How would you describe the emotions / feelings of these people ?
FREE SPEAKING: What is a traditional wedding in your country ?
In the UK and many western countries, the bridegroom waits in the church next to the Best Man, who has the rings. The church music starts and the Bride walks down the aisle next to her father, who will ‘give her away.’ Behind the Bride are her Bridesmaids. The Vicar will start the service. At the end, the Bride and Groom kiss.
Pictures of typical UK wedding.
Identify Bride, groom, best man, vicar, bridesmaids, father of the bride.
The lady speaks slowly and clearly; try to understand without subtitles.
to consider / to decide / to weigh up (phrasal verb) / to mull over [all mean ‘to think about’]
let me sleep on it (idiom = need time to think).
the final call / the final decision on a subject
logistics (n) // logistical (adj) organising people at the same time.
co-ordinating // arranging things to happen at the same or at an arranged time
It’s a logistical nightmare ! (very hard to co-ordinate all the different factors).
likewise / also, in the same way
therefore / so, for that reason
value for money /deciding if something is good quality and good price.
a multitude / so many
not to mention / additionally, adding a stronger point (expression)
potential minefield / an area of possible dangers and serious trouble (metaphor)
There are a multitude of things to consider when organising a wedding. The tasks range from choosing the dress and accessories, to booking the cars and flowers, not to mention the potential minefield of the food. What do people like to eat, what do they hate ? Are they on special diets, do they have allergies, are they restricted by religious considerations ?
What sort of things have to be planned for a successful wedding ?
Put them in order of importance – if that is possible ! (they are ALL important)
These vary (change) from country to country, but a traditional UK wedding would be something like this:
A church for a Christian service (synagogue for Jewish, mosque for Moslems)
Vicar to perform the service
Bride and Groom
Bridesmaids and Best Man
Father of the Bride
Order of Service
The minister will give plenty of advice on hymns to choose, but order of service is basically broken into six parts:
Entrance of the bride,
Hymns, marriage vows and prayers
Hymn or psalm blessing
Signing the register
Leaving for the reception (party, lunch)
As the party leaves the church, the order should be bride and groom, chief bridesmaid and best man, bride’s mother and bridegroom’s father, bridegroom’s mother and bride’s father, bridesmaids and other attendants.
At the party or reception, people are usually told where to sit. Before the food, there are a number of speeches. Some are serious, but the Best Man usually makes a humorous one, saying funny things about the Groom :
Remember: you can increase sentences by using adjectives – just say what you see. Basic adjectives such as colours, sizes or materials will all add to your word count and make your speech more interesting (as well as improving scores in tests).
I was delighted when I received your wedding invitation. (FIRST PERSON ‘I’, or use the THIRD PERSON – he/she/it/ a name)
The lady was delighted.
The young lady was delighted.
The beautiful young lady with long straight blonde hair, and wearing a pretty pink top, was delighted.
The young woman, who has long straight blonde hair, was delighted by the invitation.
Look at the photos of the three men and three women.
Read their likes and dislikes, and what they want out of life.
Try to arrange matches.
How successful will the dates be, do you think ?
PETER. Age 46. Lawyer. Likes cooking, travelling, wine, driving, tennis. Divorced, 2 children. Looks for quiet lady with no children, to look after the house and him.
JAMES. Age 26. IT worker. Likes music, dancing, going to clubs, beach holidays. Single. Looks for young lady who is loud and fun, likes to party.
David. Age 22. Model. Likes fashion, clothes, cocktail bars, smoking cigars. Looking for a women who is a model so we can look great together. Must be very beautiful and wear expensive clothes.
And now the ladies: which woman would be the best match for these men ?
Jane. Age 22. Likes fashion, clubbing, kittens, holidays in the sun. Looks for a man with a steady job and ‘down-to-earth’. Non-smoker only.
Lisa. 28. Banker. Likes quiet restaurants, badminton, travelling. Looks for a mature man with good income for long term relationship. No boys, please !
Emily. 20. Likes dancing, fashion, going out with my friends. Movies. Wants a young, cute boy-friend so we can go to parties together. No boring old men, please !
If the dates are successful, they could lead to weddings, married life and children … but we’ll save that for the next blog. In the meantime, here’s some clips of when the big day doesn’t go to plan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCkcU9h5ggc
Tom (to be) born in Sydney and (arrive) in Viet Nam in 2015. He (work) as an engineer in District 1 but (want) to work near his home in Go Vap. Last week, his wife (have) a party. Firstly, she (buy) a fancy new dress and shoes then (cut) her hair. She (dance) all night and we (hear) her singing. In the morning, she (catch) a plane and (fly) to Australia.
