16th August for 19th August 2019. AEF 3B pp. 28 – 29
Review: comparatives and superaltives
Objectives: increase vocabulary and sentence building skills. Encourage more talking, especially between students, using target language.
Warm up: Just to get the student’s settled in (and to allow for students arriving up to an hour late) and to help them build longer sentences. Compare the following:
We have two public transport vehicles, two buses. The first is from Singapore, the second from Sai Gon.
EXAMPLE: The bus from Singapore is cleaner than the Sai Gon bus.
To extend this, using a relative clause:
The first bus, which is from Singapore, is cleaner than the second bus, which is from HCM City.
To further extend, using relative clauses and discourse markers:
The first bus is from Singapore, which is known for its cleanliness, and is the most attractive as well as looking the most modern of the two. Having said that, buses in HCM City, despite being somewhat dirty, are remarkably cheap, just 2 000 VND for students, 6 000 for adults.
Try making complex sentences from these pairs of images:
Now compare these two songs: The former (first) is British from the 1980s. The band is The Specials, the song is called ‘Stereotypes’, the latter (last) is a modern pop song from Vietnam.
Wednesday 14th for Thursday 15th August 2019. AEF 10B pp. 98 – 99
Vocabulary: Crime and investigation
Grammar: Tag questions
Review: icons and symbols, relative clauses
Warm Up: Asian icons
Last week, the book focused on American icons, so let’s bring it closer to home. First activity, students in small groups have to suggest some Asian icons or iconic images. I want to know their ideas on actors, buildings, products or companies, cultural images or even street scenes.
Next, relative clauses and sentence building. Here’s an example:
The Merlion, which is a symbol of Singapore, is a mythical creature that is half lion, half fish although no lions have ever lived in the city state.
The above sentence has three points of interest. Firstly, there is the relative clause used to add more information. Here the subject is the Merlion, a thing, so the relative pronoun is ‘which‘. Secondly, I use a discourse marker to connect ideas together in one sentence, namely ‘although‘, linking two opposites (a positive to a negative and vice versa). Lastly, I used the term ‘city state’ to prevent me from using the name ‘Singapore’ twice in the same sentence.
Try these … I’m looking for the correct relative pronoun and then the most detailed sentences or short passages.
Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
Vietnamese Pho (noodle soup with beef or chicken)
Chinese philosopher Master Kong (Confucius in English) 551 BC – 479 BC
Finally – write a sentence about YOUR hometown. If it’s not Sai Gon, explain where it is, how to get there, what it’s famous for (or if it’s not particularly famous for anything). As a link to tonight’s theme, here’s an icon from MY hometown:
Sherlock Holmes, who was a fictional detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, lived at 221B Baker Street which in is central London. Today it is a museum, admission £15 for adults, attracting tourists from all over the world.
Then it’s time to get to tonight’s topic – murder, unsolved crimes and mystery. The lesson focuses on the mysterious death of the actress Natalie Wood. To introduce her, I’ll show a short clip of her acting, then the actual news report on TV on her death:
Are you from Korea ? (a normal question, where we don’t know the answer)
You’re (you are) from Korea, aren’t you ? (using the tag ‘aren’t you’ to confirm what we think or know)
Take the pronoun (here it is ‘you’) and then the verb (‘are’). Reverse the verb, that is, make it negative then add the pronoun. Hence ‘are’ becomes ‘are not’ = aren’t.
Bangkok is the capital of Thailand, ……….. ?
Natalie Wood was American, …………….. ?
We still don’t know who killed her, ………….. ? (here the verb is negative, so make it positive)
He’s a brilliant actor, ………….. ?
End activities: depending on time, students, in groups, can organise an itinerary for two of my friends who will be visiting Sai Gon soon. They want to see all the iconic sights and partake of typical Vietnamese activities. Having said that, their interests differ widely.
Simon loves culture, history and museums as well as being into sports and physical activities. Therefore he wants to see and try as much as possible. He has heard about snake wine and is very curious.
Jenny finds museums unbearably boring. She is a shopaholic, can shop till she drops. Furthermore she can’t take the heat and is also vegetarian.
Clearly, they will need to compromise … what do you suggest ? Be creative – think outside the box.
Tonight is a new class and experience has taught me to downplay expectations. It’s also quite a large class, about seventeen students, so I’m expecting the whole spectrum of attitudes: motivated, respectful, attentive, apathetic, disrespectful, antagonist. Be that as it may, let’s go in with a positive attitude (and see how long that lasts).
