26th November 2019. AEF 3 Listening Part 2 & Units 5 & 6 review (p.63)
Tonight, the lesson is heavy on listening and review. I try to get as much student-talking time as possible, so I’m got some ideas up my sleeve to, hopefully, lighten and brighten the class.
The topic is celebrity interviews, especially interviewing famous people who may be:
arrogant // self-obsessed // pretentious // obnoxious // full of themselves
Which of those words would, in your opinion, apply to these people:
Use opinion phrases (In my opinion, For me, He seems to be, I get the impression she is …)
A celebrity is anyone famous, but most often it’s an actor, musician, TV personality or just a regular person who has made the news (had a story about them in the newspaper, online media etc). Sometimes they can be arrogant or full of themselves in interviews. However, occasionally the interviewer may upset the star. What do you think is happening here [start at 04:23] in this Robert Downey Jr interview:
I have an assortment of activities for the speaking.
First up – small talk
I’ll hand out some papers with a short dialogue of small talk. This is basically learning how to keep a conversation going by using appropriate responses.
Students can use the following:
Really ? // I see // Are you ? // Right // That’s interesting // That’s a good point // Where is that exactly ? // Oh, me too // Do you enjoy it ? // Do you like it there ?
Then the students can pair up and ask each other questions such as:
Why are you studying English ?
Where do you live ?
Where would you like to visit ?
What do you do in your free time ?
What do you want to do in the future.
Students can change partners for each question.
Next up – Call My Bluff
Class put into two or three teams. Each team has a sheet with four words or phrases, followed by three definitions. A different member of the teams reads out a definition, embellishing the wording to make it more convincing. The opposing team have to guess the correct definition.
Finally, for a fun ending, the students can interview each other, but one pretends to be a difficult celebrity. They can use language from tonight’s lesson, or preferably, invent their own.
19th November for 21st November 2019 AEF 2B pp. 18 – 19
Tonight’s lesson will focus on listening, which is always a challenge for the students so, to lighten the load, not to mention the mood, I’ll organise a lot of speaking activities.
First up, a mobile phone survey:
The students will be arranged in small groups. One member will be responsible for gathering the information, then reporting back to me.
Next up – a new persona.
Students are put into two or three groups, with about four in a group. Each member is given a card with some information about their new identity. They read the information to the group who have to try to understand and write down details such as email addresses, phone numbers or Facebook accounts. Example:
Hello, my name is Tony
I’m 23 and I love shopping for shirts and ties.
I’m not into reading or books. I find them boring.
My mobile number is 0943 552 8207
It’s highly probable the other students will need to hear some of the information again, so they can use the following:
I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your phone number (email address etc)
Could you repeat that, please ?
Could you spell that, please ?
Would you mind speaking slower, please.
And then, to book work and listening exercises.
Grammar: Past perfect (for and since)
Why is this young lady so upset ?
Maybe this is the reason …
Her neighbour has been renovating his house the whole day !
He has been making a lot of noise since 8 o’clock in the morning.
He has been drilling for six hours, non-stop !
First, the past perfect formulae
Subject + have or has + been + verbing
Since used for a given time or date
For used to tell how much time.
Example – John joined his company, LPR Productions in November 2018.
He has been working for LPR since 2018
He has been working for LPR for one year.
Students than have a chance to practise by asking each other a variety of questions, on subjects ranging from work or school, to friends, holidays, sports, interests etc.
Just a Minute
Students are put in pairs. They have to speak for one minute on a subject without hesitating, repeating or deviating (speaking about a different subject). This will test the students’ ability to speak fluently, as well as giving opportunities for using discourse markers and new vocabulary learnt so far. Subject are deliberately open, for example:
food // travel // work or study // life in Sai Gon // their family // their house.
Viet Nam presentation – where should I go on holiday ?
Three teams, representing Ha Noi, Hue and Nha Trang.
This exercise encourages team work and, furthermore, allows the students to develop their intonation skills; they will have to sound excited and optimistic.
To assist, here are some words and phrases to embellish their speech:
cultural centre // historical importance // breathe-taking scenery // tranquil // relaxing // hustle and bustle // mouth-watering food // never to be forgotten //unforgettable // once in a lifetime experience.
