Sai Gon eating: Food court, Pham Ngu Lao, District 1

17th August 2019

Asiana Food Town@Chợ Ẩm Thực Dưới Lòng Đất

This is in the backpacker district of central Sai Gon, a new underground food court and mini ‘street-market’. The goods, and prices, are aimed strictly at tourists, while the food was typical food court fare. However, it looked quite nice, there was clearly a lot of thought and effort into the design.

The redeveloped site of Asiana Food Town and Shopping Centre.

Time to try the dimsum

The dimsum was OK … nothing special. Time for some typical Viet sweets:

A variety of Vietnamese sweets, beans and jellies
Jelly and condensed mild (and an awful lot of ice).

In the interests of reportage, I should go back and try other dishes … MANY other dishes 🙂

Adult Class, Level 3 (class 1): Stereotypes.

16th August for 19th August 2019. AEF 3B pp. 28 – 29

Review: comparatives and superaltives

Theme: stereotypes

Objectives: increase vocabulary and sentence building skills. Encourage more talking, especially between students, using target language.

Warm up: Just to get the student’s settled in (and to allow for students arriving up to an hour late) and to help them build longer sentences. Compare the following:

Image result for bus in singapore
Image result for bus in sai gon

We have two public transport vehicles, two buses. The first is from Singapore, the second from Sai Gon.

EXAMPLE: The bus from Singapore is cleaner than the Sai Gon bus.

To extend this, using a relative clause:

The first bus, which is from Singapore, is cleaner than the second bus, which is from HCM City.

To further extend, using relative clauses and discourse markers:

The first bus is from Singapore, which is known for its cleanliness, and is the most attractive as well as looking the most modern of the two. Having said that, buses in HCM City, despite being somewhat dirty, are remarkably cheap, just 2 000 VND for students, 6 000 for adults.

Try making complex sentences from these pairs of images:

Image result for winter in scotland
Winter in Scotland
Image result for street scenein hcm city
December on the streets of Sai Gon
Image result for playing chess
Playing chess
Image result for bungee jumping
Bungee jumping
Image result for Harrods food hall
Harrods food hall, London, UK
Image result for bread sold on street in vietnam
Street seller in Vietnam

Now compare these two songs: The former (first) is British from the 1980s. The band is The Specials, the song is called ‘Stereotypes’, the latter (last) is a modern pop song from Vietnam.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGxSP98ymw8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz4FbACtfd0

And that leads us into tonight’s theme: stereotypes. This means having an idea what people will be like because of where they are from, how they look, how they speak etc.

EXAMPLE: what do you think of this man:

Image result for Bob dylan in hoodie

What do you think of him – how he looks, how he’s dressed. What job do you think he does – does he even have a job ? Where does he live ? Is he, in fact, homeless and sleeps on the street ?

The answer …

He is music legend and Noble-prize winning writer and poet Bob Dylan

Image result for Bob dylan lp covers

Discuss these stereotypes (noun) and stereotypical (adjective) images:

All Vietnamese men are lazy and constantly smoke
Image result for asian maths students
All Asian children are excellent at maths
Image result for women shopping
All woman are obsessed (absolutely love) shopping
Image result for fat eating americans
All People from USA are obese (too fat) and talk too much and too loudly
Image result for english people drinking tea
All English people drink tea … ALL the time

To what extent do you agree ?

I agree / I agree 100% / I agree to an extent / There may be some truth there /

I disagree / I totally disagree / That is very unfair / That is offensive /

That’s just a stereotype / I know for a fact that isn’t true !

Try to explain in full sentences giving reasons and using discourse markers.

Quick fire: In groups, discuss; what do you think of when I say:

Made in China

Thailand

People in Hanoi

Apple iPhones

What do you think of this image ? Does it represent the real Vietnam, or is it just to attract tourists ?

Related image
Related image

IELTS 5 – 6.5: I come from a land down under.

15th August for 21st August 2019. Pages 10 – 12 (Workbook pp 8 – 9)

Lesson focus: Reading; speed reading to extrapolate information in a limited time.

