I think all of the books are deficient in some way. My perfect book/study aid would have -
a) Audio dialogues + practice, at varied speeds.
b) Separate vocab audio for each lesson
c) Audio exercises and answers for each lesson.
d) A methodical approach to introducing vocabulary in order, in the way that they are arranged in the various vocab study books (Survival 1000, functional next 2000, conversational next 3000).
e) Have a reasonable amount of vocabulary repetition so that the more difficult words stick.
f) Be pocket sized, so that I can carry it around with me.
g) Highlight Hanja patterns alongside vocabulary, as in Whitlock's book and the Handbook of Korean Vocabulary.
h) Have memorable stories. It seems to help things stick.
As it stands right now, you'll have to use a bunch of different books to get all of this. It's slow, painful and inconvenient.
Of the books I use, you can find
a) in most of them. The best audio of the books I have so far is in the Yonsei University 100 시간 한국어 series, although there are some dialogue errors in book 3. Audio in 'Teach yourself Korean' is too slow to be much help.
b) in books 1 and 2 of 100 시간 한국어, but they drop the pronunciation practice words in 3. Grr.
c) Teach Yourself Korean does this for a few chapters. It's great when they do, annoying that they don't do more of it.
d) Korean Through English claims to do this. I find the other books are all a bit random in their vocabulary selection.
e) Korean Through English does this reasonably well. Most other books not so well.
f) Teach Yourself Korean is the only worthwhile contender here. I love being able to shove it in my (big) pockets.
g) Only in the premium services on this site right now, as far as I know.
h) Korean Through English got this right. Teach Yourself Korean has reasonable dialogues too. You can tell that book is by an Englishman, as by chapter one you can ask 'Where's the pub?' and be able to order a beer
The dialogues in Yonsei's 100 시간 한국어 are really dull.
So there are good points in all three of those books, but currently you'll need to supplement them with
- Hanja vocabulary books (Whitlock's 'A radical approach' or 'A handbook of Korean Vocabulary)
- Word frequency vocabulary books (Korean Essential Vocabulary 6000 for Foreigners or Survival Korean Vocabulary)
- A grammar reference (Yonsei University's Korean Grammar for International Learners is good)
- A good dictionary (Minjeung's Essence Dictionaries seem the best in my experience).
- 'Making out in Korean' for translating swearing
- Something on idioms. I don't have much here, but have picked up 'How Koreans Talk'. I'm yet to find out how useful it is, so I would take Austin's advice.
That's my current set of self-study books. Any opinions/improvements on my selections, or categories that I've missed? I think I covered how to start a while back in other forum thread. I still recommend Teach Yourself Korean as a good starting point for self-studiers, but it doesn't work for everyone.
Anyway, would love for someone to create a text that addresses all of my points