Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Teaching Tools #3 : Classroom Blackboard Labels

These are found in every elementary classroom in Korea, though of course the only English ones you see are in the English Classroom! Being the creative type I can't resist the change to mak things, so here's my own take!

I also get to shamelessly use my own drawing (the strawberry, alas,  is not mine but oh so cute!): 

Happy Organising!

*Please remember that these are for personal use only. Thank you.

Teaching Tools #2 : Instagram

With older students, especially if they're not confident or comfortable with English, it's useful to tap into something they know. In this day and age social media, SNS in this part of the world, is how everyone communicates or keeps tabs on what's going on. I made these prompt cards with this in mind.

The pictures have all been taken from the wonderful blog: WRITEWORLD

Kudos to all the artists and photographers who have had their work featured on this website! Their work is beautiful, diverse and thought provoking. Just what I needed!

These are designed to be conversation starters, giving something tangible for the students to work from. They are geared towards the older learner. 

The PDF has 50 pages of prompts (pg.1-50), one blank page (pg.51) and a backing page (pg.52). As you can see from the photos, I printed the backing page onto brown paper. I then laminated all the cards, for durability. 

Happy Chatting! 

* Please remember that these are for personal use only! 

Teaching Tools #1 : Organisation

One thing I love about being a teacher is being able to make and create things! I love being able to whip up a worksheet that complements the text book, make a game or even something entirely new. I also love to be organised.

So to kick off the Teaching Tools set of posts, I'm going to share a PDF I made full of useful teachers sheets. Of course these all depend on where you are working (elementary, hagwon etc...) how much independence you have in class, what you need and how you teach. So far I have found these useful and all you need is a printer!

Page Guide:

  1. Contents Page. This is blank and ready for you to fill out should you choose to use it. I like to store master copies in folders, so you can either print or use a photocopier! 
  2. Lesson Plan. This is a comprehensive lesson plan that gives space for a fair few activities.
  3. Monthly Plan. Or a 4 week plan. For overview of all activities etc.
  4. Weekly Plan. To give an overview of lessons during one week. 
  5. Class Progress Sheet (Grade) 
  6. Class Progress Sheet (Level) These just help to keep track of what progress you've made that day and remind you where to start next class. If you're like me and have a memory like a fish it's very useful! There's one for grade classes and one for level classes. 
  7. Register (27)
  8. Register (10)
  9. Register (15) + Notes. They do what they say on the tin. Choose depending on class size. 
  10. Homework Record (Class) 
  11. Homework Record (General) Keep track of who has (or hasn't) done their homework. Always handy to know who to reward with a Homework Pass! 
  12. Homework Pass (This Week's)
  13. Homework Pass (Today's) Two homework passes depending on how and when you give homework!
  14. Candy Certificate. If students are particularly worthy, a larger candy reward may be in order! I like to turn it around and reward with shareable candy like jellybean's! 
  15. Reward Chart (cat)
  16. Reward Chart (dinosaur)
  17. Reward Chart (robot)
  18. Reward Chart (cat II)
  19. Reward Chart (snail)
  20. Reward Chart (star)
  21. Reward Chart (bear)
  22. Reward Chart (bee) Get them one to keep one in their folder or stick them inside the cover of their books. Each ten stickers gets a reward. Or however you choose to use them!

Happy Organising!!

Link: Teacher's Documents PDF

*Please remember these sheets are for personal use only! Thank you. 

Lights, Camera, Water....

Those in the know are aware that I made my way to Korea via Hong Kong. If any place in the worlds spoils you rotten, Hong Kong does. To focus on one aspect in particular, there's a pretty cool light show in Hong Kong, not going to lie. Of course, it's the backdrop that makes it, but who can argue with that.

I loved the light show. Standing on the promenade, listening to the joyful tune that was the symphony of lights (take that as you will) and occasionally managing to see some of the lights through the clouds/fog/smog. On a clear evening it was awesome.

I knew, when I moved here, that there was a light show in Changwon on Yongji Lake. I didn't go and see it before it stopped for the winter. I was afraid that I would think it inferior in comparison to the epic light show in Hong Kong. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, a bit the bullet and broke my Yongji light show duck.

It was fabulous.

It was better than Hong Kong!

