There are many things I like about Korean through English Book 1 (KtE) , but there are also some things I dislike. But before I get through all of that, let me talk about the structure of the book itself.
KtE is laid out very logically:
- Preface (background of why it was created/updated)
- Table of Contents
- Lesson Details Table (The details are Title, Key Points, Grammar, Vocabulary & Expressions, Pronunciation, and Information)
- Charts with technical details on sound formation (my own heading for it)
- Four lessons on 한글:
- Basic Letters
- Tense and Aspirated Consonants
- Compound Vowels
- Consonants at the Bottom (받침)
- 21 General Lessons
- 3 Appendices
- Essay “The Korean Language: An Informal Introduction for English Speakers” – Including references
- Answer Key
- Vocabulary Index
- Grammar Index
- Audio CD (25 tracks, a little over an hour total)
Each of the general lessons follows a specific outline and contains lots of callouts and notes:
- Grammatical Forms (usually 3 to 6)
- Exercise (usually 3)
- Information (normally culture information about Korea, including a 3 step recipe for bulgogi)
There is a lot to like about KtE.
- Tons and tons of notes, stickies and callouts, especially at the beginning.
- All new words are called out in a list on the side bar (even if they aren’t part of the official vocabulary list)
- It includes information that I haven’t seen anywhere else. This might be the most useful thing ever. A chart of what letters actually sound like when they are at the bottom of a syllable. It is awesome.
- Whenever there is something a bit weird about pronunciation, it calls it out in a side bar, call out or note. (e.g., 비빔밥 sounds like 비빔빱)
- It has a vocabulary index. I love that I can just look up a word for the definition or to see how to spell it or simply to make it easier to make flashcards or update my homemade dictionary.
- It has a grammar index. I love being able to just go to the lesson when I’m trying to figure something out.
- It doesn’t look boring.
- It isn’t dry.
- There is no romanization. At all. Not even in the first four lessons when you are learning 한글. It says this sounds like that and then gives you vocal words. While this does prevent you from being on dependent on a crutch, sometimes a crutch is needed. I have the worst problem remembering how to pronounce the diphthongs, and sometimes I need a crutch, or at least an ace bandage.
- Cost: It was $25 on Amazon.
I have two dislikes; the 2nd is much bigger then the 1st.
- It isn’t stand alone. I can’t imagine using only this to learn Korean. While they say the goal is for this to be used in self-study, you really need a teacher or at the very least other books, video, audio. The information it has is good, but sometimes it is missing vital pieces of the puzzle,
which brings me to my big #1 annoyance and the reason I wrote this review.
- Numbers are one of the hardest Korean concepts for me to understand. I just don’t get it, but I keep trying. Lesson 9 had this on counters.
- This was the related exercise:
- Look at #3. I couldn’t figure out what the counter would be for a cup of coffee. My best guess was the general counter, 개.
The answer was 잔.
What the heck. Where did that come from? I checked the index to see if I missed it. Nope, not there either.
So I had no idea what else 잔 is used for. If I had been starting out in Korean using just this book, I would probably have stopped right there just from frustration. Thankfully, I’m not a new learner and I have the internet at my fingertips. I googled it & according to wikipedia – it is a counter for cups & glasses. But the point is, I shouldn’t have had to google it.
1 Sentence Review
KtE is a good book to be used a supplement to other materials or as part of a class-room course, but I wouldn’t recommend that it be used on its own.
I’ve included a Gallery with a random sampling of pages and callouts so you can get an idea if you like the format.