notes on things I'm learning
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Lesson 30 (Beginner 2A L6): And (๊ณ )

We are finishing Chapter 7 next week since we covered the last grammar point. That's really fast.

The lesson started with revision of last week's grammar, so with the help of the physical flash cards with pictures on one side and the verb on the other, we had to conjugate for both ์ง€๋งŒ and then ์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค/ใ…‚๋‹ˆ๋‹ค. There were a few variants. With the verb's infinitive shown or the picture side (which is harder), and we had to do both the present tense and the past tense.

We also went through the textbook for these grammar topics, in addition to the new grammar topic, since we did not touch the textbook in the last lesson.

I mentioned back in the second lesson of this term (Lesson 26) that we had a new student. Well, this was his last lesson as he's going into the army next Friday.

We also got the invoices for the next lesson term. The fee this round includes an extra $35 for the next textbook. Time really flies. It'll soon be a year since I started learning Korean.


There was also one page on the handout that we did in this lesson. It was an exercise for the third grammar point (A/V-์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค/ใ…‚๋‹ˆ๋‹ค), which brought up a pronunciation note (that is also in the textbook, I later saw).

Basically, the ใ…† sound in the syllable-final position (it's a /t/) is hard to pronounce before the ์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค when you have the past tense, such as in ๋งŒ๋‚ฌ์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค.

So how it's actually pronounced is that instead of [์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค] it becomes [์”๋‹ˆ๋‹ค], and you don't pronounce the /t/ sound with the previous syllable.

  • ๋งŒ๋‚ฌ์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค: [๋งŒ๋‚˜์”๋‹ˆ๋‹ค]
  • ๋จน์—ˆ์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค: [๋จธ๊ฑฐ์”๋‹ˆ๋‹ค]


4. A/V-๊ณ , N(์ด)๊ณ 

The last time we saw ๊ณ , it was introduced to list events in order back in Lesson 19.

However, in this case, it does not necessarily mean that the events happen in sequence. (Indeed, it would make no sense for adjectives and nouns.)

This is simply used to connect two clauses that may not be sequential. It's simply "and".

I'm not certain how to distinguish between the two uses for the case of a verb since in some constructions they would be identical, but I think it's like for many things in language: it will depend heavily on context.

Notably for the verb here, the examples abounded with different subjects doing different actions. But back in Lesson 19, most of the sentences were focused on a single subject.

Let's look at some examples for each.


  1. ์˜ค๋ Œ์ง€๊ฐ€ ์‹ธ๊ณ  ๋ง›์žˆ์–ด์š”. (The orange is cheap and delicious.)
  2. ๋‚ ์”จ๊ฐ€ ์ถฅ๊ณ  ๋น„๊ฐ€ ์˜ต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค. (The weather is cold and it is raining.)
    • A small aside here that for ๋น„๊ฐ€ ์˜ค๋‹ค, ๋ˆˆ์ด ์˜ค๋‹ค and ๋ฐ”๋žŒ์ด ๋ถˆ๋‹ค, when someone asks how is the weather, you do not start with "๋‚ ์”จ๊ฐ€". The literal meanings of those phrases: "the rain to come", "the snow to come" and "the wind to blow". Just like you won't say "The weather is the wind is blowing", it doesn't make sense to add the ๋‚ ์”จ๊ฐ€.
    • So, by itself: ๋น„๊ฐ€ ์˜ต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค.
  3. ์–ด์ œ ๋‚ ์”จ๊ฐ€ ๋ฅ๊ณ  ๋ง‘์•˜์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค. (Yesterday, the weather was hot and sunny.)
    • Notice that if the entire sentence is in the past tense, you do not need to conjugate the ๋ฅ to make it ๋”์›  as in the case of the "but" sentence where the first half it in the past and the second half is in the present (see the previous lesson).
    • This is also the straightforward version that we were taught also with ๊ณ  the first time.


  1. ์Šคํ‹ฐ๋ธ์€ ์‚ฌ์ง„์„ ์ฐ๊ณ  ๋‚˜๋‚˜๋Š” ์š”๋ฆฌ๋ฅผ ํ–ˆ์–ด์š”. (Steven took pictures and Nana cooked.)
  2. ์ €๋Š” ์นดํŽ˜์—์„œ ์ปคํ”ผ๋„ ๋งˆ์‹œ๊ณ  ์ˆ™์ œ๋„ ํ•ฉ๋‹ˆ๋‹ค. (I am drinking coffee and doing my homework at the cafรฉ.)
    • I'm not doing homework after I drink coffee. The events are not sequential here.
    • The teacher seemed to have said something about using ๋„ for listing the events, but I'm not certain of its use here. She also mentioned that the events are not in order, but my uncertainty arises from what she's referring to, since the "not in order" part should be about ๊ณ , no?


This is the same as what was seen last lesson, that whether you have ์ด depends on whether you have batchim or not:

  • ๋ฐ›์นจ O: ์ด์—์š” + ๊ทธ๋ฆฌ๊ณ  = ์ด๊ณ 
  • ๋ฐ›์นจ X: ์˜ˆ์š” + ๊ทธ๋ฆฌ๊ณ  = ๊ณ 

It's rather interesting that it's meant to be short form of ๊ทธ๋ฆฌ๊ณ , which we learned that it is "and" for connecting clauses and not things (which you will use ํ•˜๊ณ , and... I also talked about last week).

  1. ์ €๋Š” ํ•™์ƒ์ด๊ณ  ์–ธ๋‹ˆ๋Š” ํšŒ์‚ฌ์›์ด์—์š”. (I am a student and my sister is an office worker.)
  2. ์ €๋Š” ๊ธฐ์ž๊ณ  ์ผ๋ณธ ์‚ฌ๋žŒ์ด์—์š”. (I am a reporter and I am Japanese.)


Korean English Notes
๋†๊ตฌ basketball
์‚ด๋‹ค to live e.g. to live in a certain country, ํ•œ๊ตญ์—์„œ ์‚ด์•„์š”.
์—ด๋Œ€ ๊ธฐํ›„ tropical climate ็†ฑๅธถๆฐฃๅ€™
์Šตํ•˜๋‹ค to be humid
์‰ฌ๋Š” ์‹œ๊ฐ„ break time lit. resting time
์Šคํ‚ค์žฅ์— ๊ฐ€๋‹ค to go skiing lit. to go to the ski resort
ํ•œ๊ตญ์–ด ๊ณต๋ถ€๊ฐ€ ์–ด๋•Œ์š”? How is your Korean studies going? Refers to the learning journey

Lesson 29 (Beginner 2A L5): Contrasting Clauses and Formal Speech

Today was an intense grammar lesson, covering 2 more grammar points after our word quiz.

What was more interesting was that I found out from my friend, the guy who is still taking the class with me, that our previous teacher actually quit teaching at the school. Or, well, she quit at one point, but now she's back. Or maybe she never left (because of the Covid situation), I don't know. My friend thinks she may be teaching part-time.

Her last day was the day of our last lesson before the break, so that was Lesson 24. I had a sixth sense about this, that she was quitting the school, but I wasn't sure. On the last lesson, I was right on time and missed their informal photo-taking session (which was later posted to the KakaoTalk group) and probably when she mentioned it to them.

Yesterday, he sent me a message with a screenshot from Instagram asking me if the person in the picture was our previous teacher. The picture in that Instagram post by the school included a screenshot of a Zoom meeting (basically, a class), and our previous teacher was in it along with some other people (students, obviously).

I replied today just before the class since I had so many Zoom meetings this past week that the history no longer included the class and I had to dig out the meeting details, saying that it does look like her.

In response, he replied to say that "it seems she came back to teach" and so in my mind, I was like, Wait, what? She left? (It's interesting too because probably a week or so ago, to satisfy my curiosity/sixth sense, I did check the school's website which keeps a list of the teachers, and she was still on the list... and I know they updated it recently since they say it's closed for to the Circuit Breaker period... So, I chalked it up to me having a wrong feeling about this.)

Then he told me about how our last lesson was her last day.

So... it turns out my sixth sense was right.

(Her KakaoTalk name is still without the ์„ ์ƒ๋‹˜ though, which is something I noticed last week or so... basically when I try to submit homework to our current teacher. And... I just read her Korean (actual) name again, I tend to skip that since she puts her English name too, and realised that one of my new classmates basically chose the same Korean name as this other teacher... ok. I'm clearly not very observant.)

Anyway, digression over.

Word Quiz

We started with the word quiz.

There were a list of words we had to write in Korean given their English translations. Some we were to write the basic (dictionary/infinitive) form, for the others we were to write the present tense (casual) form.

I made two mistakes. Maybe I should really consider forcing myself to type, or really write. It feels very unfamiliar to me because I've not actually written the words.

(I wrote ๊ฐ€๊ฒ๋‹ค instead of ๊ฐ€๋ณ๋‹ค, and ๋ง‘์–ด์š” instead of ๋ง‘์•„์š”. For the second one, I've gotten something similar wrong before with ๋‹ฆ๋‹ค.)


0. Extra Grammar: ์™€/๊ณผ, ํ•˜๊ณ  and (์ด)๋ž‘

Due to the homework where we were converting a polite-casual speech text to the polite-fromal speech, I decided to use ์™€/๊ณผ in place of ํ•˜๊ณ  since ์™€/๊ณผ was meant to be formal, right?

(Actually, you definitely can use ์™€/๊ณผ even in the casual ํ•ด์š”์ฒด speech from the textbook examples. I don't know if the converse is true, using ํ•˜ instead of ์™€/๊ณผ in formal ํ•˜์‹ญ์‹œ์˜ค์ฒด. I also discovered today that the textbook doesn't really mention ์™€/๊ณผ as being formal, it was all in the additional handout...)

I had to get straightened out on the ์™€/๊ณผ and ํ•˜๊ณ  thing, whether ์™€/๊ณผ not only means (formal) "and", but also "with", same as ํ•˜๊ณ .

This site provides the answer: Yes.

This example demonstrates it:

๋‚˜๋Š” ์ฒ ์ˆ˜์™€ ๊ฐ™์ด ์‚ด์•„. (I live with Chul Su.)

It's also in the description, but the next sentence goes on to talk about the spoken language thing -(์ด)๋ž‘, which I've not encountered and my brain wasn't up for it.

It's something that I already had a question about some time ago, but never bothered to find out since, hey, I didn't need it. Since, you know, we never learned ํ•˜์‹ญ์‹œ์˜ค์ฒด formally (pun was not intended, but, whatever) until today.

Basically, I am lazy and I don't search things all that diligently. More on this when we cover the second grammar point today (third for this chapter).

I went to try to find a source that says ์™€/๊ณผ is formal, and then I came across this article... which does that, but also discusses (์ด)๋ž‘, the thing that I was avoiding in the other link. Sigh. So I ended up finding out about it anyway.

This is also interchangeable and has the same meaning, but you use ๋ž‘ if there is no batchim, and ์ด๋ž‘ when there is. (It's actually reminding me of the N(์ด)์ง€๋งŒ... which I shall now get into.)

2. A/V-์ง€๋งŒ, N(์ด)์ง€๋งŒ

This is used to connect two contrasting clause. In a nutshell, it functions like "but".

For adjectives (A) and verbs (V), you simply remove the ๋‹ค and replace it with ์ง€๋งŒ. For nouns, if it has batchim, you use N์ด์ง€๋งŒ, but if it does not, then you use N์ง€๋งŒ.


  1. ํ•œ๊ตญ์–ด ๊ณต๋ถ€๋Š” ์–ด๋ ต์ง€๋งŒ ์žฌ๋ฏธ์žˆ์–ด์š”. (Studying Korean is difficult but interesting.)
    • Adjective example
  2. ์–ด์ œ๋Š” ํ•™๊ต์— ๊ฐ”์ง€๋งŒ ์˜ค๋Š˜์€ ์•ˆ ๊ฐ€์š”. (Yesterday I went to school but today I did not.)
    • Verb example
    • Notice the use of ์€/๋Š” as the contrast particle. This particle is added to the thing you are comparing, in this case, the time.
    • Lesson 26 covered the different uses of this particle.
  3. ์ €๋Š” ํšŒ์‚ฌ์›์ด์ง€๋งŒ ์—ฌ๋™์ƒ์€ ํ•™์ƒ์ด์—์š”. (I am a company employee, but my younger sister is a student.)
    • Noun example
    • The way the teacher described it, the ์ด seemed to be part of the ์ด์—์š”, the "am". So it is only after the fact that I realised that this is in fact the noun example (not verb) as ํšŒ์‚ฌ์› is a noun.
    • Again, notice ์€/๋Š” being used for contrast.

์€/๋Š” is attached to nouns in contrasting clauses. You would generally not use ์ด/๊ฐ€.

The teacher said that it's not strictly wrong (ungrammatical) to use ์ด/๊ฐ€, but a sentence like ์Šคํ‹ฐ๋ธ ์”จ ์นด๋ฉ”๋ผ๊ฐ€ ๋น„์‹ธ์ง€๋งŒ ์ œ ์นด๋ฉ”๋ผ๊ฐ€ ์‹ธ์š” sounds unnatural.

One of my classmates asked if it's okay to use ์ด/๊ฐ€ for the first clause, but ์€/๋Š” for the second clause.

The teacher said that that is fine in conversation (e.g. when the speaker isn't sure how he wants to end his sentence), but minimally ์€/๋Š” must be used for the second clause.

She said that the advantage of using ์€/๋Š” for the first clause is that if she just heard the first clause with ์€/๋Š”, she would expect to hear a contrast in the second half even before it's been said.

Past Tense (Part 1)

This was where things get a bit... crazy.

Look at the second example above: ์–ด์ œ๋Š” ํ•™๊ต์— ๊ฐ”์ง€๋งŒ ์˜ค๋Š˜์€ ์•ˆ ๊ฐ€์š”. (Yesterday I went to school but today I did not.)

