Adult Class, Level 3: If he had known it was International Woman’s Day …

21st October for 22nd October 2019. AEF 9A pp 84 – 85

Warm up: Hit the ground running (or at least talking).

As always a model is a good idea; hence my Thai friend is coming to Vietnam:

Image result for two thai ladies

Ms Namsum is young and energetic. She’s into (really enjoy) clubs, sightseeing and shopping.

I suggest she starts the day with a traditional bowl of pho then goes to Sai Gon centre. She can walk there from her hotel in District 1 or take a taxi (Vinasun or Malin ONLY). She will be out of the heat and has a lot of shopping choices and places to eat or grab a coffee. She could rest at her hotel in the afternoon, then go to Nguyen Hue walking street when it gets cooler in the evening. She has many restaurants in this area. Furthermore, there are many English-language menus. Finally, she can go to Bui Vien street where there are many clubs and bars, as well as many tourists speaking English.

What do they students think ? Is that a good plan ? Have I missed something important ?

Language to use:

I see your point

That’s a good idea but …

If I may make a suggestion …

I’m not sure that’s such a good idea.

For example – That’s a good idea but you haven’t thought about sightseeing.

Or

Bui Vien can be very noisy so I’m not sure that’s such a good idea for a young lady on her own.

Two of my friends are coming to Sai Gon; the students, in two groups, have to arrange a fun day including sightseeing, shopping, eating and transportation. Then they have to compare their itineraries and exchange views and opinions. The students learn how to politely disagree with each and put forward their ideas and support their choices.

Image result for two english men
Tom and David

PLAN A DAY FOR TOM & DAVID

Where can they eat ?

What could they see or visit ?

How can they travel around ?

What can they buy as souvenirs ?

Where could they go at night ?

What safety advice would you give ?

What you need to know:

Both are 45-years old. They have good jobs and a good income. They like history and culture. They really enjoy good food and wine. Neither speaks any Vietnamese. They are too old for very loud clubs but they don’t mind having a few beers and maybe seeing some live music.

The students can make a presentation, and use the computer for images or maps to illustrate their plan. Then the other team can explain what they have organised, and the reasons why. I will decide which team has made the best choice.

Tonight’s main focus is the third conditional

This means 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.

Yesterday was Woman’s Day but …

Related image
Image result for angry asain lady

Alan didn’t know it was Woman’s Day subsequently his girlfriend, Ms Nhi, was extremely upset !

If he had known it was Woman’s Day, he would have bought her a present, some flowers and taken her out to eat.

However, it is too late NOW ! He’s in the doghouse (in trouble).

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. 

And so to book work and communication activities.

Adding adjectives, increasing interest.

14th October 2019

How would you describe this lady ? Where is she ? What is the day like ?
How adjectives add information and colour to speech and writing.

Making lemonade out of lemons – this is an expression which means making something good happen out of something bad. Allow me to elaborate – I was taking a Level 1 adult-talking class. The work is all prepared for me, with powerpoint slides and recordings, as well as print-outs. However, the theme was quite advanced for this level. The subject was economics, vocabulary included such gems as ‘manufacturing’ and ‘exports’. All very interesting, but far above the resources of a beginners’ class. And then the students arrived … after a few introductory questions, it became clear that I would have to abandon the lesson and somehow improvise a class at beginner level.

As the class consisted of young ladies, I chose hair and clothes … and how to use adjectives to build up setences.

It is understandable that students focus more on learning nouns and verbs, with just a smattering of common adjectives. However, I think it’s a good idea that students learn and be encouraged to use two or three adjectives from an early stage, so it becomes a natural part of their English (as well as boosting their scores in oral tests).

So, back to my class; three young ladies with very limited English but, fortuitously, also with three different hairstyles.

Image result for asain girl, long brown hair

Let’s start very simply; Ms Kim (this is a Google image, not my real student) has long hair. OK, but we can add more … what colour is it … is it straight or wavy ? Finally, let’s be polite and complimentary … Ms Kim has beautiful long wavy brown hair.

The students may have to learn hairstyles or shapes (wavy, pony-tail, bangs, pleated), and students should learn a small number of new words every lesson. It helps if they can see them in the class and then use them in controlled speaking.

So, without much effort, their sentence length had doubled. Next to Ms Kim was Ms My

Related image

Once the students had a word bank and some practice, they were able to describe Ms My as having a beautiful long black ponytail, or beautiful long black straight hair, tied into a ponytail. Fortunately Ms Anh has a different style.

Image result for asain girl, medium hair

But now, it was clear my students were comfortable with ‘beautiful’ so time for some synonyms – stunning, gorgeous, eye-catching. Ms Anh has medium-length hair or, as I insist on a full sentence:

Ms Anh has gorgeous medium-length brown hair. But we can go further – let’s compare Ms Anh’s hair with Ms Kim – both have brown hair, yet different shades. Thus we introduce dark and light:

Ms Anh has eye-catching medium-length dark-brown hair.