Theme: Culture shock, specifically life in Australia.

Objectives: Review new vocabulary and phrases and give a chance to practise using them. Continue work on Englishes – how written and standard English can seem to bear NO relation to spoken English.

Today’s reading is centred on life in Australia for non-native speakers so, to set the scene, a warm up song from the Australian band (and one-hit wonders) Men At Work and their chart-topping song, ‘Down Under’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfR9iY5y94s

What stereotypes are displayed in this video ?

Image result for Australian stereotypes

Language review: The first lesson generated many new words and expressions. The following adverbs should be a part of the students’ everyday vocabulary:

always / usually, normally, frequently / sometimes / hardly ever / never

definitely / probably / possibly / unlikely / definitely not

Vocabulary: precious / arrogant / mug (two senses) / lingua franca /

To ask politely: May I …. (May I ask your name ? May I open the window ?)

Discourse Markers: although / despite, despite that / however / on the other hand /additionally / furthermore

Collocations: To practice law or to practice medicine (a lawyer, or a medical professional)

Expressions: Fair exchange is no robbery / If I’m not mistaken

Idiom: To let off steam / time flies (when you’re having fun)

London slang: well knackered (‘well’ is used to mean very and ‘knackered’ can mean very tired, or broken. EXAMPLE – I’m well knackered = I’m extremely tired.

PRACTICE: Try to use as many of the above by commenting on these photos. This is not a writing test; I only want one or two sentences. I’m more concerned with lexical choice AND delivery – how you use stress, intonation and rhythm.

EXAMPLE:

Related image

These young Asian people are letting off steam by singing their hearts out in a Karaoke room, if I am not mistaken. Very probably there are professionals, maybe they practice medicine because they look very stylish and affluent.

Image result for Arrogant lawyer
Image result for mother and child
Related image

Book work: today we will be developing speed-reading, that is, reading a large amount of text in a limited time, in order to find specific information. Students will have to scan over the text and home in on what they need to know.

As a break, here’s a little clip about Australian slang:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QCgqQdmr0M

What is this news story about ? How much slang did you hear ?

Group work: Prepare a guide to Sai Gon for tourists.

Allow students access to the class computer for Google images if required.

Students, in groups, can organise an itinerary for two of my friends who will be visiting Sai Gon soon. They want to see all the iconic sights and partake of typical Vietnamese activities. Having said that, their interests differ widely.

Image result for english married couple

Simon loves culture, history and museums as well as being into sports and physical activities. Therefore he wants to see and try as much as possible. He has heard about snake wine and is very curious.

Jenny finds museums unbearably boring and dull. She is a shopaholic, can shop till she drops. Furthermore she can’t take the heat and is also vegetarian. 

Clearly, they will need to compromise … what do you suggest ? Be creative – think outside the box.

Include 

What to see and do // where and what to eat // what to buy //

What they can do for entertainment 

Travel tips

Safety and scams 

Cultural differences – what should people do or NOT do in Vietnam ?

Use of interesting adjectives to describe the city centre.

Groups can then present to the class, with all students taking turns speaking. I shall be listening for relevance, pronunciation and use of expressions and discourse markers. Furthermore, I may learn some interesting tips.

Image result for Saigon centre hcm
Image result for City museym hcm

End activities:

Just a minute: To practice for the speaking tests, give the students a choice of subjects and let them speak for one minute without repeating themselves, deviating from the subject or hesitating.

Call my bluff: Class in two teams. One team reads a low-frequency word and the team give three possible definitions including examples of usage. The other team has to guess which one is the correct answer.

Adult Class Level 3: Murder mystery.

Wednesday 14th for Thursday 15th August 2019. AEF 10B pp. 98 – 99

Vocabulary: Crime and investigation

Grammar: Tag questions

Review: icons and symbols, relative clauses

Warm Up: Asian icons

Last week, the book focused on American icons, so let’s bring it closer to home. First activity, students in small groups have to suggest some Asian icons or iconic images. I want to know their ideas on actors, buildings, products or companies, cultural images or even street scenes.

