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Research Suggests Better Memory & Retention W/ These Online TEFL Courses

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You may have read some negative things about online TEFL courses, but do you know why people are saying these things and what the actual research is?

First you should know that all online TEFL courses are not created equally. Yes there are apparently many low quality courses out there, but that's not all.

Let's look at the problems.

Problems and opinions w/ online TEFL

First I'll let you know about some of the common opinions and problems w/ online courses then we'll go over these in more detail and finally you'll see what the actual research is.

  • Some people think "online TEFL certifications are a joke", "worthless" or only "good for checking a box".
  • Some people have problems with retention.
  • Some people say you can't learn without "observed teaching practice".
  • Some people say you won't get a job or a "good job" with an online TEFL.
  • Some people just repeat what others say.

Why do people think that online TEFL courses are a joke? Well, one of the reasons people say that is that because there is no classroom teaching practice. Most in-class courses like CELTA include around 6 hours of actual teaching practice.

You won't get that with an online course, but is 6 or 7 hours of teaching practice that valuable?

Can you get a job with an online TEFL? Sure, somewhere, but do all schools accept them? No. It depends on the school and location. Read more about if your online TEFL will be accepted.

Why aren't people learning much?

Problems with retention have mostly to do with the course itself being low quality, yet it can also be a problem with the student too.

"All I have is an online TEFL that I forget most of." - thedan633

"I finished the entire program in 3 days and retained like 5% of the information." -woobv

Some people may be better suited for online courses compared to others. If you are not sure then you can read online TEFL vs. onsite TEFL courses.


Some of these online courses are mostly or entirely text based, where you read and then answer multiple choice questions. These courses are not inspiring. The reasons why they didn't remember much of their course will be explained below.

Now you know some of the criticism and problems with online courses. So what does the research say?

People tend to only read 20-28% of a page online

Most online courses will require you to spend a considerable amount of time reading and then answering true/false and/or multiple choice questions.

The problem is...

People read less and tend to remember less of what they read. When online people tend to skim and scan and according to some studies they only read 20% of the page.

So if you are only reading that much then how much do you think you will remember?

It's not to say that text isn't valuable, but your brain usually likes visuals better.

Video-based instruction is superior to text


Recorded classes and instructional videos mimic actually being in a classroom.

I can tell you from my experience that the easiest way to learn how to teach is by watching other experienced and qualified teachers teach your target students. Now you can almost do that in a classroom course (although in most in-class courses you won't be observing "real" students) or you can do it online with video.

Video is way easier, faster and richer than reading text.

"Video-based e-learning is superior to illustrated text-based e-learning when teaching certain practical clinical skills."

Visuals enhance memory

A visual is crucial for your memory. Without a visual your brain will have to make it up with your imagination, however, if you have no experience teaching you are not going to have an easy time imagining it.


  • are faster - People can remember images seen as fast as 13 milliseconds. Source
  • improve memory - Pictures are remembered better than words. Source 1, source 2
  • are used by half of your brain. Source.

Example - images are superior

There was a famous study done by Lionel Standing in 1973. He took individuals and showed them 10,000 pictures for 5 seconds each for 5 days. 5 days later he wanted to see how many people could remember.

He showed the people images they had seen and ones they hadn’t. People remembered 70% of the images they had seen. One of the basic findings of this study was that…

In terms of memory images were superior to words spoken or read.

I took one of those cheap Groupon courses mentioned above and there were no related visuals or video.

Visuals are a large part of teaching English too

They are important in teaching because they help your students learn. When you take a course you are a student and to learn effectively you need visuals because without them the language remains an abstract concept.

If you want to teach some new vocabulary words to students when you can't speak their native language then how are you going to do that?

There are various techniques on how to do that, but using images is one way.

Images are a big part of language learning. A good text book will include many images along with the language. Here's an example from a student book:

lp2 assignment

Now imagine you were learning these words in a new language. Don't the images make it easier?

Again many of the cheap and or lower quality courses will not use many visuals.

You need repetition

You need repetition and practice to learn anything. Spaced repetition improves memory. This means that cramming or extended practice does not always improve retention.

