Tonight’s subject is relationships, and the book work seems well-balanced, with vocabulary, listening and speaking exercises. However, this is quite a strong group and appear motivated. With that in mind, I push them to learn more, in order to prepare them for their next class, which will be the quantum leap into IELTS.
However = discourse marker, better than just saying ‘but.’
With that in mind = expression meaning ‘because of that.’
in order to = to help for the future – I am learning Vietnamese in order to speak to my students.
quantum leap = massive (very, very large) jump forward or progression
Bearing in mind that Vietnamese operate on ‘elastic time’ (a polite way of saying the students turn up in dribs and drabs, ie, ten, twenty or thirty minutes late), so I can’t start any serious teaching until the whole class is present. Therefore, I use some warm up activities.
Warm Up: Call My Bluff.
This is a vocabulary-building exercise. I introduce a new word, then give three possible definitions. Students have to deduce, or just guess, the correct meaning.
– adj means something that is very common, everywhere
– noun equipment used in scuba diving
-name used towards close friends or family
– noun a small built-in safe in a hotel
– adj something very special, different or important
– verb to paint Chinese or Japanese characters with great care
– adverb discourse marker meaning because of that, this happened
– noun a person who cheats other people to get more money
– verb a type of pass in football that leads to a goal being scored.
– noun a chair used by a dentist, that can be lowered or raised
– verb to get only important information from a lot of text
– adj something made from different materials or many different colours
Then students have to write four sentences using the new words, as well as trying to repeat them throughout the lesson.
I’m not going to give you the answers – look up the definitions yourself, it will help you to learn.
Warm Up: What is the name, to you, of …
What is the name of your mother’s husband ?
What is the name of your mother’s sister ?
What is the name, to you, of your mother’s brother’s son.
What is the name of your father’s mother ?
What is the name of your father’s mother’s father
Next stage is sentence building:
I am from London. It is an expensive city.
To combine these pieces of information, we use the relative pronoun ‘which‘:
I am from London which is an expensive city.
We replace the pronoun ‘it’ with a relative pronoun ‘which’ and create a longer sentence. This skill is important / vital / imperative to attain a good IELTS score.
Kimmy is from Tokyo. It is very crowded.
Tony is from New York. It is a vibrant city.
Scott wants to visit the War Museum. It is in District 1.
Lisa teaches in Beijing. It is the capital of the PROC (People’s Republic of China).
Moving on … My friend
When we link information about a person, the pronoun, ‘he’ or ‘she’ is replaced by the relative pronoun ‘who.’
On the left is my friend Peter. I met him in 2010. I met him in London.
On the left is my friend Peter, who I met in London ten years ago.
On the left is my friend Peter, who I met in 2010 in London.
Try linking these: Remember to replace ‘he’ and use ‘who’ but you have to change the sentence.
Peter is Irish. He was born in Dublin // Peter, who is Irish, was born in Dublin
Peter loves music. He can play saxophone, keyboards, guitar and bass.
Peter is 40 years old. He is bald, and wears glasses.
Peter plays bass. He has a video on YouTube.
Peter is with the drummer Kenny Jones.He played in The Small Faces in the 1960s.
Be careful with the last one. The pronoun ‘he’ is about Kenny Jones.
Be careful with the next two. We only need ONE relative pronoun:
The drummer Kenny Jones.He played in The Small Faces in the 1960s. He is withPeter.
The Manager Mr Smith. He is from Australia. He is going to travel to Mexico.
The manager, Mr Smith who is from Australia, is going to travel to Mexico.
Students, working in pairs or small groups, must come up with a storline for these couples.
Describe these two people. What are they wearing ? What are their personalities ? What do you think they do ?How do they meet ?
Be creative and feel free to use dialogue.
How do they know each other ?
What will happen when they meet ?
Will they get on ?
Will they have a terrible time ?
How about these
Try to invent an interesting, fascinating story line. Maybe they haven’t met since there were born ?
Now, let’s get creative:
Write a short story using dialogue and adjectives.
MOTIVATION: why do the characters do what they do ?