Not only a light show, but a water show. The music was good, it was clever, it was beautiful. It was pretty epic, I'm not going to lie. It just goes to show that you don't need a stunning backdrop at all - but it helps!

There's a fish....

...and now there's a dancer!

Moving to Korea: Need To Know

Moving to a new country is one of the most daunting things you can do. Moving to a country where this is minimal cultural diversity and even less English can be even more terrifying. Korea is definitely on this list. It doesn't help that of all the information out there on the internet, the majority is less than complimentary. In addition, some of it is a little dated... things move fast in Asia! So, to help anyone moving here any time soon, and let's face it this post will probably be defunct in no time, so until then, here's a few things you should know:

*feel free to ignore any or all of the following as all are entirely my own observation and opinion! Maybe I should disclaimer that I love Korea!! :P


1: Take everything you read on the internet with a pinch of salt, but a wise mind. 

So I'm talking about all those horror stories. We've all read them (or at least, those of us looking at coming to Korea) and they really do ramp up the terror. The thing is, Korea can be a hard country to live in and that's not because of Korea or the Koreans, but more to do with us as the foreigners. It's just different, they're different, we're different and it's not for everyone. Whilst it's true that some  horror stories have and do happen, read everything with a questioning mind and rely on your gut instinct.

2: They DO have deodorant here. 

Granted, it's not a large selection, but they have it. And it's easy to find. So that's that issue de-bunked.

3: The bedding is just fine, as are the towels. 

I read so much about bringing your own bedding and towels. My initial response: "Ain't nobody got time for that!" In all seriousness, who really wants to cart their bedding all over the world! So I bought mine here. And my towels. And it's just fine. I even prefer it. They have these wee ties on the duvet and the cover so that the duvet NEVER moves. As a sleeper who tosses and turns a lot this is a revelation. Pure genius I tell you. And they do have big towels! (I'd recommend making a Korean friend and getting them to help you order off Gmarket!)

4: Learn to read Korean. 

This is one piece of advice that everyone gives and it's one that is invaluable. There aren't too many English signs about (at least not in these parts, I'm in the South of the country) so reading Korean is invaluable. It is really easy, once you've got the basics down. It's also really useful for menus, once you've got your favourite beer, soju and side dishes down, you're good to go!

5: You're not in Kansas any more, Dorothy. 

When in Rome, do as they Romans do. It's an obvious truth that a fair few people forget when they're here. Some people don't like the idea of bowing to others, they may not like the fact that everything has to be signed off by a multitude of people before it get's the go ahead and I know that many people struggle with the last minute nature of things. Well for the latter 2, it's not just the foreigners who get irritated by this, it's just as much of a bind for the Koreans too! As for the bowing - it's their culture and they have invited us in. It's a mark of respect and they will respect us so much more if we try and respect their customs and culture, as we should.

6: The Korean's are lovely, lovely people. 

Perhaps I should have started this... I remember reading so much about how Koreans were rude, unwelcoming and, a few times, downright tyrannical. This could not be further from the truth. There are a few oddballs and people you don't want to be around, but that is in no way unique to Korea, that would be true of any country in the world. I have found Koreans to be incredibly kind and welcoming and more than happy to lend a hand should I need it. They have invited me to dinners and into their homes. The society here is focused on family and community and I have been lucky that I have not been treated as an outsider. It's a wonderful thing to be part of: embrace it.

7: Personal questions are the norm - don't be offended. 

You will frequently asked your age, if you're single, and if so why/when you will be married. It's totally normal. Just roll with it!

8: ALWAYS recycle. 

Find out which day is the day for recycling, and keep a stock of clear plastic bags for this purpose. I've used large white bags from stores *shops, I mean shops, slap my wrist* and they do just fine, especially when they're obviously full of recycling. And always have a handy supply of rubbish bags (available from convenience stores and large supermarkets in blue and yellow! They're very on the button about it, so make life easy and follow the rule, and as a bonus you can feel really good about yourself.

9: Take your shoes off indoors. 

Always. Always, always, always. Especially in elementary schools and absolutely if you are visiting someone's home. It's got to the point that I now carry around a pair of socks if I'm wearing sandals! A #koreanproblem for sure, but I'm totally OK with that!

10: Try the food!!!

