Young Learners, Level 2: Classroom Activities

26th September 2020 Based on E Up Textbook 2

A compendium of classroom activities, warm up games and reviews.

Firstly, let’s get rid of this despicable habit of teaching younglings “How are you ?” “I’m fine.”

NO ONE says “I’m fine,” in the real world !

In my class, we get down and get funky. When I ask my group how they are, they reply:https://youtu.be/U5TqIdff_DQ

What better way to start a Sunday morning class ?

One purpose is to encourage writing; a senior Vietnamese official explained to me that Vietnamese customers are not used to writing. In my own experience, I have seen how hard it is to make the class, regardless of age, write down new words. It can take up to ten minutes to get the whole class to write down as little as five words. They have to find paper, pen etc, then they look bewildered at the task presented to them … they will often write down one, maybe one and a half words, then simply stop.

Therefore, I want to get them used to writing from an early age. To facilitate this, allocate a specific time when the lesson stops and the class have to write down new words.

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From the Chinese film ‘Not One Less’ Dir Zhang Yimou, 1999 and starring a young, non-professional actor Wei Minzhi

I’ve found that using hand gestures can serve an a mnemonic; allow me to illustrate. I put my thumb up, I then hold my palm up, finally I put my thumb down. This has been used to help students build a sentence with a positive verb, a negative one and an advanced discourse marker.

Why Does a Thumbs-Up Gesture Mean “okay”? | guernseydonkey.com
Open Hand, Palm To Camera With Fingers, Isolated. Man or male open hand,  fingers , #Sponsored, #Fingers, #Isolated, #Man, #Camera, #… | Open hands, Hand  palm, Image
Red thumbs down icon - Free red hand icons

This helps the younglings remember how to produce a sentence such as:

I can swim however, I can’t fly

The sentence introduces younglings to a contraction (can not = can’t) as well as a higher level discourse marker (or connector) ‘however’ (instead of merely using ‘but’). Furthermore, I drill the STRESS on the negative ‘can’t‘.

So, what vocabulary do they know ?

Thank you for your question. At this stage, they know many animals, basic body parts (finger, thumb, hand etc), about twenty adjectives, and basic verbs.

Additionally, they are able to form basic sentences.

It’s now time to move into present continuous, from “I drink” to “I am drinking.” We shall start by celebrating Mid Autumn Festival, a major holiday in Viet Nam. Here’s a song which uses the continuous “singing,” as well as new vocabulary such as “holiday,” and “lantern.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTWwgI17kTs

It is correct to capitalise the ‘m’ in moon IF we are referring to our Moon. We only have one, let’s not upset it (yes, I know it’s a popular question, ‘How many moons does Earth have ?’ and the answer seems to increase every year due to space debris both natural and man-made, not to mention that now some scientists think Earth actually DOES have two … but this is Level 2, let’s not confuse the poor blighters too much).

And now, without further ado …

Warm up games: If possible, make these team games as friendly competition makes the activities more engaging.

Teacher Says – this is great because it is kinetic, and helps to pass the opening minutes while students are arriving.

Word Bomb or Mind Map – board a simple word (e.g. animals), younglings have to shout out answers. Could try colours, body parts, food, clothes depending on class ability.

Magic Bag – I open my bag and ask “What’s in my bag ?” Class has to shout out (or write) possible items I would have in a school bag. This reviews vocabulary from a previous book. As an extension, when they see the item, they have to describe it with two or three adjectives.

Screen Test (based on a children’s TV show from the 70s) – show a short video clip, just a minute or so. Then ask questions. For example, in the Mid Autumn Festival Song, we could ask:

What is the first word we see ?

How many windows does the house have ?

How many lanterns were orange ?

What lantern did the boy hold ? A star, a fish or a doll ?

What colour dress does the girl wear ?

How many dancing moon cakes were there ?

Bonus Question: Can you name 4 different lantern shapes ?

Run and Write – any game that involves the younglings leaving their seats and writing on the board. One version is to have students write a word that begins with ‘a’, then ‘b’ … and so on. Just one person at a time (to avoid possible accidents … I only have limited space in my classroom).

Memory Recall – choose 4 – 6 students and give them a flashcard from a previous lesson. Today, we could use feelings (sad, happy, hungry, thirsty, hot & cold). Younglings stand at the front of the class and hold their card up. Class shout out the words. Then the younglings hide the cards behind their backs and change the order in which they are standing. Now I ask, for example, “What does Ms Linh have ?”

