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How to Say ‘I’m Hungry’ in Korean

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Is your stomach grumbling? Did you skip lunch?

Then you’re going to need to know how to say ‘I’m hungry’ in Korean!

Let’s jump right into it.

*Can’t read Korean yet? Click here to learn for free in about 60 minutes!


‘Hungry’ vs. ‘Full’ in Korean

When talking about whether you are hungry or not, two different adjectives are used.

In front of each adjective is the word 배 (bae), which means ‘stomach’. To say that you are hungry, you add the adjective 고프다 (go-puh-da) to make 배 고프다.

Strictly speaking, the particle ‘가’ (ga) should come after ‘배’ to make ‘배가 고프다’. However, when speaking, people drop this particle.

If you want to say that you are full, then you need to use a different adjective completely. This adjective is 부르다 (boo-ruh-da), so to say ‘I am full’ in Korean, you would use 배 부르다.


Hungry Exclamations in Korean

1. 배 고프다! (bae go-puh-da) – I’m hungry!

2. 배 부르다! (bae boo-ruh-da) – I’m full!

When talking to themselves or making expressions, Koreans sometimes use a special form of the language which ends in 다. Although it looks like the dictionary form of the word, it is actually slightly different.

If you are using an adjective (like ‘hungry’) then you don’t need to change the word.

If you are making an exclamation that uses a verb, then the verb changes (for example 비가 온다 – It’s raining).


Formal ‘I’m Hungry’ in Korean

1. 배 고픕니다 (bae go-puhm-ni-da) – I’m hungry

2. 배 부릅니다 (bae boo-ruhm-ni-da) – I’m full

In very formal situations, you can use these two expressions. However, in reality you are unlikely to say them often.


Standard ‘I’m Hungry’ in Korean

1. 배 고파요 (bae go-pa-yo) – I’m hungry

2. 배 불러요 (bae bul-leo-yo) – I’m full

You can use these expressions to say that you are hungry or that you are full. They can be used in most situations.

If you want to ask somebody if they are hungry or full then just change the intonation to make a question. For example, you could ask: ‘배 고파요?’


Informal ‘I’m Hungry’ in Korean

1. 배 고파 (bae go-pah) – I’m hungry

2. 배 불러 (bae bul-leo) – I’m full

These expressions can be used when talking to close friends of a similar age.

They can also be used instead of exclamations when you are talking to yourself.

To ask them as a question, just change to an updward intonation at the end of the expression.


Other ‘Hungry’ Korean Phrases

If you are really hungry then you can use the following expression. It’s meaning in Korean and English is basically the same, so it should be easy to remember.

1. 배가 고파서 죽을 것 같다 (bae-ga go-pa-so juk-eul kot katda)

I’m so hungry that I could die


If you want to sound cute then you can use this aegyo expression.

2. 배고팡 (bae-go-pang)

I’m hungry (aegyo)


Now you know how to say ‘I’m hungry’ in Korean, it is time to find a 맛집 (delicious restaurant) and chow down.

What is your favorite Korean food to eat when you’re hungry? Let us know in the comments below!

Learn to read Korean and be having simple conversations, taking taxis and ordering in Korean within a week with our FREE Hangeul Hacks series:

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Weekend Warriors: Tredita Pizzeria

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Last night The Dudettes were playing at Ol' 55 in KSU, so we decided to grab some nosh in advance of the show.  This was a great excuse to try out Tredita for their wood-oven pizza.  I've really been craving awesome crust and Pizza School has just not been hitting the spot.

To find Tredita, head to Kyungsung University Subway Station and take exit 5.  At the top of the stairs pull a quick U-Turn, follow the main road as it curves around and then keep going straight down.  You'll pass Paris Baguette, Man in the Kitchen, and finally when you see Subway (sandwiches) take your first right.  From there, Tredita is right ahead of you at the end of the street.

It was pretty slow when we arrived at 6:30 PM, and we were sat upstairs since we had a group of 5.  I would definitely suggest sitting on the 2nd floor if you have the option, as the decor is pretty cool and they have comfy banquettes.  There are also power outlets available so I was able to charge my phone after being out and about all day (there was no way I was going from Hwamyeong to KSU to Seomyeon then back to Hwamyeong only to go back to KSU).  We wanted to try a bunch of different things, so we ordered 3 pizzas (small size) and a salad to share.  I apologise for the quality of the snaps - the girls were ravenous and I didn't have much of an opportunity to get pictures!

