It has been quite some time since I received the latest package from TwoChois, and I guess some of you (maybe no one?) may be wondering why I haven’t been posting new book reviews.
Trust me, I’ve been trying, but it won’t come out.
Among those books, I was most interested in the TOPIK writing book for a number of reasons:
- it’s a writing book!!
- it is purportedly based on the newly revised TOPIK examination!
- it is newly published and was hot off the printing press when I received it
I tried working through it the week I received it but couldn’t last past 30 mins.
Put it aside and tried it again. Same thing.
Tried yet again and ….
I’m sorry, but this is the first time I have such bland feelings towards a Korean textbook and find myself having absolutely NO MOTIVATION to use it or to write about it. :/
At first, I blamed it on myself and thought I was probably too tired and caught up with other stuff to concentrate on the book. But the same blandness happened again and again.
This book is not for me. I’m honest.
It can work for you, I’m not sure.
Let’s delve into the review, although it will probably be a short one. One thing to note, I didn’t make much progress in the book at all, so… I’ll leave it to you to judge if it’s a comprehensive review or not.
For me, a TOPIK writing book has to contain a lot more than simply past year questions or “exercises”. The idea of a writing book is not to stuff it with tons of writing exercises (even if excellent model answers are provided) but rather to coach the technique of writing.
And that to me, means teaching phrases that are important in writing or even to simply analyse a piece of writing in detail to teach students how to craft out an essay – (eg. start with main point, elaborate with evidence and end off with a concluding statement)
For example in English, we have phrases such as:
- dissenters would argue that
- In my opinion,
- It is a fact that…
- According to research
- It is of common belief that…
I would loveee to learn about such phrases in Korean.
I used to keep a google doc on such expressions:
Predictions (예측 표현)
- ㄹ 것으로 보이다
- 다음과 같은 결과가 나타날 것으로 보입니다
- 이/가 초래될 것이다
- 분배 문제가 원활하게 해결되지 않으면 소득의 양극화가 초래될 것입니다
- 좀처럼 예측하기 힘든 문제라고 할 수 있다
- ㄹ 것이라고 장담합니다
- 내가 볼 수 없다면
- 빠르게 급변하는 현대사회에서 미래를 내다 볼 수 없다면 성공의 가능성은 낮아질 것입니다
- .. 성장률을 기록할 전망이다
- 모멘텀이 살아날 것으로 예상된다
- ㄹ 것으로 예상된다
- 이어갈 것으로 전망된다
The above is just an example of what I have in that doc (I should update it, lazy me ): )
Maybe what I expected is not what writing books would provide, but I’m just very underwhelmed by this book D:
(note: this review is mainly based on chapter 1 … ><)
Each chapter has a theme (eg. Career, Multiculturalism) and starts off with 4 questions of the structure found in TOPIK – the ones where you are supposed to fill in blanks with phrases that is grammatically correct and matches the content. (the one where a lot of people just fail)
Funnily enough, they will introduce a grammar point then but strangely I don’t see how it fits in with that chapter as the grammar point is not used in any of the answers and I don’t think it’s found in the passage (or maybe I’m just blind).
After doing that exercise, I don’t find myself improving at all (I still suck at it and have to refer to the model answers).
Deciding the best thing is to flip the page, I did so and found 2 short passages on the topic. Each passage is followed by a question and again I don’t see how I can answer it without looking at the model answers.
(I question the purpose of such exercises, they are just there but does nothing to help the learner)
Followed by more open ended questions – the kind you find in Korean textbooks and which most people would just skip. :/
The next section is relatively useful, in that it is a dialogue on said topic. You usually get a few people discussing the topic and offering various opinions – a nice way to learn about how to put forth your point. But you will have to dissect the dialogue and get all the good stuff yourself, the book doesn’t help you.
Followed by more questions.
you are ready to write the essay.
You get the topic and the square grids.
Please start writing.
If you are stuck, you can always refer to the model answers.
Time to go to the longer essay.
At least they provide a very brief outline of how your essay should look like – what points go first
Time to write it.
The chapter ends with a generic grading criteria / chart which is completely useless to me.
Repeat x 12
WAIT. BEFORE YOU DECIDE THAT YOU DONT WANT TO READ FURTHER..
I have good news.
I LOVE APPENDIX 1 and 2
Appendix 1 features a number of essays written by Korean learners and these are then corrected by the teachers. So you get to see what mistakes they make, how to edit it and the reason why what they wrote were wrong.
SUPER USEFUL. 😀
The marker also gave general comments for each essay and I found that useful too!
Sadly, you only get 12 of it.
Appendix 2 gives you some useful tips for writing and I particularly like the part where they give you ideas on how to craft the introduction – which is the part where most people get stumped
WHY DID THEY NOT PUT THIS IN FRONT???!
okay maybe it’s just me, because the back cover of the book provides a number of good reviews from users.
- model answers are provided
- a variety of sample questions from various topics
- corrected essays by Korean learners ^^
To be improved:
- have more corrected essays by Korean learners
- put the tips section in front
- think about the purpose of having exercises
- more helpful content?
This book is a NO for me, but it may work for you.
For me, I would rather practice writing on www.lang-8.com, read more articles online on each topic and find out the good phrases to use ON MY OWN, and look at past year TOPIK papers for the questions / sample essays.
If you are interested in purchasing the book, here’s the link to TWOCHOIS