First of all, happy new year everyone! And don’t worry, I actually do know what date it is today. Though not really celebrated in the West, today marks the first day of the new year according to the lunar calendar. As of today we are now in the year of the monkey, and these days all Koreans are celebrating the lunar new year called 설날. Even our good friends at TTMIK are celebrating the holidays with us by giving some cool discounts on their video courses and publishing yet another gem of an e-book. The latest addition to the TTMIK library of awesomeness is an e-book called “Real-life conversations”. In 40 short chapters this book covers conversations about almost anything from how to save a contact on your phone, sign up for a membership card at a cosmetics store (man, am I going to use this next time I come to Korea!), how to confess your love for someone, and even how to reject someone who confesses their love for you. This e-book is a must-have to anyone who wants to improve their Korean conversation skills in most everyday situations.
The book contains 40 chapters spanning the categories of Introductions, Friends/family, Shopping, School, Dating, Transportation, Health/hospital, Food, and Work. But what makes this book so special? How does this book vary from other textbooks out there, which cover similar topics?
First of all, it’s full of hilarious dialogues that will make you laugh out loud while you read them (or listen to the recordings on the audio file). I love how the TTMIK teachers have taken this to the next level by committing to really acting out the characters they are portraying in the dialogues. Usually, when you listen to their Iyagi lessons, you have either Hyunwoo and Kyeongeun or Hyojin and Seokjin talking to each other about everyday things and this is absolutely great for listening practice. However, these lessons are strictly in the formal style (존댓말), and for intermediate/advanced learners, listening to something less formal is often useful for furthering their own real conversation skills and relations with their Korean friends. This is exactly one of the situations where this book comes in extremely handy. Not only does it cover all kinds of everyday situations, it also covers conversations in different relationships such as people meeting for the first time, parents and children, old friends, classmates, lovers etc. This means that all types of formality are put to use in a natural way depending on the nature of the dialogue. This is just perfect for shadowing and practicing. I also love that this book covers everyday vocabulary that you won’t encounter in formal textbooks, but nonetheless words you’ll be sure to hear on the streets of Seoul. One such example is one of my favorite words, 기집애, meaning “girl” or “girlfriend” as in “Hey, girl -what are you doing?”
I also really like how this book is structured. With 40 short chapters, it’s easy to get an overview of the book and figure out what to study next.
Here’s how I recommend you study with this resource in order to really boost your fluency:
- Read one dialogue out loud.
- Look up the words you don’t know.
- Listen to the audio recording of that chapter at least once.
- Then read the dialogue out loud as you listen to the recording again shadowing their voices and imitating their pitch and intonation (great for pronunciation improvement).
- Memorize a few key sentences and practice saying them out loud in various paces and voices (I know many people hate memorization, but in the end it allows you to use the language more freely). When you feel comfortable doing this, try making small changes to the sentences by substituting some of the words.
- Do the end-of-chapter translation exercises to put the words and phrases into action.
Though the cover of the book says “intermediate”, I personally think it targets an even broader audience. I consider myself an advanced Korean learner and I use this book for learning natural expressions, because even though I may already know the words in this book, the phrases and expressions are often new to me.
Therefore, in my opinion, beginners may benefit from an entertaining and challenging resource, which in an easy-to-grasp manner aims at prepping them for almost any everyday conversational situation. Intermediate learners may use this book to build on their expanding vocabulary and practice speaking confidence, and advanced learners may find that this book adds just that little extra je ne sais qois, which they need for making their spoken Korean sound more natural. 강추!
You can buy the e-book here. Happy studying!