12 In Korean learning journey (:/ korean textbook reviews

[Korean Textbook Review] SNU Korean 5B New Edition

You know how each new drama you watch seem to be better than the last one which you swore was the best?

I feel the same way about the new edition of 서울대 한국어 textbooks. I knew I said that Yonsei textbooks were my favourite, and then I said Ewha was really awesome and now I’m going to say that the Korean textbooks by Seoul National University are excellent!!

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Thanks to Twochois, I got to use the 5B book and I’m surprised by how much I can learn from the book, given how I’m supposedly already pass TOPIK 6 blah blah.

It has that right balance of interactivity, fun content, useful exercises, challenge, great graphics that somehow manage to mash together to form a truly great textbook.

Kudos to the team who designed and created it!

Onwards to the review (although you should just click the ‘put into cart‘ button already)

I haven’t gotten soo excited over a generic Korean textbook for a long time. As I worked through the book, I could see the rationale of every single exercise, the way the book is structured and the amount of effort being put in to carefully craft out and design the textbook.

And that is the hallmark of a good textbook >> well thought out and well designed.



Being an Apple user, I couldnt make full use of this interactive CD-rom but it looks like there is a lot of good content in there and would be great for self-learners. Apple users like me can still download the mp3 files and reference docs (word bank, grammar etc).

Transcripts and MP3 files

I love how they have mp3 files for both the main dialogue, reading exercise and other listening exercises. Particularly, they did not have the main dialogue transcript printed in the chapter, but rather have an appendix of transcripts. This forces the learner to listen and not rely on the transcript right from the start and it’s a good way to improve. Often, learners are too reliant on transcripts.

The focus on listening is evident in the textbook and it makes working through the book a lot more fun too!

/thumbs up

Relevant Exercises

Another reason why I love this book. You can actually DO the exercises. It’s suitable for self learners and classroom learning. Even for those more classroom discussion type of exercises, they include quite a lot of details that somewhat it feels like there is something to learn or take away from those exercises, even for self-learners – a first.

Details, many details

The textbook is FAR from boring. There is so much details packed into the book, different things to learn and look forward to in each chapter ^^ I love how it seems like one is not just learning a language, but rather picking up other knowledge along the way. And that is how I see language learning.

Word Bank

Usually, I just gloss over the glossary (hah) because I find it rather redundant and it’s supposed to be what the learner should do on his/her own – check the dictionary, write it down etc. BUT I love how the SNU glossary is sooo detailed that it includes the word + hanja (if relevant) + Korean and English meaning + example statement


I love the team who designed this book <3

What I love:

  • excellent graphics and good paper quality
  • fun and engaging book
  • great content, never boring
  • a wide variety of topics
  • relevant exercises
  • a lot of listening practice
  • great, detailed word bank
  • easy to learn for both classroom learners and self learners

What to improve on:

  • strangely, not a lot of details on grammar points (simple explanations included)
  • book is too heavy to bring around (I’m nit-picking)
  • longer reading practices (seeing how it’s a 5B book)

Overall, a highly highly highly recommended book! I am so curious to find out how the book fares on the lower levels. 😀 I think this book is suitable for a TOPIK 4 person or so, but even advanced learners have something to learn from it.

ISBN: 978-89-539-3437-5

Buy it from TWOCHOIS  

I love receiving packages from Twochois because of their awesome service and 서비스 ㅎ They usually include a free magazine like High Cut with your order. If you get the Dec 2014 High Cut Issue and you don’t want it, please give it to me! My double B. ♥

I have the 5B workbook which I’ll review another time!

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I always have many many books on my bed

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  • Reply
    2 December, 2014 at 5:41 PM

    Quickly opens hangulpark to see the inside of this book

  • Reply
    2 December, 2014 at 9:06 PM

    I love their new edition of Korean textbooks! I am not sure what level 5A and 5B are but for advance learners there is soo much to learn! Thank you for the review Shanna! Looking forward to the next one!

  • Reply
    3 December, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    Thank you for reviewing the Seoul Korean textbook 5B. I use the beginner and intermediate Seoul textbooks and I feel very satisfied with the vocabularies and expressions the books provide. However, they don’t have many reading passages or writing exercises. I am looking forward to use the advanced books but still wonder if the books improve anything. I expect the books that provide long reading passages about the culture and social problems.

  • Reply
    9 December, 2014 at 12:04 AM

    I also use the lower level books by 서울대 and like them so far. They seem to be very level appropriate, the first book has vocabulary on the same page as the lesson, later books only in the glossary, then they start adding Hanja etc. so the beginner does not get confused and as you advance more complicated concepts are introduced.

    Maybe you could see the glossary as an ‘inside the book dictionary’ – you can still look things up in there and write them down for your vocabulary list, but they can not know what kind of dictionary you have access to. My first dictionary was pretty crappy (and sorted words by some weird romanization scheme which drove me nuts) and I’d rather trust them to give me the right meaning for the words they use than that dictionary.

  • Reply
    29 January, 2015 at 8:50 PM

    ,”but they can not know what kind of dictionary you have access to. My first dictionary was pretty crappy (and sorted words by some weird romanization scheme which drove me nuts) and I’d rather trust them to give me the right meaning for the words they use than that dictionary.”
    Yes that’s the reason I like having a glossary in the book, it should hopefully give the reader the relevant meaning.
    One day I might get to do a Topik test and find out if I can get any points…
    Thanks very much for the excellent review.


  • Reply
    16 February, 2015 at 10:02 AM

    I want to know if this book is good to buy for beginners? and if Yonsei books are better?

    • Reply
      17 February, 2015 at 9:38 AM

      This is a level 5 book so it’s not for beginners. The series does start from level 1 but I haven’t seen that so I can’t comment. I would think it’ll be great too! (: If you are self studying, I quite like the Ewha series (book 1 and 2)

  • Reply
    25 July, 2015 at 3:07 PM

    I want to buy they SNU books to start stuying by myself in the shop that u recommended i cant see the 1 first book.
    Do u know other website to buy books ?

    • Reply
      28 July, 2015 at 11:24 AM

      you might want to email twochois! I think they should carry the books you want (:

  • Reply
    16 September, 2016 at 11:44 AM

    does the SNU books comes with an answer key?

  • Reply
    16 January, 2017 at 2:47 AM

    Hi, I just read your review of the book and you were talking how you are an Apple user and you couldn’t use the CD-ROM so how were you able to download the audio files?

  • Reply
    14 February, 2017 at 2:16 AM

    Hi there! I am using the 5B book of SNU for selfstudying. Now, unless we are talking about the same thing: Where did you find “simple explanations” for the grammar points? Did you mean the example sentences? Because I went through the book and CDrom looking for anything else and couldn’t find even the slightest hint of an explanation o.o

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