To give some help, I can perform a quick example:
COME TO LONDON, UK’s magnificent capital city and one of the world’s GREAT cities.
SEE such iconic, historical sights such as:
Buckingham Palace, home of our Queen, Tower Bridge over the Thames river.
Visit the world-famous British Museum to see the wonders of the world, or watch a football match at Wembley Stadium, in the country that invented the sport.
There is something for everyone:
Shops; you can buy everything here, to suit all budgets, from street markets to high-end department stores. To relax, London has so many tranquil parks, right in the centre of the city. Maybe see famous movie stars at one of London’s many, beautiful theatres, or dine out at restaurants cooking traditional British food or anything from anywhere.
See Barcelona play // Attend a play at a London theatre
OR add your own ideas
Where would you go ? What would you do ? What would you buy ?
Activity: Devil’s advocate.
This is to develop argument skills, how to politely disagree with someone.
Example: one student wants to buy a beautiful, luxurious Rolex watch. It really is an outstanding timepiece:
Without doubt, this is a luxury item. The pros …
It is gorgeous and so elegant. I will feel so special wearing it. People will admire and look up to me. They will think I am wealthy and have a great career. I will attract many cute women (or handsome men, whatever !). I may feel superior to other people who only have cheap watches or nasty fake knock-offs – like Thay Paul 🙂
Now play Devil’s advocate. Say what are the cons of owning such an item. Firstly, agree with the first student – it is without question a luxury item. Having said that …
It will attract attention … but maybe from thieves or pickpockets. It is a lot of money, maybe an obscene amount of money when so many people are poor. Can you justify living in a Socialist country and owning such a materialistic item ? Will it make you arrogant ? Will you think you are better than other people BECAUSE of a thing ? Finally … what does it DO ? Fundamentally, it tells the time. My fake Rolex will tell the same time … but it cost $20 NOT $ 5 000 !
Now students’ turn. Similar concept but this time, the latest iPhone:
The iphone 11 (woooooowwwwwwww !)
One student wants to buy it, the other must give reasons why it is not such a good idea.
Useful phrases: a waste of money / not necessary // a fashion accessory // you can’t afford it //
Role play game:
Three students will act out working in a department store, a shop with a sale on, and a street market. Other students have a set budget (say £100) and have to buy three items.
They can practice with the following language:
How much is this, please ? // Could you bring the price down for cash ? // Do you take plastic (credit cards) ? // If I smile, can you take off 10% ?
Wow, that’s a bargain ! // Sorry, that’s too much // Is that your best price ?
I’ll take it ! // Wrap it up ! // Let me think about it and come back // Sorry, that’s too much.
NOW – to make it more animated – the people working in the shops will no doubt be using different varieties of English. Let’s see if the students can alter their voices to portray an upper-class, well-spoken salesperson; a basic shop worker and a working-class street trader. I (old ham actor that I am) shall demonstrate. Yes, it’s not a conventional lesson but maybe the students will appreciate something different (even if the management don’t).
To end, I really want the students to gain confidence in speaking, so a lot of talking in small groups. I have various talking points they can discuss, and once they feel relaxed, we can play:
Just a Minute: students are given an open subject and must speak for one minute without deviation, hesitation or repetition. Other students time them and judge their performance.
Language review: students must give the correct word to a definition pertaining to tonight’s theme.
And then … take care, see you next week, later, dude !
In the UK, we do have a morbid fascination with murder. This man is Alfred Hitchcock who made films from the 1920s to the 1970s, mostly suspense, thriller or murder dramas. ‘Hitch’, who was born where I live in east London, made many famous films but in my opinion ‘Psycho’, which was filmed in black and white in 1960, is his best.
Do you know these British characters ?
Do you like to read murder mystery books or to watch murder films ?
Plan – don’t just answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ ! Make a short introduction, just one or two sentences:
I enjoy all types of films, however I especially like a good mystery ….OR
I don’t really read much because I am so busy studying. However …
Say what film or book you like, tell me about the author and other books.
Tell me about the story and then why you think it’s good
Conclusion – “Maybe this book is not for everybody, but if you enjoy a great mystery story, then I would recommend it.”
