How to Learn with Korean Songs: Learn Korean Through Music
What if the best way for you to learn Korean was… a Korean song?
If you love music, why not use music as a tool to learn Korean through Korean songs!
Music has a great way of expanding the brain and changing the way we think. It’s been proven to improve memory and learning abilities.
Music creates improved neuroplasticity, creates new pathways in the brain, and hits all the spots in the brain needed to listen, speak, and understand language.
In short: music is great for learning and brain health.
It was thought that classical music provided these benefits, but more recent studies have shown it’s actually any music you prefer.
So — KPop stans! Your addiction to BTS and Blackpink is paying off for your language skills and brain function!
Okay, okay, so music helps you learn… But you need to learn Korean. How can you do that with music?
Easy. Listening to music and using it as a tool is one of the best ways to learn Korean.
I’m going to share the exact steps you need to know to learn Korean using popular Korean songs.
Then, I’ll share Korean songs from different genres — and even those TikTok trends that went viral — to give you a starting point.
Here’s everything we’ll go through:
Table of contents
- Why Learn with Korean Songs?
- How to Learn Korean with Music: 5 Steps to Success
- Popular Korean Songs
- Korean Love Songs
- Korean Rap Songs
- Korean Folk Songs
- Korean Indie, Rock, Alternative Songs
- Korean TikTok Songs
- Happy Birthday Song in Korean
- Korean Alphabet Song
- Korean Children Songs
- Learn with Korean Songs!
I’ve included some Korean children’s songs, the happy birthday song in Korean, and the Korean version of “ABC’s” to help you learn as an absolute beginner (or if you’re trying to raise bilingual babies).
Why Learn with Korean Songs?
Why pick Korean music as a learning tool instead of using traditional approaches like textbooks and vocab apps?
Korean music has tons of benefits for the language learner.
For one, you’ll get exposed to the pronunciation of lots of different artists. Singing can help smooth out the sounds more than regular speaking, making it easier to understand and copy.
Second, Korean songs — especially KPop — are a huge part of Korean culture. If you want to understand the culture (which you should! It’s a huge part of the language), then music is a great way to do that.
Third, because KPop and Korean songs are so popular, it’ll help give you a mutual topic of interest with potential language exchange partners.
And lastly, because of the nature of songs, the same words and phrases get repeated often. That makes it ideal for learning and remembering new vocab!
You should still supplement your learning with grammar and vocab studies. But music can be an amazing way to connect with the language on a deeper level.
How to Learn Korean with Music: 5 Steps to Success
Just listening to Korean songs won’t make you fluent in Korean, though. Passive listening can only go so far — even though it does have its benefits.
So here are some strategies for learning Korean through KPop:
Step 1: Find Music You Genuinely Enjoy First
Below, you’ll find a bunch of song suggestions from different genres to help you learn Korean. That’ll be a good starting point, but don’t stop there.
Find music you genuinely enjoy. Explore YouTube and Spotify. Go check out the artists, the music video, and add them to a Youtube or Spotify playlist.
Listen to them a few times and get used to the cadence and rhythm of the song. If you can already start to pick out words or phrases to sing along with — great!
But don’t worry if you can’t understand any of it. The great thing about music is it’s a universal language. We can all understand what a song is trying to convey by the tone of the music.
Step 2: Look Up the Korean Lyrics and the English Translation
Do a Google search and find the lyrics and translation. You can often find them on at least one site side-by-side.
Read through the Korean lyrics first, and see how much you understand. (By the way, you may want to learn hangul, the Korean alphabet first.)
Then, read the Korean and English line-by-line.
Now, listen to the song and follow along with the lyrics. And then again. And again.
Sometimes it can help to listen to the music video, so you can see how the artist is moving their mouth as they pronounce the words.
Step 3: Start with the Chorus
It’s time to start memorizing and singing. And I recommend starting with the chorus.
If you learn the chorus, you will already know at least 1/3 – 1/2 of the song, because it repeats the most. That will give you a huge motivation boost because you’ll understand so much faster!
There’s two main ways you could go about learning the chorus. You could start singing along with the Korean lyrics until you’ve got it memorized. Or, you could listen and follow along with the English translation so you understand the meaning first.
