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RTBC Day Five: Welcome to my classroom!

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Reflective Teaching Blog Challenge – Day Five: Post a picture of your classroom. Describe what you see, and what you don’t see that you’d like to.

IMG_1127 The view from any classroom at the school. IMG_1126 A relay race to write all the days of the week! This ultimately morphed into a  competition that had kids running across the length of the room! Students studying frequency adverbs!

So, this is the classroom I teach in! Er, rather, these are the classrooms I teach in. At my school, the students stay in the same room while all of the teachers rotate throughout the day. As a result, neither myself nor my fellow teachers has a subject-designated classroom. However, every room is equiped with a tv monitor and computer cable, as well as ethernet, so using PowerPoints and the internet on my school laptop for class is no problem.  My students and I also interact with the chalkboard quite a bit. The desks and chairs are very lightweight, so they move easily, allowing for relatively quick restructing of class set-up. And a wall of windows overlooking the play yard lets in plenty of natural light during the day, so the kids don’t feel quite like they’re in a dungeon, at least!

While I am grateful to have access to modern teaching technology and classrooms that are big enough to move around in, there is a lot more I wish I had to offer my students. If I were working in my own classroom, a room that was all about learning English, I could create a much more specialized, stimulating environment. I would LOVE to decorate the walls with calendars depicting days of the week and months of the year, a weather board, and posters of basic responses to questions like “How are you?,” complete with pictures, of course. Each class could have its own section of the room, or a bulletin board, where good work could be featured or a new word, displayed. One corner of the room could be filled with shelves of English books, magazines and newspapers, and perhaps a comfortable chair or two. And, scattered around the room would be the many different games and materials I use to get kids engaged and excited about the lesson.

That’s the dream. And maybe when I move to the new school in February that will happen…maybe. For now I’ll try to make the best of the situation I’m in by creating more mobile versions of the above posters/calendars. That way I can take them to each class. The games and activities I create will continue to pile themselves up on my desk and spill out from my drawers. And some day soon I’ll ask my co-teacher about the school budget and how much, if any, room there is for English literature and media. Baby steps!

The school logo stands for: Ulsan Sports Science (Middle and Secondary) School All the teachers share an office space. IMG_1129 The view fo my school as I walk to work every day. My school is the white building in the middle. To the left of the main school building is the gymnasium and cafeteria. It's hard to tell, but the students are still training in this picture. That bright light you see on the right is a flood light for the archery range!




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Park Won-soon: "Legalization of Gay Marriage Reported by Foreign Press is a Misinterpretation

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Sigh. Looks like Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon is backing off from a statement that hinted at a pro-gay marriage stance. Thanks for an anonymous comment for pointing me to this article. From the Hankyoreh (translated by TKQ):

A California Newspaper Reports in an Interview With Mayor Park States that he "Personally Supported Rights for Homosexuals" while Seoul City Elucidates that "He Was Explaining Korea's Circumstances... Not Expressing Personal Volition"

According to Park's team, the report on the 13th by the San Francisco Examiner was incorrect in it's report that Park Won-soon stated 'I hope Korea will be the first (Asian country that legalizes same-sex marriage)'. 

On the 12th (local time) the San Francisco Examiner had an interview with Mayor Park, who was asked 'if Taiwan might be the first Asian country to allow same-sex marriage'. In response, Park was reported as responding "I hope Korea will be the first. Many homosexual couples in Korea are already together. They are not legally accepted yet, but I believe the Korean Constitution allows it. We are guaranteed the right to the pursuit of happiness. Of course, there may be different interpretations to what that pursuit means."

The newspaper also reported that Park Won-soon had said "I personally agree with the rights of homosexuals. But the Protestant churches are very powerful in Korea. It isn't easy for politicians. It's in the hands of activists to expand the universal concept of human rights to include homosexuals. Once they persuade the people, the politicians will follow. It's in process now." This interview took place last month on the 26th in San Francisco. The newspaper also introduced Mayor Park as a top-contender for president in 2017. 