It’s also very rewarding to hear students start building sentences after struggling to say three or four words just five minutes earlier. And so, we continue … let’s turn to jewellery using the students themselves as examples; someone will have earrings (studs or long), another will have a neckless, a bracelet, rings etc. I ask Ms Anh to show her ring … it is gold, while Ms My has a silver one. Or, at least silver-coloured !

Then we turn to clothes, and first elicit different types of material and patterns:

silk // cotton // denim // leather //

plain // floral // striped // checked

Image result for asian girl in check shirt

So now, when they see a picture like this, the students will be able to describe the lady’s hair, jewellery and clothes and by extension, the room in which she is situated.

In terms of grammar, there is an order of adjectives, though I would not introduce this too early on. Instead, I would stress the opinion word is first, while size is before colour (eye-catching short light-blue skirt).

The website for the above chart is:

https://www.hip-books.com/teachers/writing-about-reading/adjectives/

Now, let’s return to the first picture, a young friend of mine whom we shall call Ms Ngoc. Students can work together and give me as much information as they can. This includes her hair, clothes but also what she looks like, where she is and what time of day. Furthermore, how does the weather look ? How does she look ?

Finally, a good activity is to board some common adjectives and have the students give the opposites or antonyms:

expensive // genuine // cheerful // delicious // interesting // honest // generous

This is continued in subsequent lessons, so students become used to incorporating two or maybe three adjectives in sentences. And them or course … we have adverbs … but that is another story !

Adult Class, Level 3 (class 2): She said, she said.

7th October for 8th October 2019. AEF 8A (1, 5 & 6), pp. 74-75, 77

Sentence building – becoming fluent and coherent

Use

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

Vietnam is famous for coffee; coffee shops are ubiquitous. In fact, there are so many, it’s hard to see (difficult to understand) how they stay in business let alone turn a profit.

Be that as it may, let’s use this as a learning opportunity. To practice making longer sentences, and as a warm up exercise, the students can ask each other, “Where do you go for coffee ?”

Tips:

Don’t answer the question directly and immediately; Begin with a short introduction:

Sai Gon has so many coffee shops, some are cheap while others can be quite expensive although they have a wide range of delicious coffee. Personally, I like going to …

Then

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

Personally, I like Tap Coffee which is an independent shop where I live. I enjoy going there so much because the owner is very friendly and tries to speak English with me. There isn’t a lot of choice, so I order cappuccino with hot, fresh milk. In my opinion, it is good value and tastes delicious. What I like about the shop is the free wifi, the comfortable chairs and the atmosphere. Furthermore, it is usually very quiet and it therefore a good place to read. I love to put my feet up, kick back and sip my damn fine coffee.

Image result for damn fine coffee

Before the exercise, elicit and board as many relevant words and phrases as required. The students have a discourse marker list, so I could insist that they use certain words (moreover, therefore, consequently etc). Additionally, I’ll need to explain vernacular phrases such as ‘kick back’ and ‘put my feet up’.

IF a student doesn’t like coffee, then they can say where they go and what they drink. IF they don’t go anywhere or like anything (yes, I have had that in a class), then they can explain WHY NOT!

Key vocabulary: ambience // aroma //atmosphere

Now, their turn; after this model, they must tell me about their favourite app on their phone. Give them five minutes to write a short piece.

Image result for iphone apps

After, the students can read to each other, and we can incorporate their answers into tonight’s grammar: reported speech.

For example, Ms Jane is speaking with Mr Tony:

Jane, “I really love the iTunes app.”

Tony, “Oh, for me, I prefer YouTube because I can watch music videos. I will send you a link to The Beatles.”

This is called direct speech. If I want to repeat what they said, I use indirect or reported speech. Look what happens to the subject and the verb:

Jane said that she really loved the iTunes app. (or She said she really loved …)

The subject changes from 1st person (I) to third person (she), while the verb alters from simple present to simple past.

What happens with Tony ? Look for the verb(s) then put them into simple past. Change pronouns to the 3rd person.

Now – changing reported speech back to direct speech.

He said the egg was perfect

(Change the past simple verb to simple present)

Now, here’s the actual quote (around the 2:28 mark):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crPVJ3CXs1g

This is one of my favourite clips about Sai Gon: Mark Weins eating a fairly typical Viet breakfast … but enjoying it SO MUCH !

Image result for mark wiens face

Student Survey

Student must ask three people, what they usually eat for breakfast, and drink, as well as where they eat; do they go out, or cook at home ? Following that, they have to report to the class on their findings, using reported speech e.g.

She said (that) she usually cooked at home, but occasionally ate out when she felt too tired.

