[KS] KSR 2000-16: _College Korean_, by Michael C. Rogers et al

Stephen Epstein Stephen.Epstein at vuw.ac.nz
Thu Nov 16 17:48:43 EST 2000

_College Korean_, by Michael C. Rogers, Clare You, and Kyungnyun K.
Richards.  Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1992.
363 pages. ( ISBN 0-520-06994-3).

Reviewed by Matthew Shapiro
Yonsei University

	A language textbook that has been designed for classroom use is, to
a large extent, only as good as the instructor using it: excellent
resources may be utilized poorly, while at times poor resources are applied
with ingenuity. Thus one should bear in mind that the ultimate review of
College Korean is done in the classroom. College Korean is a 363-page text
designed for the beginning Korean course at the University of California at
Berkeley. The book is tightly organized around college student activities
and designed to strengthen speaking, reading, and writing skills. Via a
steady introduction to new vocabulary and grammar, students shall ideally
be able to converse at length about themselves and read and write at a
high-beginner level. (For purposes here, standards are based on three
strata - beginner, intermediate, and advanced - which are likewise divided
into low, medium, and high categories.)  There are audio tapes, CD ROM, and
workbook available for use in conjunction with College Korean, but I did
not have access to them for this review.

	College Korean begins with an initiation into hangeul and works
through twenty-six lessons, each roughly composed of a passage, grammar
explanation, and exercises. This passage-grammar-exercises pattern is well
used by other Korean textbooks (cf. Myongdo Language Institute's
Intermediate Korean and the series of Yonsei University's Korean Language
Institute). From Lesson 7, six to ten Sino-Korean characters, hanja, are
incorporated into each lesson (optional, according to 'Using the Text').
Closing the book is a glossary of new vocabulary (315-345), an
English-Korean Grammar and Notes Index (347-356), and a Korean-English
Grammar and Notes Index (357-363).

	The major difference between College Korean and the bulk of Korean
textbooks is its particularly strong emphasis upon grammar. Approximately
seven new patterns per lesson (totaling around seven pages) are introduced
via explanation and sample sentences and numerous subsidiary points are
also addressed. From indefinite pronouns/indefinite modifiers (Lesson 17,
'A Friend') to verbs of 'knowing' (Lesson 18, 'A Letter'), very little has
been overlooked, at least on a high beginner level. At a pace of one lesson
per week (according to the preface), the workload for both student and
teacher borders on excessive. A moderate solution is provided, though, in
the convenient glossary and grammar indexes, whereby students can answer
their own grammar queries without wasting time with notes, the book, or the

	The bulk of the text - the exercises, new vocabulary, and new
grammar - is pertinent and valuable. The exercises address the lesson's
main points and include sentence completion, 'response', and translations
as well as exercises that focus on grammar. Occasionally, vocabulary,
writing, and reading exercises are included. What most impresses regarding
the grammar and vocabulary of College Korean is the broad content.  Words
with multiple English translations (Lesson 11, 'Hospital'), an extensive
food-associated vocabulary (Lesson 23, 'About Food'), a thorough look at
'to wear' and 'to take off' (Lesson 24, 'The Department Store'), noun
counters (Lesson 25, 'The Market'), and the uses of maeum (Lesson 26,
'Proverbs') are a short list of the noted vocabulary.

	Surprisingly, Korean culture does not receive much emphasis in
College Korean. In this way, the book is markedly different from the Yonsei
and Myongdo texts. The list of cultural topics is limited to Korean
activities (Lessons 11, 'Picnic' and 22, 'Exercise'), the origination of
hangeul (Lesson 16, 'About Hangeul'), a brief history of Korea (Lesson 19,
'About Korea'), Korean food (Lesson 23), and Korean proverbs (Lesson 26).
In my view, a wise decision was made not to introduce too much cultural
infromation into the text. First of all, the American/Western students will
not be burdened with understanding the rudiments of a difficult language
while trying to grasp the rationale behind unfamiliar traditions. Without
at least moderate education or exposure to Korean culture, such topics are
perhaps best postponed until basic linguistic structures are well
ingrained. Of course, because of honorifics, there is always some
intersection of language and culture when studying Korean grammar. The
authors, though, do not dwell on the issue and apply honorifics only when
necessary. 'Social relations' and 'respect' are the extent of the
terminology used to describe the complexities of Korean social form and

	Incorporating hanja from the seventh week on in a beginning Korean
class is questionable. Obviously accurate knowledge of Korean is the goal
of the authors, but one must wonder what benefits accrue here. Granted,
hanja are still used in contemporary South Korea, albeit on a decreasing
scale, but I would opt not to teach those sections in my beginning classes.
For many students it would be a squandering of valuable time. On the other
hand, for the potential historian the material on Chinese characters would
serve as an excellent introduction.  Other problems I locate in the text
involve old spelling and usage (Naseong instead of Elei; ppeoseu instead of
beoseu; and Asea instead of Asia) and the use of the now-outdated 'modified
McCune-Reischauer system'. It would also be interesting to determine how
heritage learners are advancing in class using College Korean. The typical
Korean-American who has spoken Korean at home from a young age may have
strong speaking and listening but poor reading and writing skills.
Consequently, this textbook's multifaceted approach to Korean language
study may not effectively address their weaknesses, as they must spend a
great deal of time reviewing what is already well-known to them before
moving on to concentrate on their problem areas. Given the increasing
numbers of such students, this issue is a growing concern.

	Based solely on a review of the text, it seems clear that the
beginning Korean language student will benefit from College Korean. The
effective exercises, grammar, vocabulary, and use of more 'neutral' topics
reinforce each other throughout the text.  Also, the astute student finding
him/herself ahead of the class will profit from the challenges of the hanja

Shapiro, Matthew 2000
Review of _College Korean_, by Michael C. Rogers, Clare You, and Kyungnyun
K. Richards, (1992)
_Korean Studies Review_ 2000, no. 16
Electronic file: http://www.iic.edu/thelist/review/ksr00-16.htm

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