Park's camp asserted that the contents were a misinterpretation. Explanatory materials put out by Seoul City stated "Mayor Park has not directly expressed that he will push forward the legalization of gay marriage, but rather explained the Korean circumstance. During the interview he was explaining the debate in the National assembly over protecting sexual minority rights, and the conflict with the religious world, and how the first Asian country that legalizes same-sex marriage will depend on civil society, which was not an expression of the mayor's own volition. 

An individual connected with Seoul city stated "Mayor Park's words were that 'Maybe Korea would become the first country to legalize it (same-sex marriage)'. He didn't use the word hope. Mayor Park was explaining the Korean situation and was not saying that he intends to legalize same-sex marriage." The individual continued by saying that when Mayor Park saw the article he stated "I didn't say it to this extent." 

김지훈 기자

Tagalog Song Used in Lee Min Ho’s Upcoming Movie

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I have just watched the teaser trailer of Lee Min Ho’s new movie entitled, “Gangnam Blues”, and was intrigued upon hearing a familiar song from the Philippines being played at the beginning. The song, written by Filipino folk icon Freddie Aguilar, is not just any song, but it became so popular both locally and internationally that it was translated into 26 languages. It’s a song that we, as daughters and sons, can all relate to, because it talks about “us”, our parents and the sacrifices they have to make in raising us. It is said that Aguilar wrote the emotional song to express regret for disobeying his parents and to reconcile with his ailing father

Can you guess what the song is?

Yes, it’s “Anak“.

I can’t be certain if “Anak” is the movie’s theme song or if the lyrics of the song have something to do with the plot, but here’s the synopsis:

In the 1970s, during the height of political corruption, Gangnam, the southern part of Seoul is starting to be transformed into a developed area. Childhood friends Jong-dae and Yong-ki struggle to get by, until their shanty homes are demolished by local thugs. Desperate for cash, they get involved in violent political clashes, and are separated during one of the skirmishes. Three years later, Jong-dae lives as an honest man with former gang leader Kil-su. Meanwhile, Yong-ki has joined Seoul’s most powerful criminal organization, the Myeongdong-pa. As a gangster, Yong-ki is entangled in a high-stakes battle over land in Gangnam, all in the name of putting together secret presidential election funds that drive up the value of the city. As the gangs fight over the rights to various plots of land, Yong-ki is captured and interrogated by a rival gang.

I wonder why they didn’t use the Korean version of “Anak”. Many Koreans are familiar with the song. You can find it in most Korean videokes.



From Korea with Love




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Vlog Entry #6: Lantern Festival – Jinju, South Korea

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During the first weekend of October I went to the Lantern Festival in Jinju! To read more about the festival, view the related post here!

2014 Jinju Lantern Festival

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Located in the south central part of Korea, Jinju is a small city of just 300,000 people. But for ten days a year, nighttime traffic is bumper-to-bumper and walking the streets means shuffling, wading and weaving through crowds of people. Why? The Jinju Namgang Yudeong (Lantern) Festival.

IMG_0886 We arrived in Jinju just as it was getting dark. Perfect timing! IMG_0898 IMG_0895

One of the most famous festivals in Korea, the Lantern Festival is deeply rooted in national history. To keep it short, back in the late 1500’s after a (now) famous Korean general defeated 20,000 Japanese invadors with just 4,000 soldiers of his own, the military used lanterns not only as a means of communication between themselves, but also as a way to send messages to their families. Today, the floating lanterns pay tribute to fallen warriors and create an opportunity for international cultural celebration.

Main events of the festival include: a fireworks display (opening night only), wish-lantern hanging (10,000 won), a walk through the student-made lantern tunnel, and a stroll along the Namgang River, which glows with the reflections of massive floating lanterns representing countries from around the world. Additional historic and religious lanterns can be seen on display within the stone walls of the Chokseongnu Pavilion. The festival also offers basic lantern making activities, as well as  a “Love Ship” and “Love Bridge” which you can ride/cross for a small fee. Similar to the Andong Mask Festival, food options are limited at the festival site, but it only takes a few minutes of venturing back into downtown to find a host of restaurants.

