Three Nights in Bangkok: reading, resting & curry

28th February 2020

Tuesday morning, alarm set for 5.00 am UK time (12.00 midday in Bangkok), at the Tube before 6.00 for the 90-minute, three train-ride to Heathrow Airport. From there, Thai Airways to Bangkok.

I got the early Tube (London underground trains) because the first line is so busy, and I had a suitcase and a shoulder bag. Luckily, all three trains came within one or two minutes, while most of the journey was quiet (apart from some idiots playing videos on their phones out loud). Hard to concentrate on my book (‘Notes From Underground’ by Dostoevsky). By the time of the flight, I’d read a third of it.

Image result for notes from underground

Repacking at the airport, putting the coat in the case, then onto the self-service baggage tag print-out, which I’ve just about mastered by now.

Checked-in, security checked, re-belted and all gadgets back in the bag. A lot of time to kill. A lot of pointless, over-priced shops in which to wander, no intention of buying anything … except coffee.

Eventually time was killed or wasted or passed but ironically enough, not flew; we boarded … and just as the flight to London, this was very cold. Air-con turned up (down ?), no doubt to combat the Corona Virus, but it was like eleven hours in a flying refrigerator. The bathrooms were even colder. Before long, people were sniffing, blowing noses, sneezing. The precautions seemed to be making people ill.

The flight ? We got there, that’s all that counts. Generally, the worst thing about travelling is other passengers. There was a young chap (sturdy, young & healthy, but was stuck down by the sniffles) two seats from me who simply could NOT keep still, and naturally, at one point, the lady (term employed with irony) in front put her chair all the way back.

Next problem – we arrived very early, even ahead of schedule but I couldn’t check in to the hotel until 2.00 pm. More time to kill. I had an over-sized cappuccino at the airport and slowly meandered to the Citylink train. The airport, as the plane, freezing. The train, as the airport, freezing and the BRT (subway) … freezing. Still only 8.30 am. I took an iced Thai tea in a cafe near the hotel and read, still wearing my jumper (a jumper ? In Thailand ?), and the cafe … freezing.

I thought I’d leave my case at the hotel and walk around, head up to a shopping mall until check in time. However the hotel, when I arrived at 9.30 looking like I’d spent eleven hours in a flying refrigerator, found me a room, so a big ‘thank you’ to the staff of the Red Planet.

For those who know Bangkok, I’m staying on Surawong Road, nearest BRT is Chong Nonsi by Silom.

The hotel, by night:

I thought I’d feel better after some lunch, so I took prawn pa-nang curry. In the evening, near the hotel, I went to Jianng’s Healthy Fish Balls where, for 60 THB (£1.47 / $1.90):

Then a walk south on Silom to the Hindu temple, Wat Khaek:

Across the road is a soi (small road off a main road) with lots of street food:

The next morning began with traditional iced Thai coffee at The Coffee Club. 80 THB (£1.96 / $2.53).

Then a walk up (north) Silom to Lumphini Park. On the way, I spotted a soi (Soi 5) with a street market. Typically, there are food courts. It was still early, so I decided to come back and eat lunch here:

And I only saw two other farangs (foreigners) here.

At the end of Silom is the Metro, giving access to the park. While there, I made a new friend:

And then … “The rain began, the jolly old rain.” Before the rain got too heavy, lunch back at the market at Silom 5

Prawns and noodles 70 THB (£1.72 / $2.21), extra spicy sauce.

Later, not really hungry but thought I’d take a walk and see what caught my eye. I found Restoran Ibu, near Wat Khaek:

Restoran Ibu on Silom

The food from the menu:

And the reality:

Just as good, I’d say. Ibu fried be hun for 100 THB (£2.46 / $3.16)

That night, the jet lag caught up with me. Couldn’t sleep, with the exception of a catnap around 4.30am, until 6.30 am and then only until 8.00 am. I gave up trying, and went out to read and NOT have any caffeine … instead, at a Cafe Amazon, by the Chong Nonsi BRT, a strawberry smoothie for 65 THB (£1.60 / $2.05)

Tomorrow is the flight back to Viet Nam, which should be painless, a mere 90 minutes, but I’m flying Vietjet and these smaller airlines tend to be low- down on airport take-off slots. Consequently, Vietjet has a reputation for always having delays. The last time I flew Bangkok to Sai Gon, the delay was longer than the flight.

