notes on things I'm learning
66,341 words

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 learnt 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 learnt 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 learnt 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 learnt, or new perspectives on things that we learnt, 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 learnt 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 learnt 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.

Mindshift Week 1

Notes from the MOOC Mindshift.

I've read the book some time ago. I'd also started the course some time ago but never finished it, but since Coursera is offering free online learning (that is, the certs) for selected courses due to Covid-19, I decided to give this another go.


You can do more and be more than you think.

Aptitude tests (and your internal feelings) only reflect that you are good at at this point in time. But you can change - due to your brain changing (forming new connections) every night when you sleep.

Therefore, you can achieve much more than you think you can, including in subjects that you thought you were bad at.

Slow Learners

There are 2 types of brains, the fast, racecar brain, and the slower hiker brain.

Geniuses typically have this fast racecar brain that allows them to jump ahead to conclusions quickly. The downside of this is that they may not accept the (subsequent) feedback that indicates they are wrong. Consequently, they forge ahead on the wrong path. There is a lack of flexibility - they did not frequently change their minds and were not used to it.

The hiker brain is much slower, but there is also value in being a slow learner.

Santiago Ramรณn y Cajal is a Nobel Prize winner who worked with geniuses with racecar brains, but who himself was not a genius. In his view, it is persistence and flexibility that made him successful in his research, and allowed him to avoid falling into same pitfalls as his genius colleagues.

Active Learning

You learn far more by experiencing and doing things yourself. It sounds self-evident, but we tend to forget this when we learn.

This can be for example in art - watching tutorial videos, but never drawing (practising).

It can be reading with a book in front of you, but not trying to test yourself on what you have read.

Test yourself always, work through problems. Don't fool yourself into thinking you know something because it is in front of you. It is when you don't have the material and try to recall that you know what you don't know.

It is only when you actively engage with the material that you truly learn.

1 hour of studying vs 1 hour of taking a test - you will learn far more by spending that hour taking the test, even if you don't know the answers or get them wrong! At least you will then know what you don't.

Active learning is tiring, so your brain will try to find excuses not to do it.

Talking/interacting with others is one way (perhaps one of the easier ones) of doing active learning. This is because you are also discussing about the material and so you are also working your way through them, I believe.

(I'm taking these notes after each video, based on whatever I've remembered, with some occasional references to the transcript.)

Seemingly Unrelated Knowledge

Thomas Kuhn wanted to learn about how science unfolds. Is it a steady accumulation of knowledge, or is punctuated with breakthroughs here and there?

He found out that it was breakthroughs that punctuated... there were periods of normal science, where knowledge would slowly accumulate using the usual scientific methods in that field.

But then someone comes along, and sees what is there in a new way, and a paradigm shift occurs.

What allows these people to see things in a new way?

  1. Young people who have not yet been indoctrinated in that particular worldview
  2. Older people who made a career switch from another discipline into a new one

So for the second group, it is their knowledge from the other discipline (which may appear unrelated) that allows them to see things in a new way, leading to a breakthrough.

Don't worry about feeling incompetent when you learn something new - those feelings will pass.

The willingness to change, to learn, can be the greatest asset. Your greatest asset.

Mastery Learning

We tend to pick subjects that we are good at to learn, and get more practice, which makes us even better at them. Conversely, we take less of the subjects that we aren't so good at (because it might hurt our grades), which gives us less practice when we need more.

The traditional way of learning is that students in a class are all given the same amount of time to learn, whether they actually understood or not.

Mastery learning is where it's understood that students take different amounts of instruction time and require different amounts of practice with material, but in the end they are still able to master it. So it doesn't matter how long to you take to learn the material - you can still (eventually) grasp it as well.

It turns out that online learning is one of the best ways that support mastery learning - you can watch videos again if you don't undertand. Taking quiz variants until you are comfortable with the material. You can also get exposure to different explanations of the same material.

One pretty-extensive MOOC taker said - it's okay to fail MOOCs, you can watch what interests you. Yes, it is fulfilling to complete a MOOC, but it is not always what you need to do. No one has to know if you drop out or fail. And even if you failed the first time, you can always retake it. Anyway, even if you did fail, you can still learn from the course without passing!

Focused and Diffuse Mode

This topic was covered in LHTL, but here we are introduced to more analogies to help us understand the difference.

The thing about analogies and metaphors is, they serve as a tool for understanding. Once they reach their limit and are no longer useful, it makes sense to throw them away and adopt another analogy/metaphor.

The previous analogy in LHTL for focused vs diffuse mode is that it's like a pinball machine, where your thought is the ball. In focused mode, the pins are very close together, and so you tend to get stuck (like how the ball will get stuck between the tight pins). In diffuse mode, the pins are further apart.