Instead it's better to practice a bit or do a bit of work online, then do something else then come back to that material on another day.

"Practice is more effective when spaced out over time, instead of massed or grouped together (equating total practice time).",PIBBS).pdf

Aside from learning online some people have complained that courses like CELTA throw to much at you.

If you race through that course just to get the carrot (a certificate) then you probably won't remember much. A good course will space out content and use repetition to commit concepts and skills to memory.

Writing improves your memory

Writing is also another way to commit things to memory. Taking notes (especially by hand) vs. transcribing them tends to boost memory. 

Many of the cheaper courses will not include writing assignments because marking requires human effort and time. Writing assignments online are especially crucial in learning how to lesson plan.

Learn more about how writing helps improve your memory and retention.


Another note about onsite courses like CELTA is that they provide feedback on your lessons. Feedback can be good, but do online courses provide feedback?

It depends on the course, but many online courses will not include much if any real feedback from a real human.

How can you provide feedback online?

Well, lesson planning is a pretty important skill to master and a good course will include feedback (from an actual human) on multiple assignments.

It should also be specific and given in a timely manner.,-Specific,-Timely.aspx

Is feedback helpful?

Feedback should point out things that you may have missed during instruction. If the method of delivery is effective (the instruction) then feedback can help, but it's only secondary to the actual instruction.

"It is important to note, however, that under particular circumstances, instruction is more effective than feedback. Feedback can only build on something; it is of little use when there is no initial learning or surface information."

Audio can improve your memory

Audio is often present in video or it can be used on it's own. Audio may good for "multi-tasking". You can listen to a program while you drive on the highway, eat breakfast, walk, etc.

A high quality course may include audio to listen to.

When is the best time to take an online course?

Most people take courses before they get a job and start teaching. But is this the best time to take an online course? Well, ideally you would take a course before you start and then again after you start. You can actually do that with some online courses (many have short term access), but not with an onsite course.

Anyways if you are only going to take a course one time then take it when you start. You'll probably get more out of it because teaching won't be an abstract thing.

You'll get your actual teaching practice which will be far better than any in-class course too, because it's going to be with real students that you are teaching.

No, you won't get feedback from a trainer, but your students will give you feedback. Bored students, problem students and other classroom problems are often because your teaching and/or lesson is low quality.

Why ESLinsider?

ESLinsider's advanced course includes:

  • Video shot in the classrooms of Asia (primarily of the age range 6-15)
  • Feedback on written lesson planning assignments
  • Bite sized learning

All of these will lead to a better outcome once you hit the classrooms. You can learn more about this visually engaging course here.

Things You Probably Didn't Know About Teaching English In Asia, But Should Know

Korean Phrases Ep. 60: 낫 놓고 기역자도 모른다

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This is a semi-humorous Korean idiom that I remember learning before I could actually hold a full conversation. When the Korean who taught it to me explained it, I still didn't really know what it meant. This is because I didn't know the word 기역 yet - the word for the Korean letter "ㄱ." I hope that after explaining it to me, the Korean wasn't thinking I was someone who it should be used to... but who knows.

I know 2 weeks ago we also had a new Korean Phrases episode, but this will be the last one for awhile. Starting next week, I'll be uploading some new videos I filmed in Korea that I'm excited to share with you. In the meantime, here's another useful idiom. Check out the video here~!

The post Korean Phrases Ep. 60: 낫 놓고 기역자도 모른다 appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

 Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean





After the Trump Show in Singapore, N Korea Gets Kicked Back to Moon Jae In

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Image result for moon jae in

This is a local re-post of a Singapore response piece I wrote for the Lowy Institute a few days ago.

I’ll be honest and say that I still don’t really know what Trump achieved in Singapore. He’s running around the US and Fox claiming that he solved North Korea and and all that. But that’s not true. Just go read the Sentosa Declaration. It’s only 400 words and mostly aspirational. That’s not bad, but hardly worth presidential involvement.

In effect, what it really does is remove the Americans from the process and let Moon run this détente basically as he sees fit. Whether or not that is good thing depends on your North Korea politics, but the most important thing about Sentosa is that Trump got his spectacle and can now forget about North Korea and go back to Mueller and the Deep State and all that.