Pair work talking – this is vital in breaking the teacher- student dynamic; we need to promote more student to student interaction, but making this work is a slow train coming. Arrange class in pairs and make them ask each other basic questions. At this age (my class is in the 7 – 9 age range), it may be difficult to get boys talking to girls … at 17 – 19 it may be impossible getting boys to STOP talking to, or trying to impress, girls … but that is a different story.

Subjects could include:

How are you ? (to which the answer must not be “I’m fine.”

What animals do you like ?

What is your favourite colour ?

Do you have a brother or sister ? How many ?

What food do you like ? Can you swim ? Can you play piano ?

663 Asian Girl Piano Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock
Young Boy Asian Boy Art (Page #8 of 13) | Fine Art America

Hope this helps. Feel free to leave any comments or suggestions.

Drew's Reviews (at home): Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) | WRGB

IELTS, Speaking Test Part 3. Theme: Education

24th September 2020

Part 3 of the speaking test can be tremendously daunting. However, with some tricks up your sleeve, you will be able to ace the test, pass with flying colours and do yourself proud.

Captain Picard Facepalm Meme - Imgflip
An expression meaning to have a great idea or plan to help you be successful

I covered this in detail in a previous blog: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/09/15/ielts-speaking-test-part-3-how-to-nail-it/

So this is a brief summary, the ‘Cliffs Notes’ version, if you will.

CliffsComplete Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet: Complete Study Edition (Cliffs  Notes): Amazon.co.uk: Shakespeare, William, Jacobson, Karin, Lamb, Sidney:  0785555026179: Books
Cliffs Notes are guides for students studying Literature. There are many similar concepts online, for example Sparknotes.com

Right off the bat, relax … be cool. You merely have:

1) To demonstrate you understand the question

2) To demonstrate you have IELTS-standard language to respond

3) To reply based on either your opinion or experience. YOU DECIDE

As per usual, let’s kick off with a killer introduction. Prepare some expressions so you can adapt them for the specific question. To refresh your memory:

Well, that’s a very complicated question …

What a hard question, I may have to think about this …

I’m not sure I know how to answer that because I don’t have enough information, however …

Next stage is to explain how you’re going to answer:

in my experience

allow me to tell you what I do

I can’t speak about other people, but I …

Finally, exactly, spot on; you answer … only now, YOU are in control, you are in the driving seat. Respond in a way that will earn you points. We want to hear low-frequency words, idioms, phrasal verbs, vernacular (“big time !”). Furthermore, frame your answers in complex sentences, use body language and intonation and stress. If you can illustrate your response with an anecdote, all the better.

Should I Take an IELTS Class?

Examples

What do you think schools will be like in the future ?

This type of question invites you to give YOUR thoughts (“In my opinion,” etc)

Well, I’m currently in my last year of high school, so this is a very pertinent question for me. Naturally, I can’t foresee the future however, I could offer some predictions though, of course, this is just my opinion.

To start with, I can only speak about …… (say your country) as I don’t know enough about the educational systems in other countries.

For me, I feel that technology will play a greater part in schools, such as using the internet, working on tablets and joining online groups. Personally, I’m in a small Facebook group to help with learning English and I find it tremendously helpful and rewarding.

On the other hand, this can be extremely expensive. Providing tablets for a whole school will cost an arm and a leg, so maybe this will only occur in private schools. Furthermore, as the population increases, there will be many more students. This could lead, inevitably, to larger class sizes.

I really hope our system continues to improve although we have to be realistic; higher standards means higher costs … but I feel it will be worth the expense.

Now, that was quite a long reply but let’s break it down:

The first paragraph personalises the question, as well as adapting an introduction expression.

The second explains how you are going to answer.

The third states your main point. Moreover, it includes an anecdote (this doesn’t have to be true).

The fourth gives an opposing view – thus affording you the chance to use a discourse marker, to alter your body language and intonation, and to throw in an idiom for good measure. Also, some L-FWs, which are always impressive (if used correctly).

The final paragraph is to conclude and is, as you can clearly see, purely personal. Did you also notice the poetic repetition ? Allow me to point it out – “Higher standards means higher costs.”

