For those of you that don’t know, I run a Korean-English language exchange group – Say Kimchi. I joined it almost two years ago because I was missing Korea, wanted to keep learning Korean and wanted to make some new friends (I’m not actually from Toronto, I just moved here for grad school and stayed for work). About 9 months ago, I became one of the assistant organizers of the group; then about 6 months ago, the acting organizer; and at the beginning of November 2011, I became the organizer officially.
I had already been looking for a good low intermediate level Korean textbook and workbook for myself as I have a five-year goal – to become fluent in Korean by the end of 2016. That means I need to study more often and more logically than I had been doing. And when I became the acting organizer, I realized one of the challenges of running our language exchange group was the members’ Korean levels varied immensely. We have true beginners, high-beginners, low-intermediate, high-intermediate and even a few advanced learners. On the Korean side, the levels were more compact – from high intermediate to almost fluent. So planning the English lessons for our language exchanges was easy, especially since I have 3 years of ESL teaching experience. But I came to realize that it was impossible to only plan one Korean lesson, or even two.
Enter Wild Korean. I read a review of this Korean textbook on one of the blogs I regularly read – Chris in South Korea – and became intrigued. A little further research, including visiting the book’s accompanying website made me realize that this book would be perfect for me and quite possibly good for the Say Kimchi members at the high-beginner to intermediate level. I contacted the author who generously shipped me a copy of the book to review and I began to study from it. I quickly realized that it was a fantastic book that explained Korean extremely well and was enjoyable to study from. I then brought it to one of our language exchange meetups to find out what the other Korean learners thought of it. The consensus was that it’s a great book for conversational Korean once someone had the basics. You definitely need to be able to read hangeul first and have some basic understanding of Korean or you won’t be able to read it. Everyone, including myself, loved how it was both a textbook and a workbook in one, and we thought having the relevant grammar points together in an appendix at the end of the book was handy. Some Korean textbooks have an accompanying grammar book, in addition to the workbook – so the student has three books. Wild Korean is perfect for those who are studying in a more casual setting or manner – I think it’s fabulous for many of my Say Kimchi group members and will be one of the books I am recommending to them.
- Realistic, conversational Korean lessons and topics for the most part
- Lots of vocabulary
- Grammar is explained well, and in English
- Illustrations make studying a little more fun
- Grammar points in the appendix is very handy
- Has an accompanying website and audio files which is great if you are studying on your own
- Interesting little tidbits of culture throughout the book
- Perfect for foreigners, like say English teachers, living in Korea once they have the basics
- It’s affordable – 15,000 won (about $14.00)
Slightly Negative Points (well, they aren’t really that bad)
- Unfortunately, like many of the good Korean textbooks, it’s only available in Korean bookstores or online at the moment. However, you can contact the Wild Korean website for international orders.
- It’s the only book currently so you need to first learn the basics of Korean before the buying/using it so it makes sense and after you finish it, you need to find something else.
Rating: 4.5/5 Love it so far and I would (and will) recommend it to Korean learners from high-beginner to intermediate level. It’s suitable for self-study (with the audio-files), with a language exchange partner and/or in an informal class setting. I’ll be using it myself for the next month or two 🙂 It lost 0.5 because there isn’t another book to follow
Full disclosure: like I mentioned earlier, I received a free copy to review.