Life goes on as normal … or does it, indeed can it, should it ? The Scottish MP and First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, addressed the issue in a recent press conference. In her view, we all have to change our lifestyles and accept that there is a pandemic sweeping the globe.
The measures, including closing down restaurants and cinemas, are intended to stop the spread of Covid 19. The virus can easily spread in big cities such as New York, Tokyo and London.
Different countries have imposed different restrictions, and I’d like to focus on Vietnam where, as of 14.00 today, the 25th March, there are 134 reported cases but no fatalities. We shall examine what steps the Vietnamese government has taken, after a quick revision.
Remember, IELTS students have to be able to use these low-frequency words in order to pass the exam.
isolate // implement // significant // rely //
precautions // quarantine // regulations
Students are given three minutes to write three sentences using three of these words.
Now, once these words roll off the tongues of the students, we can move on; actions taken by the Vietnamese authorities.
Latest Updates from the Vietnam- Briefing.com website
What do you think about these measures ?
To what extent do you agree with them and why ?
As a resident of Sai Gon, do these measures make you feel more secure, or more scared ?
As of March 25, Vietnam’s Ministry of Health confirmed a total of 134 cases of COVID-19. The latest cases were all linked to international flights. 19 cases were announced on March 22 itself – the biggest single day total.
Ho Chi Minh City authorities have ordered the closure of all restaurants (with a capacity of 30 people or more), gyms, beauty salons, barbershops from March 24 to March 31.
Vietnam has stopped exporting rice from March 24 to ensure national food security.
All international airlines have been asked to stop transporting overseas Vietnamese to Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City from March 25 to March 31 to prevent overcrowding at quarantine facilities.
Vietnam has suspended the entry of all foreigners from March 22 to limit the spread of COVID-19. The measure will not apply to diplomats and officials as per Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. The Prime Minister also ordered the suspension of all international flights, though it’s unclear exactly when this will take effect.
The Health Ministry has advised all arrivals from March 1 to self-isolate at home if they have not been quarantined in a centralized zone in the past 14 days.
Vietnam and Cambodia have closed their borders from March 20 to further prevent the spread of the epidemic. The measures do not apply to official and diplomatic passports.
The Vietnamese government is expected to unveil a credit package of US$10.8 billion and a fiscal package of US$1.3 billion in March for businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
24th January for 30th January 2020. IELTS Bands 4 – 5.5 Unit 7
Firstly, a big hello to all my readers and followers in India. Yesterday I had over fifty visits from students from the sub-continent and I want you all to know how much I appreciate you taking the time to check out my blog. Thank you so much.
My Indian friends – what is the standard of behaviour in your classrooms ? In my centre, in Sai Gon, Vietnam, we have to employ classroom management (normally reserved for ‘young learners’) to adults. Namely, we have to continually tell the class:
No mobile / cell-phones in the classroom UNLESS it has been sanctioned by the teacher for educational purposes.
No eating, chewing gum, slurping drinks
NO CHATTING WHILE THE TEACHER IS TALKING. THE TEACHER IS HERE TO HELP YOU. FURTHERMORE, IN MOST CULTURES, THIS IS UNBELIEVABLY RUDE AND UNACCEPTABLE.
Take notes, write down new words, practice using them
The teacher is here to help YOU learn. We are not here to entertain you.
These are not MY rules – they are the rules of the centre. If you cannot abide by them, then stop coming to class, stop wasting everyone’s time and money.
Let’s leave the last word to Uncle Ho, bác hồ:
Understand, my Vietnamese classes ? Even Uncle Ho says you,
“need to work much harder.”
And now, without further ado, a warm up exercise to see how much the class has remembered from the last lesson … if anything.
Firstly, complete these phrases and then use them in sentences:
over the ______ // under the ________ // under ________ // more or ________
I’m over the …… because I passed my IELTS test.
Ms Linh is not here, she’s feeling under ………..
The class understood the video, more ……..
So many tests at school, the pupils were under ………
Secondly, what do these words mean, the make a short sentence using them:
I shall try to incorporate some teaching points about India in this blog which, although written before the Lunar New Year (Tet Holiday), is for next week.
