Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Holiday project – Egypt

9th June 2020

Sheet 2 for the holiday Project

EXOTIC EGYPT

Ancient Empire

Home of Pharaohs and queens

View the breathtaking pyramids

Solve the mystery of the Sphinx

A holiday you will NEVER forget

Stay in Cairo. Visit Egypt Museum. Day trip to Pyramids

Camel-rides. Experience local cuisine. 

Half-day boat ride on the enchanting Nile river

Return flight, hotel, half-board, transfers, private bus

Best prices !!!

A Holiday You Will Never Forget

Mr Paul Tours – visit our website mrpaultours@ukonline.co.vn

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Holiday project – Bangkok

9th June 2020

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.

The first city is:

BANGKOK

Jewel of Asia

Fly to Thailand’s Royal Capital

The blurb:

3-day city break.

Tour to Royal Palace (see the Emerald Buddha)

Famous temples, mouth-watering food

Malls with the latest in fashion and technology

traditional music and dance

Nightlife second to none

This city will stay with you forever

The practicalities

All-inclusive package – flights, transfers, half-board,

3*** hotel in downtown area, close to skyrail

Mr Paul tours – visit our website mrpaultours@ukonline.co.vn

Students are encourages to add their own information and to make use of classroom facilities such as internet, Google images etc to enhance their presentation.

To make it more competitive, the students have to vote on which holiday sounds most impressive.

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Holiday of a lifetime !

9th June 2020

Activity: Holiday advertisement language

Holiday adverts on tv | Toluna

Present a holiday using a mixture of advertising slogans and practical information. Remember:

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it

Make your voice sound excited, as if this were the best holiday ever !

Students can choose a destination of their choice. In the following blogs, I’ll include some examples from different cities.

Holiday terms:

transfers / half-board / inclusive / amenities / package tour / itinerary

Language:

breathtaking / stunning/ sensational / incredible / remarkable/ exclusive /

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

Structure:

To begin with / furthermore … additionally / the fact is … / therefore

Demonstration with an advert for London:

Best Summer Holiday Ideas for London - Picniq Blog

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.

Asian Tourist in London Taking Stock Footage Video (100% Royalty ...

Holiday advertising vocabulary:

Try to use as many of these adjectives and expressions as possible:

breathtaking / spectacular / unforgettable / magnificent / unique / exhilarating

once-in-a-lifetime / never-to-be-forgotten / unmissable / natural beauty 

Practical Information

visa / currency / package tour / independent traveller / full-board / excursions

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Home is where the heart is.

8th June 2020

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.

Vocabulary booster

Where do you live ? What’s the area like ?

Căn hộ Homyland Riverside | Gia Phát Investment
Apartment block in District 2, Sai Gon
Two-up two-down - Wikipedia
Two-up, two-down houses in UK
Happiness Full Hanok Guesthouse, Jeonju, South Korea - Booking.com
Traditional house in Jeonju, South Korea
South Side Chicago Neighborhoods | South Side Chicago Projects ...
The Projects, South Side, Chicago
Istanbul Buildings - Turkish Building Design - e-architect
Apartment in Istanbul, Turkey
Lagos shanty megastructures
Lagos, Nigeria … a plan for the future ?

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 Happened To County Kilburn? | Londonist
How would you describe living here ?

My home is a / an:

apartment and I live alone

rented room which I share with friends

house and I live with my family

Things you wanted do know when visiting an Indian home for dinner ...
Their home is _____

advantages and disadvantages pros and cons 

adverbs of degree

(quite, rather, very, extremely, incredibly, remarkably, unbelievably) 

I travel to work by motorbike. It’s quite far and extremely stressful.

Using Grabbike. It’s very convenient albeit rather expensive.

On the bus. Although it’s incredibly cheap, it’s not very pleasant.

Bangkok by Bus: A cheap way to see the top sights,or simply get ...
does she get to work ?

Idioms and expressions

At work I:

find myself doing the same thing day in day out. It’s tedious.

am always busy, attending meetings or writing reports.

have a variety of different jobs, I don’t have time to get bored !

Asia business woman success celebration keeping arms raised at ...

Notice the collocations

In my free time I:

enjoy watching films and playing sports. I am competitive !

adore hanging out with my friends and family.

love shopping. I can spot a bargain and I hate being ripped off !

Spice Souk, Old DUBAI - UNITED ARAB EMIRATES | Visit dubai, Dubai ...
What does she like doing … ?

Learning English is, for me:

easy, a piece of cake. It’s very important and fun.

vital for the future. In my opinion it’s imperative we learn.

a necessary task. It’s awkward and frustrating, but I need it.

highly enjoyable and relaxing. I love to improve my mind.

