Monthly Archives: October 2017

SIDE DISH-ney Land

Welcome to SIDE DISH-ney land!


As I mentioned in my article entitled “Kimchied,” I was surprised (and delighted) to see lots of side dishes (반찬 – banchan) which restaurants serve with the main dish ordered. The only side dish I was expecting to see when I first ate in a restaurant here was what Korea is famous for – kimchi. I was wrong. I never thought also that there are different varieties of kimchi and it is not always made with cabbage.

I would probably write a separate article about kimchi in the future but for the meantime… let’s go back to SIDE DISH-ney land.

Side dishes are put in small plates and are served either in advance of (or along with) the main dish. If restaurant owners are afraid that customers might be too hungry that all the side dishes will disappear like magic before the main dish is served, they will have the two (side and main dishes) served together. Some restaurants are generous, they allow their customers to ask for additional side dishes.

There’s no extra charge for the side dishes. It’s “service” (When Koreans in restaurant and other business establishments say “service” it means free). As to how many kinds of side dishes restaurants offer, it’s not the same. If I remember right, the least is 3 and the most is 10. Of course, I, I guess others as well, prefer to dine in restaurants where there are  more side dishes. Most of the time that just with the side dishes I would already be full and how I wish I could just bring home the main dish and have it for my next meal at home.

It is really the “side-dish culture” that makes it so difficult to lose weight here in South Korea especially if one does not cook and has to depend on restaurants mainly for meals. One has got to have strong self-discipline in order to succeed in not picking the side dishes. It is so hard not to taste palatable foods just chopsticks away from you.

There are different kinds of side dishes. I have already tried a lot of them.  It is safe to say that majority are made with vegetables. People who love vegetables would love it here. But aside from vegetable side dishes, there are some made with meat, fish, tofu and egg as well.

Some restaurants also offer fermented squid or octopus sides dishes and crunchy squid threads. There’s one restaurant where I dine at least once a week mainly because of their stirfried dried anchovy side dish.

Shown in the picture below were the side dishes served when I had lunch with some Filipino teachers after the seminar I conducted at Namwon in North Jeolla Province sometime in June , 2017. The main dish we ordered was fried mackerel. Aside from the side dishes we were also given soups. I’m sorry that I can’t name the side dishes in Korean.


The side dishes and the soup, with their corresponding numbers in the picture are stir-fried zucchri (1); seasoned spinach (2); kimchi (4); steamed pepper (5); soy-braised black soybeans (6); spicy cucumber salad; (7) seasoned radish (9); bean paste stew (10); fried mackerel (13); fermented pepper (15); seaweed soup (16); fermented squid (18); seasoned seaweed (19); stir-fried seaweed (20); and seasoned soybean sprouts (21). There are some items that I can’t identify.

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Source: SIDE DISH-ney Land

Technology and the 21st Century Teacher


          The central argument upon which I anchored my previous research work entitled “Factors Affecting The Use of Computers for Classroom Instruction in South Korean Universities1 is “information technology has significantly altered the landscape of teaching and learning.” Indeed, it drastically changed the ways teachers taught and students learn thus school administrators and teachers need to respond accordingly and effectively.

          At the turn of the 21st century education leaders have been reconfiguring educational paradigms that became almost obsolete because of the rapid changes in technology. Nowadays, emerging models of educational frameworks have included technology in both the expected outcomes and support mechanisms of the new paradigms.

          The P21, a national non-profit organization that advocates for 21st century readiness for every student, developed the “Framework for 21st Century Learning” (F21CL) to define and illustrate the skills, knowledge students need to succeed in work, life and citizenship.2 The two parts of the framework (see figure below) are student outcomes (as represented by the arches of rainbow) and the support system (as represented by the pools at the bottom. One of the 4 clusters of student outcomes, is “Information, Media, and Technology Skills.” The article explains that to be effective in the 21st century, citizens and worker must be able to create, evaluate  and effectively utilize information, media and technology.

           And to be effective 21st century teachers, it has become A MUST that the teachers themselves should have those skills just mentioned. We cannot have “the blind leading the blind” scenario.


The 21st Century Student Outcomes and Support Systems

          Schools need to respond by making the needed investment. They have to upgrade their existing facilities and purchase the necessary equipment in order to cope up with the demands of the new educational paradigms they have drawn up in order to keep abreast with the demands of the 21st century.

