3 In Korean learning journey (:/ korean textbook reviews

[Open Review] Essential Korean

When it comes to using phrasebooks to really study and learn a language, my answer is of course a no no. That being said, it doesn’t negate the potential uses of a phrasebook as a quick guide when you are visiting a foreign country.


I have no experiences going to a country where I totally can’t speak its language (I have only travelled to Korea and Japan in my entire life hahaha), so I won’t be the best person to comment. To be honest, I wonder if I really would buy a phrasebook if I visit a country where I can’t speak a single word of the language. I won’t know, I would let you guys know when the times come 😛

For today’s review, I would leave it open to you guys. Please share your comments and reviews!


For the tourist:

I always wonder if bringing a phrasebook everywhere helps. The romanisation for Korean doesn’t really help you pronounce the words (you will probably be barely comprehensible)  and even though the book does help you to convey what you want, would it help you to decode and decipher what is said to you?

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For the beginner Korean learner:

I never see how such books can be helpful to the beginner learner. I mean, sure, I understand how awesome it would be to be able to start using phrases and sentences immediately. BUT. Do you even understand what you are talking about? Without understanding the grammar etc, all you can do is to say fixed sentences and not able to edit them at all. Is that the point of learning a language?

I’m actually guilty of using such books when I first started learning too! Not because I want to jump immediately into conversation, but I simply thought looking at such phrases would allow me to learn. I mean, the books are there for you to learn right? They are supposed to help right? All it did was to make me more confused and make Korean seemingly harder to understand. :/


For the Korean learner:

If you are not planning to use this as a ‘main textbook’ or somewhere where you learn grammar from, it’s pretty interesting to read through. I guess if you want to know how to say a certain phrase in a certain situation, this book would be helpful as a reminder and refresher course!

I do like the format of the book as it’s divided into several situation types which is helpful!


hahaha. Okay. I can’t really tell if this is a good sentence/phrasebook since in the first place, I’m already very much against such books. I would really like to hear what you guys think!

Please leave a comment! 😀 For those interested, you can get this book on Amazon!

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  • Reply
    16 June, 2015 at 8:53 PM

    when I went to Korea, I had a pocket phrase book that I carried along with me everywhere. I only remembering using it twice (I needed utensils & my table didn’t have the little box – and I needed bandaids for my blisters)
    I got the utensils but they tried to sell my a pregnancy test at the pharmacy. 😀 oops.
    It was my safety net. (like knowing the translation number – I got totally lost & had to call them)

  • Reply
    John Beckett
    16 June, 2015 at 10:33 PM

    There are some famous “polyglot” bloggers that swear by starting out with phrasebooks, but I don’t see the point. I’d rather find a good beginner text or series and jump in. I’ve also seen quite a few bad texts in other languages I’ve learned (Japanese, Chinese, French), where the sentences were flat out wrong.

    I also avoid texts with romanisation in them. I’d rather not get into a habit that i’m going to have to break later on.

    I’m still waiting on on Continuing and Advanced texts from the Ross King series and the Korean grammar in use series before starting my Korean binge. ^^

  • Reply
    18 June, 2015 at 1:06 AM

    I don’t think pocket phrase book is helpful if you don’t know the basic things. For example, if you don’t know the Hangul and just read the romanization, the native people will not understand your pronunciation. I think we can make use of the phrase book by pointing at the sentence to express what we want to say.

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