For a new group it’s best to avoid direct questions as students can be shy about speaking in front of the class. However, they DO need to speak, so I’ve prepared a basic questionnaire for them to ask each other. They will need to get up and walk around, asking three different people some basic questions. Naturally, the questions are secondary; getting the students used to communicating with each other in English is the point.
Also, I have to accept that students will be arriving 15, 20, 30 minutes, maybe even an hour late.
Judging the atmosphere in the room, I may actually start with some basic games, asking what they know about London or the UK. The students can be put into small groups to give them a safer speaking environment. If I feel it’s appropriate, I’ll show the ‘Kids Guide to London’ video on YouTube:
This may seem a little strange for an adult class, but it introduces natural speaking (how we link words together), new vocabulary and some fixed expressions. Also, an ‘adult’ class can mean students over the age of fourteen, and usually the classes are mostly comprised of students in their late teens … I’ll save my thoughts on those for another blog.
Tonight’s main focus is the third conditional
This is 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.
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 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.
At level 3, the books can be very text-heavy, and reading can be boring for students. As mentioned, I don’t know the ability and level of the students. One method is to have the students read just one paragraph and underline how many words they don’t know. If the amount is very high, then I know the level is too high … and I’m in trouble. I’ll have to improvise a lesson.
If (yes, let’s use conditionals) the reading poses no problems, I could have the students working in pairs. One student reads a paragraph and then tells their partner the main information. This is then reversed.
If the students want to learn, and come with energy and motivation, it should be a great lesson. However … this is not always the case … will time fly or will it drag ?
Cutting it a bit fine, as this lesson begins in just over four hours. I’ve substituted this class before and, being diplomatic, they need a non-standard teaching method. Just going through the course book, expecting students to do the assigned work – to talk together in English, to practice and produce – is for the birds ! It ain’t gonna happen, brother !
What we have here is a class of teenagers … yeah … an adult class comprised solely of teenagers … to answer Bob Geldof, that is WHY I don’t like Mondays.
The answer … simply to be crazier than the students. It has the element of surprise.
Last time, after preparing thirty minutes of activities and getting no response, I sat next to the students and MADE them speak to me. I asked one boy (yes, he was still in school uniform) a question and it was a deer caught in the headlights – “He’s asking me a question … in English … and expects me to answer ?”
So, without further ado, tonight’s lesson plan which involves First conditional, future clauses, reading and speaking. On the surface, I’m dead in the water – however, I have some tricks up my sleeve ….
First activity will be something I learnt from my time with a theatre group (never more than five people but that constitutes a ‘group’). I’ll draw a red dot on the floor and get all the class to stand around it (yes, I know getting the class up from their chairs will probably take up most of the lesson). The exercise is to focus all of our energy at the spot. We start be pointing our right hand at it for eight seconds, then changing to our left hand, our right leg followed by our left. This is repeated for four seconds, two seconds and finally one second. I think it’s a fair bet that none of the students have started a lesson in that manner before.
Next, I shall invoke the help of my friend Dali. I shall make the students say his name, elongating it as long as possible, while twirling my (imaginary) moustache. Then I shall show them his photo and an example of his work:
I will try to elicit, to get feedback, from the class. Last week, I covered this class and I did a lesson about personality adjectives. How would they describe Dali, just from his picture, and what do they think about his art ? I will guide them towards the subject, the colours, the background. Hopefully, it will be inspiring to at least some of the students.
Now, grammar time, First Conditional.
If I have 10 million VND, I will buy a Honda motorbike.
Conditional + subject + verb …… (comma) sub + will + verb …
First conditional uses present tense ( have) and will do something. It is used when something is very possible. In Vietnam, 10 million VND is not an impossible amount for a basic motorbike.
HOWEVER, If I had 100 million VND (not so likely) I would buy ….
To test comprehension, I’ll board some incorrect sentences and see if the students can change them:
If you’ll learn English you are get a good job
My mum will hit me unless I does get good grades
She won’t going to bed until he came home
If you buy an Apple X, you would be happy
After you leave the class, you would be terribly sad.
Finally, in this rather short post, some pre-teaching for the reading section.
The words are:
How could they apply them to the following pictures:
Both Mozart and Beethoven were incredibly gifted children. Mozart’s first composition was written when he was just five years old.
