Archive for April, 2013

Korean McDonald’s and Konglish

April 24, 2013

The key to surviving in Korea is mastering a language I like to call Konglish. Konglish is a language like English but spoken with a Korean accent. Example: if you get in a taxi and say “McDonald’s,” the taxi driver will stare back at you blankly. You then repeat it slowly, “Mc-Do-nald’s.” You then go into a miming game where you say “McDonald’s” slowly while airbrushing an “M” into the air in front of him. “Oh! McDonald-zuh,” he’ll repeat back joyfully. In Korean no word can end with a consonant sound. So, all words, including the entire Konglish catalogue, must end with a vowel sound. Another note, all the “L” sounds and “R” sounds are reversed. Also, in Korean they can’t pronounce the “F” sound. Instead, they convert all “F” sounds turn into a “P” sound. So, instead of saying refill, in Konglish you say, “Leepilluh.” These are the three most important rules of Konglish.

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Konglish is occasionally frustrating, often confusing, and almost always entertaining. It’s one of the main reasons for misunderstandings between Koreans and foreigners. And for an English teacher, it’s a daily battle that will probably never be won.

Some English words have been adopted by the Korean language, just as they are, to mean the things that they, really mean. Example: Game, Sticker and Computer. These are a few that English teachers pick up when listening to the Korean students talking amongst themselves. However, for the most part, most Konglish words have taken on new meanings, so that they now mean something completely different than they do to native speakers. Or, even more confusingly, there’s only a very slight, subtle difference. That’s Konglish; English words, but with a new Korean meaning.

Here’s a partial list of Konglish words.

When they say…………….. they mean

Sharp………………………………mechanical pencil

(e.g. “Teacher, where’s my sharp?” This means, “Teacher, where’s my pencil?”)

Academy…………………………..private school attended after public school is over (Usually between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. They are also sometimes called “cramming schools” by English newspapers)

White……………………………….White-Out

Service………………………………Free (as in “it’s on the house!”)

Handphone…………………………..Cell phone/Mobile phone

(pronounced hen-duh-pone)

Apart…………………………………Apartment

(pronounced “ah-pah-tuh”)

Apartment……………………………Whole apartment building

Eye shopping………………………….Window shopping

One shot!…………………………….Bottoms up!

Hair rinse…………………………..Hair conditioner

Skinship……………………………Making out – kissing, touching

Fighting!……………………A shout of encouragement, like “Go team!” or “Let’s do it!”

Time…………………………………….Hour

(e.g. “I slept 8 times last night”…. “I slept for 8 hours last night”)

Let’s Dutch pay!……………………….Let’s go Dutch!

So-so……………………………….…..Boring, uninteresting

(e.g. “It was very, very so-so”…..”It was very, very boring”)

Pop song………………………………..Any song in English

Cunning…………………………………Cheating/copying work

Pronounced (“conning”)

(e.g. “Teacher!! John is cunning!”…”Teacher!! John is cheating/copying!”)

Overeat…………………………….…..Throw up, vomit

Dessert…………………………….…..Cup of tea after meal

The most frustrating time I had with Konglish was at the Post Office when I had to send off a letter but wanted to correct the address on the envelope. I kept repeating “White-Out,” but nobody understood. Finally I called a native speaker on my hand phone (cell phone) and he explained it to the clerk at the post office. Before the clerk hung up, he said, “Oh, white.”

“Shouldn’t he have been able to guess what I meant when I said ‘White-out.’ The words are pretty close?” I thought to myself. If you start to wonder things like this in Korea, you will slowly go insane.

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Everything You Wanted To Know About Teaching English In Korea But Were Afraid To Ask

There has been an exploding demand for native English speakers to teach English in South Korea. English programs and English academies have been spreading like wildfire all over Korea. And, due to an unpredictable economy, many university graduates, travelers, and people from all walks of life are packing their bags and taking advantage of the English boom in Korea.

