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If you follow my blog here, please consider going to my new website/blog . . .

I am posting there regularly.  Tonight I published 3 new posts. One of which is about the new African Pygmy hedgehog that Julianne and I got . . . exciting!
Please also consider signing up to receive email notifications for new posts.

I am slowly getting my new website,, and blog up and running again. Today, I published my first EFL/ESL book review,

Jason Ryan Teacher EFL/ESL Book Review #1: Games For Language Learning, 3rd Edition

There are now 20 posts, for example this one, about every day life life in South Korea pictures, and more are on the way.

Please go check it out.

Hi all,

I will be writing and blogging and posting pictures from now on at the following website:

My general plan is to write about the following topics . . .

1. Living and teaching overseas

2. EFL/ESL teaching methods

3. My photography and pictures

4. Movies, TV shows, and books I’m reading

5. EFL/ESL book reviews

And a few other odds and ends . . .

I’m still working out how I want the website/blog to look, and will also be adding links to blogs and websites I like and follow.

Hope you like it,


It’s been quite a while since I blogged here at kimchiicecream.  Julianne and I have been in China now since September 2010, and I went through some dry spells in terms of blogging . . .

But over the past month or so I’ve been blogging up a storm at my China blog,

Some of my favorite posts are,

English in China – Painting and “Very, Sweet, Sexy” Chinglish on Side of a Car

Nighttime in Martyr’s Park, Changsha – Whipping a humming spinning top (no idea what actual name is) IV

Nighttime in China 15 – Mom and Daughter Doing Homework

Nighttime in China 4 – Massage Parlor

Because almost stepping on a dead rat barefoot first thing in the morning is fun–NOT

Overloaded bike in China

Chinese Food – Giant Steel Heating Tank for Food Dishes – II

Chinese Food – Intestines in oil with some veggies (yes, that’s what I said, lol)

But a Chinese man singing “Can Belto” . . . in the key of “O” is beyond my tolerance abilities

Chinese Food – “I’d like to order the duck.”

2011 Hunan Botanical Gardens, China – Cherry Blossom Posing Time!

Drying Fish and Laundry on a Line in Changsha, China

My blogging style over the past six months has been more photoblogging with much shorter stories.  Some readers of my Korean blog have ‘suggested’ in the past that I could do with uploading a ‘few’ less photos–and due to abysmally slow Net speeds where I am they’ve gotten their wish, lol.

Anyways, if you’re bored and need to kills some time while you’re not busy teaching, doing shots of soju and eating sangyapsal, etc, check out the pics and stories on my China blog.


While I’m not living and teaching in South Korea anymore I can’t help but notice and pay attention to news related to Korea.

Shooting  “a 30-minute film about a surreal encounter between a fisherman and a female shaman” is just plain cool, and I love Park Chan Wook‘s films–my favorite being Sympathy for Lady Vengeance.

Click this link to see the story, Director shoots first major movie solely with iPhone.

As usual, Korea loves pointing out any and all ‘firsts’ that it accomplishes: “PROne, the agency representing Park Chan-Wook, claimed the iPhone movie would be the first ever to be shown in cinemas.”  I don’t know if this is true or not, but if it is I think this is one occasion for which congratulations are in order.

I seriously am curious about the creativity behind this kind of a project, and am intrigued by how Wook “describ[ed]the process as more democratic since everyone with a smartphone took part.”

I wonder if the film will go international with a major distributor. For now, the movie will be “shown in 10 cinemas nationwide from January 27 for four days.”

Almost makes me want to go back to Korea–almost.


I decided to launch a new EFL/ESL teaching blog for 2011 as it looks like I’ll be doing what has become a short term career for another couple years (hopefully not longer, but we’ll see).

I used to post a lot on and then I decided to move over to as I like wordpress better for blogging.  You can read a lot of older posts at the blogspot site, and for most recent posts check out the wordpress site.  I will try and make a ‘best of’ or ‘most useful’ blog post here of my older material at some point as I get this blog up and going.

From now on please read the blog for posts about teaching and other related topics.  Julianne and I may live and teach in a few more different countries, and I will not be starting new teaching blogs for each move we make as it’s too much work.

EFL Teacher Learner will be my blog home for writing about teaching for the remainder of the time I do this career.  I hope  readers continue to find my writing interesting and useful.

