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Saturday, 28 February 2015

Australian Website about Greek Mythology

Have a look at

the Australia Broadcasting Corporation's website about Greek mythology.

Of special interest is the 'Storytime' section, which contains 4 different myths with 4 different styles of animation.  I like the 'Orpheus' one, as it has been nicely modernized.

I have shown these to older classes and some of the students demonstrated interest.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

New Semester

Tomorrow (Monday) is the first day of the last week of the semester.  This week I will be busy finishing books, wrapping up classes, writing student reports, and (Thurs. and Fri.) having snack parties.


It went so fast, and I have to give most (all?) of my good students to other foreign teachers (we trade off, usually after 1 year of teaching the same students).

In the news, I have read that a record number of Korean elementary schools are enrolling only 1 or 2 new students for a class (school year) due to the declining birth rate.

Also, by 2020, there will be far more college/university openings than high school graduates, so the government is working to shut down some colleges/universities.

Education is changing in Korea.

Let's hope that the illogical (stupid) grammar preparation for university tests changes as well . . .

Friday, 20 February 2015

Language Sounds

As an English teacher in South Korea, sometimes I have a hard time hearing different sounds in the Korean language.

For example, g and k share the same character (ㄱ) in the Korean alphabet, Hangeul/Hangul (한글).

Crab is ge/ke (게), while dog is gae/kae (개). It's very hard for me to hear the difference.

P and b also share similar sounds, as do d and t.

But it flips two ways.

In one class I have a student whose English name is Ally, and another girl whose name is Elly.  It is difficult for them to hear the difference in my pronunciation.  When I ask one or the other to answer a question or read something, they invariably point to themselves and ask "Me?"

I was reminded about language sounds yesterday when I was talking to a Korean friend.  I told her that sometimes my students make mistakes in their diary writing, and sometimes the mistakes are unintentionally humorous.

One time, I said, a student wrote that her family went to the beach and caught craps.  And then they ate the craps.

Of course, she meant to write crabs, but since the b and p sounds are similar the mistake happened.

I showed my friend how aspiration works, how you can hold a piece of paper or tissue in front of your mouth, and when you say p the paper moves, yet when you say b the paper doesn't move.

In another class I have one girl whose name is Gi-yeon, while in front of her sits a girl whose name is Gi-yeong.  I learned the first day that I have to make sure I pronounce that final g sound.

I find the whole issue of language sounds to be interesting yet sometimes frustrating, especially when my students or friends don't understand me.

After doing a survey of students I determined that Lunar New Years day in Korea, 설날, or Seolnal, is often pronounced (and usually spelled in English) Seollal.

That makes it even harder, when different pronunciations exist within the Korean population, but then again I think about American English and some words like envelope and creek and how they are pronounced differently.

It might be easier if we all spoke the same language and pronounced words the same way, but then language would be boring and I wouldn't have the job that I enjoy so much.

*Note: While I felt the urge to use single and double quotation marks in this posting, I had a short debate with myself and decided that inserting lots of additional punctuation marks would not look good and might detract from reading.  However, I accept any opposing criticism.  Thanks for reading!

New Restaurant

Today I ate at a new restaurant in Ansan.  It's called 'raracost' (no capital letter) and apparently is part of a newer chain in Korea.  Their slogan is something like "The Best Family Restaurant in the World!"  . . . quite a bold claim, especially if the restaurants are limited to Korea.

They did have the most employees I have ever seen at one time in a restaurant (even for a big place like this), at least 10 outside the kitchen.

The general theme is Italian, so pizza and pasta, but also steak and pilaf.

Our food would all rate about 4/5, except for the chicken, which was wonderfully tender and delicious, so 5/5.  I would definitely order the barbeque chicken again!

Here are the pics:

And yes, that was too much food for 2 people.  The chicken tray would have been enough . . .