We can also think of it as a network mesh, where in focused mode, the mesh is much closer and the holes are smaller but they are much larger in diffuse mode. In focused mode, a certain part of the network is activated. On top of that, unlike the focused mode, the connections that active in diffuse mode are more expansive (over a wider area), thus allowing for connections between seemingly unrelated things (creating creative insight).

The new analogy is to think of it as an excavator - think of a digging machine. So when you are in focused mode, your brain is collecting this information, receiving information. In diffuse mode, it is placing that information elsewhere in the brain, organing and consolidating it, which also helps you to make sense of it.

You cannot go into diffuse mode by concentrating really hard, but it is the default mode when you aren't thinking about anything in particular. That is why it is important to take breaks when you have studied for a while, so that you can get out of focused mode and consolidate what you have learned, and the brain can be more creative with the new material.

Learning Difficult Things

Drinking coffee/tea (due to caffeine?) diminishes the daydreaming alpha brain waves - which is why it helps you concentrate. It's most effective for an hour, but the effects may last much longer.

It turns out that having a bit of noise can help you learn difficult things, because it causes the diffuse mode to pop up. As we know, we need the diffuse mode to help consolidate the information that we have learnt.

Memorising simple things (straightforward facts using focused mode concentration) doesn't tell you how well you can understand complex systems.

It takes time to understand complex systems (e.g. heart function, causes of WWII). Usually, this involves both the focused and diffuse mode - alternating between the two.

The focused mode is primarily centered near the front of the brain, in the pre-frontal cortex. The diffuse mode on the other hand involves a wider area - it's this extensive nature that allows for the creative insight, as noted above.

Your Environment

Even small changes in your environment can lead to big changes over time.

A cathedral, with its high ceilings and coloured glass, the way your voice echoes in the space, conveys that it is sacred.

The roar of the crowd at a live soccer game makes the difference of why people still go watch the match at the stadium, even when the view is better at home.

Apparently, a place with high ceilings allow people to think more freely and abstractly. In rooms with low ceilings - people focus on the specifics.

Hospitals are the same everywhere (pretty much), and considering what we know about how our environment affects us, it's very terribly designed. If you were worried about your health before entering, be more worried after your enter the hospital.

The lighting is usually dim, and it is outdoor light that promotes arousal.

Plus, the constant dim lighting that is always on - it messes with the cicadian rhythm.

There are generally no windows (especially if you are very sick and in the ICU), and windows to the outdoor promote healing - it is depressing when the window opens to a parking lot.

And the unpredictability - there can be random alarms going on to signal an emergency, and yes, it alerts the nurses and doctors, but it also alarms the patient trying to rest and recover.

There is no privacy. You can get disturbed at any time of day for whatever reason - for them to check your vitals, or draw blood, or some other invasive procedure.

The meals are probably the worst in terms of nutritional value. And we know that you need to have good nutrition to be strong and healthy.

The Changing World

The world changes constantly. You need to take a big picture view of the opportunities that are available today and will come tomorrow - and in today's world for example, technology, math, science is key, the way horsemanship was until recent times when the internal combustion engine was invented and automobiles and other vehicles came into existence.

Match your aspirations with the opportunities that are available today.

Yes, we all have our own interests and passions. But we can also broaden our passions - learning new things that may not be comfortable for us. We should work to broaden our passions.

Mindshift (the course) promises to provide a framework for this change.

Natural Passions and Gender

It turns out that girls and boys have (on average) the same math and science ability. Testosterone has no effect on it; what it affects is verbal ability. So by comparison, boys will likely feel that they are better at math and science, since their verbal ability is weaker. But on the other hand, girls will feel that they are better at the language-oriented subjects because they are better at the verbal ability than math and science.

Because of this, the self image forms that lead boys to think that they are better at math and science, and girls think they aren't as good, and as they continue to develop what they are good at, this will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Boys think their passion is in the math and sciences while girls think it is in language-oriented subjects.

The advice of "follow your passion" usually means doing what is easiest for you, but as it turns out, when things are difficult, that's when we learn better than if it was easy.

Our passions develop around what we are good at - but it takes time for us to be good at things.

Lesson 24 (Beginner 1B L8): Native Korean Numbers and Unit Nouns

Today (and probably last week) should be considered as Beginner 2A, as evidenced by the pop quiz that we got today. But more on that surprise test later. (The teacher calls it a test, same as the big test from 2 weeks ago, but these are always only written - in the sense of short questions - and last no more than 15 minutes.)