English Classes - International Linguistic Program - Destination ...
An international English class in Canada

The War Remnants Museum is

extremely popular with tourists, a major attraction in the city.

well laid-out and organised. The exhibits are fascinating.

very somber and thought-provoking. Well worth a visit.

educational and essential. We can discover much there.

not suitable for children, though I would recommend it to adults.

Ho Chi Minh City: where bikes rule the roads | Mascaras and Backpacks

Increase your word power

Match the basic words with others of similar meaning (synonyms)

For example boring = tedious

interesting / on time / forgetful / live (I live in) / happy / unhappy / get (a qualification) /

reside / punctual / fascinating /absent-minded / jovial / miserable / attain /

smart (clever) /place / tired / reliable / great ! / try /

brilliant / exhausted / intelligent / endeavor / environment / dependable /

honest / make / bad (evil) / small / unimportant / not often /

prepare / seldom / nasty / insignificant / trustworthy / minute

Now make sentences with the new words e.g. (for example)

After studying for three years, Jenny attained her BA Degree.

Beautiful Chinese Graduate Stock Photos - FreeImages.com
Congratulations, Jenny !

Music vocabulary

What do these words means ?

rhythm / melody / lyrics / beat / solo / orchestration

Genres (types of music):

pop / rock / country and western / punk / classical / jazz / blues

Music time 

Listen to Paul McCartney’s ‘Another Day’. 

What do you think of it ? How does it make you feel ? Would you dance to it ?

Talk about the music and the lyrics (words); were they easy to understand ?

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: What’s your type ?

7th June 2020

Personality adjectives and idioms

How many of these do you know ?

funny // aggressive // serious // intellectual // mean // unpleasant // scary // witty // arrogant // boring // friendly // light-hearted // a push over // mean (selfish) //bossy // impatient // a screw loose // solid as a rock // tough cookie //

Expression – don’t judge a book by its cover

Personality adjectives

kind, unkind, sweet, not sweet, nasty, generous, mean (1 nasty, 2 not generous),

friendly, unfriendly, nice, reliable, unreliable, dependable, shy, confident,

arrogant, lazy, bossy (slang = shout at people, tell them to do things)

hard-working, life and soul (of the party), awkward – difficult, hard to please

Jobs

White collar doctor, accountants, teacher, lawyer, professional, office worker

blue collar chef, factory worker, mechanic, shop workers, fix machines etc

arts artist, actor, painter, musicians, DJ, poets, writers

estate agent / consultant / plumber / PR Public Relations / HR / volunteer worker / unemployed / therapist / sportsperson / web designer / security guard / unemployed

What jobs do you think these people have / Why do you say that ?

I think / She seems to be …/ I get the impression that he is …

funny //aggressive // dependable // generous

serious // impatient // reliable // intellectual // mean

unreliable // unpleasant // scary //witty // arrogant

boring// selfish// friendly // light-hearted // nasty // bossy

a screw loose // solid as a rock // tough cookie // life and soul

Extending vocabulary – personality types

Computer geek / nerd / social misfit

hunk / fit / health freak

Family man / new man / sensitive

boffin / egghead / professional man 

Lazy / work-shy / good for nothing

workaholic / married to his job

arty / cool dude / beatnik

useless layabout / waste of space

slackers / drop-outs / cool guys / high school kids

There may be good and bad things about all of these. What do you think they are ?

Which type would you like to marry or which type do you think you are ?

REMEMBER– use expressions of opinion

“In my experience…” “As far as I’m concerned…”

“In my opinion…” “Personally, I think…”

“I believe that…” “It seems to me …”

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Describing people

27th May 2020

Adjectives to describe people

Bob Dylan Announces New Album Rough and Rowdy Ways, Shares New ...

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 ?

The many lives of Bob Dylan | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle ...
Mr Bob Dylan receiving an award from President Obama

Your Turn:

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.

New Vocabulary: Look up any words you don’t know

Negative

unreliable // aggressive // arrogant // dishonest // talkative // stingy // selfish // rude // nasty // lazy // over-rated

Very positive

inspirational // role-modal // intellectual // philosophical //down to earth // influential // under-rated

Adjectives to describe appearance

tall // giant // diminutive // medium height // average height //

fat // overweight // chubby // slim // thin // skinny // bony // anorexic-looking

blonde hair = fair // brown hair = brunette // red hair = redhead

hair – straight // curly // wavy // crew-cut (army, very short) // bald //

freckles // wrinkles // crow’s feet // scars // spots 

normal-looking // weird- looking // looks more dead than alive // bags under eyes

How would you describe these rock stars ?