Below is an excerpt of the first blog post I have published on



EFL/ESL University Listening Test Design, Writing, Editing, and Recording – Do’s and Don’ts

I went today to do my first listening test recording in China for my university. I think I’ve probably done 50+ listening test recordings over the past six years I’ve been teaching, and I’d like to think I’ve accumulated a bit of useful experience and ideas about how things should be done.

As a native English speaking instructor I always struggle to find ways to integrate myself into the L2 educational environment–and in China it’s no different than in South Korea in terms of trying to remind teachers to give me the information I NEED TO KNOW, and to keep me in the communication loop with all the parties that are involved in the process of designing, writing, editing, recording, and then editing and checking the final product.

If you’re new to EFL/ESL teaching, I strongly recommend you purchase a good book on test design.  There are three titles that I’ve come across that are really good.

Assessing Speaking by Sari Luoma. Cambridge Language Assessment Series, 2004

Testing Second Language Speaking by Glenn Fulcher. General Editor: C. N. Candlin. Applied Linguistics and Language Study. Pearson Education Limited, 2003

Testing for Language Teachers, Second Edition by Arthur Hughes. Cambridge Language Teaching Library Cambridge, 2002

Of the three books, I’d recommend the 3rd title, Testing for Language Teachers, Second Edition, as the most useful book for any type of test you might have to make for the four language skills. For new EFL/ESL teachers who are beginning a career this book is an invaluable resource.

Yet at the same time the EFL/ESL training, experience, and methodology books we have can cause us unnecessary stress when it comes to designing tests, writing them, and then (in the case of listening tests) doing the recordings.  Knowing how something should be done, or can be done, and then seeing first hand how untrained, inexperienced, incompetent, or working under poor conditions teachers ACTUALLY produce tests can be . . . ahem, unsettling.

Depending on your personality this may result in anything from a shrug, and saying “Okay, let’s get on with it,” to banging your head into a brick wall as you intermittently do shots of the cheap local libations (not, of course, that I’ve ever done that, lol).

Before I (finally) get to some Do’s and Don’ts, let me say one final thing: ‘professionalism’ is a huge cultural difference.

Let me say that one more time: PROFESSIONALISM is a cultural difference.

I’ll write about this topic in depth some other time, but for now suffice it to say that during today’s recording session I kept hearing other university instructors say to me, “You’re so professional.”  And it made me want to ‘scream’ a wee bit because I was biting my tongue from pointing out all the small issues I kept seeing crop up in the process for the listening test recording we were doing, and the bigger issues I wanted to say something about but didn’t because there was no time to do anything about them, nor did the general education culture and setting allow for the proper rehearsing and language pronunciation issues that kept appearing during the recording session I had with my Chinese English teacher partner.

It’s definitely a blessing and a curse to be seen by other teachers, and your supervisors, as being a ‘professional teacher’–especially when the behaviors or actions they’re commenting on are, in my mind anyways, things that EFL/ESL professional career teachers should do WITHOUT THINKING . . . anyways, back to the topic at hand.

Do’s . . .

1. Ask your university contact person for their cell phone and email, and then ask who the other people are that are involved in the test recording process and production line. (Oh yeah, and ask them if they have YOUR cell phone and email info–ask them to READ IT TO YOU, lol.  Sometimes ‘loss of face’ will prevent a teacher from admitting to you that they lost your info, or forgot it, or whatever is going on–and then later when they need to tell you something they can’t because they don’t have your contact info.)

2.  Ask your university contact person the following explicit questions.

a) Who will approve the listening script and questions?

b) Who will be my partner for the listening recording?

c) Who is available to edit the written script and questions for the listening test?

NOTE: Then ask again for the contact information for these people to keep everyone involved in the communication loop.

3. Do use the ‘spell and grammar’ check in MS WORD.

4. Do SPEAK OUT LOUD anything and everything that will be recorded.  My senior year high school English teacher taught me perhaps the most valuable editing trick is to read out loud the text because unnatural sounding language is easier to detect and revise, and errors that you missed while only reading also sometimes get caught by the ear when the eye misses it.

5. Do PRACTICE and REHEARSE the text to be recorded before you get into the recording studio (IF POSSIBLE–it’s not always possible).

6. Do PRACTICE and REHEARSE with your partner, and any other speakers involved, before you get into the recording studio if possible.  Often, if your partner is a L2 (non native English speaker) there are words they do not know  how to pronounce, sentences with difficult stress patterns, and vocabulary or cultural items that they do not know.  You can help them practice whatever they need to BEFORE getting into the recording studio where it’s not a good time to have to stop and start, stop and start, because they are making errors that cannot be used on a recording for testing purposes.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Please click on this link to read the rest of this post.


