For these exercises, refer to the previous blog (‘Holiday of a Lifetime’). Put class into small groups and assign a city to each one. The groups have to make a presentation, using advertising-style language: hyperbolic adjectives, expressions, phrases. Furthermore, they must really ‘sell’ the holiday, so they can practice their intonation and stress skills.
The blurb contains the selling points, while the practicalities has information. The style should change for these two parts – the teacher can demonstrate.
once in a lifetime experience/ never to be forgotten / unbeatable prices
book now to avoid disappointment/ best decision you’ll ever make
holidays to suit all budgets, from 7* luxury to backpacking
To begin with / furthermore … additionally / the fact is … / therefore
Demonstration with an advert for London:
Now is the perfect time to visit London, England’s glorious capital. The weather is perfect for walking, so you can enjoy the lush parks, world-famous museums and incredible, unbelievable shops. There is something for everyone … and more ! Like sports ? Go to one of the many Premier League football games. Love shopping ? Everything is here – shop till you drop ! Adore culture – soak up hundreds of years of history.
Flights from TSN airport daily. Seven-day all-inclusive package tour starting from only 50m VND ! All transfers and transport included. Air-conditioned mini bus with Vietnamese-speaking guide.
Holiday advertising vocabulary:
Try to use as many of these adjectives and expressions as possible:
Today, lots of new words to help you describe the area in which you live (the area you live in). For my classroom-students, I can listen to pronunciation and help them with natural rhythms but online students should use a dictionary with sound … then practice, practice, practice.
Where do you live ? What’s the area like ?
Remember to link words together – it’s called ‘chunking’ in IELTS language.
I live in a:
quiet, residential street. Peaceful at night.
lively and busy commercial area, many shops
dirty and dusty industrial part of town. Very noisy.
What are your first impressions of the man above, Mr Bob Dylan. What do you think of first – his appearance or his personality ? Probably the way he looks.
First impressions count
Today we’re having an advanced class using new words and expressions to describe both the physical and personality attributes of famous musicians.
So, as a warm up, how would you describe Mr Bob Dylan ?
Start with his looks, which are more factual, though subjective (i.e. to some young people, he will look ancient, while to older people, he may look distinguished and wise).
Then, tell me what you think he is like. You probably don’t know Mr Dylan, personally, so you can’t say, “He is incredibly friendly,” or, “He is extremely stand-offish.”
Therefore, you must employ opinion phrases:
He seems to be …
In my opinion …
I don’t know him personally, but I would say he is …
However, would it surprise you to know that Mr Dylan won the Noble Prize for Literature in 2016, and that his music has been unbelievably influential all over the world ?
I will show you some photos of rock stars, and you will practice sentence building. tell me what they look like, and what you think they are like as people. Can you explain why ? Finally, to practice complex sentence, I will give you basic information, and you have to incorporate these facts into long sentences using discourse markers and relative pronouns.
normal-looking // weird- looking // looks more dead than alive // bags under eyes
How would you describe these rock stars ?
Johnny Rotten, Real name John Lydon. Born 1956. Was in the Sex Pistols from 1975 – 1978. Formed band PIL. Changed name back to Lydon. Married Nora Forster in 1979. He was going to be on the Pan Am flight that crashed in Lockerbie, Scotland. He wrote a book, published in 2008.
John Lydon, who performed under the name Johnny Rotten while he was in the Sex Pistols from 1975 – 1978, is married to Nora Forster, and has been married since 1979. After leaving the Sex Pitols, he formed a new band, PIL, and had a book published in 2008. He escaped certain death by missing his flight on the doomed Pan Am flight that exploded over Lockerbie in Scotland.
Look at how much information I pack into the first, complex sentence:
Name – John Lydon
Stage name – Johnny Rotten
Band name – Sex Pistols
Time of band – 1975 – 1979
Marital status – married
Wife’s name – Nora Forster
How long married – since 1979
Now – how does he look ? Friendly ? Sweet and quiet ? What do you think ?
