Honest Integrated Korean Textbook Series Review - Is It Worth It?
- Written byThe Mezzofanti Guild
- Read time8 mins
- High quality textbook series
- Natural speed audio
A solid book series for serious Korean learners that covers a breadth of Korean content. It's not cheap, but the price is justifiable.
Today we have another guest review by Christiana, a linguistics student from the University of Alabama.
Christiana’s learning Japanese, Korean, Arabic and Thai and is sharing her experience today with the Integrated Korean textbook series.
Over to you Christiana! 🙂
For those learning Korean, there are amazing tools out there for you to use.
You can buy expensive audio books, online Korean courses and make multiple in-app purchases, or make one of the BEST investments that can easily be found in Integrated Korean and ‘KLEAR’ textbooks.
I’m not just saying this to get your attention (okay, maybe a little), but I can vouch for many of the Korean Language Education and Research (KLEAR) Center’s products and services which are:
NOTE: You can also find Intermediate and Advanced levels here.
KLEAR audio and comprehension practice
First thing’s first – they’re efficient.
The textbooks are very well-made in content and in appearance, and the books and website are super accommodating.
Most people see Korean, Japanese, Arabic, etc., and immediately feel intimidated, even if they really want to learn to become proficient in the language so they shy away from it. The internet, scholarly textbooks and more well-known language proficiency tools are equally intimidating methods of language-learning. As a beginner, you kind of wish that everything was easier.
KLEAR is perfect for beginners in my opinion.
Let me explain why.
I began learning Korean from ground zero a little while ago. Yeah, I watched K-dramas and listened to K-pop, but besides the occasional “oppa” or “saranghae” I heard every now and again, I knew pretty much nothing.
Now, after a few months, I speak at an intermediate to advanced level of Korean, and the only tools I use(d) are from KLEAR.
If you have begun learning any language, you understand how important it is to have a great start. You know the demand for accommodating explanations of even the smallest details ranging from how to say ‘hello’ to breaking down the alphabet and how to write the characters, especially if the stroke order is relevant within that specific language.
In Integrated Korean Beginning 1, you don’t even get to the first chapter without learning the alphabet, also known as 한글 or hangul. Every consonant and vowel is expressed, including the double letters, because everyone knows that YOU CAN’T LEARN ANYTHING WITHOUT THE BASICS.
That’s a fact.
The introduction to the book goes on giving the reader and language-learner the run-down of the Korean language as a whole by outlining things like dialects, Korean relationships to other Asian languages (just in case you’re learning Chinese or Japanese, because if you already are then Korean is going to be a bit more of a breeze – trust me!), vocabulary and how it consists of three word “types”, word order, and more.
It gets you ready for the knowledge of the Korean language and culture that you will soon come to earn.
Along with the explanation of pronunciation and dialects, there are visuals depicting the movement and/or placement of the lips and tongue, as well as profile shots when making certain sounds using the throat.
If you’re anything like me, you started off with horrible comprehension and listening skills which made it difficult for me to pronounce sounds correctly.
But the breakdown in Beginning 1 aids in better understanding what to do and how to pronounce sounds effectively.
Chapter coverage and content of Integrated Korean
Besides the basics, content coverage and thorough explanations are most important.
Each chapter within Integrated Korean textbooks starts off with a foreshadowing dialogue and about 15- 20 vocabulary words. In these dialogues, characters from different countries speak using some vocabulary and grammar points that will be used within that chapter.
This gives you a good chance to see what you’re working with and get a feel of what you will be able to say or do once you practice and get to the end of the chapter.
Keep in mind – the dialogues may sound quite elementary at first.
After a second of grazing through the vocabulary just to get familiar with it, the grammar points begin. When I say that these books are proficient in teaching Korean, I mean it.
The grammar points in books 1 and 2, along with the vocab you learn, will have you speaking in no time.
And besides the thorough explanations of the grammar, there are little exercises where you can fill in the blank or finish a chart to help you get the hang of each grammar point and become confident enough to use them in conversation.
Corresponding workbooks & KLEAR textbook audio service
As if the chapter sections that offer a bit of language practice beneath each grammar point wasn’t enough, both Beginning 1 and 2 textbooks have a corresponding workbook that you can follow along with – chapter by chapter – to get even more grammar, vocabulary, and writing practice.