And now, my final afternoon in Bangkok … and just twenty pages to go of my travel reading:

Image result for chabon amazing adventures kavalier clay

At 13.10, I finished the book, sitting in Lumphini Park. Time to walk back to the hotel, and some more street food – the market at Silom 10:

This is the stall I chose, spicy Thai vegetable soup (with prawn):

A mere 50 THB (£1.23 / $1.59)

For my last meal, where else but back to Ibu, this time for something traditionally Thai, prawns in coconut milk:

115 THB (£2.84 / $3.65). The staff are really friendly and I highly recommend this restoran.

And so, back at the hotel blogging. Reading, accomplished, curries – no problem, resting … not so much, but at least I’ll be home tomorrow – Unless Vietjet decide otherwise …

Goodbye from Red Planet

Red Planet – I paid about £75 / $96 for three nights. The rooms are fine for a single budget traveller and come with a fridge, large TV, safe and hair-dryer. The room also takes the three-pin UK plug.

On the downside, the walls are very thin (I can hear the chap in the next room talking and whooping and now he apparently has the hiccups). There is liquid soap, but this is not so good for hair, so bring your own shampoo, comb, also a toothbrush and paste. Being Bangkok, and near a night-time bar area, people come and go at all hours (this is a hotel, after all) and last night, there were doors banging until sunrise.

Room cleaning consists of changing the towels and supplying plenty of bathroom paper. Sheets not changed, but maybe if you ask nicely …

UK Break: A Walk around Bloomsbury.

27th February 2020

My penultimate day in London; sky grey, wind bitter, prices high and queues at the British Museum, prohibitively long.

I left east London around 9.00 am and took the Tube straight to Holborn and from there, walked the ten minutes up to the Museum, pausing only to take these snaps:

Looking south, towards Holborn Station.
An iconic British phone box.
Bloombury Ballroom, an art deco building from the 1920s
Always … people wait in the cold for a bus … and then two come at once.
Great camera-themed cafe. Naturally, it was closed.
Last time I was here, the museum was free; now they charge £1.
The British Museum. Usually open at 10.00 am but today delayed due to filming. However, on a Sunday, the queues were so long, I decided to go for coffee and then lunch instead. The choice …

Japanese … ?

Mexican … ?

Chinese … ?

One of my favourite Korean restaurants. I ordered seafood bibimbap with flying fish eggs.

And a final walk around central London. Above what used to be a great cinema bookshop near The Museum …

It ends for me where it began for Dickens; his first success, the ‘Sketches by Boz’. The following day, I had some final business to take care of, and then try to rest. Tuesday was the big flight back to Asia … but that is another blog.

Adult Professionals, Mechanics. Theme: Archimedes

26th February 2020

Archimedes

This could be an interesting website for you: https://www.engineering.com/Library/ArticlesPage/tabid/85/ArticleID/12/categoryId/5/Archimedes-of-Syracuse.aspx

The whole article is quite long, consequently I have been selective and ‘cherry-picked’ information. 

Born: 287 BC in Syracuse, Sicily
Died: 212 BC in Syracuse, Sicily
Archimedes’ father was Phidias, an astronomer. A friend of Archimedes called Heracleides wrote a biography of him but sadly this work is lost. How our knowledge of Archimedes would be transformed if this lost work were ever found.

