Adult Class, Level 2: Making your mind up !

27th May 2019

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 up in 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:

Blackpool, a famous seaside town in north England.

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.

This is a famous song that won a contest back in the day (when I was younger). See how many phrasal verbs there are in the lyrics (words of a song).

Then we can go to the desert survival game :

Desert survival

You need to select five items below to help you survive in the desert.

Factors to consider:

food, drink, heat, cold, injuries, attracting attention, wildlife

First aid kit / matches / rope / knife / compass 

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

Negotiation language

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.