top of page

Shortcut to Korean:
The Top 5 Best Textbooks To Learn Korean

 Choosing your textbook can be exciting and "overwhelming"!

Whether you are just starting to learn Korean from Hangul, looking to improve your Korean conversation skills, or planning to watch Korean dramas without subtitles, you can achieve your learning goals through practice materials. However, the difficulty levels and targeted themes of Korean study books from various publishers vary, making it difficult to choose where to start.

This time, we will explain the key points for selecting self-study Korean books and recommend five books. These selected books cover various aspects such as font memorization, pronunciation, grammar, daily vocabulary, writing skills, TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) exam strategies, etc. By choosing the right practice materials, you can enhance your Korean proficiency and make significant progress!

The key points?

Choose according to your proficiency level: It's essential to carefully assess your own learning pace and select a practice book that suits your needs.

  • For beginners: Opt for materials with audio files to familiarize yourself with letter pronunciation. Especially for those just starting, it's recommended to purchase a practice book that includes alphabet instruction and pronunciation

  • For those who have learned Hangul: Look for vocabulary or grammar books with example sentences. Once you've grasped the Korean alphabet, the next step is to acquire vocabulary or grammar. Books with example sentences can help reinforce your memory and understanding, and those that explain the parts of speech can make it easier to grasp sentence structure.

  • For advanced learners: Focus on books that teach authentic expressions. After mastering sentence structure and basic writing, choose books that teach practical usage. These materials can help you understand subtle differences between similar words and use them accurately in daily conversation.

Choose motivating materials: It's also crucial to select books that keep you interested and engaged to achieve your language learning goals.


  • Start with shorter books: Beginners are recommended to start with books around 100 pages and gradually progress to longer ones. Completing a book in a short period can give you a sense of accomplishment.

  • Utilize comics and illustrations: Colorful prints or comics with illustrations can make the learning process more enjoyable and aid in vocabulary retention. Comics provide contextual understanding and deepen impressions, making learning more fun and effective.

Top 5: Active Korean Series

Difficulty level: 

"Active Korean" is a series of Korean language books tailored for short-term training sessions, typically spanning around 60 hours, targeting adult learners. This particular series was meticulously crafted to equip Korean learners with fundamental communication skills within a condensed timeframe. Designed by the "Seoul National University", Active Korean is suitable for foreigners studying in Korea. While the grammar explanations may not be overly detailed, they are practical and focus on vocabulary and grammar used by Koreans in daily life

Overall, as a beginner, I would recommend this textbook. However, if you're aiming for language proficiency exams or certifications, there are better choices on the market.


Top 4: Intergrated Korean 

Difficulty level: 

Intergrated Korean is utilized for Korean grammar lessons at SOAS. While comprehensive and suitable for self-learning, some may find its academic tone (TOPIK-based) overwhelming. Additionally, it contains outdated content and occasionally emphasizes less common Korean expressions.

However, for motivated self-learners, this textbook remains a solid choice. Thoroughly revised, it is part of the well-regarded Integrated Korean series, designed with performance-based principles. Lessons cover dialogues, vocabulary, grammar, and culture, with updated visuals and additional exercises in the workbook.

Overall, while it may not suit all learning preferences, it provides a structured and comprehensive approach to Korean language acquisition.


Difficulty level: 

Korean Made Simple is a comprehensive book suitable for all ages aiming to learn the Korean language. It covers reading, writing, speaking, and understanding Korean, as well as delving into Korean culture and history.

Advanced-level notes are provided for more proficient Korean speakers seeking a refresher on basic grammar and concepts. These include a comprehensive appendix covering sound change rules.

The book introduces Korean Honorifics in its sequel (Korean Made Simple 2), minimizing early confusion. Published in 2014, it ensures up-to-date content and relevant conversation examples.


Top 2: Ewha Korean Series 

Difficulty level: 

Structed by Ewha Women’s University in South Korea.  Ewan Korean spans six levels of proficiency, catering to beginners to advanced learners. Each subsequent book guides you through your Korean language journey step by step.

What sets these textbooks apart is their approach to real-world scenarios instead of traditional grammar-based sections. Each book is divided into practical situations like daily scheduling and meal preparation, allowing learners to grasp Korean language concepts through relevant activities, exercises, and conversations. The narrative flow keeps the content engaging, catering to readers who find traditional textbooks too dry.

Consider investing in this series if you want to improve your Korean speaking skills independently.


Difficulty level: 

'Talk To Me In Korean' books are best-selling resources for Korean learning beginners. Their free website also provides abundant learning materials like lessons, videos, and podcasts. The choice between books and the website depends on your learning style. If you prefer cute illustrations and structured descriptions, opt for the books.


However, the website is equally beneficial by providing flexibility and multimedia learning. The variety of books, including conversation, verb guide, and beginner reading, cater to different learning needs. The workbook complements the main curriculum well. Advanced learners can explore 100% Korean reading materials available in their store. Everyone's taken care of:)


Whether you're a complete beginner or preparing for the beginner-level TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean), you can find a suitable self-study Korean reference book here. While not everyone's a self-learner, we offer a series of online and offline courses, providing a thorough grounding in Korean learning for those aiming for fluency.

bottom of page