12+ Korean TextBooks For Beginners & Smart Language Learners


Looking for beginner friendly Korean textbooks? Good!

Some people learn with 5 minute lessons. Some want audio lessons. Then there are textbooks.

By the way, textbook in Korean is “교과서” or (gyogwaseo.)

A Korean textbook gives you structure that you, need. A path, from page 1 to 200, of hangul, grammar, writing, reading and everything that you won’t learn from watching K-Dramas.

Are textbooks the only answer to mastering to the entire language? No. But it’s a good start and reliable material for learning Korean.

All books have links so click on them to learn more at Amazon. Links are my Amazon affiliate links. You can click on the images or links to learn more on Amazon.

best korean textbooks

1. Living Language Korean, Complete Edition: Beginner through Advanced

  • What makes it good: Overall beginner textbook that teaches everything
  • By Living Language and Jaemin Roh

Beautiful, smooth and definitely for the beginner. It comes with books (beginner, intermediate, advanced and a reading/writing practice book), audio CDs, a work book to help you with reading, writing, and pronunciation, and a handy empty notebook.

So, overall, you’re getting 4 books – 304 pages in total and 9 audio CDs.

I highly recommend you use the CDs as soon as possible.

Hearing real Korean is very important and you won’t absorb it through reading alone.

I also recommend that you get a Korean dictionary if you go with this one.

Of all the Korean textbooks, this is the best deal in terms of resources for money spent.

If you’re looking for Korean learning programs, then I can also suggest KoreanClass101.com. They provide audio and video lessons by real teachers. So, you can just press play on a lesson, learn and start speaking.

What’s next?

2. Korean From Zero! 1: Proven Methods to Learn Korean with Workbook

Are you a Korean beginner?

Then you’ll like this Korean textbook too.

  • What makes it good: Overall beginner textbook that teaches everything
  • By George Trombley

One of the best introductory books to Korean so far. As soon as you start, you’re forced to learn Hangul, the Korean alphabet, with no delay.

Even though it’s 360 pages, the book is really well laid out and keeps you motivated because there is a structure to everything.

There are plenty of places to practice your handwriting in the Hangul section as well as the rest of the book.

It’s like a work-book/text-book combination.

According to some learners, this is the best place to start.

3. Korean Made Simple: A Beginner’s Guide to learning the Korean Language

Extremely handy & overall beginner book.

  • What makes it good: Overall beginner textbook that teaches everything
  • By Billy Go

This is what I’d choose this as my starting point if I were to restart learning Korean.

Why? Korean Made Simple shuns romanization (nice!) and teaches you Hangul first.

At the end of each chapter, with 20 chapters in all, there are practice sections and review lists.

In total it’s 348 pages and teaches you over 1,000 words on top of Hangul and grammar.

Of all the books on this best Korean textbooks list, this may be my most recommended resource for beginners.

4. Integrated Korean: Beginning 1, 2nd Edition (Klear Textbooks in Korean Language)

This 232 page textbook was published by the University of Hawaii.

  • What makes it good: Overall beginner textbook that teaches everything. College level.
  • Published by the University of Hawaii Press

So, it is a college book… which is not saying that it’s hard.

Just saying that it’s legit.

If you want the type of book students use in schools, instead of books obviously made by language companies or language bloggers, this is it.

It comes a with CD and the beginning hits you with the basics: simple phrases and hangul.

Each lesson builds upon the grammar you’ve learned in the previous lessons so it’s not hard.

Well organized and easy to get through.

All of the grammar and words are explained clearly. You won’t need a dictionary if you go with this Korean textbook.

Overall, your reading and writing skills will get very good with this.

5. 500 Basic Korean Verbs: The Only Comprehensive Guide to Conjugation and Usage (Downloadable Audio Files Included)

Do you need this?

Why does this make the list of best Korean textbooks?

Well, it’s more of a reference book, but, yes.

  • What makes it good: Learn tons of verbs and master conjugation
  • by Kyubyong Park

You’re going to need a lot of words to speak more Korean, right?

Here, you get 500 verbs.

It has romanization which great news for lazy people! It has conjugation charts for all tenses for the verbs and is a great reference book to have. Learn more words; refresh your conjugation skills!

What’s my advice about Korean textbooks like this?

They’re meant to be reviewed a little bit at a time. A few words today. A few tomorrow. A few next week. Or a few pages a day.

The goal is NOT to overwhelm yourself.

So, you’ll find yourself coming back to this a lot, which good.

You end up solidifying your Korean verb and conjugation skills.

6. Basic Korean: A Grammar and Workbook (Grammar Workbooks)

This Korean textbook assumes you already know Hangul.

Do you?

And are you ready to learn grammar rules? Because you’ll learn them here.

  • What makes it good: Learn Korean grammar.
  • by Andrew Sangpil Byon

One of the best Korean textbooks for grammar. Clear and extensive explanations of Beginner Korean grammar across 256 pages.

It does a good job to help you break down a sentence and understand how the how the subject, object, etc. come together.

How do I recommend you use this? Similar to the 500 Verbs book, review it a bit at a time. And also, you will find yourself coming back to the book to review grammar rules or understand new ones.

Usually, if I come across some new sentence pattern elsewhere, I go here  for explanations.