Notice the reflexive verbs:
You may find yourself / you may ask yourself
What are they doing ?
He is shaving … /// She is looking at …
Past time expressions
Not for a long time / not recently / oh, I can’t recall it was so long ago
quite recently / fairly recently / about a month or so ago
last week / last month / last year / yesterday / just this morning
the day before yesterday / a fortnight ago / ages ago / I’ve never done that
What words are being said ?
Cheese or cheers / Ship or sheep / close (the door) or close (near)
work or walk / heard or hurt / house or ours / open or a pen
Sentence Building &Speaking Subjects
laptops / holidays / engineering / travelling
motorbikes / family / living in your hometown / modern life / traditions
anecdote (personal story)
Laptops are an incredibly useful piece of technology. They can be used for work, hobbies, music, and to stay in touch with friends.
I use my laptop every day. I plan lessons and use the internet to search for lesson notes, English language games and interesting video clips to show my students.
Because I live so far from my home country, I find the internet essential. I can maintain contact with friends and family by using: Skype, Facebook, Viber, Instagram … well, there are so many social media sites.
I like Apple; I know there are very expensive, but they seem to work so well. I rarely have a problem with my computer which is great because I know nothing about IT.
There was one issue I had in Vietnam. My plug snapped and I had to buy a new cable. I eventually found a store in Quan 3. I had to wait 30 minutes but finally a man came with an ‘Apple’ plug … and it was less than half the UK price.
To conclude, laptops are part of my life. I use them every day for work, relaxing and chatting with friends.
Tips: If you need time to think before answering, use one of the following phrases:
Let me think (about it)
How can I put it … ?
What’s the word … ?
What is happening ?
Make long sentences: what are the people doing, what are they wearing, what do they look like ? Then, why are they doing it ? What is the story ?
Holiday in Canada
Ron and Sid are on holiday in Canada. They are hungry but it’s cold outside.
Ron Come on, there’s a KFC franchise nearby. I’m starving !
Sid Sounds good, let me get my coat … and hat and gloves and scarf.
Ron Yeah, it’s freezing outside. This is worse than Sapa.
Sid Tell me about it ! It takes me 10 minutes to put all these clothes on.
Ron They have shovelled the snow so the path is safe. Are you ready ?
Sid Ready ! I love staying here although it’s so cold.
Ron According to the news, this is the worst winter for 16 years.
Sid Let’s go. I need some hot chicken.
Ron And some damn fine coffee.
Note the expressions ‘this is worse than …’ & ‘according to’
It is cold in Sapa BUT it is much colder in Canada: This is worse than Sapa.
John said Peter was leaving: According to John, Peter was leaving.
Try these sentences:
It is noisy in New York but much nosier in Sai Gon: This is worse than New York !
Karaoke was loud on Friday but louder on Sunday:
The test was hard on Monday but much harder on Tuesday:
Nick and Fred are discussing (talking about) their new boss
Nick Have you seen the new boss ? She looks very professional and a little scary.
Fred No, I have spoken to her. She’s quite friendly although a bit serious.
Nick I like her business suit. Is it a designer label ? It looks expensive.
Fred Maybe it’s French or Italian. I think she will be dependable.
Nick She can’t be worse than the old boss. He had a screw loose !
Fred He was a little arrogant and very bossy. And hard as nails.
Nick He was crazy. According to Jerry, he didn’t want to pay any bonuses.
Fred That’s why he got such a negative backlash. I’m glad he’s gone.
Nick Jerry and I are also very glad.
Sam Allow me to introduce myself. My name’s Sam and I’m Australian. Good day !
Pat Hi, Sam, nice to meet you. How did you get here ? By Uber or taxi ?
Sam No, mate, I drove myself. My wife and I always drive ourselves.
Pat Yeah, taxis are a luxury. Sorry, I’m Pat. Please help yourself to beer.
Sam I like the sound of that. Are you the one that wrote me the email ?
Pat Yeah. Sorry if my English is not perfect; I’m teaching myself.
Sam No problems, you speak well. Those people are really enjoying themselves.
Pat Of course, Vietnamese love free beer but we behave ourselves.
Sam Not me ! Last time I had too much, I fell down and hurt myself.
Pat Where’s your wife ? I think I saw her earlier ? She has blonde hair, right ?
Sam Nah, she’s a brunette. She’s out buying herself a new dress. And new shoes !
Pat I get it ! I do the working, my wife does the spending.
