How to improve your understanding of Khmer through cultural elements ?

Khmer is the language spoken by Cambodia and is also heard in the surrounding regions. Khmer culture is distinguished by music and cinema which perfectly reflect the identity and past of the Cambodian country. To improve your understanding of the language and discover the rich Khmer culture, it is important to use the right media and tools.

Choose the right music and movies to get familiar with Khmer

Listen to Khmer music

By starting by listening to Khmer music, you will understand the Khmer language much better . Traditional Cambodian songs are filled with metaphors and narratives that aid in vocabulary building. Traditional Khmer music is an effective method for learning the words, phrases and grammatical constructions that are part of the language. It is recommended to listen to well-known songs such as “Vannak” (Un Secret) by Soksophea, “Mean Somyob” (Une Blanchette) by Ros Sereysothea, for an excellent start.

Watch movies in Khmer

At the same time, you can also improve your understanding of Khmer by watching films that are produced locally. Some of the most well-known Cambodian films are “Spririt Lost” by Chhay Bora, “2025” by Nuon Badtoum and “Airlift” (Evacuation) by Sok Visal. By watching these films, you will be able to understand the subtle language used in the dialogues and learn words and phrases that are more common in conversation. If you prefer to watch Khmer action movies, Keng Makara's “Durian” is the best track to listen to. You can also enjoy independent low-budget films that are produced domestically.

Alternative methods to learn Khmer

Participate in cultural events

If you prefer to learn Khmer in an interactive way, you can attend cultural events such as "Krab Ka Chan", art performances and short shows, "Krob Krong", music concerts and "Nokor Thom", traditional culture dance and music festivals. You will then hear commonly used words as well as song lyrics, while the artists help you better understand and internalize the words and phrases. Events such as these provide a great platform to meet native speakers as well as artists who practice traditional Khmer music and drama.

Visit Khmer localities

Another interesting way to improve your understanding of Khmer is to visit Khmer places. Even though Cambodia is difficult to visit right now, places such as Kompong Thom, Battambang, Kratie and Siem Reap offer a great opportunity to explore the many Khmer towns and villages. You can meet native speakers there, observe their daily life, eat there and chat with citizens in Khmer. You can also participate in cultural activities such as visiting museums, learning traditional dance and music techniques, going to a spiritual feast, among others.

Browse websites and blogs

Online, many websites and blogs offer various information and content focused on Khmer culture. These websites and bloggers are a great way to learn more about the local culture, while improving your Khmer comprehension and vocabulary. Most of the sites use the most commonly used vocabulary and phrases when talking about Khmer culture, and the common pronunciation is clearer and more readable, which will help you learn more about Khmer.


Besides being a source of inspiration for artists and culture lovers, Khmer music and cinema can help improve your understanding of the language. By listening to and watching songs and movies that are associated with local life, you will improve your vocabulary and understanding of Khmer culture. Cultural events, visits to local sites and online blogs can also help you learn the Khmer language.


  • Can Cambodian cultural events help to learn Khmer? Yes, participating in cultural events such as “Krab Ka Chan”, “Krob Krong” concerts and “Nokor Thom” festivals can help you learn Khmer. These shows give you the opportunity to learn unusual words and phrases and experience new aspects of Khmer culture.
  • Should I visit Cambodia to learn Khmer? No, you don't have to visit Cambodia to learn Khmer. The cultural elements such as music and cinema will allow you to discover new words and understand the Khmer audience. Moreover, you can also visit online websites and blogs to learn more about Khmer language and culture.

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