Use this as a model … and now

Drew's Reviews (at home): Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) | WRGB

Teaching Notes: Thank you, Miss Linh

22nd September 2020

A quick shout-out to a great student, Ms Linh. Very briefly, I teach a 90-minute speaking class; the work is prepared form me, I just have to deliver the lesson, and check for pronunciation, intonation and stress.

Now, although the students choose which lessons and subjects to attend, they can find the subject rather tedious, the work repetitive and therefore, they get bored and when students get bored, they may project their annoyances onto the teacher, such as mumbling or whispering a response, yawning and sighing (loudly), avoiding eye contact or outright refusing to answer.

I had such a situation last night, a miserable wet Monday. I’m supposed to make the students repeat the target language until they can pronounce it perfectly … but it just wasn’t happening.

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.” – English  proverb | Free English Materials For You

Eventually, like pulling hen’s teeth, the class began talking more and trying to use the new expressions I had offered them.

At the end of the class, while some students couldn’t wait to split, one or two came up and were complimentary. The aforementioned Ms Linh said that although the subject was less than fascinating, she could see that I was really trying to make it interesting.

That was such a lovely thing to say, so now I say to you, Ms Linh:

Different Ways of Saying "Thank You" with Flowers ⋆ FloraQueen

Sai Gon General Notes: Street Food Summer 2020

22nd September 2020

A mouth-watering selection of local delicacies from street food to bakeries, small restaurants to city centre lunch bars … and a small trip to the beach for good measure.

I’m focusing mainly on food in my local area, Nguyen Duy Trinh Street in Quan (District 2):

Ho Chi Minh City Districts Overview | i Tour Vietnam Blogs

Map of Sai Gon (Ho Chi Minh City). As you can see, District 2 is south-east. It is separated from the central District 1 by the Sai Gon river. The area is undergoing a lot of construction, with many new apartment blocks springing up, new restaurants and bars, as well as keeping the traditional shophouses and street food stalls. For a closer view of my area, here is a zoom – in of Nguyen Duy Trinh, the axis of our food tour.

Chung cư cao ốc Thịnh Vượng Quận 2 giá dưới 2 tỷ | MuaBanNhaDat

Let’s kick off with a Mi Quang restaurant at 300 Nguyen Duy Trinh. The signature dish is a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup, from central Vietnam. The small amount of soup differentiates it from the ubiquitous pho. Mi Quang comes with shrimp or meat, quail eggs and the usual side dishes of herbs, chilis and lime. Prices range from 35 000 to 45 000 VND (1.18UKP to 1.50 UKP / $1.51 to $1.94.

A review can be found here:https://www.foody.vn/ho-chi-minh/mi-quang-3-anh-em-nguyen-duy-trinh/album-anh

With or without meat. Accompanied by fresh vegetables and herbs, and crispy sesame rice crackers. Notice how thick the noodles are, while the broth is far less than one gets with pho.

And the obligatory condiments blend of fish sauce, dried chilis and chili sauce:

Now for a new bubble tea shop: Royal Tea at 242 Nguyen Duy Trinh. I loved this shop; I went after work, after teaching a great but energy-consuming young learners’ class. It was a typical, humid tropical day, but inside, quiet and peaceful. Soft background music, gentle and friendly staff. Drinks around 50 000 VND ( 1.68 UKP /$2.15). Again, Foody.VN have a review (you may need to hit the ‘translate’ button):

Review:https://www.foody.vn/ho-chi-minh/royaltea-nguyen-duy-trinh

How about this for interior decor ?

This will certainly be one of my haunts (a place I like to hang out). Now, If you’ve followed my blogs, you know I am a fan of the US TV series ‘Twin Peaks’. The police officers really appreciate damn fine coffee and doughnuts (UK) donuts (USA). So, next stop, moving east on Nguyen Duy Trinh, we come to a new bakery. Great for my donuts fix, terrible for my calorie intake … but just look:

And only 18 000 VND each (60p or 77c). They sell ready-made cakes and individual slices, but the doughnuts were excellent … and dangerous ! Here’s the store front:

Don’t worry – I have a gym and swimming pool in my apartment, so I can burn off the calories and balance will be restored. Directly opposite is a street food stall, run by a Korean gentleman and his Vietnamese wife. They offer quite an eclectic mix of food:

I was able to use my extensive knowledge of Hangul (Korean) to say ‘Hello,’ and ‘Thank you.’