          Not only in terms of equipment and facilities that the schools should focus on. They need to pay attention also to their manpower – particularly the teachers  who plays the key role to ensure that success of the endeavor.

          I made an assertion (in the previous work aforementioned) that integration of technology in instruction and assessment is inevitable and the teachers, being at the center of the delivery of learning need to accept it. The F21CL clearly defines the responsibilities of teachers (Standards and Assessment, Curriculum and Instruction, Professional Development and Leaning Environment.) Much of the responsibilities will be shouldered by the teachers. The said framework even specified clearly what is the role of teachers in the attainment of cluster 4 of students outcome – that is to “Enable innovative learning methods that integrate the use of supportive technologies, inquiry-and-problem-based approaches and higher order thinking skills.

          But the application of technology in instruction is a contentious area that caused (or is causing) a lot of arguments and controversies in the academe. Despite the immense benefits that technology brings to education, some teachers are still either unwilling or hesitant to embrace the application of technology to the teaching-learning process.

          I specifically identified also (in that same work) the pedagogical benefits that computers and internet provide. For example, the internet has become the teachers and students’ virtual library. Projectors and media players make the interaction between the students and their mentors more efficient. For the teachers in particular, the educational and organizational softwares and web browsers give them more resources and enable them to create better presentations.


          But apparently, not all teachers are convinced. They do not believe that computers benefit teaching and learning. They are the ones who do not use presentation softwares preferring to either just dictate or write on the board everything they wish to convey to their students. They are ones who refuse to use available course softwares opting to just open the prescribed textbook and read from it while teaching.

          But why?

          There are two possible reasons.

          First – these teachers were exposed to educational philosophies different from those of the ones to whom embracing technology is a welcome development . This could be the reason they have different attitudes and views about the value of computers in teaching and learning. Their educational beliefs just don’t jibe with using computers in the classrooms.

          Second and last – they simply (heaven forbid) do not know how to use any office software suites (word processing, spreadsheet, database and presentations applications) and specific educational software  provided for them. They have difficulty navigating around any computer-generated environment. They are so helplessly not computer-literate that no amount of tutoring would help them learn.

          Presumably, the reason they could not use the prescribed course software packages (that  make things easier for them and their students) is that they don’t have the ability to do so. Even if assuming a course software, at a particular time,  suddenly doesn’t work, its contents can be copied and pasted to any presentation software. But that again could be another problem… they probably don’t know how to create presentations.

          Worst, they could simply be just aversive to technology.

          Or maybe, they are simply lazy. They are computer literate but are not willing to try new systems being introduced.

          The question that begs for answer is, “How can a teacher without the required 21st century skills teach such things to students?”

           Professional competence for teachers is continuously evolving  as technology keeps creeping into the foundations of education. Alongside pedagogical skills, another skill through which competence of 21st century teachers should be  gauged is how extensive and effective do they apply technology (computer) to teaching and learning.

          Perhaps it’s about time that computer literacy be strictly considered when hiring teachers.

           On the part of school administrators and owners, they have a responsibility of ensuring that when they introduce a new computer application of learning the teachers are given enough time and sufficient training to become familiar with it.


          The following is one of the recommendations I made in a previous  study I have been referring to.

          “It should be noted also that among noted also that among the variables that are significant statistically teachers’ perception on the value of computers has the positive influence on their extent of use of computers for instruction in Korean classrooms. Thus, it is important for school administrators to keep that perception positive.  The study also found out that a key factor in this positive perception is the teachers’ level of preparedness in using computers to facilitate learning. Being proficient in  using computers is different from being familiar in using a new computer application for learning. Even the most proficient among computer users need time to learn an application introduced to them for the first time. Teachers tend to perceive the value of computers for classroom instruction negatively if they were not given enough time  to acclimatize themselves with a new system being introduced.”

          According to Edwin Creely3, “I was challenged by the ideas from Don Idle that we are textured for technology and that technology has always been and will ever be part of the deepest learning that we do.  Learning to move technology and the digital technology of the 21st century into the heart of the learning process is an ongoing challenge for educators. So, the practice of being a literacy educator in the 21st Century must be, has to be, inclusive of digital literacies, including, most importantly, the use of social media.”