Moon now has checked the American box. He’s got an 80% approval rating. The left just cleaned up in the local elections last week, which were partially a validation of the outreach program. And the left is the largest bloc in parliament. So all the stars are aligned for a major left-progressive effort on North Korea. For three decades, progressives told us they could solve this if the right and the layers of bureaucracy and inertia were just out of the way. Now comes the test of that.

The text follows the jump:



The Trump-Kim summit last week was a nothingburger – not good or bad, just nothing new really at all. After months of hype, including grossly inflated talk of a CVID (complete, verifiable, irreversible disarmament) and a Nobel prize, US President Donald Trump’s meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jeong Un returned very little. As was quickly pointed out on Twitter and in the cable news coverage, the Sentosa Declaration was disappointingly similar to previous statements. In fact, it was somewhat inferior.

In practice, going forward now, the fizzle in Singapore opens the door to South Korean President Moon Jae-In to run this year’s North Korea détente as he sees fit. Moon’s party also cleaned up in last week’s local elections in South Korea. Even the mayoralty of the city I live in, Busan, was won by the primary left-wing party, the Democratic Party. I believe this has never happened before. This was in part a validation of Moon’s outreach strategy.

The South Korean left is now in a strong position from which to pursue a vigorous détente. The Democrats are the largest bloc in the legislature. Moon is a liberal with an 80% approval rating. The Democrats just won elections in the middle of the détente season. And Trump has effectively withdrawn from the peace process.

Singapore was, therefore, a curious sort of win for engagers. As South Korea’s only ally, the US had to be involved in the peace process in some way. The US is the world’s sole superpower; it is deeply vested in northeast Asia. Around 300,000 Americans live in South Korea, and the US defense shield has been central to South Korean security for decades. So, Washington’s participation was inevitable.

But Trump is notoriously lazy and checked-out from policy detail. He is also impulsive, belligerent, and unpredictable. Last year it seemed like he might start a nuclear war. The US has also been generally more hawkish on North Korea than the South. So for engagers, Singapore takes care of a few necessary elements:

It ties Trump ever more tightly to a diplomatic track, making backsliding toward last year’s war threats harder. Trump’s media addiction is now sated. He got his big TV appearance; he got the global publicity he craves. He can now claim, as he already has on Twitter and in Trumpist-conservative media back home, to have taken care of the North Korean problem. He can now push it all onto Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and go back to attacking his domestic enemies, which interests him far more than the thorny Korean issues which would require real focus and energy to manage. But because the Sentosa Declaration has no hard substance to it, Moon is not locked into any framework or direction by it. It is the best of both worlds for Moon: Trump’s taste for substance-free publicity and disdain for detail both removes him from the process now, and lets Moon more or less do whatever he likes.

This is good or bad depending on your North Korea politics of course. The South Korean left has long complained that the US intervenes too much in Korean politics and that the two Koreas should be left to their own devices. Conservatives worry that without US hawkishness on North Korea, the South Korean left will offer a lot for very little. The South Korean left has long flirted with the idea of a federation of some kind. Conservatives have often opposed this, because they fear it will turn into semi-permanent subsidization of the North, and lead to curbs on freedoms in the South. It is unclear if Moon has enough political support to push something like a Greater Koryo Confederation, but if there was ever a time to try, this is it. The political winds are about as favorable as they are going to get for leftist, big-bang approach to a final status deal with North Korea.

The promise of the left for a generation regarding North Korea was that it represented a different, less confrontational approach than the usual suspects on the right. In this narrative, the old guard which held the South Korean presidency for decades, and the hawks who filled the national security bureaucracies in the US and South Korea for decades, had little to offer but more competition, threats of force, and the status quo. Those hawks dragged their feet out of deep distrust for North Korea. Now we have a chance to test the outreach argument. Trump has recessed himself. Moon has the political support for a major effort. He knows the issues as well as any liberal of his generation. This is it. Maybe he can pull it off. I am doubtful myself, but we wish him luck.

Robert E Kelly
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science & Diplomacy
Pusan National University




You Can Get A Job With An Online TEFL, But How Well Do You Think You Will Do That Job?