Sid It’s so cold in Germany. Have you ever experienced snow or minus temperatures ?
Lyn No, never, I hate the cold. Hang on a minute … yes, I was in Sapa once.
Sid I’m going there once the schools break up. Are you going to the staff party ?
Lyn Possibly. What time do the festivities kick off ?
Sid Around seven I guess. What are those pictures ? Is it for a project ?
Lyn Yeah, exactly. I have to make a presentation about countries so I’m using symbols.
Sid OK, let’s see … I know three lions means England and the eagle represents USA
Lyn The hammer and sickle, of course, is Russia. Do you know the towers ?
Sid Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur. I was there on business once. Amazing food.
Lyn How about the other two ? The first one is a mythical creature.
Sid From Egypt, near the pyramids. Remind me of the name.
Lyn The Sphinx. She has a woman’s face, a lion’s body and an eagle’s tail.
Sid The last one ? That’s Jesus … hang on a minute … I know, in Brazil, right ?
Listening practice: IELTS listening to phone numbers (0.55 – 3.06)
Listen out for:
You can get hold of me / you can reach me at (phone number) = my number is ….
Hello, you’ve reached the marketing department. How can I help?
Yes can I speak to Rosalind Wilson, please?
Who’s calling please?
It’s Richard Davies here
Certainly. Please hold and I’ll put you through.
Hello, marketing.How can I help?
Could I speak to Jason Roberts please?
Certainly. Who shall I say is calling?
My name’s Richard Davies .
Just a second – I’ll see if he’s in. Hang on a moment, I’m just putting you through.
This lesson is about Easter, a public holiday throughout many western countries. Unlike Christmas, Easter does not have an exact date (similar to Tet in Asia). This year, easter falls on Sunday April 12th.
The videos will introduce you to the celebration as well as teaching new words and expressions.
to experience – to feel something, to do something.
I have experienced Tet holiday in Viet Nam
resurrection – to come back to life after death.
festivities – things to do at parties or what happens on a public holiday
symbol – a sign or logo – yellow star is a symbol of Viet Nam, golden arches McDonalds
hang on a minute ! – stop and wait !
mythical – something that is like a legend, probably not real
coincides – happens at the same time. John’s wedding coincides with the World Cup.
break up – phrasal verb – to have a school holiday. The kids break up on the 24thJuly.
Christmas (in UK and Germany) / food expressions and dialogue
Cinema (grammar: must or have to)
Coffee in Sai Gon
Collocations (put, get)
Directions, giving and asking
Expressions and practice
Karaoke (noise pollution)
Listening Practice: 5 weird things Vietnamese do // making a video
Music and vocabulary (Paul McCartney / Talking Heads)
Poland: salt mine, speaking practice, beer guide, travel guide.
Shopping (buying presents, Black Friday)
Describe these German Christmas pictures
At Christmas we have decorations, Christmas cards and an excessive amount of food !
We have a Christmas tree. The tree is decorated with fairy lights and bells and also there are presents on the floor around the tree. In the west, at the top of the tree, traditionally there is an angel.
How many free days do you have or do you have to work ?
What do you think of the food ? Listen out for adjectives and adverbs.
Food expressions and dialogue
It’s not to my taste = I don’t like it
It’s a little spicy for my palate
I find it somewhat bland
I’ll try anything once
I like my meat rare / medium / well done
I’m vegetarian / vegan
Mick Fancy eating out at lunch ? (Fancy – do you like / want to)
Jack Great idea. What do you have in mind ? (What is your idea / plan ?)
Mick Wanna try that new Indian place ? 10% off promotion this week.
Jack Sounds cool but I’m not into Indian food. Too spicy for my palate. (don’t like)
Mick I could go for some Korean. Sink my teeth into some juicy rare steak !
Jack I prefer my meat well done. Get a side order of kimchi too.
Mick I’ll pass; it’s not to my taste. Too much garlic.
I prefer /choice \ choose /my taste / not my taste / trailer / concession stand /
all-star cast / director / film studio / controversial / family film / book online
What’s on at the cinema ? What’s playing this week ? Not my cup of tea.
What types of film can you name ?
Horror Stories // about people’s lives and emotions
Biopic //Space films, or films set inthe future
Romance Films // about fighting and soldiers
Comedy // Loud, exciting films with explosions and fast cars
Western // Stories about real famous people
Sci-fi // True stories with real people, not actors
Drama // Stories about police or spies or crime
Animation (Anime) // Scary films about ghosts or monsters
Musical // A film about cowboys, set in USA
Documentary //A cartoon, illustrated film
War // Love stories
Thriller // Funny films
Action // Stories with singing and dancing
Look at a cinema listing. Discuss what is on this week, what is playing.