Then we have the book work and grammar practice. To end, we can have an eyewitness game. Students work in pairs, one having their backs to the board. On the screen, I show a man or lady. The first student has to describe, in as much detail, what is happening and how the person looks. Give them a minute or two. Then, the second student must report to me what they have learnt. Finally, they are allowed to see the picture, to compare the reported speech with the actuality. Photos could include:

Image result for Hari won singing
Related image
Image result for boy eating chocolate cake
Image result for egyptian lady
Image result for laughing rabbi
Image result for sir alex screaming

Young Learners, Level 5: Welcome to Athens.

3rd October for 6th October 2019. E Up U6 L1.

An Introduction to Greece: location, history, lifestyle.

Image result for greek flag
The flag of Greece
Image result for mediterranean map

I shall also bring a globe to the class, as this is more visceral than internet images. The students, in small groups (or else the globe will be destroyed) have to find Greece. Now, to review recent vocabulary, what do the students think of these lifestyles ?

First, the food: Does it look healthy ? What other adjectives can the students add ?

Image result for greek food

Some typical Greek food: olives, cheese,vegetables, fish, meat and bread. Also, we have some sweet food:

Image result for greek food

Next, lifestyles – what about these photos:

Image result for jogging up the acropolis
Image result for greek man smoking

How about this Greek dance ? Maybe some of the more active students would like to try !

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_kele6tedo

Image result for greek dancing

Now, Greek history and myth. On the island of Crete, there lived the Minotaur, half-man, half-bull. He lived underground in a big maze called the labyrinth. Every year, the King of Athens had to send 14 children for the Minotaur to eat.

Image result for greek minotaur

The king had a son called Theseus. He was a hero. He decided to go and kill the Minotaur.

Image result for Theseus

The King of Crete had a daughter called Ariadne. When she saw Theseus, she decided to help him. She gave Theseus a big ball of string. He tied it to the door of the labyrinth, then used it so he wouldn’t get lost (it would be a good idea to get some string and tie it to the door handle, or at least act out the motion).

Image result for labyrinth
Image result for Theseus with ariadne's string

Theseus found the Minotaur and killed him. Then he sailed back to Athens with Ariadne (I’m being economical with the legend here; the students are aged ten and eleven).

The students will be learning about the Parthenon in the next lessons, so this is a way of introducing them to Greece and its history. I’ll board words such as ‘bull’, ‘labyrinth’, ‘sailed’, ‘hero’ and ‘decided’. Then, after the students have written them down, they can watch this Lego version and tell me what is happening- start at 0:23.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-zWkDElTyc

Many children will know superheroes such as Spiderman, Iron Man etc. How does Theseus compare ? Whom do they like best ?

Then, onto the lesson. Today it’s about measurements, so although its important, it will not be as exciting as Theseus and the Minotaur.

The class is rather large, (twenty-one students) the room is rather small, which limits the scope for kinetic activities. Remember, these are still young children, some of whom will not really want to be in class on a weekend, so anything to vary the lesson and maintain their interest is worth trying.

I often put the class into small groups and then hand out a board and marker. The teams race to be first to write a sentence or key words from the lesson.

Another activity is to put two sets of flash cards on the floor and choose two students. They have to walk or hop from card to card, saying the phrase on the card. To make it more challenging, they have to hop with both hands on their heads (or some such variation). Quickly, two more students

Finally, to make the lesson more inter-active, one student per team can ask another student from another team to say what is on a flash-card and the answer has to be within five seconds. Points should be awarded to encourage the competition.

And what better way to end the lesson than with the theme from the film ‘Zorba the Greek’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkXmPAStp8Y

IELTS 5- 6.5: All you need is love … and relative pronouns

25th September 2019

Tonight I want to focus on forming complex sentences in order to boost the speaking prowess of my students. Being able to speak in long sentences, with subordinate clauses and relative pronouns, linked by appropriate discourse markers, will improve their scores in the speaking tests, along with use of stress, intonation, chunking, and a liberal smattering of expressions and vernacular, thereby demonstrating a familiarity with different uses of English.

So, without further ado … complex sentences. Let’s kick off with some basic information about my friend Pete:

Pete (left) with drummer Kenny Jones of The Small Faces & The Who

Pete’s family are Irish. He was born in Kent, south England. He loves music especially Jazz and he can play saxophone, keyboards, guitar and bass. He is 40 years old. He is bald, and wears glasses. Currently he plays bass in a band called ‘The Deep Six’. They have a video on YouTube. In the photo, Pete is with the famous 60s drummer Kenny Jones. He was in The Small Faces. Later he joined The Who after their original drummer died.

Example:

Pete, who was born in Kent in the south of England, is of Irish heritage. Although he is just forty, Pete looks older, probably due to the fact that he is bald, as well as having to wear glasses. His great passion in life is music, especially Jazz, but his interest is not merely passive; he plays several instruments. In addition to saxophone and keyboards, Pete is proficient on guitar. Having said that, he actually plays bass now in a band named The Deep Six, who have a video on YouTube. Pete is seen here with the legendary drummer Kenny Jones who rose to fame in the 60s as drummer for chart-topping band The Small Faces before joining The Who following the death of their original drummer.