The $9 salad was pretty tasty, but considering there were 5 of us we just got a few leaves each and the bread went quickly.  Romaine, grape tomatoes, parmesan, and balsamic vinaigrette for $9 is a LOT by Korean pricing standards.

Prosciutto e rucola $15

This pizza was pretty tasty, but not my favourite of the bunch.  I enjoyed that it had a pesto sauce rather than tomato, and the arugula, tomatoes, and balsamic drizzle were refreshing.

Gorgonzola e funghi $13

I expected this pizza to be pretty bold considering the blue cheese factor, but it was actually really mild.  I would have liked a stronger flavour from this pizza.  The roasted garlic was perfect, there weren't too many mushrooms, and the crust was exactly was I was hoping for - crunchy and chewy and not too thick.

Diavola - $11

Being named "Devilish", I thought this one would be spicy.  It was not spicy at all.  This one had tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, salami, and black olives.  It was pretty basic, but I think it was a hit.  Next time I think I would try the Margherita pizza since it seems they can do a good sauce to cheese ratio and their crust is bomb.

Our bill came to about $50, so $10 a person to feel almost full, and definitely not stuffed.  I think there are a few kinks to work out flavour-wise (and they could definitely add a wine list...though I'm not complaining about $2.50 pints of beer) but they have the crust down pat and can roast garlic like it's a science.  They have a rooftop terrace too, so while I don't think it'll be a fantastic view, I can definitely see myself enjoying some 'za in the sunshine next summer.

Itaewon Reborn

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The gates to the famous district in Seoul, South Korea

The gates to the famous district in Seoul, South Korea

I must admit that I never really liked Itaewon until now. It just seemed like too wild of a place. I think that it stems from a night where I tried to find a hostel there and found myself walking up Hooker Hill. I was then promptly grabbed by a large Russian prostitute and almost dragged into a seedy bar. Her Schwarzenegger-like accent demanded me to “have a good time” but I broke free and ran like hell.


However, recently the whole area is gentrifying with mixed emotions from the community. Like most places in Seoul, there is a weird cycle that has started to happen. First, they get popular because of the independent shops and restaurants, the place becomes trendy so rent goes up, so the independent shops move out, generic businesses owned by large companies move in and soon it resembles every other place in the city. This is on the forecast for Itaewon but at the moment it is a mix of trendy shops, the old Itaewon and the ever encroaching big businesses. For me, this balance seems to work as long as everything stays where should. However, with rent skyrocketing it won’t be long before it is overrun with Angel-in-us cafes and Mom’s Touch Burger shops.


On my recent trip back to Itaewon, I was looking for a more touristy angle. What would would want to see here? For those of us who have been here for a while and who do not live in Seoul, the trip usually ends up being a food pilgrimage. However, with the good advice from Robert Koehler and John Steele, I had a great plan to visit some of the area’s more interesting sites.


The first stop was the Banana Tree Cafe to get some shots for the article that I am currently working for. It was the exact place that I was looking for. It was creative, quarky and uniquely Seoul. They served a truffle-like concoction in flower pot which added to the overwhelmingly “perfect date shot” feel to this place. These places are the kinds of places that you have to choose when you are thinking about the kind of audience the magazine, for which I was shooting for, has. In this case there are more geared towards people and families who would love this kind of location.

exhibit at the Leeum Art museum in Seoul

exhibit at the Leeum Art museum in Seoul

The Leeum Museum was just up the road and was the first of the major sites. This is the place that you may have seen but I felt that it doesn’t get a lot of attention. I have seen the photos of the exterior art exhibits but never really knew the name of this place. For me, what puts this place on the map are the collections of ceramics and art pieces that date back to the very early periods of life in Korea. There are modern exhibitions but for me the paled in comparison to the old paintings and delicate ceramics.


Originally this piece was supposed to have been  on the Global Village Festival which was happen that weekend. It was hard to miss but the underlying theme for me was not the festival itself but how the community has changed over the years. The festival showed just how much had changed with regards to the population. Thousands of Koreans and foreigners gathered over that weekend to celebrate and partake in some great food and cultural activities.


