Monday, August 27, 2012

Music Monday #13

Music Monday today is the only one that I will be posting in August as I had a bit of a break while I was at home and then I was pretty busy with some extra classes when I got back to Korea.

Today's Music Monday is in honor of a great punk talent who recently and sadly passed away on the 31st of July.  Those of you who are into punk will know I'm talking about Tony Sly - front man for No Use for a Name.

No Use for a Name were one of my favourite bands during my teenage years, I had the album 'Making Friends' and it got it's fair share of thrashing (along with some of their other albums but that one is the one I remember the best).

If you want to know more about his passing this is the link to the YouTube coverage by ClevverMusic, there was no cause of death released and I don't think there has been any updates since then. Very sad for his family, friends and the punk world in general - he was a very talented guy.

The song I'm showcasing here is one of No Use For A Name's songs from the 1997 album 'Making Friends'.  It's called 'The Answer is Still No' but the video here is a bit of a different version  - it's from a live show and at the beginning Tony says this is how NOFX made them play it on tour with them, it's a bit faster and more upbeat.  Also please note there is some bad language in this video so if that's not your thing please don't watch it.

No Use For A Name - The Answer is Still No

Learning Korean #3 - The Alphabet (Hangeul Part 2 of 4)

The Korean Alphabet was invented in around 1443 during the Joseon Dynasty and the reign of King Sejeon. Before that they used the Chinese system for writing and as it is difficult language it meant that the rate of literacy in Korea was very low - only the rich and most often men could learn to read. The alphabet was invented with ease of learning in mind and as was intended so commoners could learn to read and write.
The basic alphabet consists of 24 consonants and vowels, there are 14 consonants and 10 vowels. there are also some double consonants and compound vowels that round out the script. The letters are then arranged into syllable blocks to form words.
In this post I am going to talk about the vowels in the Korean alphabet.
There are six basic vowels
ᅡ   ᅥ   ᅩ   ᅮ   ᅳ   ᅵ
and four [y] vowels (these take the sounds from the vowels above and add a y sound to the start)
ᅣ    ᅧ    ᅭ    ᅲ
This makes up the 10 vowels in the alphabet.
To make the sounds of these vowels:
ᅡ    [a]  - ah         ᅣ   [ya] - yah
ᅥ    [eo] - eo        ᅧ   [yeo] - yoh
ᅩ    [o] - o            ᅭ   [yo] - yo
ᅮ    [u] - uu          ᅲ   [yu] - yuu
ᅳ    [eu] - eu
ᅵ    [i] - ee

You can see how the vowels with the double strokes are similar to the ones with the single, basically if it has the second stroke you just add a 'y' sound to the beginning.  So a good way to learn them is by rhyming them ah - yah and so on.

To give you more of an idea of the correct sounds, here are some English words that have the sound we are tying to make for the six basic vowels:

ᅡ [a] - as in the a in father  
ᅥ [eo] - as in the u in jug
ᅩ [o] - as in the o of oh!
ᅮ [oo or u] - as in the oo of moon
ᅳ [eu] - mix between oo and ee, similar to the u in mure (no equivalent in English)
ᅵ [i] - as in the ee in meet

(you can use some of the links below to find websites that have the sounds of these letters, the best way to learn is by hearing them) 

That is all for this lesson, if you are trying to learn the Korean script then I think this is the best place to start - you can try and memorize the 10 vowels.  Once you have done that you will be ready to move onto the consonants.

The way I learned these was by writing them out many many times and saying the sound as I wrote it.  You could also make some flash cards if you want to test yourself, really it is just about sitting down and going over them until they stick in your head. When you are out and about don't forget to use the signs to test yourself - see if you can identify some of the new letters your have learned.

Some references for leaning Hangeul:

Yes! You Can Learn KOREAN Language Structure in 40 Min. by Tong-Ku Lee
Korean made easy (Starter) - by Seung-eun Oh


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Website Highlight #3 - The Silk Road

Another awesome website that I just found and really wanted to share.  This one is called The Silk Road and is relatively new.  It's a series of short videos about Korea, lots of different topics from shopping and bars to culture and places to visit.

Great videos and what looks to be the start of a really interesting and informative site - be sure to check them out.  The website address is and as always I have put a permanent link in the list of useful sites on the side of the blog.

Sneak Peek at The Silk Road:

Friday, August 24, 2012

Website Highlight #2 - koreaBANG

I found another cool website that I wanted to share with you.  It's called koreaBANG and its a media information site.  The full name is koreaBANG - Hot Internet stories, pictures and videos in Korea and it is apparently in association with another similar site called chinaSMACK (which I'm guessing has news and media from China).

So it's an English site but based on Korea and aims to bring any trending articles, viral videos or other such media from Korea to the English world.

The actual website is and I have put a permanent link in my list of useful sites on the side of the blog.

