Regular readers of my blog will be fully aware that I’m a HUGE fan of TTMIK and all the awesome materials that they make available to us – mostly for free! As a long-time subscriber to their service “News in Korean” where you received 6 short articles every week complete with full study notes, vocabulary lists and voice recordings in 3 paces, I feel that I have moved beyond “just” being conversational in everyday situations. Now, I’m able to actively engage in a discussion about society, health or policy-related topics.
Eager to continue expanding my mastery of the Korean language, I was obviously thrilled when I learned that TTMIK would publish a paperback book with a wide selection of their previously published articles from “News in Korean”. I ordered it as soon as it was available online at My Korean Store, and within a week there was a thick envelope in my mailbox! (The shipping time may depend on your region, but it’s my experience that shipping from Korea to Europe is very fast.)
About the book
The book is really well structured. Each chapter covers a news article together with a fun and colorful illustration that significantly enhances your reading experience. This may not be a big thing to some people, but I personally enjoy beautifully illustrated books.
On the next page, the Korean text is broken down line by line, and key words are highlighted in bold with a small font superscript with the English translation of each key word. Then, next to each paragraph, a full English translation is provided. The really nice feature here is that the English translation is written in a very natural English and as such, it’s by no means just a direct word-to-word translation.
Another great element in this book is the table of contents. Here, the 50 articles are conveniently categorized so that you may decide whether you want to study articles that deal with e.g. science, society, or health, etc. Maybe you want to focus on health-related vocabulary, and then it’s extremely helpful that this book quickly allows you to identify precisely, which articles deal with this topic. I actually highly recommend reading several articles within the same field in one study session, as seeing new specialized vocabulary in a variety of contexts helps you to better retain these words in your memory.
Why this book is AWESOME to bring to a language exchange
I brought this book to my language exchange meeting yesterday, and my Korean language partner immediately suggested that we incorporate it into our busy study schedule. Since I’m teaching him English and he’s teaching me Korean, it turned out that we could both benefit tremendously from studying together with book. Here’s how we did it:
We chose an article to read and then we covered the page with the English notes and translations with a piece of paper, so that only the Korean text was visible. Then I read the article out loud in Korean while he frequently interrupted me to correct my pronunciation. After reading it we discussed the content in Korean, and he then asked me to explain some of the difficult vocabulary to check my comprehension. If I couldn’t, he would explain it to me in Korean. I then wrote down all the new words in my notebook, so that I could review them later. We then did the exact same thing with the English translation. He read the English text out loud, I corrected his pronunciation and we discussed the content in English. He then wrote down the difficult English words in his notebook while I explained their meaning and possible synonyms in English.
I never imagined that this would be such a great resource for a bilingual language exchange, but we were simply having so much fun studying together in this way. If you have a language partner I highly recommend that you study together with this book. You may both learn a great deal, and it’s also excellent as a conversation starter since we very often end up having a rather lively discussion about the topics that we read about.
How this book may help you prepare for the TOPIK
Finally, for those of you who plan to take the TOPIK, this book is an excellent resource for improving your reading skills, your listening skills, and your vocabulary. You will also see important grammar points and fixed expressions in various contexts, which is extremely helpful for reviewing/learning Korean grammar. The best part of it all is that each chapter concludes with a short quiz similar to the style of the questions in the actual TOPIK papers. These quizzes engage you as a reader and allow you to check your overall comprehension of the material. Sample questions may be “Which sentence correctly summarizes this article?”, “Which word fits into the blank space of this sentence?” or “What would be a correct conjunction?”
In addition to this awesome book, TTMIK has recently launched a TOPIK preparation course. I’ve already bought the two Intermediate/Advanced book volumes (they should arrive shortly) and I’m looking very much forward to their video course as well!