匿名で小学校に3000冊の本 (Anonymous Donor Gives Primary Schools 3000 Books)

11 Dec

Link here

北海道釧路市の3つの小学校に、匿名の男性から600万円分、3000冊余りの本が贈られ、このうち1つの小学校では11日、「サンタ文庫」と名付けた図書コーナーが作られ、子どもたちは一足早いクリスマスプレゼントに大喜びです。

本が贈られたのは、いずれも釧路市立の阿寒小学校と中徹別小学校、それに仁々志別小学校で、それぞれ1000冊余りずつが届きました。
これらの本は、先月中旬、釧路市内の書店を訪れたお年寄りの男性が3つの小学校を指定して「子どもが喜びそうな本を贈ってほしい」と注文したもので、店員は男性に名前などを尋ねましたが、答えないまま現金で600万円を支払って帰ったということです。
書店では、辞典や図鑑、それに小説など3000冊余りを選んで9日、3つの小学校に届けました。このうち、阿寒小学校では11日、玄関先のホールに「サンタ文庫」と名付けた図書コーナーを設けました。
休み時間になると、児童たちは本棚から好きな本を手に取り、早速、読み始めていました。
小学2年生の女の子は、「本が好きなのでうれしいです。サンタさんにありがとうと言いたいです」と笑顔で話していました。
釧路市立阿寒小学校の柿沼聖哉教頭は、「本当にありがたいです。贈呈した男性へ感謝の気持ちを持ちながら大切に読んでいきます」と話していました。

Translation (my own): 

Three primary schools in Kushiro, Hokkaido have received over 3000 books worth 60,000 yen from an anonymous donor. One of the schools has created a library corner named “Santa’s Library”  on the 11th of December for these books, and the children are delighting in these early Christmas presents. 

The books were gifted to Akan Primary, Nakateshibetsu Primary and Ninishibetsu Primary (all are municipal schools), with each receiving over 1,000 books. 

These books are reported to have come from an elderly man who had visited one of the bookstores in Kushiro in the middle of November and placed an order expressing that he would like to “give books that children would enjoy”, specifying that these books be for the abovementioned primary schools. The bookstore assistant had enquired after the man’s name, but he had not replied, only paying 60,000 yen for the books before leaving. 

The bookstore had picked out around 3,000 books consisting of dictionaries, illustrated encyclopedias and novels and sent them to the three schools on the 9th of December. Akan Primary has set up a library corner named “Santa’s Library” at the hall of the entrance on the 11th of December.

Come break, the children pick their favorite book from the bookshelves and quickly begin to read. A girl in the second grade said with a beam, “This makes me happy because I like books. I would like to say thank you to Mr. Santa.”

Akan Primary’s Vice Principal 柿沼聖哉  said “We are really grateful. We will cherish these books and read them with gratitude in our hearts towards the gentleman who has given them.” 

 

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試験の準備中だ

17 Nov

久しぶりのにっきね。今、もう一どN1日本能力試験の挑戦に会うべく、精一杯勉強していた。語言とは本当に不思議な物だよね。習えば習うほど、自分が本当に何も知らない覚悟がある。かといって、それも外国語を勉強するの楽しさでね。さて、がんばります!

Life of a College Student

14 Jul

Am now having a soft opening for my college life in the extremely gorgeous city of New Haven in Berkeley College and I love the place that I know I will be very sad to leave this place when it’s all over.

The beauty of transient moments lies in the fact that you don’t ever get a second shot at them. Watching 5 Centimetres per Second last night led me to the term 物の哀れ (lit. pathos) for the first time. Human lives are beautiful perhaps precisely because they only endure against the endless current of time for a short while before succumbing to the waves.

On a happier note, studying Korean has its benefits when a article you read in Korean gives you ideas for a paper to be written in English. 🙂 Excited to challenge myself with a topic I have never seen before!

Ways to prepare for the Listening component of the TOPIK examinations

21 Jun

Because I am a fan of positive thinking and because nothing makes a bad situation worse than fixating on it, here’s a post on how I worked on my listening skills for Korean!

1. TTMIK’s Iyagi Series 

BRIEF INTRODUCTION

One word – Iyagi. TTMIK’s Iyagi series is seriously the best set of podcasts ever and I can never take my hat off to the TTMIK team enough for their dedication to their work.

The contents covered span across a wide range

How Iyagi works is that there’s an MP3 file and a PDF file containing the transcript, so if you couldn’t quite catch the words in the recording, you can always refer to the file to check up the words you missed. Most incredible of all, this is all available for free.

There are English translations of the transcripts available as well and they are available in a package. All you have to do is pay a amount of your choice (yes, you read that right, there’s a range of prices for you to choose from) and you get a link from which you can download your files. Pretty neat!