  • With present tense, you simply slice off the ๋‹ค and attach the stem to ์ง€๋งŒ.
  • For the past tense, you conjugate it (verb/adjective) into the past tense form, remove the ์–ด์š” that comes behind, and add what is left to ์ง€๋งŒ.

Past tense (casual-polite) of ๊ฐ€๋‹ค is ๊ฐ”์–ด์š”. So, remove ์–ด์š” and you are left with ๊ฐ”.

For the special ใ…‚ adjectives from last week, such as ๋ฅ๋‹ค, you have ๋”์› ์–ด์š” as the past tense form. This means it becomes ๋”์› ์ง€๋งŒ.

This isn't the end, because it will also apply to the next grammar point!

3. A/V-์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค/ใ…‚๋‹ˆ๋‹ค

I was frankly quite surprised we were tackling 2 grammar points today from the handout. (We didn't touch the textbook today.)

The teacher said that we just needed to remember these two things (set phrases that we have memorised as-is), and we would remember how to do the conjugation:

  1. Nice to meet you: ๋ฐ˜๊ฐ‘์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค
  2. Thank you: ๊ฐ์‚ฌํ•ฉ๋‹ˆ๋‹ค

The rule is simple. For statements:

  1. If there is batchim, add -์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค
  2. If there is no batchim, add -ใ…‚๋‹ˆ๋‹ค

Remember I mentioned above about me being lazy? I should have looked this up and made my life revising on Duolingo that much easier. (Duolingo uses the formal speech for their sentences in most of the exercises.)

It actually makes a lot of sense. If there is batchim, how do you add the ใ…‚?

In any case, the ใ…‚ sound is softened to [ใ…] because of the ใ„ด sound that follows. It is [์Šด๋‹ˆ๋‹ค] and not [์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค]. And it's [ํ•จ๋‹ˆ๋‹ค] not [ํ•ฉ๋‹ˆ๋‹ค].

  • ์ฝ๋‹ค โ†’ ์ฝ์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค [์ฝ์Šด๋‹ˆ๋‹ค]
  • ๋ณด๋‹ค โ†’ ๋ด…๋‹ˆ๋‹ค [๋ด„๋‹ˆ๋‹ค]
  • ๋“ฃ๋‹ค โ†’ ๋“ฃ์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค [๋“ฃ์Šด๋‹ˆ๋‹ค]

If it is a question and not a statement, it's not ๋‹ค, but ๊นŒ? The ๋‹ค is replaced with ๊นŒ (which we've also seen before in the first chapter).

Past Tense (Part 2)

You know, it actually isn't as mind-blowing when I'm typing this out now, but earlier during the lesson, it was really quite a lot of information to process and then use.

To obtain the past tense form, you do the same as for ์ง€๋งŒ. Conjugate it to the casual-polite past tense form, remove the ์–ด์š”, and then add -์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค.

(Because of how the past tense is, I believe you end up always with -์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค and don't ever add -ใ…‚๋‹ˆ๋‹ค.)

  • ์ฝ๋‹ค โ†’ ์ฝ์—ˆ์–ด์š” โ†’ ์ฝ์—ˆ์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค
  • ๋ณด๋‹ค โ†’ ๋ดค์–ด์š” โ†’ ๋ดค์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค
  • ๋“ฃ๋‹ค* โ†’ ๋“ค์—ˆ์–ด์š” โ†’ ๋“ค์—ˆ์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค

(Ugh, the Markdown strikethrough with ~~ still isn't working I see, so I had to resort to using HTML tags.)

*This is a special conjugation. I encountered this in the First Step Korean course. The teacher said this verb's irregular conjugation will be covered in chapter 8. But really, it's relatively straightforward, the final consonant ใ„ท becomes ใ„น.

Whew! The teacher said that chapter 7 is the hardest in this book that we are using. Chapter 8 will be easier. I don't know whether to be sad or happy? I need a break but I also like the challenge.


Korean English Notes
ํ‰์ผ weekday Sino-Korean word from ๅนณๆ—ฅ. I am not sure how (or even if) this differs from ์ฃผ์ค‘ (้€ฑไธญ) which was taught in the First Step Korean course.
๋™์‚ฌ verb Sino-Korean word from ๅ‹•่ฉž (ๅŠจ่ฏ), which is still the Mandarin Chinese term for it.
ํ˜•์šฉ์‚ฌ adjective Sino-Korean word from ๅฝขๅฎน่ฉž (ๅฝขๅฎน่ฏ), which is still the Mandarin Chinese term for it.
์ถ•๊ตฌ soccer


  1. Since we learned the formal, we learned also that to ask what someone is doing, instead of ๋ญ ํ•ด์š”? you ask ๋ฌด์—‡์„ ํ•ฉ๋‹ˆ๊นŒ? We have already encountered ๋ฌด์—‡.
    1. What about ๋ญ˜? ๋ญ˜ came up in the First Step Korean course, but not once in this course I'm taking. Wiktionary says it's actually a contraction of both ๋ฌด์—‡์„ and ๋ญ๋ฅผ.
    2. Why is ๋ญ special in the sentence, in that the object particle is dropped? Is this another case of it being dropped because it's spoken language?
  2. Since I dug up that post above and answered the first question, the second question is also somewhat cleared up when a classmate asked about ์ € and ๋‚˜, but not entirely. The teacher said that ์ € is more polite and formal. ๋‚˜ very informal and is what children would speak in the home, it's also what you use for family and close friends. I think the point is that both ํ•ด์š”์ฒด and ํ•˜์‹ญ์‹œ์˜ค์ฒด are polite, they are simply used in different social situations (e.g. ํ•ด์š”์ฒด in a cafรฉ, ํ•˜์‹ญ์‹œ์˜ค์ฒด in the office). ๋‚˜ is really more for... the "not polite" (informal?) speech in that sense. I'm still not entirely clear about the "informal" and "casual" distinction. I believe I have not heard the teacher refer to ํ•ด์š”์ฒด as "informal" but only "casual". I don't know if they are meant to be different. It does not help that I think they are interchangeable (whether they are or not is my question) and have used them interchangeably, partly because it's always "formal" vs "informal" e.g. in French, so I took the "casual" to mean "informal" when it was presented in contrast to "formal". So TL;DR is, does "informal" and "casual" mean the same thing?

It's Raining

It started with the teacher messaging us on KakaoTalk about the weather (as it was raining) a day after the lesson we had on the weather.

Then she asked us what we are going to do today. I said I was studying and then exercising. I still have not replied to her follow-up question one day later on what I am studying (and I thought she asked what kind of exercise) I do because I forgot. (This post was meant to be posted yesterday when this happened but I forgot as well.)

I feel like I was somewhat scammed into studying Korean yesterday. Today, too.

Here is the list of new vocab that I added to Anki. Some are not entirely new, but they are not in my Anki deck, so I added them in and reproduced them here.


Korean English Notes
๋™๋„ค neighbourhood
์”จ์ต grin (์”จ์ต) was the text sent in the KakaoTalk notification, but the message is actually a Sticker (if that's what it's called) of a grinning face
์ง‘์•ˆ์ผ home-cooked food
์ž๋ง‰ subtitles
ํ™”์ดํŒ… Fighting! You know, what they always say... so this is how it's written.
๋งŒ๋‘ dumpling
๋ฒ„์„ฏ mushroom
๋‚จํŽธ husband
๋™์˜ํ•˜๋‹ค to agree ๅŒๆ„

Lesson 28 (Beginner 2A L4): Beginning Chapter 7 with the Weather and One Class of Irregular Verbs

We finished chapter 6 and started on chapter 7 today. For chapter 6, all that was left was really the pronunciation, and then the self-check.

There will be a word (vocab) quiz next week. Perhaps it means that the vocab quiz will always be one week after we start a new chapter?

So today's post will have a lot of the vocabulary, from the chapter 7 list. We also covered the first grammar point, and it's interesting because this cleared up a question I had while doing exercises on Duolingo. (This is one of the reasons I don't like Duolingo.)

The title of chapter 7 is: ๋‚ ์”จ๊ฐ€ ์–ด๋–ป์Šต๋‹ˆ๊นŒ? It means "How is the weather?" and uses the formal speech conjugation. Obviously, this chapter will be about the weather and also formal speech.

In informal speech, you can ask the question as: ๋‚ ์”จ๊ฐ€ ์–ด๋•Œ์š”?


This chapter's pronunciation rule is about the pronunciation of ใ…Ž.

Specifically, when ใ…Ž is the initial consonant in a syllable*, it is pronunced normally. However, if it is the final consonant (batchim), and the next syllable starts with ใ…‡, the ใ…Ž becomes slient.

For example, ์ข‹์•„์š” is pronounced as [์กฐ์•„์š”].

I kind of knew this before this was mentioned, but not as an explicit rule.

This applies also to syllable blocks with 4 letters which have ใ…Ž.

For example, ๋งŽ์•„์š” is prononuced [๋งˆ๋‚˜์š”]. This combines with the other pronunciation rule that if the next syllable starts with ใ…‡, the batchim is carried over covered in Lesson 14's post.

*I think it's not just initial consonant in a syllable, but also in a word (or compound word), because there are cases such as in ์ „ํ™”๋ฒˆํ˜ธ, although not explicitly a rule, is pronounced more like [์ „ํ™”๋ฒ„๋…ธ], with the ใ…Ž in ํ˜ธ disappearing almost completely...


Korean English Notes
๋‚ ์”จ weather
๋ฅ๋‹ค to be hot only used for weather
๋œจ๊ฒ๋‹ค to be hot e.g. food, drink
์ถฅ๋‹ค to be cold only used for weather
์ฐจ๊ฐ‘๋‹ค to be cold e.g. food, drink
๋”ฐ๋œปํ•˜๋‹ค to be warm This has a positive connotation, such as it's warm in cold weather. If you find it's warm and uncomfortable, the correct adjective is ๋ฅ๋‹ค (to be hot).
์‹œ์›ํ•˜๋‹ค to be cool
๋ง‘๋‹ค to be clear (sunny) ์ข‹๋‹ค can also be used to describe good weather.
ํ๋ฆฌ๋‹ค to be cloudy
๋ฐ”๋žŒ์ด ๋ถˆ๋‹ค to be windy lit. wind to blow
๋น„๊ฐ€ ์˜ค๋‹ค to be rainy lit. rain to come
๋ˆˆ์ด ์˜ค๋‹ค to be snowy lit. snow to come
๊ณ„์ ˆ season Sino-Korean word from ๅญฃ็ฏ€ (ๅญฃ่Š‚)
๋ด„ spring
์—ฌ๋ฆ„ summer
๊ฐ€์„ autumn
๊ฒจ์šธ winter
๊ฐ€๋ณ๋‹ค to be light weight
๋ฌด๊ฒ๋‹ค to be heavy
์‰ฝ๋‹ค to be easy Careful with present tense (informal) conjugation: ์‰ฌ์›Œ์š”. It sounds like ์‰ฌ์–ด์š” (rest). The ์›Œ sound has to be distinctive.
์–ด๋ ต๋‹ค to be difficult
๋งต๋‹ค to be spicy
๊ฐ€๊น๋‹ค to be near
์š”์ฆ˜ these days recently, nowadays
๋‹จํ’ autumn foilage refers to the leaves that are red/orange/yellow in colour
๊ฝƒ flower
์ˆ˜์˜์žฅ swimming pool
๋ฐ”๋‹ค sea
์‚ฐ mountain
์ƒ์„  fish This refers to fish that you buy in the supermarket for eating, i.e. dead fish (seafood)
๋ฌผ๊ณ ๊ธฐ fish This refers to fish that are alive and well, e.g. your pet fish, the ones that swim in an aquarium or in the ocean. It's sort of ironic because it literally means "water meat", but this is not to describe the fish that is eaten, whereas words like ๋ผ์ง€ ๊ณ ๊ธฐ, ๋‹ญ๊ณ ๊ธฐ are pork and chicken (meat) for eating
์ด์•ผ๊ธฐํ•˜๋‹ค to talk ์ด์•ผ๊ธฐ means "story", so this is literally to share a story.
์ž…๋‹ค to wear
์•„์ฃผ very e.g. ์•„์ฃผ ๋”์›Œ์š”. (It's very hot.)
์กฐ๊ธˆ a little e.g. ์กฐ๊ธˆ ์–ด๋ ค์–ด์š”. (It's a little difficult.)


From this chapter onwards, we will start to look at some exceptions in terms of conjugation, that is, irregular verbs, starting with this first rule.

1. ใ…‚ ๋ถˆ๊ทœ์น™

When some verbs or adjectives end in the final consonant 'ใ…‚' are followed by a vowel (i.e. the next syllable begins with 'ใ…‡'), 'ใ…‚' changes to '์šฐ'.

The teacher says that verbs are very rare, 99.9% of the time, this rule applies to adjectives.

This is why it is ๋”์›Œ์š” and ์ถ”์›Œ์š”, even though the infinitive forms are ๋ฅ๋‹ค and ์ถฅ๋‹ค.

We had encountered ๋”์›Œ์š” and ์ถ”์›Œ์š” back in the foundation class when learning the Korean alphabet. Later, when we went on to learn the present tense conjugation in Lesson 12, and how ๋ฐฐ์šฐ๋‹ค conjugates to ๋ฐฐ์›Œ์š”, I thought ๋”์›Œ์š” had the infinitive form of ๋”์šฐ๋‹ค (and similarly, ์ถ”์šฐ๋‹ค for ์ถ”์›Œ์š”).

