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The accompanying set of 7 audio CDs are available from UH Press for $195. Individual audio files for this volume are also accessible on the web at hawaii.edu/uhpress/realaudio/klear/beg1/
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I have been trying to self-study Korean for a fairly long time now and I definitely agree with the other reviewers that the currently available Korean language materials are not of the highest quality. This fact becomes particularly apparent when one wishes to learn the language on his/her own. Every publication that I have encoutered so far seems to have some severe deficiency ("College Korean" - not enough exercises and small vocabulary; "Teach Yourself Korean" - oversimplification; "Elementary Korean" - too many dialogs, not enough prose; etc.) The KLEAR series with "Beginning Korean" as its specific representative appears not to contain any of these shortcomings, as it provides a large (and useful) vocabulary to master, a wide selection of readings, and the workbooks provide ample practice in terms of the grammar as well as reading and writing. Furthermore, the book contains exhaustive cultural notes that provide a truly solid introduction to the intricacies of the Korean culture. However, the series contains one exceptionally annoying flaw - it does not have tapes coming along (at least as far as I know). In the classroom environment it may not be a problem but this deficiency makes the series quite awkward for self-study. Once one knows hangul it may be possible to cover the material but the sound of the language is necessary to reinforce learning and to reduce the accent - attempting to learn any language with a limited contact with its sound inevitably leads to an incorrect pronounciation, bad speaking habits, and additionally deprives the language learning process of its most fundamental and enjoyable dimenstion. To summarize, I find the KLEAR series to be the most thorough Korean language publication so far but have to agree with one of the previous reviewers that it is more appropriate for classroom use, and leaves self-learners nothing else but to grind and gnash their teeth.
I finished Book 1 and just started on Book 2. The material is well paced out, without too much crammed into one chapter. Good division of the new vocabularly in each chapter into Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives, Adverbs, etc to aid learning. There is also a small section on difficult to pronounce words. The Grammar is clear but not as well organized as Ross' Elementary Korean, which I considered the best in terms of grammar exposition for beginners. Dialogs are well crafted and practical. A narrative prose passage after the dialogs summarizes the contents of the dialogs. This provides valuable training in reading prose, complementing the direct speech in the dialogs.
A few easy exercises come after each topic segment covered, to reinforce the key points. Pictorial sketches go with some of the exercises to stimulate visual memory as an aid to learning, which I find quite helpful. I dont have the WorkBooks so I c'ant tell if there are enough good & challenging exercises there to reinforce the rather easy exercises provided in the text.
Some have complained about the lack of a CD to aid aural comprehension. However, most of the audio material is available on the web at:
I found the web material generally well recorded and adequate providing valuable aural training.
Overall, this series, without doubt, ranks with Ross' Elementary Korean as best in its class.
I am currently taking Korean 101 in college, and this is the textbook we are using. The textbook is very affordable and very easy to learn from. Perhaps most important is the books usefullness as a vocabular and grammar reference. Here is a short list of some of the parts of the book:
-An introduction to Korean
-An explanation of the Korean alphabet (easy to learn)
-Short sections on Korean culture
-Dialogues at the begining of each chapter and throughout the chapters
-Online audio files of each dialogue and vocabulary list
-Clearly organized vocabulary lists (by word type and subject)
-Usefull Korean to English and English to Korean dictionary
-Very usefull grammar reference at the back of the book
I found the explanations very clear, and the chapters well organized. The references are especially usefull for looking up words or grammar usage. Although there is not as much Korean culture mixed in as there is in French textbooks that I have used. I don't see this to be a problem since there is plenty more up to date cultural information online. Information about how culture influences the language is mixed in, which is important for understanding concepts like which form of speech to use (honorific, polite, etc.), as well as using "Our brother" instead of "My brother."
Additionaly and perhaps most important is the fact that no romanization is used except perhaps in the introductory chapter.
There isn't that much audio from the book online, so I would really suggest either talking with someone who knows Korean, or listening / watching something in Korean, but that's true for any language. However, vowels are really important and you're likely to mess them up if you don't have someone correct you.
My friend Leo says the cover is ugly, but I disagree.
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I chose this book due to the reviews that I saw on Amazon. It seemed that it was the most promising of a few bad books out there. I noticed that it was used as the course textbook for the University of Indiana and the University of Hawaii, and thought "how bad could it be?"
I feel as though I have wasted many hours of study on completely pointless exercises.
Flaws of the book:
1. Since this is used as a textbook for college students, it focuses on college-related vocabulary. While this may be great for role-play conversations in a college class, it is terrible for practical applications. I learned words like: freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, biology, economics, etc. Words that you generally don't use in everyday conversation.
2. More useful vocabulary words that are presented as part of the chapter's vocabulary but are not presented in the chapter or used in context.
3. Mindless drills. One drill that specifically comes to mind: the book teaches you that you can combine two sentences to make one sentence using the word ±×¸®°í (the word that means "and").
4. Useless vocabulary loanwords: when is the last time you heard "Charlie Chaplain" before right now? I think that sums it up.
5. Absence of verb-conjugation exercises. They present the conjugated verb for you but don't explain how to do it.
6. Presentation of different verb tenses simultaneously. Past tense was touched upon in one chapter. The following chapter brought in future tense. That doesn't sound too bad as I write this review, but "touched upon" is the key here. Not much in the way of conjugation or exercises.Read more ›