President Trump plans to build a wall between USA and Mexico. Not everyone thinks this a good idea, while some totally approve of it. It has made many people very angry.
Now, how about this sign I saw in Indonesia (Yes – this is genuine, hand on heart) ?
How would they describe this young lady:
And finally, what do they students understand by this picture ?
So, we shall see how my little rebels deal with the lesson. If all else fails, I can make then sit through some REAL music:
Tomorrow night I’m substituting this adult class. I’ve taught them before, so most of the faces should be familiar. I’m not sure they will be over the Moon to see me again; maybe their hearts will sink. So, as a warm up, while students turn up and get settled, a quick review of new and recent expressions. I’ll board five expressions and let the students match with the meaning:
over the moon
complete waste of time
lose your temper
must be a nightmare
my heart sank
Now they have to match with these:
a. A terrible situation or experience
b. to be totally happy
c. to be totally disappointed
d. to become very angry
e. doing something but it produces nothing; it is useless and pointless.
Now practice – which expression would you use here:
He lives above a shop that has open-air karaoke every night.
She got 95% in her test and is incredibly happy.
John was nearly hit by a motorcycle; he was furious.
When the students saw Thay Paul, they were unhappy and disappointed.
Trying to teach physics to dogs is not going to do any good !
I’ll ask the students what the woman is complaining about (the woman is complaining about some Asians speaking Korean in a USA coffee shop).
This is also a good chance for the students to hear other accents; the clip is from USA, so the voices will be different to my British. Furthermore, this can promote some new vocabulary. Is the lady being reasonable or unreasonable ? Does she have a fair point ? Is she right to complain ? How would the students feel if this happened to them ?
Following this, we can board some ‘dos and don’ts’ about complaining, then I’ll give a situation or situations. Students have five minutes to prepare a short conversation:
The food in a restaurant is cold and not properly cooked
A new smart phone doesn’t work properly
A hotel room is not as good as expected
A neighbour is having a loud party with karaoke … and it is 11.30pm on a Monday.
Following this, I’ll move onto the book work but with a difference. I’ve noticed how many students’ hearts sink when they have to open their books. After a conversation with a colleague, I hit upon an idea: I will do the book work, but as an activity or game. For example, the first exercise is pronunciation. How to pronounce ten words with correct stress and intonation. Instead of the students working from the book, I’ll say each word three different ways. In small teams, the students must then decide the correct version and say it. By saying it as a group or class, it prevent people from becoming embarrassed. The words include ‘experience’, ‘qualifications’ and ‘apply.’
Another book exercise involved writing questions about someone’s job. I’ll turn this into a questionnaire, students having to get up and ask each other questions. This involves speaking, listening and writing (& reading the questions) so it exercises many skills, as well as getting the students up from their seats (hopefully) and moving around.
This is basically one third of the book work covered without opening the book. But then, we have to finally take out the bad boy, open it up and start reading. Tonight’s reading is quite a chuck of text; the subject is asking rich business people to invest in a new idea. There is a show in the UK called ‘Dragon’s Den’, which features this concept, and apparently the US version is called ‘Shark Tank.’ What do these names suggest ? Into the dragon’s den is a British expression for going into or doing something unpleasant or dangerous.
As with any reading, the teacher must go through the text first and look for any problem words, or highlight useful, everyday expressions. These are then pre-taught.
Still, looking at a page of text can be daunting for a student, especially after a long working day. One way to break it down, is for students to work in pairs. One reads the first paragraph, then paraphrases it to the other. The process is then switched. However, the students may just prefer to read alone.
The last part of the lesson is speaking. Students are given some time to think up an invention of their own (they are given guides, for example, a new type of gadget, or food, or phone app. The point here is to get the students talking, learning how to ‘pitch’, what kind of language and presentation skills are needed. As a quick break, I can show some examples of people pitching ideas … but things don’t go to plan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYSSYm0b2wk
This is a lesson plan for an adult class I teach comprised mainly of professional engineers and mechanics. The level is mixed, as is natural with all classes, but I would place most students at Intermediate level. In order to boost them to the next stage, I will introduce more expressions, higher vocabulary and more student talking time.
I’ll be trying to implement a CELTA-style plan: ‘Present, Practice, Produce’ (PPP) which basically means I demonstrate some new language, allow the students to practice and then use the language on their own, checking for pronunciation, intonation and context. The key word is PRACTICE; whatever your field, whatever natural talent you may possess, you have to be disciplined and work, train … which brings us (neatly, I thought) to our subject – the Olympics.