The star of this trip was Linus’ Bama Style Barbecue. Damn was it delicious. I have seen shots online and seriously drooled over them. I was a little concerned about the lines being that thousands of people had descended upon Itaewon that particular weekend for the Global Village Festival. However, we were reassured by an American Military couple that it was worth the wait. Before too long my wife and I were in BBQ heaven.

So good that we went twice in the same weekend!

So good that we went twice in the same weekend!

With our bellies full, we staggered back to our hostel and get a few shots during blue hour along the way. Suffice to say that we were beyond full, exhausted but very happy. I think that my wife coming along for this trip was great as she gave me some great feedback for different styles of shots that I may not have considered. Also, I think she realized just how much work I put into these trips and I am just not sitting around drinking coffee and chatting with friends.

Seoul Central Mosque

The following day we returned to Itaewon to photograph the Seoul Central Mosque and get a few more street shots. We also decided to return to Linus’ for some more BBQ. For the second day in a row, it was still amazing. Again, with our bellies full, we headed off to a market that is known for selling 2nd-hand goods. It was, to my amazement, full of old people. By full, I mean it was shoulder to shoulder with no room to maneuver a fully loaded camera bag. My frustration with being pushed and shoved got the better of me and we decided to leave.


Our final destination was Namsan Tower. This is one of the major tourist sites in the city. The shuttle busses come from all over the city to take people up the mountain. The only downfall on a day like this was the pollution. From the top of the mountain, you could barely see the city of Seoul. We got there early and sat for awhile, to be honest, I am really not sure why we went there so early. At any rate, blue hour came and I got the shots that I wanted. We jumped on the shuttle bus and headed for the station.


One of the best things about Korea is the fact that everything is so well connected. Getting from the tower all the way home was simple and affordable. It is crazy to think that we got from where we were all the way to within a block of our apartment using nothing but public transportation. With some great shots and an awesome weekend behind us, we greeted our cat and collapsed in bed. Mission accomplished.

The post Itaewon Reborn appeared first on The Sajin.

An Online TEFL Course: Not the Most Terrible Idea

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Online TESOL certifications

Just Do the CELTA

I’ve always said that if you’re going to do a TEFL course of some kind, you may as well go big and awesome and just do the CELTA. Sure, it’s expensive, coming in at around $2000 USD, and time-consuming (120 hours, usually done intensively over one month), but at the end of it, you’re going to have something of value. Even though employers in Korea and other parts of Asia often have no idea what it is, it’s well-recognized throughout Europe, the Middle East and North America.

Once you do the CELTA, you can level-up and do the DELTA, which often qualifies you for 1/4 to 1/3 of an MA TESOL program, or it can get you into teacher training, or management. Those other random certifications? Well, not so much and you’re probably going to be pretty disappointed if you think they will.

Another advantage of the CELTA over some (but not all) of the other courses is the supervised teaching practice. If you’re serious about improving your teaching skills, nothing else is going to help you do that more than this course.

CELTA in South Korea

If you live in South Korea and are interested in doing the CELTA, check out: Is it possible to do the CELTA in South Korea?

Don’t Let Anyone Convince you of This:

You have probably noticed that here are a million and one other TEFL courses besides the CELTA that you can do. But, please DO NOT LET ANYONE convince you that their month-long, intensive course that costs around $2000 is going to be better and more widely recognized than the CELTA, it’s not. Trust me.

But, onward to the online TEFL certification option. Good plan, or terrible idea?

What about only Online Courses?

Another option is to do an online TEFL course such as these 50-120 hour courses from International TESOL and TEFL Training. The price is most certainly right at $190-$349, but do they have any value or are they a total waste of time?

Here’s my $0.02:

If you don’t have something better, I’d say that they are better than nothing. By “something better,” I mean a Master’s degree in linguistics of TESOL, or the CELTA.

Better Than Nothing: Here’s Why

When you’re applying for teaching jobs with an unrelated BA of some kind, at least you can have some educational background related to teaching English as a second or foreign language. It’s certainly better than big, empty blanks on your resume before and after your BA.

If you’re applying for a job in a place like Korea, employers will likely be impressed that you have something and won’t ask too many questions about what the course actually involved. They will probably not know that there’s a significant difference between the courses that have supervised teaching practice, and those that do not.

