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[Review] Korean Made Easy for Beginners

One thing about the Korean Made Easy series is that it’s very consistent in its cover design, featuring the author in the same pose and wearing similar clothes. So it’s very easy to recognise it among all plethora of Korean textbooks that you can find these days.

And you should. Find it. Buy it.

I own the starter, beginner and intermediate books in the series and I have already reviewed the other two. I’m a HUGE fan of this series, to the point that I wished so much that it had known about it when I first started learning Korean (this is published in 2006 and reached its 20th printing in 2019!), or that it’s easier to purchase from Korea back then. It would have been the textbook of my choice. It still is, and I’m glad that this book is now more accessible to Korean learners all around the world.

A lot of Korean textbooks are made for classroom use, so I love it that the Korean made Easy series manage to hit that sweet point of being suitable for both classroom and self-study use.

Substantial focus on Hangeul

The starter book is entirely focused on Hangeul and suitable for those who like to have a little more help and practice with the writing system. But I feel that that the beginner book is a sufficiently good book for the uninitiated, as there’s about 50 pages worth of introduction on Hangeul, and sufficient listening exercises too. I always think that a good (truly) beginner textbook shouldn’t skimp on the introduction of the writing system, cos it’s just gonna demotivate the learner if they can’t even figure out the alphabet properly.

Well thought-out structure with sufficient explanations

The book adopts the structure of introducing grammar points first, with sufficient explanations/example sentences, before moving to two sets of dialogues, additional sections on pronunciation/vocab/phrases, exercises and a cultural note.

I love a well thought-out structure and it’s very clear that the team working behind this is GREAT.

Certain highlights for me:

No romanisation after the introductory Hangeul chapter

For this, I’m going to give it 5 additional points. 🙂 I also love how, in dialogues, the English translation is presented on the side and in a much smaller font. This gives focus on the Hangeul and visually, this helps the learner focus on parsing the Korean instead of relying on the English translation. Glossary, while present on the page, does not feel intrusive too. I love this.

Gradual introduction of pronunciation rules

I’ve once seen a textbook where they introduced all/majority of pronunciation rules right in the Hangeul chapter and oh man, I was so intimidated by that. Some learners may not realise that there’s NO NEED, I repeat, ABSOLUTELY NO NEED to learn the pronunciation / sound change rules right at the start. In fact, I learnt most of them “naturally” through listening practice and even though I will read about them if I come across an explanation somewhere, I don’t bother trying to remember/memorising them. Till today, I will not be able to tell you exactly the rules.

Exercises that people do

One gripe I have about a lot of textbooks is that they tend to focus on classroom activities in the exercises section and honestly I find that rather disappointing. Not that they are not useful (for classroom use), but I thought that the sole focus on that would make it difficult for self-learners to use the book. And honestly, not all classroom exercises in textbooks are fun / actually used in the classroom too. So I’m SUPER glad that this series go for the multiple choices/fill in the blanks type of exercises, with answers too! yay!

Cultural Notes

I enjoyed each and every of the cultural notes behind each chapter. Language learning cannot be separated from culture and history, so I’m very happy that the book takes effort to include a substantial passage (in English) on it.

Additional touches

Corresponding listening tracks are marked out clearly in the book, and I love that they do break a chapter’s audio into different tracks because it’s tough when you get long tracks of say 15:00mins and you have to mark out on the book the corresponding start time of individual sub-sections.

I love the illustrations in the book too. Overall, the colours, the placements etc are very well done and it’s a very pleasant book to go through. Kudos to the team!

Overall thoughts

Definitely very very highly recommended! No matter whether you are looking to dabble, or to focus on the language, I feel that this book is suitable for all 🙂 It’s pitched at just the right level and pace.

Just buy!

What I like:

  • everything LOL

What I don’t like:

  • Nothing. Can they come up with an advanced book too?

Check it out on Darakwon’s website.

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