This was why I was stumped with my Duolingo exercises. The thing about Duolingo is it generally uses the formal conjugation (ํ•˜์‹ญ์‹œ์˜ค์ฒด) instead of (ํ•ด์š”์ฒด). So in the lesson on adjectives, I was scratching my head as to why it was ...์ถฅ์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค. We had not (and still have not, but will in this chapter) learned about conjugating to the formal form, though we encountered a few "stock" phrases/sentences with it before. My cursory research told me this form has the โ€”แ†ธ๋‹ˆ๋‹ค ending. But I was sure that it should only be the ์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค part, so where did the other ใ…‚ (in ์ถฅ) come from? And it turns out... it's part of the infinitive form all along.

(To be clear, I'm using the term "infinitive" rather loosely, since ์ถฅ๋‹ค is an adjective. But as I mentioned before, adjectives seem to be in "verb" form, as evidenced from their translations, e.g. ์ถฅ๋‹ค is "to be cold" and not just "cold". This is just my mental model of all this, which, as I've just shown above, can be completely wrong.)

Let's look at some examples of this rule with different conjugations:

  • ๊ฐ€๋ณ๋‹ค (to be light): ๊ฐ€๋ฒผ์›Œ์š” (is light)
  • ๋ฌด๊ฒ๋‹ค (to be heavy): ๋ฌด๊ฑฐ์›Œ์š” (is heavy)
  • ๋งต๋‹ค (to be spicy): ๋งค์› ์–ด์š” (was spicy)
  • ๋ฅ๋‹ค (to be hot): ๋ฅ๊ณ  (hot and...)
  • *์ž…๋‹ค (to wear): ์ž…์–ด์š”

For ์ž…๋‹ค (to wear), it is ์ž…์–ด์š” (not ์ด์›Œ์š”) in the present tense. The rule does not apply. This is because it is a verb, and, in most cases, this rule does not apply to verbs.

It's important to realise that 'ใ…‚' changes to '์šฐ' when the next syllable starts with 'ใ…‡' as there will be many new grammar forms to attach it too.

In the last exercise we did, the teacher gave us some grammar parts(?) that we mostly did not know and asked us to combine them based on this rule, using ๋ฅ๋‹ค.

- ๋ฅ๋‹ค + ์–ด์š” = ๋”์›Œ์š”

  • ๋ฅ๋‹ค + (์œผ)ใ„ด = ๋”์šด (์œผ is removed)
  • ๋ฅ๋‹ค + ์–ด์„œ = ๋”์›Œ์„œ
  • ๋ฅ๋‹ค + (์œผ)๋ฉด = ๋”์šฐ๋ฉด
  • ๋ฅ๋‹ค + (์œผ)ใ„น ๊ฑฐ์—์š” = ๋”์šธ ๊ฑฐ์—์š”
  • ๋ฅ๋‹ค + ์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค = ๋ฅ์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค
  • ๋ฅ๋‹ค + ์ง€๋งŒ = ๋ฅ์ง€๋งŒ

In bold are the ones that we have learned or are going to learn soon. The others I have no clue what they are.

In this chapter, we will learn the last two in the list. The last one we will learn next week (it's the second grammar point of this chapter) - but I did use it in my writing assignment homework for last week since it was useful. It's the construction for connecting contrasting clauses, i.e. "but". But... that is for the next post, next week.

Lesson 27 (Beginner 2A L3): Also (๋„), Kimchi

This post is really late because I've not finished my homework yet and for some reason I thought I should get the homework done first, since that's what I usually do after class. This week's assignment is taking longer because there is a writing component that involves creating a fake advertisement to sell some second-hand stuff. Me being me, I decide to try to make it legitimate and that means tons of research before I will get that part of it done. So, I decided that I should at least get this post out of the way because putting it off for so many days has been weighing on me.

This lesson was where we finished the last grammar point. Next week we will finish up with chapter 6 and begin with chapter 7, which is on the weather. We were sent the PDFs of the handout and the homework sheet and I printed them out. It's nice to see how colourful the handout really is. The printed copies we receive are always in black and white... I wonder if I can ask the teacher for the previous handouts in full colour... just because I think they'd also be nicer to look at.


4. N ๋„

This is used to express "also" or "too". It's actually very versatile, despite its apparent simplicity.

Examples (๋ณด๊ธฐ):

  • ์ˆ˜๋ฏธ๊ฐ€ ์ปคํ”ผ๋ฅผ ๋งˆ์…”์š”. ์ค„๋ฆฌ์•™๋„ ์ปคํ”ผ๋ฅผ ๋งˆ์…”์š”. (Sumi is drinking coffee. Julian is also drinking coffee.)
  • ์ €๋Š” ์˜ค๋ Œ์ง€๋ฅผ ์ƒ€์–ด์š”. ๊ทธ๋ฆฌ๊ณ  ์‚ฌ๊ณผ๋„ ์ƒ€์–ด์š”. (I bought oranges. And I bought apples too.)

This particle replaces the particles ์ด/๊ฐ€, ์€/๋Š”, and ์„/๋ฅผ in a sentence.

As it turns out, it can attach to many things (and in some cases it will not replace the particle like for ์—, which I would discuss shortly).

Depending on what it's placed after, it would change the meaning. I started to get a little confused due to the last exercise in the worksheet.

It showed a schedule with various activities. (There's more than the ones below.)

์›” (Mon) ํ™” (Tue) ์ˆ˜ (Wed) ๋ฌต (Thu) ๊ธˆ (Fri) ํ†  (Sat) ์ผ (Sun)
์˜์–ด ์˜์–ด ์˜ํ™” ์˜ํ™”

The example was given:

  • ์›”์š”์ผ์— ์˜์–ด๋ฅผ ๋ฐฐ์›Œ์š”. ํ™”์š”์ผ์—๋„ ์˜์–ด๋ฅผ ๋ฐฐ์›Œ์š”. = On Monday I learn English. On Tuesday I also learn English.

Notice that over here, ๋„ is added behind ์—.

I got a bit confused and thrown for the last question, which was for the movie. Each question gives an image as a prompt, so the image shows someone at the cinema watching a movie.

At this point I wondered if I should be saying he was at the cinema, but if I added ์˜ํ™”๊ด€์—์„œ... hmm, would the ๋„ go behind that as well...?

This prompted me to look do some research on my own, and my first stop is always How to Study Korean, which helped to clear up my question about that. It also covers adding ๋„ to many other particles that I've not yet learned at this point.

I ended up omitting the location in my answer since I'm sure that wasn't required, but let's also think about how the sentences' meanings change.

  1. ํ† ์š”์ผ์— ์˜ํ™”๊ด€์—์„œ ์˜ํ™”๋ฅผ ๋ด์š”. ์ผ์š”์ผ์—๋„ ์˜ํ™”๊ด€์—์„œ ์˜ํ™”๋ฅผ ๋ด์š”. = On Saturday, I watch a movie at the cinema. On Sunday too, I watch a movie at the cinema. (Here it's saying that I am doing something on Saturday, and on Sunday I'm doing the same thing.)
  2. ํ† ์š”์ผ์— ์˜ํ™”๊ด€์—์„œ ์˜ํ™”๋ฅผ ๋ด์š”. ์ผ์š”์ผ์— ์˜ํ™”๊ด€์—์„œ๋„ ์˜ํ™”๋ฅผ ๋ด์š”. = On Saturday I watch a movie at the cinema. On Sunday I watch a movie at the cinema in addition to watching a movie someplace else. (The sentence doesn't say where it is, but it would imply nonetheless that there was another location that the speaker watched a movie at.)

Listening and Speaking

This were the listening and speaking exercises in the textbook, pages 155-156.

As you might have guessed, it was mostly for numbers (prices).

Culture Note

This was about the variants of kimchi, and how it's also added to various foods. I've added them to the vocab list.


Korean English Notes
๊ทธ๋ƒฅ ๊ทธ๋ž˜์š”. It was okay. In response to a question about whether the food is delicious, and you don't want to say ๋ง›์žˆ์–ด์š” or ๋ง›์—†์–ด์š”. This means it was so-so. You don't use ๊ดœ์ฐฎ์•„์š” as ๊ดœ์ฐฎ์•„์š” has a positive connotation.
์ธํ„ฐ๋„ท Internet to say you bought something online, it's ์ธํ„ฐ๋„ท์—์„œ ์ƒ€์–ด์š”.
์•„์ด์Šค์ปคํ”ผ ice coffee
์—์Šคํ”„๋ ˆ์†Œ espresso
์ผ๋‹ฌ๋Ÿฌ; ์ผ๋ณผ $1 1 dollar
์ผ๋‹ฌ๋Ÿฌ ์˜ค์‹ญ์„ผํŠธ $1.50 1 dollar 50 cents
์ผ ์  ์˜ค ๋‹ฌ๋Ÿฌ $1.50 1 point 5 dollars. ์  means point/dot and also to refer to a mole (on the face) since it looks like a dot
๊ธ‰ level (student) e.g. 1๊ธ‰ (์ผ๊ธ‰) means a year 1 student
๋ฌผ๊ฑด thing
์ธ์น˜ inch 21์ธ์น˜ ํ…”๋ ˆ๋น„์ „ = 21 inch TV
์•„์ฃผ very
XX ์›์„ ์ฃผ๊ณ  ์‚ฌ๋‹ค to pay XX won for something lit. I give this amount and buy it
XX ์›์— ์‚ฌ๋‹ค to buy something for XX won notice the different particle used in this expression
ํŒ”๋‹ค to sell
๊ถŒ unit noun for books
๋ฐฑ๊น€์น˜ white kimchi Non-spicy, very crunchy. Children love it. Pregnant or breast-feeding women also prefer it.
๊น๋‘๊ธฐ kkakdugi diced, cube kimchi
์˜ค์ด๊น€์น˜ cucumber kimchi
๋ฌผ๊น€์น˜ water kimchi it's very refreshing, like the soup of cold noodles (๋ƒ‰๋ฉด)
๊น€์น˜๊น€๋ฐฅ kimchi gimbap (seaweed-wrapped roll)
๊น€์น˜๋ณถ์Œ๋ฐฅ kimchi fried rice ๋ณถ์Œ = stir-fry
๊น€์น˜์ „ kimchi pancake English wikipedia says it's also called ๊น€์น˜๋ถ€์นจ๊ฐœ

And if the title of this post makes no sense it's because I couldn't think of a better one. Sorry!

Lesson 26 (Beginner 2A L2): Adjectives

This lesson was also conducted over Zoom.

We had another student join today, so there is a total of 7 students (including me) in the class. 3 of them are from the same class that I used to be in, and the other 3 are not. It seems that this third new person knows the other 2.

It's a guy, so at least my friend isn't the only guy in the class any more, but I don't think it really bothered him (the way it bothered the other guy that used to be in our class until he disappeared just around Christmas...)

It's funny, the teacher asked him to introduce himself and he launched into an introduction in English. He also joined the session on I think 2 devices, because one is the camera and another was the audio. He seems like a gamer, or at least, he has a RGB keyboard. (Okay, I shouldn't be one to talk. My keyboard is mechanical and does have backlighting with some patterns but it's only white, and I turn the lights off... my Windows desktop is also a powerful gaming machine but... I am definitely not a gamer. And yes, I recently bought a good chair which so happens to be a gaming chair since I'm stuck with working from home and the dining chair was not cutting it. I digress.)

There was the quiz that we did today, it's the same, but we did it together. The first section was done individually first and then we went through the answers together, and then the second part was done together, with us taking turns to answer.

I think it's this teacher who uses videos to teach since we saw a short clip today as well about kids counting from 1-10, as part of our revision on the native numbers.

Then we practised with the textbook, which was something we (the 4 of us from the class that I was in) had already done before. I found that the conversation flowed very smoothly or rather, it was much more smooth this time. I guess there was something that got internalised. Still, there was something valuable.

The first was pronunciation, and this wasn't highlighted by the previous teacher. It's not actually a new rule. Basically, when you have ๊ทธ๋ฆ‡ํ•˜๊ณ  (as in you are ordering two things, as in ๋น„๋น”๋ฐฅ ํ•œ ๊ทธ๋ฆ‡ํ•˜๊ณ  ๊ฐˆ๋น„ํƒ• ํ•œ ๊ทธ๋ฆ‡) it is pronounced as [๊ทธ๋ฅดํƒ€๊ณ ].

This is the same rule as for ๊นจ๋—ํ•˜๋‹ค pronounced as [๊นจ๋„ํƒ€๋‹ค], covered when I first started on chapter 6.

The teacher also mentioned in this lesson using ํ•œ ๊ฐœ or even ํ•˜๋‚˜ to order food instead of ํ•œ ๊ทธ๋ฆ‡. (This applies to other numbers as well, basically you can use the unit ๊ฐœ or no units, just the native number.)

She also mentioned that flat things (pizza, and apparently for mantou as well though I don't get it because it's not really flat), you can use the unit noun ํŒ, so ๋งŒ๋‘ ํ•œ ํŒ.

I tried to see if Wiktionary would tell me more, but the only thing I found out about it was that it's a counter for 30 eggs.


This is the third grammar point for this chapter. The first was covered in Lesson 23 and the second in Lesson 24.

3. N์ด/๊ฐ€ A-์•„์š”/์–ด์š”

This is the "informal-polite present tense form used to make statements of ask questions about the state or properties of the noun".

Basically, it's the sentence form for use with adjectives (which is what the "A" represents).

Previously, we had learned that N์ด/๊ฐ€ goes together with:

  1. ์•„๋‹™๋‹ˆ๋‹ค
  2. ์žˆ์–ด์š”/์—†์–ด์š”

(This was covered in the first 10 lessons, see points 2 and 3.)

The adjectives are actually... given in verb form, if you realise, from the vocabulary of this chapter. For example, ์žฌ๋ฏธ์žˆ๋‹ค is "to be interesting", and ๋‹ค is basically the verb marker.