This should be a no-brainer! You've travelled the world, try the local delicacies. Whilst they may not all be to your taste, there will (hopefully) be something that lights your fires, and if not then at least you tried. Liken it to someone telling you your home cooked food is disgusting. No one wants to hear that. Here, all Koreans are very proud of everything Korean, and why shouldn't they be - it's their country. Show them you're willing to try, even if it isn't you thing. They will appreciate the effort!

11: They have Earl Grey Tea! 

Someone mentioned to me in passing that they had read there was no Earl Grey tea in Korea. That's not true! They have Earl Grey - they even have Twinings! So all is good with the world!

12: They coffee isn't half bad! 

Korean's love, and I mean really love, their coffee. Coffee shops everywhere. I'm pretty sure their instant coffee is some of the best I've had (and I dislike instant coffee intensely). Their local coffee chains aren't half bad either, and you can buy their coffee beans. Once more, all is good with the world!

13: There's more to Korea than Seoul.

Seoul is amazing, it really is. It's big and busy and full of all the things you can't find elsewhere in Korea, but there's so much else going on in the rest of the country! Don't be afraid to explore or even live somewhere else. I was dead set on Seoul to begin with, but I'm not beyond thankful that I ended up in a quieter city. Wherever you are, Seoul isn't very far away! All hail the fabulous public transport!

14: The public transport is... just wow!

The public transport in Korea is awesome. It runs, it's cheap, it goes everywhere! Your journeys might take a wee bit of planning and a change here or there, depending on where you're going, but in general it's a breeze, and I love it!


And so ends the list. Phew! I wasn't expecting it to be that long, but if it helps then fabulous! Anything else I need to add, let me know!

Recipe 2: How Do I Spell This Again?

Here we go for Recipe number 2, 떡볶이, also know as ddeokbokki, teokbokki, topokki and dukboki. I have gone for the Korean name above as romanizations are confusing me more and more these days. My Korean skills are still pretty patchy, but I much prefer to read the Korean over searching for the romanizations - I feel it leaves less room for error (but there will always be error, at least for the time being.) But I digress...

떡볶이 is my ultimate lazy food. It's also a classic street food. Meandering around, especially in busy areas, it's not uncommon to find a wee canopied stall with a smiling lady mixing up her 떡볶이, it's a cheap and delicious way to grab a snack. Then there are the 떡볶이 restaurants where all sorts of options can be added to you 떡볶이 and you can munch away as it sizzles away in front of you. 

Have I ever mentioned how much I love the way so much of the food here is cooked on the table, right in front of you. It makes eating out a much more enjoyable and social experience. There really are a lot of things that Korea does right! But I digress... again...!!!

Back to 떡볶이... what do you need: 


  • 떡 (here-after called rice cakes.) These are pretty essential (as if that wasn't obvious from the name) and come in an array of shapes and sizes. Personally I'm a fan of the tubular ones! 
  • Red Pepper Paste
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Sugar
  • Fish Cake
  • Green Onion / Leek
  • Boiled Eggs
  • Water
  • Dried Anchovies
  • Dried Seaweed

First you need to make the stock. This is wonderfully simple (and used for many Korean recipes, so it's good to know.) Take your anchovies and seaweed and put what you need in a pan. I now do this by eye, but you don't need much. My advice is the same as that given to me by a bread baker many years ago: Add as much as you think you need, then add a little bit more. Throw them into a pan, add as much water as you think you need (depending on how many people you're cooking for) and let it boil. Again, as long as you feel it needs. 

When you're happy it's boiled enough REMOVE THE ANCHOVIES AND SEAWEED! Don't forget to do this - it's not pleasant! 

Gather the rest of the ingredients: 

Make a paste using: 
1tbsp hot pepper paste
1tsp pepper flakes
1tsp sugar
and mix it all up!

Chop the fish cake into chunks, gather as many rice cakes as you want/need and cut the green onion/leeks so that they're in long sticks, but make sure you score down one side, not enough to slice them in half, but enough so that they will separate during cooking. 

Now throw all of these into the pan and stir away. 

You don't have to add boiled eggs, but they add a nice extra texture. I've used wee quail eggs here, with are mighty easy to get hold of down in your local mart! I usually add these towards the end of the cooking process. 

