Monthly Archives: December 2012

Christmas and New Year in Hong Kong

“Merry Christmas” in Cantonese: sing3 daan3 faai3 lok6

“Happy New Year”: san1 nin4 faai3 lok6


Hong Kong WinterFest for Christmas

Not exactly a Chinese festival — but still the people in Hong Kong do celebrate Christmas. Hong Kong used to be a British Colony and it has adopted many of the British traditions such as celebrating Christmas and New Year. Hong Kong puts on a winter festival after Thanksgiving that is a highlight of the Christmas season.

The buildings along the harbor put on a light show with Christmas and New Year’s decorations. During WinterFest, most of the city is aglow with festive lighting, and Victoria Harbor is a dazzling sight especially when the fireworks burst on New Year’s Eve.

Giant Tiffany Christmas Tree at Hong Kong WinterFest

    Christmas Tree in Hong Kong


New Year Hong Kong Countdown Celebrations

The Hong Kong New Year Countdown is a breathtaking display that brings out the dramatic beauty of Victoria Harbour and the city’s renowned skyline. This year’s Hong Kong New Year Countdown will be the biggest in the event’s history and will, for the first time, have pyrotechnics launched from both sea and land. The show will feature an eight-minute display of pyrotechnics, beginning on the harbour and moving landwards in three layers culminating in a display from various buildings in Wan Chai with the iconic harbour-front Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre as the focal point.


Hong Kong Chinese New Year Celebrations

People in Hong Kong also celebrate the tradition Chinese New Year which falls on the first day of the first lunar month.

Shops across town put on sales as both the young and old buy clothes and other goods to make a fresh start to the new lunar year. Meanwhile, the younger generations receive lucky red packets of cash from their elders, homes and businesses spring clean and paste red banners on their doors as blessings, shoppers stock up on auspicious foods, temples fill with prayers of fortune and clouds of incense, and almost every soul in town becomes consumed by one goal – to get home for a family meal on the festival’s eve.

Visitors can impress locals around this time by learning to say the traditional festival greeting, “kung hei fat choy,” which loosely translates as “congratulations and be prosperous.”

The ancient Chinese once welcomed the new lunar year by scaring away evil spirits with firecrackers, but that’s no longer feasible in such a densely packed city. However, Hong Kong makes up for it by putting on a stunning parade and pyrotechnic show on a scale that would send even the most brazen of demons scampering away with its ghoulish tail between its legs.

 Lucy Luo, Trainer of Cantonese Language at Sydney Language Solutions

Kim Yuna (김연아), the princess of figure skating

Not many Australians would doubt that Ian Thorpe is the nation’s sports hero. Every kid want to swim like him and feel proud of his name since he made the country’s image as the strongest country in water sports.

Like Ian Thorpe, in Korea, we do have Kim Yuna (김연아) who is a South Korean figure skater. You can easily see her face on tv commercials and catalogues of major corporations in South Korea.

She’s a one of a kind figure skater and her career supports it strongly. She is the 2010 Olympic champion in ladies’ singles, the 2009 World champion, the 2009 Four Continents champion, a three-time (2006–2007, 2007–2008, 2009–2010) Grand Prix Final champion, the 2006 World Junior champion, the 2005 Junior Grand Prix Final champion, and a four-time (2002–2005) South Korean national champion. She is the first South Korean figure skater to win a medal at an ISU Junior or Senior Grand Prix event, ISU Championship, and the Olympic Games. She is the first female skater to win the Olympic Games, the World Championships, the Four Continents Championships and the Grand Prix Final. She is one of the most highly recognized athletes and media figures in South Korea.

In May 2011, Kim began to host a show called “Kim Yu-na’s Kiss and Cry”. The program portrayed the challenging process of ten popular entertainers as they learned how to figure skate from professional skaters. The ten stars included comedian Kim Byung-man, singer U-Know of TVXQ, Krystal of f(x), IU, Son Dam-bi, actors Park Jun-geum, Seo Ji-suk, Lee Ah-hyun, Jin Ji-hee and speed skater Lee Kyu-hyuk.

Kim has stated that she hopes to become a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after the 2014 Sochi Games.

Her challenge and inspiration would never stop!

Ashley (Korean teacher)

Example of a Writing Task OET for students to practice during Christmas holiday

You are a health professional at the Royal North Shore Hospital. Read the case notes and complete the writing task as follows:


Patient: Mr James NaismithOET_Writing

DOB: 25.12.1940



Symptom A, symptom B, symptom C

Examination shows sign A and sign B

Diagnosis: disease A

Prescribe drug A 25mg tid


Reports compliance with therapy A

Symptoms B and C are worse

Examination shows sign C

Increase dosage of drug A 50mg tid


Chronic condition A since 2002

Surgery A in location A – 1996

Episode of acute condition A in 1995, resolved


Father died of disease B at age 65

Social history:

Widower, lives alone in Sydney Retirement Solutions

Quit smoking in 2005

Emergency contact is son who lives in Homebush, mobile: 0555 555 555

Plan: refer to specialist to discuss possibility of therapy A

Using the information in the case notes, write a letter of referral for further investigation and discussion of a new management plan to the specialist Dr Michael Jordan, at 55 Main Street, Newtown.

