This blog post was written as a guest blog post at twoChois.
안녕하세요. I’m the blogger at Korean Vitamin. I’m a self-learner which means I’m learning Korean on my own.
Today I’m going to review a Korean textbook: TOPIK Essential Grammar 150 (Japanese version). The book was a gift from twoChois, a marvelous online store based in South Korea which offers Korean books and proxy shopping service. (Read my blog post: Look What I’ve got from twoChois!)
So if you’re interested, you know where to get it (http://www.twochois.com).
If you follow my blog, Korean Vitamin, you know I’ve been using this book everyday since it arrived. I can’t thank twoChois enough for giving this book to me.
The book contains 150 grammar points tested in TOPIK Intermediate Level. So this book was meant for TOPIK test takers. I don’t intend to take TOPIK Intermediate Level, I want to go straight to Advanced Level. However, I intended to use this book to fill the gaps in my knowledge about Korean grammar. Why? Because I think that
“TOPIK Intermediate grammar = the most commonly used grammar in daily life”.
I have tried studying from TOPIK tests and its answer keys. And I have a lot of unanswered questions in my head. For me, having the questions and the answer keys alone was not enough. I needed more explanation about the “why”s. That’s why I wanted this book.
WHY IS THIS BOOK USEFUL?
It lists up 150 grammar points tested in TOPIK Intermediate Level,
the grammars are organized into functions for easier memorization,
and it ranks all the grammars according to how often it appears on TOPIK.
My first impression: wow, this book is huge! It’s the same size as a magazine. It’s also very thick and heavy (a little over 1 kg).
I feel that the font used is a little too small for a book this big. I’m a little too used to Korean textbooks published by Japanese publishers which usually use slightly bigger Hangul fonts. But soon I got used to the font size, so it is not that big of deal.
150 grammar points, 432 pages. There are a lot of things to learn from this grammar book.
You can see the price: 21,000 won and 3 reasons why you should get this book.
There are also English version (the green one) and Chinese version (the red one), as depicted on the inside front flap of this Japanese version book.
The book is heavy so maybe it’s not practical to bring it with you. So they solve this problem by providing a mini book which contains the summary version of this book in black and white. Did I tell you that the big book is full color? I didn’t? Now you know.
So what’s inside the big book?
First. bilingual explanation about the book structure and how to use the book. I skipped it and dived right in, though. But in case you need to know what’s where… there it is.
Let’s take a closer look at the table of contents.
You can tell the importance level of each grammar point by looking at the stars.
3 stars = most often tested.
2 stars = often tested.
1 star=least often tested.
Very useful if you lack of time. Make sure you remember the most important ones.
Appendix pages consist of explanations about 불규칙 (=irregular conjugation), 반말 (=casual tone), 서술문 (=conjugation for written sentence). There are answer keys for questions and grammar index so you can use this book as a grammar dictionary.
In the book you will find explanations about comparisons between grammar points, as tested on TOPIK. The book provides the table of contents of grammar comparisons so you will find it quicker. Pay attention to the little light bulb mark on pages because it means “comparison” between grammars. ↑
Not sure whether you’ll find it useful or not, but there’s a basic information about TOPIK, written completely in Korean.
The first pages of every Unit look like this:
You can see the category, and the list of grammars explained in the unit. If you turn the cover page, sometimes you will find a review page of basic level grammar. I think it’s helpful.
Now, let’s take a closer look to each grammar point, and I will tell you about how I used this book. Each grammar point consists of 3 parts, which are:
1. 알아두기 (=Point you need to know)
Look at the box, you will find how to conjugate verb/adjective/noun with the grammar point discussed.
By all means, don’t just read and “absorb”. Learn actively. You need to be able to conjugate words correctly. So here’s what to do: cover the conjugated form with your finger, and try to conjugate the sample word on your own. See if you answered correctly.
