A post long time coming, today will be a four-part post covering four self-study books that I would like to talk about briefly. These resources were mentioned in the entry full of advice: Korean Self-Studying Advice.
The Ewha books (Pathfinder) aren't complete garbage but they get the job done. Use them in class and forget about them later. The real pearls I want to share are the KLEAR books used at the University of Hawaii. Those are self-study gems. What I didn't mention in the review was the free online audio files available for those who want them.
Readers of my other blog will notice a familiar book review layout. Enjoy!
Title: Pathfinder in Korean I - Beginning
Author: Ewha Language Center
Paperback: 360 pages
Publisher: Ewha Womans University Press (January 1, 1999)
If you want to study Korean by yourself, this isn't the book to buy. However, you you're studying Korean at Ewha Women's University, you don't have much choice. But, that doesn't mean that this book is no good. It just won't blow you out the water.
However, if you only have three weeks in the summer to fit in a formal (albeit intensive) Korean language course, then this book along with the class at Ewha is not bad at all. It's written in 99% Korean so get ready to freak out if you're a true beginner. The class is intense but the book follows the coursework logically. The textbook has cute little cartoon drawings to help you understand what in the world your teacher is talking about while the workbook is challenging but not overwhelming.
Ultimately, the textbook is a reference book to be used with slides, board work and other worksheets to be passed out in class. The authors have carefully written just enough in the book to be useful in class but not enough to be useful out of class.
I had a great experience doing the short-term summer class back in 2008 and felt that the textbooks got the job done. My biggest gripe is that the book is written in the most formal polite language possible. You will be sound like you're talking to the president of Korea but what's more important is that you'll be actually talking. Also, the cultural propaganda is pretty high but it's easy to see through all of it with a well-trained eye.
If you have been studying by yourself for a while and find that your speaking skills are not exactly up to par, the course with the book set will help for sure. The book isn't perfect but it's cheap (less than 35 bucks for the whole set - four books) available to purchase at Ewha's language center (where you take the language class).
However, as of this writing (Feb 2010) I believe that the books are being revised so this might all be irrelevant.