Korean for Beginners | Language Reading Challenge

So, I’m a little late posting this month’s reading challenge, but hopefully you’ll forgive me! This book is honestly one of the best Korean language books I’ve worked through to date, so I’m really excited to share it with you.

As a quick recap, here are the books we’ve read so far this year:

January // Book about your native language
February // Book in your target language (translation of a book from your native language)
March // A book about someone who learns a language (can be fiction or non-fiction)
April // Read a book written by an author from a country that speaks your target language (can be a translation or in the original language)

The guidelines to participate are available here and you can also join up by commenting on the posts here at Eurolinguiste or by becoming a part of the group on Goodreads.

This month, the challenge was to read a coursebook/lesson book. You could choose to either finish up one you were already working through or start a new one. I chose to read Korean for Beginners from Tuttle Publishing.

Korean for Beginners: Mastering Conversational Korean by Henry J. Amen IV and Kyubyong Park

Korean for Beginners explains Korean grammar in simple and accessible way, something I honestly didn’t think was possible until I got my hands on it. The explanations, in fact, were so clear and concise that I breezed through the first several chapters even as a complete beginner.

As the lessons advanced, my pace, as would be expected, slowed. There are 27 total chapters that cover everything from conjugations to tenses, counting to honorifics and more. It’s short, but thorough in terms of how broad the topics covered are.

I love that it has a disk, especially for the difficult to pronounce/differentiate sounds in the language. And in my experience, Korean has quite a few of these. It was very handy to have that available as a part of the course.

The book almost always includes both the Korean characters and the transliteration for any phrases or vocabulary that are introduced (which is extremely helpful). Especially for learners who haven’t yet mastered the writing system.

Korean for Beginners also includes a ton of cultural tidbits and even games that you can play including 3-6-9. I love that these are part of the text because it helps me connect with the language and feel more informed.

My Criticisms

While I enjoyed the pace of the book, sometimes the tone was too casual. It’s easy to forgive when the complicated aspects of Korean are so well explained (finally), but it did seem a little out of place to me at times.

As far as content, I wish that there were more examples and exercises for each chapter. There are very few and I think that some more guided practice could make this publication an even more excellent resource. It also doesn’t introduce as much vocabulary as a traditional textbook might. Along with additional exercises, this is something that I really feel could have made that guide that much better. It would offer learners additional contexts with which they could understand the material.


The pacing for the book is pretty fast. The chapters are short and the lessons are really “to the point”. This is great for introducing the different grammatical concepts of the Korean language, but I feel like it might almost be too much of an overview.

So far, as explanations of Korean grammar go, this was the best resource I’ve come across. It explains complex grammar in ways that make them easy to understand and replicate in other contexts. I do wish the conjugation and tense sections were a little more in depth, though. And that you could put them into guided practice a little more yourself.

Highly recommended.

Title: Korean for Beginners: Mastering Conversational Korean
Author: Henry J. Amen IV and Kyubyong Park
Pages: 176 pages
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
Publication Date: August 10, 2010

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