Time for another book review! Today we’ll be checking out Talk To Me In Korean’s “News in Korean” book.
Getting into reading news articles can be daunting for Korean learners. Depending on the article, you might find yourself way in over your head with complicated vocabulary and grammar you haven’t seen before, and some news articles can get very lengthy. “News in Korean” is mindful of both of those issues and presents short, manageable mini-articles with clean illustrations in a very helpful format.
Each reading passage is presented to you twice—first on its own page and then again on the next page with key/difficult words highlighted and defined, and with English translations for the passage as well. This is very useful because it eliminates the need for an external dictionary (provided you know all of the other words), and even for flipping pages to a glossary at the end of the book. This layout is even supported by SLA (second language acquisition) research! Yeung (1999) suggested that having to flip pages from a reading passage to a glossary, keeping the read material in mind while looking for a word’s definition on a totally different page, sort of overloads the brain and made things harder. On the other hand, having definitions on the page right next to difficult words helped students learn the meanings of those words better (look, I am learning stuff in grad school!).
Apart from being backed by ~magical SLA research~ this format is also cool because you can keep a clean copy of the article, the first presentation of it, to go back and read whenever, but you also have that second notes page to mark up and check for help as needed. Very cool layout decision, in my opinion!
While the presentation of the articles is cool, I don’t feel like the followup is very good. There are only three simple multiple choice questions to answer per article. I know the articles are short in the first place, but… I don’t know, I feel like having a little more afterward would have been nice.
Also, even if the follow-up weren’t in practice questions, it would have been nice to see some sort of progression in the vocab presented. It’s fairly separate article to article, but it would have been cool if they had presented new vocab in one article, then followed it with another article that uses some of those words, and then the next article uses some of the new words from THAT article, and so on… When learning new words, it takes multiple exposures to really get them into your mind. Just presenting them one-off as they are in this book is not really the most effective way to learn new words.
Anyway, if you want to try to get into reading news articles but feel intimidated, this book is for you! The articles are short and easily digestible, and the provided definitions and translations make them very manageable 🙂
Happy reading, everyone!