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Can you get a job with an online TEFL course? Yes, somewhere you can, but it does depend on the school and country. Schools and countries can have different requirements or preferences.

It is also possible to get a job without any TEFL course (online or onsite).

Some schools will also reject online certificates. This can be more common in Europe, the middle east or other schools around the world.

How about in Asia? 

In my experience teaching in East Asia I'd say that most schools there don't care and will accept online courses.


The bottom line is that some schools:

  • want teachers with experience.
  • need teachers with teaching licenses.
  • require teachers to have master's degrees.
  • want teachers to have taken an in-class TEFL course.
  • want teachers to have taken at least an online course.
  • don't care about TEFL certification at all. They'll take teachers with a bachelor's as long as they are from a native English speaking country.

Again it can vary from school to school, but usually it's like this:

In Korea

In Korea online TEFL is fine most of the time. The only case where it may not work is if you want to teach in Busan in the EPIK program. In other EPIK locations and in hagwons online courses are usually fine.

Learn more about teaching English in Korea.

In China

Online TEFL courses in China are usually fine. Some of the tier one cities may require a 120 hour course even though "hours" online is a lie. Some may not be aware yet, but they will be. Others may want you to have an in-class course.

International or more prestigous schools may not, but if you are a first time teacher you probably wouldn't get into these schools with just an onsite TEFL course. Other countries are like this too.

Learn more about teaching English in China.

In Japan 

There is usually no said preference although like in other places it depends on the school.

Learn more about teaching English in Japan.

In Taiwan

It can depend on the school, but there is generally no said preference for or against online TEFL.

Learn more about teaching English in Taiwan.

There are two reasons to consider taking a TEFL course

And your question (the title of this post) focuses on reason 1.

  1. Getting certified will probably improve your resume and help you get a job especially if you don't have any experience.
  2. Taking the right course should teach you how to teach although as I will mention later what you take away from each online course will be different as they are not created equally.

Now that may seem like your problem now - getting a job and it is, but soon after that you will have another problem and that's going to be teaching and you're going to be doing that for at least a year.

Teaching is not easy. It's not a simple task to manage a classroom of students and teach a lesson. 

So that's why I would consider which online TEFL course you should take more. If you are thinking of taking a course online then you should know that all courses are not created equally.

What's the difference?

At first glance they may all look the same to you and sound the same. I totally get it.

You'll see words and phrases like accreditation, internationally recognized courses, 120 hour courses, be enticed by beaches and other marketing tactics, but the real difference lies in the quality of the course.

You have low quality courses and higher quality courses. Lower quality courses are cheaper.

Lower quality courses will be predominitely text based and you will basically read about some general aspects of teaching English and then answer multiple choice questions.

What's the problem with that?

  1. It's boring.
  2. You are not going to remember much of it.

You might get to Asia or wherever and be excited, but as soon as you get in the classroom you'll quickly realized that you don't know much about teaching.

That's what happened to me.

You might even think that online course you took was worthless, but perhaps it was you.

And that's when the stress begins. 

So if you are going to take an online course and you want to learn something or remember what you learn then you need to take a course with the following qualities

The course needs:

  • Video. You need visuals because the easiest way to learn how to teach is by watching other teachers. Most of the cheap courses do not use video.
  • To match. Adults or kids? Most TEFL courses like CELTA focus on teaching adults, but if you are not going to teach adults then you probably need one focused on teaching kids (young learners). It matters because teaching adults and teaching kids is different.
  • Lesson planning. You need to practice making lessons. 
  • Writing. You need to do some writing - which is usually lesson plans. But note taking also helps commit ideas to memory.
  • Feedback. Feedback from another person will help you see where your lesson planning needs some work.

Published research proves the importance of these things.

Videos (multi-media), feedback, writing, and lesson planning may be totally non-existent or used minimally in a cheap and low quality course.

Most courses unless otherwise specified will focus on teaching adults like CELTA does. You need to take a course that targets teaching the age range of students that you will mostly be teaching.

Am I suggesting an expensive course?

Not necessarily, just a good one.