Vocabulary building: Some useful words –
thrilling // suspense // gripping // well-written // superbly acted // atmospheric // creepy // scary // a page-turner // I was on the edge of my seat.
However, we must move from the world of fiction to the world of fact. Before we move onto a true story from the USA, let’s keep it closer to home.
What can the students tell me about Lê Hoàng Hùng ?
Students can work in small groups. They have five minutes to make a short presentation. Information can be found on these sites:
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:
That clip, which has English captions, is from the film ‘Rebel Without A Cause’, from 1955. Now for the news footage:
Grammar: tag questions
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’). Invert the verb, that is, make it negative then add the pronoun. Hence ‘are’ becomes ‘are not’ = aren’t – aren’t you ?
Try these: First, decide on the appropriate pronoun (he, she, it, we etc).
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, ………….. ?
For the remainder of the lesson, I want the students to talk, talk and talk (and, yes, I mean in ENGLISH !)
Firstly, they can review tonight’s book work and air their views, thus enabling them to review negotiation language (I see your point but …. // I can’t go along with that // you raise an interesting point // I’m not sure I entirely agree … etc).
What did they think of the subject ? (interesting, relevant, morbid, inappropriate)
Do they enjoy reading as part of class time ? Do they feel that is a good way to learn ?
How was the listening ? How much could they follow (understand ?)
What is their opinion on the amount of new vocabulary encountered ?
Naturally, I expect other students to play Devil’s advocate – to argue a point even if they personally don’t fully agree with it.
EXAMPLE: “Playing Devil’s advocate, I would say the best way to learn vocabulary is to read new words and see how they are used in a sentence.”
Activities – Just a minute
Here, students work in pairs – there are given a very open subject (work, food, family, their hometown etc) and have to talk for one minute without hesitation, deviation or repetition.
Students can be given new questions and then made to change partners regularly.
Also, encourage peer help – allow the students to correct each other, as well as giving advice and encouragement.
And finally … Mysteries – what do you think ? True or false or … ?
The Loch Ness Monster from Scotland
Area 51 in Nevada, USA. Did an alien spaceship crash here and aliens come to earth ?
6th November for 7th November 2019 AEF 1B pp. 8 – 10
Tonight is a new class, assigned to level 3. However in the past my centre has been somewhat optimistic in their placements; teachers, expecting the students to be able to engage in conversation are confronted with students who can’t string four words together (and three of those words are undoubtedly wrong).
Subsequently, I now play down my expectations. The first lesson is just to assess the ability … and the behaviour and motivation of the students.
So, to warm up, a little game. I want the students to interview each other and then tell the class about their partner. Just basic facts such as age, if they work or are at university, what is their job or where and what subject do they study … additionally, what do they like to do in their free time. Finally, one thing they hate !
We can later use some of these ideas as a basis for sentence building:
Mr Thi likes football as well as K-pop however he dislikes romantic films and maths.
Next, I’ll show some pictures and the students in pairs and discuss them. I want them to be able to describe what they see, so I’ll be looking for adjectives, and what the subjects are doing. Additionally, I want to see if they are able to form their ideas into basic sentences.
Look at the last picture … a young girl arguing (shouting, fighting) with her mother; is this something people would do in Viet Nam or is the culture very different ?
Sometimes people get angry (even teachers !) – some advice is to count to ten, and calm down.
In English, we use the word ‘should‘ to give advice or helpful information.
EXAMPLE: A student is naughty in class. A teacher should:
Help the studentCount to ten and be calm … OR …
Hit the student // punch the student // knock the student out.
Something less painful. My friend Andy is coming to Sai Gon.
Using ‘should’ to give advice or information, make suggestions for Andy.
He loves history … what should he visit or see ?
He loves traditional food … what should he eat ?
He can’t ride a motorbike … how should he travel ?
He likes a beer a night (!) … where should he go ?
NOW – onto the book. It’s a bit heavy tonight, so I’ll try to lighten it with fun activities in between.