Erica didn't come, apparently she was busy last week and this week as well. I hope she's all right, and it's not because she's sick. I know that she was sick a couple of weeks ago.

In any case, we found out that our new teacher in 3 weeks' time when the next term starts will be the head teacher, so I'd get to experience the difference, and see if Audrey was right. I wonder if she would rejoin the class (or if she could... being rather... behind).

There were some safe distancing measures in place due to the Coronavirus, so we had to take our temperatures, sign a declaration (that we are not sick and not serving any form of stay-home notice), and also sit a seat apart from one another. The tables and chairs were rearranged to form rows. We also couldn't use the paper flashcards, so we just revised together using Quizlet. The teacher showed the flashcards on the TV screen, and she didn't come near us either. So naturally we didn't get to play with any money like last week (it was a small part at the end), so I'm really glad we had last week's lesson before things got to this state.

Native Korean Numbers, 1-29

We learnt the numbers, basically just 1-10, and then 20. We could form the numbers in that range with what we have learnt. The rest of the native Korean numbers will be covered in Chapter 9 (3 chapters from now).

So, yes, we really are not done with numbers... and probably won't be for a while.

Native Korean Numbers (์ˆซ์ž)
ํ•˜๋‚˜ 1
๋‘˜ 2
์…‹ 3
๋„ท 4
๋‹ค์„ฏ 5
์—ฌ์„ฏ 6
์ผ๊ณฑ 7
์—ฌ๋Ÿ 8
์•„ํ™‰ 9
์—ด 10
์—ดํ•˜๋‚˜ 11
์Šค๋ฌผ 20
์Šค๋ฌผ๋‹ค์„ฏ 25

We learnt these alongside the unit nouns. There is some difference for the numbers 1-4 (and the numbers that end in 1-4) when they are used with the unit nouns, which will be covered later.

Unit Nouns

I realise that I can't really describe these, because I didn't have to learn them recently... when learning a L2 language, that is. They exist in the Chinese language, so I've known about them since I was young.

The more proper term for them is classifiers or measure words (which is what it's called in Chinese - ้‡่ฏ).

English has unit nouns for uncountable things: a glass of water, a slice of bread, a bottle of beer. There's also the animal collective nouns, such as a pride of lions, a flock of birds, a herd of cattle.

In Chinese (Korean, Japanese, and a few other languages I believe), you have these classifiers for just about every noun, even where you would not have them in English.

For example, in English, you call a person... a person.

But in Chinese you have ไธ€ไธชไบบ (yรญ gรจ rรฉn), where ไธช is the classifier. ไธ€ means "one" and ไบบ means "person".

ไธช is actually the most common one, and it's the default when I don't know which one to use too.

The equivalent of ไธช in Korean is ๊ฐœ. (It also means "dog", yes, but the word origin is different.)

This doesn't mean that there is a simple 1-to-1 mapping such that when you use ไธช in Chinese, you use ๊ฐœ in Korean.

The simplest counter example is found in the Korean unit noun (I'll call it as such, as that's what the notes call it) for person. It's not ๊ฐœ, but ๋ช….

Side Note: In that Wiktionary page, it says ๋ช… comes from the Sino-Korean word from ๅ (โ€œname/counter for peopleโ€)... which... well, it's correct that it's used for people, but I believe that it's some formal context that it's used in. (There's also ไฝ which is used to be polite when talking about a person.)

We covered 5 unit nouns in this lesson.

Korean Unit Noun Sino-Korean Word Used for (refers to Korean only)
๊ฐœ ไธช ... most things
๋ช… ๅ people
๋ณ‘ ็” (็“ถ) bottle
์ž” ็›ž (็›) cup
๊ทธ๋ฆ‡ - bowl (food)


Now that the pre-requisites (native Korean numbers + unit nouns) have been covered, let's do the grammar point, which is basically about using the unit nouns.

2. N ๊ฐœ [๋ช…, ๋ณ‘, ์ž”, ๊ทธ๋ฆ‡]

The structure is this: Item + Native Korean Number + Unit Noun

So for example, you have 5 apples: ์‚ฌ๊ณผ ๋‹ค์„ฏ ๊ฐœ

As mentioned above, for 1-4 (and the numbers that end in 1-4, since you form those numbers using them as well), it's different when used with the unit nouns:

  • ํ•œ instead of ํ•˜๋‚˜
  • ๋‘ instead of ๋‘˜
  • ์„ธ instead of ์…‹
  • ๋„ค instead of ๋„ท

20 is also different: ์Šค๋ฌด instead of ์Šค๋ฌผ.