It is reported by some authors that he visited Egypt and there invented a device now known as Archimedes’ screw. This is a pump, still used in many parts of the world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IsqAejuaBw (theory)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EECNgK_Cv0 (practical application)

Yet Archimedes, although he achieved fame by his mechanical inventions, believed that pure mathematics was the only worthy pursuit. He is considered by most historians of mathematics as one of the greatest mathematicians of all time.

The Sandreckoner is a remarkable work in which Archimedes proposes a number system capable of expressing numbers up to 8×1016 in modern notation. He argues in this work that this number is large enough to count the number of grains of sand which could be fitted into the universe. There are also important historical remarks in this work, for Archimedes has to give the dimensions of the universe to be able to count the number of grains of sand which it could contain. He states that Aristarchus has proposed a system with the sun at the centre and the planets, including the Earth, revolving round it. There are other sources which mention Archimedes’ work on distances to the heavenly bodies. For example in Osborne reconstructs and discusses:-

…a theory of the distances of the heavenly bodies ascribed to Archimedes, but the corrupt state of the numerals in the sole surviving manuscript [due to Hippolytus of Rome, about 220 AD]means that the material is difficult to handle.Ascribed to is similar to ‘attributed to’ – when we don’t have source material to proof positively. Here we have a mixture of science AND history.
Image result for archimedes screw
Image result for archimedes screw

Adult Speaking Class, level 3. Theme: Germany

26th February 2020

Germany – what do you know about the country ?

Image result for germany

What do you associate with it ?

(I associate Viet Nam with rice, motorbikes, Uncle Ho etc)

Image result for germany
Image result for german beer and football

This is a travel guide (‘Lonely Planet’ are guides for independent travellers):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7e8sv7lFeY

Which of the ‘Top 5’ appeals to you the most ?

How much do they recommend you need per day ?

Is the train network good ?

Image result for german attractions

There is a lot of new vocabulary, so write down any new or interesting words.

Did you notice how many adjectives are employed (used) ? This is very common in travel writing and guides.

WHY ?

Why do you think travel guides use so many powerful adjectives ?

Listening-skills-practice: Germany

Top ten facts about Germany: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEYvi4kl-f4

while you watch, try to write your own question(s)

How many kinds of bread are there ?

Name the top three beer-drinking countries – what is interesting here ?

What do the Germans call a motorway (UK) / freeway (US). Why is it different ?

Image result for german autobahn

What was the first printed book ?

Historical note – this was in 1455. How do you think books were made before printing ?

Where is German spoken ? Would you considerGerman a global language ?

How long did Cologne (Köln) Cathedral take to build ?

Listening-skills-practice: German Music

Image result for german krautrock

Krautrock– what is krautrock ? Listening – a non-native speaker. (0 – 4.34): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNouEqTBPtw

Notice all the discourse markers– expressions that don’t add any information, but allow him to think while he keeps talking (examples: all right, yeah,) and expressions (it hit the $300 mark – means the price was $300).

Dialogue

Present perfect, past continuous and questions. Listen for adverbs

Mark: Have you been to Germany ?

Amy: No, not yet. Have you ?

Mary: Yes, twice. I have (I’ve) visited Berlin and Munich.

Amy: Which did you like best ?

Mary:Well, Munich is very clean, elegant and stylish, but quite expensive.

Amy: And Berlin, the capital ?

Mary: I was working there for six months. It was really cool.

They continue after eating a big piece of pie.

Amy: Sounds like you had lots of fun !

Mary: Oh, yes ! The food was cheap and the people were incredibly friendly.

Amy: How about the weather ? I have heard it can be cold.

Mary: It was terrible ! Every day it rained cats and dogs.

Amy: You must have been so glad to get back to Vietnam. (glad = happy)

Mary: Yes, but I miss the German trains and buses; they were so reliable.

How different is England to Germany ?

This is an interesting question because, despite both being Northern European countries with similar climates and a shared language root, both nations have very strong national identities. 

Historically, there is an obvious difference; the two World Wars. This originated from economic conflicts to actual conflicts which consequently altered the map of Europe.

