motorbike. It’s quite / rather far and extremely stressful.
using Grabbike. It’s very convenient albeit rather expensive.
bus. Although it’s incredibly cheap, it’s not very pleasant.
Idioms and expressions
At work I / I’m …
find myself doing the same thing day in day out. It’s tedious.
up to eyes ! I’m always busy, attending meetings or writing reports.
have a variety of different jobs, I’m a jack of all trades; I don’t have time to get bored !
Notice the collocations
In my free time I …
enjoy watching films and playing sports. I am competitive !
adore hanging out with my friends and family.
love shopping. I can spot a bargain and I hate being ripped off !
is, for me, easy, a piece of cake. It’s very important and fun at the same time.
in my opinion, is vital for the future. It’s imperative we learn.
is a necessary task. It’s awkward and frustrating, but I need it.
is highly enjoyable and relaxing. I love to improve my mind.
Match the idiom with the meaning:
It’s raining cats and dogs // working very hard
Kick the bucket // no problem, very easy
working like a dog // to die
It costs an arm and a leg // very heavy rain
piece of cake // very expensive
FREE SPEAKING EXERCISE
ENGLISH – Why are you learning English ?
Do you enjoy learning – if so, why / if not, why not ?
What are the benefits ? Give examples.
Do you have problems with learning a language ?
Is it fair that you have to learn a second language in your own country ?
Does this open up career opportunities for you or your children ?
What, in your opinion, is the best way to learn a language ?
Interaction, free speech and a sharing of ideas
I’d like to share with you my passion which is / One of my major interests is
As you know, we (students / engineers) don’t have much free time, so when I have time to myself there’s nothing I like more than …
I have many hobbies such as … and … but tonight, I’d like to talk about …
Could you explain in more detail …. When did you start this hobby ?
How did you get into … ? Ah, that sounds interesting.
What does your girlfriend think about this ? Oh, you have no girlfriend.
Hhmmm, it’s not really my cup of tea, but I can see why you like it.
Does it take up much of your time ? Are you part of a club ?
I’m not sure I follow … (I don’t understand)
Dos and Don’ts
We have ‘free speech’ but this is tempered by social rules of politeness:
DO – appear interested and respond positively.
appropriate body language.
encourage the speaker to elucidate and expand.
ask question at a ‘turn-taking’ moment.
DON’T – say ‘I am bored because this isn’t interesting,’ or ‘I don’t care.’
start talking to your neighbour when someone else is speaking
sleep or yawn loudly
click your pen, kick your chair, make noises.
I love all types of music, but one of my favourites is Jazz. It can be exciting, or slow, but it’s always different.
Unlike other types of music, Jazz is spontaneous. This means that you never hear the same song the same way; each performance is different.
Jazz started in New Orleans but moved up to Chicago, New York and even west to California. The first records were made in 1917 and the first true Jazz genius was Louis Armstrong. If you want to hear jazz, you should listen to his records from the 1920s.
You may know some famous Jazz artists such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane or Charlie Parker. I can recommend these musicians to you as first-rate examples of Jazz.
I hope this has made you curious about Jazz, and that you go online to listen for yourself. Who knows, maybe you too will learn to love Jazz.
One student spoke about his mother’s home-cooking:
My mother has a secret recipe; firstly, she boils the beef in water and then slices it finely. Along with this, she cooks vegetables and the aromais simply wonderful, after which she mixes them together. It is mouth-watering. The rice has to be pan-fried, that is to say, no oil, just dry. The next stage is to pound the rice and finally, she puts the rice on a dish and … bon apetite ! (French for good appetite, eat well)
Extra expressions: one student told us about breaking up with his girlfriend. Initially, he said that he dumped her, but the truth was she gave him the elbow !
Try to use these regularly:
obviously, typically, on the other hand, initially, that is to say
There are so many choices in Sai Gon. Tran Nguyen has the best quality but is very expensive. On the other hand, Milano is very cheap and very convenient however, many people smoke there. Highlands is really popular. Having said that, it is not cheap. Street coffee is extremely cheap but terrible quality ! Maybe fake coffee, just chemicals.
What are your favourite coffee shops ? Why ? What factors are important ?
what / who / where / when / why
1 _When/Where_ was it taken?
2 _____________ are they?
3 _____________ took the picture?
4 _____________ do you keep the photo?
5____________ kind of camera have you got?
6 _____________ are they doing?
One of my favourite photos is of my friend Pete, who lives in Birmingham, England.
His wife took the photo last March. Pete is playing bass guitar in a studio. It looks like he is having fun. He plays in a band called ‘The Deep Six’.
I keep this photo on my computer in a file called ‘Music in Birmingham’.
What is the name of my friend ?
Where does he live ?
What guitar does he play ?
What is the name of his band ?
Where do I keep this photo ?
This is a photograph of my friend Pete. This photo is of my friend Pete.
