunks and then listen to the song and re-order them as they should be.

The best thing you can do here is start with big chunks, and then as you attempt the activity and come back to it in the future, cut the chunks into smaller pieces for more of a challenge.

Alternatively, you can create your own cloze activities (that’s gap fill activities if you don’t speak teacher speak) by replacing words at random with a space before printing.

However, if the thought of creating your own resources is too time consuming, there’s a couple of great online options that can help you out here.

Head over to LyricsGap or LyricsTraining. Both are great resoruces for multiple language activities with plenty of songs to choose from.

LyricsTraining isn’t yet available for Korean, so we’ll use our song on LyricsGap at this stage.

Are you ready to use music to learn Korean? Whatever stage you are with your studies, it's fun to include music. Click through for your free toolkit. >>

Look how much we’re learning!

3. Karaoke

Ok. I realise the thought of a bustling bar with a karaoke machine in the corner may not be everyone’s idea of fun. But what about singing your heart out in front of your computer?

Shh, I won’t tell.

Karasongs is a super simple site that takes the distractions out of searching for karaoke versions of your new found favourite song on YouTube.

Type in the artist, song, or both and you’ll get a choice of videos to choose from. Take your pick and give your lungs a good workout.

I found our song The Boys. Woop!

This is a great stage because although you can of course (and probably will if you’ve got a catchy song) start singing along at any stage, to be focusing on reading the lyrics as well as you sing along, especially if you’ve already translated the lyrics is a whole new level.

If you’re feeling brave, you can always try recording your efforts as part of your process of documenting your learning. No one has to hear, I promise.

Unless you want them to, of course. In which, case, go nuts on Snapchat or Instagram sharing your next X Factor audition! Ha.

A more active alternative is to try the app Sing! by Smule. This is a lot of fun…dare I say it…I think it might be my new favourite addition to my studies!

4. Dissect it

Once you’re feeling like you’ve suitably exhausted every possible use for that song, go ahead and examine it some more. This time, close up.

What useful vocabulary do they use in the song? Anything worth learning? Add it to your vocab list.

Any interesting grammar structures? Expressions? Search online for explanations and further examples to give you some solid foundations in what you’ve just learnt from the song.

The great thing about doing this with something like music in a different language is that you’re much more likely to remember a word, or a grammar point than if you’ve just skim read it in a book because you’ve got an interesting memory and association attached to it.

This is why it’s worth taking things that final step further and breaking your song down in search of these things.

5. Just enjoy it!

Because, hey, we’re not adding something as enjoyable as music to our study time to keep things stale.

If you’re not enjoying it, mix things up.

Maybe the song isn’t your song. That’s cool. There’s plenty of music out there in different languages. Don’t feel pressured to stick to the status quo.

Just because it seems like everyone else learning Korean loves K-pop or everyone learning French loves Stromae, that doesn’t mean that you have to too. Music is personal, after all.

How do you use music in your language learning process? Share in the comments below!

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About Lindsay Williams

Why hello there! I'm Lindsay and I do Languages. I blog, vlog and teach all things language. I blog about languages right here at Lindsay Does Languages, and about travel over at Mundo Trundle. If you're looking for language learning inspiration then stay a while. You might find just what you're looking for. :)
  • I didn’t know about some of the different lyric sites like LyricsGap. Thank you for introducing me to a new resource!

  • Whitney Chakara

    I love the color coded site its my favorite. I mostly use songs to work on natural pronunciation and see how words are used / slang and sometimes find new words . The lyric step for me though usually comes after I’ve listened to the song so many times the beat is stuck in my head and I can mumble along with the lyrics and have already picked out the over all meaning of the song from words I know etc.

    • Yes, I was really pleased when I found the colour-coded site! πŸ™‚
      I think that’s the great thing about music – you can listen to it many times without getting bored. πŸ˜‰

  • Nina JoliΔ‡

    Thank you Lindsay for these great tips! I will do that with the songs I already know and have listened to many many times, and can do things like Whitney mentioned, then proceed to the lyric step, along with the things in this list.

  • Andre Aragao

    Lindsay, I admire you. And I’m happy to see the encouragement you’re giving the language learners community about using songs. I totally agree with your post. But there is one thing I think you could add as an activity into this list. I mean, when you realise that you can easily sing together following the lyrics, it’s time to try and sing together without looking to any lyrics!! Specially to strengthen the memory for speaking, because when you do this then it’s possible to check how harder it is to sing the word that you’ve just sung, now that you have no visual aids. I think that’s a very important step in the learning process. If you can’t in the beginning, try to memorise short sentences and to sing them in the right time without looking to the lyrics! Hope it helps!