The desire to learn Korean and Spanish skyrocketed due to the popularity of K-Pop and Latin Pop.
The popularity of Spanish and Korean music
Spanish artists have been in the music industry for quite some time. You definitely must have heard of Shakira, Enrique Iglesias or Ricky Martin long before Latin Pop became mainstream. However, it was in 2017 that Spanish music started to make a global impact. “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi, featuring Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber became a huge hit. It topped the charts almost everywhere in the world. It also smashed some incredible records such as becoming the first Youtube video to reach 4 billion views.
Korean Pop music has also been around for many years. What sets K-pop apart from the rest of the music industry is that it consists mainly in groups in which each member is assigned a particular role such as a vocalist, rapper, dancer and visual. Nonetheless, you can still find popular solo artists such as Psy. The Korean singer and rapper caught the attention of the world with “Gangnam Style”, a hugely popular song that you probably have tried to dance to. It became the first Youtube video to reach 1 billion views and it was a chart-topper as well.
If these two music industries have existed for so long why are they now so hyped? The answer for that has to do with the increased cross-cultural pop market.
Cross-cultural pop market: streaming services and social media
In the past, the pop market was ruled by the American and British pop music. Back then, people would listen to music through the radio, television, walkman and cassette tapes. With the advancements of technology, you can now listen to music through streaming music services such as Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube Music to name a few. Whereas in the past you were limited to listen to English songs because songs in other languages were denied by the Anglophone media, nowadays you have the freedom to choose the songs you want to listen to whether it is in English, in Spanish, in Korean or any other language.
Social media has also played an important role for artists to diffuse their music with a massive audience. The popular Korean boyband BTS is already known as the “Kings of Social Media”. With over 17 million followers on Twitter, the group has used the social platform to attract a multi-language fan base. Most of their tweets are in Korean. As a result, this has helped to spread the Korean language around the world. 대박! (Pronunciation: Daebak; Popular Korean slang word to say ‘awesome’)
Cross-cultural pop market: collaborations between artists
The growth in artist collaborations from different countries was also significant not only for artists to promote themselves and reach multilingual fans but also to disseminate diverse languages. Spanish and Korean artists have seized the opportunity to release songs with American and British artists. ‘I like it’ by Cardi B featuring Bad Bunny and J Balvin and ‘Kiss and Make Up’ by Dua Lipa featuring the Korean girl group BLACKPINK are some examples of collaborations released this year. Even collaborations between Spanish and Korean artists are becoming popular such as ‘Otra Vez’ (Spanish expression that means: ‘One More Time’) by the Korean boy group Super Junior and the Mexican band Reik.
Learning a language through music
In my last blog post, I have explained how easy it is to learn the basics of a language through learning language apps and virtual reality. Learning a language through music is another good option especially if you enjoy singing. Some of the advantages are:
- Songs get stuck in your head easily: I bet you still remember the lyrics to your favourite old songs. Therefore, if you memorise the lyrics of your favourite foreign song, you will remember the foreign words without difficulty.
- Improve your vocabulary and pronunciation: by listening to a song muchas veces (Spanish expression that means ‘many times’) you will pick up new words.
- Improve your pronunciation: when you sing along to a song, your pronunciation gets better.
Personally, I have used Youtube to learn and improve my English skills when I was younger. I learned so many words through my favourite songs and it was also the most effective way to improve my pronunciation. Now I’m using it to learn Korean. Even though I’m still a beginner, I have already picked up a few words.
In conclusion, the collaboration between artists and the easy accessibility to streaming and video hosting services have been fundamental to increase our exposure to other languages through music. Since K-pop and Latin Pop are becoming a global trend more people have become interested in learning Spanish and Korean. Some people are learning these two languages through music and apps. Some students are even replacing French for Spanish in school. Nonetheless, it should not be assumed that music is the only reason behind the popularity of these two languages.
To end this blog post with a motivational message, I just wanted to say that learning a language is challenging but with perseverance and patience, you can do it! 파이팅! (Pronunciation: paiting; Meaning: a form of support or encouragement to not give up similar to ‘you can do it’)