A little side note; you see how pavements in Sai Gon are really not designed for pedestrians. It can make walking quite arduous, not to say dangerous, certainly not a pleasure.

For sure, it’s heavy on the fast food, deep fried menu, but healthy options are available. I’ll go back for some Korean non-meat items and report later.

Recently, I had to go into District 1 on business so, as it was lunchtime, I thought I’d hang out with the office workers and go to a ‘point-and-eat’ joint: a ‘point-joint,’ (to coin a new phrase) Here, the food is displayed at the front, so for non-Vietnamese speakers you just, yeah, you guessed it, point … and eat. Service is very quick, though food does tend to be on the cold side. This was one of many in the Ton Duc Thang area of District 1. The centre of the road has been completely torn up, as they plan to construct a new bridge. The restaurant was in a side street:

See, just point and eat.

Various meat, fish and tofu dishes.

I had fried fish (a lot of de-boning required) and tofu in tomato sauce, served with rice, pickled vegetables and vegetable soup. Word of warning, the soup is often meat broth or contains small pieces of meat, so vegetarians be careful.

Fish soup, probably a mackerel or similar oily fish.

Finally, after lockdown restriction were lifted, Vietnamese were allowed to travel outside of their hometown. I was invited to a 5-star hotel in Vung Tau, less than two hours drive from Sai Gon.

Opposite the hotel was a Russian restaurant, mainly sea food, naturally, as this is a beach resort, but I was able to forego the rice or noodles, and have some western black bread … and it was delicious.

Thank you to everyone for taking the time to read my blog. I hope you found it vaguely interesting. If you have any questions about life in Viet Nam, I’d be happy to (try to) answer them, as best I can.

Furthermore, should you have any questions about English, feel free to ask.

Street Food Culture & Food Districts in Saigon
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IELTS Listening Notes

20th September 2020

Some notes I found as I was cleaning my old Apple Mac. I’m not sure where they are from; a book, website or centre notes. I thought they may be of some use to teachers of IELTS.

IELTS Listening Test - Error Correction

IELTS Listening

Before I do a listening practice, I tell my students to R.U.P.

read, underline key words and predict the answer.

TOP-DOWN LISTENING

(Going from meaning to language, using background knowledge to understand the meaning of a message).


Activities:

     Students generate a list of things they already know about a topic and things they would like to learn more about, then listen and compare.

     Students generate a set of questions they expect to hear about a topic, then listen to see if they are answered.

     Students look at the question sheet and identify its structure before listening.

     Students read a list of key points to be covered in a talk, then listen to see which ones are mentioned.

BOTTOM-UP LISTENING

(Going from language to meaning, using linguistic knowledge clues to understand the message).


Activities:

     Students listen and distinguish between positive and negative statements.

     Students listen and identify key words that occur in a spoken text.

     Students listen to a conservation and complete a form.

     Students use stress and intonation to identify word and sentence functions.

IELTS Listening Test – 10th June to 15th June 2019



Everything you need to prepare for IELTS Listening | IDP IELTS

SOME EXAMPLES OF MICRO LISTENING SKILLS:

     Discriminate among the distinctive sounds

   Recognize the functions of stress patterns, intonation contours

     Recognize reduced forms of words (contractions)

     Recognize grammatical word classes (noun, verb, etc.), systems (tense, agreement, pluralization), patterns, rules and elliptical forms

     Recognize that a particular meaning may be expressed in different grammatical forms

   Recognize cohesive devices in spoken discourse

Beautiful chinese female student Stock Photos, Royalty Free Beautiful  chinese female student Images | Depositphotos®


So, I made a lesson plan for teaching section 4 of the listening test like this.


Pre-listening:

1.       read the instructions carefully to see what they are expected to do (especially the number of words they can write for each answer) R.U.P.

2.       identify the topic of the lecture. Teacher can activate their background knowledge by asking them what they know about it, maybe showing a short video clip

3.       identify the structure of the test (how many parts, key words) so that students do not get lost in the middle of the listening

4.       pair a weak student and a strong student so that they can help each other in predicting the answers

a.       part of speech (e.g. expressions or idioms)

b.      collocations

c.       meaning (make a list of guesses to help the weaker students)


While-listening:

1.       Students listen to the recording and do the task individually.

2.       Peer check

3.       Task correction (the teacher then plays the recording again bit by bit to check the answers)


Post-listening:

1.       Students work in group to share their experience after doing the task. What difficulties they had or how they could recognize the answers. (5minutes).