Whichever way you decide is fine. But take the words you don’t know and punch them into a vocab app to practice and keep them fresh with the English translation.
Focus on one or two lines at a time, especially if the chorus is long. If it’s only 4 lines or so (or repeats those 4 lines), then that’s not too bad. Just don’t overwhelm yourself with a ton of lines at once.
Once you feel comfortable with the chorus, move on to the pre-chorus (if there is one) or any other part that repeats. Then go back to the first verse and work your way through the whole song until it’s complete.
Step 4: Sing and Speak the Song
Start singing along! You know it all now — so sing it over and over. And don’t forget to keep up with your new vocab flashcards too.
But besides singing, practice speaking the song. Speak the lyrics rather than sing them, so you get practice using Korean naturally.
Step 5: Summarize the Song’s Meaning in Your Own Words
You looked up the translation, so you know what the song is about. Now summarize it!
Practice using what you’ve learned by creating a few sentences or a paragraph about what the singer is talking about in the song.
You may need to study some grammar for this, but it’s good practice to learn how to put something in your own words.
If you have a language exchange partner, share your summary with them and see what they think. They can correct any mistakes and help you improve.
Step 6: Move On To Your Next Song!
That’s it — repeat these steps with your next song.
The more you do this, the easier it becomes. Each step will begin to take less and less time as you understand more words.
Practice makes perfect. So the more you listen, learn, and use it, the easier it’ll be to learn and speak Korean.
So go on — turn up the music!
Popular Korean Songs
Now here’s your list of songs to get you started. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t start this section with KPop!
KPop has dominated the globe, and is widely popular in Korea and abroad. So we’re starting here.
You probably already know BTS, Blackpink, and Psy.
But what about other popular artists like IU, HyunA, BoA, SHINee, Chung Ha, Jessi, TWICE, ITZY, SuperM, and Super Junior? You’re about to discover a whole lot more awesomeness.
So great KPop songs to start learning Korean are:
- “Celebrity” by IU
- “How You Like That” by Blackpink
- “Not Shy” by ITZY
- “eight” by IU and Suga
- “What Type of X” by Jessi
- “Gentleman” by Psy
- “Don’t Call Me” by SHINee
- “Bicycle” by Chung Ha
- “I’m Not Cool” by HyunA
- “House Party” by Super Junior
- “Life Goes On” by BTS
- “More & More” by TWICE
- “Candy” by Baekhyun
- “Love Killa” by Monsta X
- “Better” by BoA
Korean Love Songs
Love a good love song? There are tons of beautiful Korean love songs out there, and this list is just the tip of the iceberg.
I’ve also included Korean sad songs on this list — as many of them are about hard times or heartbreak. We all need a sad song that resonates with us every now and then.
- “Galaxy (우주를 줄게)” by BOL4
- “Dream” by Suzy, Baekhyun
- “I miss you everyday” by Joo Young
- “Happy” by Taeyeon
- “It’s You” by Henry
- “I am Love” by Tearliner, Yozoh
- “Orbit” by Hwa Sa
- “Flower” by Yoon Mi Rae
- “Star (Little Prince)” by Loco & U Sung-eun
- “Breath” by Sam Kim
- “My Tale” by Park Won
- “In Your Time” by Lee Suhyun
- “Last Dance” by BIGBANG
- “Butterfly” by BTS
- “When the Wind Blows” by YOONA
Korean Rap Songs
Now here’s a great genre that will push you to your limits! Rap is a fantastic way to learn Korean because it’s fast-paced and rhythmic.
In fact, check out how Idahosa Ness used rap music to learn languages — it’s inspiring! You can also check out this video of Idahosa rapping in several different languages to see how you could learn Korean with rap, too.
