While I wrote in my previous post that I had enjoyed learning what may be considered quite basic vocabulary from my Korean children’s book, I still want to keep expanding my knowledge of Korean in all possible directions. When it comes to Korean fluency, one thing is sounding Korean and having the correct intonation. Another thing is making your spoken language come alive by mastering a broad spectrum of words and phrases. One of the books that I bought when I was last in Seoul is called “Korean vocabulary practice for foreigners, advanced level”. It’s published by Yonsei University and for the past three months it’s been on proud display on my book shelf. Last night I decided that it was time for this book and myself to become acquainted.

Here’s the index of the book. Chapters are divided into verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, onomatopoeias, pre- and suffixes, proverbs, idioms and Chinese character phrases.
Each chapter introduces roughly between 20 and 50 words. Each word is introduced with its correct pronunciation in brackets. Then the usage (i.e. wether it’s used with e.g. subject/object), fixed expressions, and sample sentences are introduced. Where applicable, the synonyms and antonyms of the word are also listed. I like that part in particular.
At the end of each chapter, there are review questions in the style of the TOPIK tests. These exercises help activate the reader and force recollection of the vocabulary covered in the chapter. Quite useful indeed.

I spent most of last night (and this morning) in the company of this book and I must say that while I was hesitant at first it’s definitely not a bad book. In many ways it’s organized in the same way as TTMIK’s “My Weekly Korean Vocabulary” series, which I greatly enjoyed. I plan on studying with this book a little every day and hopefully finish it over the next couple of months. I’m happy to discover that I actually already know many of the words introduced here. It also helps making each chapter less overwhelming since I’m already familiar with about half of the content.

For those of you who want to keep expanding your intermediate-advanced level Korean vocabulary but don’t really know how to do so, this book is a great resource. Being nothing but a collection of words and sample sentences it’s in no way exciting, but it provides a good structure which may be helpful for advanced learners who want to track their progress and study in a more organized manner. When I was reading Korean online newspapers this morning I noticed the use of two of the words I studied last night. Yesterday I wouldn’t have understood but today I did. Now, that’s progress and it feels so good!


  1. Hi Sofie,

    I always have mixed feelings about “vocabulary textbooks”. Personally I think it makes learning vocabulary a bit harder because they are often nothing more than glorified vocabulary lists backed with maybe one or two example sentences. That lack of example sentences is my main pet peeve. Many more advanced words have a specific way of use. Without its usages it becomes difficult to know how and when to use it. Korean has a lot of those words with similar meanings, but when and how to use use them often depends on the situation. I feel these book generally don’t cover this little problem a learner will face.

    How do you feel about that?


    • Hi, thanks for stopping by and commenting on this post!
      To some extent I do agree with you. The amount and quality of the sentences is crucial as I always believed that context is the best teacher. However, at the advanced level, there are just so many words that are not used all that frequently. In this case such a book is a great help for me because it lends some structure to my learning process. I could of course just go through a lot of advanced material and learn the words as I encounter them, but I actually find that the book that I have reviewed here is fairly good at explaining when there are subtle differences in meaning etc. I definitely don’t think that such books should be a stand-alone resource for language learners. I do however think, that they may be helpful for learners who already have a solid grasp of Korean and who want to keep expanding their vocabulary.
      As for the one published by TTMIK, it’s good because it not only introduces basic words – it also shows how to construct sentences of increasing complexity. Something all new learners of Korean usually find difficult.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was immidiatly turned off by the main TTMIK book series (found in the Korean Cultural Center library) due to the presence of roman writing in each and every unit. I personally believe that is actually preventing people from really learning hangeul as they will automatically start reading the writing they are more acquainted to: the roman writing.

        Is it different in their vocabulary books? (I never checked those).


  2. Hi Sofie,

    I was wondering if you had any tips for me on how to study efficiently with these books? I recently purchased the intermediate and advanced level versions of Yonsei’s Vocabulary Practice for Foreigners but I find that putting each entry into flashcards is a very tedious and time-consuming process and I am sure I could study more productively.

    Many thanks.


    • This post is more than 3 years old and I must admit that I’m no longer a fan. In order to study more advanced Korean I’d much rather recommend either TTMIK’s News in Korean or YTN 뉴스로 배우는 시사 한국어. Happy studying!


      • Hello Sofie,
        I find that I get the most out of these books by making a mind-map of the vocabulary (I was inspired to do so by mindmap voca) using a specific app or software, like MindNode. I start with broad concepts like psychology, culture, or health and then progress towards more specific vocabulary and modifying the categories and connections over time. It works well together with a flashcard regimen like with quizlet. I noticed you said in a previous response that you don’t like these books but I think they are really valuable personally.
        Thanks a lot for the content!

        Liked by 1 person

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