Learn more:

Repatriation Dating Diaries: Cartier’s Hot for Teacher

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Hot for Teacher Repatriation Dating Diaries That Girl Cartier couple rowing boat woman girl man boy rowing boat oars water river lake romantic love valentine's day
Photographer: Josh Willink

Up in the Air – Not Exactly Dating on Cloud 9

Settling back into life in Toronto hasn’t gone exactly as planned.  My career didn’t quite get off the ground the way I expected.  I just settled into a condo downtown and now have to move.  Everything’s just a little bit up in the air right now.  Dating is no exception.  Everyone at the bar is swiping left or right while in a perfectly lovely meet market.  Tinder is for hook-ups.  Bumble is allegedly for “serious dating” (sure).  Meeting people through buttoned up/ tied-down friends is nearly impossible.  I’ve now been on dates with a commitment-phobe real estate developer, a self-obsessed rocker, an UBER driver (yes – he drove me home and then we went out), a blogger who recently carbon-copied my latest post on The Toronto Seoulcialite, and a Tinder I had been out with 4 years ago.  The conversation barely changed and he definitely didn’t clue in.  Dating is depressing.  Oh – and I went out with my old calculus teacher.

art background card close up colorful concepts creativity cube dice gambling game isolated lay flat maths micro object orange paper pastel pink three top view toy white yellow

Hot for Teacher – Dating isn’t Calculus, it’s Chemistry

When you were in high school, did you ever have a crush on a teacher?  How about that hottie who wasn’t much older, but just enough that the difference in age/ power balance would have been inappropriate?  Imagine my surprise when the Facebook algorithm encouraged me to reconnect with my old calculus teacher 14 years my senior.  I can’t imagine he’ll mind my writing about this.  The probability of us meeting as we did was low, and the probability we’ll ever meet again is practically non-existent.  He was my teacher for all of 3 weeks (and change) and we bumped into one another locally and in Kingston for all of 3 minutes each time.  This round, after a lovely date, a hesitant goodnight kiss, and a few text exchanges promising to see one another again, it only took him about 3 days to ghost.  Dating isn’t algorithms or equations, it all comes down to chemistry and the space-time continuum.

Hot for Teacher Repatriation Dating Diaries swimming pool blue water wooden people girl woman reading book relax travel vacation
Photographer: Angello Lopez

Dating Derivatives

While it would be lovely to meet someone who had the raw, passionate, primal masculinity of Adonis, or the “jamais seul” nature of ex-Co-P, it’s summer.  Dating in Toronto doesn’t really ever seem to be clear or direct – just derivative of our parents’ and grand-parents’ generations.  In the summer it’s the least likely time for any of that to change.  Our diluted and deluded perspectives of responsibility to one another make me believe that I’ll always be house-hurt from carrying the weight of rent completely alone.  Owning at all is a pipe-dream.  White picket fences are a thing of the past.  There’s plenty I’m tempted to try.  Did I learn anything from scratching off this bucket-list item?  Not really.  Just that I think I’ll keep my interests outside of the classroom.

The post Repatriation Dating Diaries: Cartier’s Hot for Teacher appeared first on That Girl Cartier.

The Toronto Socialite
That Girl Cartier


Cozynook Cafe

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Since my grandparents had a cozy little nook in their home, I was immediately drawn in! And it literally is and has a nook!

The outside sitting areas are well decorated and to me, had a natural and open feeling, despite being a hidden little nook!

It used to be an older style Korean house that has been now remade into a cafe. Inside is just as charming as the patio.

And there are some nick nacks to be discovered!

The cafe also has it’s own dog and other dogs seem to be welcome as well.

The cafe has your standard fare for drinks and cakes. We didn’t order anything fancy though, just kept it simple this time.

The cafe can be easy to miss, so look up for the sign. There is also another smaller sign as you walk in.

It is located in Ulsan. You can take an intercity bus from your local 시외버스 terminal and get off at gongeoptap (공업탑) stop. I have linked a Naver map so you can hopefully find it easily.

A. Smith

Most recognized online TEFL course? You Actually Have Bigger Problems.

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What's the most recognized online TEFL course? Well, if you really care about prestige and the recognition of a certificate then you probably shouldn't take an online course.

Why not?