Aside – the themes aren’t really that important, they are merely a starting point for learning. Having said that, they have to hold some measure of interest for the student. Allow me to quote the C15th monk John Lydgate, “You can’t please all the people, all of the time.” Even if some of the students aren’t big sports fans, they will at least be aware of the Games, and should find the videos interesting and beneficial.
I’ll begin with a video about the Olympics. It’s aimed at young native speakers, which is helpful for English – learners as the language will be easier to follow. Additionally, it will introduce some European history to my Vietnamese learners, and afford them the chance to listen to native speakers at a natural pace. And now, without further ado, the video:
Video: Listening practice
Try to watch before the lesson, and make a note of any new vocabulary.
listen for: gather together/ for the length of the games/ common ground/ truce
in honour of/ originally/ ancient/ off and on/ alternating / interlocking/ myth/
Questions – Ask each other Speaking practice
When were the first Games ? When were the final (ancient) games held ?
Who was Zeus ?
How many events were there at first ? What events were later added ?
What were winners given ?
Where and when were the first modern games staged ?
What are the Paralympics ?
What are gold medals made of ?
Why were the five colours of the rings chosen ?
What is the goal of the Olympics ?
“The most important thing is not to win but to take part.” Do you agree ?
What do you think of the video ? Give positive and negative reactions.
Try to use some of the following expressions:
specular / impressive / co-ordinated / visually stunning / you get what you pay for
a waste of money / a drain on natural resources / spectacle but no substance
Team work speaking practice
The Olympics are going to be held in Vietnam. Is this good or bad ?
Divide the class into two teams, one ‘for’, the other ‘against’.
Points to consider:
The cost – how will it be financed ?
How can it generate revenue for Vietnam ?
Impact on the environment
Does Vietnam have the infrastructure to cope ?
Is south-east Asia a good choice in terms of climate ?
Is Vietnam a good choice ?
Does it have big cities ?
Does it have space for an Olympic village ?
What about crime and petty theft ?
Are the police able to deal with the influx of crowds ?
Do the Vietnamese people care enough about sports ?
Is Vietnam enthusiastic about sports ?
Politics – people from all different countries and political beliefs will arrive. Could that be an issue ?
The legacy – what will happen after the Games are over ?
This is from a ‘high-brow’ newspaper and quotes a figure of £8.921 billion. Can Vietnam afford this kind of money ? In China, a lot of money went on infrastructure such as improving airports, subways and roads, and it has been claimed that a profit of $146 was generated. However, Montreal took over 30 years to pay off debts incurred by hosting the Olympics.
What could Vietnam organise for an opening ceremony ?
Make a plan for the next lesson. Think about celebrating the country’s traditions, nature, economy, history, beauty. What would attract people to Vietnam ?
Tonight is the last lesson of the four-week block, so will culminate in an oral test: I will listen to all the students individually for three minutes or so, then give a grade and some brief feedback.
The bookwork covers vocabulary, speaking and pronunciation, so that’s a great opportunity to prepare the students for the speaking review.
I’ve just finished a short booklet about how intermediate learners can move up to advanced levels:
The book advocates teaching / learning collocations (which I always teach) and ‘chunks’ of language, or frequently used expressions.
Collocations are words that always go together, for example take a photo (not do a photo, make a photo), jump on a bus, grab a bite to eat, make your mind up etc.
This can be so helpful to an English-language learner, as the words form one unit – ‘take a photo’ is ONE unit, not three separate words. This can really help in reading – instead of seeing a mass of words, patterns will emerge, almost like breaking a code. With practice, students will be able to predict a sentence / phrase just by its opening word/s.
Frequently used phrases are beneficial to make speakers sound more natural (and that should be the aim, in order to progress to a higher level of proficiency), and they are so common, they can be used in everyday situations. On p. 18, Richards quotes some common expressions:
This one’s on meIt was lovely to see you I’ll be making a move then
I see what you mean Thanks for coming Let me think about it
I don’t believe a word of it Just looking, thanks It doesn’t matter
I don’t get the point I’ll be with you in a minute You look great today
As I was saying
We’ll talk about how and where these expressions can be used, then do some exercises, role-playing. Classic CELTA-style method: present then do controlled practice (the third stage is produce – to see if the students are able to use the phrases with correct intonation and in the correct situation).