And here is said video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-_u-W_3jWk&list=LLfquznE0joCgmA3v1PIQ0CQ&index=6&t=0s

I am sure if you watch the video, give it a ‘thumbs up’ and ‘like’, Pete will be tickled pink.

Now, a quick practice:

This is Wei Minzhi. She was born near Beijing. She was chosen to be in a Chinese film called ‘Not One Less’. She was 13. She played a substitute teacher but had no experience teaching (and no experience acting). The area is very poor. Some of the children have to leave school to work. The film was shown all over Europe, even at special film festivals. She was famous. She did no more acting. She studied in USA. She lives in Hawaii. Wei is married and has two children.

Students have five minutes to reorganise this information into a style more suited to an IELTS student.

Now – a Socratic activity; students are arranged in small groups, selected by choosing a card (Ace, 2 or 3), given a task and have to collate information and present it to the class, utilising the resources available, namely internet for facts, images or videos. Let’s revisit some old friends; first one of my favourite authors, Dr Franz Kafka:

Image result for kafka

Born: 1883 Prague, Czech Republic (at the time, part of the Austro-Hungarian empire) // Died 1924 in Austria. Never married, engaged twice. Had three sisters. Was vegetarian. Difficult relationship with his father. Famous for writing, but only produced three novels, all of which were published after his death. Most famous of these is ‘The Trial’ which has a famous opening line, “Somebody must have made a false accusation against Joseph K., for he was arrested one morning without having done anything wrong.” This book is seen as a warning about totalitarian governments. He lived in Prague which is Czech and Protestant, but he spoke and wrote in German, and he was Jewish. He is one of the most influential writers of the Twentieth Century, and his name has become an adjective, ‘Kafkaesque’ meaning impenetrable, convoluted, mysterious and unsolvable. More information can easily be found online, for example:

https://www.dw.com/en/franz-kafka-the-trial/a-45774582

Now let’s turn to John Lennon, seen here with his Japanese wife, Yoko Ono (also an artist, but more avant-garde).

Image result for john lennon

John was born in Liverpool, during World War II, in 1940. Liverpool was a port, so was a target for German bombers. He grew up very poor. At school he was rebellious, but liked art. When he first heard Rock ‘n’ Roll, he knew he had to be a singer. He formed The Beatles. His guitar playing was enthusiastic but basic. He wrote many songs which have become classics. When The Beatles split up in 1970 he went solo. His most famous solo work is the ‘Imagine’ LP. The title track has the lyric, “Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too.” He protested against the war in Vietnam. He was shot in 1980 outside of his New York apartment. He has two sons, Julian by his first wife, and Sean from Yoko.

The third group will get NO help from me – they shouldn’t need it. Their subject is “the father of the Indo-Chinese people, and his name is Ho Chi Minh.”

Image result for Uncle Ho

This task involves the students working together, assigning tasks, then producing and presenting their report. All members of the team have to speak. Furthermore, they should be encouraged to use English during the preparation stage, only resorting to Vietnamese for clarification or translation of new words.

Quick end game: After the book work, which I have to teach, my hands are tied, we can unwind with some speaking practice.

Using discourse markers: I give teams two words which they have to incorporate into a sentence, for example ‘therefore‘ and ‘subsequently‘.

having said that & furthermore

moreover & consequently

initially & eventually

likewise & specifically

meanwhile & notwithstanding

on the whole & instead

What Difference Does It Make ? : I give students a paper with two words or phrases that are related but different. They have to clarify the distinction, for example

teacher / headmaster

educate / bring up

take an exam / retake an exam

do homework / do housework

quite common / ubiquitous

required subject / optional subject

similarity with / disparity between

skim / extrapolate

And to play us out, let’s go back to John Lennon and his iconic song, ‘Imagine’. The music starts around 0:40:

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

Nothing to kill or die for … Peace xx

Adult Class, Level 3 (mixed): You practice what I preach.

17th September for 23rd September. AEF 3 pp. 50 – 51

Last week, we covered past tense – simple, continuous and perfect. However, that is a lot to take in, especially for students who are not so confident. Looking at charts and learning the jargon can be daunting and far too theoretical.

This problem has long been identified and addressed; grammar, as theory, reduced to a minimal. Grammar, used in writing and more importantly speaking, maximised.

Therefore, my policy in this block of lessons (four per block) is to reduce book work, simplify the theory and try to allocate at least half the lesson to student-talking time.

Last night’s lesson seemed to work well; the Socratic approach which makes the students collect information and then collate it into a presentation. This was followed by students reading to each other in small groups, with some useful expressions to use … and repeat and repeat and …yeah, you get the idea.

Let’s go to work !

