“Learn Hangeul without buying other books!”
“Secrets of Reading Korean Handwriting”
“300 writing samples from Native Koreans”
TTMIK shouldn’t be an unfamiliar name to any (serious) Korean learner and amongst their many published books, this book called Hangeul Master is focused on Hangeul, the Korean writing system. You may have heard many claims that Hangeul is a relatively easy writing system to learn; googling online tutorials will bring you to articles claiming that you can learn it in an hour, a day, two days etc.
Then why spend money on a book to teach you Hangeul?!
That might be the question on your mind. While I agree that Hangeul is not difficult to pick up, whether to buy a textbook dedicated to teaching you the writing system would depend on
- 1. How well they teach it (audio focused? Romanisation? Linguistic terms? Layman terms?)
- 2. Any vocabulary or phrases taught together with the writing system
- 3. Bonus materials (the differentiating factors)
Systematic teaching of Hangeul
You don’t need a teacher to teach Hangeul provided that you have access to a decent book/materials and AUDIO. The way Hangeul is taught here is pretty systematic and I love how the book is graphic focused. The audio-visual aids help a lot. Listen to the free mp3 files and then looking at the calligraphy-style graphics would make self-learning a lot more fun. There’s something for everybody: IPA, comparison to English sounds, mp3 audio, stroke order, practice space. Personally I believe in learning by ear so the comparison to English sounds don’t work for me.
Simple MCQ, fill in the blank exercises are available at intervals to test your understanding (answers provided).
Simple vocabulary are introduced with big graphics. Don’t they remind you fondly of kids books? 😀
The main reason why I love this book:
The introduction of Korean Handwriting
To be honest, there is kind of a standard way to teach Hangeul and thus most decent books won’t vary too much. So the fact that this book focuses on actual handwriting is a bonus! Reading typed Hangeul may be easy, but when you see how native speakers write, it’s a whole new world. Although having learnt Korean for 8 years and counting, I don’t get much exposure to native handwriting and hence even till now there are times when I can’t decipher my colleagues’ handwriting. 😡
This book introduces you to the “common” handwriting styles, and they are really just a good to know. NO NEED to stress over copying the style or making sure that you remember every stroke style. As long as you can write legibly, it’s good enough. I love how they introduce the handwriting in conjunction with vocabulary and phrases. Suddenly it’s not just about the writing system, but rather learning new words that you can use next time. By shifting the focus to the writing, it makes learning new words less daunting and you might be less tempted to go for rote learning.
Some simple phrases are also introduced and you can practice in the space provided!
At regular intervals, you get “Time-out” sections where you learn more about the language and some cultural tidbits. Always a plus in my book! A beginner book should always cultivate interest in the language, not just teach the language.
Even as a Korean learner of 8 years, there are some stuff that I learnt from the book! One would be on the history of Hangeul, presented in a neat timeline (: I love the graphics in the book. It’s very visual-based, and you would never feel bored working through it.
All in all, I would recommend this to beginner learners! If you have a friend who is keen on picking up the language, it’s a great gift too! The book is not your usual A4 size, and it just looks like a fun book to work through the moment you pick it up from the shelves!
What I like:
- – Clear, structured way of teaching Hangeul
- – Graphic-focused
- – Introduction of native speakers’ handwriting
- – Bonus materials
- – Teaches phrases and words (more than just Hangeul)
To be improved:
– Would be fun to introduce Korean computer fonts!