IMG_0972 IMG_0911 IMG_0933 One of these things is not like the other... IMG_0941 IMG_0965 Walking through this lantern tunnel was one of my favorite parts of the night! IMG_0953 Dinner! Chicken and rice soup!

The Jinju Intercity Bus Terminal is also a mere 5-10 minute walk away, so the festival is very accessible. After arriving in town, just follow the crowds to find your way there. However, be prepared for your personal-space bubble to be burst, bumped, bashed and blasted to smitherines throughout the evening. And don’t worry too much about being able to catch a bus back home. Due to the overwhelming popularity of the festival, intercity buses (seemed to) run more frequently to help keep the madness under control.

I really enjoyed the Lantern Festival, so much so that it’s actually one of my favorite things I’ve done since I’ve been here! Despite the insane number of people, I still had an awesome experience, full of sight-seeing, picture taking, a nice meal with great company, and a low-stress journey to and from Jinju. I highly recommend the festival to anyone considering it in the future!

For more on my time in Jinju, check out the vlog post related to this article!

IMG_0998 Student-made lanterns. Really cool! So much creativity! IMG_0990 IMG_0984 IMG_0964 IMG_0979 Plankton! Spongebob! IMG_1005 IMG_1014


RTBC Day Four: What I love about teaching

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Reflective Teaching Blog Challenge – Day Four: What do you love about teaching?

In the classroom, the teacher has to be able to roll with the punches of the day, and should always be open to responding to the students and circumstances in front of them. By taking advantage of an impromptu teaching moment, however small, new connections with the material can be made where previously there were none.

Today I gave my students mini white boards and markers to use in class. As an avid doodler myself, I was hardly surprised to find more than just writing on some of their boards. But while circling around the room, I noticed one student in particular (whose English skills I knew to be very low) seemed to be doing nothing but doodling. I approached him and began to encourage him to construct a sentence like one of the examples on the board. He obliged with a slight sigh and started to erase the cartoon figure he’d spent a fair amount of time working on. That’s when I stopped him and asked to borrow his marker. Next to his drawing I added a speech bubble and then pointed back to the board. Just like that, his sigh turned into a laugh, his face lit up with a smile, and with a nod began to write.

Unexpected moments like that are what I enjoy most about teaching. One second the student is bored and disengaged, and the next moment they’re in it. It’s part of my job to keep an eye out for such opportunities as they’re passing by, and to be able to capitalize on them. I still have a lot to learn with this skill, but it’s already becoming one of my favorite things about teaching.



Queer Links from the Week: Mayor Park Won-soo on gay marriage in Korea and Seo Tae-ji Isn't Gay

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Seoul Mayor Park won-soo spoke with the San Francisco Examiner last week saying that he wants wants same-sex marriage in Korea as first in Asia. As Park is a possible presidential candidate for the 2017 elections, I hope he can stand by this conviction. This is definitely the biggest news from this week. 

In pop culture, more celebrities are talking about the fact that they aren't gay in response to SNS rumors. Naver News (Korean) has a couple of articles about Seo Tae-ji Responding to a Revival of Gay Rumors. One of these times, I hope a celebrity confronts these rumors with an affirmation... (but hopefully it isn't Seo Tae-ji as he has a wife and daughter). And in television, on Apgujeong Midnight's Sun Song Won Geun's character thinks his brother's gay (Korean). Finally, Green Light, a film showed at the Gays Are Coming Soon 3Some, got buzz as it used Baekhyun and Sehun as character names (Exo members). 

One Year Later

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The traditional gift for a first anniversary is paper, so I guess after I write this I'll print a copy and frame it. What I'm trying to say is, a little over one year ago, I arrived in Korea. The modern first anniversary gift is a clock, which seems apt as the time has passed faster than I realized. A year already? Are you sure?

I've been looking back through old posts, and it's a relief to see that my feelings about the country haven't changed that much:

"This is where I’ll be living for the next year, maybe more, and there is nothing I want more in life right now. I’ve never been the sort to follow my dreams; I’ve stuck to what I know I can accomplish, and that’s been fine, but finally I’m taking a chance at something I’ve wanted since I met those Jet teachers in Japan almost six years ago." 