A Bump on the Pay Scale

Public schools jobs in many countries (Korea!) often pay teachers according to a scale of some kind. The categories include qualifications such as MA, teacher certification, experience, and oftentimes, a TEFL certificate. You need to check the exact regulations for the country you’ve considering, but if one of these cheap online courses would qualify you for a bump on the pay scale, it’d certainly be worth doing and you’d make back your money in a month or two.

You Might Actually Become a Better Teacher

Another way that this kind of course will help you is that you can learn about how to teach English. While it’s likely to be less helpful than supervised teaching practice, it seems like it’s one of those things where it is what you make of it. Take the information, apply it to your own situation and run with it? You’re going to be a better teacher. Only take in the information to pass the test and forget about it? It’s not going to help you that much.

Job Interview Help

Finally, doing a course will hopefully help you perform better in interviews. Someone asks you what teaching approach you use? You’ll have a solid answer. Which activity you would use for situation XYZ? Hopefully you’re have some ideas. How to correct errors? No problem. A sample lesson plan? You’ll be solid. What you’ve been doing for professional development lately? Well, I just did a course!

An Online Only Option to Consider

Think that an online TEFL course might help you out? A good one to consider is International TESOL and TEFL Training. They have a few things going for them:

  1. The price
  2. A range of courses
  3. Job placement assistance
  4. A refund if you’re not happy
  5. They’re legit (a few different accreditations)

What do you think?

Please comment below and tell me what you think:

A. An online TEFL course is better than nothing.

B. Online TEFL courses are a waste of time and money.

C. Other, please explain.


The post An Online TEFL Course: Not the Most Terrible Idea appeared first on .

Jackie Bolen: How to Get a University Job In Korea


My Life! Teaching in a Korean University

University Jobs



How to Say ‘I Miss You’ in Korean

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It’s time to speak from the heart!

Today, we’re going to explain how to say ‘I miss you’ in Korean.

*Can’t read Korean yet? Click here to learn for free in about 60 minutes!


Two Korean Verbs for ‘Miss’

If you are wondering how to say ‘I miss you’ in Korean and you look in the dictionary, then you will likely come across the verb 그립다 (keu-rip-da).

Although this word does mean ‘to miss’, it isn’t used that often in spoken Korean. Instead of 그립다, the expression 보고 싶다 (bo-go ship-da) is used when people want to say ‘I miss you’ in Korean.

보고 싶다 literally means ‘I want to see’. It is made up of the verb 보다 (to see) and the suffix -고 싶다 which expresses the idea of wanting to do a particular action.

Even though ‘보고 싶다’ literally means ‘to want to see’, it also means ‘I miss you’. If you want to say ‘I want to see’ then you will use this expression too. Therefore, you need to listen carefully and judge the situation when translating this word.

그립다 can be used if you want to say that you miss a non-human thing or situation. For example, you might say ‘옛집이 그리워요’ (I miss my old house) or ‘학창시절이 그리워요’ (I miss my school days).

If you want to say something like ‘miss the bus’ then you should use the verb 놓치다 (noh-chi-da). For example, you might say’버스를 놓쳤어요’ (I missed the bus). Whenever talking about missing a person, use 보고 싶다.

Are you curious how to put this expression to use? Let’s get to it!

Informal ‘I Miss You’ in Korean

1. 보고 싶어 (bo-go ship-eo)

Ninety-nine percent of the time you will be using this expression with your significant other. Therefore, it is best to start off with the informal way of saying ‘I miss you’ in Korean.

You can turn this expression into a question by changing its intonation upwards at the end.

You would ask:

보고 싶어?

Use these expressions with your partner of close friends since these are the people who you are most likely to miss.

Standard ‘I Miss You’ in Korean

1. 보고 싶어요 (bo-go ship-eo-yo)

This is the same as the informal expression but with 요 (yo) on the end of it. You can use this expression with most people. However, just like in English, it is a bit weird to say ‘I miss you’ to your boss in Korean.

Formal ‘I Miss You’ in Korean

1. 보고 싶습니다 (bo-go ship-sum-ni-da)

You can use this expression if you need to be very formal or polite. However, it’s not used often.

Cute ‘I Miss You’ in Korean (Aegyo)

As you are most likely to say ‘I miss you’ to your boyfriend or girlfriend, there are some cute expressions that you can use instead of the standard 보고 싶어.

