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Korean is a fascinating language. But finding the right tool for learning Korean can seem overwhelming. There are so many different resources available that it can be difficult to choose the right one. Books are always a good choice for learning a new subject. This article compiles some of the best books to learn Korean. Whatever your reason for learning Korean, you’re sure to find a book that can help you learn quickly and effectively.
Best Books to Learn Korean
Over 81 million people speak Korean, and it’s one of the most spoken languages in the world. It’s the official language of North and South Korea, but there are large communities of Korean speakers in other parts of the world like China, the United States, and Japan. The Korean writing system is called hangul and was created by King Sejong. It’s widely praised for its simplicity. It has 24 letters and each one represents a different phoneme.
How Long Will It Take You To Learn Korean?
What is your current level?
What level do you want to reach?
How many hours will you study each day?
There are many reasons to learn Korean, especially if you are interested in technology. A Bloomberg Report named South Korea the most innovative country in the world. Some of the biggest technology brands, such as Samsung, Hyundai, and LG come from Korea. Being able to speak Korean could help you land a job at a number of large international companies. This article contains some of the best Korean books that will help you learn Korean no matter what level you’re at.
To find the best books to learn Korean, I searched the internet to find some favorite options that other Korean language learners have used. Next, I reviewed each book, looking at what it does well and who would benefit most from it. Finally, I compiled the list below.
In this table, you’ll find 9 of the best books to learn Korean. Scroll down to learn more about each option:
|Best Overall Korean Book||Korean Made Simple|
|Best for Beginners||Read and Speak Korean for Beginners|
|Best for Self-Study||Talk to Me in Korean Level 1|
|Best for Travel||Let's Speak Korean|
|Best for Learning Hangul||Korean Alphabet with Writing Workbook|
|Best for Learning About Culture||Korean Stories for Language Learners|
|Best for Korean Slang||How to Speak KPOP|
|Best for Korean Vocabulary||2000 Most Common Korean Words in Context|
|Best for Reading Practice||Tigers, Fairies, and Gods: Enchanting Folktales from Korea|
Korean Made Simple has 20 chapters that break down the basics of the Korean language into understandable chunks. In addition to learning grammar, vocabulary, and the Korean writing system, there are also notes to learn about Korean history and culture. The practice exercises included in each chapter make sure you understand what you learned and are on the right track.
There are free audio files available to download from the publisher's website. People who purchased the book thought it was well-organized and easy to understand. You can read more reviews and see additional information about the book here.
- Easy to understand
- Learn the Korean writing system
- Over 1000 vocabulary words and phrases
Read and Speak Korean for Beginners is the first book of many in this Korean learning series. This book focuses on topics that will help you in daily life, such as introductions, family, and describing people. The book is divided into eight topics and has clear explanations of important grammar and vocabulary topics. There are also practice questions to check your understanding.
The book includes additional audio available through the McGraw-Hill Language App so you can practice listening and pronunciation. People who purchased the book thought it was easy to follow and perfect for beginners. You can read more reviews here.
- Focuses on everyday situations
- Easy to follow
- Audio available through mobile app
Talk To Me In Korean Level 1 is an excellent choice for absolute beginners who want to learn basic Korean vocabulary and grammar. The book's focus is on conversation, not the written or formal style of Korean. There are practice activities included throughout the book.
If you like the book, you can purchase an additional workbook to practice the main topics. The book also includes free Mp3 downloads so you can hear how Korean is spoken. People who purchased the book like the sensible breakdown of grammar explanations in each chapter. You can read more here to see if this book is right for you.
- Excellent for beginners
- Focus on conversation
- Sample dialogues and practice questions
Let’s Speak Korean is a perfect resource for travelers because it focuses on the 1,400 most common expressions in Korean and doesn’t get bogged down in the nitty-gritty of grammar. Each word has online audio that lets you listen and practice the pronunciation. The book also includes a basic guide to understanding how to read and speak hangul, the Korean alphabet.
This book is best for travelers because it has a Traveling to Korea section that includes facts about Korea, etiquette, a culture guide, and places to visit. You can read reviews and see if Let’s Speak Korean is right for you here.
- More than 1,400 common expressions
- Guide for reading Hangul
- Practice correct pronunciation with online audio
Korean Alphabet with Writing Workbook teaches how to read and write the 10 vowels and 14 consonants of the hangul writing system. It starts by teaching the stroke order of how to write each individual character and builds up to words and sentences.