I know, I know, it's disgustingly...shmoopy and emotional, but the sentiment was, and is, 100% real. I needed a change, a new life, a new chance. While I'm not quite ready to go public with everything that was going wrong in my life before I moved to Korea, suffice it to say that things were...bad. Not good. Things felt pretty hopeless, like my life was on hold. It doesn't help that the weather in Seattle shares most of its characteristics with a damp sock. Even when things are going well in your life, unless you really enjoy overcast gray weather, it's hard to stay positive during the interminably long Seattle winters. And springs. And falls. And sometimes it stays cloudy even though summer, because the other 9 months just weren't enough!

During the 12 hour flight from Seattle to Korea, I made a decision to use this move as a chance to really change my life. Instead of bringing all my bad habits and worries along in my carry on, I wanted to do my best to leave them all back in Seattle. New country, new me.

At my Epik orientation, I had a great chance to really focus in on what I wanted to change in my life. One of the activities during the week was an introductory taekwondo class. They had us write our goals for the coming year on a board and then break it. To me, it felt as if I was putting all my fears, my worries, my problems into that board, and in the act of breaking it, I was sending them out of my life. As you can see in the photo, I had three main goals. "Don't be afraid. Learn Korean. Be happy." It's one year later. How did I do?

1. Don't Be Afraid

This is a big one. It seems a bit silly, but trust me, it really is an important issue in my life. I'm anxious a lot of the time, and a bit shy, and nervous in unfamiliar situations. I've missed out on opportunities because I was too worried about dumb stuff to take advantage of them. I didn't want that to happen here. Moving to a new country, starting a new job, meeting so many new's been one unfamiliar situation after another.

What this first goal means to me is just...don't miss out. Don't stay home because you're worried you won't know anyone at the party. Don't keep your mouth shut because you're not sure what to say. Don't overthink it. As those Nike shirts say, just do it.

While I don't feel that I've completely accomplished this goal, I know I've made progress. I volunteered as class leader during my orientation and managed to make a speech in front of the entire orientation without fainting. I took a vacation entirely by myself, from Sokcho to Seoul. I've befriended people in my office even through a severe language barrier. Instead of saying no and staying on the sidelines, I'm saying yes and making a fool of myself but having fun.

2. Learn Korean

This has been a bit on again off again. When I first started studying Korean seriously, it was fantastic, because I was learning at a breakneck speed. I've written about this before, how the first few months were so exciting, because every grammar point opened vast expanses of understanding. However, as with anything, the honeymoon had to end. Now that I actually have to work pretty hard to learn new things, it's easier to get frustrated. I often feel like I'm not improving at all. My vocabulary is tiny, my grammar sucks, and no matter how much or little I study, nothing seems to change.

However, while I don't really feel as if I've improved, when I take a step back, I realize that that's crazy talk. A friend recently reminded me that when I left for Korea, I knew about two phrases, plus I could read and write very, very slowly. I think back to those first few work dinners, how I sat in a corner, unable to understand most of what was going on around me. And actually talking to someone? No way.

Inexplicably, I left a note to my family in Korean. SECRET MESSAGES.

Now I can have conversations, albeit very simple ones. I can ask for directions and halfway understand what I'm told. I can befriend taxi drivers, make jokes in the office, and be the occasional living dictionary for my students. While I'm certainly not anywhere near fluent, I have improved. I hope this coming year will be my chance to improve even further.

3. Be Happy

I guess this one is obvious, huh? Deceptively simple, in a way. But of all my goals, this is the one that I feel I've been most successful at. Not to say I've become Pollyanna-ish; I certainly have my share of bad days, but since I moved to Korea they're at least fewer and farther between. When I start to get down, I'm able to get back up a lot faster. Maybe it's the weather.