PLOT: what happens … and why ?
CHARACTERS: make sure each one is an individual and speaks differently.
Where do they meet ?
How do they meet ?
How do they know each other ?
What do they think of each other and how do they express it ?
Boram, a young Korean lady, is at home getting ready to go out. She has put on her favourite white and pink dress and, with her lucky pink bow in her luscious chestnut hair, looks absolutely stunning.
Today she is going to meet her cousin who is coming to Seoul for the first time. Boram needs to practice violin, because she plays in the university orchestra and they have an important concert coming up, however, she is concerned about her cousin getting lost in the big bewildering city. That is typical of Boram, always putting other people first. She is a very sweet and thoughtful caring lady.
[In the first sentence I named the lady – Boram. Therefore, we can use a pronoun – she – because we know the subject]
From medieval Florence to modern-day Berlin, a film shot on both Super 8 and digital video, with a professional actor and professional sound engineer / cameraman. And all on no budget, as usual.
This is a retelling of ‘Inferno’ or Hell, an epic poem by Dante.
Dante Alighieri born around 1265 in Florence during a turbulent time of political infighting. He studied to be a pharmacist, and books actually were sold in pharmacies at this time.
Dante is most famous for his Divine Comedy, a three-part poem, starting in Hell, Part 2 in Purgatory and finally Part 3 in Paradise. Of these, ‘Inferno’ is by far the most widely-read.
The poem starts with Dante in a dark wood, having ‘lost his way’. The poem is full of allegory and symbolism, the dark wood representing uncertainty and danger, as he has stepped off the path to God and salvation. He meets the Roman poet, Virgil (70 BC – 19 BC), who acts as a guide. Virgil will help to get Dante back ‘on the right path’ but this will mean going through the Inferno.
What follows is a journey where Dante sees the souls or ‘shades’ of the dead who are being eternally punished, in appropriate ways, for their sins on Earth. The Inferno is arranged in nine circles, the ninth being reserved for Lucifer.
As the two poets descend, the crimes, and the punishments get worse, until, finally, in the lowest circle, Dante sees the Devil.
This poem is a major work of European and World art, inspiring countless artists, including the German Gustav Dore, who etched these pictures.
Dante had an idealised love, a young lady called Beatrice, and her purity gives Dante the courage to continue his horrific quest.
In the film, I have a young lady (Katerina) who reads by a small river holding a lily (the symbol of Florence). A man sees her and goes to speak to her, but she goes, leaving a book behind – the book is the Aenid by Virgil.
The Man then walks through modern day Berlin, to reach his salvation.
I used the new dome of the German Parliament building, the Reichstag, to represent the circular arrangement of Dante’s Inferno, and the Man walks over, or by, several rivers, symbolising the rivers of Hell.
For the crimes against nature, I updated the book to mean environmental issues; the Man walks against a skyline criss-crossed with electric wires and factory smokestacks, like Blake’s ‘dark Satanic mills’.
We also filmed at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, which is in north Berlin, to represent the unspeakable horrors of genocide, all genocide perpetrated by any nation against any person due to race, religion, sexuality or politics.
Many thanks to my team who all worked and contributed their time and talents for free:
Mr Martin O’Shea, Mr Philipp Pressmann, Ms Manuela Fresard & Ms Katarina Worner.
All the technical, digital camera-work and editing was done by Herr F.T. Pen, and the incredible foley artist Herr Max Bauer.
Following another speaking test, I’ve noticed that my students are still speaking simple sentences and thereby losing marks, whereas with a little work, not to mention a little, or a lot, of practice, this omission can be redressed.
Therefore today’s bog, in it’s entirety, will be devoted to the forming of longer, complex sentences, altering sentence structure and general tips to improve not just speaking, but writing as well.
As you should have noticed the above two paragraphs, rather like this third one, employ several clauses, that is, parts of a sentence to give extra information without the need of a full stop, serving as examples of how this can be achieved.
You will, no doubt, experience a feeling of triumph once you have mastered this technique which, I admit, does require some new thinking and extra effort on your part but will, without a shadow of a doubt, enable you to attain the score for which you are aiming.
