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Korean Basic

Korean Basic
$25 off CD version, Levels 1 and 2! | $50 both levels!
Developed by the Foreign Service Institute for teaching diplomatic personnel, this book and audio course is perfect for independent or small group study. FSI courses are thorough, comprehensive, and widely regarded as the best available. This two-volume series is designed to teach spoken Korean to English speakers, and teaches the national standard language as spoken by educated Koreans, a form that is understood throughout the country. The Korean orthography (Hankil) is introduced gradually. Level 1 of the course comes with a book and 18 CDs, and Level 2 comes with a book and 15 CDs.

Level 1 - 18 CDs and a book Was $239, now $215!
Level 2 - 15 CDs and a book Was $295, now $270!
Levels 1 and 2 on CD Was $495, now $445!
Book and MP3 Audio Edition, Level 1

Download Korean Level 1 | $25 (was $49)!   

Free Samples for Foreign Service Method Korean

Foreign Service Method Korean Basic | Organization | Basic Dialogues and Notes | Drills | Exercises | Romanization and Hankil

Contents of Level 1 | MP3 Sample | PDF and MP3 Samples of the Digital Courses

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Korean Basic

This is a two-volume series designed to teach spoken Korean to English speakers. The Korean presented in this series is representative of the standard speech of educated Koreans in Seoul, which has been the capital city and cultural, educational and political center of the country for over five hundred years. In Korea, as in every other nation, there is considerable local variation in pronunciation and vocabulary as well as in styles of speech. However, in schools all over Korea the language presented here is used and taught as the national standard and if you learn it well, you will be speaking a form of Korean which has prestige throughout the country and which will be understood everywhere.

This course is written primarily for use in an intensive language program of twenty or more hours per week; but it can also be used for other situations, such as a language program in which one or more part-time students attend class for three to six hours per week, or for individual study with the aid of recorded tapes or CDs.

Acquiring proficiency in the use of language is like acquiring proficiency in any other skill, for example, driving an automobile: you must practice until the mechanics of driving - or speaking - are reflexive. It is the aim of this course, therefore, to bring students to a condition of Ďautomacity' in speaking and understanding everyday Korean.

Level 1 of the Korean Basic course comes with a book and 18 CDs, and Level 2 comes with a book and 15 CDs.

Organization and Use of This Course

Each unit in the Korean Basic Course consists of four major parts: Basic Dialogues or other basic sentences, Notes on Dialogues and Grammar Notes, Drills, and Exercises.

Basic Dialogues

Each unit begins with a connected dialogue of about ten sentences between two or (occasionally) more speakers. Each dialogue is to be practiced, memorized and acted out until it has been so 'overlearned' that the utterances and their sequence are understood and can be produced automatically without conscious thought or hesitation. In some units, there is a group of two or more short dialogues which are related to one another. In such a unit, the dialogues may be treated as one connected dialogue. In the Basic Dialogues, new words and phrases ('build-ups') are introduced immediately before each sentence. They are not part of the Dialogue itself.

Notes on Dialogues and Grammar Notes

Notes on Dialogues and Grammar Notes follow the Basic Dialogue section. The Notes are intended to be self-explanatory and to be read after the Basic Dialogue has been introduced. The Notes on Dialogues are numbered according to the sentences in the dialogue, and are intended to give additional information on the use of the words, phrases or sentences. The Grammar Notes are systematic presentations of new patterns or major grammatical constructions that occur for the first time in the Basic Dialogues or other basic sentences in the unit.

If the course is being taught by a linguist and a native speaker, some explanation of the Notes may be appropriate in class. However, in general, drill time should be conducted entirely in Korean. If the native-speaking instructor is also a trained linguist and fluent in English, specific periods may be set aside for grammatical explanations; these should be kept separate from regular drill sessions during which English should be used only for translations or paraphrases designed to keep the student aware of the meaning of the Korean sentences he is practicing.

The Grammar Notes are written to give some basic understanding of Korean to the beginning student, and are intended to be immediately and practically relevant. If, however, the student finds them difficult to understand, they can simply ignore them. Instead of wasting time talking about Korean, extensive drill concentrated on specific points of pronunciation or grammar can produce the desired goal: proficiency in performance. The course is designed to produce an operational competence in Korean, not a theoretical understanding of it.