HOW I USED IT

Whilst I believe every one has their own style of using the Iyagi podcasts, I thought it might be helpful if I shared how I used the Iyagi podcasts so here goes!

Firstly, I listened to the podcast in a distraction-free environment. This is perhaps more important than most people would make it out to be, since being able to concentrate on the podcast at hand would be pivotal to your getting the gist of the podcast as quickly as possible. After the first round of listening, type out or jot down the key points of the conversation. There’s no need to transcribe and translate every single sentence being spoken!

For the second round of listening, I typically transcribed and translated most of everything I heard. An extract would look like this:

Seokjin asks Kyeong-eun what she had for  lunch today to which she replies that she had pizza. Seokjin then announces that their topic of the day would be pizza. Kyeong-eun asks about the topics of conversation that pizza could lead to…

After listening for two rounds and typing up whatever key points I think the podcast was talking about, I would read the transcript and check if I had most of the key points down, then look up all the unknown words in the transcript.

I started listening to the Iyagi series when I was at Level 8 of the TTMIK lessons and I could get about 60% of it so no worries that the podcasts will be “too” hard. Have faith and take the leap! 🙂

2. TOPIK Listening Practices

I think this guy here doesn’t need much introduction. 🙂

3. Music Videos

BRIEF INTRODUCTION

Enough said. Listen to the songs if you need a break from listening to podcasts.

Ear candy of the moment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuyNe3AmlSk

4. Variety Shows

The variety shows I watched were namely Hello, Baby and We Got Married (the Khuntoria couple). It was interesting watching the Khuntoria couple in particular since both parties are foreigners and would thus use vocabulary that was easier to understand so at times, one could actually understand the dialogue without reading the subtitles (in Korean and English). The abundance of Korean subtitles also helped to beef up my vocabulary.

And that’s a wrap for this post. Ciao! 🙂

Aside

비나리 달이네 집

5 Jun

I actually completed this book (my first Korean picture book!) about a month or so ago but there were so many words I couldn’t understand so I decided to do a re-reading of it today. Conclusion: I still need have a long way to go!

I got the gist of the story though and I think what my mind is struggling really badly with is the idea that there’s something deeper than the surface text presented in the book. War trauma is a theme that definitely has strong undercurrents throughout the narrative but I’m supremely confused as to what the ending scene could be so I guess this is one book that I will glean new things from each time I pore over its pages.

So a summary right from the blurb:

(I have) never once heard of such a thing as a talking dog. Yet, there apparently seems to be a dog named Dari in the village of Binari that is able to do so. What kind of dog is Dari and also, what’s his life with the preacher he calls Father like? To find out the answers to these, let us embark on a trip to Binari!

What I absolutely adored about the book is the pictures contained within it. I will let the picture do the talking.

Image

I have always had a soft spot for picture books but they are mostly so ridiculously expensive that I could never bear to spend on them since I could buy a couple of paperbacks with the money I was blowing on them. This book was pretty affordable (7,500 won) and I think Gmarket is having ongoing discounts right now so you could probably get it for a cheaper price.
For spoilers on what I thought of the story in the book, click below! If you are stopping here, here’s the reading level I would peg this at: High Beginner to Low Intermediate. The grammatical patterns are highly manageable; it’s the vocabulary that proves a little tricky but hey, that’s the fun of it. 🙂

제30회 한국어 능력시험 결과

30 May

Before I write about my results, let me offer a tip to my future self and other prospective TOPIK takers: Keep your identification slip safe! I don’t know what got over me but I threw my identification slip away and started to panic when I realised that I needed the number to check my results. Thankfully I remembered the unique part of my identification number (last 5 digits at the back) so all I needed to locate was the fixed number for the intermediate exam in Singapore and thankfully, I found it on the registration form for the 30th TOPIK exam.

In the event that anyone is in the same situation as I was in, here’s this round’s fixed numbers for the intermediate exam in Singapore – 19012. I’m not sure that it will be the same combination for all the exam venues though.

CHECKING THE RESULTS

The results came out at 1500 KST so I logged in to check about 1459 KST (1359 locally) and was told that the results would come out at abovementioned time so I promptly refreshed and just like that, my results burst onto the screen.

My brain kicked into shocked mode and I stared uncomprehendingly at the screen for 5 seconds, seeing the characters “4급” and 합격” without really taking it in and then I realised that I had just passed so I started bouncing around in unadulterated joy. Here’s the breakdown:

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I am honestly very surprised at my score for Listening; Listening has always been a giant handicap of mine, regardless of whichever language I take a listening exam in so it’s a pleasant shock to have obtained such a score.  I remember that I actually blanked at some of the questions so yes, am very happy with this! TTMIK’s Iyagi series is definitely the main reason why I could brush on my listening skills very quickly (I took the exam after less than a year of self-studying Korean #truestory), coupled with many long sessions of listening practices after work and on weekends. My listening score was at 60 or so, hitting the 40-50 range at times in the months of January-February, but it got better as the exam date drew nearer.