So there really isn't anything new going on here in terms of the grammar, just that it's a different class of "verbs", if you will.

(Note that I'm saying all this based on my current understanding, I'm not actually sure if this is actually the case.)

The only thing of note are two exceptions when adding ๊ฐ€ to two special nouns:

  1. ์ € ("I"): For ์ € you need to add ์ด to it to make ์ œ, so you have ์ œ๊ฐ€ (not ์ €๊ฐ€.)
  2. ๋ˆ„๊ตฌ ("who"): For ๋ˆ„๊ตฌ, the ๊ตฌ is removed when you add ๊ฐ€, so you have ๋ˆ„๊ฐ€ (not ๋ˆ„๊ตฌ๊ฐ€).

Side note 1: Another example noun was ์˜ค๋น  ("oppa"โ€”most people know this word even if they don't know Korean). If you recall a while back I was learning about the right way to refer to older siblings. The teacher mentioned here that that term can be used (if you are female) to refer to any male friend older than yourself, so not necessarily a boyfriend.

Some example sentences:

  • ๋ฐฉ์ด ๊นจ๋—ํ•ด์š”. (The room is clean.)
  • ์ œ๊ฐ€ ํ•œ๊ตญ ์‚ฌ๋žŒ์ด์—์š”. (I am Korean.)

In the second sentence aboveโ€”ํ•œ๊ตญ ์‚ฌ๋žŒ really isn't an adjective, but the point of its being there was to talk about the difference between that and the one that we learned near the beginning: ์ €๋Š” ํ•œ๊ตญ ์‚ฌ๋žŒ์ด์—์š”. This will be covered in the next section when we relook at the particles.

The above grammar rule was given for the present tense form, but you can simply conjugate the verb into the past tense as well:

  • ์–ด์ œ ์˜ํ™”๊ฐ€ ์žฌ๋ฏธ์žˆ์—ˆ์–ด์š”. (Yesterday, the movie was interesting.)

Side note 2: What I've come across of adjectives up to this point was mostly on Duolingo and cursory searches of the dictionary from there, so I know there are some different adjectives, but I don't know if that's exactly the same as how you have the 3 different classes of (regular) verbs that get conjugated differently. The thing about Duolingo is that the sentences are all conjugated to the formal-polite tense, so I need to unpack it back to the informal-polite tense too, or rather, find the infinitive.

Korean Particles (์กฐ์‚ฌ) Revision

We did a kind of revision of the particles since I guess it is pretty confusing.

1. N์€/๋Š”

  1. Used to indicate the topic of a sentence, what the speaker wants to talk about.
    • ์ €๋Š” ํ•œ๊ตญ ์‚ฌ๋žŒ์ด์—์š”. ("I am Korean."โ€”speaker is talking about himself)
  2. Used to refer to something mentioned earlier in a conversation.
    • ์ €๋Š” ๋ƒ‰๋ฉด์„ ๋จน์—ˆ์–ด์š”. ๋ƒ‰๋ฉด์€ ๋ง›์žˆ์—ˆ์–ด์š”. ("I ate cold noodles. The cold noodles were delicious."โ€”In English, we could use a pronoun, saying "It was delicious")
    • ๊ฐ€: ํ† ์š”์ผ์— ์‹œ๊ฐ„์ด ์žˆ์–ด์š”? ("Do you have time on Saturday?") ๋‚˜: ์•„๋‹ˆ์š”, (ํ† ์š”์ผ์—๋Š”) ์ˆ˜์—…์ด ์žˆ์–ด์š”. ("No, I have a class [on Saturday]."โ€”It's actually entirely possible to drop the part of the sentence in brackets, where the particle is.)
  3. Used when comparing or contrasting two things.
    • ์ œ ๋ฐฉ์— ์นจ๋Œ€๋Š” ์žˆ์–ด์š”. ๋ƒ‰์žฅ๊ณ ๋Š” ์—†์–ด์š”. ("There is a bed in my room. There is no fridge.")
    • This will be covered in more detail in the next chapter.

2. N์„/๋ฅผ + V

  1. ์„/๋ฅผ is used to indicate that the noun is the object of the verb (action). It is followed exclusively by a verb.
    • ์นœ๊ตฌ๋ฅผ ๋งŒ๋‚˜์š”. ("I am meeting my friend.)

3. N์ด/๊ฐ€

  1. Used to designate the subject of the sentence.
    • ๋ƒ‰๋ฉด์ด ๋ง›์žˆ์—ˆ์–ด์š”. ("Cold noodles is delicious.")
  2. Used to express a new subject in a sentence.
    • ๋ˆ„๊ฐ€ ํ•œ๊ตญ ์‚ฌ๋žŒ์ด์—์š”? ์ œ๊ฐ€ ํ•œ๊ตญ ์‚ฌ๋žŒ์ด์—์š”.
    • Here, the question is asking: "Who is Korean?"
    • In the reply, you cannot omit the subject because it's not been mentioned before and the right particle is ๊ฐ€.
    • The emphasis is on "I", the fact that I'm Korean.
    • Compare this with the question: ์–ด๋Š ๋‚˜๋ผ ์‚ฌ๋žŒ์ด์—์š”? (What is your nationality?)
      • The answer would be: (์ €๋Š”) ํ•œ๊ตญ ์‚ฌ๋žŒ์ด์—์š”. ("I'm Korean.")
      • Here, the emphasis is on Korean, and the subject is already introduced (as it was already mentioned in the question), fitting into use case #2 of N์€/๋Š” mentioned above.
      • As standalone sentences, both ์ œ๊ฐ€ ํ•œ๊ตญ ์‚ฌ๋žŒ์ด์—์š” and ์ €๋Š”ํ•œ๊ตญ ์‚ฌ๋žŒ์ด์—์š” mean the same thing: I'm Korean.
  3. Used with ์•„๋‹ˆ๋‹ค, ์žˆ๋‹ค, and ์—†๋‹ค
    • ์ €๋Š” ํ•œ๊ตญ ์‚ฌ๋žŒ์ด ์•„๋‹ˆ์—์š”. ("I am not Korean.")
    • ๋‚จ์ž ์นœ๊ตฌ๊ฐ€ ์žˆ์–ด์š”. ("I have a boyfriend.")
    • ์šฐ์‚ฐ์ด ์—†์–ด์š”. ("I don't have an umbrella.")


Korean English Notes
ํŒ unit noun for flat things (?) e.g. pizza (ํ”ผ์ž), mantou/bun (๋งŒ๋‘)
์—ฌ๊ธฐ์š”~! Over here! To a waiter/waitress, to call them over to your table to take your order.
์ €๊ธฐ์š”~! Excuse me! Getting a stranger's attention, e.g. to ask for directions
๋„ˆ๋ฌด too e.g. The bag is too expensive, ๊ฐ€๋ฐฉ์ด ๋„ˆ๋ฌด ๋น„์‹ธ์š”.
์ •๋ง really e.g. The bibimbap is really delicious, ๋น„๋น”๋ฐฅ์ด ์ •๋ง ๋ง›์žˆ์–ด์š”.

"What are you doing now?"

The Korean teacher initiated a chat about what we are doing now since it's a public holiday (Labour Day) today.

Some new vocab:

Korean English Notes
๊ณตํœด์ผ public holiday
์ €๋Š” ๋‘ ๋ฒˆ ๋ดค์–ด์š”. I watched it twice. Context was a movie.
๋‹น์—ฐํ•˜์ง€์š” of course Context was that the teacher commented that we were all at home (๋ชจ๋‘ ์ง‘์— ์žˆ์–ด์š”), and this was the reply, given that we are pretty much in a lockdown.
๋Œ€๋‹จํ•ด์š” great; amazing
ํ•˜๋‚˜ ๋” ์žˆ์–ด์š”. There's one more.
๊ตฌํ…ํƒ Hello; Good day/afternoon (German) Guten Tag
๊ตฌํ… ์•„๋ฒคํŠธ Good evening (German) Guten Abend
์ดํžˆ๋ฆฌ๋ฒ ๋””ํžˆ I love you. (German) Ich liebe dich.

Okay so the last 3 is a bit of a joke. I said that I'm doing my German homework: ์ง€๊ธˆ ๋…์ผ์–ด ์ˆ˜์—… ์ˆ™์ œ๋ฅผ ํ•ด์š”. ์ €๋Š” ๋‰ด์Šค ๊ธฐ์‚ฌ๋ฅผ ์ฝ์–ด์š”. ์›”์š”์ผ์— ์ˆ˜์—…์ด ์žˆ์–ด์š”.

Then the teacher asked me if I was learning German, and sent ๊ตฌํ…ํƒ, which basically, if you read it out, sounds exactly like "Guten Tag".

It actually exists in the Naver dictionary, and after some prodding and trial and error, I found out how to say "Guten Abend" in this weird transliterated Korean.

Then she replied and said the only German she knows is ๊ตฌํ…ํƒ and ์ดํžˆ๋ฆฌ๋ฒ ๋””ํžˆ. I had to check Naver to see what the second one was, because the sound is quite different.

(She would know ์•„๋ฅด๋ฐ”์ดํŠธ as well but that's just a word and the meaning in Korean has changed... though I'm sure she knows the original meaning too.)

So I started out doing my German homework but in the end, was mostly revising my Korean instead.

Lesson 25 (Beginner 2A L1): Learning from Home

Naturally since the country is in a state of partial lockdown, we can't go physically for class. This learning from home arrangement is good for me since, as I've said, it's an hour's journey each way for me otherwise.

I've not left the house for something like... since 5 April. I don't buy groceries, it's messed up that my parents do it since they are vulnerable, but somehow that's the arrangment in my house. And with the new restrictions, it's just my dad since he's the main driver in our house.

Of course, there's something different about learning from home. We have a new teacher as well, and so it's hard to tell, given a new teacher and a new mode of learning, whether the differences observed should be attributed to the teacher, or the mode.

The only unfortunate thing about this is that resistance was ultimately futile as a colleague of mine put it, in that I finally downloaded the Zoom client since the class is conducted via Zoom. I've downloaded it before, but held out and deleted it simply because I don't like the way the company has handled privacy in the past (once that HN post came out about how it installs a web server) - so for the sessions that I have with my colleagues (which were non-work sessions, more of socialising), I insisted on using the browser with the limited features, which included only being able to see one person at a time.

But in the end, I can now set a virtual background which masks my room, so yay? Small comfort, but better than nothing.

This lesson is basically a revision for those of us who were in the same class previously and had a month's break. There are 4 of us from my old class - Erica seems to have quit for good (which, given that she didn't appear for the last 2 lessons, seems rather expected) - and 2 new students. From what I can gather, they seem to have had a class last week, but also with a different teacher.

Regardless of how things are, it was a good revision and it made me a lot less nervous. There was a snafu in that I didn't receive the Zoom meeting link over KakaoTalk. I was getting really nervous, and it was only 10 minutes before the lesson when I decided I should message my friend to ask. Thanks to him, I got the invite link. It might be some setting that I have on KakaoTalk, that makes my account... unaddable. I'm not surprised since I tend to turn on all the privacy features I can find, but I've not figured out exactly. Anyway, the teacher gave me her id, so I can add her and I should be added to the group shortly.

I know this is more like a reflection post than on the actual lesson, but that's because we went through exactly what... had already been gone through, starting with the vocab for Chapter 6. The homework is until the same page in the workbook, and in fact, it's only 2 pages, while for the other 2 students, it sounded like they would be doing the pages from the start of the homework handout for chapter 6. Anyway, we have to scan and send a PDF to the teacher - I'll prepare that when I'm done with the post. As it is, I don't think she's added me yet as a friend or added me to the group since I don't see any notifications yet, so I can't send it to her.

Naturally, there were some new things that we learned, or new perspectives on things that we learned, so I shall just document them here.

We started the lesson with a self-introduction. Unfortunately, I was asked to go first out of all the students. I have no idea what I said, but I guess it was fine. The teacher started with the formal form (ํ•˜์‹ญ์‹œ์˜ค์ฒด) for all the sentences which threw me off, and I think I wasn't the only one, since in most cases we don't use it, but use ํ•ด์š”์ฒด instead. So I went with ํ•ด์š”์ฒด, and some others did a mix of both.

We revised the vocabulary for Chapter 6.

When asking "what" with a noun, you have to use ๋ฌด์Šจ. So for example, "What food do you like?" is rendered as ๋ฌด์ˆœ ์Œ์‹(์„) ์ข‹์•„ํ•ด์š”?

We skipped the part on the counting for money (which is why I was a bit confused about where the 2 new students were).

After that vocab, we skipped to the first grammar point, which is on V-(์œผ)์„ธ์š” (detailed in Lesson 23). But it also seemed to be a revision, since it wasn't covered in much detail.

Interestingly, for two of the exceptions ์ž๋‹ค and ๋จน๋‹ค/๋งˆ์‹œ๋‹ค, the teacher showed us two short clips from two Korean dramas where the characters use the V-(์œผ)์„ธ์š” form. I now recall reading some reviews that say the classes use K-dramas to teach, so maybe that's why?

To elaborate on ์ž๋‹ค, the informal way is to say ์ž˜ ์ž์š”. But when you are being formal, then you would say (์•ˆ๋…•์ด) ์ฃผ๋ฌด์…”์„ธ์š”. They mean the same thing, that is, good night or sleep well.

For this drama clip, apparently it's quite famous(?) since some people in the class knew what it was. Apparently the male/female leads were a real-life couple, but they split, since the teacher expressed some regret about it. Anyway, apparently after they kiss, she says ์•ˆ๋…•์ด ์ฃผ๋ฌด์…”์„ธ์š” to him. You'd think they're quite close after the kiss, but she chooses to use the formal way of saying good night, as the teacher pointed out.

