How to practice Korean listening: Tips and guide for Korean podcasts on Podbbang 팟빵

I’m not sure about you but personally, reading and writing are a lot easier than listening and speaking. That’s because reading and writing can be done with virtually almost any resource. Webtoons, Naver Blogs, news articles, children books, textbooks, PDFs, even social media posts. Also, reading and writing practices are a lot more straightforward and thus, can be done almost any time and anywhere, too.

Listening and speaking, on the other hand, requires someone else to participate or help you. In the case of listening, it’d be great to hear a native speaker talk for extended amounts of time. Or… you could listen to a non-native practise reading out loud :p. Anyway, listening to someone speak in person would be great but what are the chances? The next best option is to listen to audio recordings, right?Now, Talk To Me In Korean has really good podcast lessons and conversations, so those are great.

Now, Talk To Me In Korean has really good podcast lessons and conversations, so those are great. But I personally prefer listening to podcasts and 팟빵 (Podbbang) is a great place to find interesting podcast shows. The website is pretty cluttered and confusing, especially for intermediate learners. So I’ll address that part by giving you some tips and navigation guide to easily pick the podcasts that might interest you in a bit. Let’s take a look at why podcasts are great first, shall we?

It’s downloadable – accessible anywhere, anytime, on any device

This is one of the most important criteria, for me, at least. I have to commute for more than an hour (round-trip between home and office) and I don’t want to spend that time listening to music. Well, sometimes I would if I’m really tired but most of the time, I would either read or listen to a podcast. So, being able to download the podcast episode and listen to it via a podcast app or simply sync/upload to your phone is really important.

I’m not saying that everyone should listen to podcasts when they’re commuting (I don’t want to dictate your life, I’m just here to give you suggestions). But if you’re like me, working a day job, spending about 11 hours out of home (that’s almost half of the day gone, excluding sleep time!), you would want to make good use of your commuting time as well. The best part about listening to a podcast (or audio recording) is that you don’t need to burn your mobile data. (Webtoons are great for this reason too! Naver blog posts can be saved using text saving apps/software, I’m using Instapaper.

Beautiful/charismatic voices and extremely accurate pronunciation

I’m not saying that TTMIK teachers don’t have beautiful/charismatic voices and extremely accurate pronunciation but rather, most popular podcasts on Podbbang are usually hosted by celebrities or influencers. These people have a lot of experience speaking to a live audience either at a venue, on a radio show or television programme. Maybe it’s just me but I love listening to the voice of a celebrity that I personally like or support. For example, 유인나 (Yoo Inna) who hosted the KBS Cool FM 볼륨을 높여요 (Turn up the volume) radio show for almost 3 years (available on iTunes or Podbbang and even on YouTube!).

Yoo Inna’s Turn up the volume (유인나의 볼륨을 높여요) started in September 2013 and ended May 2016 so I’m currently listening to as many past broadcasts as possible. I absolutely love her voice and her pronunciation is very on point, that’s probably why she got the deejay job. Anyway, there are other celebrities like Yoo Inna who are/were hosting radio shows or even their own podcast series. Most of these shows are available on iTunes and Podbbang. Some, like Yoo Inna, would even have their own Youtube channel because Korean radio stations record videos of their celebrity deejays! Sorry for fanboying, but yeah, you get the idea.

Learn more about a specific topic extensively

Previously, I mentioned that reading Naver blogs can help in our understanding of specific topics in the Korean perspective. In my opinion, podcasts can allow us to understand even more extensively than reading blogs or even articles. This is especially so because podcasts usually involve more than one person. That means more than one perspective! These people are usually quite eloquent, too.

Also, since there are celebrity deejays, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if the deejays were to invite other celebrity friends to the show! For example, Yoo Inna invited IU (Lee Jieun) to the show for quite a number of times. If you’re interested in learning about how these celebrities view certain topics/issues, definitely search on Naver or Google to see if any of your favourite celebrities have been on any radio show or podcast. Alright, we’ll dive into tips and guides to Podbbang next.

Tips and simple guide to Podbbang

1. Pick your desired category on Podbbang

You don’t have to sign up for an account to download or listen to podcasts/radio show recordings, so don’t worry about those. Actually… You wouldn’t be able to sign up for an account even if you want to unless you’re living in Korea. Signing up for an account requires phone number verification so… Just download or listen via the website or app.

2. Go to the desired podcast/radio show

After clicking on your desired category, you may sort the top podcasts/radio shows according to “업데이트순” (latest updated), “별점순” (star ratings), “댓글순” (comments), or “에피소드순” (number of episodes).

Alternatively, you could use the search bar right at the top of the page.

Either way, click on your desired podcast/radio show. Above is the list of KBS radio shows.

3. Play on website or download audio file

The above screenshot is a typical page of any podcast or radio show’s episodes page. It’s pretty straightforward from here.

If you want to listen via the website, just click on the play button below the record needle. If you want to download, just click on the download button beside any of the episodes.

And there you have it! All set for your listening practice.

Can I listen to it on my podcast/Podbbang app?

Sure you can! As mentioned above, some (established or funded) podcasts have an iTunes page too. Listening via a podcast app is highly recommended, although as you can see from above, you can actually download and sync/upload to your phone and listen via the media/music app.

Also, the podbbang app allows users to download episodes and listen without burning mobile data. Either way, I would highly recommend using apps to listen to podcasts/audio recordings. That’s the beauty of listening practice, you can do it on the go.

Here’s a gallery of some screenshots taken in the app:

One of the reasons why I love listening on the app is the stepping forward or backward 10, 15, 20 or 30 seconds function. It’s really useful if you want to step backward to listen a phrase or sentence again, or could skip if you’re just browsing through the episode. Either way, the Podbbang app is awesome!

Ending thoughts

If you still prefer to listen to TTMIK’s podcast lessons and conversations, please go ahead. Podcasts are generally longer and might not exactly be for everyone. The thing is, podcasts and radio shows are not scripted, so it’s like sitting in a setting with a group of Koreans conversing. Sounds quite similar to that of Webtoons but just swap the comic strips with audio.

Listening practice is hard but in my opinion, podcasts are great to train it. Either that or you could attempt some TOPIK 1 past test papers! I’ve embedded the audio clips so you can attempt the questions right on the page. So far I’ve done 41st and 47th, working on 37th now. Stay tuned! Hope you enjoyed this blog post, share it with your friends if this helped you and leave comments/questions down below. Until next time, Let’s Study Korean 한국어 공부하자!

Important links

1. Podbbang home page
2. Podbbang app (Android & iOS)
3. LSK Speaking Practices
4. Instapaper 
5. Yoo Inna’s Turn up the volume on KBS Cool FM (Discontinued since May 2016) – Available on iTunesPodbbang and YouTube!
6. TOPIK 1 past test papers


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