Anyway, let’s dive into some songs to check out:
- “Ice King” by Loopy & nafla
- “DSF” by Kid Milli, Sik-K
- “GOTT” by Simon Dominic, Moon, Woo, and Jvcki Wai
- “Remedy” by Changmo and Chung Ha
- “Any song” by ZICO
- “I’m Sick” by Giriboy, C Jamm, Kid Milli, Kim Seungmin, Lil tachi, and NO:EL
- “Intro: Persona” by BTS
- “One and Only (B.I Solo)” by iKON
- “Base Line” by j-hope
- “Tony Montana” by Agust D, Yankie
- “Should I do” by JOOHONEY
- “Hello B*tches” by CL
- “Strange” by Agust D and RM
- “Movin’ & Movin’” by Coogie and Bla$e Kid
- “Anarchy” by Jvcki Wai
Korean Folk Songs
There is a lot of traditional music as well as interpretations and variations on Korean folk songs. Some have lyrics, but others are only instrumental (but still beautiful to listen to).
One of the most famous is a song called “Arirang” which means “my beloved one.” You can listen to the traditional version with lyrics or check out this absolutely beautiful variation by Youn Sun Nah.
You can also check out this album on Spotify that has some modern Korean folk songs to introduce you to the genre.
Korean Indie, Rock, Alternative Songs
Ah, this list could be endless.
South Korea has a thriving indie music scene, loads of grunge and rock, and a lot of chill alt vibes. You’ll find amazing playlists in these genres on Spotify, but here are some of my favorites:
- “Sunshine” by Hoody, Crush
- “Submarine” by Bronze
- “Insomnia” by Yukika
- “lazygirl” by Chuther
- “Don’t be sad” by Ku One Chan
- “Fighting! (응원해)” by Eldon
- “The King Must Die” by Purple Rain
- “Blaze” by Rolling Quartz
- “Take Me Now” by FTISLAND
- “Blood” by DAY6
- “Odd Eye” by Dreamcatcher
- “Good Boy Twist” by JANNABI
- “She’s in the Rain” by The Rose
- “Hello Sunshine” by Wetter
- “Wash” by Cherry Coke
Korean TikTok Songs
What makes a famous Korean song become a global hit? Well, a big factor nowadays are trends on TikTok.
Lots of Korean songs go viral on TikTok because of their dance choreography and catchy tunes. Even if you aren’t on TikTok and don’t care about the trends, you’ll find some great tunes on this list.
- “Stay With Me” by CHANYEOL and Punch
- “Ddu-du Ddu-du” by Blackpink
- “Wannabe” by Itzy
- “Psycho” by Red Velvet
- “ON” by BTS
- “Oh My God” by (G)I-DLE
- “La Di Da” by Everglow
- “What You Waiting For” by SOMI
- “Bad Boy” by Red Velvet
- “Likey” by TWICE
- “Panorama” by IZ*ONE
- “Summer Hate” by Zico
- “Ninu Nana” by Jessi
- “Kick It” by NCT 127
- “Way Back Home” by SHAUN
This playlist is a great compilation of all the recent TikTok hits (and just some great jams). You’ll also find a lot of KPop stars are on TikTok and they host dance challenges often to promote new songs.
Happy Birthday Song in Korean
Now here’s a song you should know — how to sing “Happy Birthday” in Korean!
The Korean birthday song is sung to the same tune as in English, so it’s easy to learn. You can listen to KoreanJulie sing it here.
But the lyrics are:
생일 축하합니다 생일 축하합니다 사랑하는 (name [+ 씨, sshi, in formal situations) 생일 축하합니다
saengil chuka hamnida saengil chuka hamnida sarangha neun (name) saengil chuka hamnida
Korean Alphabet Song
Like English, Korean has an “alphabet song” that helps kids learn hangul. But they can be helpful for adults too!
It’s called “Ganada Song (가나다 송)” in Korean and there are many versions of it. In fact, the Korean boy band B1A4 made a fun version of the song.
Here are two great simple versions to help you learn the Korean characters:
Korean Children Songs
A great way to learn simple Korean or share your language skills with your children. These Korean children’s songs and rhymes will get you started:
- Three Bears (곰 세 마리)
- Butterfly (나비야)
- Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (반짝 반짝 작은 별)
- Baby Shark (아기상어)
- Mountain Rabbit (산토끼)
Learn with Korean Songs!
Which song or genre on the list was your favorite? Which one will you start learning with first?
P.S. If you want to get a head start, try learning the 101 most common Korean words and master aegyo Korean phrases that all the K-idols use.
화이팅! (hwating, “Fighting!”)