For example:

Image result for LG logo
Image result for Vietnamese girl in ao dai

Next, relative clauses and sentence building. Here’s an example:

The Merlion, which is a symbol of Singapore, is a mythical creature that is half lion, half fish although no lions have ever lived in the city state.

The above sentence has three points of interest. Firstly, there is the relative clause used to add more information. Here the subject is the Merlion, a thing, so the relative pronoun is ‘which‘. Secondly, I use a discourse marker to connect ideas together in one sentence, namely ‘although‘, linking two opposites (a positive to a negative and vice versa). Lastly, I used the term ‘city state’ to prevent me from using the name ‘Singapore’ twice in the same sentence.

Try these … I’m looking for the correct relative pronoun and then the most detailed sentences or short passages.

Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Image result for Viet food

Vietnamese Pho (noodle soup with beef or chicken)

Image result for Confucius

Chinese philosopher Master Kong (Confucius in English) 551 BC – 479 BC

Finally – write a sentence about YOUR hometown. If it’s not Sai Gon, explain where it is, how to get there, what it’s famous for (or if it’s not particularly famous for anything). As a link to tonight’s theme, here’s an icon from MY hometown:

Sherlock Holmes, who was a fictional detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, lived at 221B Baker Street which in is central London. Today it is a museum, admission £15 for adults, attracting tourists from all over the world.

Then it’s time to get to tonight’s topic – murder, unsolved crimes and mystery. The lesson focuses on the mysterious death of the actress Natalie Wood. To introduce her, I’ll show a short clip of her acting, then the actual news report on TV on her death:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JhRzlsZPas

Image result for natalie wood 1955

That clip, which has English captions, is from the film ‘Rebel Without A Cause’, from 1955. Now for the news footage:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eki23QMMmQ

Grammar: tag questions

Are you from Korea ? (a normal question, where we don’t know the answer)

You’re (you are) from Korea, aren’t you ? (using the tag ‘aren’t you’ to confirm what we think or know)

Take the pronoun (here it is ‘you’) and then the verb (‘are’). Reverse the verb, that is, make it negative then add the pronoun. Hence ‘are’ becomes ‘are not’ = aren’t.

Try these:

Bangkok is the capital of Thailand, ……….. ?

Natalie Wood was American, …………….. ?

We still don’t know who killed her, ………….. ? (here the verb is negative, so make it positive)

He’s a brilliant actor, ………….. ?

End activities: depending on time, students, in groups, can organise an itinerary for two of my friends who will be visiting Sai Gon soon. They want to see all the iconic sights and partake of typical Vietnamese activities. Having said that, their interests differ widely.

Image result for english married couple

Simon loves culture, history and museums as well as being into sports and physical activities. Therefore he wants to see and try as much as possible. He has heard about snake wine and is very curious.

Jenny finds museums unbearably boring. She is a shopaholic, can shop till she drops. Furthermore she can’t take the heat and is also vegetarian.

Clearly, they will need to compromise … what do you suggest ? Be creative – think outside the box.

Vietnamese snake wine …. NO, I haven’t tried it.

IELTS 5- 6.5: Just like starting over

13th August for Wednesday 14th August. Unit 1 pp 8 – 9.

Lesson focus: Listening skills

Theme: Moving to a new country

Objectives: Improve conversation skills by using discourse markers, better vocabulary and supporting clauses.

Allow students to hear ‘real-life’ native speakers in song and vlogs.

Introduction song – John Lennon ‘Starting Over.’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPfB9KG9rao

Yoko Ono and John Lennon.

Songs are a great way to introduce new vocabulary and expressions, as well as how native speaking pronounce and link words together. Early in the song, we have words such as ‘precious‘ and expressions like ‘we have grown‘ and ‘time flies so quickly.’

Warm up: Mind map – Travel

I start by writing the word ‘travel’ on the board, and see how many avenues spread out from it. Start with the grammar; what type of word is it (noun) but it can be made into a verb (to travel, travelling) and the students should remember how to apply it to a person (traveller).