More examples:

  1. ๋ผ๋ฉด ํ•œ ๊ทธ๋ฆ‡ (1 bowl of instant noodles)
  2. ์ปคํ”ผ ๋‘ ์ž” (2 cups of coffee)
  3. ์˜ค๋ Œ์ง€ ์„ธ ๊ฐœ (3 oranges)
  4. ์‚ฌ๋žŒ ๋„ค ๋ช… (4 people/persons)
  5. ๋ฌผ ๋‹ค์„ฏ ๋ณ‘ (5 bottles of water)
  6. ํŽœ ์Šค๋ฌด ๊ฐœ (20 pens)


We practised asking questions based on the pictures in the handout and book.

In the handout, there were images of things that we knew the words for without the nouns (the textbook was nice enough to give the nouns) and according to the picture, we had to answer how many items there are.

๊ฐ€: ๊น€์น˜์ฐŒ๊ฐœ ๋ช‡ ๊ทธ๋ฆ‡ ์žˆ์–ด์š”?
๋‚˜: ๋‘ ๊ทธ๋ฆ‡ ์žˆ์–ด์š”.

Near the end, we also practised with the dialogue on p. 149, but using it for the menu on p. 150. We did this in threes - so we rotated among the 4 students in the class. To make it harder, we also had to total up the prices and the student who is the server has to state the price. One of the diners would pay (giving some amount of invisible money) and the server has to calculate the change to give back too.

There are 4 restaurants there - ๋งŒ๋ฆฌ์žฅ์„  is the Chinese restaurant. Just as we were puzzling over the name, the teacher asked us what the Great Wall of China was called, referring it to it as the famous wall. Someone gave the name in English, then she asked for the Chinese name, which is ไธ‡้‡Œ้•ฟๅŸŽ. This restaurant's name is just that.

Particle Position

The textbook has this sentence: ์˜ค๋Š˜ ์ปคํ”ผ๋ฅผ ์„ธ ์ž” ๋งˆ์…จ์–ด์š”. (Today I drank three cups of coffee.)

Someone asked about the position of the particle.

Accoding to the teacher, it can be attached to either the noun (as in the example) or even to the unit noun. It can be omitted in the spoken language, which we were doing as we practised.

I would think it applies to the subject particle as well.

In the homework for this week, they asked the question with the subject particle (๊ฐ€/์ด) and placed it behind the noun: ๊น€์น˜์ฐŒ๊ฐœ๊ฐ€ ๋ช‡ ๊ทธ๋ฆ‡ ์žˆ์–ด์š”?

Usage of ๊ทธ๋ฆ‡

After we had practised for quite a while and struggling to pronounce ๊ทธ๋ฆ‡, the teacher told us that ๊ทธ๋ฆ‡ is not commonly used anymore. Native speakers don't use it.

For one bowl, instead of item + ํ•œ + ๊ทธ๋ฆ‡, it would simply be item + ํ•˜๋‚˜, e.g. ๋ฐฅ ํ•˜๋‚˜ ์ฃผ์„ธ์š”.

For two and beyond, the unit noun used is ๊ฐœ instead of ๊ทธ๋ฆ‡, e.g. ๋ฐฅ ๋‘ ๊ฐœ ์ฃผ์„ธ์š”.

They are teaching this and we are learning this unit noun because it's in the textbook.

The other time I recall that the teacher gave on the book teaching "outdated" things is the noun for coffee shop (cafรฉ). The book uses ์ปคํ”ผ์ˆ, but it's more commonly called ์นดํŽ˜.

Mini Test

Around 15 minutes before the end of class, the teacher said that we were supposed to have a test next lesson (which would be the 3rd lesson of Beginner 2A - I really should try to see if there's a pattern to when we have these mini tests). But because our next lesson is 3 weeks away, and we would likely forget everything by then, she said that would just do the test now.

We were given ~5 minutes to look through anything we needed, including the numbers (prices) from last week.

I knew I had the most problems with the native numbers, so I had to quickly associate them. I'd been practising throughout the last week in Anki, but their names have not been burned into my brain.

I had problems with 3 and 4 since they were close (minimal pairs, in fact): ์…‹ and ๋„ท, though we were mostly using them in the ์„ธ and ๋„ค forms. But by that time I'd remember to associate ์„ธ with ์‚ผ, remembering both 3s start with "s". I realise now that it makes no sense because (Sino-Korean) 4 also starts with s (์‚ฌ), but I've remembered it so it's fine.

2 tricks I used for 7 and 8:

  1. ์ผ๊ณฑ is 7, I used ์ผ to remind me of "day", and by extension, "week". 7 days in a week, so recall that the word for 7 starts with ์ผ.
  2. ์—ฌ๋Ÿ - the spelling was the part that was tricky. I already knew this was ์—ฌ-something (like 6 is ์—ฌ์„ฏ). Since I knew how to pronounce it, the matter was of remembering the 2 consonants below. They are r and b, and I simply remembered it as "ruby" since Ruby uses the .rb extension.

