25th December 2018
Christmas is not such a big holiday in Vietnam. I wasn’t expecting many students, but 13 out of 17 showed up, proving they had nothing better to do, while I was 6000 miles away from the nearest mince pie. And so … to work.
Today’s theme was traffic, road safety and Top Gear ! However, the text book we use is American, and the lesson focused on the American version. I was having none of that ! It was Clarkson, May and Hamster or nothing !
For those who don’t know, Top Gear is a motoring program from the UK that has been broadcasting for decades, and sold all over the world. Many countries make their own version, but you can’t beat the British humour and irreverence of the original. The most famous hosts were Jeremy Clarkson, James May & Richard ‘hamster’ Hammond.
The lesson began with a vocabulary overload – lots of words and phrases associated with driving:
rush hour ring road metro/subway/ U-Bahn/ the Tube congested
blind spot flyover motorway roundabout road rage one-way street
traffic jam chockablock cutting in cut me off hit every red light !
What are the issues facing you when you travel around Sai Gon ?
[what problems do you have]
This is an opinion question, so start your answer with:
In my opinion / In my experience/ For me / I think / I believe / It seems to me
First – think of the positives – Is it easy to travel around ?
Is petrol / gas cheap ? Are there many stations ?
Can anyone attain a driver’s licence ?
What about public transport ? Cheap, reliable ?
Conversely, think of the negatives – time spent travelling.
Costs – insurance, petrol, maintenance
Dangers – pollution
Condition of roads
Is traffic getting worse in HCM ? Why do you think so ?
What can be done to ease this situation ?
Finally – what is your conclusion.There will probably be both good and bad points.
What the heck is happening here ?
What do you think will happen to the driver ? In your opinion …
Taking a Viet driving test
The second clip is from When Top Gear (UK) came to Vietnam, in 2008. They had a challenge – to buy a car then drive from HCM City to Hanoi.
What could possibly go wrong ?
You can start watching from 0.45 – 4.00. The men are speaking at natural speed, but see how much you understand.
- How much are they given ?
- Where do they try to buy cars ?
- What do they decide to do ?
This was followed by some dialogue practice:
THEME: Traffic Dialogue
Ian and Tom are driving to a business meeting.
Examples of how to use the new vocabulary in everyday situations
Ian Look at all this congestion ! It’s chockablock. What’s that idiot doing ?
Tom He’s trying to cut in. The other car’s blocked him. Oh … he’s getting out.
Ian He’s punching the car !Ha, over there, a traffic cop. Now he’s screwed !
Tom Yeah, road rage. Oh, at last, we’re on the move … and stop. What can we do ?
Ian Make the second turning at the roundabout. Take the ring road.
Tom Cool ! Avoid the rush hour in the city. Wish we were on the motorway.
Ian Yeah, put your foot down get there in next to no time. Why’s it so busy ?
Tom I get it, roadworks. They’re building a new flyover. That should ease traffic.
Sara & Vic are arguing in the car. Sara is driving.
Vic Why did you come this way ? District 7 at the rush hour, are you nuts ?
Sara I thought we could beat the traffic. There’s too many containers in D. 2
Vic Too many cars here and we’ve hit every red light ! Women drivers !
Sara That was sexist ! Anyway, you drive like a madman. Foot down and go !
Vic Cars are for driving, not stopping ! Take that turning, it’s quicker.
Sara That’s a one-way street, Einstein ! I hate back-seat drivers.
Vic Next time I’m driving. Women are terrible … what are you doing ?
Sara Pulling over. You can get out and walk ! Hope it doesn’t rain. See ya !
There were many new words / phrases so I suggested they apply logic.
For example, driving through busy area at rush hour is not a good idea. Therefore asking someone if they are nuts means ‘are they crazy ?’
Likewise, Einstein is a famous genius, but we use the name ironically in English – if someone does something very silly or stupid, we call them Einstein.
Other new phrases were a no-wake zones (times when people are not allowed to make noise such as boat or car engines) and the difference between attain and obtain – the former meaning to work and achieve, the latter, simply to get. People can study for years and attain a qualification OR go to a store in Bangkok and obtain a fake degree.
And on that bombshell … the blog reaches it’s destination. Safe driving everyone … and Merry Christmas.