In your answer:

–          Expand on the relevant notes in complete sentences

–          DO NOT use point form

–          Use letter format

The body of the letter should be approximately 180-200 words

How to edit your IELTS essay

Hi IELTS students,

In the last 7-10 minutes of your writing task, it is very important that you keep in mind the following to help you achieve Band 7 in Writing.

  1. If you’re running out of time and you have a lot of ideas that you haven’t expanded on, be brave and make some cuts.
  2. Only pick the best ideas and expand on those.
  3. Don’t feel like you have to write down and expand on all of your ideas.
  4. A shorter paper that is well written and well organised will earn you a better result than a longer paper that is poorly written and poorly organised.
  5. You must meet the minimum number of words required. You will be penalised for answers shorter than the required minimum limit.
  6. Don’t keep writing about a subject just to add words and sentences, and certainly don’t start repeating yourself.
  7. Leave at least seven minutes at the end of your essay to go back and check over grammar, sentence structure and vocabulary usage in your work.
  8. Re-read the essay to make sure that every sentence is well linked and flows.
  9. Clean up any spelling or grammar mistakes that you might have made.
  10. Clean up any other extraneous information that you might have written that doesn’t fit into your paper.
  11. Check whether there are any fragments or run-ons and delete them.
  12. Check for sentences that are too short or too long and modify them.
  13. If a sentence is too short, it is possible that it does not have an identifiable subject and verb.
  14. Break up long sentences into two smaller separate sentences.
  15. Be careful when you use any “big” words.
  16. The priority is to have a correct and well-structured essay, not a long essay with beautiful words. Don’t try to impress the examiners with difficult words and sentence structure, just show them you can develop and explain an idea through your essay.

Na Pham 2012 ©

Some tips to become a good interpreter/translator

Australianism in Interpretation and Translation

Australian delegates sometimes use colloquialisms which are quite difficult to transpose into other languages. These words are often used deliberately to be amusing.

Some expressions such as ‘things are crook’ and ‘scumbags’ are often heard on TV and radio and we often think they are English. However, they are more likely to be Australianisms and may not be completely understood at an international forum.

Therefore, it’s very important for an interpreter at a beginner level to prepare for how to interpret these type of expressions into your native language. Here are some examples:

–          To cut off your nose to spite your face.

–          You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

–          To hook up with.

–          To get on the gravy train.

–          Rubbery figures.


Preparation of a glossary

For any translator or interpreter, it’s always important to build a glossary of important words in many fields such as banking, tax, finance, construction, government, architecture and medicine . When checking the meaning and putting these words into the glossary, you can prepare yourself and have a rough idea of what terms are likely to come up in the translation or interpreting assignment.

The words in the glossaries can be arranged in alphabetical order so you can sort them and find them easily when you need to. Alternatively, they can be arranged in topic order too.

Keep adding more words to your glossaries as you continue your research in many fields. Glossaries are often more useful than dictionaries as they are more specific and related to the field, while dictionaries often only focus on the more common and general words.

Don’t worry about these words being complex as after two or three times of being used they will become familiar to you.

Dr Na Pham – Sydney Language Solutions – 2012

Christmas in Korean

Christmas is just around the corner! Unlike sunny sizzling Sydney Christmas, we have a cold (approx -5’C) and snowy Christmas in Korea. White Christmas indeed!

Let’s learn one Christmas Carol in Korean! Here is a song performed by the K-pop super group, DBSK , when the 5members were together. It is still considered as the best ‘a cappella Carol’ in Korea.

고요한 거룩한 (Silent Night, Holy Night Korean Version)  by 동방신기(DBSK)


[믹키] 고요한 밤 거룩한 밤 어둠에 묻힌밤

[최강] 주의 부모 앉아서 감사 기도 드릴때

[영웅] 아기 잘도 잔다 아기 잘도 잔다


[시아] 고요한 밤 거룩한 밤 영광이 둘린 밤

[유노] 천군 천사 나타나 기뻐 노래 불렀네

[영웅] 왕이 나셨도다 왕이 나셨도다

[시아] 왕이 나셨도다 왕이 나셨도다

[All] 왕이 나셨도다



Goyohan Bam Gorughan Bam



Goyohan bam gorughan bam

Odume mudhinbam


Juye bumo anjaso gamsa gido durilte


Agi jaldo janda agi jaldo janda



Goyonhan bam gorughan bam

Yonggwangi dullin bam


Chongun chonsa natana

Gippo nore bullone


Wangi nashododa

Wangi nashyododa


Wangi nashyododa

Wangi nashyododa


Wangi nashyododa


– Ashley Jang (Korean language teacher)

Korean New Year

Korean new Year is typically a family holiday. The three-day holiday is used by many to return to their hometowns to visit their parents and other relatives, where they perform an ancestral ritual. Many Koreans dress up in colorful traditional Korean clothing called hanbok. But nowadays, small families tend to become less formal and wear other formal clothing instead of hanbok. Many Koreans greet the New Year by visiting East-coast locations such as Gangneung and Donghae in Gangwon province, where they are most likely to see the first rays of the New Year’s sun.[2]


Tteokguk (떡국) (soup with sliced rice cakes) is a traditional Korean food that is customarily eaten for the New Year. According to Korean age reckoning, the Korean New Year is similar to a birthday for Koreans, and eating Tteokguk is part of the birthday celebration. Once you finish eating your Tteokguk, you are one year older.