Image result for go to work

But first, back to basics. Some students are not fluent in the three forms of basic verbs:

Grammar – verb practice

Here’s the 15 most common:

infinite \ present // past // past participle (verb 3)

1to bewas werebeen
2to havehadhad
3to dodiddone
4to saysaidsaid
5to gowentgone
6to getgotgot/gotten
7to makemademade
8to knowknewknown
9to thinkthoughtthought
10to taketooktaken
11to seesawseen
12to comecamecome
13to wantwantedwanted
14to useusedused
15to findfoundfound

Regular verbs, just add -‘ed’. However, as you see, in this list only one common verb, ‘want’, is regular.

NOTE: ‘to be’ is different: I am hungry You are hungry She is hungry.

Now, practice: In groups of three or four, they have to ask each other questions in order to feel more natural using the past tense. Lets’s start simply with the simple past:

What did you do today ? PAST SIMPLE

Each student takes turns describing their day. Always give ideas, as some students spent too much time thinking of what to say, whereas the purpose is to speak.

Related image
Related image
Image result for go to school
Image result for easy rider bike
Related image

I will also board: buy / drink / surf the internet / help parents / cook / do homework

To make it more interactive, the students can ask follow-up questions, such as, “What did you eat for lunch ?”, “What time did you start school ?”, “How did you get to work or school ?” etc. Groups can monitor each other to make sure past tense is being used properly.

NEXT: Past Continuous. Subject was doing something in the past ….

Example: Last night I was listening to T-ara:

Image result for T-ar

However, we usually use past continuous to say we were doing something WHEN something new happened.

EXAMPLE: I was listening to T-ara when someone knocked on my door.

The structure is Subject + was or were + verbing, followed by past simple

Try this: dream // alarm clock ring

He was dreaming when the alarm clock rang.

Now – practice: Make a sentence from these pairs of photos:

Image result for reading
Image result for telephone ring
Related image
Image result for rain
Image result for angry teacher
Image result for pulp fiction jules eating
Image result for pulp fiction honey bunny

Finally, the past perfect. Two things happened in the past, one before the other.

Image result for Kafka
Image result for Berlin 1920

The students ‘met’ Dr Kafka last week.

Dr Franz Kafka had lived all his life in Prague until he moved to Berlin in the 1920s.

Subject + has or had + verb 3 then use past simple.

Try these:

John Lennon – in The Beatles / goes solo in 1970

Image result for john lennon beatles
Image result for john lennon imagine

Dali – paint over 1 500 paintings / dies 1989

Image result for dali
Image result for dali tomb

Bringing it closer to home, Bac Ho (Uncle Ho Chi Minh) – work London / meet these young Germans.

Image result for uncle ho in Paris
Image result for uncle ho in russia

Finally, for presentation, the students can be arranged in four groups (draw playing cards so students work with new partners). I will give them ten minutes to work together and make a short presentation, with all members speaking, about the above four historical figures. Those who draw Ho Chi Minh should have an advantage, so I will be expecting more from them.

Presentations should include:

Date and place of birth.

Why there are famous

Give examples of their most famous works or activities

Where they lived

When and how they died.

ALSO – why we should remember them.

Then, I will turn to the books and hand-outs, before returning to some speaking practice before the end.

Adult Class Level 3 (mixed): Touched by the Hand of God

16th September 2019

Tonight’s class is a ‘mixed bag‘: the abilities of the students vary greatly, and this causes a lot of problems and frustrations for the teacher. A lot of the assigned work will simply be over the heads of most of the students. The solution is to simplify the lesson, an ‘unplugged‘ version if you like. I also want the students speaking as much as possible.

A lot of Vietnamese, especially at a low level, are very passive. Several times I have asked students questions, and their response is to point at themselves and laugh, as if to say, “You’re asking ME ?”

Another major annoyance is students arriving late. This simply means that I can’t start a lesson for fifteen or twenty minutes. To fill the time I need an activity that is quite fun but also prepares the students for tonight’s grammar – the past tense (simple, continuous and perfect).

Warm Up: My Saturday. I’ll show the students some pictures and they have to construct a story about my day. I will stress that it is all in the past, and hopefully they will correct each other if they make a mistake in grammar.

For reference, last Saturday saw horrendous flooding in the late afternoon. Let’s start my day around 3.30pm when I came to school:

Image result for arrivingat school

My class ………… (start) at 4.15, so I spent my time …..

Image result for surfing the internet

Then my class ……….. (begin): However, my students ………( be) terrible !

Image result for screaming asian kids
Image result for screaming asian kids

After twenty minutes, I …….. (feel) ……………………………….

Related image

Finally, the lesson calmed down, and I …….. (read) …………

Image result for mooncake story

And then the rain …….. (begin), “The jolly old rain,” and I …… (have) to go home:

Image result for Saigon flood

As I have no motorbike, I ………. (book) Grabbike. However, the water ……. (be) too deep and we …….. (have) to walk. Finally, I ………. (give) up and ……..