Korean institutions are paying good money ($2,000-$2,500USD a month) and offering excellent benefits (free housing, 30 hour work weeks) to Westerners who are willing to explore the unfamiliar, pack up their bags, and teach in thriving South Korea.Image

This is the complete guidebook on how to relocate to South Korea and become an English teacher. This book illustrates the many advantages (low taxes, high standard of living, friendly people, safe streets) and challenges (dating, language barriers, disciplining students, getting along with co-workers) that the first time teacher can expect to confront in Korea.

Funny, fact filled and always informative, “First Contact in Korea: A Native English Teacher’s Guide to South Korea” provides the necessary knowledge you need to make the most out of the experience. Jam packed with practical information, “First Contact in Korea: A Native English Teacher’s Guide to South Korea” addresses all of the topics and taboos a prospective English teacher needs to know, from finding the right job and negotiating a contract settlement to avoid eating dog while ordering food off of a menu.While other books focus solely on classroom experience, “First Contact in Korea: A Native English Teacher’s Guide to South Korea” explores life outside of the classroom, providing you with an in-depth and often hilarious guide to Korean culture, food, friendship, drinking, dating, religion, health and history are just some of the subjects discussed in detail.Last but not least, “First Contact in Korea: A Native English Teacher’s Guide to South Korea” looks at the embarrassing realities of life abroad, offering pause for thought on such issues as learning how to pronounce Korean students’ names, a 15-minute golf lesson I got in Korean that increased my driving distance 20%, my interactions with my Korean co-worker “Kid” who confesses to me that he was accused by his ex-wife of burning down her house and the cheapest and best eye surgery I’ve gotten in any country.  “First Contact in Korea: A Native English Teacher’s Guide to South Korea” will awaken readers to the transitional opportunities available in a place that shares few Western customs but many of the comforts of home.
Written by Brian Ward, a semi-qualified middle school teacher whose walked the fine line between sanity and a nervous breakdown in the classroom, “First Contact in Korea: A Native English Teacher’s Guide to South Korea” is an irreverent and insightful survival guide for anyone brave enough to try their hand at teaching English in South Korea or who just wants to have a laugh at author Brian Ward’s backwards approach to living in Korean culture.

This guidebook also compares teaching in the USA to teaching in Korea.

Country Salary
(Year)
Yearly Taxes Yearly Housing Expenses Total Remaining
Korea $26,000 + 50% of medical bills paid $780   $0 $25,220
USA   $35,000 $8,000 $8,400 $18,600

“First Contact in Korea: A Native English Teacher’s Guide to South Korea” by Brian Ward, can be found on Amazon.com

Here is a chapter by chapter synopsis of the book:

Chapter 1
Dreams vs. Getting a Paycheck

This chapter profiles author’s friend Nick Lee, the hedonistic boozer surrounded by books, half-finished paintings and an old LP player — speaks in English rather than Greek or Latin. Prodigious nose, has been retooled as a heroic pretty boy. As Nick Lee’s life finally falls apart due to alcohol and lack of physical contact with women, the author decides to get on a plane to Korea. Upon his arrival to South Korea, he is taken back when he learns the true meaning of “Hair Shops” in Korea.

Chapter 2
Academy Owners

This chapter discusses the 4 major types of academy owners as well as which category I was working for. This chapter also discusses my “first contact” with my boss and Korean co-workers. This chapter reveals what a failure I am at teaching and includes the letters I received from Seoul which explained where I should improve. Introduced in this chapter is Carlo, an English teacher famous for drinking with Russians, getting bit by his students and his travels throughout Morocco.

In this chapter I get fired from my first job and start a new job. I am also forced to learn a little bit about Korean culture in order to be able to converse better with my students. Also introduced in this chapter is Jackie and the story of his dog “Blackie.” Also discussed is the Korean co-worker culture and what that entails.

Chapter 3
First Non-Monopoly Month in Class

I learn which class tattled on me for playing Monopoly every day in class. I also try different techniques for disciplining my students. I also discuss the advantages of talking with the students versus making them do exercises and what makes talking to the students so difficult. Also discussed is more of Carlo’s antics outside of the classroom. I finally get the bright idea of discussing the rules in class. I meet Carlo again out of class and we discuss the problems of his life; mainly how to deal with a belligerent student who happens to be the boss’ daughter in class.

