Should have done this a long time ago but problems arise people get busy and I just didn’t get round to it hehe ^^ anyway. Lets start. I love Darakwon books ^^ I have used two already and I love the setup of their books they really take everything from a self-study point of view which is not common sometimes, avoiding the class-room like exercises in books (which I hate) is a good point in their books.
Another plus one with Darakwon books is that they always contain an mp3 audio cd which is something we, as self study Korean learners, need in every book we buy for pronunciation and listening purposes its a must have hehe ^^ I am always so happy to listen to the cd that comes with a Darakwon book. It’s a load of fun repeating the passages/sentences (this is known as shadowing I think!)
Also major point with me its not one of those books that is setup in a way that looks like you need a masters to get to the last chapter its straight forward and to the point ^^
As in my previous reviews (1) (2) (3) you can just scroll all the way to the bottom and read the conclusion! Do I like it ….or not ^^ Enjoy.
First I want to look at the sections of this book.
TOPIK QUESTION EXPLANATIONS.
I enjoyed reading this section because before this book my knowledge of to TOPIK setup was pretty limited seeing as I cannot take the exam its not something I even bothered to look into often, but, using this book I saw what its actually about. The ‘Explanation’ section is just that it explains the different types of TOPIK questions and how to solve them using either 1. Logic or 2. Your ability of Korean by saying you solve it using your logic it means your probably don’t know the answer but using simple elimination on some of the questions means you will probably nail it hehe. Using your ‘ability’ means you are pretty damn sure what the answer is – no need for any deduction in your mind (:
The setup of the explanations is something I took getting used to (and I found it tedious) having to read the question see the answer then look all the way down at the bottom of the page in the ‘blue box’ to see the explanation. It would have been much nicer if the book had breakdown style explanations instead of that stupid ‘blue box’ at the bottom of the page.
Didn’t expect. I didn’t expect this book to have any form of vocabulary (was fine with that!) but it did have a load of vocabulary in the Part 1 section of the book where the topik questions are explained in detail. The vocabulary section was nice a lot of words I personally did not know hehe I was surprised at that and seeing those words aided me in later sections of the book. ^^ one thing I really did like that involved the vocab section was a particular page where there were synonyms and antonyms of the words! that was really good sometimes it saves the effort of getting it from naver
WRITING PRACTICE SECTION.
It was weak. To me considering most people have a 멘봉 while having to write any form of essay in a foreign language it was very disappointing to see that the only advice provided was a generic “One should be familiar with the subject in order to write an essay” sorry but I know its impossible to give a magic pill and BAM. I can write the perfect essay this was on the weird side. Did though appreciate the sample essay provided in the ‘Questions’ section it was helpful to understand what the exam committee would be looking for. xD
Phew. Up until about a week ago I had never attempted to do the listening section in any topik mock test I had done (half of one in early 2013) so I was very curious to what my listening skills. Was I good. Bad? Somewhere in between needing some work? hehe. And I liked the listening section even though it was beginner [basic] the first questions where really simple and it was fun yet still required my focus but the last 5 questions really pushed the limits. That I liked very much. To me the listening section material they have provided in the book is excellent beyond. 😀
대박! The index/pages at the end where without a doubt the best feature in this textbook for me. It was loaded at the back of that book with translations to the listening practice and Korean-English transcripts which I adore ^^ and its usefulness is proved time and time again.
You can see the Kor-Eng reading transcript is really cool ^^ and there are a lot of them which is pretty damn cool (:
1.2.3. There is more to it than just some vocab words, examples, and what-not! Its an adequate book with a few tips here and there that may be useful to someone taking the topik needing an extra boost of confidence (however this is to the old topik not the new 2014 one). The explanations although lacking take the top spot in my heart for this book together with the mp3 audio cd. I am someone who needs explanations hehe without them I can miss the whole damn point of something. ;;
The explanations in the blue box. This is a pretty long one, longer than all the rest in the book and you can clearly see that the explanations are clear however not very detailed, and also the explanations are provided in both Korean and English. Wow. That is cool. Right?
This one is my favourite, It gave a lot of info. Hehe.
THINGS THAT COULD HAVE BEEN DONE BETTER.
There are a few things that I just wish were ‘more’ or (less?) in the book and they are ~
- Better more detailed explanations on selected grammar points.
- I wish the question examples were more, they put a lot but just a few more variations I felt would be better in aiding understanding.
SOME IDEAS/TIPS ON USING THE BOOK!
I thought I would share some ideas/tips on how I used the book and maybe it would be helpful to any of you ^^
1. First thing I did was take the first mock test as more of a ‘diagnostic test’ just for fun because it was cool. Also to me it was helpful in understanding which ‘examples’ I should read and which had no relevance to me at all.
2. Never. Not once. Did I write down a single word when it came to the vocabulary lists because I felt it would be better to leave it to my mind (and it worked!) ^^
3. Listen to the audio before you take the ‘Listening’ section mock test as a warm up to really listening to it when you take the mock exam in the book.
4. Time yourself. This was something I had fun with timing myself and now I have forgotten everything about the mock test and will do it again hehe.
5. Don’t worry too much about getting them wrong or not understanding much! Just let it go and have fun with the book. That is why you bought it heh? ^^
And of course there is a section that shows you how to use the book in the beginning of the book which was real nice.
I think that is about it ^^
One more thing.
The TOPIK is changing so is this book still useful or even relevant? ^^
This is my answer. In the new TOPIK are you going to need grammar? Yeah! So there is grammar in here. Are you going to need some vocab and ways to use said vocab? Yeah, right? So there is all that in here. Also on a learners note, you want to have reading, listening, and writing practice. Right? Well this book provides you with the tools to do that, and its a pretty cheap book at 18$ so I would buy the next level if I had the money hehe.
Overall I give the book a 7/10 its a good book to ‘have’ but not to use as your sole basis of Korean knowledge and it certainly would not be the first book I bought to study with. No, its not that kind of a textbook. For learners who like having (writing down.) vocabulary lists then this is for you because there is vocab in abundance in this book for me it was a waste of time I learnt one word overall that I remember. Learners that appreciate the accompanying audio cd to help with pronunciation and listening then you will appreciate this, maybe more than I did. If you are somebody (learner) who likes to have detailed explanations to understand grammar then don’t rely on this because to be all that honest to me I didn’t see anything that could make me ‘learn’ more about the grammar with such vague and lack-lustre explanations. You must have another grammar source or the book is useless! Use it together with another textbook that would serve you much better.
Learners looking to gain some confidence for their TOPIK exam will appreciate this very much because although I have never personally taken the topik this seemed like it helped me understand some things about the exam and also some of the questions, learning about them was fun too ^^ favourite being the ‘Review and Analysis of Previous TOPIK questions’ since I was a noob.
One more thing, this book is based on the (now) previous TOPIK exam the exam will change in October 2014 sitting. ~
Book is widely available from online bookstores I paid 18$US for mine on twochois.com its a very reasonably priced textbook and worth a chance if you aren’t certain if its for you xD