To build confidence, I often play a recording up to three times, highlighting new vocabulary or expressions. I then let the students write the answer on the board, so everyone can see, correcting if necessary.

2.       sharpening the macro skils:

Activity to help students recognize paraphrases:


Students stand in 2 lines. There are 2 circles in front. The teacher shows 1 word (e.g crowded) and plays the recording. When the students hear the paraphrase of that word (e.g a lot of people), the first pair jump into the circle. Who can do that first gets 1 point for his team. The first pair then go the back and the procedure is repeated with another word. This can be adapted for older and adult students.

Activity to teach new vocabulary after listening:


The teacher can choose 5 or 6 words that he would like to teach and print them out. Then, put students into groups with a set of words for each group and play the recording. When students hear the word from that set, they have to quickly knock on their desk and take that piece of paper. Who gets the most words wins. The students in group read the words and explain the meaning. Teacher checks the pronunciation and meaning as a class.

The Teacher may wish to set a speaking task related to the topic as a post-listening  activity

I believe the students can do better if they are well-prepared in ‘pre-listening’, and for ‘post-listening’, if we can make use of the recording to teach them some skills in doing the task, they will perform better the next time.

Canadians anticipate rise in demand from Mexico - Languages Canada

Adult Speaking Class, level 3: Married Life; phrasal verbs & new expressions

19th September 2020

A varied lesson plan. Firstly, we’ll (we will) start with a talk about married life. After, we’ll focus on phrasal verbs and finally we’ll conclude with some new expressions.

Naturally there will be many opportunities for you to practise, and I’ll (I will) include the answers at the end of the blog.

Married life

Conversation Practice

Shu Qi & HK-star Stephen Fung are getting married!! Congratulations 👏👏 |  Wedding, Pre wedding photos, Wedding shoot
Getting Married in Denmark, No 1 for international couples

What advise would you give to someone getting married ?

How does life change after marriage ?

What is the normal marriage age in your country ?

Are married people expected to have children ?

How many children are expected ?

Is there pressure from family to have children ?

Is marriage ‘give and take’ ? Is it a continual compromise ?

How important are families in your country ?

Do you live in a nuclear or extended family ?

(nuclear = parents & children / extended= parents, children & grandparents, maybe aunts, uncles, nieces etc)

Britain should learn from India's family values
An extended family

Phrasal verbs

Learn more here: http://learnenglishteens.britishcouncil.org/vocabulary/advanced-vocabulary/family

Phrasal verbs: coming out // look after // hang up // turn down // give up // hang out // look up to // take after // turn up

What phrasal verb means:

take care of // spend time with friends // to be like someone // stop doing something // make music louder // make music softer (quieter) // to respect someone // turn off a phone conversation // plan to go outside

Want to Be a Better Husband? Hang Out With Good Friends - Focus on the  Family
Hang out with friends

Look after your young sister
(Treeless Mountain, South Korea, 2008)

Now … your turn

Which phrasal verb would you use?

Many people 1) ………. Nelson Mandela.

In ‘Treeless Mountain’, a young girl has to 2) ……… of her young sister.

She looks just like her mother, she really 3) ………. her.

Learning Mandarin is too hard, I 4) ………..

Are you 5) …… tomorrow night ?

New expressions / vocabulary

unique = one of a kind, there is only one of them, very special

numerous = many

typical = normal, usual

straightaway = immediately, right now

clue = evidence (the police look for a clue.) 

I haven’t got a clue = I’ve no idea !

First impressions count = the first thing you see is very important

blows your (my) mind = something so amazing, you almost can’t believe it.

Can’t judge a book by its cover = you can not tell what something or someone is like just by how it or they look.

We form a first impression within one tenth of a second of meeting someone  - Bias Beware
Making a very good first impression

Now … your turn

What words or expressions would you use ?

