Monthly Archives: April 2012

Counting Units in Korean

In English, one must say, “two sheets of paper” rather than “two papers”. In Korean, the term jang (장) is used to count sheets, or paper-like material in general. So “ten bus tickets” would be beoseu pyo yeol jang (버스 표 열 장), literally, “bus ticket ten ‘sheets'”. In fact, the meanings of counter words are frequently extended in metaphorical or other image-based ways (Lakoff, 1987).

For instance, in addition to counting simply sheets of paper, jang (장) in Korean can used to refer to any number of thin, paper-like objects. Leaves (namunnip 나뭇잎) are counted using this count word. In this way, the ways in which a particular count word can be used is generally very open-ended and up to the construal or creativity of the speaker.

There are two systems of numerals in Korean: native Korean and Sino-Korean. Native Korean numerals are used with most counter words. yeol gwa (열 과) would mean ‘ten lessons’ while sip gwa (십 과) would mean ‘lesson ten.’ Sino-Korean numerals are used with many time counters.

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Seoul and shopping



Seoul, South Korea has many shopping centres and markets throughout the city. The largest market is the Dongdaemun Market, which supplies stocks to thousands of retail fashion shops around the whole of Korea. Near Dongdaemun market are several large mall complexes that specialize in fashion goods of all sorts, from formal attire to casual, and from clothes to all kinds of accessories including bags and belts. Some of these are Migliore, Hello APM and Doota.

Myeong-dong is Seoul’s prime shopping and entertainment area in downtown, which contains some of the city’s top stores and fashion boutiques. The area has been subject to much investment and many of the financial institutions such as banks and investment companies are located in the area. Nearby is the Namdaemun market named after the Namdaemun Gate, a large market famous for selling “anything under the sun”. Insa-dong, a narrow street is also known for its antique stores, traditional teahouses art galleries.

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Let’s get wet in Song kran Festival!!

Songkran is a Thai word that means “move” or “change place” as it is the day when the sun changes its position in the zodiac. Songkran or Water festival in Thailand is coming in mid of April between 13th -15th which is the hottest month of the year. As people believe water will clean away bad luck. In the other hand water is cool down for this hot peak season.

Before Thai is adapted to international New Year. Songkran is traditional Thai new year celebrate by visiting temples, sprinkling water on Buddha images in reverence, and sprinkling water on each other’s hands as an act of wishing good luck. During Songkran occasion Bank, office and family related business all most close. A lot of Thai resident are go back home to their family. This is an occasion for family and friend re-unions and spending time together by religion activities such as go to temple in early morning to pray and bathing the Buddha image by pour fragrant water over Buddha statues. In Thai culture is strict in respect senior people such as elder people, grandparent especially family members. A ceremony known as “Rod Naam Dum Hua” is young Thais seek the blessing of their elders by pouring scented water over their hands.  After that it’s a water-throwing free-for-all – traditionally, the custom was to pour water gently over other people.

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Learning Chinese Characters Without Rote Learning

To learn Chinese characters, first of all we will need to know some history and features about this ancient writing. The history of Chinese characters can be traced back into more than 3000 years ago, and at the very beginning of its development most Chinese characters are “pictographic”, which means you can easily guess the meaning by looking at the shape of the characters. The examples are 木(mù) (wood or tree),目(mù) (eye). Both characters have the same pinyin. The former character ‘木” used to be looking like , which by the shape looks like a tree. The top horizontal stroke imitates the branches of a three whereas the bottom two strokes imitate the roots of a tree.  The latter character “目” originally looks like  and is actually a picture of an eye.

As time goes by, only using picturesque characters could not meet the increasing demand of Chinese characters. There then came other groups of Chinese characters. One of those groups is called “indication”, which means you can guess the meaning by looking at different parts of the characters. For example, the character “林(lín)” has two trees in one character. The word “林” means “forest”, which actually indicated by the parts of the character. Instead of using rote learning to remember Chinese characters, we can learn characters much more efficiently by analysing the development of the characters and their features.