On top of all of that, each section has a listening portion (DO NOT waste time and money buying separate CDs).
All the audio is online at the KLEAR Textbook website, so while you get reading and writing practice, you also improve your listening comprehension from native speakers.
Besides a language partner, what could be better?
Learning schedule suggestion for Integrated Korean study
Since I used KLEAR textbooks in school, we had a set schedule for lectures, homework, and quizzes (we met 3 days a week, and had lectures, homework, and quizzes on different days).
We finished 6 chapters in roughly 16 weeks per semester.
Here’s a thought: set the schedule to fit your timeframe and abilities (since you don’t have quizzes or lectures).
Study a chapter or 2 a week, making sure to perfect your pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary of each chapter for each week.
Try to correlate the “homework” from the workbooks with your self-study (but remember to take breaks to prevent a burnout and loss of motivation and inspiration).
Either way, you will definitely cut down the amount of time it took my classmates and I to go through these 12 chapters! 🙂
KLEAR products are inexpensive
I know what you’re thinking.
NO, INTEGRATED KOREAN DOES NOT COST A FORTUNE AND SOME CHANGE.
At the time of this writing, the Integrated Korean books are priced just slightly above $20 each (here).
The audio service (MP3 files) are FREE – COMPLETELY FREE (and found here).
And while I admire how low these prices are, I’m sure you can find these same products for much cheaper if you look around.
The downsides to KLEAR
There aren’t any, really.
They are more like soft complaints or tiny inconveniences.
For example, I kind of wish that there were actually more difficult vocab words in these books.
I understand that these are only the learning kick-starters but at the same time, with so many lessons taught throughout the books, conversations can be limited due to lack of vocabulary.
While it is possible to talk about going to the mall with friends or describing your family members in detail, you can’t really give your opinions on politics, religion, or the economy.
I can say how happy I am or how sad I was two days ago, but I can’t express my feelings or anything else intangible for that matter.
But like I said, it’s just a tiny inconvenience.
With any language, it’s crucial that you learn to study by the books and build vocabulary on your own time as well. Another small sidestep was that the workbook sections per chapter took 20 minutes to an hour sometimes.
Those audio clips are spoken by native speakers who speak normally, not slowed down, because no one speaks slow in Korea. NO ONE. 🙂
Expectations after finishing books 1 and 2
I know that I’ve only talked about books 1 and 2 and their workbooks, but that’s only because those are the only 2 that I personally have used.
Just to make it clear, there are 6 levels altogether: Beginning 1, Beginning 2, Intermediate 1, Intermediate 2, Advanced 1, and Advanced 2.
I can’t tell you how excited I am to get to the other 4 stages.
Seeing where I have started and where I am now is somewhat unbelievable.
If you’re interested in KLEAR textbooks and decide to invest in them, just know that by the end of the Beginning stage, you will know how to:
a) Introduce yourself
b) Introduce a friend
c) Interact with elders by bowing and using honorific speech
d) Express past, present, and future tense
If it wasn’t “klear” enough how I feel about these products then read this post again because you missed it!
I will probably never stop preaching about these books and how fine a job they do in teaching Korean so effectively well.
I think you know what language products to invest in next, and don’t forget to get some conversation practice!
Kick-start your learning now!
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Hi, do you think it makes a difference if I purchase the first edition versus the second edition? Which edition did you use?
I actually also started studying Korean with KLEAR (although I did it after I had some lessons with the Let’s Speak Korean series of Arirang TV). Back then, I bought all the books of KLEAR ranging from the Beginning until the High Advanced or however it was called (that was quite some time ago).
It is really rare and really is a blessing when you find one book/app/program series that truly goes from complete zero up until pretty much 100%. There are way too many resources for language basics, but very few for advanced learners, and KLEAR is able to provide that.
A personal grievance I had with the book series is that it was a bit intensive, so after a lesson, you felt quite tired, which affected your motivation to continue on to the next chapter. This is not so much an issue when you are in the Beginning level, but after you start reaching the Upper Intermediate or Advanced stage, it becomes really hard!
Overall, I also really like those books, but would be great if they had also something online, like Kindle versions or something similar. Not that easy to carry 10 fat books around when you go abroad.