There are many cultural differences, the English see the Germans as very efficient, hard-working, punctual albeit lacking any sense of humour.

Putting myself in their shoes, and based on my experiences of Germany, we Brits are seen as aloof and isolated, preferring tea-breaks to solid work.

These factors notwithstanding, the two countries have a lot in common; protestant religion, not Catholic (mostly), a love of both football and beer. Even our Royal Family has German blood.

Now with Brexit, it will be interesting to see what develops over the next generation. We can only speculate whether the nations move closer together or further apart.

Life in Sai Gon: Coffee Time (again)

22 February 2020

After Brasil, Vietnam is the world’s biggest exporter of coffee, and coffee shops are ubiquitous. There are high-end chain stores, with near London prices, down to street coffee which, being honest, is probably more ‘street’ than ‘coffee’.

Here are a few recent caffeine-driven excursions:

OK, this first one is no longer in operation. Can’t think why. Branding is important, even in a Socialist country. This joint is located at the base of an apartment complex in District 2. The lady that stays there is, I believe, an artist and is extremely friendly, not ‘grumpy’ in the least.

Now, staying in District 2, just a short ride away, is this library cafe:

It looks like it’s based in an old house, with large plants and dusty old books on even dustier shelves.

The coffee, however, was a disappointment, probably due to my ordering the wrong drink. I wanted a hot latte and got an ice version. Perfect for the heat, but not what I was expecting. Oh well, never mind.

Still in District 2, ‘Ventura Coffee’ was near my old apartment by the port of Cat Lai. This was a great place, and had live football and a beautiful dog:

Damn fine cappuccino, too.

Here are a couple of signs on the wall:

Back to my new manor (are in which I live). ‘Coffee Time’ on Nguyen Duy Trinh. Fine coffees and juices. Nice decoration, and outside seating. Free Wifi, naturally. We had a hot latte and an ice coffee. The cappuccino is also recommended.

And of course, all this coffee makes a guy hungry. Back at my new apartment, we have a restaurant where they catered to my no-meat diet. Delicious crab-noodle soup. Around 40 000 VND (about £1.35) and worth every penny. Extra chilli sauce !

Getting a gaff – living in Sai Gon

20th February 2020

The dream … the reality.

Image result for beautiful viet ladies
Image result for dirty sai gon

A major attraction of living in Sai Gon is the cost of living. Teachers are not usually well-paid and as language teachers, we maybe do less than twenty-five hours a week (which is more than enough, depending on the students).

My arrival was not without problems. I will not mention the name of any institution, as I probably have more to be thankful for than otherwise. Having said that … moving across the world to a new culture and a new job is rather nerve-wracking – there will be problems, predictable and marvellously unexpected. One thing that can be counted on is paperwork. It must all be in order … and it will all be expensive.

First, in order to work as a teacher in Vietnam, one needs a BA degree (any subject, though anything involving linguistics would be an advantage), an official teaching certificate, such as CELTA: (this is a Google image)

Image result for celta qualification

Then a police background check, a CRC. There is not ONE agency that provides this service, so it is good to look on the internet first to check prices. They do vary considerably. I use Disclosure Scotland.

The teacher should also be a native-speaker but I have worked at centres that employed teachers from the Baltic States, and Spain.

Then there is the visa. One needs a WORK VISA to enter the country and be legally employed.

Image result for Vietnamese work visa

The ‘DN’ (top right corner) designates this as a business visa, and are issued for varying periods of time. I obtained mine by post from the Vietnamese Embassy in London. Therein, the first ‘issue’. My school had to send me an invitation (to be presented at the Embassy). Unfortunately, I was sent an invitation with the wrong entrance date, then told it would take a week to amend their error. Meanwhile, I’d paid for my (non-refundable) ticket and I had some unnecessary stress hoping I could get the paperwork in time.