Sebae is a traditionally observed activity on Seollal, and is filial-piety-oriented. Children wish their elders (grandparents, aunts and uncles, parents) a happy new year by performing one deep traditional bow (rites with more than one bow involved are usually for the deceased) and the words saehae bok mani badeuseyo (Hangul: 새해 복 많이 받으세요) which translates to Receive many New Year blessings, or more loosely, “Have a blessed New Year.” Parents typically reward this gesture by giving their children new year’s money, or “pocket money,”

3 quick ways to improve your English pronunciation

Pronunciation is a key factor in learning a language and there are many ways that you can improve to help make yourself more clearly understood.

Here are just a few tips that you may want to try:

1. Find out what you are doing wrong

If you don’t know what you are doing wrong then you can’t improve your pronunciation. Ask your teacher or native English speaking friends to listen to you and correct you when necessary. Ask them if they can understand what you are saying. It may be a little embarrassing and time consuming, but it is an ideal way to learn.

2. Slow down and breathe

People can get very nervous when using a new language and try to speak very quickly to give an impression that they are fluent. However, speed does not equal fluency and in fact, speeding up instead of slowing down can make it even more difficult for people to understand what you are saying. Remember that not everyone who is fluent speaks quickly. Think about the way you approach your own language. Do you speak very quickly all the time? I am sure that you don’t.

3. Make use of your face-to-face time with your teacher

Having a native speaker face-to-face with you on a regular basis has to one of the best ways to improve your pronunciation. Observe how your teacher speaks, how he/she positions their mouth and what their face looks like when they speak. Is their face strained or relaxed? Do they speak in a monotone or do they sound interesting? Listen to the way they make sounds and try to mimic them. Ask them to correct you and tell you what you are doing wrong.


Why is good pronunciation essential when speaking English?

When we learn a foreign language we can often become so caught up with the spelling, grammar and writing that we forget about the speaking. For example, you may know simple words and be able to construct simple sentences but you can’t rely on simple pronunciation to be understood.

If your pronunciation is simple but so poor that native English speakers cannot understand what you are saying, then you may wish to reconsider the importance of it in your language tool kit.

One of the difficult aspects of any language is the accent. Just because someone may speak the same language as you doesn’t mean you will have the same accent. People in Australia speak English but sometimes their accents are so strong that native English speakers from other countries struggle to understand what they are saying.

The key to getting by then is to aim for good pronunciation and focus on reducing your accent so that when you do talk to native speakers they don’t have to struggle and be uncomfortable understanding what you are saying. If they do, you will find that the conversation is stilted and may become difficult. You will not be able to make yourself understood and chances are that you will become frustrated and reluctant to try out your language skills again.

Your teacher is the best person to help you with any questions you may have about what is good pronunciation and how you can attain it. The main point, however, would be to speak English at every possible opportunity that you have and remember that practice makes perfect.


5 simple tips to reduce your accent when using English

When you have spoken English have you ever been misunderstood because of your accent?  Have you had to repeat yourself again and again to be understood? Was it embarrassing, did it create a problem or cause you anxiety?

It is true that you may understand, read and write English really well but it is also essential that you can speak it clearly enough so that people can understand you; after all, the joy of a new language is to be able to use it freely and communicate clearly.

You should not worry about trying to lose you accent altogether, but rather just concentrate on reducing it so that your words are understood.

Here are a few simple tips that may help you reduce your accent:

1. Listen to English every day

Whether it is a recording of your class, an audio book, music, the radio or podcasts, there are many interesting ways to listen to English every day. Mix up what you listen to and try to make it fun!

2. Record yourself speaking

People are often embarrassed by the sound of their own voice recorded but this is a great way to hear what you really sound like to others. Self-awareness of what you sound like can be a great step in improving yourself. Consider reading the same piece of English each day (or each week if you don’t have time) and try to improve step by step.

3. Practice reading out aloud

Reading out aloud is a great tool for reducing your accent, particularly if you are able to read along with an audio book at the same time, or perhaps something your teacher has recorded for you. Why not record yourself reading part of a book and compare it to the actually original audio? Mimicry can be a great learning tool.

4. Copy role models

Do you have someone in your life that speaks English how you would like to speak it? If so, ask them if you can work with them to reduce your accent. Ask them to correct you when you are saying something wrong. Don’t forget your teacher can always be your role model.

5. Speak English as much as possible

This tip may sound obvious but it is true. If you surround yourself with English speakers and actively listen and talk to people as much as you can, you will find that your accent will reduce naturally.


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December 2012
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