Lucky for me, the prices in this test didn't involve hundred million, as I'd conveniently forgotten the word for it: ์–ต. I knew it was ๅ„„ thanks to my post last week, but could not "reverse-engineer" the word in Hangeul. If a price had been that high, I'd have been lost. Even so, I was getting confused with numbers bigger than 10000.

For this test, probably due to time, but probably also due to the social distancing, the teacher checked our papers instead of us peer marking.

I hope in 3 weeks the situation will improve. Hopefully the new measures will help. I think most things that are closed will remain closed until the end of April (from the current guidelines), so this will be near end April but slightly before...

Lesson 23 (Beginner 1B L7): And I Thought We Were Done with Numbers...

Test Results

We got back the test today, and everyone did very well. We all scored more than 90 out of 100. This is apparently quite high (I guess comparing with their past classes, at least according to the teacher). The teacher commented that when she was marking our tests she didn't believe it because we were saying it was hard and stressing out about it. To my utter surprise, I got full marks for oral. Actually, I got full marks for everything except writing, which I lost 0.5 marks on, so my total score was 99.5.

As a side note, I... actually recall this happening for my French and German classes in uni. That I would do a lot better than I expected. (And usually have people getting envious because I'd tell them about this mistake or that mistake that I made... and then it turns out I did make those mistakes, but those were probably the only ones I'd made. And of course bell-curved grades so my higher score wasn't exactly welcome since it also affected them.) Especially in the later years... I would think that I didn't do as well as I initially thought, but then the score turns out better. French 6 oral, for sure. But generally for the written components too (German 1 and 2 didn't have oral tests). I'm not sure if that means that I hold myself to too high a standard? Or if I have a really bad case of imposter syndrome? Both?!

The thing is, I'm not intentionally lying or trying to be falsely modest when I expressed anxiety about the tests (this one and the ones before it). I really believed that I did badly. Am I a perfectionist? I don't think so. I don't need 100 to find it "acceptable". I don't impose some crazy Asian tiger parenting standards on myself (and neither did my parents impose such things on me). 99.5 in this context is a very good score. If I have any feelings about that score now, it's that I don't deserve it. Now, I can't argue for the listening/reading/grammar components as those are not subjective, but objective. But I would say that definitely I thought I did poorly for oral and that it certainly didn't deserve full marks, and my writing as well should have gotten more than a -0.5 penalty (especially considering the very careless/stupid nature of the mistakes).

But back to this test, I know my friend got around 95 or 96, as did the other girl who usually sits next to me. When you're talking about a 3 marks difference, though, it's really not that much, so I don't know why they make such a big deal out of it (that I got close to full marks)? And she even reminded everyone that I knew 6 languages. >.> (That is the number I'd give, I wouldn't count say Japanese/Greek/Cantonese for various reasons even though I know some of the former two and understand the latter pretty well.)

My reflection on this test experience is that for the writing, I saw some really obvious grammar mistakes that I could have definitely caught and fixed, had I not rushed. I panicked when everyone submitted their papers and left and so opted not to check through. In that sense I was very fortunate that I didn't make any silly mistakes in the reading and grammar portions of the paper.

The listening component is out of 30 marks although there were only 20 questions - some were apparently worth 1.5 marks.

We were not given the main paper back (we could request to see it, but could not keep it - the teacher doesn't seem to have made any markings on my paper at all) - we got only the sheet for writing and a printed report sheet attached behind. The printed reported sheet basically mentions which questions you got wrong and what is the correct answer. (For listening, it seems like you get the transcript as well if you got it wrong.)

Unfortunately, the only real feedback I got was for oral, I did have one thing she noted where I said ์— instead of using ์—์„œ for the place. She didn't comment on the fact that I obviously was saying rubbish or had nothing to say, and also not for the fact that I messed up the interview section being unable to remember the words ๋ถ€๋ชจ(๋‹˜) for parents (it drives me crazy, which is ใ…œ (o) or ใ…— (u), because in Chinese it's ็ˆถๆฏ, fรนmว”, so I'm like... both are u and it takes me a while to sort them out in my head.

So the reason for this is probably because (especially for the listening), they might be reusing the questions. They even have slides prepared for going through the test so that further supports my theory.

We got our Beginner 1 certs today as well. Unfortunately, Erica didn't come today, so she wasn't here for the class and also not for our picture-taking. But that was at the end of the class.