I expected my mark for Vocabulary and Grammar to fall within the 70-80 range since that was the normal range when I did the practices so no big scares there. I will work hard on improving my knowledge of grammar patterns in particular!

Writing was the section I was most worried for since the sentence structure component was a killer in my opinion and I scribbled some rubbish for the fill-in-the-blanks part so I was hoping that this session wouldn’t the reason for my not being to get 4급; I was actually just hoping very hard for a pass. So this is definitely beyond my wildest dreams, thank you guardian angel! That being said, I definitely can and should improve on my writing

And last but not least, my score for reading was also one that I’m happy about, seeing as I had been scoring 70 or so as late as mid-February. To that, I must thank the Chosun Ilbo (haha) for their articles; I struggled for hours on a 500 character one but felt really accomplished when I finally uncoded what it was trying to say and reading news articles is akin to pumping yourself with vocabulary vitamins. A single reading could throw up 30-50 unknown words/grammatical patterns so it’s definitely a good method to boost one’s confidence in Korean and to prepare for the reading section of TOPIK!

Thanks be to Lang-8 and all the native users who corrected my horribly written entries, as well as my awesome penpal, and also to Shanna of Hangukdrama definitely for all her very useful tips and Alice of wonderrrgirl for her post on her TOPIK experience, it helped tremendously!

TAKING TOPIK INTERMEDIATE AFTER LESS THAN 1 YEAR OF KOREAN SELF-STUDY…

is highly demanding and a feat I don’t think I could have pulled off if I hadn’t had the luxury of a gap year and the optimum conditions of little distractions (took my last Japanese test in Dec 2012, no other ongoing lessons, no other activities since I was working for the first quarter of the year) plus all the right resources (TTMIK, Lang-8, Chosun Ilbo etc.). I will post up a more detailed list of the resources I used along with the course of my preparations for the TOPIK Intermediate for interested readers later on.

It took 4 months of very intensive Korean study, for which I was easily studying Korean up to 10 hours a day; if it wasn’t reading, it was practising for TOPIK questions or listening to podcasts/doing listening practices or writing essays in Korean.

Yet, if you were to ask me what getting a TOPIK 4 means in relation to my proficiency in Korean, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. At the end of the day, it is still a mere sheet of paper that says you took an exam and you passed. There is still much to be found wanting in my skills, particularly in speaking and writing and no amount of testing can prove that unless I’m thrown into Korea and told to speak, think and adapt to the Korean culture.

Getting a TOPIK 4 does however, mean that I at least have the reading and listening skills to understand articles and podcasts and that in itself is a great blessing to me. 🙂 Also, it was a fun experience writing an essay in Korean; the TOPIK examination is definitely more holistic and challenging than the JLPT in this aspect. I don’t see myself taking the Advanced TOPIK exams until the later half of 2014, early 2015 (which should be interesting, since the Oral component is being rolled out) or perhaps even later. For now, I hope to be able to finish a full-length Korean novel soon and to watch variety shows unsubbed.

Thanks be to any reader who has survived to the end of this very long-winded post. 🙂

坂本真綾

29 May

Chanced upon 坂本真綾’s podcast on Hangukdrama’s website today and was won over by her voice! She’s like the Yoo In Na of podcasts (for me) at least; both of them have really soothing voices that just draw you in and seem to make you cast whatever frustrations you have out the window.

Sakamoto Maaya is also the OVA of Ciel Phantomhive in Black Butler, which I’m utterly astonished by since Ciel’s voice hadn’t sounded that soft and gentle but I suppose that’s a voice actor’s talent; they speak softly, yell and scream etc when they have to. So brilliant I don’t even…

In other updates, I have finally completed 獣の奏者:探求編 but will be reading it again since much of the vocabulary that I had trouble with still remain pesky little creatures to remember.

Also, I’m starting again on reading the excerpts of 수난이대 contained within my Korean textbook. It’s an absolute horror to read since there’s quite a lot of vocabulary and grammatical structures that I haven’t seen before but I will get to the end of it. It’s apparently a very pivotal part of Korean literature (I believe it talks about war (WWII if I remember right) and how it has affected the lives of people). There’s lots of symbolism in the text and I actually completely missed it until the questions within the textbook referred to them. Native Koreans think that it’s a hard text for a foreigner so I’m expecting a whole new level of struggling when it comes to completing it but persevere I shall and one day, I will get there. Thank god for Lang-8; at least I can post up questions and ask for help when  I’m stumped by the permutations of words within a sentence. 