“All’s well that ends well,” as the bard said. However, I had to pay for an express service which I believe was £140 ($180), and that was without postage and postal order fees (which brought the cost to over £170).

Furthermore, the three certificates (BA degree, teaching certificate & CRC) have to be notarised, then sent for stamping by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and then stamped by the Vietnamese Embassy.

It set me back around £500, and that was without the work permit fee, the flight and money to keep me going until payday. However, one cold (London) morning, I flew, changing once at Bangkok, to Sai Gon and walked out to look for the staff who, I was assured, would be waiting for me. Walking out into the noise, the heat, the chaos that was … and still is … my life.

I had been told I would be driven to a hotel, where I would stay for three days, at the school’s expense.

Image result for tan son nhat airport

Just like in the films, a young lady was waiting for me with a board welcoming me to Sai Gon. Yes, she was young. So young I was wondering if they had sent a student instead. Said lady then informed me that we would be taking a taxi and that I would be paying for it, but not to worry; it would be deducted from my first pay check, and because I was travelling with a local, I wouldn’t be ripped off by a tourist taxi.

I was a little taken aback by this news (I had been travelling for around twenty four hours, therefore not at my best), but it was compounded as Ms Information (as I later dubbed her) told me that I was also expected to pay for my complimentary hotel but again, not to worry, it would be deducted later.

I wondered what other joys lie in wait. I didn’t have to wait long. The assigned hotel had a power cut and wasn’t sure if they even had a room for me that day. After waiting with Ms Information in a cafe near the school (damn fine coffee if I remember, and I paid for it without being prompted; couldn’t handle any further deductions from a pay check I’d yet to receive), we returned to the hotel. A room was free but no wifi in the room.

On that note I thought, as I’m paying anyway, I’m going to choose my own hotel (I’d been to Sai Gon several times previously).

Later that evening, I met my manager and all was cleared up; no taxi bill, no hotel bill. I met some of the teachers, including the young lady whom I was replacing. She was young, blonde and beautiful, three things I have never been. Her students are going to hate me … and I wasn’t far wrong.

That weekend I observed some classes. Some teachers were very accommodating and helpful, some clearly didn’t want me in their class. I was left in no doubt that one in particular did not consider it her job to help me at all. And she didn’t. Each to their own.

Now, I was staying in my hotel, and getting the street motorbike to school. Ms Information would phone a street bike to take me home, very kind. I managed to find a room in District 3, which was ideal for me. Lots of shops and markets, lots of things within walking distance (I do not ride a motorbike).

This was situated in a small alley off a main road, Nguyen Dinh Chieu, in between a lingerie shop and a pharmacist. I felt at home.

The door was unlocked by inserting one’s hands through the black square and unlocking a padlock. There was no recycling. All rubbish, or trash if you are American, was dumped outside. It was rarely there a few minutes before some neighbour would pounce on it and rip it open looking for … who knows ? But the debris would be scattered outside the door. I took to dumping my rubbish, or garbage if you are American, further down the alley. At this point, I downloaded the Grab Bike app and was able to use their services to get home, easily halving the cost of the street bikes:

Image result for grabbike

Probably not the image the company wants to promote, but more realistic than the twenty-somethings with pearly-white teeth and a perpetual smile. And footwear. I informed Ms Information that she no longer needed to order me a motorbike, I could book myself, with Grab. Maybe you can guess what happened … yes, I jumped on a bike she ordered for me and was on my way to the old hotel. So, back to my digs:

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The room was basic, no fridge or cooking facilities, but a shower and private bathroom. Furniture provided. Kindle on bed and bottled-water on standby.

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The simple life. I think I paid three million Vietnamese a month plus electric which could be up to another million depending how often I used the air-con. In all, I paid a maximum of four million VN Dong – about £135 / $175 a month, for a six-month contract.

Yet, nothing especially Viet or Asian about it. It evoked more of a Leonard Cohen in Greece feel. Nothing wrong with that of course … “You get used to an empty room.”

