Category Archives: Korean textbooks

[Review] 서강 한국어 쓰기1 (Academic Purpose)

Okay, so finally here’s the long overdue review.  I wanted to do it last weekend, but the weather was just unbearably hot (we had a terrible smoky haze, and it made everything hot and smoky, and everyone got sick) so I just made up excuses in my head and watched youtube videos all weekend instead.

So it’s this weekend now, here goes! My review of 서강 한국어 쓰기1 (Academic Purpose). First things first, I’ve never done a book review before so if I miss out any details, or am not clear enough, leave a comment or a question, and I’ll try my best to answer you 🙂  Also note that I have flipped through the book, but have not worked on any of the exercises.


Product Description:
No. of pages: 218
Size: 210mm x 275mm (slightly shorter than A4 size)
Weight: 0.7kg
ISBN-13: 9788992491716 14710 / 9788992491723 14710
ISBN-10: 8992491719
Publisher: Korean Language Education Center, Sogang University
Publish Year: 2012
Buy it at: (Thank you for sending me this book!)

At first when I got the book, I thought that it might be beyond my level (I’m doing Seoul University’s Active Korean 4, or around end of Yonsei 1, start of Yonsei 2, just as a gauge).  But after looking at it in details, the grammar points featured are pretty much lower than or aroundT this level: ~이/가, ~은/는, ~을/를, ~고, ~만, ~에게, ~에서 etc.

Further thoughts are that, this book is really meant for classroom teaching, I do have some reasons for that conclusion. Maybe that’s also why it’s marked as an (Academic Purpose) textbook.

Another thing to note is I do study Korean in a formal-ish classroom setting.  It’s at the local community centre, my teacher is a very nice Korean lady who’s very experienced in teaching foreign students, my classmates consists of both older working adults and teenage full-time students, and I attend classes once a week. So I’m not used to self-studying at all, unlike many of the learning-korean bloggers that I follow.

On to the book! There’s a total of 8 chapters, and the book is built around the life of a first-year university student, especially that of a foreigner studying in Korea, so you get chapters such as 입학, 강의, 학생 활동  and 대학 생활.  Each chapter consists of the 주제, 일기, 연습, and 쓰기.

The 주제 mostly contains pictures or simple dialogues which I think serve as discussion points. So tutors or students are supposed to discuss about their 입학 experiences with each other, in Korean presumably 🙂 There also some simple Q&A in join-the-dot or fill-in-the-blank formats, and spaces where I guess you can write in your answers in full, to practice your 쓰기.

The 주제 usually has things like a short dialogue or pictures for discussion.

The 주제 usually has things like a short dialogue or pictures for discussion.

The 주제 also has some short Q&A portions, and spaces presumably to write in your answers.

The 주제 also has some short Q&A portions, and spaces presumably to write in your answers.

The 일기 portion comes with things like event posters, student interviews, school notices etc that you can read out loud for practice. The example picture I have is a bit short, but the other chapters contain much longer 일기 passages. There are also short Q&As in the form of fill-in-the-blanks or O/X formats.

An integral part of Korean textbooks,  일기, with questions to test your understanding

An integral part of Korean textbooks, 일기, with questions to test your understanding

The next portion of each chapter, 연습, focuses on grammar and conjugation practice. There’s also some parts where you get to practice short dialogues with classmates (?) and write them into your book.

연습 is mostly about grammar practice...

연습 is mostly about grammar practice…

and conjugation practice, with lots of fill-in-the blanks

and conjugation practice, with lots of fill-in-the blanks

The last portion of each chapter, and the longest, is the 써 portion. The textbook makes this quite interesting by changing it up in every chapter. You don’t just get a boring question like 자기 소개문을 쓰십시오. In chapter 1, they get you to draw a mind-map following an example provided, then write your 자기 소개문. Other chapters include writing a blog entry(yay!), prepare presentation slides, talk about MT culture, write emails, summarize students’ university-entrance interviews and more.

쓰기 comes in difference formts: You could be asked to create mindmaps about someone else's or even your own character and then write a 자기 소개문

쓰기 comes in difference formts: You could be asked to create mindmaps about someone else’s or even your own character and then write a 자기 소개문


or figure out how to write an email to your professor, maybe to request a report deadline extension?