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The Drills in this Course are of a considerable variety. However, each unit basically has five kinds of drills:

It is to be noted that each drill has its own specific purpose, but the final goal of all the drills is to lead the student to develop proficiency in free conversation. Without sufficient drill practice, they cannot achieve such proficiency. Therefore, a great proportion of time should be devoted to drills, until learners are able to do them accurately with their books closed.

a. Substitution Drills
In this course, there are several kinds of substitution drills: Simple Substitution, Multiple Substitution, Alternate Substitution, Correlation Substitution, etc. In substitution drills of whatever kind, students will be required to produce the given pattern sentence, and then they will be required to make substitutions in one or more slots, using the cues furnished. Sometimes, they may be asked to form a properly arranged sentence by inserting a correlated cue. The basic aims of a substitution drill are twofold: the first is to make the student's control of the pattern sentences automatic and reflexive, in order to develop fluency in actual free conversation; the second is to practice useful lexical items in the given sentence patterns. The lexical items are either those which have occurred previously or new related ones. New words and phrases added in the substitution drills are marked with an asterisk (*) to the left of the sentence on their first occurrence. New words and phrases are used only in substitution drills. Substitution drills are printed in two columns, with English equivalents on the right and drill sentences with cues underlined on the left. English equivalents are not provided except for the model sentences at the beginning of each drill; but only in Substitution Drills are English equivalents provided for subsequent sentences.

b. Response Drills
These are mostly question-and-answer drills designed to help the students develop ability to respond to questions normally. A model is provided at the beginning of the drill. The student is required to produce a response for each question or remark, using the cue or stimulus supplied.

c. Transformation Drills
The student is required to produce sentences parallel in an easily generalizable way to the pattern sentence. For example, the student may be asked to transform a negative to an affirmative pattern; or a statement, to a question. Transformation Drills are sometimes designated as Grammar Drills in this course.

d. Combination Drills
These are drills in which the student is asked to produce one long pattern by combining two short patterns.

e. Expansion Drills
Starting from a short sentence, cues are given one by one requesting the student to expand the sentence each time in specific ways.


The exercises are of two sorts: (1) they ask the student to complete unfinished utterances or to give appropriate responses to the questions based on reality relevant to each situation; (2) they offer suggestions about additional practice and review for what has been covered in the unit. The students should be able to do all these exercises fluently and accurately before going on to the next unit.

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The symbols used to represent Korean sounds are based on a phonemic analysis, but each word is transcribed morphophonemically - that is, each word is always written with the same sequence of symbols, even though its pronunciation may be changed by what precedes or follows it. However, if a word has two shapes, our selection is made on the basis of the final sound of the preceding word. The stems of inflected words (i.e. verbs) are written the same way always, even if phonetic changes take place when certain endings or suffixes are added to them.

Words are separated by spaces. A Korean word is a form which may be either (1) inflected or uninflected, (2) bound or free. Free forms can occur alone, while bound forms can occur only with other forms. If a bound form occurs with another form, the combination is a single word unless at least one of the bound forms also occurs with free forms in other constructions. The first letter of a sentence is capitalized; so is the first letter of a proper noun wherever it occurs.

Korean Orthography (Hankil)

In Volume 1, the dialogue portions of each unit are accompanied by Korean orthography (Hankil) throughout the text. And in the glossary at the end of the text, Hankil is provided for all entries, in addition to English equivalents.

We follow the standard Korean spelling rules in this text regardless of the transcription. Spaces within a phrase or sentence are based on Hankil writing rules; for example, particles are not separated from the words preceding them.

Since Hankil is relatively easy to learn, it may be introduced gradually during the middle part of the text, replacing the Romanized transcription completely by the time Volume 1 is completed. A student should thus be able to read in Hankil at normal speed before he goes on to Volume 2, which is entirely in Hankil and English.

It is not the intention of this text to teach spoken Korean through Hankil from the very beginning, since it requires some time before the student can read it fluently. Hankil can be easily mastered by reading (in Hankil) dialogues which have already been memorized by the students. It is suggested that students interested in written Korean (which requires the knowledge of Chinese characters in addition to Hankil) use an appropriate basic reading text.

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MP3 Sample

Here is an MP3 Sample for the Korean Basic Course. MP3 is a common sound format for the compression of CD quality audio, and there are many freeware and commercial players downloadable from the Internet, including current versions of the Windows Media Player.