Another important group, which represents a very characteristic feature of Chinese characters, is called “picot-phonogram”. The characters in this group are often composed of two parts (mostly left-right structure), and the left part indicate meaning of the characters (usually pictographic characters) whereas the right part indicate the pronunciation of the characters. For example, the word “淋(lín)” (meaning “get wet”) has its meaning part  in its left and the phonetic part “林” in its right.

Why Chinese characters?

After learning Chinese for a while, many students feel that the more they learn, the more confused they sometimes get about this language. For example, pinyin “tā” can mean “he”, “she” or “it”,and “jī” can either mean “chicken” or “machine”. However, when we have a look at their according Chinese Characters, we will find though they have exactly the same pinyin, they actually have different Chinese characters to go with them. That is the reason why start from pre-intermediate course, we are introducing more and more Chinese characters during the lessons.

Moreover, through learning Chinese characters, it will not only help the students get a better understanding of the Chinese language, but also introduce them cultures and ways of thinking of Chinese people. Let me take an example of the word “女(nǚ)” (meaning woman or women), which is actually a pictographic word whose ancient form looks like . This original form for woman depicted her in a bowing position with two arms crossed together like a servant. It is shows humbleness and inferiority position of women in Chinese culture when the word was created. In ancient Chinese culture, women neither went to school to receive education nor went out for work. Instead, they were the group who are doing the housework and serving their husbands. Of course, things have been changed for so long and in modern China women generally have the equal right for education and work as men do. But still, in some parts of China, especially in rural areas, people still believe only sons can carry the family lines and therefore much more important than daughters.

Would it be interesting and helpful to learn some Chinese culture through learning Chinese characters?

By Anne Ma (Mandarin Language Consultant)

Some stories about our Japanese Courses 7

Hi everyone,皆さん、おげんきですか。

In my Japanese classes, as usual, apart from regular activities of speaking, reading, listening, writing and dialogues making and performing, with use of the course book, “Genki 1”, I used flash cards that had letters, words and/or pictures. Also, audio-video based materials and had singing activities. One of the visual aids was a DVD borrowed from the Japan Foundation. (The DVD was made by the Ministry of Primary Industry of Japan.) It discusses fundamental merits and features of Japanese diet and its traditional food. Some experts in the industries and scholars also spoke in the DVD. It was very interesting.
Our newly started Intermediate 1, we began Kanji learning systematically apart from other aspects of the language learning. We use “Kanji-no Hon” (by K. Aitchson, 2001, MacMillan). The learning includes reading, writing and exercises of applying Kanji words and the idioms into sentences. In future, occasional homework of writing an essay, diary or letter with use of such Kanji words will be given to consolidate their knowledge and competence. The students are quite keen to increase Kanji and sometimes even ask me to write new Kanji on the board when we are studying with other book or materials.

As for Japanese society, technology, economy, etiquette etc, I introduced or informed with the articles about the following.
1.    Reports from a Japanese magazine “Nyuusu ga Wakaru” (Mar. 2012):
The magazine shows the pictures of some dogs and cats that are or were in Japan. Nowadays, cats and dogs live for many years just like their owners. Last December, a dog, Buusuke died at the age of 26 years and 9 months. The dog lived for the longest lifespan in the world according to the Guiness Book. Also the magazine shows the picture of a cat, Tomonari-kun. He is 26 years old and he still lives happily.

One of sources, which I read and showed in classes, reports that the Ward Office (government) of Suginami-ward of Tokyo, gives the Certificate to pet-owners whose pet lived longer than 16 years old, to encourage looking after the pets well.

2.    News from a magazine Jenta Sydney (9.3.12):
(a)    The World’s tallest tower Tokyo Sky Tree celebrates its completion and it will be open for the public soon.
(b)    Japan leads the world in cloud computing readiness, in trade industry. (News originally from Singapore, Feb. 22 Kyodo)
(c)    Toyoto dominates the U.S. consumer magazine’s 2012 top car picks. (News originally from TAMPA, Florida, Feb. 28 Kyodo)

( – So much of amazing/inspiring news!!)

Japanese Teacher, Toshiko Jackson

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April 2012
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