1. Can you please send me that email …….. (now).

2. He looks so quiet and nice, but he plays very loud guitar. That proves you …………………………………….

Welcome to the anyonecanplayguitar.co.uk YouTube channel - YouTube
He looks a very nice, quiet young man, but …

3. Don’t worry, there are ……. coffee shops on the main road.

4. Wow ! He knows so much, it totally ……………. (really surprises me)

5. You can’t replace that broken vase, it was …….. (only one of a kind).

Broken Antique Clay Pot On A White Background Stock Photo, Picture And  Royalty Free Image. Image 7542747.

6. What is 1 693 093 divided by 37 ? I …………………………. (no idea at all)

You Just BLEW MY MIND Quickmemecom You Just Blew My Mind Memes | Quickmeme  | Meme on ME.ME
How do tell them I haven't got a clue.... - Giggs Manager | Meme Generator

Answers:

take care of // look after

spend time with friends // hang out

to be like someone // take after

stop doing something // give up

make music louder // turn up

make music softer (quieter) //turn down

to respect someone // look up to

turn off a phone conversation // hang up

plan to go outside // coming out

  1. look up to 2. take care of 3. takes after 4. give up 5. coming out

New expressions

1. straightaway or immediately 2. can’t judge a book by its cover 3. numerous 4. blows my mind 5. unique 6. haven’t got a clue !

Remember … practice, practice and practice

8-Year-Old Japanese Girl Stuns Robert Plant By Nailing Led Zeppelin Drum  Part | HuffPost

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Booking a room, and hotel vocabulary.

18th September 2020

A variety of speaking exercises and pair work to help you on your travels.

 

Welcome to the Haiyatt; in China, it's not the hotel it sounds like
File:WGBC2018IN-Participants at hotel reception 01.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Booking a hotel room

Vocabulary:

adjoining rooms– rooms next to each other 

amenities– services, shops, transport

bed and breakfast – small hotel or a room in someone’s house. 

complimentary breakfast– free, included in the price. 

Deposit – money paid in advance 

High season / low season– popular times

housekeeping– cleaning staff 

late charge– extra fee for not checking out on time.

Rate– the fee per room per night, per person. 

vending machine – machine that sells snacks, drinks.

Are Hotels a Great Location for Vending Machines?
B&B Là Gì? Khám Phá Thuật Ngữ B&B Trong Nhà Hàng Khách Sạn

You are going to Bangkok and need to book a hotel. What questions would you have ?

Airplane Arriving To Bangkok Airport Travelling To Thailand by moovstock on  Envato Elements

How much is the rate for 4 people ? What time is check-in / out ?

Could I book adjoining rooms ? What is in the area ?

Where exactly is the hotel ?

How do we get to the hotel from the airport ? 

Approximately how much is the taxi ?

Getting Around Bangkok - A Guide to Taxis, Buses, Trains and Mobile Apps -  BEAT HOTEL

Make a list.

Take turns being a tourist and working on front desk / booking.

Language to use:

Receptionist: Greet the guest / Ask for ID (passport, ID card). Check how many nights the guest(s) are staying / Ask to see booking confirmation /

What else could you ask ?

Guest: Explain you have a reservation / Present ID and booking confirmation. Ask about amenities in the hotel and what to see in the local area.

You could check if the hotel has a laundry service // can they book a taxi ? / do they organise tours ? Are there vegetarian restaurants in the area, or banks, money exchange, hairdressers ? What else could you need ?

Now … your experiences:

TripAdvisor's Worst Hotels In The World - Thrillist Nation
Terrible And Dirty Broken Shower In A Cheap Hotel Stock Image - Image of  repair, cheap: 114694251

What was your favourite hotel room and why ?

 Conversely, what was your worst room ?

What was bad about it ? In what way were you disappointed ? 

How did the service excel ? Was it good value for money ?

Would you strongly recommend it ?

How did you find the staff ? Was it easy to get to ?

Is it in a safe neighbourhood ?

American Horror Story: The Cecil Hotel | by Josh Dean | Matter | Medium

IELTS: The UK school system

17th September 2020

Farewell, Baxendale and his Bash St Kids - spiked
The Bash Street Kids … from ‘The Beano’ which is a famous comic from the UK, first issued in 1938.

Tonight we have a listening lesson which, although tremendously important, not to say imperative, can be somewhat tedious for the students.