Then we have expressions such as ‘travel broadens the mind.’

We have this quote which introduces metaphor – the world as a book:

Then more pedestrian aspects of travel; how do we travel (transportation), preparation (booking tickets, hotels, visas etc), what do we bring with us (different clothes, sun cream, currency, sun glasses etc). How about culture shock ?

Next, what are the positive aspects of travelling (new cultures, fun, adventure, relaxation) and conversely, the negatives (delays, waiting in soulless airports, getting ripped off, tourist traps, bad hotels etc)

Pair work: students have to write a short passage using ‘although‘ and ‘despite‘ to encapsulate their travel experiences or wishes.

EXAMPLES: Although I absolutely love travelling, there are many drawbacks. Firstly, there is the cost; it can be incredibly expensive what with plane tickets and hotels not to mention having to eat out in restaurants. Despite these issues, travelling can be so relaxing or exciting, seeing new places and doing new things or simply as a break from our normal lives.

Vietnam has many beautiful towns and places of interest although I have only been to a few of them despite travel being relatively cheap in this country. We can fly everywhere within one or two hours, at very reasonable prices although some cheap airlines, such as Vietjet, are notorious for delays.

I have always wanted to visit Beijing in China which is not excessively far from Sai Gon. Despite that, I haven’t been because I am not sure about the visa and how expensive it would be to visit. Additionally, I hear some negative things such as terrible pollution and many tourist scams. Despite the drawbacks, I really want to see the Great Wall, the Forbidden Palace and all the temples. Although Vietnam and China have a complicated relationship, most Vietnamese would agree that Chinese food is delicious.

These exercises help to increase vocabulary and confidence. Furthermore, the repetition helps to make the target language part of the students’ lexical resources.

As a break from the book work, I’ll show the class a vlog from YouTube, two tourists who come to Sai Gon and what they think of the city. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iw_K-1AmVk

How do the tourists feel about the city ? As residents, do they agree with the review ?

Students can discuss the video using the following language:

I agree totally // I agree to an extent // I disagree // I’m not entirely sure // No way ! They don’t know what they are talking about !

optimistic // uninformed // delusional // open-minded // enthusiastic

Group work: Prepare a guide to Sai Gon for tourists.

Allow students access to the class computer for Google images if required.

Include

What to see and do // where and what to eat // what to buy //

What they can do for entertainment

Travel tips

Safety and scams

Cultural differences – what should people do or NOT do in Vietnam ?

Use of interesting adjectives to describe the city centre.

Groups can then present to the class, with all students taking turns speaking. I shall be listening for relevance, pronunciation and use of expressions and discourse markers. Furthermore, I may learn some interesting tips.

Young Learners, level 3: What’s the matter ?

12th August for Saturday 17th August. Everybody Up U3 L4

Lesson Plan:

Warm Up: Run ‘n’ write

Class into two teams, one has a red marker, the other a blue. One member from each team has to run to the board and write the name of a job, then the whole team has to say the complete sentence, e.g. Who fights fires ?

Students run to the board and write ‘fire fighter’, then their team has to say, “A fire fighter fights fires.”

Who … helps sick animals ? // makes food ? // sells things ? // flies planes ? // drives a bus ? //

Shop role play

To review recent vocabulary and to introduce some new words and expressions. Divide class into two, then sub-divide into three. Half of the class will be shoppers. They have to buy four items with a total cost of under $100. The other half will be

  1. A Department store
  2. A shop having a big sale
  3. A street market

To illustrate the difference:

Harrods of London. One of the most famous department stores in the world.
A Chinatown street market

The first students have to buy four items: a pair of shoes, a shirt, a dress and some sneakers or trainers. The prices in the three different outlets are:

Department store // On Sale // Street market

Shoes $75 // $25 // $15

Shirt $40 // $20 // $5

Dress $120 // $30 // $10

Sneakers $80 // $50 // $20

Some high-end items are:

The students take a board and go to the three outlets and ask the price of the items, “Excuse me, how much are the shoes, please ?” Upon being told they respond with, “Oh, no !”, “OK,” “Sorry, that’s too much,” or “Wow ! That’s a bargain.”