Thursday, 19 February 2015


One of the few restaurants open in Itaewon (Seoul) for lunch on lunar new year's day is Gecko's; this was the second time I went there, and, as with the first time, the food was good:

Calamari, or fried squid

A stir-fried 'fusion' dish of rice, bean sprouts, chicken, and shrimp in a spicy sauce

Steak and cheese sandwich with fries

Cheese Shopping

The best place that I know of to buy cheese in Korea--meaning a wide variety at reasonable prices--is at the Foreign Food Mart in Itaewon (Seoul), just a few blocks from the subway station.  They have many loyal customers, including me, as they are nice and speak a variety of languages:

Namsangol Hanok Village

Seoul's Namsangol Hanok Village, or Namsan (place name) Valley Traditional Korean House Village (남산골한옥마을), is a nice place to visit, especially on the morning of Lunar New Year's day, when not many tourists are there (only a busload of Chinese).

Pictures of the insides of the houses were taken through windows or doorways, as you are not allowed to enter the homes:

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Snow Pics from the U.S.

After 3-4 weeks of 3-4 winter snowstorms, here are the pics:


American kids, education, technology, etc.:

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Short Film

Here is a short animated film (7 min.) called "Tsunami", which deals with one man's psychological recovery after the huge Asian tsunami (it may be a bit strange for young children):

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Healthy Foods

Yesterday I steamed broccoli, kale, and garlic, and then mixed everything with some olive oil (which increases the body's ability to absorb nutrients from certain foods such as these):

I am happy that I enjoy eating healthy foods:)

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Barley Rice Restaurant

Here is a restaurant that I posted about a while back; it's in the Anyang area and has good healthy food in an informal setting:

Some pics of the food (acorn jelly salad, prepared vegetables for make-it-yourself bibimbap, soup, etc.):

Anyang Country Restaurants

Here are some pics of a cluster of restaurants, some of them barley rice places (보리밥), just outside of Anyang (not too far from the Lotte Mart):

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

English Only

At our English academy, we are going to change into an "English-only" mode starting with the new semester in March.

Currently, all students (except maybe for phonics classes) are required to speak English during class time.

However, before class and during break time students have been allowed to speak in Korean to each other.

That policy is changing.

About 70 % of classes have now been told that they should only speak English while inside the school, and (fortunately) we have had a very good response.

First we asked a handful of "good" classes, mainly 5th-6th grades, to help write a "break time English" list of phrases/sentences/questions and answers.

Then we said to those students, ok, you are going to begin the new policy, so your classes will only speak English at all times.

The students, for the most part, have adopted and conformed to the new rules without a fuss.

Probably there will be a some minor frictions over the next few weeks as most of the remaining classes are told to conform to the new rules, but hopefully the spring semester will start out well and by the end of March there will be only English spoken within the school (with the exception, naturally, of some grammar lessons, etc.).

Monday, 9 February 2015

Google Android Advertisement

Exactly what they are advertising, other than (some say) poking fun at Apple, is open for thought.

Could be that Google just needs new ways to spend the buckets of cash it is earning.

Anyway, the piece is cute and heartwarming:

"Friends Furever" (not a typo):

Pork Cutlet Lunch

The pork cutlets at this place are thin but very wide/big:

Quite tasty and very filling!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Nature is Brown

Here are some pictures from a hill in the countryside near Anyang:

It was nice to get out and go for a short (yet steep) hike.

Sushi Buffet Restaurant

Pictures of the food from the Sushi House buffet restaurant in Sanbon, Gunpo-shi:

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Old Documentary

Here is an article about the female divers on Jeju island, the haenyeo (해녀):

It contains a video that is interesting from an historical perspective, as the 24 minute film is 40 years old.  It shows what life was like in a small fishing village on Jeju in 1975.

Watch the documentary . . .

Lunar New Year in Korea

Seollal, or the Korean Lunar New Year, is coming soon . . . less than two weeks (it's Feb. 18-Feb.20).

This year everyone gets a 5-day weekend (well, most people) . . . Yeah!

Unfortunately, it is a very bad time to travel within Korea, though Seoul should be relatively empty compared to normal.

For more information on the holiday go here:

and for information about what tourist sites in the Seoul area will be open, go here:

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Bulgogi Restaurant

Two friends and I ate at a bulgogi restaurant and had an enjoyable lunch.  We opted for the beef set menu ($11 per person), but there's also a pork set ($8 pp).

 Free do-it-yourself refills on the side dishes, so we ate quite a bit!