My summary and thoughts: The format of this textbook is much like any other textbook (so far I’ve seen Seoul Uni, Yonsei Uni and Kyunghee Uni textbooks).  The difference is that for this book, the chapters are built around an ‘imaginary’ student, to coincide with what would be his/her experiences as he/she enters 1st year in university as a foreign student. It would be interesting to be able to talk about 엠티  culture or summarize student interviews, but again as a foreign student studying in foreign country, or on your own, this might not make sense.

Also, as mentioned, I feel that this serves it’s purpose better as a classroom textbook, because from what I see, a lot of it revolves around teacher-student or group student discussions.  From my POV, it’d be rather boring to write about 엠티 culture, whereas it would serve as a very lively discussion among students who are experiencing it ‘right now’.

Certain parts, like dialogues, don’t have proper section titles or intros and begin rather abruptly, again, maybe requiring tutor-student interaction/discussion. Other parts, especially the writing portions, at least have proper explanations as to what to do.  But personally sometimes, as a basic-intermediate student, I am at a loss as to what to think/write about.

There’s not one English word in the book by the way, so even though the grammar points are quite basic, beginner students will have a bit of a problem comprehending some parts of the book. I mean, I don’t consider myself a beginner student anymore, and I have to have my Android app Korean dictionary beside me for this book.

There is a lot of practice provided for writing, of course. I do like the different scenarios presented, because you get to practice making different types of sentences. The usual textbooks just come up with very similar questions until after a while you can’t be bothered to think up new sentences anymore.

But again, in terms of 쓰기, sometimes you just need someone who actually knows what they’re doing to correct your sentence structure or your grammar. If you do have a Korean friend or teacher around who’s willing to do it in their spare time/out of the goodness of their hearts/for free, that’s be great. If not, the book is great for practicing writing or making up sentences, but you never know if your answers are right…not correct per se, there’s no right or wrong answer for open-ended questions after all.

Also, because it is a university textbook, you don’t find any sort of ‘set’ curriculum that leads towards the TOPIK exam, unlike many other books out there.

I don’t have any major likes or dislikes about this textbook. I think that in the correct setting, this would be a fantastic book for sentence/passage/essay practice. In the wrong setting, it doesn’t seem like it would be an extremely useful book for learning.  Again, as pointed out, I’m not used to self-studying Korean.

I know some other reviewers do give number of stars or ratings for certain categories, but I don’t think I’m a good enough reviewer for that right now. So I’ll end with this:

Conclusion and Personal recommendations:
Good for practising writing
Good for reviewing basic/intermediate vocab and grammar
Good for actual university classroom rather than self-study
May not have enough space for writing
Pet Peeve: bad choice of paper for writing and reading (in certain light)

The one pet peeve I do have is for almost ALL Korean textbooks out there (not workbooks though): semi-glossy paperrrrr!!!! I’m really peeved when I see glossy or semi-glossy paper in textbooks. The main reason is because I’m a scribbler. I’ve loved to scribble in my textbooks ever since primary school. It could be actual study notes, little words or thoughts when I get distracted, or even just random colouring here and there.

I also found that while learning Korean, I attribute certain vocabulary or certain grammar towards certain chapters, it’s just the way my brain functions.  By scribbling within the chapter itself means that using this weird attribution method, flipping to the chapter equals finding what I need.  This glossy paper. really. is. not. good. for. scribbling. I end up having to tear notepaper out of whichever notebook is handy and slotting them in where they should be, and slotting them in means they have a tendency to fall out later.

Also you can see light reflects off the pages at certain angles (bad bad). I usually have to prop these books up just to read them.

glossy paperrrrrr in the Sogang textbook

glossy paperrrrrr in the Sogang textbook

born scibbler!!

I’m a born scribbler!! This is my Seoul National University Active Korean 4, also glossy paperrrrrr

Oh well, that’s just me. I just get weird peeves or dislikes sometimes.

So that’s my review of 서강 한국어 쓰기1 (Academic Purpose).  I hope this review was okay or at least coherent enough for your understanding.  I have a tendency to blab on and on sometimes, so this review has become rather long. If you want more details about any parts of the book, leave a comment!

Also, sorry about the bad picture quality! the lighting in my room is very dim, and the desk lamp I have isn’t a reading lamp, so everything turns out dim and yellow, sorry!!

Again, thanks to for selecting me as a winner in their lucky draw! I love you guys! I’m going to send in my order once you’re back from holidays! Happy holidays!