One factor is the vocabulary. If students don’t know some of the words, they will not be able to answer some of the questions; that stands to reason.

that stands to reason = it is obvious, it is common sense, it can be understood. I live in Vietnam but only speak a little Vietnamese. It stands to reason that if I spoke Vietnamese, I would be more independent.

Therefore, allow me to explain a little about the UK educational system while, at the same time, pre-teaching some new vocabulary.

First up, we have Kindergarten or nursery:

How to Help Children Achieve Kindergarten Success - Education and Career  News

As you can see, the age for Kindergarten is 3 – 5. It can be free, or parents can choose to send their children to a private Kindergarten or nursery.

Maybe the word Kindergarten looks a little strange in an English lesson – quite right, it is, in fact, a borrowed word from German. If you have seen my other IELTS posts, you may have come across ‘prima donna‘, which is a borrowed word from Italian. If you can use borrowed words in your IELTS tests, it will surely impress the examiner.

Next, we have primary school for children of 5 to 11. When I was at school, it was broken down into Infants and Juniors. Infants school was two years, then we moved up into a new building, attending four years of Junior school. This was a mixed school by which I mean boys and girls were in the same class.

Woodside Primary Academy © Julian Osley cc-by-sa/2.0 :: Geograph Britain  and Ireland
Woodside Primary school in north-east London

Following on from Primary school we have, quite logically, Secondary school:

A typical class photo from the late 1970s. As you can clearly see, this is a single-sex school. Furthermore, the pupils had to wear school uniform of trousers, blazer and school tie.

Pupils spent three years here, from ages 11 – 14 at Junior High, after which they progressed to Senior High:

Walthamstow Memories - George Monoux Grammar School

Pupils have to attend school until they are 16; it is compulsory.

You must then do one of the following until you’re 18:

  • stay in full-time education, for example at a college
  • start an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training

Read more on: https://www.gov.uk/know-when-you-can-leave-school

What options are open to you after 16 ?

Pupils can either stay at school and enter the VI (Sixth) Form, or go to a Further Education College which differ in that they offer a much wider selection of options such as vocational courses which are more practical and can help students train for a specific job. VI Forms, on the other hand, are academic (theory), preparing students for university.

The VI Form is usually in the same building as the Senior High, so pupils are familiar with the teachers and students. Going to a new college, meeting new staff and students means that time is needed to settle in or settle down.

Qualifications are imperative these days, so many students want to go to University.

149 PhD, Research and Academic Positions at the University of Cambridge, UK  - Scholar Idea

Finally, we have Adult Education which, as the name implies, is for adults who wish to further their job prospects, or simply learn for their own pleasure. As many people are working, these type of education often takes place in the evening or at weekends.

New Vocabulary:

term – part of the teaching year for example First Term is from September to December

it’s a pity – it is sad or it is unfortunate

Fresher’s Week – a week for new students (Freshmen in USA) to get to know what their college has to offer, such as clubs and events.

GCSE exams – tremendously important exams taken at age 15 or 16. Good results mean the student can to VI Form or have to re-sit the exam.

tertiary – means the third – after Primary (first) & Secondary (second), tertiary refers to Higher Education, taken after the age of 18.

NVQ National Vocational Qualification – this is more practical as opposed to academic, designed to teach skills needed for a particular job:

Construction Industry NVQ Assessments Provider | Up Level Ltd
An NVQ card stating that the holder has passed exams to work in the construction industry

BA or BSc – (Bachelor of Art or Science) degrees in the arts or science. Usually attained after a three-year course. The next step is a MA (Master’s Degree) and then a PhD.

internship – gaining real-life experience by working for a company, often for low or even no pay.

Graduate Fair – a chance for students to think about what career to follow, or what company to join. They can speak to people who represent organisations:

A trip to the fair... Okay a graduate recruitment fair. - NAO trainee blog
Fairs - The University of Nottingham

IELTS: Speaking Test, Part 3: How to nail it.

12th September 2020

Ten don'ts for the IELTS speaking test | British Council
Having to think on your feet.

My classes at campus have practised (and practised; I make those guys put their noses to the grindstone) Parts I and II of the speaking test. To recap:

Part I: 4 – 5 minutes, warm up questions. Answer with two, three or four sentences, throwing in a few L-FW (big words), idioms as appropriate, and demonstrate you know how to form a complex sentence.

