13 Best Korean Textbooks for Self-Study

By OptiLingo • 9 minute read

best korean textbook for self-study

Textbooks are a great language-learning resource. But they’re often boring and repetitive. And when you’re learning Korean, it’s important to keep your lessons fun and engaging. What’s is the best Korean textbook for self-study? Here are 13 of the most effective and engaging books that can give you a good foundation for the language

Learn Korean with These 13 Awesome Textbooks


If you’re learning Korean to pass a language exam, this is the perfect textbook for you. TOPIK is short for Test of Proficiency in Korean. This textbook is designed to be the best preparation material you need if you want to test at a proficient level in Korean.

The vocabulary lists in this book also include model sentences, helping you understand how the words are used in context. Perhaps the most important feature of this book is the sample test questions. And you can practice with previous exams, so you’re well prepared when your Korean language exam comes.

2. Learning Korean Through Traditional Fairy Tales

This textbook was designed for children of Korean ex-pats. Even so, it’s still a great resource for foreign language learners. This collection of Korean folk tales gives you a great insight into Korean culture. Featuring pictures and audio recordings along with the text, you can enhance your Korean knowledge rapidly using a variety of methods for study and review. 

The folktales are divided into three sections: interesting and instructive stories that have moral lessons, mysterious stories with elements of fantasy, and classic stories from Korea. With additional vocabulary, the textbook has a variety of content that makes learning easy and interesting.

Psst! Did you know we have a language learning app?

  1. It teaches you useful words and phrases.
  2. Presented in a natural, everyday context.
  3. Spaced out over time, so you absorb your new language organically.
  4. It’s kind of like learning the words to your new favorite song!

You’re only one click away!


3. Seoul National University’s Korean

Seoul National University is a top-ranking higher education institution in South Korea. And this book reflects that quality. You’ll learn Korean using this book through its comprehensive overview of vocabulary and grammar.

The book balances fun interactions, challenges, structure, and rich content excellently. All lessons have their own recordings available on CD that can also be downloaded. And this book lets you adjust the difficulty of your lessons based on your own fluency. That means Seoul National University’s Korean Textbook is one of the best books for Korean self-study.

4. Once Upon a Time in Korea

This is the perfect book for you if you want to have a fun learning experience. Using colors and visuals, the storytelling aspect of this book makes it very appealing. The entire book has twenty-three chapters. And each chapter contains a unique Korean folktale. It’s also written in Hangul, providing great reading practice.

These folktales are usually funny. They also have a moral, making the learning experience instructive while providing access to the values and the social etiquettes of Korea. The individual stories also have illustrations that are beautiful, notes about the culture, and they include vocabulary extensively. Once Upon a Time in Korea is a perfect Korean textbook for any self-studying beginner.

5. Integrated Korean

This Korean textbook series is very popular. Catering to all levels of fluency, Integrated Korean offers reliable lessons to learners. You can use all ten volumes of the series to get from beginner to proficient. 

It uses authentic materials, contextualization, effective skill acquisition. The textbook uses a four-skill approach together with a step-by-step method to help learners learn the Korean language. The textbook also incorporates situational-based lessons with support from ample examples that’ll help you understand the context better. And the bilingual nature of this textbook puts it on our list of best Korean textbooks for self-study.

6. My Korean 1 and My Korean 2

These textbooks, written in Monash University, are perfect for an introduction to modern Korean. The textbook focuses specifically on words that are spoken in everyday situations. And these books are not only available in hard copies, but you can also find them online in PDF formats. 

The structure of My Korean textbooks adopts the four skill approach. Reading, writing, listening, and speaking are combined in practical dialogue situations. Plus, the books also use comics and simple explanations of grammar to help drive the material home. This textbook is the best for a well-rounded Korean self-study.

7. Ewha Korean

Some consider the Ewha Korean series as the bible of the Korean leaning textbooks. The book has step-by-step guides that make learning Korean approachable and fun. Through the use of colorful images and straightforward explanations, it quickly became a student-favorite.

At the end of each unit, there is a “Try It” section that’ll help you focus on speaking Korean without using a lot of memorization. These textbooks from the Ewha Woman’s University are used globally since they cater to all levels of fluency.

best korean textbook for self-study

8. Korean Language for Academics in Business Administration

Business language is always more complicated. With this book, you can learn business terms and vocabulary in Korean easily. Made specifically for international students studying business at a Korean University, it’s incredibly useful.

