2 In Korean learning journey (:/ korean textbook reviews

[Review] Sejong Korean Conversation 1 세종한국어 회화 1

With 4 books in the series, the Sejong Korean Conversation books are meant to be complementary books to the Sejong Korean series (1-8). According to the preface, Sejong Korean Conversation 1 is developed to be complementary to Sejong Korean 1-2 while book 2 of the conversation series follows Sejong Korean 3-4.

I haven’t seen the Sejong Korean series, so the review will be based on my perspective of a self-learner using this as a standalone book. As usual, scroll all the way down for a summary if you want to skip my lengthy thoughts!

Knowledge of Hangeul is a pre-requisite as there are no introduction chapters of Hangeul / Korean language and it jumps straight into using Hangeul (great!) for the lessons. In book 1, all instructions and explanations are in both English and Korean so that’s another plus point!

Full of listening practices

While it’s called a “conversation” book, I think it is a great book to practice listening for beginners. There’s a lot of audio clips throughout the chapter, and I love that they include a QR code, so no hassle of downloading files or trying to figure out what to do with a CD (when laptops no longer have a CD drive). The strange thing is that it’s a text QR code, so when I scanned if with my iPhone camera, it brings me to the google search result of the URL. I have to take the extra step of copy and pasting the URL into the URL bar to get to the mp3. Not sure if that’s the case for everyone!

Good mix of vocabulary and dialogues

I like that there’s a good mix of sections with dialogues and those focused on vocabulary. The book is extremely colourful and full of pictures, so it looks like it’s a joy to work through the book. I like how they read the vocabulary in both the male and female voices. It’s always good to have a mix and to get more auditory input.

Grammar explanations

Initially I was worried that the book might skip grammar explanations given that it’s supposed to be used as an additional resource to their textbook series, but I’m glad that there’s still grammar explanations at the back of the book, in both English and Korean. While beginners will probably not be able to understand the Korean explanations, I still appreciate its inclusion. I feel that it does subconsciously help to push the learner to try and read something that’s beyond their current level and while the learner may not understand much, they can still learn something or two from it.

Good range of exercises that self-learners can do

While some textbooks are designed for classroom use, I like it if most of the exercises are self-learners friendly too. I think this book does it very well, and the exercises (fill in the blanks, match the correct answer, word search etc) are great for self-learners too. Answers are also provided at the back (another plus!).

Overall thoughts

This book is best used as an additional resource to a main textbook, given the ample listening practice and relevant exercises to work through. I do like everything about it. Out of curiosity, I went to check the publishing year of the book. 2018. I would have loved to have access to this resource when I started learning Korean and hahaha this book came out 10 years too late! 😛

For those living in Singapore, this book is available in the public libraries 🙂

What I like:

  • Ample listening practice
  • Individual QR codes linking to MP3 files (GREAT)
  • Great visuals and well-structured
  • Some grammar explanations available
  • Answers provided
  • Relevant exercises for self-learners

What can be better:

  • nil

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  • Reply
    David Su
    8 February, 2021 at 3:50 PM

    We used to use these at the Sejong Institute in San Francisco, but recently switched over to the Seoul University series. In hindsight, I wished I had done more listening practice.

  • Reply
    8 July, 2021 at 6:09 AM

    Great review! I concur with it except to add that my issue with these books is the failure to introduce the vocabulary for each lesson side-by-side with English. It does have a glossary, but that’s arranged in Hangul order instead of by lesson, and it omits quite a few items. Accordingly, I’ve prepared Anki vocabulary flashcards for Sejong Korean Conversation 1, 2, & 3. https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/1293665134

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