Image result for Saigon flood

But, when I ……. (arrive) home, my iPhone …… (be) …..

Image result for iphone red screen
The dreaded red screen of death

Activity 1: Finding information.

I will make a short presentation about Vietnam:

Image result for vietnam flag

The facts include the capital, the population, the weather in HCM, the language spoken and reasons why the country is famous:

Image result for vietnam ao dài

I will then put the class in four groups (they can select a playing card, face-down, ace to four, so as to prevent the same people always working together). I will assign a country to each group: Egypt, South Korea, Canada and Brazil. Around the room, they will find information sheets. Once they have gathered the basic facts, they have to make a presentation to the class, using the class computer to enhance the experience.

I will probably need to be very hands-on during this activity, especially as they have to use discourse markers in order to link the sentences together.

Activity 2: Introductions. I will give each student a short paper with some information. In their groups, they have to read them, one at a time, while the others write down the information. I will board some appropriate language:

I’m sorry, could you repeat that, please ?

Could you spell that, please ?

I didn’t catch the phone number

Could you please speak a little slower ?

As this is done in groups, the students should feel less shy. Furthermore, as they are reading from a sheet, they don’t have to think of what to say.

Listening: The book work is generally too advanced for this class, thus leading to boredom and frustration, leading to talking, using mobile phones, sleeping etc. Instead, I’ll start with a beginner’s conversation from our school database, or from this website:

https://www.newsinlevels.com/products/toxic-water-in-fukushima-level-1/

This website uses very slow and clear diction, as well as introducing new vocabulary. Furthermore, it is a piece of world news about which my students may not be so familiar.

Related image
Fukishima nuclear plant after the earthquake.

I shall try the book work listening, but it if appears to be falling on stony ground, I’ll abort the mission.

The grammar, past tense, should be easier (Vietnamese students seem to be better at grammar than their speaking would indicate, probably as they are taught this at school at the expense of actually speaking English).

A simple way of clarifying the past perfect is to use a time line:

Image result for english past tense grammar timeline

And a good interlude game is to board some irregular verbs and have the students shout out the past tense:

buy // teach // sleep // jump // study // write // read // fly

I shall reduce the reading to one section, a story which is still a sore point with English people; Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ goal:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ccNkksrfls

The final section of the lesson is speaking but again, I feel the book work is asking too much of the students. Rather, I’ll have the students work in pairs. They have to speak for one minute on a basic subject. I will board some tips:

Buy time – that’s an interesting subject … // how can I put it ?

Give reasons – because …

Use adjectives – iPhone X is good – The iPhone X is good as well as very modern and attractive.

Give examples – two or three will not only make your point more interesting, it will encourage you to speak for a longer time.

Discourse markers – to link ideas together or start sentences.

EXAMPLE: What mobile phone do you have or want ?

Oh, that’s an interesting question because my phone has just died. Yes, it was destroyed in the flood last weekend. Therefore, I’m looking for a new one. In the past, I have had phone by Samsung and LG, both famous multi-national Korean companies. I was very disappointed by the camera on the Samsung because it wasn’t very advanced. Additionally, it was terrible in bright sunlight. The LG, on the other hand, was fantastic as it had many manual settings such as focus, filters and zoom. However, one day it simply stopped working. I took it to a shop but they said it was totally broken. Apple is my favourite; I’ve had my iPhone for many years and, until the flood, I never had a single problem with it. Well, maybe it’s time for an update … yes, let’s look on the bright side. I think Apple are already talking about iPhone 11. Unfortunately, this is far too expensive for me. Even the iPhone X is out of my budget. Possibly I will be looking for a 6 or 7 or, if the price is right, maybe an 8. I only really use my phone for the camera, as I love taking photos and making short film clips, as well as internet apps such as Viber, online banking and, of course, Grabbike. Still, you never know … maybe I will find a great bargain and buy a different make this time.

Subjects will be:

Music // Vietnamese food // shopping // having pets // living with family // learning English//

And hopefully, after the lesson, everyone will have spoken a lot and learnt many new words and expressions which will now be a part of their vocabulary

IELTS 5 – 6.5: Extra activities

10th September for 11th September 2019 pp. 22 – 23

Tonight’s lesson is quite full, focusing on speaking and pronunciation, with extra worksheets to encourage longer sentences and the use of IELTS-preferred language. Subsequently, there is no so much for a teacher to prepare. Having said that, the students generally respond well to more active exercises. As such, I’ve prepared a handful of said items.

Warm Up – students arrive on Viet time, so I always start with a minor exercise. Tonight, we will go over some new vocabulary and then apply in short sentences. Last week, we covered:

disparity // tongue in cheek // consider // extrapolate // significance

And we need to increase the frequency of discourse markers:

subsequently // therefore // consequently

First, elicit the meanings, then decide which words or expressions fill these gaps ?

You must scan the article quickly in order to ……….. the relevant information.