David Bowie 1947 – 2016
Keith Richards (@officialKeef) | Twitter
Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones born 1943
Peter Mars Gets Groovy with Jerry Garcia Collab | licenseglobal.com
Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead 1942 – 1995
Robert Johnson and The Crossroads in African and African American ...
Robert Johnson, legendary Blues man 1911 – 1938
Wake County Schools on Twitter: "She'd be so proud of the ...
Dolly Parton born 1946
Johnny Rotten on Museum of Arts and Design's Punk Exhibit ...
Johnny Rotten (John Lydon) born 1956

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 …

T-ARA sau 2 năm đóng băng hoạt động: người chăm chỉ đóng phim ...
CD9 (band) - Wikipedia
CD9 from Mexico
2
SANAM from India

Now, a last word from Neil Young:

KEEP ON ROCKIN' IN THE FREE WORLD Poster | Orange | Keep Calm-o-Matic

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Grammar Review

20th May 2020

I usually start a class with a review or warm up exercise, so here’s a selection of short activities.

English School EC London - English Courses for all Ages

Subject:

Adverbs (frequency & probability)

For / since / ago / already

Past Perfect & Past Perfect Continuous

Phrasal verbs

Re-writing sentences

Quick-fire corrections

Verbs into nouns

Vocabulary booster

Adverbs

Notice how a native speaker will alter the sound of the adverb, from a high ‘always’ to a deep ‘never’.

Encourage the construction of sentences with this exercise

always

usually / often

sometimes

rarely

never

Subject + adverb + verb + object …. when ?

I always drink coffee … in the morning

I usually read books … after work

I sometimes go swimming … in the afternoon

I rarely study Vietnamese … ever

I never play music … late at night (OK, maybe sometimes)

NOW … Your turn

Have students work in pairs, making their own sentences. Weaker students can copy the examples, but stronger ones are expected to introduce different vocabulary.

Listen out for the final -s sound, notably in sometimes

Similarly, introduce adverbs of probability

definitely

probably

possibly

unlikely

definitely not !

It will definitely rain soon

He will probably be late tonight

I will possibly go shopping after class

It’s unlikely that he will play for Barcelona, ever OR He is unlikely to play for Barcelona, ever.

I will never go back to that terrible restaurant.

Past perfect simple

Past <____X________X__________Present_________>Future

Something happened before another action BOTH in the past

Sub + had + past participle : I had seen the film before I read the book

She had finished the test before I was even half way through it !

Had you visited the museum before Jane arrived ?

BUT there is a time gap

past perfect continuous

something was happening when another thing started

Sub + had + been + verbing // I had been playing games when he called

How do you Find the Best Video Games for your Child to Play
I was playing games AND THEN the phone rang.

You had been laughing until she stopped you.

No laughing matter: Critics and audiences debate whether Joker and ...

Had you been waiting long when she emailed you ?

Waiting for an Email from Recruiters? Read This | Blog | TalentWorld

NOW … Your turn

Write sentences using the past perfect continuous for these photos:

Kids crash their parent's teleconference call - YouTube

Man on Skype … then his daughter walks in

SEAGULL ATTACK: Fury as angry seagull targets man because he's ...

Just looking at the church … then a bird attacked

for / since / ago / already

I have lived in HCM … 4 years // She has been here … 2014

We came here 7 hours … // They have … seen the film

Students – make four sentences, using the four words

Quick fire corrections

Maths is / are very exciting and beautiful. History is / are fascinating

There is not many / much space in my car. Mr James has much / many fb friends

Can you buy a few / some milk  and a few / some oranges ?

Rewriting sentences

Tony started in 2010. will By 2025, Tony will have been working here for 15 years.

Pam went to Japan and is returning in June. the It’s the second time that Pam’s been to Japan

I woke at 10am and have worked all day. will

By 6 pm, I …………………. for 8 hours

Julie has never seen Star Wars before.   the

It’s ………………… she’s seen Star Wars

Verbs into nouns

Assist / reside / help / inspire / exhaust / attract / repute / inhabit / enthusiastic 

One verb doesn’t change its form

Phrasal Verbs

Call in sick   //  call off // call back //   call out // calm down // take under consideration //     bottle up

Live up to //  look down on //  move out // move on up //   settle in // settle down // settle up //  start off

Students – use as many of these phrasal verbs as you can.

Alternately, hold a contest. Put class into teams. Give them a minute or two to do the activity.