Check it out - it has lots of interesting articles and things if you are living in Korea or even just interested in visiting or just interested in Korea.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

ESL Teaching Tips #2 - Five Favourite Filler Games

As most of you will know if you are teachers or have been looking into ESL teaching, one of the main things that you will be asked to do is make your classes fun.  This goes double for private academy schools as they are first and foremost a business.  If the kids are having fun (as well as learning) then the parents will continue to send them and the school will continue to make money.

The Internet is filled with ways to spice up your classroom. I am always looking for new ideas to make my kids more interested in the lessons.  I thought I would share here some of the basic games that you should know if you are an ESL teacher.  These are your 'go to' games for when you finish something early or need a filler for any extra time you have.  There is nothing new here but I just wanted to list the ones that I use in my classes every day. They are tried and true and easy to do!

1. Hangman
It's a classic and your kids will probably already know it, some of the younger ones may not but it's easy to teach by example.  There has been some conversation recently about whether the 'hangman' picture is appropriate for younger learners. In my opinion they are exposed to worse in other media, it's a stylised picture that really has become more a symbol than anything else.  I still use it and have never had any complaints (besides we grew up with it and we're fine - aren't we?)
With the younger ones I write some words (usually from the story we are reading) on bits of paper and then they take turns coming up and writing it on the board.  With the older ones, I give them a choice - if they have their own word great, otherwise I help them out  - sometimes it's hard to think on the spot.  We usually play either with words from the story we are doing or related words.  For example we were doing a story on the Grand Canyon; the topic for hangman was - nature.  This narrows it down a bit but still keeps it challenging as they can't just look in their books.

2. Pictionary
Not quite as educational as Hangman but it's a favourite with the kids.  I use it if we have been working really hard and need a five minute reward at the end of class. It does test their vocabulary - I've been surprised by words that kids know when playing this. I have some words printed up on small cards that I keep in my bag.  You can have easy, medium and hard ones if you have different classes that way your are prepared for all occasions.  You can also turn this into a race, split the board in two and have two teams racing against each other to be the first to guess the word. I usually just play it like Hangman, one student up the front the others guessing whoever gets it right comes up and draws next.

3. Sticky Ball Throw
This is one I play all the time and you can change it to suit yourself. You should always have a sticky ball in your bag and you can get them from Home plus and other stores if you are in Korea. It is a great resource, cheap and full of fun.

There are so many ways use the sticky ball but my main one is where I draw a basic round target on the whiteboard and give the middle ring 500 or 100 and then smaller values to the outside rings. I write the vocabulary words on the board and the students have to make a new sentence using one word  - if it's a good sentance then they can throw the ball.  We usually have teams, if it's a small class individuals are fine for this game too. You can make them do any kind of question or exercise before they throw, that's what's great about this one.  You can also change the target, especially if you are an artist.  Sometimes I draw something to do with the story - we were doing Greek Monsters the other day so I drew a Cyclops. His eye was 100 and other parts of his body less.  I am a really bad artist, the students were asking me what it was, I had to tell them and then they are like - ooh OK but it looks like a cookie man.  Yes, Teacher is bad at drawing - lets move on. Another time we were doing space so I split the class into humans and aliens and then drew spaceships and UFOs on the board with Earth and another planet at either end.  They then had to try and hit the other team's planet or ships, first team to 'destroy' the other race wins (again my drawings were a source of great mirth for the kids).

Another classic, you have probably played this at least once in you life.  If not - basically you have cards with one word at the top - the 'answer word', and then a list of related words below that.  You are not allowed to say any words that are on the card - they are Taboo.  You have to describe the 'answer word' without using any of the words listed on the card. You can make it easier or harder by having more or less related taboo words - for my beginner classes only two taboo words but for my advanced there will be four or five taboo words. 
It is by far and away the most educational of these games I have listed here. The students really like it too; you have to prompt some of them but it's all learning.  I have made up three sets of cards, they are just ones I found on the Internet (sometimes you will have to amend them as there might be things that you know your students don't know), I have easy, medium and hard sets and I carry them in my bag for when I need something extra to do. Some of my classes have become really good at making sentences to describe things using this game. Sometimes it's hard to make them understand that they can't say any words on the paper, you have to keep telling them (well in my experience, but if you have a Korean co-teacher I guess they can just make sure they understand in Korean)

Also called Naughts and Crosses, I think you will know the one I mean or else you can always google it. All you need for this is a white or black board and something to write with. Super easy for even the most basic of classrooms.
I usually only use this with my younger kids; once they get older they figure out the logistics of it and you almost always come up with a stalemate.  The younger kids however love it.  What I do is put a vocabulary word in each square and then they chose a square and have to use the word in a sentence, if they get it right they get to put their mark in the square (either O or X) - three in a row wins. If you have time, play best of three - change the words around and add a few different ones each time you play a round. Alternatively you can have a question per box or something else that they have to do - possibilities are endless.

