[Book Review] Exciting Korean Listening Intermediate

I’ve just finished using the Exciting Korean Listening Intermediate textbook from MoonJinMedia. It claims to be matched to the high end of TOPIK Level 2 through to the low end of TOPIK Level 4. I’ve not done any TOPIK tests so I can’t say whether or not that’s accurate, but I’d say the scope and level is not far from other pre-intermediate and intermediate level resources that I’ve used.

Contents

There are 20 chapters on everyday themes in Korean life; each is four pages long and follows roughly the same format. On the first page (준비 or get ready) introduces the topic and highlights important vocabulary. Typical tasks include circling new words in a short written passage, or matching words to relevant images.

Not only does it prepare you for what you are about to hear, but from the very beginning of the chapter you can develop your vocabulary with a just few new words each time. There is also a comprehensive vocabulary list at the back of the book covering all of the chapters.

On the same page is a 문화산책, a short paragraph highlighting a relevant aspect of Korean culture. So the travel chapter has a paragraph on Jeju Island, the illnesses chapter introduces traditional Korean medicine and the chapter on rooms in a house gives information about Korea’s 전세 rental system. These seem to be purely for informative purposes.

DSC_1025

There’s a small space in each chapter (감칠맛 나는 한마디 or tasty words!) for those little conjunctions that grease the wheels in Korean conversation: 글쎄요, 그렇군요, 별거 아니긴요… A really neat touch addressing a part of speech that often gets overlooked in Korean listening/speaking books.

The listening itself has three parts:

  • a picture based question (ordering or labelling events)
  • a five question section confirming specific information (often T/F)
  • a two part ‘summarising’ question, usually in the style of a broadcast or phone call

Finally the last page has a follow up activity, usually where you write notes or sentences about your own thoughts/experiences of the topic.

So is it any good?

Firstly, it’s an extremely attractive book in full colour with some very vivid images (seriously, that helps!). The topics are generally well selected and genuinely informative. Listening questions are straightforward, with  clear recordings on 2 CDs and, notably, they use high and low forms of speech – something I feel I should be getting more used to as I stray further and further from standard Korean (you can explore these differences using the transcripts at the back). I think there is a good level of challenge in the vocabulary used across the chapters.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I should say that there is no English in this textbook apart from the introduction. However the exercises are clearly explained using short Korean sentences, which makes that a plus.

Also, this may seem a minor point but the answer section is the most user-friendly I’ve seen in a while. Just make scaled-down copies of the pages in black and white and mark the answers on in red. It makes checking answers a breeze!

There is a lot to like about this textbook. However, my main issue is that it’s a listening resource where 50% of the tasks involve writing. True, the last page of each chapter is sometimes more of a note taking exercise before a freer speaking activity but you’re not always asked to do this. For this reason I think this book would be most useful in a group study setting, where students can take the initiative to develop their conversational skills further using the books as springboard.

Also, there’s no real emphasis on fixing intermediate level listening problems (e.g. issues with consonants like that annoying 사이시옷 rule), and the 문화산책 is vastly underused. As a suggestion, even a ‘listen and fill in the blanks’ question would have been a welcome addition here. Because that level of depth is missing, I can only recommend this as a supplementary resource, and perhaps only to a group with the motivation to get the most of out it.

Pros:

  • Visually appealing
  • Informative with a good range of topics
  • Easy to follow with no English instructions/translations
  • Clear recordings, with a range of honorific levels at a good speed
  • 감칠맛 나는 한마디 section

Cons:

  • Too much writing, not enough listening!
  • 문화산책 could be recorded and/or as used as a learning resource
  • Doesn’t address specific intermediate listening problems

Leave a Reply