Basic Korean: A Grammar and Workbook
March 10, 2013
Author Andrew Sangpil Byon
Series Routledge Grammar Series (Various)
Publication Date 2009
Skill Level Beginner, Intermediate
I did not get far at all in Basic Korean: A Grammar and Workbook by Andrew Sangpil Byon. I straggled through to page 21 and stopped. A big question for me was, who exactly is the target audience?
According to its preface, this basic book is “designed for independent English-speaking adult KFL [Korean as a Foreign Language] learners who intend to maintain and strengthen their knowledge of essential Korean grammar and for classroom-based learners who are looking for supplemental grammar explanations and practices.” (That plural “practices” is theirs, not a typo on my end.)
According to the marketing copy on Routledge’s website, Basic Korean: A Grammar and Workbook is part of a group of basic workbooks (there’s a whole series) designed for users “at an elementary level.” So anyway, it doesn’t sound as though one should need too much knowledge of Korean to get by here.
Unfortunately, the little Korean I had (through Pimsleur, mostly) was not enough. I forced myself through three units and even managed some of the exercises in Unit 3, “Nouns,” yet I was not processing the content. Although I was trying very hard, by pages 19-20 I was being given vocabulary like “blood from the nose,” “wild edible greens,” and “rubber shoes.” I believe these were meant to help me understand a compounding process common in Korean nouns, but still! Aren’t there more basic nouns that could have accomplished that while teaching me some vocabulary more appropriate to my level?
I have used other books in this series, and I would like to note: they are not generally a whole lot of fun. The mood is often sober, and I like my language-learning time to sparkle with wit and humor. This is a secondary complaint, though, since my inability to process the content made everything else moot.
Had I studied Korean previously, I think this grammar would have been much more useful to me. But I really don’t feel there are that many people in the world who would successfully finish this book on their own if they hadn’t already learned a noticeable amount of Korean. That’s why, even though there is a lot of great information in there that I’m sure someone could benefit from, I am giving it only a three-star rating.
The preface of Basic Korean: A Grammar and Workbook notes that “the number of KFL study materials intended for a self-study purpose is still relatively scarce.” This book does not meet my self-study needs. If you are more advanced, maybe it will meet yours.