We started on chapter 6 today, naturally starting with vocabulary. In the textbook, we covered p146-147. A lot of the things were in the handout.


Korean English Notes
์Œ์‹ food
๊น€๋ฐฅ [๊น€๋นฑ] seaweed-wrapped roll it looks like sushi if sliced
๊ฐˆ๋น„ํƒ• beef-rib soup ๊ฐˆ๋น„ means "rib". This is traditionally done with beef, so if it's pork, it's specified: ๋ผ์ง€ ๊ฐˆ๋น„ํƒ•. The teacher says it tastes like Bak Kut Teh - but that is made with pork.
๋ƒ‰๋ฉด cold noodles This is also a beef soup, with brown noodles and ice. Eaten during the summer when it's hot.
๊น€์น˜ kimchi
๊น€์น˜์ฐŒ๊ฐœ kimchi stew ์ฐŒ๊ฐœ is a stew. This is thick soup that is not clear. By contrast, ํƒ• is clear. Korea is famous for many types of ์ฐŒ๊ฐœ, such as ๋œ์žฅ์ฐŒ๊ฐœ (miso stew), ์ˆœ๋‘๋ถ€์ฐŒ๊ฐœ (soft tofu stew) and ๋ถ€๋Œ€์ฐŒ๊ฐœ (army stew, literally "army base stew").
๋ถˆ๊ณ ๊ธฐ (sliced and seasoned) barbequed beef ๋ถˆ means fire. This is meat stir-fried on top of a fire. In Korea, this is only purely beef dish. In Singapore there are some variants such as "chicken bulgogi" that doesn't exist in Korea.
๋ผ๋ฉด ramen/instant noodles Normally it refers to instant noodles.
๋ผ๋ฉ˜ ramen ...the real ramen
๋น„๋น”๋ฐฅ [๋น„๋น”๋นฑ] bibimbap (cooked rice with vegetables and meat)
์šฐ๋™ udon
๋นต bread
๋งฅ์ฃผ beer
์†Œ์ฃผ soju
๋ง‰๊ฑธ๋ฆฌ rice wine
๊ณผ์ผ fruits
์‚ฌ๊ณผ apple
๋”ธ๊ธฐ strawberry
์ˆ˜๋ฐ• watermelon
๊ทค mandarin orange In Korea, this is harvested from Jeju Island during the winter. They taste different from the locally available mandarin oranges. According to the teacher, that is. I've been to Jeju before but that was years ago, I barely recall anything much less how the mandarin oranges taste.
๋ฉ”๋‰ด menu
๊ธธ road
๋…ธ๋ž˜ song
๋˜ again
์•„์นจ breakfast You may have to add ๋ฐฅ or ์‹์‚ฌ behind, since apparently it only means "morning" when I looked it up...
์ ์‹ฌ lunch
์ €๋… dinner
์ฃผ๋‹ค to give
๋ช‡ how many
๋ชจ๋‘ all
๊ทธ๋ž˜์š”? Really? / Is that so?
๊ธฐ๋‹ค๋ฆฌ๋‹ค to wait
์‹ธ๋‹ค to be cheap
๋น„์‹ธ๋‹ค to be expensive
๊นจ๋—ํ•˜๋‹ค [๊นจ๋„ํƒ€๋‹ค] to be clean Pronunciation: Syllable-final ใ…… is ใ„ท. ใ„ท + ใ…Ž โ†’ ใ…Œ.
๋ณต์žกํ•˜๋‹ค [๋ณต์งœํŒŒ๋‹ค] to be crowded Pronunciation: ใ…‚+ใ…Ž โ†’ ใ…. Same principle as the one before.
์žฌ๋ฏธ์žˆ๋‹ค to be interesting/fun
์žฌ๋ฏธ์—†๋‹ค to not be interesting/fun
๋ง›์žˆ๋‹ค to be delicious
๋ง›์—†๋‹ค [๋งˆ๋ฅ๋”ฐ] to not be delicious
์ข‹๋‹ค to be good
์ข‹์•„ํ•˜๋‹ค to like
์ž…๋‹ค to wear
์›ƒ๋‹ค to laugh
์–ผ๋งˆ์˜ˆ์š”? How much is it?
๊นŽ์•„ ์ฃผ์„ธ์š”. Please give me a discount.
์ƒˆํ•ด ๋ณต ๋งŽ์ด ๋ฐ›์œผ์„ธ์š”. Happy new year. A new year greeting. Literally, ์ƒˆํ•ด = new year, ๋ณต = good luck, ๋งŽ์ด = a lot of, ๋ฐ›๋‹ค = receive.
๋ฐ›๋‹ค to receive
์ฃผ๋ง ์ž˜ ๋ณด๋‚ด์„ธ์š”. Have a good weekend.
์กฐ์‹ฌํ•˜์„ธ์š”. Be careful.
์–‘๋ง socks
์น˜๋งˆ skirt
๋ฐ”์ง€ pants
๊ตฌ๋‘ shoes

Large Numbers for Prices

This was covered mostly with the handout.

