Sunday, July 6, 2014

Keeping count

At the end of an activity in class, I will either clap or count the kids down in an attempt to get their attention. If they’re chit-chattering like angels (which is rare), I count backwards from five. 

By zero they’ve turned in their seats and their eyes are on either myself or Co. If it’s quite rowdy, the clap works. As a teacher in Korea, you have to make a plan! My (ingenious) clap song/chant/activity goes as follows:

Me: “Clap your hands once!”

Class: *One clap*

Some smartie kid in the back: *Claps five times*

Me: “Clap your hands twice!”

Class: *Claps twice*

Me: “Clap your hands three times!” (At this point most of the kids are clapping along.)

Class: *Claps three times*

I’ll usually repeat the activity to ensure that I have their full attention before moving on. With the little ones this can take some time. I'm happy to note that we now have better clapping activities than this one... phew. 

Learning to count in Korean classes, Busan

Learning the Korean language:

Counting. Who knew it would become a focal point in my life? I count my kids down, I count claps, I count my blessings and in previous posts I’ve been counting the number of days I’ve lived in Korea. My greatest hustle now is learning how to count all over again; this time learning to count like one of my third graders in my new language- Korean/Hangeul.

I like language in use. Using my skills for daily activities like grocery shopping, speaking to a neighbour or even to the kids helps it stick. When we use a funny video at the beginning of a lesson, or if I draw two stickmen with a romantic story, it’s awesome seeing the kids more interested and wanting to learn a new English expression. Ok maybe not the romance one for the little ones but it sure worked for the teacher's class! Tap into aht motivates them and we are moving! Don't tap into it and you'll be sure to see drool, pen-tapping and the backs of heads. Trust me on this. I know. My motivation? Wanting to know how much the veggie man wants from me when I buy his dusty carrots or how much is that Americano? I’m tired of holding out a few notes and coins after guessing what he wants, only for him to count the correct amount in my hand anyway and give me the change. Lame Nadia. Lame.

Learning Korean for beginners - a crash course! 

Last week in my bi-weekly Korean class, we were practicing reading and writing numbers in Hangeul. So I figured that for the purpose of revision, you dear reader and interested Korean expat, would get a short counting/number education too. 

Right. For me to even TRY and think about writing out 7396 in Korean, I needed to get my head around the words/writing of 10, 100, 1000 and 10 000.

Learning to count in Korean as a beginner
*Buddy Tarryn made awesome pics to accompany her notes and these images stick really well in my head when I have to attempt quick number thinking. She drew a ship, a bird's beak, cheon... and a man.*

This past weekend, buddy Tarryn and I practiced the number system. With Korean words rolling off our inexperienced tongues, it was time to start combining numbers into something bigger and sexy like 7396. What works for me when trying to figure out a number bigger than 9 is to break it down straight away.   












sah bek

pal shib









chil chon

sahm bek

gu shib


This website over here will give you a better idea regarding the two counting/number systems in Korea. Anyway, that's all from me this week. I hope you're motivated to keep on learning the Korean language - let me know how it goes :)  

Do you have any tips to improve counting in Korean? 


  1. Drinking games were the quickest way for me to learn numbers. For sino-korean numbers (il, i, sam, sa...) play sam-yuk-gu (3,6,9 like our 7s game where you clap every time there's a 3,6 or 9 instead of saying the number). For Hana-korean numbers, play Dalggi-Dalggi (and learn some fruit names at the same time!). That one's a rhythm/memory game. Keep the beat, remember who's who and drink if you mess up. :)

    Ask pretty much any Korean to teach you next time you're out. It's a lot of fun.

    1. They call dalggi dalggi the "name game" in this post:

    2. Thanks lady! A quick way to learn :)

  2. Thanks Matthew! It's still early days for me and my language skills but I'm working on it.