Activity break: Family Fortunes
I put class into small teams and ask them questions to which I want four answers. These are very basic things such as four places I’ve visited in Viet Nam (so they hear my appalling pronunciation) // my four favourite Viet food // four things I love about HCMC and, conversely, four things I hate // four instruments I can play (I’m generous with the truth here) // four languages I can speak … Vietnamese is clearly NOT one of them.
GRAMMAR: FUTURE TENSE
We use either I will or I am going to …
I will (I’ll) is for quick ideas or suggestions.
I’ll do my bookwork, then I’ll go for a coffee.
I’ll help you with your English
I am going to (I’m going to) is more for plans
Next year, I’m going to Thailand
I’m going to pass my IELTS then study in Australia.
Predictions (thinking what will happen in the future) use both.
I think Vietnam will win the football World Cup by 2050.
I believe Vietnam is going to be the richest country in Asia soon
You’re not going to like Thay Paul’s music !
We will not (won’t) learn English unless we study.
Communication activity – describing a friend, co-worker or family member.
Here is my friend Pete:
He was born in Ireland but now lives in Liverpool with his wife and son.
He is an accountant and works for a large bank. His job is safe but boring. He is going to look for a new job.
He is bald and wears glasses. He always smiles so he looks warm and friendly.
Because UK is cold, especially now in November, Pete has to wear jumpers or sweaters, even inside. He loves jeans and cowboy boots.
As you can see, he loves music and playing the bass and piano. He also likes drinking strong beer. However, he hates people who are bad to animals.
He is very calm and helpful however, he works a lot so he is not always reliable.
His favourite sport is football and he enjoys swimming.
He listens to Jazz music, David Bowie and Irish folk music.
He speaks Gaelic (Ireland) and a little French.
We never see each other because we live so far apart.
When we meet, we drink, talk and laugh together. Sometimes we write songs together.
Hopefully, I will see Pete in 2020 because I am going back to London.
I will be friends with Pete all my life … I hope 🙂
NOW … students’ turn – with a partner, talk about someone close to you.
Here, I will just walk around and listen, giving help where needed. I may board some incorrect phrasing so at the end of class, we can go over it together and all learn.
4th November for 5th November 2019 AEF 10A, pp. 94 – 95
Tonight we’ll discuss modern icons, titans of the business world, in both USA and Vietnam. It’ll be no surprise that Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, who are both from the USA, are included although Vietnam also has a number of wealthy, super-rich who may not be as well known on the global stage. However tonight, which is a special day in the UK, we’ll warm up with the story of Guy Fawkes whose image is now iconic. He is part of the history of London where I was born. If you don’t know the name, maybe you’ll recognise these:
In 1605, a group of people wanted to blow up (like a bomb) Parliament (where the government meet) during a visit from the King. The group were caught; Guy Fawkes was discovered in the cellar of Parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder. All the conspirators were executed for treason.
A good history, with notes for English-language learners, can be found here:
Now, without further ado, tonight’s lesson: modern icons and, for grammar, relative clauses, hence the bold font earlier on the words who, where, which and whose.
I’ll be honest with you – this can be a little complicated, although it should be easy:
Who // for a person. Mark, who is from Chicago, is working in Ha Noi
Where // for a place. Ha Noi, where Mark works, is in north Vietnam.
Which // for a thing. The guitar, which is Japanese, was a bargain at £35.
Whose // possessive. The man whose guitar was stolen was very upset.
So far so good BUT … check this out:
London, where I was born, is the capital of the UK
London, which is in the south of England, is my hometown.
In a practice, we have an example similar to this:
London where I was born is the place which I love the most.
I’ve tried to think of a way to explain this in clear simple English … here goes !
In the first clause (London where I was born) we can ask “Where were you born ?” The answer is London. However, in the second clause (the place which I love the most) try the same pattern … “Where do you love the most ?” Here, the answer is “The place.” That is not a suitable answer – it is not a real location, so it becomes a thing – therefore we use which.
Oi troi oi ! English grammar !
Now, let’s put it into practise.
Mark Zuckerberg: born 1984 in NY, USA. Studied at Harvard. Co-founded Facebook. Net worth estimated at 70.3 billion USD (wow !).
Mark Zuckerberg, who was born in 1984, grew up in NY state which is in the USA. Harvard, where he studied, is the oldest university in the States (USA). Zuckerberg, whose net worth is estimated at over 70 billion dollars co-founded Facebook which is used all over the world.
