What is the problem with trains and going up gradients ?
What do they struggle to do ?
What are the scientific reasons for this ?
What was the problem with James May speaking ?
James normally speaks quite clearly, but there were problems. This was due, I feel, to the speed and the amount of language. Look at this conversation analysis: (0. 10 – 0.42):
And now, ‘Why can’t trains go uphills ?’ Well, the smarter ones amongst you will have recognised already, especially if you’re a qualified railway engineer, this is a bit of a trick question because of course, train can go uphills … they’re just not very good at it.
If you think about the topography of most of the world, this is clearly a bit of a problem. Human being can … albeit rather sweatily, motivate themselves up a gradient of around eighty degrees, or one in a quarter.
Listen again– hear how James:
uses expressions (bit of a)
adds addition information / commentary in supporting clauses.
Creative use of adverbs – sweatilyshows how many words can be made adverbs
Think – does James need to add the clauses ? What is the purpose ? Consider the medium (TV, internet, blog etc) and the target audience.
James is speaking to a fluent, English-speaking audience, probably native speakers, or people who have lived in the UK for a long time. Therefore, they will be more used to this natural way of speaking.
This is why I recommend student put their text books down and read real English books, watch English-speaking films and TV shows and sing English songs. It really helps.
He does make allowances for non-British audiences by showing two fifty-pence coins, but his language isn’t downgraded.
Intonation – SO important to assist in conveying meaning.
Why is it hard to start these early cars ? Where was this car made ?
particular / original / hill-start / rapidly / brutality / you what ?
Firstly, a look at some vintage cars:
According to the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, United Kingdom, the definition for each category is the following:
Veteran– officially a car made up to and including December 1918.
Vintage– officially a car made between 1919 and 1930. Although, the term is often used to describe any car made before World War II.
Classic– generally any car that is no longer in production that is still popular. For classic car events organised by the Motor Sports Association (MSA) eligibility is set at 20 years. Generally this term is applied to cars from the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. However, no definition is universal.
There is some great new vocabulary in this article, as well as expressions and collocations (‘potentially dangerous’ / ‘do their best’).
What are the causes ? Can turbulence be predicted ? How do air-traffic controllers gather information ?
Selecting important information
We want to condensethis article so we only need the main facts:
This is about the British engineer Isabard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom BrunelFRS(/ˈɪzəmbɑːrd bruːˈnɛl/; 9 April 1806– 15 September 1859), was an English mechanical and civil engineerwho is considered “one of the most ingenious and prolific figures in engineering history”,”one of the 19th-century engineering giants”,and “one of the greatest figures of the Industrial Revolution, [who] changed the face of the English landscape with his groundbreaking designs and ingenious constructions”.Brunel built dockyards, the Great Western Railway, a series of steamships including the first propeller-driven transatlanticsteamship, and numerous important bridges and tunnels. His designs revolutionised public transport and modern engineering.
Though Brunel’s projects were not always successful, they often contained innovative solutions to long-standing engineering problems. During his career, Brunel achieved many engineering firsts, including assisting in the building of the first tunnel under a navigable river and development of SS Great Britain, the first propeller-driven, ocean-going, iron ship, which, when built in 1843, was the largest ship ever built.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859), was an English engineer who is regarded as a major figure in engineering history. His designs, which were considered ground-breaking and ingenious, included bridges and tunnels, railways and ships.
Despite some engineering fails, he was an innovator and achieved many firsts in enginnering. His ship, the SS Great Britain (1843), was the largest ship of its time.
Now, your turn:
How to look for important information. Read this Wikipedia entry and re-write in just 3 or 4 sentences, inclusing only the most important information.
The 461.5 metres (1,514 ft) tall, 81-storey building is built on the western banks of the Saigon River in the city’s Binh Thanh District, located just north of Ho Chi Minh City’s historic center and to the immediate south of Saigon Bridge. The tower is at the heart of the $1.5 billion high-end mixed-use urban area called Vinhomes Central Park, and was scheduled to be inaugurated in July 2018. The development comprises hotel and conference facilities, luxury apartments, high-end retail spaces, restaurants, bars, and a multi-story observation deck at the tower’s crown.
The Gothic style of architecture first emerged in Northern France during the 12th century. In engineering terms, it was a major step forward from the Romanesque style that had dominated European architecture up to that time. It allowed people to construct cathedrals, churches and other buildings on a scale that dwarfed anything that had gone before. The technological superiority of the Gothic approach was the result of three engineering breakthroughs: the pointed arch, the ribbed vault and the flying buttress.
The stone ceilings of Romanesque buildings were heavy and inefficient, and placed severe limitations on the size of buildings that could be constructed. The situation changed dramatically with the advent of the Gothic style.
One of the greatest innovations was the flying buttress. This system allowed builders to construct soaring cathedrals with massive interior spaces, while allowing walls to exhibit expansive stained glass windows.
The engineering innovations of pointed arches, ribbed vaults and flying buttresses meant such buildings could be the longest, widest and tallest of their day.
Fillipo Brunelleschi (1377 – April 15, 1446)
Early in his career as an architect, Brunelleshi came forward as a mover and a shaker. He discovered, or rather, rediscovered the lost Greek and Roman rules of perspective, such as the principle of having a single vanishing point. His (re)discovery of these rules had a profound influence on the artists of his time
In 1420, the church awarded Brunelleschi the commission to design a dome to top the Florence Cathedral, which had been left, for many years, with a 140″ diameter hole gaping atop. The problem was not a new one to the world of architecture; for decades architects had been trying to design the perfect dome to crown the Cathedral but had been defeated by the restrictive structural limitations inherentin the Cathedral’s design. Brunelleschi, managed to succeed, however, were all others had failed by 1446.
Famous for his saying “less is more,” was one of the preeminent modernist architects, well known for pioneering the extensive use of glass in buildings. His works introduced a new level of simplicity and transparency, and his buildings were often referred to as “skin-and-bones” architecture for their emphasis on steel structure and glass enclosure.
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 / well-organised / 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 ?