A Guide to Our Korean Levels System

What do the three levels mean and where do I fit into it?

When we decided to write these easy-to-read books we had to think about our readers’ level. We did a lot of research on the levels based on the Common European Framework Reference or the CEFR.

The CEFR gave us a guide to refer to for language learners. It told us what a beginner or A1 level student should know – of course, they can know more. So this framework was a good start in our research. We looked at European languages’ graded readers which fell in line with the CEFR.

We started researching Asian languages and found a smaller number of graded readers but written according to the learner’s level. Chinese and Japanese graded readers had the most diverse range of books available. They followed the language proficiency guides – HSK* and JLPT** – of their languages respectively.

Readers who knew they were beginners, for example, could read books written for them. This helped improve their studies in their target language. They felt a sense of accomplishment. They were more confident and had a hunger to continue to read in their target language. 

We noticed that the Korean language did not have much guidance for learners. (Bearing this in mind, we started this project in Spring, 2018.)

The knock-on effect of the lack of resources discouraged readers from reading in Korean. It was noticeable that there were limited books available for lower-level Korean learners.

The TOPIK*** test is not as specific as the other tests. This was one of my personal frustrations when I was learning Korean. As I had studied Chinese before, I knew where I was going and what I was expected to know. Yet, in Korean, I had the feeling of “floating without progressing” since “TOPIK I” covers both A1 and A2 skills.

Proficiency tests full names

*HSK – Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi

**JLPT – Japanese-LanguageProficiency Test

***TOPIK – Test of Proficiency in Korean

That’s why we decided to create our levelling system. It took us a while to create as we needed to learn what was appropriate and useful. Some resources had vocabulary that was outdated. We liaisoned with many Korean-language teachers who gave their honest opinion about the words and helped us keep these words purely Korean. 

We wanted to make sure learners got the most out of our content. We researched many papers and read through many textbooks to understand academic Korean. We used other resources such as YouTube and popular Korean-language education websites to understand what was appropriate for beginners and pre-intermediate level learners.

This combination plus our own judgement has allowed us to create our levels system – named after food 😉

If you are not familiar with Korean food – that’s fine. We’ll happily introduce them to you through our level system.

Level 0 | Hotteok | Beginners | A1

It’s never too early to start reading in Korean. This level has original stories that are short, sweet and simple for beginners. It gives you exposure to words you already know and a chance to practise them with lots of repetition. Much like Hotteok.

Hotteok is found on the streets of Korea. It is a pancake filled with brown sugar, honey, peanuts, and cinnamon.

These stories will have a simple plot, 5 characters, illustrations to help you read and an audiobook. 

Get our wordlist for Hotteok level by signing up with your email. You’ll also hear from us when we release new products for your level. 

Level 1 | Kimbap | Pre-intermediate | A2

Level 1 is a little more detailed than Level 0. Kimbap, which is bite-size slices of cooked rice, meat and vegetables wrapped in seaweed, is a delicious snack.

For this level, we decided on the “Korean Classic Reader,” “Original Stories” and our magazine called “Sam Sam Sam.” Each series is set in modern-day Korea, uses simple grammar and vocabulary, has lots of repetition of new words, has few characters than the original classic story, and has beautifully drawn illustrations. 

Get our wordlist for Kimbap level by signing up with your email. You’ll also hear from us when we release new products for your level. 


Level 2 | Bibimbap | Intermediate | B1

 The Bibimbap level has a slight complex storyline in comparison to the previous levels. There are lots of new words suitable for intermediate learners.

These stories explore more social topics, can be adapted from classic English stories or be our original stories. 

Bibimbap literally means “mixed rice.”  It has vegetables, gochujang (chilli pepper paste), meat (usually beef), and sometimes an egg. 

We’re still working on our wordlist for Bibimap level but stay tuned for when it’s released.  

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