I haven’t been posting much here lately since Julianne and I moved to China, but since things are so tense in South Korea right now with the whole North Korea nutbar situation I thought I’d post this awesome new flash mob video on youtube.

At the time of this posting it was at <span><strong>9,032,488 <span style=”font-weight: normal;”>hits and climbing . . . here’s the video.</span></strong></span>

<object width=”420″ height=”385″><param name=”movie” value=”;hl=en_GB”><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always”></object>

Whoever the brain was behind this promotional use of a viral flash mob they are a genius!  You can read more about the video and singers in <a href=””>this article</a>.

I’d LOVE to see this done at COEX Mall in South Korea–seriously, can you imagine the reactions?!

I normally tend to just post videos I see online on facebook, but decided that this one was worth reopening my Korea blog cause it’s so awesome.

PLUS, it’s fun to scoop <a href=””>Roboseyo</a&gt; with the whole finding cool and fun videos and posting them on my blog first!!!

Hope everybody back in Korisneyland is well, and that nobody decides to get all anti-Merry Ho Ho and start a war–even Scrooge would say that’s bad for business.

Stay safe, and happy.


Haven’t been blogging regularly because I was unable to sort out how to upload pics easily and integrate them into my China blog.

Well, I finally got around to resolving that issue, and I’ve got several new blog posts up.

Check out “Chinese Remote Control Baby” and several others.

Hope you like’em.


Again, apologies for not blogging regularly . . . between adjusting to life in China, prepping for teaching, and the Net going offline for two days/being as slow as a snail overdosing on valium . . . yeah, my posting has suffered.

Anyways, here’s an excerpt from a blog about our first trip to a hospital.

Click on the link below to read the rest of the story–if you dare.


A few days ago Julianne and I were on our way home from picking up groceries at a department store called “Metro.”  It’s similar to COSTCO and carries a lot of foreign foods and other things that we can’t get at the other department stores in Changsha.

While getting into a taxi to head home Julianne’s foot slipped on the floor mat and went flying at high speed under the driver’s seat to collide with something metal and unrelenting–she let out a cry and immediately began sobbing.  Needless to say I was freaked out and tried to calm her down thinking that she just pinched her foot or toe or something minor . . .

It was NOT a minor injury.

PROVISO: If you are at all squeamish you should probably stop reading now.

Since it was impossible for either of us to see her foot, and in particular her big toe, because of the bags piled on our laps Julianne said she’d just wait the 3 minute drive till we got  home to look at the injury closer.  She told me she thought her big toe nail had been bent back, but she couldn’t tell how bad her injury was at the time.

Outside the taxi we looked down at her big toe to see a huge white crease running diagonally down her toe nail.  The toe was already swollen to twice its original size, and blood was oozing out the running edge of the nail.  We couldn’t tell if whatever had done a Godzilla on her toe had pierced the flesh underneath or if it had ‘just’ done a number on the nail . . .

Julianne hobbled up the four flights of stairs (no elevator in our apartment building, sigh) and after I got her sitting down I grabbed a lamp and we gave it a closer inspection.  Julianne had been saying she would just clean it up in our apartment and let it heal itself without a trip to the hospital, but after each of us took a closer look at it, and I pointed out we had no clue what had stuck her or how severely, we decided it was “first trip to a hospital in China time.”

I picked up my cell phone and called our university liaison.  I explained that we needed help to get Julianne to the hospital, and help transalting with a doctor.  Her reply was, “I have to go to a meeting.”

Now this probably where my blood pressure rose severely, and I began chanting to myself “don’t start yelling, don’t start yelling, be nice, be nice, be polite, be polite” .  . .

I tried explaining what had happened, and that the injury was such that it shouldn’t wait several hours until it was convenient for her schedule . . . and got the “I have a meeting in an hour” reply again.

Alright, when my lover is in agony, needs medical care, and might have an injury with infection setting in in a place out of sight . . . well, that’s where my cross-cultural diplomacy goes out the f’ng window.

I reply, “Okay. I’ll call ‘high ranking person X’ and ask him to help us.”

Suddenly everything is copacetic (don’t get to use that word every day) and Miss I-have-a-meeting transforms into Miss I’ll-be-there-in-two-minutes.  I hang up after telling her to let me know when she’s arrived with someone to drive us to the hospital.