Friends are having drinks in a pub / bar
You go into a shop but not necessarily to buy anything
A customer arrives but you are busy
You meet an old friend
You don’t understand what someone is trying to prove
You understand what someone thinks (but not necessarily agree with)
Someone tells you a story – you think it is false.
You are asked a question but need time to consider
There is a small problem / Someone upsets you but you want to make it OK
To continue with a conversation that was interrupted.
Then the students will work in pairs to produce simple conversations, for example: Oh, it’s late, I’m tired / I’ll be making a move then (I will leave).
I’ll then introduce a visual activity, as it’s good to vary the tasks; something I learnt from Eisenstein’s film theory (Sergi Eisenstein, Soviet filmmaker, NOT Albert Einstein, physicist), the ‘Montage of Attractions.’ This is basically having lots of different things following each other, linked together, to maintain interest and constant stimulation. More of this in other posts as it is especially applicable to young learners.
I’ll show a slide of various activities and ask which are acceptable, polite, impolite, illegal. This comes under the umbrella heading of culture shock – different customs, different countries. For example, this friendly gesture in the UK is impolite in Vietnam:
This, I falsely believed, was the universal sign for ‘good luck’ so, during tests, I (being polite and friendly), wished my students (usually young learners), ‘good luck’. No one took the time to tell me it didn’t mean that in Vietnam; it is, in fact, a representation of female genitalia. Whoops ! What message my students took from my inadvertent gesture is a matter of speculation. Here are some other social no-nos:
Lastly, I will conduct a simplified version of last night’s lesson. I show photos of my bad day (it was one of those days). I’ll board some details, times and events, show some photos and ask the students to make sentences, pushing them to employ adjectives, adverbs and discourse markers. The full activity can be found on last night’s IELTS notes
Before a test, most students find it hard to concentrate on learning new material, so I’ll use the 90 minutes to encourage as much speaking as possible. Hopefully, they’ll be more prepared for the oral test and will do themselves proud.
This blog site really saved my bacon last night – allow me to explain …
Those who know me know that, as much I love the idea of technology, I know NOTHING about it. People have to show me how my iPhone works, how to access websites, even basics such as how to turn the computer on in the first place ! Then, when I’m on a piece of equipment … it breaks, crashes, gives up the ghost, malfunctions … dies (just last weekend I broke BOTH the office photocopiers – technicians had to be called).
In Greek mythology, there was a King called Midas who asked for a gift – he wanted to be able to turn everything to gold, just by touching it. I seem to have the ‘anti-Midas touch’ – every piece of hardware I touch breaks.
Last night, in the classroom, I wasn’t able to access the class ebook, nor my Powerpoint presentations (ppt) which I was going to use as warm-ups for the class. Fortunately, this blog page opened and I was able to use the IELTS blog for the class. The theme last night became ‘keep clam and carry on.’
So, in case a similar event occurs, here’s tonight’s Adult Class:
When I looked at the work, my heart sank. The text books are not aimed specifically at Vietnamese students, but for all students, possibly mixed-language classes. Subsequently, some of the themes are of limited interest to my students; consequently my class are going to be less than enthralled. I need to jazz up the lesson !
These classes are arranged in blocks of four, the last part of the last lesson being a spoken exam. Therefore, I will allocate the second part of tonight’s class to speaking activities and, to warm up, I’ll have them speak to each other but in the form of a market research survey. Quite simply, I need a new mobile / cell phone.
However, I don’t know which one to buy ..
It is very confusing – I am confused.
I love Apple but … they can be very expensive
In addition, the reviews have been less than favourable:
So I need to do some research, read some online reviews or do some market research.
The students will be arranged in small groups. One member will be responsible for gathering the information, then reporting back to me. I shall then collate all the data and display the findings in chart form (which will be beneficial for those who wish to study IELTS later).
After this, I shall do a vocabulary- building exercise – showing some basic words and a ‘better’, higher-level word (a ‘low-frequency’ word as some books term them).
‘I’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’
Examples: believe field niece priest achieve
receive ceiling receipt deceive
These are exceptions to the rule
This leads into the book work. Many study get confused with the I am / It is structure. For example, some teenagers and university students have wished to proclaim their disapproval of my classes, and have very politely shouted out, “I am boring.” They of course mean to say ‘I am bored’, which causes laughter from those who know the grammar, and a certain satisfaction on my part. Instant karma, baby !
The class will then practise the correct -ed or -ing form of the words, before moving into the reading and listening part of the lesson.