 

Quote

생긴 것도 그래요. 누구는…

12 May

생긴 것도 그래요.
누구는 동글동글한 호떡처럼 생겼다고 하고,
누구는 덜 굽힌 군고구마같이 생겼다고 하고,
또 누구는 어느 길가 바쩍 마른 장승처럼 생겼다고 하곰
누구는 남자인데도 하회탈 가운데 각시탈처럼
예쁜게 생겼다고 하거든요,
사람 생김새야 모두 비슷해서 보는 사람에 따라사 다르지 않겠어요?

The last sentence is my favourite (this is presuming I understood it right haha). In English, I think it’s this: Everyone carries similar faces so wouldn’t it stand to reason that a person looks different according to the looker? 

Gorgeous description, can’t wait to finish this book 🙂

 

30th TOPIK Intermediate Examination

23 Apr

So I tried my hand at the 30th TOPIK Intermediate Examination last Sunday (21st April) and this is how it went.

12:50 pm Seated in the classroom and began to attempt to get into Zen mode.

13:10-13:20 The teachers began passing out labels to stick onto our mobile phones so that we could pass it to them. The mobile phones were returned to us after the entire TOPIK Examination was concluded. Markers were also distributed (You have to use markers to mark your options, the written answers can be written in pencil or pen). If you make a mistake on your paper, you can raise your hand and ask for the teacher to pass you a correction tape to correct your mistakes. I’m not sure if the correction tape they use is specially formulated but it looked like a generic type of correction tape to me, so I suppose you could always bring your own.

(This may seem very obvious, but for future Singapore TOPIK Exam takers, please plan your bladder emptying process early. My classroom was at level 2 and the female toilet there only had one cubicle so… Also, the announcement that the test is starting came about 1:25 and the teachers would start distributing papers then so thinking that arriving at the classroom 5 minutes before the paper starts is good is a pretty bad idea to have.)

VOCABULARY AND GRAMMAR

I thought that the vocabulary section was quite alright but some of the options in the questions asking you to pick out the wrong sentence was tricky. I panicked a little and got a little confused trying to guess a number for the questions I didn’t know since I had to flip both and forth throughout my papers so in retrospect, it might have been better if I circled the options I thought would be correct for the questions I’m unsure of first. Also shaded all my options after I was done with all the questions on one page as opposed to shading them as I was doing the questions.

WRITING

One phrase: 맙소사. I really didn’t like the questions for the written answers this time round so I’m crossing and re-knotting my fingers that I will do fine for this section. The essay was alright, but the written answers…

(30 minute break)

LISTENING

Listening was alright as well. It was quite funny to hear everyone flipping to the next page really quickly after the second question but when it came to question 12, there was little flipping of the pages (since most of us needed to listen to the passage a second time). The questions at the back were hard as usual, totally blanked out over the rental cars bit. (Yes, rental cars I kid you not.)

READING

Nothing unusual for reading; the normal level of challenge was presented. Reading a lot really helps in reducing the time needed to read each passage; I wasn’t doing the paper at the same time as the listening section since I can’t really multi-task well. I could scan through some of the shorter passages though my brain started dying towards the back with the longer passages once the deeper topics were raised such as how the budget for art is insufficient for artists etc.

So do I have a good idea of what I’m going to get? Nada. I’m just crossing my fingers super hard that I can get what I aimed for. For now, I’m going to ease up on the intense preparation I went through for this examination (am still going to read Korean articles and listen to the Iyagi podcasts) but I will also begin to read my Japanese novels and start to hone my Japanese listening skills (embarrassingly, I think my Korean listening skills may be even better than my Japanese listening skills #howisthispossible).

회자정리(會者終離)

19 Apr

A Lang-8 user included this idiom in his comments and I was struck by the beauty of it. It’s a sad phrase but one that rings so true, particularly with the current stage of life I’m in now. 

Everyone leaves some day and everyone heads to whatever place is there after life alone, as we headed to this world alone. Reminds me of the Chinese idiom 落葉歸根 (Falling Leaves Return to their Roots). It’s not exactly meant for use in describing the whole state of life and death coming full cycle; it was meant to describe the journey of a person who leaves their hometown when young and returns to it when old to die there, but I guess some stretching of the idiom will suffice here. Everything comes full cycle in the end I guess. There is a scene I like from the series “Chronicles of Ancient Darkness” – the one where the hunters killed an animal and thanked it for its sacrifice, knowing that they in turn will one day die and become food in turn. This inter-connectedness, this knowledge that you are just a small speck of insignificant dust on the surface of a planet that has outlived you many times over is a comforting thing at times. At least you always know what the destination is so what’s left up to you to fill in is the process.