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However, one Tet, when most of the tenants were away, I think someone broke into my room, as my suitcase which was always padlocked and contained my laptop, Kindle and money, wouldn’t open. It seemed that someone had tried to open it and had broken off their implement.

After that, I changed the door lock and spent a million on new, European-made security locks and bolts. Nothing from Taiwan, sir, give me that impressive and weighty German monstrosity. It’ll do the job.

But … at the end of my six months contract, I wanted out. The next place was just a few streets away, living above a clothes shop. I forget the rent, but it was similar to the first place, perhaps a tad more. Renting can be risky in Vietnam. At short notice, the owner can decide to take back the space, and the tenants have only a short time to find a new place.

The clothes shop had that exact fate. As you can see, it has gone, but this was the location, number 19. A husband & wife team sold shirts and Tshirts, living behind the store front. I had two floors upstairs, with a little verandah for outdoor cooking, and a shower that was apparently a danger-hazard. I was advised to fill a bucket with hot water and use that as opposed to standing directly under the sprocket. Power cuts were not unknown.

One night there was shouting and screaming – more than is usual in Sai Gon – as a house but three doors away was on fire. Exit flat sharpish and waiting in the street for the all clear before my year’s work-contract was up and I was ready to clear out of Viet Nam and head home.

Which I did. London … in winter. I took care of some paperwork, a new CRC, new work Visa and back on that plane for a lovely thirteen-hour flight. My new place, however, was an apartment. Way out in the sticks, near Cat Lai, the busiest port in S.E. Asia:

Image result for cat lai

The local area was terrible: containers, night and day, honking of horns, trucks stomping over speed bumps, few amenities, few restaurants, not an ATM for miles and karaoke … open-air, all day and most of the night karaoke.

The apartment was great, and the swimming pool was fantastic – even if everyone if the neighbourhood felt it was their right to come and use it.

And then the rainy season began … the jolly old rainy season. Here are some arty (I wish) shots. A little Impressionistic:

For Christmas, they made this effort, which just looked like giant spiders from my vantage point:

One night, the Moon looked spectacular. Unfortunately, my phone camera couldn’t do it justice but anyway:

I mentioned karaoke. There were some people whose hobby was warbling, screaming, croaking, belching etc into a microphone, turned full whack, and ‘entertaining’ everyone within a two-mile radius. How could it get worse ? Wedding parties.

There was a vacant lot opposite my flat. It served as a car wash weekdays, but at weekends was rented out for wedding parties. These are noisy. Really noisy.

The first two hours usually have a professional singer or band. Most guests start to leave at that point … but not all. Some stay and avail themselves of the free beer, the karaoke and the microphone … for hours.

What starts as a romantic event ends up like this: Imagine these gentlemen screaming and shouting and whooping all day. Welcome to my (old) life.

Image result for drunk viet men

And then we have the neighbours. Lovely people, but they were from Central Viet Nam so couldn’t take the heat. Thus, they installed three air-con units, the third of which blew directly into our balcony, sprinkling us with dust, muck, dirt, goodness only knows what kind of air-bourne viruses … and heat.

Enough, as they say, is enough. Time to move.

So now I’m still in District 2, but near shops, near a main road, near amenities, not a container in sight (or sound) … and we can have pets.

Of course, my very first night there, a local restaurant had … karaoke. However, we have a police office in the next street, so they make sure karaoke is contained and punishable by (I don’t want my English humour landing me in hot water, so add your own comment here) ………………..

Since then, very little except, around Christmas time all night, and for many nights, they decided to dig up all the roads:

Vietnamese food can be wonderful, albeit a little samey (to a casual eater, it can appear to be no more than bowls of different types of noodles with different types of meat, topped with a forest of fresh-ish vegetation).