Chapter 6 is called "How much is it?" so it is about buying things and naturally you have to learn how to say how much something costs.

The way that the numbers are read in Korean are 4 digits at a time, basically splitting them into ten thousands, like Chinese (instead of the more familar thousands system for English and the other European languages).

Say you have a number: 239, 871, 231.

In Korean, you will read it 4 digits at a time, basically splitting it like this:
2 | 3987 | 1231

The first line from the right is the "ten thousand" line, which is ๋งŒ (่ฌ).
The second line from the right is the "hundred million" line, which is ์–ต (ๅ„„).

Within each group of four, you have the thousands (์ฒœ), hundreds (๋ฐฑ), and tens (์‹ญ) (and ones... but you don't have a "suffix" for that).

1 2 3 1
์ฒœ ๋ฐฑ ์‹ญ

A number that starts with 1 as above, 1 (์ผ) is not pronounced, so you will have ์ฒœ 2๋ฐฑ 3์‹ญ 1 or written out in full, ์ฒœ์ด๋ฐฑ์‚ผ์‹ญ์ผ.

You basically repeat this for the next group, but you add ๋งŒ.

3 9 8 7 --
์ฒœ ๋ฐฑ ์‹ญ ๋งŒ

The entire number 239, 871, 231 is thus rendered as: 2์–ต 3์ฒœ 9๋ฐฑ 8์‹ญ 7๋งŒ ์ฒœ 2๋ฐฑ 3์‹ญ 1, which is ์ด์–ต ์‚ผ์ฒœ๊ตฌ๋ฐฑํŒ”์‹ญ์น ๋งŒ ์ฒœ์ด๋ฐฑ์‚ผ์‹ญ์ผ.

There are some notes for the proununciation:

  1. 16 - ์‹ญ์œก [์‹ฌ๋‰ต]
  2. 60 000 - ์œก๋งŒ [์œต๋งŒ]
  3. 100 000 - ์‹ญ๋งŒ [์‹ฌ๋งŒ]
  4. 1 million - ๋ฐฑ๋งŒ [๋ฑ…๋งŒ]

The first one we've covered before. For the last three, they're softening the sound when the previous end consonant meets the ใ… (m) of the next syllable.

Once we learnt this, we had an activity where you would practise with a partner. One person asks ์–ผ๋งˆ์˜ˆ์š”? (How much is it?) and the other person replies based on the numbers printed (as digits). Later on we even progressed to using some toy money (that looks like actual Korean notes but smaller in size, complete with coins) and the person who asked for the price would pay. The other person would have to give change (and say the amount of change). At the end we were all brain dead, especially after torturing each other with amounts that were not written down on the paper.

And then next week we will cover the native Korean numbers, so we are really not done with numbers yet.

Maybe I can tweak the app I created for listening practice for Korean dates to work with big numbers too. I definitely will need it.


There are also 4 grammar topic for this chapter. Today we covered the first.

1. V-(์œผ)์„ธ์š”

This is used to politely make requests, suggestions or commands in an informal setting. I thought this is the imperative, but the conjugation table tells me that it's not as simple as that, so until I know for sure I'll not put a label on it first.


  1. When there is NO batchim, or there is batchim but it is ใ„น, then you add -์„ธ์š”.
    • Example 1 (๊ฐ€๋‹ค): ์•ˆ๋…•ํžˆ ๊ฐ€์„ธ์š”.
    • Example 2 (๊ธฐ๋‹ค๋ฆฌ๋‹ค) ๊ธฐ๋‹ค๋ฆฌ์„ธ์š”
  2. When you have batchim, you add -์œผ์„ธ์š”.
    • Example 1 (์ฝ๋‹ค): ์ฑ…์„ ์ฝ์œผ์„ธ์š”

I don't have an example that ends with ใ„น, except ๋งŒ๋“ค๋‹ค, but the form is ๋งŒ๋“œ์„ธ์š”, which (as of now) I am unsure it's an exception or not (that the ใ„น is gone).