1. 보고 싶어용 (bo-go ship-eo-yong)

Adding the ‘ng’ sound is common when using aegyo. You can add it to 보고 싶어요 to make it sound cuter.

2. 보고파(bo-go-pa)

This is another cute way of saying ‘I miss you’. You can make it even more aegyo by adding an ‘ng’ to the end of it to make 보고팡 (bo-go-pang), probably followed by some cutesy body language (or emoticons if texting).


Hopefully you now know how to say ‘I miss you’ in Korean. Now go out and practice this expression with someone important to you. Not only will you get some Korean practice, but you’ll also make their day!

Seongraksa Temple – 성락사 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The replica Dabotap pagoda in the foreground with the large main hall in the background at Seongraksa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Originally, I had been attempting to visit a neighbouring temple, when I stumbled upon Seongraksa Temple. At first, I thought it would be a small and non-descript temple, but I was happily mistaken.

When you first approach Seongraksa Temple, which is located in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do, it’s in one of the city’s better hidden back alleys. The first things to greet you at this temple are two large and colourful guardian statues. Up the winding entrance road, on either side of the curbs, are two rows of granite Buddha statues. These statues either hold really unique items in their hands, or their hands are striking a specific mudra (a symbolic ritual gesture). Some of the better ones are the ones where the Buddha holds a tablet or a tiny temple in his hands. Another really good one is the twisted hand that points to a tiny pinched speck of air. There are duplicates, and sometimes triplicates, of these statues as you make your way up to the temple courtyard, but they certainly don’t disappoint.

Finally, when you make it to the crest of the hill, and the corresponding courtyard, you’ll be greeted by a near exact replica of the Dabotap Pagoda from the famous Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju. Unlike the original version of the pagoda in Gyeongju, this pagoda has all four of the fierce guardian lions on each corner. Also, it has the amazingly intricate finial at the top of the pagoda. The only difference between the two is that instead of housing a stele inside the centre of the body, like at Gyeongju, the new version of this brilliant masonry houses a stone statue of Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Light).

Behind the pagoda is a very large main hall. Finally, standing in front of the two story main hall, you’ll be greeted by a row of lotus holding seated stone statues of the Buddha. Behind these statues, and engraved along the stone base, are four uniquely sculpted Cheonwang (Heavenly Kings).

Housed inside the first floor of the main hall are the monks’ dorms, the kitchen, and a conference room. The meditation hall, and the true main hall of the temple, sits on the second floor of the building. The corners of each roof panel are adorned with large horned dragons. And the artwork that surrounds the second floor are rather simple Shim-u-do, Ox-Herding, murals.

As you step into the meditation hall, you’ll be greeted by a rather large interior. Sitting on the main altar, in the centre, is Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). He’s flanked by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) to the right and Nosana-bul (The Perfect Body Buddha) to the left. To the left of this main altar is a standing statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Interestingly, there didn’t seem to appear to be a guardian painting, but there are hundreds of tiny golden and jade statues of various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. In the right front corner is a unique triad of statues. In the centre of this triad is Jeseok-bul. To the right of Jeseok-bul is a statue of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) with a fierce looking tiger in front of him. And to the left is Okhwang-sangje (The Daoist Jade Emperor of Heaven). While this triad isn’t the most expensive looking set of statues, it’s pretty amazing that they’re even housed together as a triad. To the right of this triad, and along the right wall, is an unknown statue. The statue, with clenched fists, almost looks like a Yongwang that has lost his weapons. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s Yongwang (The Dragon King) and there was no one around to ask who he was. Perhaps next time…

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Yangsan Subway Station, Line 2, stop # 243, you’ll need to catch a taxi. The taxi ride should take about 12 minutes and cost you about 5,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 5/10. There are really three main highlights to this temple. The first, and most obvious, is the replica of the Dabotop Pagoda from the famous Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju. The other two highlights are the originally designed Buddha’s that line the road that leads up to the temple, and the unique triad of Sanshin, Jeseok-bul, and Okhwang-sangje. While a bit out of the way, the temple has a few hidden gems, and not so hidden gems to make your trip worth it.


The road that winds its way up to Seongraksa Temple.


Just one of the Buddhas that lines the entrance at the temple.


And another.


And this one, through an anatomic miracle, points to a speck of dust.