I’m not knocking the local food, I’ve written blogs about my favourite dishes, but sometimes … an ex-pat will miss that little something from home. Never fear, in District 1, in the shadow of Bitexco, we have a number of stores selling, and usually at a very good price, various items from around the world:

58 Ham Nghi Street, District 1

And finally, I mentioned we are allowed pets … allow me to present my puppy, Dali (if you’ve been following my teaching blogs, you’ll no doubt appreciate the moniker):

Dali, the surrealist puppy

UK Break. Family and friends.

19th February 2020

The sky is grey, the prices are astronomical, people are loving Brexit, people are hating Brexit, people are predicting a boom, people are prophesying doom … and it is cold. It is very, very cold.

The view of east London, near the Olympic Stadium:

I arrived late Thursday 13th and spent most of the next day meeting my brother’s friend in his local (the nearest pub). At ‘Happy Hour’ a pint of Guinness was £3.50. Otherwise, it is a fiver (£5, that’s $6.50).

Sunday, I took the new express train from Stratford International 75 miles to Canterbury West (£35 single / $44), to meet up with some old friends, Carole and Pete. Carole met me, then we drove to a small cottage on the sea, at a place called Whitstable, famous for its oysters.

The sun emerging from the clouds at Whitstable
Beach bird looking for food
Canon overlooking the beach huts
Colourful beach huts
Typical quaint houses and curving streets of this sea-town.

Next day, we met Pete at Broadstairs (see next blog), but back in Whitstable, we had the traditional fish and chips:

Clockwise, from top left: cod & chips, skate & chips, and my choice, haddock & chips. Served with tartar sauce.
Pete VERY happy with his lunch. Note, also three mugs (large cups) of tea.

For my Vietnamese students, the above (three fish and chips and three mugs of tea) was about one million VND. I told you UK was expensive and this wasn’t even London ! However, in the UK one is never far from an Indian, Chinese or Asian restaurant. For example, in Broadstairs I saw:

Next Wednesday I’ll be back in Bangkok, so I can try the real McCoy (the real thing).

Adult Professionals: Mechanics, Part 4

12th February 2020

Contents

Conspiracy theories

Engineering marvels

Why trains can’t go uphill

Conspiracy Theories:

Have you heard of film director Stanley Kubrick ?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oR_e9y-bka0

Did we REALLY go to the Moon ?

Are there ALIENS ?

DID the Wright Brothers actually invent the airplane ?https://www.businessinsider.com/10-items-not-invented-by-who-you-think-2011-8

WRIGHT BROTHERS

Which of these surprised you ?

Engineering marvels

Which ones impressed you most ?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFbug8as10U

James May – why can’t trains go uphills ?

Image result for james may train uphill

What do you think of James’ pronunciation – can you understand all ? Try to copy him: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbUsKWbOqUU

What is the problem with trains and going up gradients ?

What do they struggle to do ?

What are the scientific reasons for this ?

Image result for steepest railroad in uk

What was the problem with James May speaking ?

James normally speaks quite clearly, but there were problems. This was due, I feel, to the speed and the amount of language. Look at this conversation analysis: (0. 10 – 0.42):

And now, ‘Why can’t trains go uphills ?’ Well, the smarter ones amongst you will have recognised already, especially if you’re a qualified railway engineer, this is a bit of a trick question because of course, train can go uphills … they’re just not very good at it.

If you think about the topography of most of the world, this is clearly a bit of a problem. Human being can … albeit rather sweatily, motivate themselves up a gradient of around eighty degrees, or one in a quarter.

Listen again– hear how James:

  • links words
  • uses expressions (bit of a)
  • adds addition information / commentary in supporting clauses. 
  • Creative use of adverbs – sweatilyshows how many words can be made adverbs

Think – does James need to add the clauses ? What is the purpose ? Consider the medium (TV, internet, blog etc) and the target audience.

James is speaking to a fluent, English-speaking audience, probably native speakers, or people who have lived in the UK for a long time. Therefore, they will be more used to this natural way of speaking.