They return to the desks and report what they bought and where. Remember, they have to buy all four items and spend under $100.

Then the roles are reversed. The sellers become buyers, this time looking for:

Watch $5000 // $70 // $10

Backpack $70 // $30 // $15

Pen $120 // $20 // $1

Keyring $ 50 // $10 // $5

Target Language: What’s the matter ?

Here’s a linking song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olpHW1P43rg

How to be healthy – ask the students what people can do to stay healthy – such as eat healthy food, do exercise, not smoke, not eat junk food. Then show this famous clip. Ask what the man is doing and what will happen to him (start clip at 01.00 when he folds up the umbrella, and end around 01.46 on the Close-Up )

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1ZYhVpdXbQ

What was the name of the song ?

What lyrics did they understand ?

It is now rainy season in Vietnam, so if we did this we would catch a cold.

What would happen if we … ?

were bitten by a mosquito ?
ate too much junk food ?
listen to loud and terrible karaoke !

The four illnesses are: cold // fever // stomachache // headache //

Choose four students and give them a a flashcard. They quickly show their card to the class, then the class have to say which student has which illness.

Then we can review language from a previous level. I will tell a student to act an injury. One student will say, “What’s the matter with him or her ?” Class has to shout out the answer.

The injuries can include hurt leg, hurt arm hurt foot or hurt hand.

Then book work, work books and work sheets. Then I check my street-market ‘Rolex’ watch, and the lesson should be over.

Young Learners, Level 3: Let’s Work !

For Saturday 3rd August 2019. Everybody Up U3 L1.

WARM UP

Jobs song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nesqKP9-5c

This can be used to give some energy to the class (it starts at 7.40 am) as well as demonstrating how simple sentences are linked together. Students can practice:

who doyou see ?” as opposed to the general robotic, mono-toned, “Who do you see ?”

Five jobs were mentioned – which ones ? (students will be in small groups and given a writing board and marker). Then they will have to write where those people work – on the board I will write ‘airport’, ‘ship’, ‘school’, ‘fire station’ & ‘hospital’. Two people will run to the board and write where a pilot, a doctor etc works.

SHOP WORK – role play

In this activity, half the students are shoppers, the other are shop-keepers.

The shoppers will need to buy some three items: They can go to as many of the ‘sellers’ as they wish and ask for the food (this will be food from Unit 1, as well as stables such as rice, bread, cheese, eggs and milk.) If the seller doesn’t have the item they ask for, they have to move on to another ‘store’. The winner is the first team to complete their list. No doubt, the students will want to change roles.

In terms of language being produced, the students have to ask, “Do you have some or any …?” or “I would like (two) eggs, please.”

The sellers must answer, “Yes, we do, how much or many would you like ?” or “Sorry, we have sold out.”

REVIEW

How do I make soup ? First, I go to the shops and buy ingredients, next go home and clean them, then cook them and finally eat !

I want to study Vietnamese; what should I do ? First …

The man selling eggs is a little big. He needs to loose weight. What should he do ?

EXTRA VOCABULARY

Before the bookwork, pre-teach some adjectives that one would associate with various professions, such as:

busy

patient

intelligent

strong

hard-working

Five adjectives should be enough, and then repeated all lesson and over the coming lessons in order to help the students develop more colourful and interesting language (as opposed to an IELTS speaking test I recently monitored, where the only adjectives were ‘big’ and ‘nice’ despite the question asking the students to describe … but that is for another blog !)

And then we let the assigned book work take over, work book correction and handouts for fast finishers.

IELTS Speaking Practice: Manufacturing in Vietnam.