Vocabulary booster

Students confused over Japanese school banning ponytails for ...
Is she about to fly soon ?

Anxiety   // eagerness  // enthusiasm // fear  // joy // optimism

The students are sure they will pass. There is a lot of …………

Flying can cause ……….

Horror films use people’s love of …..  to entertain

Can you remember the ……………… we had for collecting comics ?

Character or personality ?

Are they real people or characters in a film or book ?

Brad Pitt / Iron Man / Hamlet / Donald Trump / Ronaldo / James Bond

What Happens When an Assignment Is Unclear? | The Teaching Professor

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: USA … sun, surf & sand.

18th May 2020

Holidays Stateside

Surfin' USA! On the trail of the Beach Boys in the sun-kissed ...
The Beach Boys exemplified the American dream of fun, fun, fun !

You are going to the USA. How will you prepare ?

Before you go 

What do you need to do ? Use the following words to build long sentences with linking words (also, as well as) and adverbs (extremely, absolutely, quite):

research // compare // vaccination // insurance // thermal underwear // sunblock // visa // traveller’s cheques // adapter // currency // medication reservation route // travel books (fiction and/or guides)

EXAMPLE: Before I book my ticket, I will need to research flight prices online as some airlines charge considerable more than others.

Look at this website:

http://www.gapyeartravelstore.com/blog/top-20-travel-gift-ideas-2016/

30 Inspiring Gap Year Travel Ideas
Meeting the locals is part of the travel experience

[A ‘gap – year’ is when young people travel before, or during, their university studies. It creates a gap – a space – between school and university or between the three or four years of study.]

Make a short presentation – what do you think of the items ? 

Which do you consider to be:

essential / useful / unnecessary / a waste of space ! / totally useless

You are allowed to choose five items – which would you choose and why ?

GRAMMAR

‘Have to’ and ‘must’

When packing, which items do you HAVE TO bring ? Which items MUST you bring ?

Remember: have to = requirement // must = personal choice

EXAMPLE: to travel, I have to bring my passport and I must buy some shampoo.

Travelling to USA

Usa Tourism Map - Tourism Company and Tourism Information Center

Make a list. Be sure to include paperwork, important personal items and non-essential personal items.

I have to bring // I must bring

At passport control

You will hear questions like these. Write them down. Practise asking and answering: https://www.youtube.com/watchv=RFV0hZpmmr4&index=1&list=PL97HViQblvdEM3zsauRxnIg1baFTNmsDM

However, where to go ?

The USA is enormous, stretching from the sun-kissed Hawaiian Islands to the bitter winters of New England.

Tahitian woman making the traditional welcome gesture. Polynesian ...
Aloha from Hawaii
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Winter in Maine

In the next blog, we’ll focus on three cities: Boston, Chicago & San Francisco … what do you know about them ?

Have a good day 🙂

I miss you already

Always See You Later Never Goodbye SVG, JPEG, High Definition, DXF ...

Cheerful young female african american college student waving ...

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Cultural differences

24th April 2020

IELTS Examination Jakarta

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:

BIS Hanoi Students Ambassadors Raise Focus on Sustainable Issues ...

I asked Ms Phuong to tell me what happened.

What to do in Hanoi for 5 days – Hanoi guide for first-time ...
Hanoi old quarter

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 ?

Ho Chi Minh City - Wikitravel
Work meetings are more about therapy than productivity, study ...

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.

Guidance:

A short introduction

First point with reasons to support your view.

A contrary (opposite) view.

Short conclusion.

For those studying for IELTS, read it to yourself, and use a stopwatch … can you speak for two minutes ?

Say “Good bye” với 10 cách thú vị và ý nghĩa - EIV Education

Adult Speaking Class, level 3: Dali, DaDa and Surrealism

23rd April 2020

Dali

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:

A new Florida art installation reanimates Salvador Dalí - Axios

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:

Catalonia Discovery - cycling & walking in Catalonia | Inntravel

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:

Woods in Wartime - Trees on the Front Line - Picturing the Great ...
Photograph by Frank Hurley: ‘Chateau Wood 1917’

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

Dada

Dada | Definition & History | Britannica

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.

In my home city, London, we have a great Museum with a significant Dada collection. If you’re interested, here’s a link: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/d/dada

What do you think of these ? Analyse them and DON’T BE AFRAID TO USE YOUR IMAGINATION

Man Ray, ‘Cadeau’ 1921, editioned replica 1972
Man Ray Cadeau 1921
Dada Movement Overview and Key Ideas | TheArtStory
Marcel Duchamp LHOOQ 1919
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George Grosz ‘The Pillars of Society’ 1926