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[Review] Advanced Korean / Korean-English Dictionary

Advanced Korean – A Review

Just 8 years ago or so, you barely find Korean textbooks around. My local bookstore definitely didn’t have all those Yonsei/Ewha/SNU books etc and the selection was so much fewer. For English speakers, Tuttle’s books were one of the major Korean textbooks you see around!

With the increased choices of Korean textbooks around, it becomes harder to decide which book to get, especially if you are switching series halfway through.

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One thing – this book is not really “Advanced”, especially when compared to the stuff taught in Level 5/6 books published by major Korean universities such as Yonsei / Ewha / SNU. But this book also rightly mentioned that it’s for “learners of Korean wishing to progress from Intermediate to Advanced Level” and I agree that it’s a bridging book, especially for English speakers.

To be honest, I struggle with writing this review as I can potentially see how it would be helpful to some and less relevant to others.

While I originally started out with mainly English textbooks such as College Korean Intermediate / Integrated Korean series, I switched to the Korean universities textbooks pretty early on and thus for me, it is rather jarring to find myself looking an English textbook again – mainly because the style is just very different.

I can’t quite pinpoint what’s so different but 2 main aspects I can identify are grammar explanations and exercises.

Korean textbooks at the intermediate level and above are usually entirely in Korean, and perhaps that’s why I find it strange to look at English explanations again. The explanations here are also rather technical and filled with linguistic jargon – such as “transferentive” (as a linguistics student I don’t even know what this is….). That being said, the explanations are really very detailed, more so than the usual Korean university textbooks.

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Another aspect: exercises. English-style textbooks have a tendency to love translation exercises -.- which I never once complete lol. But this book is not too bad, with those usual conjugation exercises, fill in the blanks, creating sentences etc.

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Structure of each chapter:

  • Passage

Intermediate length, quite a variety of text types.

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  • Detailed glossary

As someone who believes that checking out each new word etc is the responsibility of the language learner, a super detailed glossary does not really appeal to me.

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  • Grammar explanations

Good, detailed explanations with ample example sentences. (best part of the book)

  • Exercises

One interesting feature of the book is their Sino-Korean Companion workbook on CD-ROM. As a Singaporean who is already (quite) well-versed with Chinese characters, one major selling point of this book doesn’t work for me but I do think it’s a great resource for English speakers.

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Pretty cool to see how they introduced each Hanja character!

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Although it’s quite hard to learn everything on the list which are not in context, it’s quite cool to see how each Hanja is used!

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You can also print out these sheets to practice writing! (:

All in all, quite a good intermediate-advanced bridging book! If you like ample English explanations for grammar, this would be a good one!

What I like:

  • detailed explanations of grammar points with a range of example sentences
  • passages are quite interesting
  • Hanja section for those who want to learn more

What can be improved:

  • longer, more challenging passages towards the later chapters
  • slightly dry, can possibly include more fun cultural notes?

Get it at Amazon

Tuttle: Learner’s Korean-English Dictionary Review

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When you made up your mind to learn a new language, the first thing you would think of is to run to the bookstore to get a beginners textbook and a dictionary (those meant for foreign language learners).

I did the same too. And to be very honest, I barely flipped through the dictionary I bought. After discovering endic.naver.com, I no longer wanted to use a paper dictionary.

But that doesn’t mean the book is completely irrelevant.

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This book is definitely created with the English native speaker in mind and perhaps beginners and low intermediate students who are extremely reliant on romanisation and still need loads of help parsing Korean sentences would find it helpful.

The reliance on romanisation is very obvious. Each entry begins with the romanised word (followed by Hangeul) and example sentences are all romanised, together with translations.

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Urm. As someone who hates romanisation (come on, Hangeul is easy to learn…) and thinks that it makes Korean look harder than it actually is, I cannot use this book >< As much as I like to recommend people to wean off romanisation asap, I do understand that there are people who find it helpful and thus this book might be suitable for them.

What’s interesting is that they even have entries such as 아도 (a conjugated grammar point). Which I think is quite helpful for those who are still having loads of difficulty identifying grammar points and parsing Korean sentences.

Get it at Amazon

If you have used these books, feel free to share your opinions! ^^

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    베카
    21 January, 2016 at 8:03 PM

    I got the complete set of those Tuttle books early in my language-learning journey and when I still lived in America where there were very few resources. I never made it past the beginning book but I found it a bit bland. However, it did help me learn some key phrases and I listened to the CD over and over, trying to mimic the pronunciation. So, I think all-in-all it helped me. But, I never revisited the books and passed them on to a friend who was self-studying Korean when I left America. I think the Hanja and linguistics stuff sounds fun, but that’s to me personally. I still rely on English explanations of grammar, but once I get the idea of the grammar point I try to read it only in Korean examples, which, if you have a basic Korean grammar foundation, will probably really flesh out the idea that was described in English. Does that make sense? Many of the concepts expressed by Korean grammar do not translate consistently and smoothly into English so it’s really important to get the feel for how it’s used most naturally. This is one of the reasons my English sometimes turns into ‘Korean English’ haha. Thanks for posting, Shanna!

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