30th July 2019

Tonight is a special speaking lesson, a preparation for the real test which this class will take at the beginning of September. Incidentally, last night I adjudicated a speaking test and was somewhat distressed by the lack of:

adjectives (even when the task was to describe something)

adverbs

low-frequency vocabulary

complex sentences

stress and intonation

WARM UP

So, to warm up, I will put the class into small groups and give them various words on strips of paper, words we have covered in the classes: adjectives, adverbs, discourse markers, compound nouns.

a major challenge / ubiquitous / punctual / binge shopping / significantly / bizarre /

remarkably / one the other hand / consequently / therefore / in my opinion / all’s well that ends well.

how do I say that in English ? / sky-high / traditional / developing /

The students have a set time to speak on a basic subject (shopping, music, internet etc) employing as many words as possible.

RELATIVE PRONOUNS

who For people: This is the man who sold me the fake Rolex ! 

which For things: We tried fish and chips which is delicious.

where For places: Let’s go to the shop where we saw the great bargains.

Whose Possessive: That’s the singer whose record we heard last night.

The car, whose driver was young, won the race.

Exercises

We arrived at a nice beach ______ we could swim and lie in the sun.

A man ______ mobile phone was ringing did not know what to do.

The patient, ______ had a serious disease, was taken to hospital immediately.

Smithsfield is a small village ______ people live a quiet life.

A boy ____ sister is in my class, was in the bank at that time.

I know a person ____ can speak seven languages.

We visited the church _____ is in the middle of the square.

It is a protected area of land _____ you can see a lot of interesting wildlife.

This dress is made of silk _____ is a very expensive and delicate material.

A police officer, _____ car was parked at the next corner, stopped and arrested them.

MANUFACTURING AND ECONMICS

Tonight’s discussion focuses on manufacturing, so first I have to pre-teach some new vocabulary, as well as encouraging the students to think in long, complex sentences employing relative pronouns and discourse markers where appropriate.

The United Kingdom had a great empire in the nineteenth century undoubtably due to the fact that the UK was the first industrial nation.

Factory workers in the UK during the industrial heyday

This had a profound, significant effect on the country as its economy turned from agricultural to industry. The UK could import raw materials from its overseas colonies and, by the use of new machinery, produce consumer goods incomparably quicker and cheaper than by old traditional methods.

However, despite the wealth generated by this revolution, it caused many social evils:

Industrial pollution, which is still a global problem today, especially in developing countries, was prevalent and ubiquitous. The poet William Blake referred to the “dark satanic mills,” which blighted the lush English countryside. Social reformers and political philosophers commented on the disparity between the wealthy factory owners and the appalling working conditions of the operators, which often included young children, as well as a dreadful number of accidents and deaths due to the lack of safety laws. Furthermore, some people say that commercialism is a bad thing, such as seeing things simply in terms of making money, for example, selling toys based on ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Avengers’ films, or turning areas of natural beauty into golf courses, hotels and resorts, not to mention replacing old family shops by the massive super and mega-marts run by giant corporations.

de Loutherbourg, Philip James; Coalbrookdale by Night; Science Museum; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/coalbrookdale-by-night-179866

Gradually, workers conditions improved in developing countries, but at a cost. Rising labour (labor in US English) prices made the giant multi-national companies look abroad for cheaper workers, overheads and tax fees. Today, many companies have factories in south east Asia and China.

These have been criticised as being sweatshops, where workers are forced to do 12-hour shifts, often without adequate breaks, in addition to being paid a pittance in comparison to western workers. Many consumer goods are manufactured in south east Asia, including some high-end items such as designer clothing, furthermore, it is estimated that half the world’s iPhones are made in China.

https://www.businessinsider.com/china-iphone-city-residents-foxconn-apple-effect-2018-5

As an outsider, but with an interest in the culture and history of Vietnam, I am aware of the sensitivity regarding Viet-Sino (Chinese) relations. In terms of size and population, China dwarfs Vietnam, yet despite the massive workforce in the larger country, some developed countries are investing heavily in Vietnam. Here’s a good news link from a USA business news station (with English subtitles).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giJbzFUQSPQ

This should be adequate to give the students a grasp of the vocabulary and some collocations needed to speak confidently about basic manufacturing although we have yet to delve deeper into Vietnam’s own economy and manufacturing traditions. The following is from WIKIPEDIA:

Although the industrial sector contributed 40.1% of GDP in 2004, it employed only 12.9% of the workforce. In 2000, 22.4% of industrial production was attributable to non-state activities. From 1994 to 2004, the industrial sector grew at an average annual rate of 10.3%. Manufacturing contributed 20.3% of GDP in 2004, while employing 10.2% of the workforce. From 1994 to 2004, manufacturing GDP grew at an average annual rate of 11.2%. The top manufacturing sectors — electronics, food processing, cigarettes and tobacco, textiles, chemicals, and footwear goods — experienced rapid growth. Benefits from its proximity to China with lower labor cost, Vietnam is becoming a new manufacturing hub in Asia, especially for Korean and Japanese firms. For instance, Samsung produces about 40% of its phones in Vietnam.

And now the students can take over. What can they tell me about traditional manufacturing ? How do they contribute to the local and national economy ? For example, on holiday in Phan Thiet (a seaside town a few hours train ride from Sai Gon), the only Vietnamese I saw were in the service industry (hotel staff, cleaners, restaurant workers, shop staff, tour operators etc). How do Vietnamese feel about this ? The cost of a hotel room may be more than they earn in a week or even a month. On the other hand, the tourism creates jobs and enable locals to make a living.

Obviously, this is an English class, though we have touched on economics, social philosophy, international relations and even poetry. The objective is to prepare the students for a future test where they may well have to speak about their country’s economy. I hope this will provide them with a basic grounding in vocabulary and some critical thinking, and mostly, being able to express their ideas.

Adult Class, Level 3: If I had known …

25th July 2019 AEF 3, pp. 84- 85.

Tonight is a new class and experience has taught me to downplay expectations. It’s also quite a large class, about seventeen students, so I’m expecting the whole spectrum of attitudes: motivated, respectful, attentive, apathetic, disrespectful, antagonist. Be that as it may, let’s go in with a positive attitude (and see how long that lasts).

For a new group it’s best to avoid direct questions as students can be shy about speaking in front of the class. However, they DO need to speak, so I’ve prepared a basic questionnaire for them to ask each other. They will need to get up and walk around, asking three different people some basic questions. Naturally, the questions are secondary; getting the students used to communicating with each other in English is the point.

Also, I have to accept that students will be arriving 15, 20, 30 minutes, maybe even an hour late.

Judging the atmosphere in the room, I may actually start with some basic games, asking what they know about London or the UK. The students can be put into small groups to give them a safer speaking environment. If I feel it’s appropriate, I’ll show the ‘Kids Guide to London’ video on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrJNIUp2izQ&list=PL97HViQblvdEM3zsauRxnIg1baFTNmsDM&index=24&t=20s

This may seem a little strange for an adult class, but it introduces natural speaking (how we link words together), new vocabulary and some fixed expressions. Also, an ‘adult’ class can mean students over the age of fourteen, and usually the classes are mostly comprised of students in their late teens … I’ll save my thoughts on those for another blog.

Tonight’s main focus is the third conditional

This is speaking from hindsight; We talk about something that happened to us in the past and how we would have changed it IF we had known some information.

A basic example: A visit a friend and it is her birthday, but I didn’t know. If I had known it was her birthday, I would have bought her a present.

Notice all the past tense verbs. Furthermore, would is commonly used in conditional sentences.

Now, this example is based on a true story that my history teacher told me back in London.

My teacher was a somewhat dishevelled gentleman in his mid-30s. Let’s call him Mr Bowditch:

Mr Bowditch, history teacher at an east London school

Mr Bowditch lived in a bedsit, which is basically renting one room in a large house and sharing the kitchen and bathroom with other tenants. His room was not particularly comfortable:

One night, Mr Bowditch was in his room and began to feel a little hungry. He wanted some chocolate so decided to go to the off-license and buy some sweets (an off-licence is a shop that sells basic food and sweets but also alcohol and cigarettes. It used to be open until 11.00pm when most shops would close around 6.00 pm). He decided to buy, among other items, some ‘Fry’s Turkish Delight’ a sort of jelly covered in chocolate:

OK, so far so good. However, Mr Bowditch lived in a rather bad part of London, it wasn’t always safe to walk alone at night. Unfortunately, on the way home, Mr Bowditch meet the following young men:

They called out to Mr Bowditch and stopped him walking. They demanded:

Mr Bowditch had none, as he had just spent his money on sweets (candy). They didn’t believe him and began to search him. He showed them:

That was all he had … a few pounds, about 100 000 VND. The men became very angry and aggressive. Suddenly, they heard a police car siren. The men tried to drag Mr Bowditch into the tunnel, away from the road but he is very tall and stopped them. As the police car got closer, the men ran away. Mr Bowditch has never eaten ‘Fry’s Turkish Delight’ again.

There are several instances of the third conditional in the above story.

If Mr Bowditch had bought sweets on his way home, he wouldn’t have gone out later and been mugged (mugged means being robbed, often with violence or the threat of violence).

If Mr Bowditch had gone to a different shop, he wouldn’t have meet the muggers.

If the police car hadn’t been passing, Mr Bowditch might have been seriously hurt.

If Mr Bowditch hadn’t been so tall, he would have been dragged into the tunnel and maybe beaten or worse.

The structure is the first clause starts with ‘If’ then using a comma before completing the sentence. The first verb can be positive or negative (in the examples, I use ‘had’ and ‘hadn’t’).

We use this to talk about things that DIDN’T happen.

At level 3, the books can be very text-heavy, and reading can be boring for students. As mentioned, I don’t know the ability and level of the students. One method is to have the students read just one paragraph and underline how many words they don’t know. If the amount is very high, then I know the level is too high … and I’m in trouble. I’ll have to improvise a lesson.

If (yes, let’s use conditionals) the reading poses no problems, I could have the students working in pairs. One student reads a paragraph and then tells their partner the main information. This is then reversed.

If the students want to learn, and come with energy and motivation, it should be a great lesson. However … this is not always the case … will time fly or will it drag ?

IELTS: sentence building

22nd July 2019

Here are some tips to help you expand your sentences, as well as incorporating language use that IELTS examiners will expect. Also bear in mind that the way you speak, the para-linguistics, is equally important.

Sentence building – becoming fluent and coherent

Use

  • adverbs
  • adjectives
  • opinions phrases
  • linking words and discourse markers
  • new vocabulary

EXAMPLE: I like coffee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uvs7pmISe8I

Ask

  1. how MUCH do you like it (adverbs) ?
  2. What kind of coffee (adjectives) ?
  3. What do you think about this ? (opinions)
  4. WHY do you like it (give reasons)
  5. interesting words, phrases, idioms

Example

I enjoy coffee (a little / incredibly) because it helps bring people together as well as making our minds become quite active and somewhat excited. Coffee, from my point of view, is essentially useful if we use it in moderation. On the other hand, coffee can be a dreadful waste of money not to mention having a detrimental effect on our health such as insomnia. Despite the negative aspects, coffee makes me feel over the moon!

EXERCISE: Where do you drink coffee ?

Plan –

Introduction: one complex sentence.

Where do you go ? Do you go to many different types ? What do you usually order ?

Why do you go there ? What are the good points ? How often do you visit ? With whom do you go ? How long do you spend there ?

Compare the store with another (price, choice, comfort, amenities).

Are there any negative aspects ? Price, location, crowds, parking etc.

Conclusion: one sentence summary of what you have said.

IF you don’t drink coffee, then you can explain why not, and where you like to go to hang out with friends. Even if you never go out, you can talk about that as it will afford you the opportunity to give reasons and build more complex sentences.

Highlands Coffee, a popular chain in Vietnam.

Practice adjectives by describing this photo.

Increase your word power

Match the basic words with others of similar meaning

For example boring = tedious

interesting attain on time fascinating

forgetful miserable live (I live in) jovial

smart (clever) exhausted

unhappy punctual

happy feasible

possible reside

tired intelligent

get (a qualification) environment

place absent-minded