9. Korean Grammar in Use: Beginner to Early Intermediate

As the title suggests, this textbook is suitable for learners who are completely new to Korean. However, intermediate level students can also find it useful. If you need a reference or a review of a particular part of Korean grammar, this book is an excellent resource. There are also two more books in the series for higher-level learners.

Although grammar lessons can be very dry, this book does its best to make it fun and easy to understand. Using pictures and graphics can definitely help with that. If you want a book where the explanations are straightforward and provide useful examples, Korean Grammar in Use is an excellent option.

10. Korean Made Simple

You may have heard of the popular YouTube vlogger called Billy Go. He launched a textbook series to complement his video channel. Besides the linguistic aspect, this book also focuses on Korean culture. This makes it ideal for those who want to learn more about the country.

11. My First 500 Korean Words

If you’re looking to enhance your vocabulary with common Korean words, this book is for you. Along with 500 basic Korean words, as the title suggests, this book also offers verb conjugations. Since grammar is a crucial part of language learning, we don’t recommend this book as a standalone resource. However, it’s an excellent resource to complement your studies. Foreign language fluency depends on good vocabulary. And with this book, you will surely learn key words in Korean.

12. Korean Slang: As Much As a Rat’s Tail

As Much As a Rat’s Tail offers a laid back approach to language learning. There is much more to Korean than formal speech and polite expressions. If you want to know how young people speak every day, this book is for you.

Its short lessons make sure you never lose interest, and you don’t cram too much into one session. There are fun characters throughout the book to help you learn the words and terms. Plus, the book breaks up into small sections. Learn how to swear, cheer with drinks, and greet your friends in Korean with this down-to-earth, self-study Korean textbook.

13. Korean for Beginners: Mastering Conversational Korean

Foreign language fluency is the ability to speak effortlessly. And this textbook teaches you how to do that. Every Korean beginner should add this to their collection. This book sets a clear path that you can follow. The humor, entertainment, and culture in this textbook make it the best Korean self-study material for bored students.

Why Use the Best Korean Textbook for Self-study?

There are a lot of effective ways to learn a language. And with today’s technology, using a textbook may seem like an out-of-date method. But the truth is, for successful language learning, you need a combination of different materials. Using a language learning app on your phone is convenient. Watching Korean dramas in your free time is entertaining. And using a Korean textbook is useful for building a solid linguistic foundation.

Advantages of Korean Textbooks:

  • Grammar: Grammar rules are easier to understand in textbooks if they are properly explained. While immersion can give you a great sense of the language, knowing why the verb tenses and sentence structures work the way they do can give you an advantage. 
  • Dialogues: Many textbooks give examples of dialogues you can use in everyday conversations.
  • Vocabulary: The vocabulary lists featured in Korean textbooks are very helpful. They’re a convenient way to review a large collection of words without going through the trouble of making flashcards.
  • Practice: The best Korean textbooks come with exercise books. By giving you tasks, these books can guide your foreign language practice sessions, helping you better engage with the language and remember your lessons.
  • Cultural context: A language is more than just a collection of words. It reflects a culture. Always look for Korean textbooks that provide examples of Korean culture. These insights are peer-reviewed and reliable. By better understanding the culture, the people who speak the language, you’ll have an easier time using the language.
  • Exam preparation: If your language learning goal for Korean is to pass a language exam, you need a reliable book to guide you through the test. Exams often pull a lot of material (or similar kinds of material) from textbooks. Reviewing the style and structure of the textbook can help you better prepare for your next Korean exam. 

best korean textbook for self-study

Pair Korean Textbooks with the Best Language Learning Method

Having a reliable Korean textbook is very important. But in order to have a well-rounded language education, you need more than one approach to get you to your goal. The truth is, you need a method that gets you speaking, not just reading and writing in Korean. If you want a reliable language learning app to complement your Korean textbooks, choose OptiLingo.

OptiLingo’s language learning is based on research-based teaching methods. The lesson plans are proven to be effective. OptiLingo gives you the most common words and phrases, so you learn exactly how the locals speak. This approach has lead thousands of language learners to fluency. Reach Korean fluency with us faster than you ever thought possible.

Discover how effective OptiLingo is. Try FREE today!