This article has been a long time coming! A few months back, our friends over at Tuttle Publishing asked if we would be interested in pairing up with them to do some book review and giveaways. As fans of their language books, naturally, we jumped at the opportunity, and reviewed K-Pop Now!” in July. After a lot of hurdles, we’re finally able to get up our review of Elementary Korean, but it’s well worth the wait, we think!
Anyone who has learnt a second language knows that there are pretty much two main ways to start learning. One is that you sign up for a class, and the other is that you just work at it yourself. Signing up for a class is a great way to really get those basics, but Korean isn’t offered in every city and town around the globe, so many are left to learn as they go, and pick up textbooks to help them out. The textbooks regularly available on the market are decent, but really don’t give the sense of a formidable textbook, like the ones you had in high school and had to lug around back and forth to math and science class.
Elementary Korean is the first Korean textbook that we’ve seen that really LOOKS like a textbook. This could sit next to the math and science textbooks and give them a run for their money when it comes to being impressive and seemingly full of knowledge.
Though they say don’t judge a book by its cover, in this case, it’s a very good start for the textbook.
Reading through the “About the Book” section helps a lot with understanding some of the details in the textbook. It touches on their transcription system, but also goes into detail about how much time really should be taken for the textbook to be used correctly, and how to use it along with the workbook to get the most out of the first levels.
Chapter One goes right into basic introductions, and they’re a well rounded selection of things that any person in Korea would need to know. Even I found myself jotting a few down, knowing that there were ones I had heard often but never taken the time to learn. First, the writing was in Korean, but then it was written again in their transcription system. The transcription system might be one of the few flaws in the textbook, looking like a confusing mash between phonetics and McCune–Reischauer style transcription. Seeing as South Korea uses the Revised Romanization of Korean, we suggest that it may be easier for Korean learners to learn that instead and to learn Hangeul quickly. Luckily, the Korean writing system was created to be learnt in a day or so, so this will not be a huge setback. Eventually, their transcription system is phased out as the chapters go, so you should be fine.
Elementary Korean is a really good learning tool for those who are really good at studying and are the reading type of learners. There are a lot of exercises available, both through the audio CD and through the Workbook. Each chapter is well explained, but goes at the same solid pace as a school course, so there isn’t the same feeling of feet dragging with other kinds of text books. For visual learners, this textbook might seem a little stark, with few visuals and no colours, however using study tools like highlighting with different colours and infusing the pages and black and white illustration with colour to make it more eye catching.
Overall, Elementary Korean is the type of textbook that really gives people wanting to learn Korean a solid head start on the language, and creates a concrete base to develop your language skills. It is comprehensive, with lots of practise and examples, and covers everything you would expect to cover in an intensive language course.
We know that many of our readers are not able to get into an intensive Korean language program, due to location or money or time, so we would like to give two of our amazing readers the opportunity to study Korean themselves. We have TWO copies of Elementary Korean to give away, and all you need to do to win a copy is sign up for our less than biweekly newsletter to qualify!
[promosimple id=”56d2″] We will be drawing the winners on Thursday, October 23rd and contacting them via email, so make sure you provide us a working email address we can reach you at! Also, for those who are interested in buying the textbook, we encourage you to use the links below to purchase them. Using K-Soul based links helps support the site, and will help us to continue these great giveaways!