Well, they are not accepted in some places. The schools that don't accept them are often in Europe, the middle east, or at other prestigious schools.

I would say that the most recognized course in those places is going to be a CELTA or Trinity TESOL. But those courses aren't really online. I think CELTA has a course that is partly online, but not totally.

So are there any other courses online that are more prestigious?

Well that depends who you ask. If you ask a TEFL course provider many will say, "Ours!" 

Is there any truth to that? 

I don't really think so. Lots of TEFL course providers say that schools want to see "their" certificate. It happens with both online and in-class courses. It's just bad marketing in my opinion.

In my experience teaching in Asia: China, Korea and Taiwan, I'd say most schools will accept online TEFL courses. 

The most recognized brand in TEFL is CELTA. CELTA is a brand of TEFL courses although I would say that it is not very popular in Asia. So are there other brands that are more recognized?

I think there are brands that may be in some places, but there are so many brands out there that most schools aren't going to make a preference for one or the other. And again if they made a preference for a course it would be for one that was probably in-class.

I know you are looking for simple answers, but it just doesn't work like that. It's just kinda like getting a job in your own country. Does a degree from a prestigious university guarantee you a job "anywhere"?

From my point of view, no, it doesn't, but if your answer was yes, then I'd say well a TEFL certification is not a degree.

The bottom line is that it depends on the school.

I mean you could get a CELTA go to Korea or wherever you want to teach and then find out that your employer doesn't even care or know what a CELTA is.

My first employer in Taiwan didn't seem to care about my in-class TESOL course.

Or maybe you could get a CELTA and get a great job somewhere although I would say that most first time teachers don't get great jobs because they don't have experience.

It depends.

I think to most employers the brand of TEFL will not matter.

Although I don't think Groupon courses have a good reputation. On the other hand many employers in Asia won't know the difference between a fake TEFL, a cheap TEFL and a $1000+ online TEFL.

Or will they?

If you want the most recognized certificate then that means you care about quality right? Or does it?

You should care about the quality of the course, because you will realize the difference when you start teaching. 

You have a bigger problem than getting a job and that's going to be the teaching

I understand that at this point you're stressed about getting a job, but it's not that hard to get a job teaching English in Asia. You can get a job with the most expensive certificate, the cheapest one or without any certificate somewhere.


Getting a job is just the beginning. The actual job is what is challenging. You may be concerned now with just getting a job, but if you are going to take a course then why not take one that trains you better?

You want a certificate to get a job and courses know that, so that's what they are selling you: a certificate that's "internationally recognized", accredited, "prestigious", etc.

But those things hardly matter in the long run.

What matters more is what you learn in the course. Learning online is difficult. Why? Because people don't retain what they learn for a few different reasons.

"I finished the entire program in 3 days and retained like 5% of the information." - woobv

Why don't they retain the information?

Because it is uninspiring material. These lower quality courses are predominately text based courses where you read passages and then answer multiple choice like questions.

It's boring and you have no visuals. Research shows that people only tend to read 20-30% of a page. So if you only read that much then how much do you think that you will remember?

Not much.

On the other hand research shows that visuals improve memory and retention.

I can tell you from experience that the easiest way to learn is by watching other teachers. If you can't be in the classroom watching other teachers then you can do that by watching instructional videos.

Reading online is more time consuming. Videos are faster and richer. 

Learn more about the qualities of a high quality online TEFL course.

What's the most recognized online TEFL course?

Well, I said it doesn't really matter, but one other thing to keep in mind that I didn't mention are "hours". Some people are going to say that you need a 100 or 120 hours of online training. But online these TEFL course hours are a misnomer. 

There are no actual "hours" as these courses are asynchronous courses which means there are no set class times. These courses typically take way less time than they suggest.


Teaching English is not easy. You need all the help you can get. Getting a job is just the beginning. If you want to have a better time teaching abroad then I would invest more in the teaching, because that is where you are going to be spending your most of your time.

The best course is going to be the one that prepares you to teach the students you are going to teach. If you are going to teach mostly kids then you should take a course focused on that.

Many courses are just general courses. They tend to focus on teaching adults and they can be helpful, but many like the ones I have done (1 in-class and 1 online) are not specific enough.