As for ๋จน๋‹ค/๋งˆ์‹œ๋‹ค, we learnt that it's ๋“œ์„ธ์š”. But you can also say ๋ง›์žˆ๊ฒŒ ๋“œ์„ธ์š”, which literally means "please eat/drink deliciously", basically a way to say "enjoy your food". You may hear this when you are in a restaurant, and when the server brings you your food, he/she may use that phrase.

In the drama clip, from the context which I saw, this lady came by to a table where a man was seated and asked him to leave, and basically, out of politeness for dragging him away, she tells the others at the table to enjoy their food with ๋ง›์žˆ๊ฒŒ ๋“œ์„ธ์š”. (There are no subs, so it's not like I know exactly what else was said.)

The second grammar point was where we spent most time, which is on the counting with unit nouns. I definitely felt more comfortable with the numbers 1-10 given an extra month to burn them into memory.

Since I learned from the First Step Korean course about the pronounciation for, say, ๋‹ค์„ฏ ๋ช… being [๋‹ค์„  ๋ช…], I decided to ask about this when the teacher gave an opportunity to ask questions. (I realise I did not write about this in the end.)

I got a more detailed answer. For the final consonants when it is one of the 7 coronals that have the pronunciation of [tฬš] in their syllable-final position, if the next syllable begins with the nasal ใ„ด or ใ…, then the final consonant becomes ใ„ด to help with pronunciation.

As an example, for ์•‹, ์•, ์•—, ์•š, ์•›, ์•Ÿ, if the next syllable begins with ใ„ด or ใ…, then they are pronounced as [์•ˆ].

She said we will learn the pronounciation rules slowly one by one.

We did a breakout session to practise with a partner the numbers 1-10. The teacher asked us to do from Ko โ†’ En first, then En โ†’ Ko, but we launched right to En to Ko, and even then, I suggested since we were done so fast, to do the numbers from 11-19 as well.

One thing that came up was, how is ์—ด์—ฌ๋Ÿ pronounced? More generally, does the carry-over rule for pronunciation apply? We didn't ask the teacher, but I searched on Forvo and heard the prounciations, and it seems that it does carry over as I suspected, so it would be [์—ฌ๋ ค๋Ÿ]. Similarly, ์—ด์ผ๊ณฑ is pronounced as [์—ฌ๋ฆด๊ณฑ].

The teacher also talked about the placement of the object particle ์„/๋ฅผ in sentences that have the unit nouns. I believe the previous time, the teacher did mention it as well since it appeared in the textbook, and I made a note, but now I have it concretely down. (We hardly touched the textbook today, this teacher just brought it up with an example sentencee, where the object particle is omitted.)

These 3 sentences are all correct:

  • ๋นต ํ•œ ๊ฐœ ๋จน์—ˆ์–ด์š”.
  • ๋นต์„ ํ•œ ๊ฐœ ๋จน์—ˆ์–ด์š”.
  • ๋นต ํ•œ ๊ฐœ๋ฅผ ๋จน์—ˆ์–ด์š”.

As part of the handout, we had the question and answer part where you create a question to ask your classmates about the number of an object (or people).

Someone asked about the number of glasses (spectacles) in the class (since it was a video call we could see each other): ์ง€๊ธˆ ๋ฐ˜์— ์•ˆ๊ฒฝ์ด ๋ช‡๊ฐœ ์žˆ์–ด์š”?

Another person asked about the number of computers: ์ปดํ“จํ„ฐ๊ฐ€ ๋ช‡ ๊ฐœ ์žˆ์–ด์š”?

This was interesting because the teacher said that for big electronics like computers, refrigerators, and television sets, the unit noun used is typically ๋Œ€ instead of ๊ฐœ.

์ปดํ“จํ„ฐ๊ฐ€ ๋ช‡ ๋Œ€ ์žˆ์–ด์š”?

For smaller items like handphones, it's still typical to use ๊ฐœ.

The teacher said that in Korea, a common question is about how well someone can hold their liquor: ์ฃผ๋Ÿ‰์ด ๋ช‡ ๋ณ‘์ด์—์š”?

Frequently, this is answered in terms of ์†Œ์ฃผ (soju) or ๋งฅ์ฃผ (beer).

For example, half a bottle of soju: ์†Œ์ฃผ ๋ฐ˜ ๋ณ‘์ด์—์š”.

And it seem, we will be having a quiz next week. I think the idea is the same as the one that we did the last class, since if this lesson is technically the same as that lesson, and the original quiz was scheduled after this very lesson, it makes sense that there will be a quiz next week.

I wonder how it will be carried out.

Mindshift Week 4: Adopting a Learning Lifestyle

Why Should You Keep Learning?

Some 1400 new neurons are born every day in your hippocampus. This neural birth rate doesn't decline very much with age, but unless your brain continues to encounter new experiences (e.g. by learning something new), your new neurons will die off before they can mature and hook into your exisitng larger neural network.

New neurons allow us to distinguish between similar experiences and store them as distinct memories. This means that we need to help new neurons survive and thrive for our own mental health, and for learning.

Physical exercise is one of the most powerful ways that help produce new neurons, while learning encourages their growth. You can imagine physical exercise as sowing seeds for neural sprouts, while learning is the water and fertiliser for it to grow.

When you are young, it's more likely that you will encounter something new. It becomes easier to fall into a rut with age. Learning that makes an impact on your brain has to be slightly out of your comfort zone.

You should try to do something new every day to help your new neurons survive and grow. It can be using your left hand to brush your teeth instead of the right, or sitting at a different seat.

As it turns out, learning a language when you are older is good for you, since the areas of the brain that are positively affected by language learning include areas that are negatively affected by ageing.

It seems that action videos are good for maintaining mental flexibility.

This is a case of use it or lose it (which applies to our regular muscles too...), even if you think your gifts are natural.

So there's exercise, learning something new or exposing yourself to new environments that can help your new neurons to survive and grow. It nurtures new neurons and synapses, which create a cognitive reserve. This means that when some neurons and synapses are natually gone due to ageing, you have others that can take over the neural pathways and maintian your mental health.

MOOC Tips 1 - How to Get the Most from MOOCs

MOOCs are a great way for adults to keep up a learning lifestyle.

These tips are from Ronny De Winter's insights. He's a super-MOOCer.

  1. Set learning goals. Define what you want to learn, in the short term and also in the next 2-3 years.
  2. Use a MOOC directory. (e.g. Class Central) to read reviews and view rankings, as well as discover, sort, and filter MOOCs across different platforms.
  3. Investigate. Find out more about the MOOC - the outline, prereqs, syllabus, and suggsted weekly workload to make sure it's manageable for you.
  4. Schedule the time. It's recommended to allocate twice the recommended time.
  5. Fast-MOOCing. Some like to listen to videos at 1.2x to 2x the original video speed, and some advanced MOOCers will use Fast-MOOCing to skim through the syllabus and slides, before watching the videos at twice the regular speed. Once you are comfortable, it allows you to cover all the material more efficiently. The caveat is that this may not work well for certain courses. (My own recommendation to myself is don't go there again, because I've been there before and I know how it ends: Not well. Once I start speeding it up, it seems like it's just a rush to get to the finish, and I usually end up getting impatient and end up learning less.)
  6. See how things go. Use the first week as a "trial period", and if you find the MOOC is not a good fit, drop it.
  7. Balancing: Don't take too many MOOCs at once. You get more out of studying a few subjects deeply rather than many superficially. (And also, you put a lot of stress on yourself if you try to take on more than you can. One gripe I have about Coursera is that you cannot bookmark courses, so it forces me to enrol as a form of bookmarking, and then it tells me that I'm missing deadlines. Sure, I can reset, but I don't really want to start the course now...)
  8. Use discussion forums wisely. Use it to get your questions answered, but realise that it can be time-consuming. (I'm thinking if you start mindlessly browsing the forum to read topics instead of learning...)
  9. Novelty versus bugs. Be aware that a brand-new course may have bugs that need to be ironed out. But there's always the novelty factor, and it can still be fun.

Dirty Little Secrets of Traditional vs Massive Online Teaching

The good thing about MOOC-making is that co-instructors can work together even when they are not physically located nearby.

Making good online material is something anyone can do. LHTL was made for less than $5000, yet it had the same number of students as all of Harvard's dozens of MOOCs put together, that were made for millions of dollars and with hundreds of people.

But not everybody does it. At many universities, the attention is on doing great reasearch, not teaching. It's why you end up sometimes with lecturers who can't really teach.

Professors become professors for most part because they are good at showing off what they know, but this is generally the opposite of what you need to be a good teacher - where it's important to be able to explain concepts simply.

University teaching is also about filling a timeslot. There's no motivation to be efficient, to find better ways to communicate the material memorably in fewer hours.

Online, it's very different. The online world is highly competitive. If you had the option of two classes, but one has a professor that is more engaging, wouldn't you pick that class over the other?

Although universities can provide valuable insight into what you are trying to learn (especially by lending insight from research), they're not used to this competition. This is one of the reasons for a huge range in quality of online materials, even from top-rated universities.

Well-done online learning can be better than in-class learning.

Online courses is a bit of academia, Silicon Valley and a little bit of Hollywood thrown in, which can maintain interest.

How LHTL was Made

Barb learnt about how to set up a studio and edit film by searching online. The video editing for LHTL was mostly done by her, with some help from her husband, Phil (who is also the cameraman).

It took her several months to really get comfortable with editing the videos in the video-editing software. But it was what taught her the great value that video editors brings to MOOCs.

Not all top-notch MOOC-making facilities even have a full-length green screen. The full-length green screen that is used is a simple cloth on a frame. The infinite effect was simulated by draping the cloth gently forward. The green screen is essential for allowing you to change the background.

The switching from full-length shot to half-body has a zoom effect, and this helps grabs attention, along with other kinds of motion.

She also makes use of a teleprompter. A good script means careful planning, and there is no wasted time. Writing everything also makes it better to think about what exactly should be included, from metaphors, to other funny things to convey the key message. It also includes instructions on where things should go (what should be shown on the screen) and what she needs to do. With Word's Outline View, she can also rearrange the order of the videos as she writes the script.

Great MOOCs can synthesisee the material in a whole new way that hasn't been done before in conventional class work, and which can't be easily obtained through books.

MOOC Tips 2 - Looking More Deeply Into Quality Learning

Some factors in good online learning.

  1. Friendly, upbeat instructors. Our snap judgments are pretty effective when it comes to determining whether someone is effective or not. Look for those who can simplify the material and make the hard-to-understand look easy.
  2. Metaphor and analogy. Contrary to what some traditionalists might believe, metaphors do not "dumb things down". When we understand through metaphor, we use the same neural circuitry that is used to understand the in-depth concept. Good teachers
  3. Humour. It activates your dopamine pathways, and also serves as a kind of "rest stop" when you're learning something difficult. Humour is much more important in online courses due to the competitive nature of the online world.
  4. Good Visuals. The images should relate directly to the material. An instructor should take the time to develop appropriate illustrations. Clip art should not be overused, but throwing a complex image from a textbook isn't effective either. Complex images have to appear part by part in video.
  5. Good Video Editing. This can help you to pay attention while aiding understanding of the material.

Mentors in Your Life

A mentor can be one of the most important aspects of learning.

A mentor doesn't have to be a parent-like figure that spends many hours guiding you. It might be someone you have never met in person, but said or did something that led you to think about and make valuable changes to your life.

A mentor gives you insight, and helps you see things differently. This in turn helps you to discover what's best for you in terms of where you should go.

Even negative people can be mentors; they show us what we don't want to become.

There are 2 types of mentors, according to Arnim Rodeck (an electrical engineer who made an enormous career switch to become a creative wood worker):

  1. Mentors who energise us
  2. Mentors who are more critical and won't tolerate excuses

Mentors can even be online these days, for anything from language learning (iTalki was the example here) to horse training.

The brain works best with concrete examples, so start by asking who has had the most influence on your life or inspired you to start a new life.

Then, ask yourself what your mission is. Ask yourself this continually as the answer may change. If you don't ask the question, you will never know the answer. The answer is like an internal compass.

When you ask yourself the right questions, you have won half the battle. Ask what sort of person you want to become in the next few years, and think about what are the skills you need, and the next steps that you have to take.

Persistence is a virtue; don't let setbacks hold you back.

Motivation can come from working with someone who shares the same goals. Short-term goals are good for building focus. But to achieve long-term goals, the persistence needed has to be sustained by collaborations that are like good marriages.

Evaluate your relationships. You may have to find new short-term collaborations and cultivate new longer-term ones that take you in new directions.

Don't ask someone (especially if you don't know them) to be your mentor. This can put that person in an uncomfortable situation as they don't know what you want and whether you would be a fit. The relationship should develop organically. You should also try to give something back to your mentor, so that your relationship is a two-way street.

Sometimes, the insight from your mentor may only be very tiny and occasional, but these nuggets can still be profoundly influential on your life.

Read, Read, Read

There has been a lot focus on online learning, but don't forget the value of reading good books as part of lifelong learning.

There is a competitive advantage that comes from reading. This is what Jake Taylor has realised. He won a chance to meet Warren Buffett and that meeting changed his life. He was intrigued by how one person could acculmulate so much knowledge in one lifetime, and he started to read everything he could on Buffett.

His recommendation is to read more than everyone else.

All of this compounds out into a richer and more successful life with better decision-making all along the way.

Carving out 20 minutes a day can lead to 35 books read in 1 year.

(I had no problems with finding time when I was travelling home from work, but now that I'm no longer commuting, it really has to be intentional to carve out the time to read. I'm also trying to balance it with the note-taking view that those in the Zettelkasten community have about how you should read with a pen so that you take notes. I think there has to be a balance - some books, you might want to do that, but I would only do that on a second read-through. This way it's much less stressful. Same goes for taking notes for these courses.)