Chapter 4
Bars and Churches

There are two types of English teachers in Mokpo, those who hang out in the bars and the other who hang out in church. Frankly I was getting tired of hanging out with the English teachers in bars. I decide to go to church instead. On my first day of church I discover that there is free orange juice and cookies served after each session. I meet Ms. Jung who explains to me why the street in Korea are so clean and how it affects retired Korean people. I also get my first private English student. Jackie’s house becomes haunted by a ghost and he reveals how to chase ghosts away. I go to my first baseball game.

Chapter 5
Modem vs. Router

I have my first run in with Korean modems and their downfalls. Jackie comes to my rescue and gives me some much-needed internet advice.

Chapter 6
Golfing in Korea

I meet my first Korean golf instructor who gives me best golf lesson ever using no English. Using my new-found golf skills I decide to golf a few rounds of golf with my new co-teacher George and his brother.

Chapter 7
English Meetings at Angel-In-Us Café

In addition to going to church, I join another group in Korea. This one is and English group that is run by my Korean friend Jackie. This group becomes a great way to meet new friends and discuss current events in Korea. Next, my former roommate, Carlo, gets taken to the police station and I talk to him before he gets deported from Korea. I also meet my replacement who’s teaching at my previous academy.

Chapter 8
4th of July in Korea

Author goes to a 4th of July party with his new-found church friends. He meets another English teacher named Tareck. Tareck is famous for kicking chairs across the classroom to get his students’ attention as well as living in the same apartment as his nudist boss.

Chapter 9
Kidman

Brian meets his first English-speaking co-teacher who goes by the name “Kid.” During their first time out for a hike together Kid confesses to Brian that he was accused by his ex-wife of burning down her house and that he likes dating Japanese women.

Chapter 10
Modem vs. Router

I have my first run in with Korean modems and their downfalls. Jackie comes to my rescue and gives me some much-needed internet advice.

Chapter 11
Golfing in Korea

I meet my first Korean golf instructor who gives me best golf lesson ever using no English. Using my new-found golf skills I decide to golf a few rounds of golf with my new co-teacher George and his brother.

Chapter 12
English Meetings at Angel-In-Us Café

In addition to going to church, I join another group in Korea. This one is and English group and is run by Jackie. I find another way to meet new friends and discuss current events in Korea. Carlo gets taken to the police station and I talk to him before he gets deported from Korea. I also meet my replacement who’s teaching at my previous academy.

Chapter 13
Lesson Plans

Brian reveals the most effective way to plan for his classes; by downloading lessons plans off the internet. Included in these lesson plans is  sample menu that is used to help the students role-play the purchasing of a hamburger in class.

Chapter 14
Dating in Korea

Brian shares four case studies of native teachers (males) who are dating Korean women. Included in these case studies are the reactions of the host-woman’s friends, families and social network.

Chapter 15
Surgery on a Budget

Brian get learns the difference between hospitals in Seoul (where the rich Koreans go) and all other hospitals in Korea. Brian finds the best value in Korea which is eye surgery which is priced at $2,500 in Korea vs. $28,000 in the United States. While in the hospital Brian meets an American man named Roman who’s been living in Korea since the 1970′s and publishing a book about a Post-Apocalyptic New England town. When Brian asks Roman who his book publishing agent is Roman replies, “The guy’s an idiot, he’s 62 and has just had his 6th child with his 3rd wife. What kind of a life is that kid going to have?”