I like to use real-life videos for listening when appropriate. Tonight I’ll show a YouTube clip from Mark Wiens, who is a food enthusiast. In this clip, he tries a typical Vietnamese breakfast, and I want to see how much my class understands. Here, the paralinguistics are important; body language, intonation, word stress
Mark tries what is basically a pretty normal breakfast but he seems to be really enjoying it. Other students have found him very amusing, though feel he was overcharged at 91 000 VND (for two).
After break, I want the students to practise speaking, so I’ve prepared a list of general questions.
What did you do on New Year’s Eve ?
What was the last film you saw ? Did you like it ?
How many people live in your house ?
What is hard about learning English ?
How often do you chat online ?
Which social media sites do you use ?
What is your favourite food ?
Do you often eat western food ? Do you sometimes eat fast food ?
What sports do you play ?
What do you feel about shopping ?
What would you most like to buy ?
Do you like living in the city or countryside ?
Have you ever sang karaoke ?
What country would you like to visit ?
Do any of your family live outside of Vietnam ?
Have you tried Korean or Japanese food ? What did you think ?
This can be arranged in a ‘speed-dating’ format. Students sit facing each other, speak for a few minutes, then move on to the next student. This way, they are able to practise speaking and listening with a variety of people, not just their friends. There is generally some resistance (or even refusal) with adult students to comply, so I encourage them by using non-confrontational words such as ‘suggest‘ or ‘recommend‘. Having said that, last night in my IELTS class I used, “Teacher says ‘stand up’ ” … and half the class actually DID stand up and mingle. Hey – whatever works !
A good game to end is a variation of the British radio show ‘Just a Minute.’ Students are given a subject (for example, HCM City) and must speak for one minute without repetition, hesitation or deviation. This can be done in pairs, and they can time each other on their mobiles. In order to practise for next week’s test, we can discuss what makes a good answer, and how to use discourse markers to link ideas together.
Another ‘trick’ is the use of phrases or words to ‘buy time’ while they think of an answer. This can include:
Let me think ….
How can I put it ?
That’s an interesting question …
And also repeating, in part, the question but using intonation:
Q: What will you do tonight ?
A: Tonight, I will ….. (go home and study / meet friends)
Then, if time allows, I’ll play the ‘eyewitness’ game. This involves showing some faces (three men followed by five women) for a limited amount of time, then seeing how much they can remember.
Tonight’s objectives will be for students to be able to differentiate between confused / confusing, learn some new vocabulary and be more confident and proficient speaking in longer, more fluent sentences … and to hear how an American ‘foodie’ loves Vietnamese breakfasts.
Christmas is not such a big holiday in Vietnam. I wasn’t expecting many students, but 13 out of 17 showed up, proving they had nothing better to do, while I was 6000 miles away from the nearest mince pie. And so … to work.
Today’s theme was traffic, road safety and Top Gear ! However, the text book we use is American, and the lesson focused on the American version. I was having none of that ! It was Clarkson, May and Hamster or nothing !
For those who don’t know, Top Gear is a motoring program from the UK that has been broadcasting for decades, and sold all over the world. Many countries make their own version, but you can’t beat the British humour and irreverence of the original. The most famous hosts were Jeremy Clarkson, James May & Richard ‘hamster’ Hammond.
The lesson began with a vocabulary overload – lots of words and phrases associated with driving:
rush hour ring road metro/subway/ U-Bahn/ the Tube congested
blind spot flyover motorway roundabout road rage one-way street
traffic jam chockablock cutting in cut me off hit every red light !
What are the issues facing you when you travel around Sai Gon ?
[what problems do you have]
This is an opinion question, so start your answer with:
In my opinion / In my experience/ For me / I think / I believe / It seems to me
First – think of the positives – Is it easy to travel around ?
Is petrol / gas cheap ? Are there many stations ?
Can anyone attain a driver’s licence ?
What about public transport ? Cheap, reliable ?
Conversely, think of the negatives – time spent travelling.
Costs – insurance, petrol, maintenance
Dangers – pollution
Condition of roads
Is traffic getting worse in HCM ? Why do you think so ?
What can be done to ease this situation ?
Finally – what is your conclusion.There will probably be both good and bad points.
What the heck is happening here ?
What do you think will happen to the driver ? In your opinion …
Taking a Viet driving test
The second clip is from When Top Gear (UK) came to Vietnam, in 2008. They had a challenge – to buy a car then drive from HCM City to Hanoi.