Speaking of Facebook, one of my favourite films is ‘The Social Network’ about how the company was founded. The film, which was made in 2010, is scripted by Aaron Sorkin who is, in my opinion, a fantastic and highly talented writer.
Now try with Steve Jobs: born San Francisco // was a college drop out // first worked at Atari, a video games company // Apple computers were the first to utilise a mouse // co-founded Pixar in 1986 (what is Pixar ?) // died 2011, aged 56.
Now … team work. Class in two teams and they have to make a presentation about two Vietnamese business icons: Pham Nhat Vuong & Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao.
Students may use the internet and their own knowledge to tell me about these icons.
Give me the facts (where and when were they born, how did they get rich, what is their area of business ?) and use relative clauses to produce longer, complex sentences.
Students may, indeed I would encourage them to, use the internet and projector to bring their presentation alive. All members of the team must speak.
Last week we covered negotiation language, phrases such as, “I see your point, but …” “I’m not sure I entirely agree with you,” “That’s interesting, however have you considered.
Today, the topics will be:
Do people spend too much time on Facebook ? Is it a good or bad thing ?
I need a new laptop; what should I buy, an Apple or Windows ?
I want to hear different points of view and people playing Devil’s advocate (arguing or making a point, even if you don’t personally believe it … just to encourage the opponent to develop their idea).
To encourage students, and to give them lexical resources, elicit some answers and ideas first, and board them, as well as introducing new concepts. What are the pros and cons ? The decisive factors ? What points should I consider.
With Facebook – is the answer binary (yes OR no ?) … it’s more interesting to discuss the middle ground, and illustrate it with personal examples.
I recently went on a short break to a nearby beach resort where I took many photos. I need to upload them to Facebook … or do I ? Does anybody REALLY care ? Can I really afford to spend the time doing it ? Or is it relaxing and pleasurable ? Does it enable my European friends to see a little more of my life here in Vietnam … what do YOU think … ?
21st October for 22nd October 2019. AEF 9A pp 84 – 85
Warm up: Hit the ground running (or at least talking).
As always a model is a good idea; hence my Thai friend is coming to Vietnam:
Ms Namsum is young and energetic. She’s into (really enjoy) clubs, sightseeing and shopping.
I suggest she starts the day with a traditional bowl of pho then goes to Sai Gon centre. She can walk there from her hotel in District 1 or take a taxi (Vinasun or Malin ONLY). She will be out of the heat and has a lot of shopping choices and places to eat or grab a coffee. She could rest at her hotel in the afternoon, then go to Nguyen Hue walking street when it gets cooler in the evening. She has many restaurants in this area. Furthermore, there are many English-language menus. Finally, she can go to Bui Vien street where there are many clubs and bars, as well as many tourists speaking English.
What do they students think ? Is that a good plan ? Have I missed something important ?
Language to use:
I see your point
That’s a good idea but …
If I may make a suggestion …
I’m not sure that’s such a good idea.
For example – That’s a good idea but you haven’t thought about sightseeing.
Bui Vien can be very noisy so I’m not sure that’s such a good idea for a young lady on her own.
Two of my friends are coming to Sai Gon; the students, in two groups, have to arrange a fun day including sightseeing, shopping, eating and transportation. Then they have to compare their itineraries and exchange views and opinions. The students learn how to politely disagree with each and put forward their ideas and support their choices.
PLAN A DAY FOR TOM & DAVID
Where can they eat ?
What could they see or visit ?
How can they travel around ?
What can they buy as souvenirs ?
Where could they go at night ?
What safety advice would you give ?
What you need to know:
Both are 45-years old. They have good jobs and a good income. They like history and culture. They really enjoy good food and wine. Neither speaks any Vietnamese. They are too old for very loud clubs but they don’t mind having a few beers and maybe seeing some live music.
The students can make a presentation, and use the computer for images or maps to illustrate their plan. Then the other team can explain what they have organised, and the reasons why. I will decide which team has made the best choice.
Tonight’s main focus is the third conditional
This means speaking from hindsight.