Oddly enough, I feel at home here. I'm not at all sure why, but Korea just really seems to suit me. Time and time again people tease me about my "Korean heart" or say that even if I look like an American, I'm secretly Korean. Frankly I think they're exaggerating, but it warms my heart every time. 

A big part of this as well is the feeling of having purpose. Instead of a repetitive job that never seems to affect anything, I have a job where I actually feel like I'm improving and changing lives, at least in small ways. Instead of a job, I have what feels like the beginning of a career. For every rough class there is an amazing class. Seeing that "aha!" moment when I student learns something new or gets inspired because of something in my class...that is what makes me happy. 

How could that face NOT make you happy?

All in all, it's been a good year. I finally feel like I have my feet under me. I've got my sealegs. Things are coming together, and I'm not even 25 yet! For the folks keeping score, looks like I managed a 3/3. Granted, my goals were simple and open-ended, but where I'm looking from, I call it a victory. Does this mean it's time to make a new set of goals?

Guess I'd better find a board and a permanent marker~!

Teacher Pretty
Middle school ESL teacher, lover of pink, eater of kimchi, addicted to Etude House, expert procrastinator, meeter of 2-dimensionial popstars: Ana. That's me.

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Learn Korean at Your Keyboard: The Art of Typing Korean

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Learning to type Korean has many benefits. Once you achieve mastery in the art of typing Korean, you can chat with friends online, comment on websites, look up words in the dictionary, search Naver — and the list goes on!

Plus, the skill of typing Korean has double the benefit since most newer phones have the ability to install full Korean keyboards. You’ll put these exact same skills into use when texting!

But perhaps one of the biggest benefits to learning how to type is that it is one of the best ways we know of to help you get better at Korean. It connects you virtually to the world of Korean speakers and at that point, your options are limitless! 

From solidifying the basics of fitting characters together to learning new slang phrases, texting and typing in Korean will be a linchpin in your journey toward Korean fluency.

Today we will progress through five steps in our journey toward becoming Korean typing masters. If you haven’t yet learned the Korean characters, we recommend you do so before learning the skill of typing Korean. Get a free guide and learn the Korean alphabet on our website!  

Let’s do this…

Step 1: Get Familiar With the Korean Keyboard

The first step in our journey is to learn the Korean keyboard layout. The creators were also masters of the mind and liked to keep things simple.

Let’s orient ourselves. On the left in black are the consonants. Notice how all of the aspirated consonants are on the bottom row!


Conveniently, all the vowels are on the right! See them here in blue:


But where are the missing vowels and the double consonants you may ask? You’ve just got to believe, young one, and they will appear (or — just hold shift)! See what happens when you hold down the shift key. Cool! New characters! 


To make the rest of the vowel combinations, we will need to be creators. We have the building blocks, and we will need to construct them.

In the 90 Day Korean Inner Circle, there is a detailed lesson on Character Fundamentals. For now, just know that a vowel always follows a consonant in any syllable!

In need of a visual? Take a look for yourself.


So, to create a syllable with a Korean keyboard, we need to type a minimum of two characters —  a consonant and then a vowel. That’s easy, right? Black plus blue.

Becoming a good builder on a Korean keyboard is easy because the keyboard software does a lot of the work for us! It knows the character fundamentals shown above, so it ends syllables when they are complete and starts new syllables automatically.

Your job is just to type the characters in the correct order!

When the software is still “building” the character, you’ll see a line underneath.

Let’s say you want to write the word 주세요, a polite request meaning “please give.”

Here is what you would see on the screen while typing:


See the black line underneath the characters? It shifts to the right as each syllable is completed. This indicates we are working on that syllable!

Never worry if what you see on the screen is not what you intended. As you can see above, when you continue typing the software creates the correct syllables once the next character is added. It’s a big help!

Just remember to hold shift first to find the double consonants and two of the vowel combinations. To create the other vowel combinations, we just need to build them!

Here is where prior knowledge of the Korean alphabet comes in handy! Our Inner Circle lesson on Character Combinations goes into detail but here’s the gist of it below. Type the vowel combinations in the same order to create them on your screen!


Just remember the placeholder. That’s your job to type it in, that keyboard doesn’t do that for you!

