Korean Reading Suggestions for Beginner-Intermediate Leveled Learners

I mentioned in a recent post that I was going to experiment with Krashen’s concept of “free-reading” in order to keep help my Korean along. Currently I feel stuck at a beginner’s level, but I feel I’m on the cusp of intermediate. Studying grammar is not bad. In fact, it gives us a sound foundation to work with, but it can only get you so far. In his book Explorations of Language Acquisition and Use, Krashen (2003) sites many studies in which the effectiveness of implicit vs. explicit grammar teaching was assessed. Not to his surprise he finds that any gains of being explicitly taught grammar are not very significant. In contrast, his findings of free-reading showed dramatic improvements. So there is something to say for grammar teaching… but only so much.

Along with the three-week course program I will take at 이화여자대학교 this August to September, I will begin reading more in Korean. I remembered seeing some online stories for children in Korean, but in addition to saying the stories, the words were written below. This is the same idea as with American children’s books. So, I have searched for websites that have Korean fairy tale stories (동화 이야기).

In my linguistic studies and personal language experience, the texts that you read in the foreign language need to be authentic (meaning, they are written by natives, for natives). Since I am still at a low level in terms of vocabulary, this can be problematic. To still fulfill the requirement of authenticity of the text, I decided to look at children’s stories. The following are some websites that offer online stories in Korean.

NaverJunior
KBS
E-Donghwa **

Additionally, for people with smartphones, the market has a few applications that use similar format, but what I like about the online stories is the range of themes and stories. Unfortunately, I was unable to find the exact article I read this in, but I did find similar support in other places. When helping with vocabulary acquisition of second language learners, research shows using the first language to teach the second language can be effective. We use our native language as a semantic frame of reference when learning new words. Keeping with that basic idea, I believe that using these Korean texts based on stories common to Western cultures like Romeo and Juliet, the Three Little Pigs, etc. can help me (and other native English speakers) to develop vocabulary in Korean.

I will start to read at least once of these a day with this hope in mind. After a few weeks I hope to become familiar with Korean writing enough to move on to slightly more complex texts.

**These sources are written in Korean script. I thoroughly believe this is the most effective way to learn a language (i.e. learn a language in its natural form). Korean script is extremely simple, nearly 100% phonetic, and (I think) cute! The small investment of time to learn 한글 (Korean alphabet) will definitely pay off.

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3 thoughts on “Korean Reading Suggestions for Beginner-Intermediate Leveled Learners

  1. hi, I would like to ask about your 3-weeks program at 이화여자대학교. How do you think about the program? Did you learn much and enjoy the lessons? Thanks in advance. 🙂

    1. I guess I should preface my experience with how I tested. I tested into 3-3+, until my speaking was a 2, so I was averaged and placed into the 2+ level. That being said, I knew all the grammar that was being taught, and the teaching style was all of teaching from the book. There was no creative exercises, no one there seemed to have a serious grasp of Korean (lots of K-pop fans) and were there on vacation. Only one other girl and I were here to live for at least a year. That being said, I felt I gained a minimal increase in vocabulary (my Achilles heel when it comes to learning languages) and I didn’t learn anything I couldn’t– or haven’t– already taught myself. I feel that the other big universities, namely Yonsei and Sogang, would have more to offer someone trying to seriously study. Ehwa’s Korean for foreigners program is… just too textbook. Granted this was three-weeks, and if you want to get some focused exposure while on a visit, then by all means, you should try it. But looking for something long-term with some serious benefits, I’d skip this. Korea has a lot of free language class offers for those living here. 🙂

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