We talk about something that happened to us in the past and how we would have changed it IF we had known some information.
A basic example: A visit a friend and it is her birthday, but I didn’t know. If I had known it was her birthday, I would have bought her a present.
Yesterday was Woman’s Day but …
Alan didn’t know it was Woman’s Day subsequently his girlfriend, Ms Nhi, was extremely upset !
If he had known it was Woman’s Day, he would have bought her a present, some flowers and taken her out to eat.
However, it is too late NOW ! He’s in the doghouse (in trouble).
Notice all the past tense verbs. Furthermore, would is commonly used in conditional sentences.
Now, this example is based on a true story that my history teacher told me back in London.
My teacher was a somewhat dishevelled gentleman in his mid-30s. Let’s call him Mr Bowditch:
Mr Bowditch 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.
7th October for 8th October 2019. AEF 8A (1, 5 & 6), pp. 74-75, 77
Sentence building – becoming fluent and coherent
linking words and discourse markers
Vietnam is famous for coffee; coffee shops are ubiquitous. In fact, there are so many, it’s hard to see (difficult to understand) how they stay in business let alone turn a profit.
Be that as it may, let’s use this as a learning opportunity. To practice making longer sentences, and as a warm up exercise, the students can ask each other, “Where do you go for coffee ?”
Don’t answer the question directly and immediately; Begin with a short introduction:
Sai Gon has so many coffee shops, some are cheap while others can be quite expensive although they have a wide range of delicious coffee. Personally, I like going to …
How MUCH do you like it (adverbs) ?
What kind of coffee (adjectives) ?
What do you think about this ? (opinions)
WHY do you like it (give reasons)
Interesting words, phrases, idioms
Personally, I like Tap Coffee which is an independent shop where I live. I enjoy going there so much because the owner is very friendly and tries to speak English with me. There isn’t a lot of choice, so I order cappuccino with hot, fresh milk. In my opinion, it is good value and tastes delicious. What I like about the shop is the free wifi, the comfortable chairs and the atmosphere. Furthermore, it is usually very quiet and it therefore a good place to read. I love to put my feet up, kick back and sip my damn fine coffee.
Before the exercise, elicit and board as many relevant words and phrases as required. The students have a discourse marker list, so I could insist that they use certain words (moreover, therefore, consequently etc). Additionally, I’ll need to explain vernacular phrases such as ‘kick back’ and ‘put my feet up’.
IF a student doesn’t like coffee, then they can say where they go and what they drink. IF they don’t go anywhere or like anything (yes, I have had that in a class), then they can explain WHY NOT!
Key vocabulary: ambience // aroma //atmosphere
Now, their turn; after this model, they must tell me about their favourite app on their phone. Give them five minutes to write a short piece.
After, the students can read to each other, and we can incorporate their answers into tonight’s grammar: reported speech.
For example, Ms Jane is speaking with Mr Tony:
Jane, “I really love the iTunes app.”
Tony, “Oh, for me, I prefer YouTube because I can watch music videos. I will send you a link to The Beatles.”
This is called direct speech. If I want to repeat what they said, I use indirect or reported speech. Look what happens to the subject and the verb:
Jane said that she really loved the iTunes app. (or She said she really loved …)
The subject changes from 1st person (I) to third person (she), while the verb alters from simple present to simple past.
What happens with Tony ? Look for the verb(s) then put them into simple past. Change pronouns to the 3rd person.
Now – changing reported speech back to direct speech.
He said the egg was perfect
(Change the past simple verb to simple present)
Now, here’s the actual quote (around the 2:28 mark):
This is one of my favourite clips about Sai Gon: Mark Weins eating a fairly typical Viet breakfast … but enjoying it SO MUCH !
Student must ask three people, what they usually eat for breakfast, and drink, as well as where they eat; do they go out, or cook at home ? Following that, they have to report to the class on their findings, using reported speech e.g.
She said (that) she usually cooked at home, but occasionally ate out when she felt too tired.
