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[Korean Textbook Reviews] TTMIK Book Level 1

Been wanting to get my hands on this and thanks to Amber, I can finally review this!! 😀




It’s a site that all Korean learners, no matter your level, should know. I know the team personally and I’m very very very happy that they have consolidated their lessons into actual books. 😀

The TTMIK books is a series of 10 books (1 for each level) and it’s basically a physical book of their online content and also supplemental materials.

As usual, scroll down to the end of the post for a summary if you are lazy to read through!


Filter used. It’s orange, not pink ^^;

First impressions? Lightweight, compact and comprehensive. No one likes to bring bulky textbooks around and yet commuting time is one of the times that most of us have some free time to learn some Korean.

The size and weight makes the textbook easy to bring around and with all the mp3 files from the CD loaded into iTunes, you are good to go!

Each chapter in book 1 is also well structured.


1. Phrase / grammar point 

Each chapter starts out with the explanations for a certain phrase or grammar point and I like how the beginning chapters start out with familiar phrases like 안녕하세요 and 감사합니다 to ease the beginner learner into the language, instead of bombarding them with the elaborate structure of Korean or the different politeness levels.

2. Sample Dialogue

After ample explanations given in the earlier section, there is a simple (few liner) dialogue to put everything together. Transcripts are also provided on the same page.

3. Exercises 

Useful, simple exercises that reinforce what you have learnt in the chapter. Each question is easy to answer and you don’t have to think too much or get too frustrated over them. I’m one of those people that tend to skip over most textbook exercises but I like what I see in theTTMIK book. For level 1, all the questions are in English.



hehe I spot a mistake on pg 75. The romanizations are inaccurate for the front part of the dialogue XD

One thing that I’m not sure how I feel about is the romanizations. On one hand, I can see how they can be helpful to the beginner learner, but on the other hand, I still do not agree on having romanizations at all after introducing the alphabets. With mp3 files and the TTMIK team giving ample explanations for both section 1 & 2 in each chapter, I find that it is more than enough to help the learners for pronunciation. Romanizations serve minimal purpose, other than to make the learner more reliant on them and for them to get a very weird Korean accent. Will elaborate more in a separate post!

If you are using the book, ignore the romanizations. USE YOUR EARS. Listen to the team and the mp3 files and try to follow their pronunciation. Active listening is the only way to help you sound more natural. Romanizations will just impede your progress.

Overall, I really like the book! 😀  Well structured, easy to use. Complemented with the mp3 files and the online site, this is a comprehensive book for all beginners! Looking forward to the whole series.

Good points:

  • small and compact
  • ease new learners into the language
  • easy to understand explanations
  • well paced, no information overload at any point of time
  • ample sample sentences
  • interesting exercises

To be improved

  • add a hangeul chart in front for the first book (:
  • avoid using romanizations or stop using them after a few ‘intro’ lessons

Overall, worth the purchase!


ISBN 978-89-5518-184-5

You can purchase the book at their official store here. The team is awesomeeee. Thank you TTMIK!

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  • Reply
    26 December, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    I agree with you about romanization… I can read hangul easily now but when romanization is right under the Korean sentence my eyes follow the romanization… even if I don’t want too! Every text book should get rid of that!

    • Reply
      26 December, 2012 at 9:18 PM

      Yeah, it’s like you will just subconsciously look at it when it’s there. Especially for beginners. Romanizations do nothing for me but turn me off these days

      • Reply
        27 December, 2012 at 10:31 AM

        If there are both hangul and romanisation, I think its the nature for us non-Koreans to automatically focus on the romanisation first because that’s what we’re more familiar to — the alphabets. I agree with Shanna, it’s a turn off to me as well.. And for beginners, it won’t help them using romanisation because they will eventually rely on romanisation more than hangul in their progress

  • Reply
    26 December, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    I also dislike romanization. I agree that after few lessons about hangeul, romanization shouldn’t be included because it makes one’s pronunciation weird.I agree that they should rely on the mp3 for the correct pronunciation of words.
    Merry Christmas Shanna!

    • Reply
      26 December, 2012 at 9:19 PM

      Merry Christmas!

  • Reply
    26 December, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    I tend to skip romanization. Or you could say I hate reading romanized words. I find it hard to pronounce, therefore, after I have learnt to recognize Hangul, i’m always forcing myself to read in Hangul, even though there are romanized words below. Now I’m reading Hangul quite well, though I still tend to slow down on some words…

    • Reply
      26 December, 2012 at 9:19 PM

      We all started slow. ^^ Practice makes perfect!

  • Reply
    1 April, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    I really want this book but I don’t have a credit card, what do I do?

    • Reply
      19 April, 2013 at 11:32 AM

      paypal can use your bank account, i think. that might be an option.

  • Reply
    19 April, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    Just wanted to add my feels…I absolutely love these books! Very learner friendly, and the audio lessons available through the site are really enjoyable. I’m always a bit nervous about grammar…. but ttmik makes it very comfortable to learn. My favorite self-study books by far 🙂

  • Reply
    1 May, 2015 at 8:38 PM

    The book look good specially since Talk To Me In Korean is a great website 🙂

  • Reply
    16 July, 2015 at 1:19 PM

    This was such a great review! Thank you! I only have 1 question though. Are the workbooks by ttmik linked with these books? If they are, is it necessary to get them?

  • Reply
    23 August, 2015 at 6:34 AM

    The only problem with romanization is the misrepresentation in the mind of the naive learner that the pronunciation is English-like, hence bad pronunciation, especially with the official style of romanization: people are bound to mess things up with ‘eo’, and especially ‘eu’. Better to use ‘ǒ’ and ‘ǔ’, respectively and explain very clearly one is low-back-rounded, and the other is high-mid-spread, and to give the audio, the diagrams, and the whole nine yards.
    Romanization, properly explained and used, is a much better representation of the spoken language, as opposed to the traditional writing, although it’s not nearly as bad as the English spelling of modern-day English words.

    Furthermore, the opponents of romanization fail to remember the work they had to put into learning the complex phonotaxis rules of pronouncing the Korean letters together with each other ( If you’ve ever read a paper on the complexities of developing TTS algorithms that can handle all cases of Korean strings and convert them to reasonable Korean speech, you’ll see that they haven’t been yet compactly solved—much of it has to be done by brute-force look up tables—let alone being able to speak it right off the page without missing a beat), let alone trying to learn the language-proper, it’s syntax, grammar, morphemes, semantic content.

    • Reply
      23 August, 2015 at 6:37 AM

      …look up tables) let alone being… missing a beat,…

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