Part II: 1 minute to make notes, 2 minutes solo speaking. This is your chance to shine, show all you’ve learnt, and score points for vocabulary (including idiomatic language, low-frequency words, adverbs and adjectives), grammar including, as you know, complex sentences which will earn you a higher score as well as being much more interesting to listen to as opposed to short simple sentences. Fluency, so make use of those multi-purpose sentences such as, “Well, that’s an interesting question,” “It’s funny you ask me that question because I have just been thinking about …” etc. Lastly, and not to be underrated, pronunciation, intonation and stress.

Now, we come to Part III

psycho scream

Yes, I know, it can be a nightmare ! The questions are so complex, how could you possibly answer even in your native language ? Well, you can’t … no one can, especially not in a minute or so and under the pressure of a test.

Take a look at this example:

Does the media have a positive or negative effect on the music people in your country buy ?

What a question ! You may be tempted to say, “I haven’t the foggiest idea,” “I haven’t a clue,” or “I have absolutely no idea, next question, please.”

i have no idea what you are talking about - LDS S.M.I.L.E.

The secret is to take power back – make yourself comfortable with the question … and here’s how:

Firstly, we need a great introduction. Some examples are:

Well, that’s a very complicated question …

What a hard question, I may have to think about this …

I’m not sure I know how to answer that because I don’t have enough information, however …

The secret is to take this general question and make it personal, so you can speak about what YOU know, as well as using IELTS language.

Show that you understand the question by defining ‘media’.

I usually get my information from the internet, although I know some people use TV, radio or newspapers.

For me, the internet is great for learning about new singers or groups with sites such as YouTube or Spotify as opposed to newspapers where I can only read about music.

The media is tremendously important for musicians. They are able to upload videos to YouTube, have a Facebook page or a Twitter account. Fans can know when they have a new song or go on tour.

This time, instead of using expressions such as in my opinion, you can use:

in my experience

allow me to tell you what I do

I can’t speak about other people, but I

EXAMPLE:

Well, that’s a very complicated question but I will endeavor to answer. I usually get my information from the internet, although I know some people use TV, radio or newspapers. Usually, I join a Facebook page of a band I like, or follow them on Instagram. Naturally, I look at YouTube which is great because it suggests other music I may like. Therefore, I am able to hear new artists. I’m not sure how much this affects how other people buy music. In my experience, I will buy music if I really like it, for example, downloading a song on iTunes. I can just buy the songs I like, so it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

This time we can use examples:

I’m not sure I know how to answer that because I don’t have enough information, however I can think of one example. I remember when Taylor Swift won an award for best video but Kanye West stopped her speech. This made a lot of people think very badly about him, so maybe they stopped buying his music.

Why Taylor Swift and Kanye West hate each other

I’m not sure I know how to answer that, but let me try. The media is tremendously important for musicians. They are able to upload videos to YouTube, have a Facebook page or a Twitter account. Fans can know when they have a new song or go on tour. I can’t speak about other people, but I rarely buy music anyway, just once in a blue moon.

Hyomin (T-ara) bất ngờ có mặt tại Nha Trang | Văn hóa | Thanh Niên

What a hard question, I may have to think about this … oh, I know, fans can follow their favourite singers on social media, such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. I usually get my information from the internet. I would be over the moon if a music star replied to my comment. On the other hand, if they don’t answer, some people may stop liking them.

The Shins - Simple Song (Live On Letterman) - YouTube

Well, that’s certainly a hard question. I really don’t know what other people in Vietnam do, but allow me to tell you what I do. I like to listen to English songs, to help me improve my language skills. My friends and I tell each other about English or American bands and we look up the words … the lyrics … to help us. I can give you an example. My teacher played a song in class by a band called The Shins, who are from USA. I quite liked the song although most of the words are very difficult to understand. I know one of my friends bought the last CD because he liked it so much.

US singer Kacey Musgraves slammed for sexualising Vietnamese ao dai by  wearing only top half of outfit | South China Morning Post

That’s a very complicated question. However, I can think of one singer who upset many people in Vietnam and Vietnamese people in USA. Do you know Kacey Musgraves ? She sings country music, which is not really my cup of tea, but that is not why she is famous. She wore an ao dai on stage, but only the top part … she didn’t wear the trousers. Many people thought this was so disrespectful. For me, I don’t think I would buy her records after this, even if I did like them.