After the children read All About Korea, and found the country interesting, I thought they might enjoy learning a little more about the language of Korea, and the Korean Picture Dictionary is doing just that.
This post may contain affiliate links through which I may receive a small commission.
Tuttle Publishing kindly sent us a copy of Korean Picture Dictionary, written by Tina Cho. Going off of the design of other picture dictionaries I’ve come into contact with over the years, I was expecting a book filled with pictures and then the word of the object in Korean, and perhaps in English as well…but no, this picture book is much more than that!
More Than a Korean Picture Dictionary
Being typical of Tuttle Publishing, they’ve gone further than simply a picture dictionary; this book can be used for much more. It starts with an introduction to the Korean language, which is quite interesting; the written language used to be very difficult and only elite scholars would have known it, and like Japanese, the older written word was based off of Chinese. However, a newer, phonetic system was created called Hangeul. The Korean alphabet was created specifically for the language and once you know it, it should be much easier to decipher words than in English, which can have several pronunciations for different letters and combination of letters.
There are currently two Romanizations of Hanguel to make it easier for English, with a government standard being used since 2000, and it is this version that is used in this dictionary. You are walked through the pronunciation of the characters and how they are arranged when written.
As I said, this is more than just a simple picture dictionary; in fact, you can use this book to study for the Topik proficiency language test that you may need to work in Korea as all of the words needed for the test are included in this book. Yes, this book is more like a ‘learn to speak Korean’ type of book as it is arranged into 38 topics and with each topic you’ll also learn a few sentences. At the back of the book is a more conventional alphabetical dictionary if you are looking for a specific word.
Some of the Korean topics covered are:
- My Family
- Daily Activities
- Celebrating the Holidays
- I Love My Smartphone!
- Countries of the World
- Fresh Fruits, Nuts and Grains
- Let’s Keep Fit
- Talking About the Weather
- and 30 more!
Does the pronunciation still give you some trouble? Do you wish you could hear Korean spoken by a native speaker to help you along? Not to worry; there is a link provided in the book to how you can download audio clips of each of the lessons spoken both in English and in Korean, and I’m finding this very helpful.
I am wondering if I’ll be able to recognise any of the words on the Korean news as it is sometimes broadcast during the middle of the night on the TV (if I’ve been working late or I can’t sleep, I’ll sometimes have the TV on in the background and catch up on the day’s news of the world).
The 600+ photos in the Korean Picture Dictionary are all full-colour, high quality and are a mix of individual objects as well as situations, which makes it more interesting. Many things you’ll be easily able to identify, and it’s interesting to see a little about Korean culture in the ways of food and clothing.
What I’ve done to try to help us learn some of the words is I’ve printed out two key pages of the book and have made little cards to stick around the house. Because the vocabulary isn’t written over the pictures, this also gives the option to fold the written words back behind once you are confident in the target vocab, but they’re still there if you need to refresh your memory.
I’ve learned a lot more than I was expecting with the Korean Picture Dictionary! I was expecting just pictures and words; not phrases, audio, and some history, too! I’m very impressed. So if you’re looking to learn a little Korean, get yourself a copy of this book and get started!