My First Korean Book: Alice in Wonderland

This is the first Korean book that I finished reading.
It’s a bilingual and abridged version of Alice in Wonderland or 이상한 나라의 앨리스 (Korean – English). It’s very thin, only 123 pages. (And half of it is English). It has 9 chapters, and I remember I finished it in 9 days, 1 chapter a day.

I got it at Talk To Me In Korean’s shop long time ago when they still had 6-dollar books series on sale and shipped them with the cheapest airmail.

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

I searched every new word in Naver dictionary (the Korean-Japanese one). I didn’t skip a word. I didn’t do any “guess work” when reading it. I never do “guess work”, actually. What’s the fun in guessing? I don’t get it. Guessing only gives me uncomfortable feeling that I might not understand it right. I learn and retain more words, because I use online dictionary every time.

The first page.

The first page.

I highlighted every word I didn’t know. I made notes about meaning and pronunciation guide (격려=gyeong-nyeo, encouragement, 激励).



I remember there was 1 paragraph missing but can’t tell where it is now.

The Last Page

This is the last page.

The book was meant for Korean readers to learn English, so maybe that’s why the hangul letter are smaller than the English letters.

I didn’t find the English translation distracting. I found it very helpful. No. Let me put it another way. I wouldn’t buy the book if there were no translation. I was a beginner when I read it. I never hired a Korean teacher to explain things for me so the English translation was like the teacher I never had.

I just don’t believe in monolingual approach.

When I read the book, I translated the Korean sentences into Japanese in my head. And then I checked whether I understand it correctly by reading the English translation. And when I explain Korean to people on my Facebook page, I use Indonesian language.

When you learn a language, your brain will start building a new language center in your brain. We polyglots are supposed to be able to move from one center to another seamlessly but actually it takes a lot of practice to do that. And that’s why, I think, you shouldn’t be afraid of translation or bilingual books.

The back cover.

The back cover.

About two years of learning Korean (could be earlier), you will be able to think only in Korean because the language center in your brain will be strong enough and recognize Korean as a completely different language.

About the book, it was my first time reading a Korean book. I was curious how “real” Korean sentences in a “real” book looked like. And I think I got what I wanted. 그 책을 다 읽어 버렸을 때 성취감도 맛볼 수 있었어요. (Also, I could feel the sense of achievement when I finished reading it). ###

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