Which films (if any) appeal to you ?
must or have to / don’t have to or mustn’t ?
have to = other people tell you // must = your decision
don’t have to = not necessary // mustn’t = is forbidden
You have to have a degree in order to be an engineer
I must stop eating at Lotteria !
You don’t have to bring any beer to the party.
You mustn’t run a red light or use your mobile phone on your motorbike.
The new James Bond film may be sold out. We ______ buy tickets NOW !
I hate comedies ! Do I _____ go ?
You _______ eat too much popcorn; it’s bad for you.
You ________to be over 18 to see this film
You don’t ____ bring your passport to get intoa cinema in Viet Nam.
Coffee in Sai Gon
Describe this picture; use adjectives and opinions.
Highlands Coffee has great coffee, air-con and free wifi. Having said that, the service is a little slow, there are no waiters and the cost is unbelievably expensive !
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
In a list of three, use one comma and a linking word (and):
The service is a little slow, there are no waiters and the cost is unbelievably expensive !
In a list of two, just use a linking word (and):
Mega Mart has amazing choice and is good value for money.
How to make Vietnamese coffee
Tell me: what do I need ? What type of coffee is best ? Where can I buy it ?
New verbs: pour / stir / fill up /
Make a long, fluent presentation. Useful words or expressions:
Firstly / afterwards / and then / following that /
don’t forget to … / you can always ….
lastly / finally / at the very end …
In your experience, what coffee is best ? Trang Nguyen, Highlands or Milano ?
The man is: funny / amusing / weird / strange / entertaining / has a screw loose
His dancing is: highly unusual / very comical / somewhat crazy / charming
Salt Mine near Krakow, Poland
14 miles from Krakow in South Poland is this deep salt mine. Everything here has been hand-carved from blocks of salt. The mine has nine levels with over 300km of tunnels. Part of the mine is open to visitors. There are 22 galleries from 64 metres to 135 metres underground. Guided tours take about two hours.
There is a chapel here measuring 54 m by 18m and 12 m high. It took two men over thirty years to build.
There is also an underground lake, and musicians playing brass instruments.
Pope John Paul and Bill Clinton are some of the famous visitors.
Speaking Practice: Three friends are planning where to go on holiday.
Pete Any suggestions ? I’d really like to go to Norway. They have some great sights.
Burt Yeah, I agree, but the weather could be an issue. I hate the cold.
Doug The scenery is amazing, true. However, it’s gonna be incredibly expensive.
Pete I found a tour; it consists of flights, hotels, boat trips and sightseeing.
Burt I’ve heard Norway is terribly expensive. If we go to Europe, I’d prefer Poland.
Doug Sounds good. Great architecture, lots to see and do, and brilliant beer.
Pete Perfect. Let me look up some info on Google … look at this !
Burt That’s so majestic. I’d say we forget Norway and head for Poland
Doug I’d love to see the salt mine, amazingly unique. It’s a UNESCO sight.
Speaking Practice: Three friends are discussing their holiday.
Doug This bed and breakfast has a good reputation, as well as being central.
Pete Good point. We don’t want to be in the suburbs, waste time, travelling.
Burt Yeah, keep it simple: good location, good price. Shall we book ?
Doug Go for it ! Wait … damn internet, so slow. Oh, we’ve encountered a glitch.
Pete It’s taking it’s time ! Look, we’re connected. Better be quick.
Burt OK, let me see … three beds for five nights. Arrival date … enter … done !
Doug Poland, here we come ! This is no ordinary trip. Look at these churches
Pete Absolutely majestic ! Maybe we’ll keep going back, every year.
Burt Well, I’d also love to visit Austria, Prague, Barcelona … everywhere !
Speaking Practice: Three friends are in Krakow.
Doug Man, this place is really buzzing. What shall we do now ?
Burt We could head towards the Palace, maybe grab some food on the way.
Pete Yeah, I’m up for that. Could use some coffee, as well. Either of you peckish ?
Doug Sure, I’m always hungry. Do you fancy going on the booze cruise ?
Burt How much is it gonna cost ?
Pete Surprisingly cheap. But I’m not sure, It’s not really my cup of tea.
Doug Fair enough. Maybe we’ll just chill out later in the old quarter. A beer or two.
Burt Or twenty. We should get a move on;the Palace closes at five.
Pete Take it easy. Let’s hit the Palace tomorrow early. It’s now beer o’clock !