          As Janelle Cox puts it, “A modern teacher is willing to try new things, from new educational apps to teaching skills and electronic devices. Being innovative means not only trying new things, but questioning your students, making real-world connections and cultivating a creative mindset. It’s getting your students to take risks and having students learn to collaborate.”4


(E.Creely)(            teachers_to_teach_21 st_century_learners.


“Till We MEAT Again”

Some of the meat dishes I tried here in South Korea are somewhat similar to the meat dishes in the Philippines.


갈비탕 – Galbitang/Kalbitang

One Korean beef dish that reminds me so much of our own “nilagang baka” (Filipino beef stew with clear broth) is 갈비탕 (galbitang/kalbitang). (I had to tell my Filipino friends in the Filipino version of this article that G and K in Hanguel are used interchangeably thus kimchi when written in Romanized form could also be gimchi.)

Kalbi, in English, is short ribs. When Filipinos cook beef stew, it’s also the ribs of the cow they choose. But while in the Philippines we add Chinese chard, potato, cabbage and saba (a banana variety used primarily for cooking), with kalbitang, mixed are radish, dangmyeon (starch noodles) and onions. In a restaurant, I was once served kalbitang with egg. I was also told that it can also be cooked with kimchi. That I have not tried yet.

Tang means soup. Synonymous to tang is another Korean word – guk. Thus, if at the end of the name of a certain Korean dish there’s either tang or guk, expect that the meat is cooked with soup. 삼계탕 (samgyetang) for example is soupy chicken dish. It is comparable to the Filipinos’ tinolang manok (chicken stew) which is cooked with either green papaya or chayote and ginger. What primarily goes with samgyetang when prepared are red dates, ginseng, onion,  and garlic.

Another Korean meat dish that has striking similarities with another famous Filipino food is 설렁탕 (seolleongtang). For kalbitang, the part of the cow used are the ribs but for this dish called ox-bone soup in English it’s the leg bones. Usually prepared with spring onions only but one time I have tried one with radish and thin wheat flour noodles. It’s similar to Philippines’ bulalo (beef marrow stew.)

What about pork dishes?

I’m familiar with two… one of which is actually my favorite. These two Korean pork dishes is not like any of the pork dishes I got accustomed to in the Philippines. They are uniquely Korean.


감자탕 – Gamjatang

The first one is 감자탕 (gamjatang). It’s pork neck bones that are used to make this Korean meat dish and usually cooked with potatoes (primarily) and other vegetables. There seems to be a disagreement among Korean food experts as to what gamja in gamjatang refers to – is it the potato or meat around the pork spines bones? So, it’s not settled yet as to how should it be called in English – spicy pork bone stew or potato stew. For the meantime, forget about the name. Just enjoy the taste.

The second and last pork dish… and the last among the Korean meat dishes I wish to feature in this article but not the least because it’s actually my favorite meat dish here… is 뼈해장국  (ppyeo haejangguk).


뼈해장국  – Ppyeo Haejangguk

Others would simply call it haejangguk, which means, according to existing literature, hang-over soup. I’m more used to calling it ppyeo haejangguk for that’s how it’s written in the menus of restaurant where I ate them. One thing that I have noticed is that it is somewhat similar to gamjatang minus the potatoes. Both are spicy but when you order you can request that it be made less spicy or not spicy at all. I was told that there is a variety of haejangguk where instead of pork spine it’s ox-bone that is used.

Of all the meat dishes I tried here in South Korea, ppyeo haejangguk is my favorite. It doesn’t mean though that I need to eat it often because of hang-over. I just love the taste and the spiciness of this meat dish. The price ranges from 5,000 KRW to 7,000 KRW.

Two other meat dishes I came to like here are the following:


제육덮밥- jeyuk deopbap


There are more meat dishes here in South Korea  but the five I presented here are the top 5 in my list. It is very possible that after my 5 years being here I may how not tried some them yet.





족발 (jok-bal)

I wrote an article in Filipino about Korean meat dishes in order for my friends in the Philippines to know the different ways Koreans cook meat. This is the English version of the said article. The beef, pork and chicken dishes I mentioned in that write-up were limited to the ones that I already tried. I focused mainly on what I literally saw on the bowls and plates when I ate them… like what kind of meat were they, which  parts of the cow, chicken or pig were used, and what vegetables and other ingredients were mixed. I added some personal observations.

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