A controlled study with 3000 participants found that readers of books have a survival advantage over those who only read newspapers or magazines or not at all. Survival advantage is literally survival; it's about how readers' mortality rates are 20% lower than non-readers' over the 12-year follow-up period.

You should make a habit of reading not only within your own discipline (or areas of interest). If you are interested in a particular field, and you read, well, so is everyone else who is interested in that field! Remember creative insight? If you want to see things differently, it helps to learn something that on the surface appears to be completely unrelated. The new ideas can come from the metaphors that naturally develop in your mind.

Surviving in the New Information Economy

We live in an era where there is information everywhere. It's an information explosion.

The Age of Information will have a profound impact on our society by enhancing our cognitive abilities. It is like how the Industrial Revolution 250 years ago enhanced physical power.

But the timeline for this transformation will be quicker. In the case of the Industrial Revolution, it was 100 years before the world adapted to machines.

We discussed AlphaGo last week, an AI program based on deep learning that was bio-inspired and defeated the South Korean Go champion. Due to the increase in computing power, it's now possible for learning in deep neural network models.

This has made it possible for machines to be just as good as humans in speech and object recognition. With the new deep-learning backed version of Google Translate, the translations became much more natural (Note: I like DeepL for the langauges that it offers and from the name you can already tell that it also uses deep learning.)

There is a bigger disruption underway. Machine learning is being applied to many problems where big data is available, and can be used for medical diagnosis, in the legal profession (routine work in law offices, compliance with regulations, legal support). It will not only be cheaper, but faster than visiting a professional today.

As these new technologies mature, there will be new jobs that are created. The AI systems take over jobs that require cognitive work, but there are jobs for those who create and maintain such system.

With disruption comes opportunity.

With this in mind, be prepared for a lifetime of learning.

Korean Alphabet 3 - Other Vowels

This is the last part on the Korean alphabet (at least for now). There's much more that can be said especially when looking at the history and its design, but I'll leave that for another time in the (far) future.

Since vowels is a separate topic, I split this into its own post from Part 2 which covers the consonants.

In Part 1, the 10 basic vowels were introduced. The Korean alphabet has a total of 21 vowels today, so we will look at the remaining 11.

There are two classes of vowels: monophthongs and diphthongs.

First, the monophthongs. These are "pure vowel sounds", so you can think of them as static vowels where the place of articulation is fixed (mรณnos means "single" in Greek).

By contrast, diphthongs are a combination of two vowel sounds, and are also known as gliding or moving vowels.

In the basic vowels, all the 4 "second-derived" vowels such as ใ…  are diphthongs (they have the additional /y/ sound in addition to the first-derived vowel sound). The other 6 are monophthongs.

Now, let's look at the complex vowels. First, the monophthongs.


  1. ใ…- ae - as in "cat" or "apple"
  2. ใ…” - e - as in "pen" or "enemy"
  3. ใ…š - oe (we) - as in "weight" or "wait"
  4. ใ…Ÿ - wi - as in "we"

Note that the English words given are approximations. The first is from the First Step Korean course; the second is from my lesson notes. (They both used "we" for ใ…Ÿ.)

Depending on the dialect of English, the pronunciations are bound to differ. I would use IPA to describe them to be more precise.

The interesting thing about ใ…and ใ…” is that they pretty much sound the same now. In the past, ใ… was [ษ›] - (open-mid front unrounded vowel) and ใ…”was [e] - (close-mid front unrounded vowel), but both are now pronounced as an intermediate between the two: a mid front unrounded vowel [eฬž] or [ษ›ฬ].

ใ…š is given as /รธ/ and romanised as oe as indicated. This makes it easy for me because in German, the รถ, which also represents the same sound value /รธ/, is also otherwise written as oe. However, in modern pronunciation, it's pronounced [we]. More on this later.


The last 7 vowels are combinations of the ones that we have seen.

  1. ใ…’ - yae - (ใ…ฃ + ใ…)
  2. ใ…–- ye - (ใ…ฃ + ใ…”)
  3. ใ…˜ - wa - (ใ…— +ใ…)
  4. ใ…™ - wae - (ใ…— +ใ…)
  5. ใ… - wo - (ใ…œ +ใ…“)
  6. ใ…ž - we - (ใ…œ +ใ…”)
  7. ใ…ข - ui - (ใ…ก +ใ…ฃ)

ใ…’ and ใ…– also sound the same, given that ใ… and ใ…” sound the same.

The First Step Korean course states that ์™œ and ์›จ are hard to distinguish. That's what I know too, but when I first learnt all these vowels, there was no separation by monophthong or diphthongs, and we were taught that apart from just ์™œ and ์›จ sounding similar, ์™ธ also sounds like them.

The way to reconcile this is to realise that in today's context in how it's largely pronounced (especially, if I recall correctly, by the younger generation) as [we] basically means that it's not a monophthong anymore but a diphthong just like the other two.

In this course, they said there's no need to worry about differentiating them because there are not many words that use these letters. That's true.

The way my teacher in my class said it was, think of it as spelling differences that you simply have to memorise. After all, English has many words where the pronunciation can be the same, but the letters used to represent that sound are different (she gave the example of "apple" and "enemy" which were given as examples above).

This is why IPA is helpful when representing the sound values.

์™œ and ์›จ used to drive me crazy for another reason in the past when I'd just started learning the alphabet and was trying to remember how these syllables were spelt. They sounded the same, but why was one using ใ…— and the other using ใ…œ?

In the end, it's become something that I've also memorised, and it no longer bothers me. I know ใ…œ + ใ… is not a valid combination, and neither is ใ…— + ใ…”. (If you try to type it on the keyboard - you can't; it will break into the next syllable automatically.)

And finally, once again touching on this part that confused me previously: ใ…” +ใ…ฃ form ใ…– as a morpheme, but as a phoneme, the sound of ใ…” is not by i-mutation of ใ…“ [สŒ]. l + ใ…“ = ใ…•

Korean Alphabet 2 - Consonants

An overdue post on the Korean alphabet with reference to Week 1 of First Step Korean.

When King Sejong created the consonants, there were originally 17 consonants - but 3 have fallen out of use, leaving 14 that are still used today.

Usually, the total number of letters in the Korean alphabet is given as 40, with 19 consonants and 21 vowels.

These extra 5 (19 - 14 = 5) consonants are the 5 tense double consonants (ใ„ฒ ใ„ธ ใ…ƒ ใ…‰ ใ…†).

As for the vowels, there are 11 complex vowelels that are formed by combining the 10 basic vowels.

5 Basic Symbols

Let's look at the 14 basic consonants, ignoring the tense consonants for now.

Even in the 14, you can say that there are really only 5 basic symbols. 14 basic consonants come from manipulations of 5 basic symbols listed first below.

  1. ใ„ฑ, ใ…‹
  2. ใ„ด, ใ„ท, ใ…Œ, ใ„น
  3. ใ…, ใ…‚, ใ…
  4. ใ……, ใ…ˆ, ใ…Š
  5. ใ…‡, ใ…Ž

Where did these 5 symbols come from?

I mentioned this in passing in the previous post about the Korean Alphabets but only mentioned the shape of the tongue in the mouth, which applies to ใ„ฑ and ใ„ด.

They are from the shape of the articulatory organs when making the sound (mouth, tongue, etc.) - how each sound is vocalised.

  1. ใ„ฑ, tongue (side view) - velar sound, e.g. /k/.
  2. ใ„ด, tongue (side view) - alveolar sound, e.g. /t/.
  3. ใ…, closed mouth - labial sound, e.g. /m/.
  4. ใ……, teeth - dental sound. (In this case, this set in IPA usually are considered alveolar or post-alveolar sounds in terms of place of articulation, but are fricatives or affricates, while most of the previous were stops, or nasals. This is why when letters in this group are in the final position, they take the same /t/ sound as those in the second group - more precisely, all coronals collapse to [tฬš].)
  5. ใ…‡, throat - glottal sound. (Here, the ng sound is actually a velar sound, though h is indeed a glottal sound.)

Apparently, each symbol also has an association with a given element, from Eastern philosophy (I threw in the elements' associated day of the week as well, but I don't think there is a link here):

  1. ใ„ฑ, tree/wood (Thursday)
  2. ใ„ด, fire (Tuesday)
  3. ใ…, soil/earth (Saturday)
  4. ใ……, metal/gold (Friday)
  5. ใ…‡, water (Wednesday)

Stroke Addition

ใ„ฑ (giyeok, /g/) โ†’ (add one stroke) โ†’ ใ…‹ (kieuk, /k/)

ใ„ด (nieun, /n/) โ†’ (add one stroke) โ†’ ใ„ท (digeut, /d/) โ†’ (add one more stroke) โ†’ ใ…Œ (tieut, /t/)

ใ… (mieum, /m/) โ†’ (add vertical strokes) โ†’ ใ…‚ (bieup, /b/)
ใ… (mieum, /m/) โ†’ (add horizontal strokes) โ†’ ใ… (pieup, /p/)

ใ…… (siot, /s/) โ†’ (add one stroke) โ†’ ใ…ˆ (jieut, /j/) โ†’ (add one more stroke) โ†’ ใ…Š (chieut, /ch/)

ใ…‡ (ieung, silent in pos. 1) โ†’ (add two strokes) โ†’ ใ…Ž (hieut, /h/)

(The intermediate letter ใ†† is one of those consonants that's no longer in use. Now, according to Wikipedia, there is meaning that goes into the strokes, and it's not an arbitrary adding of lines.)

In the course, it lists 3 exceptions to the above, of which only the first is still in use. The course lists them as such (within the brackets is the name given in this Wikipedia article):

  1. ใ„น (rieul) the palato-alveolar sound ("semi-coronal")
  2. ใ…ฟ, the semi-dental sound ("semi-sibilant")
  3. ใ†, the velar sound (sonorant velar)

The notes from my class actually puts ใ„น together with the ใ„ด group, which this course does as well in the initial grouping of the consonants into 5 groups. So it's kind-of in the group but not really. Rhotic consonants are always pretty... unique.

Consonant Names

Vowels are identified by their sound values, but consonants have names, which I've included above.

The naming of the consonants are such that in the first syllable, the initial position is the consonant, and in the second syllable of the name, the final position is the consonant. They were not named by King Sejong, but Choe Sejin in 1527.

Tense Consonants

It can be challenging to hear the difference because such differentiations between the tense and lax consonants don't exist in English.

Basic Aspirated Tense
ใ„ฑ ใ…‹ ใ„ฒ
ใ„ท ใ…Œ ใ„ธ
ใ…‚ ใ… ใ…ƒ
ใ…… ใ…†
ใ…ˆ ใ…Š ใ…‰

When we were taught these consonants in my class, the teacher said that the tense sounds exist in Mandarin Chinese. This made it easier for me to understand how they were supposed to sound.

However, if you were to give me a minimal pair test, I tend to get some of them wrong still (such as when revising my Anki flashcards).

The sounds are never as clear and as pure as they are supposed to sound normally, so it remains a challenge.

Oh, and ใ…… (siot) and ใ…† (ssang-siot) are the worst. ใ…… simply doesn't exist in the languages I know, so... unless exaggerated, I can't really tell.

(The tense consonants have the name ์Œ - ssang - plus the name of the basic consonant. ์Œ means "double".)

Mindshift Week 3: Learning and Careers

Passion and Work

There is often a kind of tension between what we want to do (our internal desires, what we think of as our passions) and what the world has to offer in terms of opportunities (external circumstances).

We have to be careful not to fall into The Passion Trap, which is where we develop ourselves extensively in one skill (which usually comes out of our passions) without considering its value to the market (and hence whether you can get a job).

This is made worse by friends and teachers who encourage us to "follow our passions". Realise that your friends generally want you to feel happy in the present, and will tell you what you think you want to hear. Teachers also (generally) teach a subject that they are passionate about, and may inadvertently try to steer you towards a career related to their subject even if it's unlikely that you would get a job out there related to that subject.

(As a side note - Cal Newport's So Good They Can't Ignore You debunks the "follow your passion" myth.)

Parents generally think more about your success. They will likely consider your internal passions less, but try to steer you towards a career that allows you to make a comfortable living (and in that sense, be as success).

People tend to think of career development as a "T" - you have one skill that you are very good at (the downward stroke of the T), and other areas where you have just a superficial knowledge.

Unfortunately, this tends to result in a lack of opportunities, especially if your one good skill isn't in high demand in the market.

A better way to think about career development is as a ฯ€. You can think of it as being more stable since it has two "legs". This is an approach where you develop deep skills in two areas - second skilling.

This second skill can be one that is very different from your main skill, or it can be something that you are familiar with. If time and money are constraints, it's better to build it out of something that you already are familiar with.

The second skill may be your passion, or it may be something that you take up for more practical reasons: it complements your first skill.

There are times in life when you may have to spend time away from your passion and dive deep into a skill that you originally don't have a passion for. First, realise that you can fall in love with this other skill that wasn't originally your passion, but ends up being something you enjoy.

Second, you don't have to give up on your passion. You can come back to it later. In fact, there are examples of people who became successful at their passion only after they stopped focusing on the passion directly, went to learn another skill, before coming back to their passion. Santiago Ramon y Cajal wanted to be an artist, but his father wanted him to be a doctor. Eventually he realised that he needed to study medicine to make a living. However, he never forgot his passion for art, and brought it into his study of medicine. In the end, it was also instrumental in helping him win the Nobel Prize.

This also ties to the "seemingly unrelated knowledge" portion of Week 1 - your other skill that you were "forced" to learn due to the circumstances may come in handy next time. And of course, the other way is true too; your passion may help you in learning this other skill. (Generally, based on the content, this other skill you are forced to learn is given as more technical, while the example of passion skills are generally more artistic, hence the statement that your passion skills can enhance your creativity.)

There's other ways of looking at careers and skills, beyond the "T" and "ฯ€" shapes.