I really like all these games and always come back to them because they are so simple. Sometimes you need something at a moments notice and they fit the bill nicely.  Even ones where you need words, you can just write them as you go if you need to. They are also all highly customizable, if one gets a bit stale you can change it up to make it more exciting. Also on that note you can change how easy or hard the games are too, for your more advanced students you can add things to make it more challenging.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

V Energy Drink in Korea

Fellow Kiwis you will be pleased to know that V Energy Drink is now available in Korea. 

For those of us addicted to the little green monster you will be very excited to find that you can get your fix so far from home.

Up till now I have been drinking Red Bull and when I first got here even that was hard to find, only one convenience store around my neighborhood stocked it.  Now you can get Red Bull almost everywhere including the supermarkets.  There are also a few other brands - the Korean 'Hot 6', 'Burn' by the Coca-Cola Company and a few others that are trying to get in on the emerging market.

I had not had V in a very long time as I've been here over a year and a half now but I went home to New Zealand the week before last for my summer vacation.  I quickly got reacquainted with it and even tried their new V Blue flavour.  I drank my last one on the morning that I flew out and was disappointed that I could not find any shops selling it at Auckland airport, I wanted to buy some for the plane once I got through customs but I had to settle for Red Bull.  I thought it was a bit silly when V is a New Zealand product.

So that was the Sunday and I had to go to work the next day on Monday. At lunch time I went to grab a Red Bull from the convenience store and was excited when I saw a flash of green sitting next to the Red Bull - it can't be I thought, but it was and I was super excited. I had to wait untill I got back to work so I could gush about it with people who speak English, the Korean teachers that I work with all know about my addiction to Red Bull but I told them that New Zealand has a better one and now I could show it to them.  Some of them said they will try it too  - I figure the more that buy it the better as I am sure it will only stay here if it sells well.

  • It is currently selling for 1,800 won which is super cheap.  Red Bull is 2,900 won (2,500 in supermarkets and 3,000 sometimes in Seoul) so V is a bargain compared.  It's also cheaper than what you would pay in New Zealand.  I would guess that this is an introductory price so if it stays be prepared for the price to go up.
  • They are selling them for 'buy two and get the third one free' at the moment so you can stock up. 
  • The only place I have found it in so far is the GS25 convenience stores.  Unfortunately even though convenience stores are ubiquitous across Korea the GS25 ones can be hard to find sometimes. 
  • They only have the green original can so far, I quite like the sugar free version but Korea does not really do diet stuff very much so there is probably not the market for it. 

If you have a GS25 near you then you are in luck, it took me ages to find one in Ingye-dong where I live.  I knew there must be one but all the convenience stores I go to are Family Marts or 7 Elevens. I walked around the streets near my apartment for ages looking at all the ones I knew and they were all wrong.  I got a bit excited when I went to one across from the park, I saw the 25 but then realised it was the wrong color and it was '25 For You' not GS25.  After walking around the backstreets behind the CGV for ages on a very hot day, I finally found one as I was heading home about to give up. 

If you are looking in Ingye-dong the one I found is on the side street opposite the hi-Mart (on the Home Plus side of the street). When you are walking towards Home Plus from Galleria direction you turn right into a small street before you get to Home Plus - when you can see that Hi-mart is on the other side of the road. It's not very far down and is on the right again.

Also if you don't see it at first in your local GS25 have a look around, it might be in a different fridge than all the other drinks as they are promoting it with the buy two get one free.  I was about to leave empty handed when I spotted it on my way out the door - it was in a small fridge behind the door.

Thanks Frucor for making one kiwigirl far from home a very happy Kiwi girl.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Website Highlight #1 - Korea Gig Guide

I just found a great website called Korea Gig Guide - it is a listing for live music in Seoul.  According to the website's 'about' page it was founded by and is run by expats who were interested in Korean music and wanted to know when and where live gigs were being played.  They say that they also list things about art events, cultural things and anything they find interesting.

They have bands listed like ...Whatever That Means, Geeks, Rux, Skasucks to name but a few.

I think this could be a great resource so make sure you check it out.  I've also added it to my list of links on the sidebar for future reference.

The website address is

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Very Busy Teacher (for once)

Hi all, just a quick post to explain why there was no music Monday this week.  I had just got back from my holiday back in New Zealand on the Sunday and I have been super busy at work ever since then. 

I have a 'Summer Intensive' course running for two weeks.  It is in addition to all my other classes and is two hours each morning. I still come in at my contracted 30 hours but I am a bit put out as I don't think they factor into it the huge amount of work it takes to put together this course.  I have no resources and it is a phonics class which I have never taught before. I was given the book a week or two before vacation and on contacting head office about it found that it was only just published, (already found three mistakes in it, one of them quite major) and they had no resources or guidelines to go with it.  It is a very basic story and song (with 5 stories) for teaching specific consonant blends - not enough to make up two hours of class work with that is for sure.  So I have been doing lots of prep work, making crosswords, word searches, flash cards and anything I can think of to get through the two hours.

As such I just have not had time to do any posting, I have got some posts that I've been working on so as soon as I get some time I will get them finished and published.