What makes a good textbook?


Like many other Korean bloggers, I love the Korean Grammar in Use textbook. But what make a textbooks like Grammar in Use so good?

There’s a few obvious things – concise, clear grammar explanations being top of the list. Suitably difficult exercises, vocab lists and clear book structure are always nice too. One thing that really makes a difference for me though? Interesting examples. No-one likes only boring sentences like ‘나는 아침마다 조깅을 해요.’ Yawn. Sentences like  할아버지: ‘청바지를 입으니까 더 젊어 보이지?’ and ‘언니는 지금 기분이 좋으면서 안 좋은 척 한다’? Hell yeah! Interesting and engaging examples make a huge difference.

And bad textbooks? Anything with romanisations. If you find a textbook which uses them, put it back immediately! Blurgh. Absolute pet hate when it comes to textbooks!

What about you? What makes a textbook good or bad for you?

11 thoughts on “What makes a good textbook?

  1. Good and clear grammar is also the most important for me. Another thing I need in a good book is good audio. I don’t need it anymore but especially for beginners if you don’t know the good pronunciation the book can be amazing but you still cannot learn anything new.

  2. Exercises! There seem to be just about enough resources out there online to cover the grammar and vocabulary– but I really have struggled with the fact that there’s no way to practice what I’ve “learned” — so it doesn’t stick. I just finally shelled out a bunch for a book that was recommended by another blogger and I’m so bummed about its lack of exercises. Again. Sigh. This one you have looks good, though.

    • Ooh exercises can definitely make or break a textbook. One book I picked up from the library “Modern Korean – An Intermediate Reader’ has really great exercises! Difficult but not too difficult. I’ll hopefully get round to doing a review soon.

  3. Hi sydneytoseoul,

    I’m not sure if you’ve answered this question before but I am curious as to where you bought your learning material other than the pdf, which I have to say thank you for🙂

  4. I have been interested in learning Korean for a while now, but have always been too scared because I don’t have a teacher to correct me and practice with. Plus I’ve heard the grammar is super confusing. Do you think that if I was motivated enough (which I think I am) I could overcome these obstacles? And I was also wondering why the romanisation would be bad? Is it because a person needs to practice knowing hangul first? Sorry if this is too long… I love your website! It looks very promising if I can get over my fear or teaching myself a language. o.O

    • Put it this way – what’s the harm in trying? Everyone has varying success with self-study but you’ll never know if you can do it or not if you don’t have a go. There’s definitely plenty of resources out there for the taking (check out my list) and if you’re worried about getting corrections and practice you can use lang-8 for writing practice or even look at doing a language exchange.

      Romanisations…shudder. I totally understand where you are coming from – you need them to first learn Hangul, but soon after learning Hangul you should leave them behind. They are not useful in the long-run, as you can become dependant on them and really they are not a good way to learn a language and aren’t a true representation of sounds in Korean. Hopefully that explains my aversion to them a little better!

      It’s definitely possible to self-study a language though — lots of inspiring people around the internet who have done it before! Have a go — maybe you’ll just surprise yourself! ^^

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