The book includes many pages to practice writing each individual character. There are also vocabulary practices to help you learn new words. People who purchased this book thought it was an excellent start for beginners to read and write in Hangul. See what other reviewers had to say here.
- Learn correct hangul stroke order
- Pages to practice writing
- Learn simple vocabulary
Korean Stories for Language Learners has 42 folktales written in Korean with English translations. It’s meant for beginner to low intermediate learners, but since it has English translations, it can be used by anyone interested in learning about Korean culture.
The stories become more complex as you progress through the book. It also contains practice exercises, cultural notes, and discussion questions to further your understanding of the stories. One reviewer thought that the stories were challenging, but not overwhelming. You can read what other reviewers thought about the book here.
- 42 stories written in Korean with English translations
- Gradual increase in complexity of language
- Beautiful illustrations
How to Speak KPOP teaches common slang that’s used in Korean culture. With the rise in popularity of K-Pop, Korean series, and movies this book helps you sound like a true fan by teaching words that textbooks don’t. It’s a straightforward guide that uses real-life examples so you’ll exactly how to use the words.
People who purchased this book liked that you don’t just learn the words, but also learn in what context to use the word and understand the meaning behind it. One person called it "the coolest Korean glossary for every K-pop fan." You can see what other people thought about the book here.
- Learn popular Korean slang words
- Real-life examples of how to use the words
- Pronunciation guide
The title of the book, 2000 Most Common Korean Words in Context, really says it all. This book teaches the most frequently used Korean words that are used most commonly in speech and writing. Each word has an English translation and an example sentence so you can understand the right context of the word.
This book is part of the Lingo Mastery series that has published similar books in other languages. People who purchased the book thought that it was a good resource for intermediate learners to increase their vocabulary. You can see what other people thought about the book here.
- Learn the most frequently used Korean words
- Example sentences of each word
- Tips on how to learn Korean
Tigers, Fairies, and Gods: Enchanting Folktales from Korea has 21 traditional stories from Korea. The book is divided into 3 proficiency levels so beginners and advanced learners can use it. Each story is written entirely in Hangul, so it might be too advanced for absolute beginners, although there is an English translation of the story.
Every story has a vocabulary list, grammar topics, and practice questions to help you understand and learn the grammar in the story. In addition, there is also a glossary of words and access to additional audio and visual material on the website. This book has rave reviews on Amazon, 86% are 5.0-star reviews. You can see if you like the book here.
- 21 stories written in Korean with English translation
- Divided into 3 proficiency levels
- Learn about Korean culture
Books can be an excellent way to learn Korean. They are detailed and provide in-depth explanations and examples. Since Korean uses a writing system that’s different than English, a book is useful to see how Korean is written and familiarizing yourself with hangul. Books are also a great option because they are inexpensive when compared to other learning methods and are portable so you can learn almost anywhere.
The best way to use books to learn Korean is to create, and stick to, a language learning routine. This will help you see continuous improvement. It’s best to study every day or dedicate time a few days a week if you want to learn and retain information.
Books are used most effectively in combination with another language learning resource, such as a Korean language app or a Korean online course. Books are useful for learning vocabulary and grammar, but an app or course can be better for improving speaking and listening.
I hope this article has helped you find a book that can help you on your Korean language learning journey. Learning any language is a rewarding and fun experience. Finding a book, or other resource, that fits your learning style and budget can make studying a breeze. Before buying a book, be sure to read user reviews to see if it’s a good fit for you. Whichever book you choose from this list, you’re sure to start understanding Korean quickly!
Korean Made Simple is the best overall book for learning Korean. It has 20 chapters that break down the basics of the Korean language into understandable chunks. In addition to learning grammar, vocabulary, and the Korean writing system, there are also notes to learn about Korean history and culture. There are also practice exercises to check your understanding.
Yes, you can learn Korean from a book. Books are useful because they have in-depth explanations and examples that many language apps and other resources don’t have. Most books include practice exercises so you can test yourself to make sure you understand what you learn.
Yes, with dedication you can study Korean by yourself. There are many language learning resources designed for self-study, such as books and language apps. It’s possible to reach an intermediate level of Korean by learning on your own.
According to the US Department of State, Korean is considered an exceptionally difficult language for English speakers to learn because of the differences between the two languages. The average learning time is 2200 class hours (or 88 weeks) to reach a proficient level of Korean.
To see how long it will take you to learn Korean, check out this fluency calculator.