A few people have asked me about this, so here it is—my collection of Korean study resources! This list includes books, apps, and more for different ways of learning.
Look at this lovely pile~ I’ll take you through it and tell you what I think of each of the books here 🙂
Integrated Korean Advanced 1 :
This is the last book I used in university (my third year of Korean study). The “Integrated Korean” series is generally pretty good, though it is a bit more suitable for classroom learning as opposed to self-study. Still, I brought this book with me when I came to Korea because the passages in it are pretty good for reading practice.
연세 한국어 4-1~2 :
I’m not really a fan of these books, to be honest. I just grabbed them shortly after coming to Korea, and I’ve hardly dealt with them. The grammar in them is good and the books come with audio CDs and all but for some reason, I found them so intensely boring that I just didn’t feel like completing them. Part of the problem is that when I bought them, I was going back and forth between whether I should buy the level five or level four books and ended up going with four… Five might have been better? But still, I feel like I might not have been happy with those either.
Point is, the content is definitely some quality stuff (what else should you expect from Yonsei) and I know some people like these books a lot, but they just weren’t for me.
외국인을 위한 한국어 어휘 연습:
Vocabulary is something that I am relatively weak at, so I decided to get these vocab books (also a Yonsei publication). I really like having useful words listed out and grouped together. There are examples of the words used in sentences, common phrases and expressions they’re used in, synonyms and antonyms… the whole nine yards, plus some exercises at the end of each section for practice. I definitely recommend these if you’re someone like me who is sort of all over the place and aimless with learning vocab 🙂
한국어와 한국문화 (중급2); 한국사회 이해 :
These books are a bit special! I ended up buying them to use while I completed the 한국사회통합 프로그램 (Korean Immigration Integration Program [KIIP]) which is, as you can infer from the program title, meant to teach Korean language and culture to people who want to stay in Korea a bit longer-term (or who just want to take free classes, I guess!). Anyway, that program is a discussion topic for a totally different post.
I tested into level 4 out of 5 in the program, so I used the book pictured on the left, “한국어와 한국문화 (중급2)” first. The book combines grammar, vocab, and cultural lessons all in one to give a more or less well-rounded experience. Not the best book, but definitely adequate for the class.
The book on the right is the level five book, “한국사회 이해” and unlike the previous book, it has no grammar at all. Level five of the KIIP is a purely content course, with chapters on everything from Korea’s welfare system to politics, history, religion, law… I still reference this book sometimes when I forget little facts and all.
핫토픽 HOT TOPIK :
Another book that I have admittedly hardly opened. I should take the TOPIK exam eventually—yes, I still have never taken it even once despite having been learning Korean for over 5.5 years—but I just keep putting it off, haha. This book is just a past exam with all the audio files, answer keys and tips in the back, etc. etc. Of course, that means it’s super boring :/ I think I’ll sit down one day and skim it just to see what the reading passages are like and what kinds of essay questions are like, but ultimately, I know I prooobably won’t actually sit down and go through all the questions anytime soon, haha…
Korean Grammar in Use :
I loooove this series! The “Korean Grammar in Use” books pack a ton of grammar in, with thorough explanations, comparisons to similar grammar points, and practice problems. You can use this to teach yourself new grammar, or just as a sort of reference grammar dictionary when you need to brush up on something. I highly recommend it!
Learn Hanja the Fun Way; Speaking Korean: A Guide to Chinese Characters :
I love hanja~ I find it helps me to better understand advanced vocabulary through their component characters, plus they’re fun to write! These books I borrowed (quite a while ago… ahem.) from the owner of my favorite language exchange cafe. The one on the left I have opened maybe once or twice, so I don’t really have much to say about it.
The one on the right, “Speaking Korean: A Guide to Chinese Characters,” I have used a lot! It’s a pretty old book so some of the vocabulary and information in the book is a touch outdated. Still, I think that makes it interesting, and either way, the meanings of the characters are the same. The characters are introduced a few per short chapter, then are used in example sentences and reading passages so you can get used to seeing them. There aren’t really any exercises or anything, so you sort of have to find ways to practice with the characters on your own. Anyway, I found it helpful to have them introduced in groups and presented together in short writings instead of just blindly going in and learning them with no context.
You can see I have a pile of normal books to read, too! I have two kids’ books at the bottom (”Gulliver’s Travels” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” Some novels translated from English, some Korean novels, some translated manga, some essay-type books… Pretty much, choose something and get reading! Just try not to get too hung up on every single unfamiliar word, because a lot of words that aren’t commonly used in speech come out in writing. I’ll talk more about that in a post with my studying tips 🙂 Anyway, reading is great for vocab, so once you feel ready, go for it! If you’re in the US, you can order Korean books from this website. Since I’m in Korea, it’s obviously super easy for me to get my hands on more books.
I don’t really use a lot of websites for Korean study, but some that I find useful are
- Naver Dictionary : Of course, you will often need to look up words when you’re learning a new language. My preferred dictionary is the Naver dictionary, which I use on my computer and phone. If you use the Korean dictionary and not the Korean-English (or Korean-insertotherlanguagehere) dictionary, you can hear sound files of the words if you aren’t sure about your pronunciation. There are also plenty of example sentences.
- Korean grammatical forms : This site is a pretty bare-bones grammar reference. Some of the explanations could be a little more fleshed out, but it’s alright in a pinch.
- /r/Korean : Wanna give a shout-out to Reddit! The people there are down to answer pretty much every question you could possibly have. Also, you can learn a lot by seeing what others have asked and reading conversations on the threads.
- SharedLingo : This site is great if you want to practice with native speakers 🙂 Just quickly make an account and find someone to start a text chat with (or voice, if you’d like??)! I like this site because it sticks to its purposes of language exchange. Some other language exchanges are just thinly-veiled dating sites. No profile pictures here!
- Hellotalk : I know a lot of people who use/have used this, with varying degrees of success. I personally have been able to find tons of people on this app to chat with! You can search by a variety of parameters, including age, sex, and location. Some people are hit-and-run greeters, but I have had some nice conversations using this app 🙂
- 어린이동아 : This site is excellent for reading practice! It’s a branch of the 동아일보 newspaper, but for young readers. You can find a lot of articles on different topics, but with less complicated grammar and vocab than in a normal paper. Also, sometimes they will define words in the articles if they are key words, or if they are a little higher-level than they expect the audience to already know. Definitely recommend this for learners intermediate and above!
Korean Made Simple by Go! Billy Korean! These books are geared toward people doing self study and are very thorough with detailed explanations, lots of examples, and great vocab lists. There are currently two books out, and the third is on the way. You can get this book in physical or digital format. Also, the author has a Youtube channel so you can check that out if you want as well.
[Disclaimer, because being honest is cool: The author did not ask me or pay me to advertise his book or anything, haha! I have done editing work on books 2 and 3 in the series, but it’s not like I’m getting royalties or any additional payment whenever these books are purchased. I’m telling you about them because I honestly think that they are excellent books, especially if you’re tackling Korean alone.]