Morning Lands’ Book Club: Korean Grammar in Use – Beginning
Learning any language requires a lot of time to master vocabulary, grammar and various language skills such as listening, writing, … It takes a lot of time. You will probably need some good tools such as textbooks as well. That’s why I’m starting this new series: Morning Lands’ Book Club. A series where I review the textbooks I use to learn the languages I’m learning. First up is one of my favorite Korean textbooks: Korean Grammar in Use – Beginning.
Korean Grammar In Use SeriesThis book is in no way meant for absolute beginners.
Korean grammar is very different from European languages so some will struggle with it. I know I’m struggling with really comprehending the difference between grammar patterns sometimes. A great grammar textbook therefore can be necessary and luckily there is a wonderful series of Korean grammar textbooks: Korean Grammar in Use published by Darakwon.
The Korean Grammar in Use series consists of 3 textbooks. The first book, Korean Grammar in Use – Beginning, in the series is targeted towards beginners up until early intermediate. The second books, Korean Grammar in Use – Intermediate, target unsurprisingly intermediate learners. It should be noted that starting the intermediate level the explanations are given in both English and Korean. The last book in the series, Korean Grammar in Use – Advanced, handles all advanced grammar topics.It is probably one of the best Korean grammar textbooks on the market.
I personally own the book Korean Grammar in Use – Beginning. I can really recommend this book to a lot of Korean learners as it is probably one of the best Korean grammar textbooks on the market. However, I would recommend against buying this book when you just get started learning Korean. This book is in no way meant for absolute beginners. It is best bought by beginners who’ve already learned a bit and want more material to help them with Korean grammar.
Let me give you a quick overview of what I think are its good and bad points.
Good Points in Use
The first great thing Korean Grammar in Use – Beginning does is probably unnoticeable at first. I’m talking about the structure of the book. This book has a well thought out structure that you’ll start appreciating when you’ve gone through a few of the grammar patterns. The structure will allow you to quickly find grammar topics all expressing the same thing with a nuance difference. This is great when you want to figure out which pattern is more suitable for a particular thing you want to say or write.
I must confess I did see a few confusing explanations in this book.
Another great thing about Korean Grammar in Use – Beginning is its detailed explanation for each grammar topic. Most all-round textbooks spent little time explaining grammar. They limit themselves to just what you need to understand its use in the chapter’s dialogue. Since this book is a textbook focused on Korean grammar, its explanations are more in-depth. Though I must confess I did see a few confusing explanations in this book when they use ‘noun’ when they actually use a limited set of nouns (time expressions). Though that is a minor gripe.
The last good point Korean Grammar in Use – Beginning has to offer is listening material. This book comes with a MP3 CD containing all example sentences being voiced. This is a great tool to help you improve not only your listening skill, but also your speaking skill. Simply put it is an added bonus that comes with this great Korean grammar textbook.
Bad Points in Use
However, while the MP3 CD is a wonderful bonus, it is paired with perhaps my worst gripe I have with Darakwon in a whole. If you are familiar with Korean websites, then you probably know what I am about to complain about. The website of Darakwon is hopeless mess of outdated technology. It is a relic of the past and its usability suffers from it.The website of Darakwon, like many Korean websites, is utterly atrocious and should be avoided like the plague.
You see, if you want you can also just download the MP3 files of Korean Grammar in Use – Beginning from the Darakwon website. However, the website relies on technology that is incompatible with ALL modern browser. No, not even the latest version of Internet Explorer works. If you want to download the files from the Darakwon website you will need to use the compatibility feature of your Internet Explorer, which is a must. It is utterly atrocious and something I only figured out for myself after hours cursing Darakwon for its outdated (English) site.
Another bad point is the lack of a vocabulary list. However, this can be easily forgiven since Korean Grammar in Use – Beginning is a grammar textbook, not an all round language textbook. Nonetheless it would’ve been nice if they had included vocabulary lists. I need to nuance this slightly. The section on Korean irregular verbs is somewhat of vocabulary list, though it is the only one in the book. You will need to make your own vocabulary lists for this book.
If the question is; would I recommend Korean Grammar in Use – Beginning? Then I would say yes, this is Morning Lands’ recommended book. This is an excellent book that is clearly worth its price. It won’t be needing any replacement any time soon as it can carry you all the way to true intermediate level. However, this book is only suitable as supplementary material, not main material. You will still need to figure out how to build your vocabulary and speaking skills. This can be achieved either through websites such as Talk To Me In Korean or books such as Korean Made Easy for Beginners or the 세종 한국어 series.
PS: This book is available in plenty of languages such as Chinese, Japanese, etc.