You can start watching from 0.45 – 4.00. The men are speaking at natural speed, but see how much you understand.
How much are they given ?
Where do they try to buy cars ?
What do they decide to do ?
This was followed by some dialogue practice:
THEME: Traffic Dialogue
Ian and Tom are driving to a business meeting.
Examples of how to use the new vocabulary in everyday situations
Ian Look at all this congestion ! It’s chockablock. What’s that idiot doing ?
Tom He’s trying to cut in. The other car’s blocked him. Oh … he’s getting out.
Ian He’s punching the car !Ha, over there, a traffic cop. Now he’s screwed !
Tom Yeah, road rage. Oh, at last, we’re on the move … and stop. What can we do ?
Ian Make the second turning at the roundabout. Take the ring road.
Tom Cool ! Avoid the rush hour in the city. Wish we were on the motorway.
Ian Yeah, put your foot down get there in next to no time. Why’s it so busy ?
Tom I get it, roadworks. They’re building a new flyover. That should ease traffic.
Sara & Vic are arguing in the car. Sara is driving.
Vic Why did you come this way ? District 7 at the rush hour, are you nuts ?
Sara I thought we could beat the traffic. There’s too many containers in D. 2
Vic Too many cars here and we’ve hit every red light ! Women drivers !
Sara That was sexist ! Anyway, you drive like a madman. Foot down and go !
Vic Cars are for driving, not stopping ! Take that turning, it’s quicker.
Sara That’s a one-way street, Einstein ! I hate back-seat drivers.
Vic Next time I’m driving. Women are terrible … what are you doing ?
Sara Pulling over. You can get out and walk ! Hope it doesn’t rain. See ya !
There were many new words / phrases so I suggested they apply logic.
For example, driving through busy area at rush hour is not a good idea. Therefore asking someone if they are nuts means ‘are they crazy ?’
Likewise, Einstein is a famous genius, but we use the name ironically in English – if someone does something very silly or stupid, we call them Einstein.
Other new phrases were a no-wake zones (times when people are not allowed to make noise such as boat or car engines) and the difference between attain and obtain – the former meaning to work and achieve, the latter, simply to get. People can study for years and attain a qualification OR go to a store in Bangkok and obtain a fake degree.
And on that bombshell … the blog reaches it’s destination. Safe driving everyone … and Merry Christmas.
First class at new centre so I arrived very early; needed to get class notes, and get organised. Logged into computer with new password and … not recognised. My TQM (manager) had to reset the password to default.
This was an adult pre-intermediate class and the first lesson is always important. The class is quite big, 22 students, some in their 40s, some teens but mostly early 20s. The atmosphere was good upon entering the class, students seemed friendly and polite.
We kicked off with a quick welcome, just name and then asking the students where they thought I was from. “Australia,” cried one. Couldn’t be further away. Sounds of laughter and of ice-braking. One of the younger students recognised the British accent, then London was pinpointed as my hometown.
This lead to …
First activity, STB about UK. What was the second biggest city ? Name of the famous clock, name of 007 (also a way to drill the notoriously absent final-s of James),
Traditional food (“fish & chip,”; again -s drill). Combining ice-breaking games with some pronunciation / grammar drills.
This lead to …
First partner work. I projected a document with four different examples of British food and four titles. Students had to match the title and image, with some pre-teaching. The activity:
Describing the food: could they name the food ? What did they think of it (elicit as many adjectives as possible) ? Was it healthy ? Why not ?
Trying to encourage all students to contribute, feel easy and comfortable and to demonstrate their knowledge.
About forty minutes into the lesson, the book work began. Immediate check about phrasal verbs as first activity mentioned ‘eating out’.
This lead to …
Phrasal verbs pertaining to eating
check out – check it out
pick up the cheque / bill
There was a main listening section, so I looked through the text and selected some words that could be problematic
unusual for instance partly attracted ingredients typical
Then using these in sentences: What do you need to make pho ? Those are the ingredients. What do you do every day ? That is a typical day. Viet Nam has great food, for instance pho, bun bo Hue, Mi Quang. What is the most unusual food you know ?
Today will be partly cloudy. The smell of the cooking attracted the people.
There has to be a lot of time for the students to speak with each other. Sometimes working in pairs, sometimes in small groups. Make sure the students have the vocabulary to do the activity, know what they have to do and feel motivated.
Grammar was present simple and present continuous.