Then we have the book work and grammar practice. To end, we can have an eyewitness game. Students work in pairs, one having their backs to the board. On the screen, I show a man or lady. The first student has to describe, in as much detail, what is happening and how the person looks. Give them a minute or two. Then, the second student must report to me what they have learnt. Finally, they are allowed to see the picture, to compare the reported speech with the actuality. Photos could include:
17th September for 23rd September. AEF 3 pp. 50 – 51
Last week, we covered past tense – simple, continuous and perfect. However, that is a lot to take in, especially for students who are not so confident. Looking at charts and learning the jargon can be daunting and far too theoretical.
This problem has long been identified and addressed; grammar, as theory, reduced to a minimal. Grammar, used in writing and more importantly speaking, maximised.
Therefore, my policy in this block of lessons (four per block) is to reduce book work, simplify the theory and try to allocate at least half the lesson to student-talking time.
Last night’s lesson seemed to work well; the Socratic approach which makes the students collect information and then collate it into a presentation. This was followed by students reading to each other in small groups, with some useful expressions to use … and repeat and repeat and …yeah, you get the idea.
Let’s go to work !
But first, back to basics. Some students are not fluent in the three forms of basic verbs:
Grammar – verb practice
Here’s the 15 most common:
infinite \ present // past // past participle (verb 3)
Regular verbs, just add -‘ed’. However, as you see, in this list only one common verb, ‘want’, is regular.
NOTE: ‘to be’ is different: I am hungry You are hungry She is hungry.
Now, practice: In groups of three or four, they have to ask each other questions in order to feel more natural using the past tense. Lets’s start simply with the simple past:
What did you do today ?PAST SIMPLE
Each student takes turns describing their day. Always give ideas, as some students spent too much time thinking of what to say, whereas the purpose is to speak.
I will also board: buy / drink / surf the internet / help parents / cook / do homework
To make it more interactive, the students can ask follow-up questions, such as, “What did you eat for lunch ?”, “What time did you start school ?”, “How did you get to work or school ?” etc. Groups can monitor each other to make sure past tense is being used properly.
NEXT: Past Continuous. Subject was doing something in the past ….
Example: Last night I was listening to T-ara:
However, we usually use past continuous to say we were doing something WHEN something new happened.
EXAMPLE: I was listening to T-ara when someone knocked on my door.
The structure is Subject + was or were + verbing, followed by past simple
Try this: dream // alarm clock ring
He was dreaming when the alarm clock rang.
Now – practice: Make a sentence from these pairs of photos:
Finally, the past perfect. Two things happened in the past, one before the other.
The students ‘met’ Dr Kafka last week.
Dr Franz Kafka had lived all his life in Prague until he moved to Berlin in the 1920s.
Subject + has or had + verb 3 then use past simple.
John Lennon – in The Beatles / goes solo in 1970
Dali – paint over 1 500 paintings / dies 1989
Bringing it closer to home, Bac Ho (Uncle Ho Chi Minh) – work London / meet these young Germans.
Finally, for presentation, the students can be arranged in four groups (draw playing cards so students work with new partners). I will give them ten minutes to work together and make a short presentation, with all members speaking, about the above four historical figures. Those who draw Ho Chi Minh should have an advantage, so I will be expecting more from them.
Presentations should include:
Date and place of birth.
Why there are famous
Give examples of their most famous works or activities
Where they lived
When and how they died.
ALSO – why we should remember them.
Then, I will turn to the books and hand-outs, before returning to some speaking practice before the end.
Tonight’s class is a ‘mixed bag‘: the abilities of the students vary greatly, and this causes a lot of problems and frustrations for the teacher. A lot of the assigned work will simply be over the heads of most of the students. The solution is to simplify the lesson, an ‘unplugged‘ version if you like. I also want the students speaking as much as possible.
A lot of Vietnamese, especially at a low level, are very passive. Several times I have asked students questions, and their response is to point at themselves and laugh, as if to say, “You’re asking ME ?”
Another major annoyance is students arriving late. This simply means that I can’t start a lesson for fifteen or twenty minutes. To fill the time I need an activity that is quite fun but also prepares the students for tonight’s grammar – the past tense (simple, continuous and perfect).
Warm Up: My Saturday. I’ll show the students some pictures and they have to construct a story about my day. I will stress that it is all in the past, and hopefully they will correct each other if they make a mistake in grammar.