One minute later, I’m not exaggerating, I get a call saying they’re waiting for us outside the apartment compound.  Julianne hobbles down the four fligths of stairs, and out of the compound to the car.  It’s then I find out we’re going to the campus military hospital.  It never occurred to me to be alarmed because in my mind I was doing the newbie-in-a-foreign-culture-thing and I assumed a military hospital would be similar to ones in Canada . . . yeah.

We drive about 200 meters to the clinic (hospital implies a large building in my mind, and this was not a large building).  Arriving at the driveway we have to circle around a portion of concrete that is falling to bits and cannot support the car’s weight . . . this should have been my first warning of what was to come.

Walking inside there are no lights, and no people.  My heart sinks and it’s then that I realize how all pervasive siesta time is in Changsha.  From lunch time till about 3pm everyone is napping or taking a rest from work–and this includes doctors and nurses.

Our liaison walks around knocking on doors and calling out for someone . . . and after a minute or two a doctor comes out of room dressed in a collared shirt and cotton pants with bare feet in sandles . . . nice.  He pulls on his white doctor’s coat (good thing, cause later on I would have been asking if he actually had a medical liscence based on how often I had to ask for him to do certain things) and we get Julianne into an ‘examination room’ . . .

Inside the room the doctor pulls out a package of q-tips and asks Julianne to sit down on a bed.  I look at him and wonder when he’s going to wash his hands . . . but after searching the room for a sink and soap the one I see in the corner makes me cringe like it’s crawling with vipers–it was filthy, and the bar of soap looked like a biohazard.

I wait one more minute, and then ask him if he’s going to put gloves on.  I think he understood some English because that’s when he reaches into a cupboard and pulls out a package of gloves.  By this point a nurse has arrived, and the room is getting crowded.  The doctor, nurse, liaison, and Julianne and I . . .

This is when Julianne and I begin asking questions.

1. What does he want to do?
2. Does he want to cut off the toe nail?
3. How will he do that?

4. Will he use sterile instruments?

The first three questions get translated and answered pretty easily.  The doctor wants to cut off the nail to see if there are any open wounds or punctures underneath it.

But ‘sterile’ was a word our liaison didn’t know and we had to try and explain it . . . and even after I tried several different ways of explaining and defining the term she didn’t have that glint of “I get it” in her eye.  Julianne and I give up temporarily and gesture for the doctor to get on with it.  Both of us watching like hawks to see what he will do, and where the instruments will come from.

The nurse reaches into a steel and glass cabinet that looks circa 1920′s and pulls out a stainless steel tray with a lid.  Inside it are surgical scissors and other tools . . . all of which are HUGE in dimensions.  I’m sure my eyes must have bugged out as much as Julianne’s were at that point because the doctor picks up scissors that looked like the kind you’d use to open up someone’s chest–not delicately cut off pieces of toe nail!

Julianne then asks “Do you not have anything SMALLER?” . .  . . .

Click on the link to read the rest of the story.

First hospital trip in Changsha, Hunan, China — “You wanna do WHAT with that?! Uh-UH! We’re outa here!”

It’s been a while since I blogged . . . sorry about that.

I’ve been having issues with trying to figure out how to continue blogging in the style that I enjoy.  I usually write my stories with pictures sprinkled liberally throughout the text.  But I’ve been unable to do that here because of the upload speed, servers disconnecting and reconnecting in the middle of uploading pictures (just one picture seems to be impossible), and some other issues.  I’ve been trying to figure a solution so that I can keep blogging in the way I enjoy . . .

But it’s not working.  Time to reinvent my blog style.

I think what I’m going to have to do is write my stories here, and upload my pictures to my flickr account.  I’ll try to write short comments, and in some cases short stories, under pictures that warrant them.  I think if readers of my blog finish a post and then go to flickr to look at the pictures that that will work for now.

Anyways . . . here’s a post I’ve been sitting on for a while.

First day of teaching Advanced Listening ESL/EFL to sophomore university students in China . . . wow, these guys are GOOD!



Oh, and one last thing.  The title of my blog is “Serenity in China”–and that’s what I’m looking for.  The little troll that’s been posting comments lately, on my old blog and new, can go elsewhere and prove that he’s right, and I’m wrong, somewhere else.

Disagreeing with me is one thing–but it’s how one goes about it that determines whether or not it stays on the comments section, and if I reply or not.


Flickr Photos