The above sentence is an example of the type of English that is expected in order to pass the IELTS exam. As you can plainly see, it isn’t too difficult; I inserted a low-frequency word (‘incorporate‘), used a relative pronoun (‘which‘) in order to make the sentence longer and more fluent, then employed a discourse marker (‘although‘) to link contrasting ideas together in a coherent sentence.
To recap, what you will need to use in both writing and speaking are:
adjectives (but not just the most basic, common ones)
complex sentences (introduce extra information in supporting clauses)
Does this look like YOUR city ? What is similar, what is noticeably different ?
Vocabulary building and listening
In the real world, most students will not be communicating with English-language teachers, but probably with other non-native speakers, so learning to appreciate and understand English spoken with a ‘new’ accent is an extremely useful skill. Here’s a great video which features a charming young Indian lady teaching new vocabulary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKUxuD0m5A8
Instead of using ‘very’ + adjective (I am very tired), use a single word:
Try to use ‘sagacious’, ‘exquisite’, ‘colossal’ and ‘spacious’
The classrooms in Block D are ……….. (big)
The furnishings are perfect, they are ……….
Building an underground train network is a ………… undertaking
The old man was ………. People came to him for advise.
This is also a listening skills exercise.
Do you have any problems understanding her ? Why ?
Tonight is a special speaking lesson, a preparation for the real test which this class will take at the beginning of September. Incidentally, last night I adjudicated a speaking test and was somewhat distressed by the lack of:
adjectives (even when the task was to describe something)
stress and intonation
So, to warm up, I will put the class into small groups and give them various words on strips of paper, words we have covered in the classes: adjectives, adverbs, discourse markers, compound nouns.
a major challenge / ubiquitous / punctual / binge shopping / significantly /bizarre /
remarkably / one the other hand / consequently / therefore / in my opinion /all’s well that ends well.
how do I say that in English ? / sky-high / traditional / developing /
The students have a set time to speak on a basic subject (shopping, music, internet etc) employing as many words as possible.
who For people: This is the man who sold me the fake Rolex !
which For things: We tried fish and chips which is delicious.
where For places: Let’s go to the shop where we saw the great bargains.
Whose Possessive: That’s the singer whose record we heard last night.
The car, whose driver was young, won the race.
We arrived at a nice beach ______ we could swim and lie in the sun.
A man ______ mobile phone was ringing did not know what to do.
The patient, ______ had a serious disease, was taken to hospital immediately.
Smithsfield is a small village ______ people live a quiet life.
A boy ____ sister is in my class, was in the bank at that time.
I know a person ____ can speak seven languages.
We visited the church _____ is in the middle of the square.
It is a protected area of land _____ you can see a lot of interesting wildlife.
This dress is made of silk _____ is a very expensive and delicate material.
A police officer, _____ car was parked at the next corner, stopped and arrested them.
MANUFACTURING AND ECONMICS
Tonight’s discussion focuses on manufacturing, so first I have to pre-teach some new vocabulary, as well as encouraging the students to think in long, complex sentences employing relative pronouns and discourse markers where appropriate.
The United Kingdom had a great empire in the nineteenth century undoubtably due to the fact that the UK was the first industrial nation.
This had a profound, significant effect on the country as its economy turned from agricultural to industry. The UK could import raw materials from its overseas colonies and, by the use of new machinery, produce consumer goodsincomparably quicker and cheaper than by old traditional methods.
However, despite the wealth generated by this revolution, it caused many social evils:
Industrial pollution, which is still a global problem today, especially in developing countries, was prevalent and ubiquitous. The poet William Blake referred to the “dark satanic mills,” which blighted the lush English countryside. Social reformers and political philosophers commented on the disparity between the wealthy factory owners and the appalling working conditions of the operators, which often included young children, as well as a dreadful number of accidents and deaths due to the lack of safety laws. Furthermore, some people say that commercialism is a bad thing, such as seeing things simply in terms of making money, for example, selling toys based on ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Avengers’ films, or turning areas of natural beauty into golf courses, hotels and resorts, not to mention replacing old family shops by the massive super and mega-marts run by giant corporations.