This is why I recommend student put their text books down and read real English books, watch English-speaking films and TV shows and sing English songs. It really helps.

He does make allowances for non-British audiences by showing two fifty-pence coins, but his language isn’t downgraded.

Intonation – SO important to assist in conveying meaning.

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3. Theme: Job interviews

12th February 2020

Image result for job interview

Interview Language

Many interviews have similar questions. Read the following and then role-play with a partner. Feel free to add your own information, or make up something new.

Possible questions:

What experience do you have ? // What do you know about the company ? // Have you ever had to work to a deadline ?

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Tell me about yourself

I was born in …. and I graduated from …. University in 2014 with a major in Business Administration. Since then I’ve had two year’s experience in administrative work at ABC and XYZ Corporation.

I’m a very organised person, well-balanced and efficient. I’m hard-working and dedicated.

In my free time, I like to travel and I love to paint. Furthermore, I enjoy going out having coffee with friends.

What do you know about (COMPANY) ?

XXX are an established company with a good reputation. They help …….. and there are over (xx) sites in VN (or your country).

What are your strengths ?

I feel I am easy-going, hard-working, careful and diligent. I think my greatest strength is my positive outlook, even during times of stress. I can work under pressure and I really enjoy a challenge. Lastly, I like working in a team.

What are your weaknesses ?

Well, my English isn’t perfect, so this will be a great chance to improve. Maybe I can be a little quiet sometimes; that’s why working as part of a team will help bring me out.

Can you give an example of when you had to deal with an angry customer ?

One time, a customer didn’t like the price of a visa, and he began shouting and getting angry. I asked him if I could explain the reason. I then told him how it wasn’t our fault, but that I understood his anger and said sorry. Then I told him he could check elsewhere, but we would still be happy to serve him. He calmed down, said sorry to me and bought the visa and was happy.

Where do you see yourself in two years ?

My short-terms goals are to work hard and efficiently, so I can master this job. However, in the long-term, I would be interested in possibly doing more courses so I could be a manager.

What can you bring to the job ?

I’m very friendly and enjoy working with people. I always try to be happy at work and share my positive outlook. I’m very motivated and open to learning. I’m very excited about being a part of this great company.

Do you have any questions ?

May I just ask, what career opportunities are there at XXX ?

It is not a good idea to ask immediately about salary, money and bonuses, although this is an important part of the interview process.

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Congratulations, when can you start ?

Listening practice

From BBC Learning English: http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningengli0sh/english/features/english-at-work/02-the-interruption

A good example that comes to mind…

I’m particularly proud of…

Time-keeping is important to me.

Firstly, this job is an ideal match for my skills and experience.

Secondly, …

Above all, the reason I want this job is …

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Key words: 

highly motivated

can work on my own initiative

proactive

team-player

ready for a challenge

Speaking Practice:

Now you have some new words and phrases, interview each other again, making sure to really sound like the ideal person for the job.

Working in English. Being a TA (teaching assistant)

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How would you handle (answer) these questions ?

How often do you communicate in English ? Have you ever used English in a work environment ?

Two teachers need things at the same time; how would you prioritise ?

How would you deal with a rude teacher ? What would you do if you had a problem with a certain teacher ?

Could you work as a team member ? Could you take orders from a younger person ? 

Some students come to you and say they don’t like a certain teacher. What would you tell them ?

Teachers earn much more than Viet staff. How do you feel about that ?

Some parents may be very angry about a grading a teaching gave. If they came and shouted at you, how would you cope ?

Can you give an example of a time when you dealt effectively with an angry customer ?

How do you see this role ? What do you imagine you’ll be doing ?

The work may become routine. Do you think you will get bored ?

Part of the job-description involves keeping a safe environment. What do you think that means ?

A child has a nosebleed; what would you do ?

A child is being noisy and shouting when the teacher speaks. What would you do ?

A child swears in class, but his parents are angry at you when you criticise the student. However, the teacher insists you phone the parents to complain.

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