Read & Speak Korean for Beginners (with CD)

2-5 Korean, Books, Multimedia

March 10, 2013

Author  Sunjeong Shin
Series  Read & Speak for Beginners
Publisher  McGraw-Hill
Publication Date  2008
Price  $19.95
Skill Level  Beginner

I barely used Read & Speak Korean for Beginners by Sunjeong Shin, but I am not a fan of this series, which offers similar books for multiple languages. Right on the cover of this Korean edition, it promises it is “the easiest way to learn to communicate right away!”


The book is kind of cute and silly-looking, with games and pictures. It looks childish, and therefore easy, but I find that this series in general underestimates the difficulty a newcomer to a foreign script would have in understanding it.

On page 5 of Read & Speak Korean for Beginners, for example, you are told, “Look at the script for each key word or phrase and try to visualize it, connecting its image to the pronunciation you hear on your CD.”

I’m sorry, but I am just not going to be able to “visualize” a word with multiple characters in it that are totally unfamiliar to me and look radically different from any writing system I’ve ever been exposed to. 

The accompanying CD is okay, but nothing to get excited about. 

On the positive side, though, I did finally get explicit written explanations of a number of features of Korean that had been perplexing me.

And, as soon as I opened the book, I was presented, in both Hangeul (Korean) script and Roman (our) script, the written versions of things like “hello,” “I,” “am/are/is,” and “goodbye.” It was such a relief to see these things spelled out after mostly just hearing them in my Pimsleur Korean lessons. In nice big print, too, more appropriate for kids than grownups—and therefore extra reassuring.

Note: Since I used Read & Speak Korean for Beginners, a newer, second edition has been published.

Read & Speak Korean for Beginners
Read & Speak Korean for Beginners

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