I think he is (he’s) having fun. It looks like he’s having fun.
He takes a photo (present tense). He took a photo (past tense).
He is (he’s) in a band. He plays in a band.
To practise question words and the past tense.
what / where / why / when / who / which / how
Jan & Tina are catching up
Jan What did you do last night ? Who did you meet ?
Tina I went out with friends. We saw a movie, then drank some coffee. How about you ?
Jan I just stayed at home and played computer games. Which cinema did you go to ?
Tina At Diamond Plaza. We bought popcorn which we ate before the film began.
Jan You were very hungry ! Was the film good ?
Tina Yeah, really exciting. The tickets were incredibly cheap too.
Jan How much were they ?
Tina Only 333 000 VND (three hundred and thirty-three thousand Dong).
Speaking practice:afternoon plans
Sid What are your plans for this afternoon ?
Viv Well, I need to buy some coffee as well as some bread and milk. How about you ?
Sid Oh, I’ve got to have a meeting with the new director. He seems very strict.
Viv Yeah, I get the impression that he is very serious. However, he is professional.
Sid Right, he doesn’t appear to be a barrel of laughs. Having said that, he’s honest.
Viv Honest and fair along with being very neat and tidy. Always a plain white shirt.
Sid Remember the old boss ? Such gaudy ties ! For me, that was unprofessional.
Viv Anyway, where can I get my groceries ? Is there a convenience store nearby ?
Sid Naturally. Take the second left, go as far as the bank, then cross over. Can’t miss it.
Tonight is a new class, a block of four lessons, and phrasal verbs dominate the session – they almost take over. These, like idioms, can be very confusing for a learner, yet are an integral part of everyday English. Don’t give up, keep on trying and you’ll pick it upin next to no time.
First, as a warm up, we’ll go over some recent lessons and see how much of the lingo (slang for language), the students have picked up. They recently had a lesson about choice, confusion and making decisions … or not making decisions. Being unable to act, or to decide is known as procrastination … and is a flaw in one of Literature’s most famous characters, the prince of Denmark; I’m referring to none other than Shakespeare’s Hamlet. This quote may be familiar …
Shakespeare is a world-famous writer, and a great example of British culture … but what about Vietnam ? If I wanted to read some classic Vietnamese texts, what would the students suggest ?
The task is for the students, in small groups, to decide upon one suggestion for each of the following.
To begin with, the Great British seaside. the sun rarely peeks out so when it does, we rush off to the seaside. What can you see here:
The seaside is associated with building sandcastles, donkey rides, deck chairs, paddling, pier, sun cream and ice cream. I want to visit a typical Vietnamese beach town. Where is the best … and why ?
Now, seasides and travelling help us build up an appetite … so what to eat ? What do the students think of a traditional British breakfast (not that I’ve ever eaten one ! It’s not exactly vegetarian-friendly) ?
Again, I want to try a traditional Vietnamese breakfast. What should I eat, where should I go, what should I drink ?
Now, being British, and a teacher to boot (as well), I enjoy a beer (or two …). Here’s a typical British pub:
I’m not sure such places exist in Vietnam, but what do I know ? Maybe the students can help me ? Where could I go to drink beer and which is the best Vietnam brand ?
This is just a quick game to occupy the first part of the lesson (while students are still arriving). Let’s keep the theme of being decisive, tied in with phrasal verbs. We’ve had Shakespeare and ‘high’ culture; now it’s time to be more ‘popular’. British people over a certain age and yes, that includes me, will recognise this number (slang for a song): The music doesn’t start until around the 0:30 mark.
cigarettes / blankets / barrel of water / flare gun / torch
magnifying glass / Beatles CD / make up set / dried food
grammar study book / Angry Birds game / air rifle / sun block
I see your point but … that’s interesting, however …
I’m not sure about that I can’t go along with that
I don’t feel that is entirely right / I fail to see the merits
I respectfully disagree / I find your contention somewhat flawed
The students, first in small groups, then as a class, have to decide upon five items to help them survive in the desert. Some items are multi-purpose, for example, a CD is useless in terms of listening to music, but the reverse could be used as a mirror, to reflect the sun, while the sides are sharp and could be used for cutting. Cigarettes are loathsome and not usually associated with long life … however … in the desert, they could save your life. Snakes hate cigarette ash so, at night, light the tobacco and sprinkle the ash in a large circle, then you can safely sleep inside.
And then time to hit the books.
The early bird catches the worm … do the students understand this saying ? What do they think it means ?
To end the lesson, we could try a Family Fortunes game … in small groups, I ask questions and require four answers. They will usually be about me, for example, what four instruments can I play, what four sports do I do ? which four places have I been to in Vietnam, what do I like most about Vietnam, etc ….
And … not forgetting … what quote from Shakespeare do they know ? And they’re not going home until they say it.