“First Contact in Korea: A Native English Teacher’s Guide to South Korea” by Brian Ward, can be found on Amazon.com

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Medellín vs. Bogotá

April 7, 2013

A lot has been said by Bogota’s lack of a metro system. In Colombia it is strange that Colombia’s capital city as well as most populous city (10.7 million) doesn’t have a metro system while Medellin (population 3.8 million) has its own metro system.  What Bogota has done to ease its embarrassment of a lack of a metro is to install the “Transmilenio.” The Transmilenio has been called the “Burro Gusano” (Stupid Worm) by the people who live in Bogota. My own personal name I have invented for the whole Transmilenio system is, “2 People Get off, 25 Get On.” It seems every time you try to go anywhere on the Transmilenio there are always people standing in front of the turnstiles text messaging, when the bus doors open there are always people blocking your way who aren’t even getting on the Transmilenio and there always seems to be large numbers of people getting on the bus right when you are trying to leave. But, on the other hand there are a lot of people in Bogota and obviously they have to get to work somehow. So, considering the amount of people in the city it could be a lot worse.Image

One technique I have used to try and get on Transmilenio buses that are the same route but are drafting off of each other. The bus that is drafting usually has 50% less people the the Transmilenio bus in front of it. This happens because most people riding Transmilenio are always late so the always rush to get onto the first bus into the station. But, as long as you pay attention to the boards and you have an extra 2 minutes to wait you can find a Transmilenio bus less crowded that will get you to the same place in few minutes later. And, another advantage of taking the Transmilenio bus drafting off the other, is that the one in front will pick up a lot more people on the way and will make it tougher to get off of at your stop later.

The Transmilenio is basically a glorified bus that has sheltered stops that are fenced in by glass. The system is not all bad. It is cheaper and faster to build than a subway and it is also more flexible to operate in terms of adding or subtracting buses. The passengers are all very calm when they ride the Transmilenio. I have delivered some massive elbow into people’s heads, shoulders and arms and the people never get mad. Usually they apologize for their head running into my elbow.

So, while the people in Medellin are efficiently guided through the city by metro, the Bogotanos are left to sit in traffic, while dodging elbows from the passengers and cursing the paisas (Medellin people) under their breath. The thing I enjoy most about riding the Transmilenio is being able to stare down other passengers if they are gazing too long at a roadside accident. The public transportation system is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of rivalry between Bogota and Medellin. This is a condensed list of the major differences between the two cities.

1)    Medellin’s temperate climate (between 65 and 85 degrees 99% of the time) beats Bogota’s year round cold and drizzly climate.

2)    The women in Bogota are more cosmopolitan.

When I asked a girl from Bogota who she thought was more prettier, the Paisa girls (Medellin) or the Rola (Bogota) girls.

“As a Colombian woman I can tell you the first problem many foreign men have when they come to Colombia is going for the fake girls, fake paisa women come in pretty packages but they’re full of air. You have been warned!
Rolas for example don’t go around showing off their boobies and butts as much as the Paisas but they are more intellectual and have more brain matter. If you are in love with Medellín, then your best bet  is to go for the paisa women that have some education, preferably university education. Are you really ready to date a girl who probably speaks her own mother tongue 10 times worse than you and looks like a Colombian version of Barbie? These girls are usually big gold-diggers, some don’t expect anything better than wild sex but no reassurance besides that.
Believe me, in comparison to any Euro or Anglo American we Colombians are extremely passionate and sensual even if we don’t all go dressed in skimpy dresses. So yes, there are Colombian women that are not flaky and with enough brains to go beyond the superficial.”

3)    The fashion industry is centered in Medellin. The latest fashions always arrive to Medellin first and then filter through the rest of the country like tomato juice being poured over ice cubes.

4)    The more famous artists and musicians are from Medellin: Juanes and Botero. There is a noticeable lack of great artistic talent that comes out of Bogota based on its size.

5)    Medellin has better plastic surgeons for augmenting or slimming your body.

6)    The Bogota accent is the clearest and easiest to understand of all the Spanish speaking world. Bogotanos speak Spanish like Torontonians speak English.

7)    The cost of living in Medellin is a little cheaper than Bogota in terms of transportation, housing and food.

8)    The big bonus for foreign people living in Bogota is the potential of working in the TV and movie business. These opportunities are pretty difficult to find in Medellin.