For reference, last Saturday saw horrendous flooding in the late afternoon. Let’s start my day around 3.30pm when I came to school:
My class ………… (start) at 4.15, so I spent my time …..
Then my class ……….. (begin): However, my students ………( be) terrible !
After twenty minutes, I …….. (feel) ……………………………….
Finally, the lesson calmed down, and I …….. (read) …………
And then the rain …….. (begin), “The jolly old rain,” and I …… (have) to go home:
As I have no motorbike, I ………. (book) Grabbike. However, the water ……. (be) too deep and we …….. (have) to walk. Finally, I ………. (give) up and ……..
But, when I ……. (arrive) home, my iPhone …… (be) …..
Activity 1: Finding information.
I will make a short presentation about Vietnam:
The facts include the capital, the population, the weather in HCM, the language spoken and reasons why the country is famous:
I will then put the class in four groups (they can select a playing card, face-down, ace to four, so as to prevent the same people always working together). I will assign a country to each group: Egypt, South Korea, Canada and Brazil. Around the room, they will find information sheets. Once they have gathered the basic facts, they have to make a presentation to the class, using the class computer to enhance the experience.
I will probably need to be very hands-on during this activity, especially as they have to use discourse markers in order to link the sentences together.
Activity 2: Introductions. I will give each student a short paper with some information. In their groups, they have to read them, one at a time, while the others write down the information. I will board some appropriate language:
I’m sorry, could you repeat that, please ?
Could you spell that, please ?
I didn’t catch the phone number
Could you please speak a little slower ?
As this is done in groups, the students should feel less shy. Furthermore, as they are reading from a sheet, they don’t have to think of what to say.
Listening: The book work is generally too advanced for this class, thus leading to boredom and frustration, leading to talking, using mobile phones, sleeping etc. Instead, I’ll start with a beginner’s conversation from our school database, or from this website:
This website uses very slow and clear diction, as well as introducing new vocabulary. Furthermore, it is a piece of world news about which my students may not be so familiar.
I shall try the book work listening, but it if appears to be falling on stony ground, I’ll abort the mission.
The grammar, past tense, should be easier (Vietnamese students seem to be better at grammar than their speaking would indicate, probably as they are taught this at school at the expense of actually speaking English).
A simple way of clarifying the past perfect is to use a time line:
And a good interlude game is to board some irregular verbs and have the students shout out the past tense:
The final section of the lesson is speaking but again, I feel the book work is asking too much of the students. Rather, I’ll have the students work in pairs. They have to speak for one minute on a basic subject. I will board some tips:
Buy time – that’s an interesting subject … // how can I put it ?
Give reasons – because …
Use adjectives – iPhone X is good – The iPhone X is good as well as very modern and attractive.
Give examples – two or three will not only make your point more interesting, it will encourage you to speak for a longer time.
Discourse markers – to link ideas together or start sentences.
EXAMPLE: What mobile phone do you have or want ?
Oh, that’s an interesting question because my phone has just died. Yes, it was destroyed in the flood last weekend. Therefore, I’m looking for a new one. In the past, I have had phone by Samsung and LG, both famous multi-national Korean companies. I was very disappointed by the camera on the Samsung because it wasn’t very advanced. Additionally, it was terrible in bright sunlight. The LG, on the other hand, was fantastic as it had many manual settings such as focus, filters and zoom. However, one day it simply stopped working. I took it to a shop but they said it was totally broken. Apple is my favourite; I’ve had my iPhone for many years and, until the flood, I never had a single problem with it. Well, maybe it’s time for an update … yes, let’s look on the bright side. I think Apple are already talking about iPhone 11. Unfortunately, this is far too expensive for me. Even the iPhone X is out of my budget. Possibly I will be looking for a 6 or 7 or, if the price is right, maybe an 8. I only really use my phone for the camera, as I love taking photos and making short film clips, as well as internet apps such as Viber, online banking and, of course, Grabbike. Still, you never know … maybe I will find a great bargain and buy a different make this time.
Subjects will be:
Music // Vietnamese food // shopping // having pets // living with family // learning English//
And hopefully, after the lesson, everyone will have spoken a lot and learnt many new words and expressions which will now be a part of their vocabulary