Got the basics down?

Let’s move on to Step 2!

Step 2: Practice Typing Korean

Now that we’ve got the basics covered, it’s time to start practicing.

A stepping stone to using a Korean keyboard is to first practice with an online keyboard. This is especially valuable if you will be typing on a computer without the Korean characters written on the keyboard.

This option helps you get a feel for the layout of a standard Korean keyboard.

Here are some online keyboards we’ve found helpful, but feel free to use any one that you wish.

We recommend numbers 1-3 because their layout is very similar to an actual Korean keyboard and so it typing on them is much more realistic. Try them out for yourself!

Korean Online Keyboard # 1

Korean Online Keyboard # 2

Korean Online Keyboard # 3

Korean Online Keyboard # 4

Korean Online Keyboard # 5

Once you’ve got a feel for how things work, try some practice typing exercises. Type the keys written below the word and it will automatically be created.

Korean Typing Practice




Step 3: Install Korean Keyboard

Before you install the Korean keyboard software on your computer (or at least before you start typing with confidence), you’ll need to make a decision.

If you didn’t buy your computer in Korea, chances are the Korean characters are not written on the keyboard.

But not to worry. Practice helps and soon you’ll have a feel for where the keys are located on the keyboard. You’ll be able to type without looking in no time!

But in the beginning, it helps to have some assistance. It’s like training wheels on a bicycle — you can build up your confidence and get used to things, and then when you’re ready, take them off!

Two methods we’ve found helpful are:

1) Stickers OR 2) An acronym

If you want, you can make your own stickers to stick on your keyboard or you can purchase stickers from Amazon. Just do a search for “Korean keyboard stickers.”

Here is one example:


If you want to go the memorization route, acronyms help!

Allow us to tell you a story.




Now that’s a silly story, but it can help us to remember the placement of the consonants on the Korean keyboard!

In the story, there were three trials. Let’s put them together, shall we? Look at that, they rhyme!

10The first letter of each word corresponds with the sound of the Korean character.


Work your way from left to right! The first line of the rhyme corresponds with the top row of consonants on the keyboard. The second line corresponds with the second row of consonants and the third line, the bottom row (see diagram below).

For the third line of the rhyme, the U is in brackets because it is actually to the right. On the keyboard, start on the fifth key over then back to the first key to continue the rhyme. The fifth key is the vowel so it sounds like the letter U!

But if it’s easier, just remember the rhyme as follows and start on the left:


See the diagram below for simplification — just follow along with the rhyme and look at the numbers!


For the vowels, their placement on the keyboard is logical and thus easy to remember:


The red lines indicate pairings. Notice how the vowels  ,and are vertically paired while   are paired horizontally.

Also notice how the horizontal-based characters are on the left and bottom, while the vertical-based characters are on the right.

Picking up these patterns can help you locate the characters with precision and decrease your reliance on other methods.

Step 4: Start Typing in Korean

Now with his knowledge, go back and try the typing exercises in Step 2 with a real Korean keyboard!

To do so, you’ll need to install the keyboard on your computer.

If you’re on a Mac:

1. System Preferences

2. Keyboard

3. + → Korean → 2-Set Korean

For Windows:

1. Control Panel

2. Change keyboard or other input methods

3. Change keyboards

4. Add → Korean (Korea) → Microsoft IME

Go through the exercises again with the keyboard on your computer and then move on!

Step 5: Practice Your Korean Typing

The last step is simply to get lots of practice. This is the real fun part!

Get used to typing with the Korean keyboard and eventually it will become second nature. Facebook, forums, websites, messengers — the internet is now yours to explore!

Put this knowledge to good use and go have fun with it!

Leave us a comment below (in Korean if you wish!) and let us know what you’ll use your Korean typing skills for. We’re excited to hear all about your plans for your new skills!

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

Korean lessons   *  Korean Phrases    *    Korean Vocabulary *   Learn Korean   *    Learn Korean alphabet   *   Learn Korean fast   *  Motivation    *   Study Korean  
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