There is a huge ………. between the super rich and the poor in many countries.

Image result for super rich super poor

The students just played with their phones in class. …………. many failed their test.

I need time to …………. your proposal.

What was the ………… of 30th April 1975 ?

He refused to ask directions and …………. was completely lost.

“Vietnam is such a clean, environmentally-friendly country,” John said, ……………..

BONUS POINTS:

What does Thay Paul drink in the morning …?

Tony was busy ……………………………… to his friend (phoning).

What is the name of those three dots (…) in a text ?

Can you think of a good anecdote ? Oh, I can ……………… (remember something)

Next Up: What’s the story.

Here, I board some key words and the students have to try to devise a plot of a film:

China // rural // poverty // teenage teacher // naughty // runaway // search // appeal on TV // subsequently // reunited.

Give the students a few minutes to come up with a plot-line, and listen to their ideas.

Show this clip and see how close (or miles away) they were: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgtEYDc1JW4

NOT ONE LESS, (YI GE DOU BU NENG SHAO), Wei Minzhi, 1999, (c) Sony Pictures Classics

This short trailer is also great for listening as well as learning new vocabulary.

We have a lot to get through tonight, so time to hit the books, and cover the extra speaking activities.

Movin’ on: Speaking practice

I have list of general, small talk questions. The task is to respond in such a way as to impress an IELTS teacher. As always, best to start with an example, so a simple, very open question:

What kind of music do you like ?

One could just list some genres, but that wouldn’t cut it for IELTS. So, to increase sentence length, start with a short introduction, for example:

Music is very important in my life; I listen to some form of music every day. I really couldn’t imagine life without songs.

Then go on to explain in detail. People rarely only like one type of music, so that opens up the scope of the response:

When I was younger, of course I liked pop music such as (list two or three examples), but nowadays, I find myself listening more to (name some different genres).

Then how do you listen to music ? Computer, You Tube, Spotify, MP3 player, on your phone ? Do you buy, stream or download. Do you buy CDs ?

Can you play an instrument ? If so, which one(s). If not, you can still talk about it:

Although I love music, I don’t actually play any instruments, though I have always wanted to learn (the piano, guitar, oboe etc), and, who knows … maybe in the future I will.

Then turn the conversation; is there any music you don’t like ? This will enable the speaker to use an appropriate discourse marker:

Be that as it may // That notwithstanding // Having said that, I absolutely detest (give an example or examples – are there occasions when you are forced to listen to music ?) karaoke, which is so prevalent in Viet Nam, not to mention drunken wedding party ‘singing’.

I have a list of several questions. Students can work in small groups or pairs and choose one question about which they feel most confident. After a short preparation time, they must speak without repetition, hesitation or deviation – their partners can check this.

Finally, as an endgame, I can play some music and the students have to identify the genre from the above list.

Sweet ‘Love is Like Oxygen’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXJ4TZSXtzc

Nirvana ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’

watch?v=hTWKbfoikeg

Chic ‘Good Times’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Er9xGRolrT4

Stray Cats ‘Stray Cat Strut’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbAyj1h9vI0

And on that note … lesson over.

Young Learners, Level 3: Final Lesson

4th September for 7th September 2019. E Up 3 pp. 40 – 41 Final Lesson 1 – 4 review.

Today is the last lesson, so a lot more writing and work books for the students. There’s also a special Autumn Festival event at the end of the class, so my planning can be quite short. I’d like to make the first part active and interesting, but also reinforcing language and grammar from the recent lessons.

Warm Up: Small groups with boards and markers. Write four things people use for eating (fork, knife, spoon, chopsticks).

Pass around four flashcards (fork, knife, spoon & cup). Student has to say:

“This fork is mine.”

Then pass it on … meanwhile, give the first student a second card:

“This knife is mine.”

Suddenly I say STOP !

I say ‘me’.

The class has to say “This is my spoon – it is mine.”

I will need my TA to explain this procedure . I will board: me – mine / you – yours etc.

I repeat with ‘you’, ‘his’, ‘her’.

Run ‘n’ write: where can I buy a shirt ? Eat soup and salad ? Watch a movie ? Play football ? Students, in pairs, must run to the board and write the word.

Mime: I take a student aside and show a card of an illness. Student then mimes the condition (headache, stomachache, fever, cold). Answer must be in the form of a sentence: “He has a headache“, etc.

Next, to review four countries about which they read last lesson. Mix up the countries:

yektyru // anapj // sirusa // omixce

Bring a globe to the class. Two students must find the four countries. Next, tell me about Vietnam:

Image result for viet flag
Image result for viet students

(Stock photo from Google. NOT my students.)

Follow the pattern in the book and tell me about Vietnam

[We’re from Mexico. This is our flag. It’s ours. It’s green, white and red.]

Now … tell me about Teacher Paul

Image result for uk flag

He’s from … // This is …… // It’s ….. (possessive) // It’s ….. (colours) .

