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[Review] 살아있는 한국어 속담 Proverbs

While proverbs, idioms and four-character idioms are also introduced in general Korean textbooks, they are not used that often in real life and hence the exposure is generally lower. It’s great that there’s a series of textbooks focused on these, which are frankly speaking, my favourite bits of language learning.

As proverbs and idioms mainly hail from folktales, they are very much linked to the culture and it’s very interesting to see how some idioms are more universal (an almost direct translation available in other languages) while others are unique to the language (and culture). During my university days, I did a project comparing emotion metaphors in English and Korean and it was very interesting to look at the similarities and differences.

This proverb textbook is also one of the better ones I’ve seen. Instead of just introducing the proverb + meaning, the book is structured such that the content is more meaty, complete with dialogues and exercises.

Each unit (60 units) consists of:

  • proverb + a picture / comic illustration
  • dialogue illustrating the use of the proverb
  • example sentences
  • practice questions (fill in the blanks)
  • further questions (activities-type of questions)

There is also a consolidated exercise after every 20 units.

I love how there’s a full dialogue illustrating the use of the proverb. Some books tend to only put in two-liner dialogues but I feel that doing so may not give enough context on the appropriate use of the proverb. The practice questions do not come with answers (slightly disappointing), but I feel that they are straightforward enough so it’s still alright. The further questions section is more suitable for classroom activity and honestly as a self-learner, I won’t actually attempt them. The consolidated exercises are relatively short but comes with answers (yay).

A highlight of the book for me is the funny illustrations. I love the illustration for “가는 말이 고와야 오는 말이 곱다” (tr. what goes around, comes around) where a guy is standing at the top of the mountain shouting “바보야~~” (tr. you are a fool) and the echo comes back louder “바보야~~~” LOL. It makes it so much easier to remember the proverbs hahaha.

Proverbs are also full of age-old wisdom and I love learning them. Happy to see a dedicated textbook on it! All in all, highly recommended and it’s one of the books I wish came out earlier during my peak Korean-studying days. Sometimes I am pretty jealous of Korean learners these days because there are sooooo many resources. But then again, this means it’s also harder to choose good resources and… I’m here to help!

Leave me a comment if you find my review useful and do share your views on this book too.

What I like:

  • Well-structured
  • Useful dialogues
  • Fun and interesting illustrations
  • Useful exercises

To be improved:

  • Lack of answer key for regular exercises

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    6 May, 2021 at 4:59 AM

    Hi Shanna ! Thank you for your so interesting and useful reviews and notes !
    Could you tell us, please, the name of the editor of these book (and the two others… ^^) ? I can’t guess it from the photo…

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