Make complex sentences:
David Bowie born 1947 and died 2016. Born in Brixton, south London. First big record was ‘Space Oddity’ in 1969. Record was in the Top 5. ‘Ziggy Stardust’ was released in 1972. It was incredibly influential. Many musicians say it is one of their favourite records. In 1976 he was in a film called ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth.’ In 1977 he moved to Berlin, Germany and made two important records, ‘Low’ and ‘Heroes.’ He was married to the super model Iman. She is Somali-American. Bowie made records up until his death in 2016. He died of Cancer.
Choose a musician; what do you think they are like ?
Which one would you like to meet, and why ?
Which one makes music you would like to hear ?
If these musicians are too old for you, tell the class about your favourite modern musician. Is it …
This blog is aimed at IELTS level students, or anyone who wants to learn how to speak or write in longer sentences.
This involves the use of complex sentences and discourse markers. Furthermore, a wide vocabulary is necessary to prevent repetition and to maintain interest as well as, of equal importantance, to make you feel that you are able to express what you really want to say.
One must not forget that when speaking, intonation, stress and body language will all help to make you sound more like a native-speaker.
To recap, a complex sentence uses different clauses (part of a whole sentence) to make a longer, more interesting sentence.
(I will write a blog just about complex sentences, with examples and exercises, in the near future)
Example: Thay Paul plays guitar. Thay Paul is from London. London is the capital of the UK
Thay Paul, who plays guitar, is from London which is the capital of the UK.
The bold text is the main clause, the plain text is a supporting clause. Which and Who are relative pronouns (Paul = who, & which links London to “capital of the UK”). Therefore, we have three pieces of information in one complex sentence.
Discourse markers link ideas together. Look out for ‘although’, ‘therefore’, ‘furthermore’ which should all be part of your everyday vocabulary.
For vocabulary, you can look at your work; could you replace a basic word with a better one ? Make use of a thesaurus, and note down any new words you encounter.
Now, moving on, today’s theme is cultural differences. This doesn’t have to mean travelling to a different country or continent, but even in the same country. For example, one of my neighbours told me about a business trip she took. Ms Phuong is from south Vietnam, but she had to travel to Ha Noi in the north. This is her account of the journey:
I asked Ms Phuong to tell me what happened.
Last week I went to Hanoi and it was partly business, partly pleasure.
I wanted her to elaborate:
I went to Hanoi, last week, and it was partly business, partly pleasure.Although my expectations were low it turned out to be a greatly rewarding experience.
That was a great introduction, please continue:
I have mixed feelings
I was curious, so I allowed Ms Phuong ten minutes to gather her thoughts, write notes, then tell me:
I have a love-hate relationship, as I believe many south Vietnamese do, with Hanoi. On one hand, I really enjoy the cuisine, the flowers and the colonial architecture. Good points notwithstanding, I have one serious issue with the city and that is the work culture.
Being born in the south, I am used to long working hours, up to ten hours a day and, if need be, working on Saturday mornings. Southern workers tend to be highly focused on work and are always seeking ways to improve their performance. In contrast, workers based in the north seem to lack such a strong work ethic. The working day is limited (is capped) to eight-hours a day and, in my experience, this is a common practice. Furthermore, staff frequently go out for refreshment or leave early.
I noticed this while I was living in Hanoi, and when I return to the city on business. Fortunately, my staff comply with a strict office working policy; I encounter this issue when dealing with suppliers. I have to waste time waiting which makes me feel frustrated as there is nothing I can do to expedite matters.
NOW – what did you make of Ms Phuong’s answer ? I’m speaking in terms of the English, not necessarily the point she makes about Ha Noi.
(make of = think about).
How many complex sentences did you notice ? How about discourse markers ? Were there any words you didn’t know ?
Oh, no … we are not finished, not by a long chalk (not by a long way). Now it’s your turn. Write a short piece based on cultural differences or, if you prefer, write a rebuttal to Ms Phuong’s experience.
