REVIEW: Mastering Conversational Korean – Korean for beginners
I thought for this review that I would do a pros and cons list, then underneath that I will go more into depth about the textbook and my personal opinion on it. At the bottom I included the contents incase you were interested.
Just as a disclaimer, this is completely my own opinion and you do not have to agree or disagree! Feel free to leave your opinion in the comments or email me 🙂
- Fun approach to learning the language
- Practical phrases
- Audio CD
- Teaches Hangul
- Has helpful tips along the way
- Good amount of vocabulary
- Casual approach
- NO EXERCISES to practice what you’ve learnt
- Romanisation is used throughout the whole textbook
- Not extensive amounts of grammar
- Sometimes order of lessons seem illogical
- Grammar is learnt before the practical phrases
- CD is very boring/dry
- Sometimes words/phrases in examples aren’t relevant
Okay so I would like to talk about the above lists, as I would like for you to understand why I included some of these things so that it’s crystal clear. Let’s start with the first point in the pros; this is definitely a “lighthearted guide” and a fun introduction to the language as they say on the front of the book. The reason behind this is because of its very casual approach. Honestly I have never seen a textbook be so casual in the way the lessons were taught which would be perfect for an absolute beginner. This was actually bothersome to me at times because I already knew some Korean and wasn’t interesting in reading pages and pages of honestly, irrelevant information, which is why I also included the casual approach as a con.
So I really would like to talk about this audio CD that is included with this book because as you can see it is listed in both the pros and cons. The audio CD’s content was pretty good and it was nice to hear some of the phrases the used. It would also be useful if you were using this book to learn hangul. The reason I said it was boring/dry is because it simply is. Not only that but it is also very awkwardly set out and somewhat difficult to use.
The biggest thing that bugged me about this book was that there was simply NO EXERCISES!!!!! This extremely annoyed me because I just found myself reading and reading then after only 30 minutes I had whizzed through about 7 chapters but felt like I hadn’t learnt a single thing. To learn a language you need to put it to use and actually write and use your own brain to think of what to say and how to use it. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but even though exercises can be extremely boring and sometimes a pain, I find it necessary to learn. Its not like you could just sit in math’s class and hear the teacher say how to do the questions, then your set for life. No, you need to do multiple questions to get how to use it and put it into context. Honestly everything else in this textbook was actually pretty good and I can tell why it is a very popular textbook, this just annoyed me so much. So if you’re looking to do exercises, DO NOT purchase this textbook.
Something else I want to cover is the order of the lessons. I realised whilst going through I was up to around chapter 7 and I realised that they had not even taught me how to say ‘hello’ yet. Although I already knew this term I found it very strange. Honorific word forms, conjugation and even konglish had already been covered but no hello? I had even learnt other random words but I was extremely confused how not knowing hello till nearly halfway through the book counts as being practical.
Another thing about this book that annoyed me was the Romanisation. Although this does seem sensible to use in the beginning, by the end it was just annoying as I would just find myself automatically looking at what is familiar which is the Romanisation, even though I tried so hard not to. This made it difficult for me to practice looking at the Hangul and trying to learn how the words looked and sounded in Korean rather than Romanisation.
Although this may seem like a very critical review, overall I do think that this is an okay textbook to get you started on learning Korean. For all I know you might prefer the casual approach to learning that this textbook offers but it was just simply not for me.
I would rate it 3/5
Contents: in order of chapters
3.Additional pronunciation rules
4.Word order, particles, conjugation, honorifics and omissions and plurals
7.Irregular conjugation patterns
11.Demonstrative pronouns and 12.how to ask questions
13.The verb ‘to be’
15.Korean names and Family terms
17.When and where
18.How and Why
19.Verb tenses: Past, progressive and future
25.How to shop
26.Telling the time
Days, Dates and seasons
27Wanting and wishing