Also, has quizzes and answer key at the end of every chapter.

So, this is for beginners only but there is also an intermediate version of this.


7. Let’s Speak Korean: Learn Over 1,400+ Expressions Quickly and Easily

You know what you need to speak a lot of Korean?


Yes, it’s important to have a large vocabulary. But, phrases are good to know too because now you know actual things to say. So, this 136 page book teaches you over 1,400 phrases across 21 different topics like: Introducing Yourself, Shopping, At the Restaurant, and more. Very simple book.

  • What makes it good: Learn tons of everyday phrases.
  • by Fandom Education

Conclusion: Very easy for beginners.

8. Korean Grammar in Use_Beginning

This is another good grammar book.

It was written by 3 Korean teachers who teach the language to foreign students.

So, people like you.

  • What makes it good: Teaches Beginner Grammar.
  • by Ahn Jean-Myung, Lee Kyung-ah, Han Hoo-youn

It has a very simple format. Across 376 pages, you learn all kinds of grammar rules. You get dialogues to see the rules in action. Then, you practice with the exercises.

You won’t learn vocabulary here and you are expected to know how to read. So, while this is for “beginners,” it is not meant for BRAND NEW beginners.

Please learn the Hangul before going with this book.

Yes, you can also find the Intermediate and Advanced versions.

9. Dirty Korean: Everyday Slang from “What’s Up?” to “F*%# Off!

You need this. Why?

Everyone, when starting a new language must learn the JUICY bits first – the bad words.

  • What makes it good: Fun.
  • by Haewon Geebi Baek

This is 128 pages of slang, insults, sex terms, and swear words.

A nice collection of words that range from cool slang to dirty words all around great reading material.

Great as a supplement and down-time reading.

10. Talk To Me In Korean Level 1

This is a textbook made by the popular “Talk To Me in Korean” podcast.

These guys are an online company teaching Korean.

  • What makes it good: Good overall textbook to start with.
  • by Talk to Me in Korean

Here, you learn conversational style Korean, not the school or formal type from typical textbooks.

Basically, this is another great starting point to learn Korean, learn grammar and just make progress.

I like it so it goes on the list. But honestly, any of the Korean textbooks here is good enough if you want to make a choice.

Just 164 pages long and you get bonus audio files for it.

11. Free Korean Textbook

my-korean1-2nd-ed-coverI don’t know how you feel about PDF “books” but I came across a completely free Korean textbook for beginners accompanied with Audio Files. All thanks go to Monash University.

You can download both My Korean 1 & 2 at the links below.


My Korean 1 & 2

12. Korean Practice Notebook: Hangul Manuscript

Yes, this is not one of the “best Korean textbooks.” 

But, if you know me and my love for writing things out… you will understand why I put the book here.

Basically, it’s a 100 page workbook. And the goal is for you to practice Hangul and Korean sentences inside. That’s it.

That simple.

The author is also from my hometown, so there’s that too!

While we’re discussing best Korean textbooks…

…we can’t ignore Korean phrasebooks.

Korean Phrasebooks

Why? Korean phrasebooks are a great supplement to your learning. A source of easy phrases to add to your Korean learning brain. The result? You speak more Korean.

13. Lonely Planet Korean Phrasebook & Dictionary

Lonely Planet is famous for its phrasebooks, so this makes the list.

Note, this books is small enough to fit into your pocket!

  • What makes it good: Lots of phrases, good supplemental resource
  • by Lonely Planet

Across 272 pages, you learn travel phrases, conversational phrases, asking for directions, ordering food and tons more. It’s a jam packed book and well worth having, especially if you’re going to travel. Or, if you just want to review or learn more practice words.

14. Korean at a Glance

This is another great, mini Korean phrasebook. I say mini because it’s kind of small, font included, but definitely loaded with Korean learning. It’s 353 pages after all. The book promises to teach you 2,000 words and phrases.

  • What makes it good: Lots of phrases. Good for travelers
  • by Barron’s

By the way, I also recommend Korean learning programs like… KoreanClass101. And specifically, KoreanClass101 for for their Audio and Video Lessons.

Yes, it’s no textbook, but it just might be the best damn online course for speaking, listening and mastering Korean conversation.

Here’s a quick 3 minute lesson. Just press play to listen.

That site would be a perfect supplement with whatever Korean textbooks or dictionary you’re using.

Do you have any best Korean textbooks that you swear by and recommend? I’ll need to write about that.

I’ll add more as I go along.

Leave a comment!

~The Main Junkie

P.S. As much as I love Korean textbooks, I love online programs more.

If you want something digital or a complete learning program, I suggest Koreanclass101.com. Basically, you set your level and then their system feeds you lessons one by one. From learning words to mastering conversations and so on. If you like learning with audio and video, you will like them.

Click here to get a free account at KoreanClass101

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[…] Get Korean Textbooks: 7 Best Korean TextBooks. A List for Beginners. […]

Robert Mancini

I used Get Talking Korean. It really helps you learn the really useful phrases with none of the unnecessary grammar and academic language. I recommend it!

Lindsy Judd

This is very helpful. Thank you.


ugh. guess i need a textbook then. when you’re right, you’re right.