Listening Progress | Language Learning

For those of you who don’t know, I’m learning Korean both in university (we’re offered free language courses alongside our degree) and through self study.

I made what felt like major progress today. From a couple of the language learning blogs I follow, they often write about how they’ve watched a film or an episode of a programme without any subtitles in their native language. That idea has always scared me senseless. I’ve tried a few times before today and have always failed catastrophically – either I get frustrated/bored and stop watching/turn on subtitles, or else I can’t understand anything and believe it’s a waste of time.

I’ve been watching a Korean Drama called 가족끼리 왜 이래? which (clichéd storylines and different local dialects aside) I’ve always thought uses fairly simple language. So today, seeing that the latest episode had only 10% completed English subtitles on Viki, I decided to put aside a couple of hours and watch it (rewinding whenever I didn’t understand something) raw.

The difference those couple of hours made! Even when the English subtitles appeared on the screen, I found I did not focus wholly on them as I usually do. Rather, I listened more and understood what they said through listening. Granted, I quite often only got the gist of what they were saying, but I know that if I persevered, it could really improve my listening skills. Amazing! I’ll be re-watching the episode with subtitles to see if I understood it all properly and then replay the parts without that I only got the gist of.

I reckon I probably understand about 40-50% of it all and then comprehended most of the rest through context. Let’s hope that percentage grows with practice!

So yeah, I would seriously give this technique a try once you know the basics for vocabulary and grammar in a specific language. I’ve watched a few children’s programmes (each of the episodes were 20 minutes long so it’s not as time-intensive as an episode of a drama/film) without subtitles and found that was a great starting point.

Good luck! 화이팅입니다!


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Hi, my name's Jasmine, I'm 25 and I live in London. This blog is simply to note down my current thoughts - got any opinions on what I write about (or if you simply want to drop me a line), comment me :)!

7 thoughts on “Listening Progress | Language Learning”

  1. Congratulations! I had that moment just recently with some movie and it was a great feeling! Then I went back to another movie and understood nothing lol;;; but it’s a good start… >_< If you want other things to watch too, I recommend documentary/travel programs since I find that they speak a lot more clearly and slowly than entertainment programs. They are also usually less time consuming than dramas. Good luck! 🙂


    1. Thank you! What a great tip. Do you have any documentary/travel recommendations? I’ve never even tried searching for them, but enjoyed KBS’ Human Theatre series so I think they’d be interesting.


      1. I’ve been watching 세계테마기행 ( and 거러서 세계속으로 ( EBS also has a feature on just Korea called 한국기행 ( I think you are probably able to watch these online, but I’m not sure. Pretty sure none of them have subtitles but what you can’t understand they make up for with the images and you can fill in a lot with context clues!

        For documentaries I don’t know anything in particular because I just catch them on TV every once in a while, but I’ll let you know if I think of anything 🙂


      2. Thanks for the suggestions. 한국기행 looks really interesting – I’ll have to hunt for the videos online. Are you living in Korea at the moment? How fluent are you? Oh, and happy new year!


      3. I think you might be able to watch them in the 다시보기 section but apparently there is also a youtube channel:

        And yes, I’m in Korea! Regarding my fluency, I studied for about two years in college, then stopped for two years, and now I’m just kind of reviewing and trying to self study. I would say I’m at like “intermediate” level. I can understand most of 걸어서 세께속으로 but I’m not sure if I’m overestimating because of context clues kk


      4. Thanks a lot, all I could find were really awful quality versions of the programmes.

        Oh that’s great! I’m sure it’s much easier learning Korean since you’re living there though, right? ㅋㅋ And I bet you understand way more than you give yourself credit for!


  2. Haha yeah I actually don’ study a lo but I think my listening has gotten much better since coming to Korea. Even though I don’t really take any classes simply being exposed to it a lot helps @_@


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