When it's cooked the 떡볶이 should be soft and chewy (in a good way). Serve up and munch away.

You can mix it up as you like: add some ramyeon, some chicken or some cheese (or all three as per my first 떡볶이 experience). The possibilities are endless, but sometimes plain and simple, and very very spicy, is best! 

Recipe 1: Kimbap

Are you ready to put all that know-how from the last post into action? No, me neither, but we're going to jump in anyway.

Here's what I'm going to use in my kimbap.

  • Rice
  • Kim
  • Fish Cake
  • Ham
  • Carrot
  • Cucumber
  • Burdock
  • Radish
  • Salt
  • Sesame Oil
  • Soy Sauce
  • Honey
So first things first. If you're using a rice cooker or a pan, get your rice going so it's cooking while you cook everything else. If, like me, you use microwavable rice then cook it later.

Start with the carrots and cucumber (and burdock if you're preparing it from scratch.) They should end up looking a little like this: 

Place the cucumber on it's own plate and sprinkle with a little salt. This is to draw the water from the cucumber. Doing this now means the salt has time to do it's stuff while you prepare everything else. 

Throw the carrots into a pan (though not literally, mind) and add the soy sauce and honey. I do this by eye, a healthy few slugs of soy sauce and just a wee but of honey to take the edge off the saltiness. As you can see, there isn't much in there. Let this simmer for a minute or two. When you're ready, use tongs to remove the carrots from the remaining liquid and put them on their own plate. This may seem like dirtying a lot of plates, but it's better to get as much of the liquid away from both the carrots and cucumber as possible before adding them to the tray of gloriousness you'll see later! 

Time to introduce some more ingredients. Here we have, from left to right, the kimbap ham, pre-scored for all your kimbap needs; the burdock and the yellow radish and the fish cakes. (These are the same fish cakes that are used for ddeokbokki (which also has more romanizations than you can shake a stick at!)

I drain the liquid from the burdock and radish and fire it onto the tray, like so: 

I then slice a fish cake:

Then add everything to the tray. Now doesn't that look like all kinds of yummy!

It's worth noting here that the ham is the only think I keep wrapped up in it's own wrapper and I only remove as much as I will need for that day's kimbap making session. In this case, I'll be making two rolls, so 2 sticks of ham.

In the interest of aesthetics, I'm making this kimbap with white rice and I'm using this tub of microwaveable rice. There are three sizes of these and this is the middle sized one that perfectly makes 2 kimbap rolls, and they're not too big either.  

Once cooked according to instructions (or when your rice has finished cooking) add a splash of sesame oil and a pinch of salt. You don't need to do this, if you don't want too (but I like to.)

Then we get out our seaweed. This is the one I'm using at the moment. If I'm opening a new pack, I use it straight away. I then fire the rest into the freezer. When I take the sheets I need out of the freezer, I wave them over the flame on my gas hob a few times each side, just to get rid of excess moisture (tips and tricks Koreans have taught me!)

And here we are all prep'd and ready to go! 

Spread out the rice. The rice scoop is so useful here and spreads as well as compacts the rice. 

Add your filling. 1 stick radish, 1 stick burdock, 1 stick ham, 1 strip of fish cake and carrot and cucumber to your hearts desire. 

Then use the rolling matt to roll it. Make sure you squeeeeeeze as you go! It should end up looking like the photo below. Then brush the top of the kimbap and the blade of your knife with sesame oil. 

The sesame oil makes cutting the kimbap a smoother job and ideally it will come out all neat and tidy. My initial attempts were far from this neat. Filling splurged everywhere, but practice makes (nearly) prefect.

If, like me, you have a think about pretty dishes, transfer your kimbap. I love how perfect a kimbap dish this is (and so colourful!) And then munch away. 

The remaining filling can be cling-wrapped and put in the fridge ready for tomorrows assembly. And the day after. And the day after. And the day after that. It's also a mighty handy thing to make for lunch on those desk warming days during school vacations, and oh so shareable too! 

If you really want to have a "food of life moment" my CT told me that cold kimbap can be dipped in beaten egg and fried for breakfast. This is, hands down, the best breakfast ever. 

Go forth and experiment, switch up the fillings and find a routine that works for you! Sandwiches, eat your heart out, I have kimbap!