Top critical review
11 people found this helpful
Makes things needlessly difficult for beginners
on 12 November 2016
This book doesn't work for me at -all-.
Particular criticisms of the book:
- Having gotten as far as lessson 6, they still haven't explained that Korean word order is crucially different from English (it is different in an easy way, that is easy to understand, if you are just told about it!).
- The first lessons are just phrases, but without even explanations of what the different bits of the phrase mean - you're supposed to jump from learning Hangeul to learning sentences with only an idea of the meaning of the sentence as a whole, not the parts. My brain just doesn't work that way.
- In general, the book explains slightly more complicated points of grammar before it explains basic, foundational ones. (Which it doesn't seem to explain at all). Some of the explanations are needlessly complicated and difficult to follow.
- It's not very well set out. For example, when teaching you to ask basic questions, the word 'what' and the phrasing of a question using that word is given in one example conversation, but not in the intro paragraph OR in either of the boxes reminding you how to phrase a question. It's not even given as separate vocab or in the 'new words' section, just that once as part of a sentence - and then you don't see it again until a question and answer exercise!
So far the most useful part to me, that I haven't found elsewhere, has been about typing in Korean.
I definitely wouldn't recommend this as a 'from zero' book. It usually taxes my brain to learn a language, and to learn the grammar, but I have never before met a book that I couldn't just work through step by step (I'm studying other languages as well). So I was quite surprised to find myself stymied by a book for absolute beginners! It just doesn't teach you all the things you need to know. Don't be put off by this book! Korean is much easier to learn than it makes it seem!!
I would instead recommend:
- the Memrise app for learning Hangeul (it has sounds, also it has lots of repetition and jokey ways to memorize the symbols), possibly using the Poppopping Hangeul app for a bit more explanation on where to make the sounds in your mouth, and on how the symbols relate to each other,
- Read and Speak Korean for Beginners for continuing Hangeul and some starter phrases (crucially made easier by including what the bits of the phrases mean, and some grammar)
- Michel Thomas course Start Korean, for grammar and an easy start to making sentences (and encouragement to be speaking out loud!)
- Talk To Me in Korean website free lessons, especially the beginner ones, also the Korean Class 101 website, though you have to sign up to see lessons and the pdfs aren't free like they are with TTMIK, but they still have the vocab and dialogues written out on the website - the absolute beginner ones are the best place to start there.
I haven't tried any other books except for the Routledge Basic Grammar which was useful but still a little beyond me, so it's possible that there are some other good starter books out there.
I honestly thought that once I'd gotten this start through other books and methods, I could come back to Korean From Zero and start learning from it again, having filled in some of the gaps, but no, it just doesn't build up step by step, and/or I haven't filled in enough of the gaps. I will use it as a back-up reference, or question bank for -after- I have learned things elsewhere.