There are some special verbs that don't conjugate according to the rules, and they are:

  1. ์ž๋‹ค - You say ์ฃผ๋ฌด์„ธ์š” to wish someone good night, or ์•ˆ๋…•ํžˆ ์ฃผ๋ฌด์„ธ์š” (more polite, for example to your parents)
  2. ๋จน๋‹ค/๋งˆ์‹œ๋‹ค - You say ๋“œ์„ธ์š”, which means "Please eat/help yourself"
  3. ์žˆ๋‹ค - This is ๊ณ„์„ธ์š”

Naturally this isn't an exhaustive list, it's just the ones where we were given examples.

The formal form was given in an example sentence: ์ฑ…์„ ์ฝ์œผ์‹ญ์‹œ์˜ค. According to the teacher, this formal version is used in business settings. You may also hear this form used on airline announcements (if it's not a budget airline... she singled out Scoot as not doing that, so I wonder if she has personal experience). I've been seeing this a lot more because I've been using Duolingo and they use the formal form for their sentences.

In the last part of the class we had an activity with this form, which was to pretend you were the teacher and give instructions that a teacher would say. (This is from the textbook.)

... Wow this turned out to be a long post. I think it took me 3 hours in total to get this down, along with adding some new vocab to Anki (which naturally involved getting audio from Forvo).

New Flashcards, Covid-19...

The cards for chapter 6 were released today.

Since we were on chapter 5 for so long, I forgot the extra effort required to import all the Quizlet cards into Anki.

I do this because I want the spaced repetition for memorising the vocab. The deck (well, the Quizlet term is "set") is private to certain classes, so I first make a copy that is public and then import it using the Anki add-on. Then I delete the public set.

Next, I add my custom tags since eventually I will throw all the notes/cards into a big "All" deck. I leave them as nested when I'm learning.

Finally, I have to make some adjustments to the imported cards. I also use Forvo to download the audio for each word (sentences where I can find them) and add them in one by one, and turn on the "Add Reverse" flag (also one by one, and usually I have to scroll as the cards come with an image that pushed the field below the fold) so that I get tested on the English > Korean direction.

It seems like the newest version of the add-on has changed to prefix the deck name with "Flashcards". (Newest supported by my Anki version, which is 2.1.15 - I had tried to update to 2.1.20 about 2 weeks ago but realised it wasn's compatible with this add-on... or another. That resulted in me downloading the older version again...)

Anyway, we will be learning the native/pure Korean numbers in this chapter. I also saw words for different foods, and some relating to buying things. I guess we'll be learning that tomorrow.

I borrowed a Lonely Planet guide on Korea and another one on their food from the library (eBooks, naturally) but have not gotten around to reading them yet.

I'm not sure how much time will be spent covering the test tomorrow.

The other thing about tomorrow... To be honest, with Covid-19 getting worse worldwide, I'm a little afraid of going for the class tomorrow.

I know how irresponsible some people are. I attended a training course (~20 people in the class) in the last few days. According to the instructor, it's the last in-person training for a while - the next one in 2 weeks will go virtual. The training location was around the CBD, and I definitely ran into more people than I normally would if I'd been going to the office. Especially the first day, the bus was so crowded I almost couldn't get on. (I took a different bus subsequently.) AND there was someone coughing at the event, which the venue hosts (not the same as the company conducting the training) on the third day sent someone to ask if everyone was fine, and of course no one said anything. The instructor was being nice and said it's just to make sure since he sometimes would also cough due to dryness. Later during the break someone said that it's due to his throat being dry, but please. In such a sensitive time, at least wear a mask?

For my Korean class, I have to take public transport and it's about an hour there and back, so there's always the risk of running into someone... The only thing that's great is that the class size is small, so, well. Hopefully everyone who shows up is responsible.

The measures have become stricter... but... I know my friends (the one still in the class and the one who quit, both) went to Malaysia last Sunday. that worries me because of the situation there right now. I really hope they didn't get it. (And if he feels even the slightest bit unwell, he had better not turn up for class tomorrow.)

I wish the stricter stay-home notice measures applied to everyone who travelled during this one-week school holiday. not just those who return after tonight. The schools having a LOA imposed is fine but honestly I would say SHN is probably more effective... but then again I wonder if there's enough manpower to do the checks that they conduct to make sure that you are home when you get the notice.

Personally, it seems really irresponsible to travel at this time, especially if it's to Malaysia, and if it's for no reason other than a vacation or to do things like getting their hair cut at a discount - such as my friends above did. (They normally do that, anyway, but it's beyond me as the cost savings is not worth the extra time that it will take me to cross the border and back.) This is especially after knowing that there was a mass religious gathering at the start of this month that 16,000 people attended, that is a known cluster, and that contributed significantly to the number to the cases in the country. From the local TV news yesterday, 4,000 of the attendees are still being tracked down.


This wasn't meant to be nearly so depressing.