For example, think about your hobbies - they make you happy, but also keep your brain fresh and agile. They can also offer insights into other areas (again, the "seemingly unrelated knowledge' theme pops up).

In terms of building a skill set, don't necessarily think that you have go deep in just 2 areas. If you have a "talent stack", where you are pretty decent or mediocre at a lot of things, kind of jack-of-all-trades, you also increase opportunities for yourself. One example is Scott Adams (the creator of Dilbert) - he says that he's not a very great artist, but with reasonable skills in writing, business, marketing, and social media. Together, they contribute to his success as a cartoonist.

These skills that build your talent stack can be from different areas. In fact, having them from different areas can add significant value (provided they are the right skills, of course). Instead of learning just a technical skill, consider soft skills too.

Brian Brookshire also offers an interesting perspective along the same vein. He says that skill development careers are typically logarithmic, and not linear. It takes a very long time to develop deep expertise in a given area. On the other hand, this is good news for second skilling - you can rapidly accelerate to the point of diminishing returns in a fairly short period of time, which tends to be enough for the skill to be useful.

Sometimes, you might be blocked from your ideal career choice due to circumstances. This also provides an excellent opportunity for learning a new skill.

Mindshifting in the Face of Opposition

Depending on where you live, students may be sorted into career paths earlier or later. In some countries, students may be sent for vocational training or continue the academically-oriented path at age 16. Of course, each approach has its owns merits and drawbacks.

Some people's career path are determined by their parents, while others have the freedom of the choice (but this freedom may not be such a great thing, because students lack the real-world experience of the job choice they are making). In some cases, others don't have access to quality education, or even a proper education, which limits their career choices.

Regardless, even if people are on a well-chosen career path, they may want to change. This is good, because any well-thought-out career change is creative fuel for societies (recall that those who switch careers are those who see things in a new way, leading to breakthroughs).

Whenever you consider a change though, make sure that you don't go into debt while learning the skills. (Let me just say in general, don't go into debt, it's not wise at all.)

That aside, when going through a change, there is likely that you will encounter resistance from those around you who want you to stay the same. There are 3 approaches for dealing with this:

  1. Dabble - a slow approach with a less jarring transition. Gradually learn skills in the new area.
  2. Double life - more intense, where you compartmentalise your life and avoid telling people what you are trying to do. This can be more stressful, but it can prevent others from talking you out of it.
  3. Contrarian - when others say you will fail, use that as fuel for your resolve to prove them wrong.

It's important regardless to create achievable interim goals and checkpoints to assess your progress.

Don't forget though, it's not just you - your environment is also important. Try to immerse yourself in the best possible environment and learn by osmosis.

However, remember to keep an open mind and seek for advice for change. When faced with valid criticism, listen, take the feedback, and use it to improve.

General Competence versus Selective Ignorance

What we have discussed previously was about developing skills in different areas - this can lead to general competence.

Selective ignorance is when you choose to ignore something that takes you away from what you are trying to master at that given point in time.

the practice of selectively ignoring distracting, irrelevant, or otherwise unnecessary information received, such as e-mails, news reports, etc.

This is great even at work - if you know how to do everything, you end up being that "go-to" person at the company, which can hinder you from getting your own work done. If you cultivate selective ignorance, you can prevent yourself from getting dragged into things that you have no interest in (but have the skills for).

The Value of Feeling Like an Impostor

The impostor syndrome is that feeling that you're not as good or as talented as the other people around you and that you got to where you are only because of luck, which will run out.

This is a very common feeling, and can make whatever you are trying to accomplish even more difficult. You start to doubt yourself.

But self-doubt is not all bad. It makes you more open and flexible, and it's people who are open to self-doubt that tend to be more successful in the long run. Generally, people tend to fail because of overconfidence, and only listening to wingmen who tell them what they want to hear.

Yes, it's not good to have too much doubt, but it tends to be undervalued. Doubt leaves you more open, and can encourage you to try harder - this is key because as we saw in Week 1, it's not genius, but persistence and flexibility that matters more.

The way to manage it is to realise that these feelings are normal, and re-frame them to your advantage.

Avoiding Career Ruts and Surviving Career Catastrophes

Keep an eye out for the big picture societal trends in relation to your skills - this is true no matter what stage of life you are at, and where you are along your career path. In today's world, engineering is one of the good skills to have.

It's good to balance any technical/analytical skills with soft skills to enhance your talent stack (and vice versa).

Be careful not to fall into a sheeple mentality where you follow your friends, only to find out that the subject you studied and put yourself into debt for was better off as a hobby than a career.

The golden rule of career catastrophes is that it's never as bad as you think it is at the time, and there is always a silver lining.

Be wary of falling into a career rut. Don't become too settled at doing the same job - even if you are doing a variety of activites at your job. Your mind might still fall into the rut, leading you to stagnate.

Even if you think you have the perfect career, things can change in a heartbeat. (How true, especially given the current pandemic...)

Make it a point to change your area of focus sometimes to keep yourself sharp.

Bad Traits as Best Traits

Some of what you thought were your bad traits can actually be some of your best. If you start to hate on your bad traits, try to reframe your thinking.

Remember the discussion about how people with a poor working memory tend to be more creative? While people with a strong working memory have it easier with problem solving and tend to get better grades, research has also shown that there is an inverse correlation between better grades and creativity.

There's also a correlation between disagreeableness and creativity.

For worriers, while too much anxiety is unhealthy, it can also help you to anticipate possibilities by mentally reviewing scenarios, even if they are negative.

The Intelligence of Emotions

Emotions were thought to be unreliable compared with cognition, but in recent years, this has changed.

Emotions are important for social interactions, learning, and decision making.

Paul Ekman, the world's leading expert on facial expression, went to Papua New Guinea to determine if there were universal expressions of emotion in all human societies. He found six:

  1. Happiness
  2. Sadness
  3. Anger
  4. Surprise
  5. Fear
  6. Disgust

Emotions are generally slow in onset and can last for a long time. Groups of neurons on the brain stem called neuromodulatory systems control your level of arousal, motivation, and attention.

In week 2, we discussed the serotonin system, which was important for regulating social interactions. There's another system that makes use of noradrenaline.

There's also a drug that prevents the reuptake of noradrenaline to increase its activity - Edronax. It's similar in function to what Prozac does for serotonin.

What noradrenaline does is increase drive motivation. A related molecule (adrenaline) produced by the adrenal gland will cause your heart to pound faster when it's released into your blood, preparing it for intense physical activity. This parallels the increase in mental activity that noradrenaline triggers in the brain.

All these neural systems are deeply integrated and interact with one another, like different players in an orchestra. This is despite the fact that we talk about systems as though they are isolated systems. This makes it difficult to find effective treatments for mental disorders.

There is another motivational system in the brain which uses another chemical - dopamine. High dopamine levels puts you in a good mood. When you receive an expected rewards, your dopamine levels increase past the baseline levels, but if you don't get the expected reward, it will decrease.

It is your dopamine cells that give you a gut opinion on decisions like what to eat, whether you should marry someone, etc.

Dopamine is also central to reinforcement learning, which is when you associate sensory input with a reward. The classic example is Pavlov's dog. While simple, this form of learning was the basis of AlphaGo, the AI program that defeated the world's Go champion.

The three neuromodulatory systems based on serotonin, noradrenaline, and dopamine interact strongly with the emotional systems in the brain. They are what allow us to form social bonds, evaluate dangerous situations, and learn new skills. Social interaction, decision making, and learning.

Referring to Older Siblings

I'm on Week 3 of First Step Korean and it's quite interesting because I'm learning new things (I honestly have no idea why I could possibly think otherwise... there's always things to learn, especially in language).

Our textbook has not gone into the family topic yet, so I've learned a lot of new words related to family.

Also, this course introduced the first 10 native Korean numbers first, for counting the number of siblings that you have. (No Sino-Korean numbers in sight yet.)

There are different words in Korean for referring to an older brother or sister, depending on the gender of the person whose sibling it is.

(These words are not limited to blood siblings only as I've seen it used in some Webtoons... and it's rather common in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese culture too, to refer to someone like that out of respect for an aunt or uncle... but perhaps in this context... it's more of... trying to be cute?)

A female calls her older brother ์˜ค๋น  while a male uses ํ˜•.

For older sister, the word is ์–ธ๋‹ˆ (female) and ๋ˆ„๋‚˜ (male).

Initially, when this was introduced, I thought, Well, okay, that's what the females call older brothers/sisters, even if they are not their own, and similarly for males.

This "not their own" part was because I was thinking of a female addressing a person directly and calling him/her "brother" or "sister". (This seems to be a common thing in K-dramas, especially for calling a... boyfriend? Even if I don't watch them... well, I have no idea how I learnt this.)

Part of it was because it was phrased this way when it was first introduced:

If you are a female, an older brother is called ์˜ค๋น .


If you are a male, an older brother is called ํ˜•.

I interpreted it wrongly. It's not a case of "female-specific" language or "male-specific language" that some languages do have, where the speaker's gender determines what form they use (off the top of my head, Thai).

If the female is talking to a male and asking about his siblings, she would use the "male" terms.

To refer to his older brother, she would use ํ˜•. It's correct for her to say:

ํ˜•๋„ ์žˆ์–ด์š”? (Do you also have an older brother?)

This is in the context of asking a male friend if he also has a brother.

This was the eye-opening sentence that made me go back and re-watch the first video to figure out what I had missed.

It wasn't quite what I expected (or at least, I hadn't thought through the consequences of this yet).

I had thought the "female" or "male" using a particular form referred to the speaker, but it's actually referring to the person - the person whose siblings you are referring to - is that person male or female, that determines which form to use.

So instead of this:

If you are a female, an older brother is called ์˜ค๋น .

The way to avoid the misunderstanding for me would have been to say:

If you are a female, your older brother is called ์˜ค๋น . (Regardless of whether you are calling him that, or someone else is.)

With this knowledge in mind, the accompanying pictures for each of the vocabulary words now make more sense, as they will depict either a boy or a girl with another older (taller) boy or girl, with an arrow pointing to the older child to indicate what the word refers to.

Since I am writing this after the fact and I pretty much explained how it is supposed to be used, I don't think it's nearly as enlightening as discovering that on your own... but this is a nice record of my learning process, which was one of my purposes for keeping a language blog.

I had to update my Anki flashcards which I made yesterday - I'd put the translations down with "(male speaker)" and "(female speaker)" but I've updated them to "(of a male)" and "(of a female)".

Korean Alphabet 1 - Basic Vowels

This is about the Korean Alphabet, I guess about the history and how the letters were formed and whatever else I find interesting.

The Korean alphabet (Hangeul) was created in 1443 by King Sejong (referred to as King Sejong the Great - he is highly respected).

I've actually found it pretty fascinating ever since I realised that the consonants reflected the shape of the tongue in the mouth (in the case for ใ„ฑ, ใ„ด) when making that consonant sound. I think it's genius, and it also helped me to remember (memorise) the consonants when I was starting out, since I already knew IPA and the tongue positions also made sense.

I started with First Step Korean today mostly out of boredom and it was really fun to learn this.

It was briefly covered in my Korean class, but not in detail since... I guess it's not really critical to learning the language.


10 Basic Vowels

There are 3 basic symbols used to make the vowels, from the 3 elements of the universe in Chinese metaphysics.

  1. Sky (or heaven). This is considered "Yang" (+) - "bright". Symbol: โ€ข (the dot symbolising the sun in the heavens)
  2. Earth - flat ground. This is considered "Yin" (-) - "dark". Symbol: ใ…ก (pronounced /ษฏ/ and romanised as eu) - This is one vowel on its own.
  3. Man - standing up. This is neutral. Symbol:ใ…ฃ (pronounced /i/ and romanised as i). This is a second vowel on its own.

In Chinese philosophy:

  1. Right/Above is "Yang" (+) - "bright"
  2. Left/Below is "Yin" (-) - "dark"


  • Light vowels are those where the "sun" symbol is to the right/above of the man/earth symbols.
  • Dark vowels are those where the "sun" symbol is to the left/below of the man/earth symbols.

(This light/dark vowel association to Yin-Yang is new to me, but it... goes to show how logical this all is.)

The remaining 8 vowels come from attaching the dot "Sky" to the sides of "Earth" and "Man".

The first 4 ("first-derived vowels") are from attaching the dot to the left and right of "Earth" and "Man". They areใ…“ (/สŒ/), ใ…œ (/u/), ใ…— (/o/), ใ… (/a/) - over time the dot has become a short line.

The next 4 ("second-derived vowels") are formed by attaching the two dots to each side. They are ใ…• (/jสŒ/), ใ…  (/ju/), ใ…› (/jo/),ใ…‘ (/ja/).

In terms of pronunciation, they combine ใ…ฃ ("Man") which is /i/ with the respective first-derived vowel, e.g.ใ…ฃ +ใ…= ใ…‘(/i/ and /a/ and you get /ja/).

Remember in the post for Lesson 12 I commented I didn't get why ๋งˆ์‹œ๋‹ค conjugated in the present-polite tense gives ๋งˆ์…”์š”? Why ์‹œ becomes ์…”? It boils down to me not understanding that l + ใ…“ = ใ…•.

That's just the way it combines. The ใ…“ comes from the conjugation form, since it is V-์–ด์š”. I didn't get why the l when added to ใ…“ forms ใ…• and not ใ…”, but if you put it in this context of how the vowels were formed, then it makes sense.

Now, the order of these alphabets. I've not actually bothered to memorise it since it's not been needed so far, and there were just too many.

But let's start with 4. It's light-dark, light-dark, but starting with left/right first, then top/bottom.