Finally, role-playing, asking prices and identifying cultural items. Students can decide their own prices. They can work in small groups or in pairs, to make sure everyone has a chance to speak.

Excuse me, how much is this, please ?

Oh, no … that is too much // OK, I’ll take it.

Then they must conclude by saying, “It’s a present for my ….” and I quickly show a family card (grandparents / parents / aunt / uncle / cousin or cousins).

To end on a bum note (or notes) … let’s hear the Russian National Anthem … and then played by an Egyptian orchestra.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOAtz8xWM0w

And now the Egyptian version:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yHbAhFnfrA

And then, time to hit the books. The workbook extends over three pages, so we’ll do a little, then check as a class. A fond farewell to a lovely class. Cam on 🙂

IELTS 5 – 6.5: “I don’t like cricket …”

2nd September for Wednesday 4th September. Listening pp. 20 – 21

Tonight’s focus is on listening, which is perhaps the hardest part of learning English. I often mention the disparity between reading a text and actually hearing said text spoken, with contractions, glottal stops, chunking not to mention accents and accelerated articulation.

Last week, the class were surprisingly lively, and seemed to enjoy some role-playing activities, to practise speaking. I warned them that a listening lesson was coming up, and they were stoical about it, one student even saying that they understand, and it’s not my fault. I have to follow the syllabus, my hands are tied … but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun !

Warm Up: As students are arriving, I’ll start by relating a simple anecdote. The students then have to repeat the important information. The second time, I’ll include more information, and more the third time … and so on. For example:

On Monday, I watched a Korean film called ‘… ing’, which was made in 2003. It’s a romantic drama and is a real tearjerker.

Yesterday, I woke up at 5.50, drank two cups of damn fine coffee, and checked my emails, posted a blog and caught up with friends on Facebook.

Speaking of Facebook, one of my favourite films is ‘The Social Network’ about how the company was founded. It was made in 2010 and based on a book that was published in 2009. I really love this scene in the film which features a song called ‘Dreadlock Holiday’ by the band 10cc (can watch up to 0:45).

Image result for social network caribbean night

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tVYr-a33Bw

BONUS POINTS … at the beginning of the scene, some young Jewish men are speaking about why Jewish guys like Asian girls … what, according to the character Eduardo, is the reason (This is one of my favourite all-time cinema quotes) ?

As with all tonight’s real-life clips, we’ll see if any of the students can repeat the quote, aiming for pronunciation, chunking and a natural rhythm.

Speaking of, apropos of ‘Dreadlock Holiday’, can the students understand the first verse and chorus ? This link has the lyrics, so I can turn off the projector and just have them listen, then listen again with the words.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q659IaXrS3Y

Next up, a version of Chinese Whispers (which is probably a politically incorrect name now). Be that as it may, (and no offence whatsoever to our northern neighbours) the game works like this (assuming that most of the students have arrived, the Vietnamese not being the most punctual of people, and that’s not racist, it’s a fact – they even have a name for it, which translates as ‘rubber-band time’):

Class in two teams. I take the first person of each team outside and give them a separate sentence. They must go back to the class, tell their neighbour and see if the final person is able to repeat the line. Can be repeated depending on class reaction.

A good activity to encourage inter-student communication is to put the class into two or three groups. Each group is handed a paper with some information. One person has to read aloud without showing the paper, and the others have to see how much they can understand. The speaker may be asked to repeat, so it’s also a good way to introduce phrases. A typical card may be:

I’m looking to speak with Ms Nguyen // I’m in the office from 11.00 – 15.00 // I want to discuss the new school building // I work for Vietnam News // Call me on 032 734 9201.

Useful Expressions:

Could you repeat that, please ?

I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your number.

Would you be so kind as to leave your name ?

Let me make a note. Hold the line.

Is there a message I can take ?

[With a small group, this could be done one student at a time, but may be intimidating for some students.]

And then, it’s time to hit the books – it’s high time we hit the books.

End game: To continue the listening, but bringing it alive, I’ll show a couple of evergreen clips. One is from ‘Twin Peaks’, a cult TV show from the 1990s. The main character, like the writer of this blog, loves coffee. The students have to copy the body language and say:

“Wait a minute, wait a minute …. this is, excuse me, a damn fine cup of coffee.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxwcQ1dapw8

Finally, the late, great, Peter O’Toole on the David Letterman chat show. The host is a fast-talking American, the actor, an Irish-born, incredibly charismatic, flamboyant old-time movie star. He is asked to tell an anecdote, and rather than a pedestrian, “Let me see,” he delivers, with perfect timing:

“Oh, I think I can shuffle through my memory.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Fl3bOeXvyI&list=PL97HViQblvdEM3zsauRxnIg1baFTNmsDM&index=25&t=51s

Related image

Listening Tips: I have a plethora of clips and exercises on a previous blog: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2019/01/23/listening-skills-tips-and-links/