Great for self-study
Regardless of some minor peeves; Korean made Easy for Beginners is an excellent book for people who want to learn Korean in Self-study. Its great structure and well balanced amount new vocabulary and grammar each chapter will make sure you will never feel overwhelmed.
Examples & dialogues
These days when learning a language it is pretty simple to download a free app on your smart phone or visit a website to get started. However, a good textbook still seems like a good thing to have. One of the books I use to learn Korean is Korean made Easy for Beginners.
Two Book Combo
When I began learning Korean two years ago, I bought Elementary Korean from Tuttle. While that book was not bad perse, I would never recommend it to anyone for self-study. This book clearly works only in a classroom setting. Its vocabulary was really aimed towards an academic crowd, rather than the hobbyist language learner. This book simply did not work out.
My Korean roommate’s mother heard about the terrible textbook I had bought and decided to buy two books for me in Korea. The books she bought were bought from Darakwon: Korean made Easy for Beginner and Korean Grammar in Use: Beginner to Early Intermediate. Those books arrived in August last year. Both books are quite suited for self-study and both have helped me immensely in better understanding the workings of Korean. Korean Grammar in use helped me understand grammar and Korean made Easy helped me learn more practical things. In short: a great combo to have.
There are a lot of positive things to be said about Korean made Easy. One important aspect I want to highlight is the structure of the entire book. This has been done exceptionally well. Every chapter (apart from the Hangul chapters) follow a similar pattern.
First, the introduce the grammar and key sentence structures of the chapter. Every explanation is always followed by plenty examples making it a lot easier to understand things.
Next up are two dialogues which are available to listen at on the accompanying CD. Each dialogue is accompanies by vocabulary lists which points out vocabulary or expressions you have not learned yet and dialogue tips. Dialogue Tips is a small part where they explain one or two expressions in more detail.
Followed by dialogues. is pronunciation, additional vocabulary and useful phrases. Pronunciation helps you understand how Hangul charters behave in certain situations and will improve your pronunciation and thus speaking skill enormously. The additional vocabulary introduces a lot of new vocabulary that is related to the chapter one way or another. The Useful phrases teaches you Korean expressions that used in certain situations to be polite and are therefore very nice to know.
After all that, there are exercises the exercises focus on the three areas: grammar, listening and reading. All exercises are designed to practice the new grammar and words you have learned during the chapter. For some the amount of exercises might turn out to be a too small a number of exercises.
Lastly, every single chapter ends a word on culture. A word on culture answers in detail some of the major differences between Korean culture and (Western) culture. The explanation always starts from a fictional questions. These texts are in-depth and try to teach you how to properly behave in Korea.
Strong Points Made Easy
This book has a lot to offer and many of those things are just great, putting Korean Made Easy in good light. A good textbook is structured well. Nothing is more annoying than a badly structured textbook. Korean Made Easy is one of those textbooks that decided upon a structure and stuck to it. Personally I also loved the fact they explained grammar before dialogues instead of afterwards as is also common. Learning the grammar in advances helps you better understand the next dialogues.
Korean Made Simple is also aimed towards foreigners who want to spend time in Korea as it puts an effort in teaching you some cultural aspects about Korea throughout the book. It really wants to prevent you from doing something that might be considered rude or even insulting in Korea.
The last fact of Korean Made Simple I want to put on stage is the speed with which it introduces grammar. It does not try to rush you through as much grammar as possible. It simple takes what it needs, but what is also reasonable for its reader. It simply follows its own pace due to which all chapters take about the same time to finish. Though some grammar topics might just demand that much more from you simply because of the way how they work.
Negative Points Made Difficult
However, nothing comes without flaw and there are a few flaws in Korean Made Simple for Beginners. One of my personal greater annoyances was the addition of certain words in the additional vocabulary. While I could clearly see the practicality of knowing those words, they just seemed too difficult for someone at that level. Others just seemed a rather odd choice. Nonetheless, none of the words could be considered old-fashioned or obsolete.
Another small peeve of mine is the amount of exercises. In my opinion there are simply not enough exercises each chapter which would guarantee that you or I would have mastered the grammar and vocabulary in that chapter. More exercises would therefore be a nice thing to have.
Regardless of some minor peeves; Korean made Easy for Beginners is an excellent book for people who want to learn Korean in Self-study. Its great structure and well balanced amount new vocabulary and grammar each chapter will make sure you will never feel overwhelmed. Furthermore the entire book has fun drawings to keep you company and make the entire journey less dull.
As a textbook, Korean Made Easy for Beginners is clearly aimed for a very broad audience and it is very suitable for self-study. The book comes with a key phrase book and audio CD; though you can download the files online. However, downloading the MP3-files was a very tedious process when I had to do it. On Amazon.com you can buy this book starting from $ 21.99 which I would call a fair price for this book.
I can personally recommend the book and I am glad I got this. I still take it just to read the dialogues to practice Korean without the pressure of trying to figure out something new.