A short introduction
First point with reasons to support your view.
A contrary (opposite) view.
For those studying for IELTS, read it to yourself, and use a stopwatch … can you speak for two minutes ?
EXERCISE: What do you think of this painting ? It is by Salvador Dali; what do you know about him ? Prepare a short presentation for next class 🙂
The Persistence of Memory 1931
How to ‘read’ a painting.
Firstly, as with a poem, the title, not to mention the time it was created, can supply us with vital clues and information.
Memory – how well can you remember what you did last night ? Maybe last week ? Last year ? How about what you did at junior school or even, what are your earliest memories ?
Our memories can be unreliable, a mixture of truth, half-truths and maybe fabrications. Therefore, Dali could be saying that the past, as we remember it, may not be the truth – it can be distorted, warped or mutated.
This can be shown by the main subjects: watches. The closed (protected ?) watch is overrun with ants. Could this mean that the ‘truth’ will never be revealed ?
The remaining watches appear to have melted. Have they stopped ? We can see that two of the watches show different times.
What do you associate with watches; time, naturally. Is Dali warning us about how fast time flies, or how we can so easily waste time ? Alternately, is the artist pointing out that human time is nothing compared to time in the universe, which is measured in millions of years and light years ?
How about the image in the centre ? This looks like a self-portrait, also distorted, of Dali himself:
The ‘Dali’ portrait is covered by a distorted watch. Could Dali be telling us how he feels his own mortality – his time left on Earth – or is he being forced down by forces beyond his control – how we can’t escape time ?
Such possibilities show how we can interpret a work of art.
We can say anything we feel provided we can support our ideas.
This makes for some very interesting points of view; even if we don’t agree with the point, we can appreciate the argument.
Now let’s focus on the colour and background. Dali was born in the Catalonia region of Spain, and take a look at this photo of the coastline:
Do you see, it is not entirely unlike the cliffs in the top right of the painting.
Additionally, we have what appears to be the natural realities of sea and sky.
This mixture of reality and distorted, dream-like images is termed Surrealism. It is not pure fantasy, nor is it strict reality, but a hybrid (mix) of the two.
How about the tree ? It looks dead, destroyed, more like a human skeleton. This could be a reference to the horrors of World War I (1914 – 1918), when vast areas of French forest were bombed and shelled into grotesque nightmares worlds:
Interestingly, many of my young students now interpret the tree in environmental terms, how nature is being destroyed by deforestation, by pollution, by human encroachment on the land.
I find that to be a justification for the importance of art; we project our own concerns and issues, factors that affect our current lives onto art that may have been created hundreds of years ago. The art still speaks to us.
SIDE EXERCISE: Which do you prefer, the painting or the photo ? Or, develop your argument to state the positives of both.
Now, let’s move on to the colours. What do you associate, or what is the symbolism of bright blues and yellows ? Conversely, what do you think of when you see dark colours, deep browns and black ?
Finally, let’s focus on the ‘Dali’ image; it is placed at the centre of the painting, like a sun in a solar system about which, everything moves. We have a hybrid of reality (sky, sea, cliffs) and surreal images (the melted, disfigured watches) not forgetting the (war-scarred ?) tree, both real and surreal.
With Dali being the central image, is the painting saying that is a view of Dali’s imagination ? Maybe a dream (don’t dream have a surreal quality ?), maybe his statement on how the world is going ?
All things considered, how do you react now ? Is this optimistic or pessimistic ? Do you consider it realistic or fantastic or surreal ?
Now you try
I previously mentioned World War I. For the first time, war was industrialised, soldiers died in incomprehensible numbers from heavy artillery, bombs, machine guns, gas, flame-throwers, airplane attacks, as well as hand to hand fighting.
Despite the huge loss of life the politicians and leaders persisted in fighting. As a reaction to this madness, a new art movement was formed in Switzerland, central Europe, and was named Dada.
The Dada artists wanted to attack all in modern life that had lead to, and was prolonging, the war.