  1. ใ…
  2. ใ…“
  3. ใ…—
  4. ใ…œ

If you add in the second-derived vowels, they go after their respective first-derived counterparts:

  1. ใ…
  2. ใ…‘
  3. ใ…“
  4. ใ…•
  5. ใ…—
  6. ใ…›
  7. ใ…œ
  8. ใ… 

And then we just add in the last 2:

  1. ใ…ก
  2. l

For now, that's the order, with 10 vowels. (The rest are slotted inbetween these.)

Mindshift Week 2: A Deeper Look at Effective Learning

The Value of a Poor Memory

We tend to discount certain attributes of ours as "bad". Last week, we saw the racecar vs hiker brain - we tend to value the racecar brain for its speed, but don't realise that it has its disadvantages too.

We also think that having a poor memory is bad. But like how the hiker brain has its advantages (such as not jumping to wrong conclusions too quickly), a poor memory also has a valuable side.

Research has shown (and this was covered in LHTL I believe) that the prefrontal cortex has 4 slots of working memory (not the lucky number 7 that has become pervasive). At any time we can hold up to 4 neural chunks of information.

Neural chunks can be simple (e.g. words or phrases in a foreign language), but they are also be developed with practice into more complex chunks that are like "ribbons", making it easier to pull related information into working memory.

With enough practice, we don't need to use working memory any more, and this frees up the slots for us to focus on other things. (Consider how we can walk without having to focus on it, unlike young children who are first learning how to do it.)

Let's get back to having a poor or good memory. Those with a good memory can be said to have a "steel trap" memory, and they can easily retain things in their working memory. This allows them to solve complicated problems more easily.

Those who have poor memory are more easily distracted, and they tend to lose a train of thought. But when something falls out of working memory, something else falls in, and this is where you have creativity. So, if you have a poor memory, you tend to be more creative.

Additionally, a poor working memory allows you to find simpler ways or shortcuts of doing things (if it's a concept, a simplification of it) - even though you may take more time initially to figure it out.

If you do have a poor working memory, you can use techniques like a memory palace or association to help. For associations, having motion in the visualisations will make it easier.

Regardless of whether you have a good or bad memory, it's useful to have a brain dump - write down things that you need to remember instead of trying to keep it in working memory.

Meditation and Mindfulness

Scientific research on meditation is still in its infancy. However, there are two classes of meditation broadly speaking:

  1. Focused attention
  2. Open monitoring

The focused attention type of meditation (e.g. repeating a mantra) help to enhance focused mode type thinking - that is, learning. This type helps to enhance concentration, and at the same time, reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.

The open monitoring type of meditation (e.g. mindfulness) help to enhance diffuse mode type thinking, that is, imaginative and creative abilities. You don't focus on any one thing. In diffuse mode thoughts tend to wander (such as when we daydream), and it might wander to help us plan for the future. But the downside is that diffuse mode is affiliated with anxiety and depression because the brain might start to think about things that can go wrong.

Meditation can have very different effects, depending on the type.

Pomodoro Technique

This was introduced in the last video as a type of "working meditation". It was also mentioned in LHTL as a technique to combat procrastination.

  1. Turn off all distractions
  2. Set the timer for 25 minutes
  3. Focus during the 25 minutes. When distracting thoughts arise, don't push them away, just let them pass.
  4. Reward.

More on the reward portion: Once you are done for the 25 minutes. You can do what you want. Turn your attention off whatever you were focusing on. But it's best not to do related tasks during this break or you aren't really getting a break. (e.g. if you were writing a report, then you don't want to go to social media to post something new, since that's also writing - even if it's on a different topic)

Remember that we need to take our attention off whatever we are doing from time to time, since it's during this time in diffuse mode that we consolidate and make sense of the materail.

The reason for 25 minutes focused time? The pain you experience (thanks to your brain) when you don't want to do something tends to last for around 20 minutes, so the 25 minutes is to push you past that point and get into the flow. And if you really get into the flow, you may want to keep going as long as it feels good.

The breaks can also be longer if you are not in a rush, so 10-20 minutes is also acceptable.

Getting Past Procrastination

While the Pomodoro technique is useful when you are procrastinating, you should also take a look at the big picture when you realise that you are procrastinating.

Piers Steel has done research into why people procrastinate, looking at the motivators and demotivators of procrastination. He wrote a book on this called The Procrastination Equation.

There are three motivators/demotivators discussed.

The first motivator is expectancy. You are motivated if you expect to succeed and get a reward.

The second motivator is value. You are motivated if you believe that the the task is valuable and pleasant.

The third demotivator is impulsiveness. You are unmotivated if you get distracted or lose focus from a task.

Alex Vermeer came up with a helpful flow chart for defeating procrastination based on the ideas from Steel.

The whole chart is very big and there are many possible things that you can do, but they all focus on one of the three areas. But first, you should notice when you procrastinate, and understand why you are doing so - and you should be specific about the reason.

Then, focus on one of the three areas. The chart has actions that you can take and tips for the actions.

For example, to increase expectancy, realise that not doing anything guarantees failure.

To increase value, you can find meaning: take some time to think about your major life goals, and how what you are doing aligns with it.

And for decreasing impulsiveness, you can set goals and create routines and habits. If a 25-minute pomodoro seems too hard, do a 5-minute "dash".

If you are learning something new and difficult, it's a very bad idea to procrastinate. It takes time for your brain learn something. There are only so many new neural synapses that can form in a single day.

However, there is a time for "productive procrastination". This is for tasks that require preparation, and you are synthesising information, such as in writing a book. It's a problem if you try to immediately dive right in without having the right information first.

If it's overwhelming, just remember 2 things:

  1. Focus on one thing
  2. Keep track of what works best

The Value of Procedural Fluency and Deliberate Practice

Conceptual understanding is important, but practice and repetition with some memorisation is just as important in learning.

Despite what most believe today in Western education, conceptual understanding is not the golden key to learning. Practice and repetition are equally important.

In the past, for many thousands of years, it was thought that memorisation was the key to learning. But of course, we know that it isn't everything.

Unfortunately, what has happened in Western education is that things have been taken to the other extreme - overemphasising conceptual understanding and conveniently neglecting that some memorisation and (deliberate) practice on the hardest portions is needed.

Memorisation doesn't just reinforce your learning; it also allows you to gain a deeper and richer understanding. If you were memorising an equation, you will understand it better especially if you are trying to figure out what is going on while memorising.

Some educators like to say that you can always look up the equation and you don't have to memorise it. But consider this: Can you say that someone knows a language, if they had to look up words every time they were needed?

Practice and memorisation helps you to chunk key concepts. When you first learn something, it occupies a lot of your working memory. Your pre-frontal cortex is working very hard. But once you have it chunked (that is, understood and practiced), it becomes like a long, smooth ribbon that you can easily pull into working memory. You free up your other working memory slots to hold other related information, that you can "hook" together to form more advanced thoughts.

Procedural fluency is the term used to describe when you have a concept well-chunked.

Some "test anxiety" is a result of not having studied well enough. Only when the test is in front of you, do you look deeply enough to realise that you don't know the material, and panic as a result.

The Value of Mental Tricks

Nobel Prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman said:

โ€œNothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it.โ€

Unfortunate events happen to everyone, but how you react makes a difference. If you react inappropriately, you put stress on yourself which may impact your health negatively - leading to disease.

The context in which you view something matters. If you see a snake in a cage, no big deal. But if it's outside the cage, that's very different.

Similarly, if you put your brain in a "cage", which is a better frame around stressful thoughts, it can greatly help. These mental tricks are for reframing negative thoughts into more positive ones.

Learning to Reframe

The first trick is to put a label on your feelings when you encounter a setback. Doing so forces you to use words to describe your feelings, which shifts your thinking from the emotional part of the brain to the more rational part. This automatically tones down your emotions.

The field of cognitive therapy has a list of common cognitive distortions (developed by Dr. David Burns in his book The New Mood Therapy). This list is helpful as it provides labels that you can use to describe how you are feeling.

  1. All or nothing thinking - For example, thinking you are a total failure because you failed a test (and despite the fact that you are a success in other areas).
  2. Magnification - Overemphasising the impact of one failure.
  3. Overgeneralisation - Seeing one failure as a part of a series of failures, forgetting the things that you have done well.
  4. Mental filter - Focusing only on what you did badly at and ignoring everything else.
  5. Discounting the positive - Forgetting about all the good things in your life.
  6. Jumping to conclusions - Thinking that one failure will lead to things going badly from now on.
  7. Mind reading - Thinking that others think badly of you, when you don't know what they think.
  8. Emotional reasoning - Thinking that something is negative just because I feel it is negative.
  9. Shouldy thinking - Thinking "I should have..." This only leads to guilt, anger and frustration.
  10. Pejoratives - Calling yourself names like "idiot", "stupid", etc. that only causes you to feel bad about yourself and makes you angry and frustrated.
  11. Personalisation and blame - Blaming ourselves and shouldering responsibility for errors that we didn't make, or blaming others inappropriately.

When you feel bad: Think about what is bothering you, look through these labels and think about how your mind is tricking you. Then develop a rational response.

The other trick is to find positive ways to think about a negative experience.

If you experience a failure in business, think of it as a great learning experience.

If you didn't get a job you wanted, you have the opportunity for a better job next time and it's a signal for you to use this time to upgrade your skills.

If you did badly on a test, think of it as a hint that you need to relook at your study habits.

Reframing isn't just mental trickery - it actually extinguishes the negative emotions from the fight-or-flight center of the amygdala. When you find a way to change the way you interpret your experiences, there's fewer stress-related neurotransmitters released by the amygdala.

The Pitfalls of "Learning Styles"

You should make use of all your senses when learning - visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or whatever else there is out there.

A 2015 research conducted by Beth Rogowsky and her colleagues found that there was no statistically significant difference in the relationship between your ability to comprehend the material when you use your preferred learning style or not.

These learning styles also kind of restrict you by putting you in a box. More accurately, you may put yourself in a box when you subscribe to the view that you are a particular type of learner.

If you think you are an auditory learner, and you start to shun visual material, it means that you get less exposure and less practice with using your eyes to learn. But realise that reading is important today - the majority of tests are written, for example (unless it's a listening test for a language).

Yes, research has shown that everyone receives and processes new information in different ways. But this doesn't extend to "learning styles" (at least, based on the current research). In fact, it seems that we learn best when we integrate and use all of our senses when we learn.

Think of yourself as an all-inclusive type of learner, and you will learn much better because of it.

As a note, realise that there is a whole industry behind this "learning styles" movement that is financially-motivated. There's much money to be earned from creating and administering the tests to determine the type of learner you are, and conducting workshops. Be aware that there is this driving force behind it, even when there is no scientific evidence that these theories about learning styles are true.

Learning Too Much

The experience of Ana Belen Sanchez-Prieto: She started taking a MOOC to learn about how to create her own MOOC. She realised that she had to learn more about effective teaching, so she enrolled in an education MOOC, before deciding to complete the specialisation.

She went on to take every education-related MOOC that she could find. When she realised that she could take MOOCs on subjects of interest that she'd not had the chance to learn before, she started to take them all.

In a nutshell, she got carried away. This led to stress because she still has work - her own classes. Her social life was impacted. But the worst thing is that she realised she wasn't really learning, but rather the goal was to finish the course and to get the certificate.

The takeaway is that there are many interesting things to learn about, but she had to choose.

Taking on too much can suck the joy out of the experience.

I'm adding my own commentary here, because this is starting to resonate. I think this video is especially true now, given that many online education tools have been made freely available in this time of a global pandemic. I've been feeling this thirst for knowledge. I see so many opportunties to learn, and I begin to wonder if I'm loading on more on my plate than I can humanely handle. I started with this MOOC, but I'm already taking another college-level class. I found another interesting MOOC, then yesterday, I discovered that Pluralsight has April free. The day before someone told me about Google Cloud Platform having free training too, and giving away swag for completing 'quests' in Qwiklabs. Before that, I also knew that Unity was offering a few free months...

2019 was a 'bad' year for me, in that I didn't achieve much in terms of my own learning and also at work. I hated myself for that. But I think I landed in the state I was in in 2019 precisely because I was overworking myself in 2017, and by mid-2018 I'd burnt out, and never recovered but it got worse in 2019. It's a cautionary tale in my own life. I have to fully evaluate the options and choose what is a priority, and what is meaningful personally to me.

Ultimately, it's important to have a balance.

Your Social Brain

You behave differently depending on who you are around.

Google's Project Aristotle set out to discover what made teams successful. What they found out was that psychological safety predicted how well teams innovated.

Psychological safety means that members of the team are comfortable with taking risks and sometimes failing. There is interpersonal trust among the members and everyone is comfortable being themselves.

The most successful teams had more empathy.

Now, the drug Ecstasy (yes, the drug people take at parties) enhances empathy. How it does this is that it causes a massive release of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurochemical messenger found in the brain of vertebrates. The brain stem consists of neurons that manufacture serotonin. Serotonin is projected widely, meaning that it has an effect on many billions of neurons in the cerebral cortex (the "most highly evolved part of the human brain").

As we all know, you shouldn't take Ecstasy because there's a downside. Ecstasy released just about all of the available serotonin in the brain, depleting the available supply. What this means is that afterward, and for weeks after you take it, you become more withdrawn and less social, until your supply of serotonin is replenished.

Prozac, which is used in treatment of some types of depression, also increases serotonin activity by blocking the re-uptake of serotonin by neurons. Prozac takes a much longer time to have an effect, but its effects also last longer.

The environment plays a role in the amount of serotonin in your brain.

Lack of maternal care in non-human primates have shown to result in reduced levels, greater agression, and more anxiety-like behaviours during adolescence.

The low levels in stressed brains are also a tripwire for extreme and unpredictable violence.

Although the levels of neutromodulators such as serotonin are determined during development, and depend on your experiences when you are young, they can be changed when you move to a new environment.

Work with the right sort of people who will support you positively.