And now, without further ado, let’s kick off. First, a warm-up. Of today’s three highlighted expressions, which would you use for:
1 When you are certain or 100% sure about something
2 To start immediately, with no more interruptions
3 Great happiness when you have achieved or won something
Answers at end of blog
Here are some standard IELTS-type questions, followed by a typical answer and then, by way of comparison, an extended response to demonstrate improvements.
1 Tell me about your hometown 2 How often do you go online ?
3 What jobs will be important in your country in the future ?
4 Tell me about a time you received good news
An average answer, which would probably result in a middle score, around 4 – 5 would be, to take one example, (Number 2):
I go online every day because I need the internet to help me study. I use the internet to check new words in English. I go online for information for my school.
What do you notice about this ? Firstly, what are the mistakes ?
The candidate answers the question immediately, with no introduction. This is not necessarily wrong, but a sentence leading into the response will make for a longer answer.
The second sentence is not directly relevant to the question, though it is acceptable for providing more information. I advise students to be careful, in case they start deviating from the subject.
Lastly, the third sentence just repeats what has already been said, even using the same phrase “I go online“, and then explaining the reason for using the internet NOT how often it is used.
Here’s a different way of answering.
Well, that’s interesting because I have internet access at school, at home and on my phone so I would say I’m absolutely online every day. How much time I spend online varies from day to day, but I am probably online about three hours every day, sometimes more if I have a project or if I’m playing a cool game.
See how this answer only uses two sentences , but is much superior. Let’s break down how it earns points.
Initially, we have a short introduction and the question is answered directly in the first, extended sentence.
Secondly, the first sentence includes a list of three, so this is a chance to practise speech rhythm (one, two and three) – remember, you get points by HOW you say something as well as what you say.
Thirdly, the answer uses three everyday adverbs (highlighted). ‘so‘ can also be used as an adverb, but here it is a conjunction (a word such as ‘and’, ‘but’, etc).
Additionally, the sentences employs an expression, “from day to day,” which examiners like to hear, as it shows familiarity with figurative language.
Lastly, the candidate explains what the reasons for being online, and how it affects the time spent on the internet.
Now … your turn Try to answer the same question, following this pattern.
Now … let’s move on. Question 1, my hometown.
This time, I will give you facts and you arrange in an answer.
My hometown is Da Nang. Fifth largest city in Viet Nam. Is in Central Vietnam. Near historic town Hoi An. Important port. Many tourists. Has a cable car and a dragon bridge. Famous for its beach.
Thank you for letting me introduce to you my hometown which is Da Nang, one of the biggest cities in Vietnam, although it is much smaller than Ha Noi or Sai Gon. My hometown is in the middle … in central Viet Nam, I mean, sorry, and had many tourists. They come to see many things such as the Dragon Bridge, go on the cable car or for swimming. Also, Da Nang is very near many famous places such as Hoi An. As it is on the coast, my hometown is also a busy port.
Information in first sentence
Discourse marker ‘ although‘
Correcting a mistake in line 3
A list of three items in lines 4 and 5
Change of sentence structure in the last line: instead of saying, “My hometown is also a busy port because it is on the coast,” I started with the end of that sentence (it is on the coast) and replaced ‘because’ with ‘as’ (though because would also be all right to use).
Rearrange these sentences, starting with the section in italics.
The London Tube needs repairing because it is so old.
Many people have to stay home because of COVID 19
We must buy vegetables because Jenny doesn’t eat meat.
Colin is now studying in Boston because he got an 8.5 in his IELTS test.
Answers at end of blog
1 = without a shadow of a doubt
2 = without further ado
3 = feeling of triumph
Because it is so old the London Tube needs repairing.
As it is so old, the London Tube needs repairing.
As the London Tube is so old, it needs repairing (notice how the pronoun ‘it’ moves).
Due to / Because of COVID 19, many people have to stay home.
Because Jenny doesn’t eat meat, we must buy vegetables.
As he got an 8.5 in his IELTS test, Colin is now studying in Boston.