Here's a course especially focused on teaching English to mostly kids in Asia.


The Best Way to Learn Korean Vocabulary

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How are you learning vocabulary? I've been wondering what's the most effective way to study Korean vocabulary since I first started, and I've tried a lot of different methods.

Here are some of my personal best methods for learning vocabulary. I don't claim to know the best way of studying vocab, but only want to present a few suggestions. Only you know the best way that you can learn vocabulary, so take this with a grain of salt (yum).

Do you have a different method? Let me know in the comments - either here on this site or under the YouTube video.

The post The Best Way to Learn Korean Vocabulary appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

Cheonansa Temple – 천안사 (Baekyangsan, Busan)

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Jijang-bosal and a mountain stream at Cheonansa Temple in Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Cheonansa Temple is located on Mt. Baekyangsan in central Busan. While overshadowed by the much more famous Seonamsa Temple to the west, the smaller sized Cheonansa Temple has a rustic charm of its own.

You approach Cheonansa Temple down some back roads until you come to a wide temple parking lot that’s fronted by a large protective stone guardian. To the right, which first greets you to the temple, is the temple’s visitors centre. Behind it, and still to the right, are the monks’ dorms.

To the left of the monks’ dorms is the temple’s main hall. Out in front of the main hall is a three tier, Silla inspired, stone pagoda. Before climbing the stairs that give you access to the main hall, there are a pair of stone reliefs book-ending the set of stairs. The stone reliefs depict Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). To the far left of the main hall is a beautiful modern statue dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). And between both the main hall and the stone statue is a mountain stream bisecting the two. And to the far left, left of Jijang-bosal, is wild grass filled with mountain hikers’ cairns.

As for the main hall, the exterior walls are adorned with beautiful Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals. While entering the main hall, you’ll first notice the main altar with golden flowers suspended from the ceiling above three smaller sized main altar statues. Sitting in the centre of the triad is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). To the left of the main altar is the temple’s guardian mural. And to the left of that is a shrine for the dead and a statue of a bright, golden image of Jijang-bosal. To the right of the main altar is a shrine, once more, for Jijang-bosal. In addition to the green haired statue of this Bodhisattva, Jijang-bosal is also backed by an older image of himself. The final mural of note inside the main hall is a painting of the Bodhidharma with his back facing you in a green robe and a nimbus halo surrounding his head.

To the rear of the main hall, and up a very precarious mountainside path, are a pair of simplistic shrine halls. The shrine hall to the right is the Sanshin-gak. Housed inside this simplistic shrine hall is a vibrant painting dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). And to the left is another simplistic shrine hall with another equally impressive image; this time, of Dokseong (The Lonely Saint).

HOW TO GET THERE: Take the Busan subway, line two (the green line), to Dongeui University stop #222. From this stop, you can take a taxi to Cheonansa Temple, and it should cost you about 4,000 won. The trip should last about 10 minutes.

OVERALL RATING: 4/10. While not anywhere as close to impressive as the neighbouring Seonamsa Temple on Mt. Baekyangsan, Cheonansa Temple makes a nice little addition if you’re already in the neighbourhood. The vibrant murals of Sanshin and Dokseong, as well as the beautiful scenery of the framing mountain are the true highlights to this smaller temple.

The mountainside view as you approach the temple on Mt. Baekyangsan.

A closer look at the statue of Jijang-bosal out in front of the main hall.

The main hall and temple shrine halls at Cheonansa Temple.

The main altar inside the main hall.

The painting and statue dedicated to Jijang-bosal.

The Bodhidharma mural on the far right wall of the main hall.

The guardian mural at Cheonansa Temple.

As well as this Chilseong mural.

The T-1000 Terminator-looking Jijang-bosal inside the main hall.

One of the Palsang-do murals that adorns the exterior walls to the main hall.

This Nathwi also adorns the main hall.

The trail that leads up towards the two shrine halls to the rear of the main hall.

The Sanshin-gak to the right rear of the main hall.

Inside is this beautiful Sanshin mural.

The view from the Sanshin-gak.

And the painting inside the Dokseong-gak of the Lonely Saint at Cheonansa Temple.

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