Next, you will find bilingual explanation about the grammar point. There are a few sample sentences to make it clearer. I actually read and understand this part first before I tried to conjugate. I really like the sample sentences because they seem useful in conversations also. Not just for TOPIK test. So here’s what I did: after I read the Korean sentence and the translation, I covered the Korean sentence with my hands, try to imagine the situation and what I need to say in the situation, and then try to “recreate” the Korean sentence again. I don’t like writing with hands, so I just say it to myself. And then I correct myself with the original sentence.
That way I can train myself to make my own sentence,
fully grasp the grammar point that I just learned,
and train myself to speak at the same time.
2. 더 알아두기 (=Know a little more.)
Consists of comparison with another grammar, with what grammar it is interchangeable, and other information about the grammar to help you answer TOPIK questions. Sometimes this part contain illustration to give it clearer explanation.
And if the tips is considered very important, it will be provided on a blackboard like this:
3. 확인하기 (=Let’s make sure you understand it.)
Here you will find one question taken out of the real TOPIK to make sure you understand the explanation you read before. On the same page you will find the answer and explanation. I like this part, because it also briefly explains why the other choices are wrong.
At the end of each unit, you will find an article about Korean culture that appear on TOPIK, with colorful illustration. Mine is Japanese version so this article is entirely in Japanese. So in English version you will find English articles.
And there is a set of problems at the end of each unit to make sure you’ve understood all grammar points in the unit/chapter. If you’re’ still confused and you need to refresh your memory, you can refer to corresponding grammar by looking at the small number in a circle near each question. See?
These questions don’t have translation, only answer keys at the last pages of the book.
Now I’m going to show you a little bit of the appendix. This page is where you can review about irregular conjugation. I needed a crash course about this, so now I finally understood, memorized, and tested myself about how to conjugate the most common words using the irregular conjugation rules.
The last, here is the index page.
The index is useful to find the grammar point you want, quickly. So this book also serves as a grammar dictionary for your reference in your study.
What I Like About the Book
- Tips and tricks to answer TOPIK questions that I will never find out on my own.
- I like the fact that I think it really did fill the gaps in my grammar knowledge.Turned out that I still had so many things I didn’t know about intermediate level grammar.
- I had tried answering the TOPIK test by myself and I often got confused. This book answered my questions. I think now I’m ready to try answering TOPIK test again. No wonder I felt stuck at intermediate level, I still needed to stay at this level a little longer before I started the advanced level.
- Lots of useful sample sentences that I used to test myself for speaking practices.
- I finally learned “properly” about intermediate level grammar from a textbook.
- Colorful illustration and full-color pages.
- Bilingual Korean-Japanese translation. Maybe now I’m finally ready to read grammar explanation entirely in Korean.
What I Don’t Like About the book
- Sometimes the Japanese translation is not natural, but it’s tolerable. And I found just one mistake, but the Japanese sentence was completely different from the original Korean sentence, so you won’t miss it, and you will laugh a little.
- No translation of the grammar points explained, so I had to read the sample sentences first and made my own conclusion about the possible Japanese translation. But that’s OK, maybe the authors wanted readers to think completely in Korean.
ADVICE ON USING THIS BOOK
I found some old blog posts on Google that wrote that this book was not completely clear, and left them confused, but I didn’t find that true at all. Maybe because I’m using the Japanese version. I’m not sure. But, maybe they used this book “passively”, they might just read and did nothing else other than trying to understand the explanation. My advice is: use it actively. Test yourself to conjugate words and translate sentences back and forth, orally, or write it down if you have the discipline to write. Answer the questions to make sure you fully understand. Maybe you shouldn’t use it too early in your learning process because this book doesn’t have audio CD, no pronunciation guide, and no word lists.
Analyzing TOPIK tests on your own is a good idea, but if you want tricks and tips to be explained to you, do yourself a favor, get this book. Highly recommended.
If only they had published a grammar book for the Advanced Level, I would have bought it in a heartbeat.
See more sample pages at twoChois:
Thank you for twoChois for providing this book for me to review. 잘 썼습니다. 정말 감사합니다. ###
- Download 30th TOPIK Problems and Answer Keys (koreanvitamin.wordpress.com)