As you approach, a near replica of Dabo-tap Pagoda, from  Bulguksa Temple, awaits you.


A better look at the pagoda that rests in the temple courtyard.


The one telling difference between the two temples’ pagodas is this image of Birojana-bul at the heart of the pagoda at Seongraksa Temple.


The massive main hall at Seongraksa Temple.


The beautiful Buddhas that line the main hall.


Adorning the main hall is this relief of one of the Heavenly Kings.


A look across the front of the second story of the main hall.


One of the realistic Shimu-do murals that adorns the exterior walls to the second floor of the main hall.


A look inside the second floor hall. In the centre sits Birojana-bul. And he’s joined by Seokgamoni-bul and Nosana-bul.


A shrine dedicated to Jijang-bosal inside the main hall.


The extremely unique triad of Jeseok-bul in the centre flanked by Sanshin to the right and Okhwang-sangje to the left.


An unknown statue that has an altar all to himself. This statue is to the right of the extremely rare triad of Jeseok-bul, Sanshin, and Okwang-sangje.


And the view from the main hall out onto the temple courtyard.

Top 10 Korean Jokes

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Ready for some laughs?

Here’s a list of some of the top Korean jokes. Most of them are a mix of Korean and English, so it helps if you know at least some basic Korean.

We’ve also tossed in some pictures to help you remember these Korean jokes more easily.

If you can’t read Hangul (the Korean Alphabet) yet, you can download a free guide here and be reading in about 60 minutes.

Let the games begin!

Caution: Don’t drink milk while reading these jokes. There’s a high chance that milk will shoot out from your nose from laughter!

Korean Joke #1Korean joke beans

Q: What is the biggest bean in the world?

A: 킹콩!

Korean Joke #2Korean joke vampire

Q: What does a vampire drink in the morning?

A: 코피!

Korean Joke #3Korean joke lettuce

Q: Where does a lettuce go for worship?

A: 상추외리!


Korean Joke #4Korean joke cute guy no ears

Q: What do you call a cute guy with no ears?

A: 귀없다!


Korean Joke #5Korean joke scary water

Q: What do you call scary water?

A: 괴물!


Korean Joke #6Korean joke toaster

Q: What noise does a toaster make?

A: 빵!


Korean Joke #7Korean Joke Racetrack

Q: What do Koreans smoke at the horse racetrack?

A: 말보로


Korean Joke #8Korean joke australia

Q: Where do Australians keep their money?

A: 호주머니

Korean Joke #9Korean joke robots

Q: Who is the hairiest robot?

A: 털미네이터!

Korean Joke #10Korean jokes ice cream

Q: Why couldn’t the ice cream cones cross the road?

A: 차가와서!


What is your favorite Korean joke?

If you enjoyed these jokes, like Like us on Facebook and you’ll get daily Korean language updates such as slang, jokes, words of the day, proverbs, and more!

Puzzle Finder ESL Ice Breaker Activity

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Puzzle Finder ESL Ice Breaker

Puzzle Finder

Skills: Speaking/listening
Materials Required: puzzle pieces (from an actual puzzle or a cut and laminated image)

The objects of this ESL ice breaker activity are both teamwork (to create the puzzle) and a review of common vocabulary, such as colours, shapes, and common objects. Before class, you should either prepare a puzzle with enough pieces for each student to have one or two, or print an image which you cut into the correct number of pieces and laminate. The former is easier, but the latter gives you much more flexibility and you can cut the pieces as large as you like.

In order for students to put the puzzle together correctly, they will need to be able to describe their piece to others as they mingle looking for adjacent pieces, as well as listen to others’ descriptions.

Teaching Tips:

If you are using a ready-made puzzle, a child’s puzzle will have the right combination of large size and a low number of pieces. If you choose your own image, you can print the pieces even larger, making it easier to work together.

To make the task more challenging, have students describe their pieces to one another, rather than show them. To make the task less challenging, have two puzzles (fewer edgeless pieces) or use an image with obvious elements, for example, a picture of a park, rather than a Picasso.


  1. In advance, either get a puzzle with enough pieces for each student to have one or two (so, no 500 piece monster puzzles) or print an image (A3 or larger), cut it into the right number of pieces, and laminate it.

  2. Give each student a puzzle piece or two, and instruct them to work together to complete the puzzle.

  3. According to the level of the students, allow them to show each other the pieces as they work or require them to describe the shape of their piece and the image fragment.

Like this ESL Ice Breaker Activity?

You’re going to love this book: 39 ESL Icebreakers for Teenagers and Adults. There are 38 more icebreakers that are guaranteed to help get your semester started off on the right foot, with students getting more comfortable with each other and also with you. It’s lesson planning made easy so you can have more time to do the stuff that you really love to do! Click the link below to buy it on Amazon:

39 ESL Icebreakers

The post Puzzle Finder ESL Ice Breaker Activity appeared first on ESL Speaking.

Welcome to Hagwon Hell

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Welcome to Hagwon Hell

Welcome to Hagwon Hell, Public School Teachers

I’ve been talking about how the Korean ESL industry is dying for the past few years now. One of my friends who was in Japan a decade ago just before and then when everything was crashing and burning, says that Korea these days is eerily similar. Plenty of confident people, cruising around, not upgrading their teaching qualifications in any way, assuming that all will be well in K-land for years to come. But Korea, like Japan will wake up and realize that not every single person in their country needs to speak English, nor is there any shortage of Koreans who can do our jobs just as effectively but far more cheaply and with considerably less hassle.

Goodbye GEPIK (and plenty of positions along with it)

“Welcome to Hagwon hell, all you public school teachers. The writing is on the wall regarding public schools.” The comment is from this thread over at and I really swear it isn’t me, even though it’s something that I would totally say.

As I was cruising around on the Internet, I ran across two interesting threads over on, the most popular forum for English teachers in Korea. The first one was the thread mentioned above about how GEPIK is shutting down and positions for Gyeonggi-Do will now be filled through EPIK (the national program).

There seems to be a bit of confusion as to whether government funding for 200 positions will be reduced by 50 to 150, or if the 200 will be reduced to 50. I’m more inclined to believe they’ll be reduced to 50. Schools can still choose to fund their own native English teacher, but I have a hard time seeing how they’d do this because not only do they have to pay us more but they have all the housing, immigration, flight and babysitting headaches that they simply don’t have if they were to hire a Korean to do the same job.

It wouldn’t be much, but it might put a slight dent in the 11.1% youth unemployment rate in Korea. I know that I certainly teach a good number of students at my university (I teach English majors) who speak freakishly good English. By freakishly good, I mean that I just talk normally with them and don’t grade my language at all. With a bit of training, wouldn’t they be able to teach elementary school children quite effectively?

Anyone with any official information about this? Please let me know and I’ll update this post.

SMOE: How does a $2000 Pay Cut Sound?

Then, another thread on about how the $2000 re-signing bonus is being cut for 2016 for public school teachers in Seoul working for SMOE (Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education). Unusually for Korea, the land of the bbali-bbbali, it seems that these teachers were warned about the change on their 2015 contract, so they can’t really complain and if they don’t like it, they’re free to seek employment elsewhere. Apparently some of the teachers suggested an extra week of vacation time to make up for this lost pay but were basically scoffed at.

Strangely Optimistic-I’m not Sure Why

One person on this thread was strangely optimistic saying that things are rolling back over from an employer’s market to a teacher’s market. I think this is a case of wishful thinking because even a basic knowledge of Korean demographics makes it clear that there will be fewer and fewer positions in hagwons, public schools and universities as the years go by. How can there not be when Korea has the fifth lowest birth rate in the entire world. Weak (lame-ass?) government interventions such as turning off the lights in the office one a month at 7:00 and calling it family night likely isn’t going to change this anytime soon.

And, how can job conditions in a place like Seoul public schools ever get better when there are so many people who are willing to take them, even with this reduced salary? Most foreigners in Korea would be willing to cut off their pinky toe to get a job in Seoul. I personally prefer Busan, but to each their own.

Anyone with a link to something other than a forum? I’d like to update this post if possible.


You perhaps should be. Things are looking a wee bit grim for native English teachers in Korea these days. If you need some help figuring out what life after teaching in Korea is going to look like for you, check out Life After ESL: Foreign Teachers Returning Home. I interviewed 55 people in order to glean as much wisdom as possible from them as I prepare for my own return to Canada after 10 years in Korea and I think you’ll find it really, really useful if you’re in a similar situation.



The post Welcome to Hagwon Hell appeared first on .

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