Gradually, workers conditions improved in developing countries, but at a cost. Rising labour (labor in US English) prices made the giant multi-national companies look abroad for cheaper workers, overheads and tax fees. Today, many companies have factories in south east Asia and China.
These have been criticised as being sweatshops, where workers are forced to do 12-hour shifts, often without adequate breaks, in addition to being paid a pittance in comparison to western workers. Many consumer goods are manufactured in south east Asia, including some high-end items such as designer clothing, furthermore, it is estimated that half the world’s iPhones are made in China.
As an outsider, but with an interest in the culture and history of Vietnam, I am aware of the sensitivity regarding Viet-Sino (Chinese) relations. In terms of size and population, China dwarfs Vietnam, yet despite the massive workforce in the larger country, some developed countries are investing heavily in Vietnam. Here’s a good news link from a USA business news station (with English subtitles).
This should be adequate to give the students a grasp of the vocabulary and some collocations needed to speak confidently about basic manufacturing although we have yet to delve deeper into Vietnam’s own economy and manufacturing traditions. The following is from WIKIPEDIA:
Although the industrial sector contributed 40.1% of GDP in 2004, it employed only 12.9% of the workforce. In 2000, 22.4% of industrial production was attributable to non-state activities. From 1994 to 2004, the industrial sector grew at an average annual rate of 10.3%. Manufacturing contributed 20.3% of GDP in 2004, while employing 10.2% of the workforce. From 1994 to 2004, manufacturing GDP grew at an average annual rate of 11.2%. The top manufacturing sectors — electronics, food processing, cigarettes and tobacco, textiles, chemicals, and footwear goods — experienced rapid growth. Benefits from its proximity to China with lower labor cost, Vietnam is becoming a new manufacturing hub in Asia, especially for Korean and Japanese firms. For instance, Samsung produces about 40% of its phones in Vietnam.
And now the students can take over. What can they tell me about traditional manufacturing ? How do they contribute to the local and national economy ? For example, on holiday in Phan Thiet (a seaside town a few hours train ride from Sai Gon), the only Vietnamese I saw were in the service industry (hotel staff, cleaners, restaurant workers, shop staff, tour operators etc). How do Vietnamese feel about this ? The cost of a hotel room may be more than they earn in a week or even a month. On the other hand, the tourism creates jobs and enable locals to make a living.
Obviously, this is an English class, though we have touched on economics, social philosophy, international relations and even poetry. The objective is to prepare the students for a future test where they may well have to speak about their country’s economy. I hope this will provide them with a basic grounding in vocabulary and some critical thinking, and mostly, being able to express their ideas.
Here are some tips to help you expand your sentences, as well as incorporating language use that IELTS examiners will expect. Also bear in mind that the way you speak, the para-linguistics, is equally important.
I enjoy coffee (a little / incredibly) because it helps bring people together as well as making our minds become quite active and somewhat excited. Coffee, from my point of view, is essentially useful if we use it in moderation. On the other hand, coffee can be a dreadful waste of money not to mention having a detrimental effect on our health such as insomnia. Despite the negative aspects, coffee makes me feel over the moon!
EXERCISE: Where do you drink coffee ?
Introduction: one complex sentence.
Where do you go ? Do you go to many different types ? What do you usually order ?
Why do you go there ? What are the good points ? How often do you visit ? With whom do you go ? How long do you spend there ?
Compare the store with another (price, choice, comfort, amenities).
Are there any negative aspects ? Price, location, crowds, parking etc.
Conclusion: one sentence summary of what you have said.
IF you don’t drink coffee, then you can explain why not, and where you like to go to hang out with friends. Even if you never go out, you can talk about that as it will afford you the opportunity to give reasons and build more complex sentences.
Practice adjectives by describing this photo.
Increase your word power
Match the basic words with others of similar meaning
For example boring = tedious
interesting attain on time fascinating
forgetful miserable live (I live in) jovial
smart (clever) exhausted
get (a qualification) environment
What is your favourite beer ?
Well, I like many beers but my favourite is Czech beer. For example, Pilsner, Budweiser or Staropramen. I think the taste is very good as well as being excellent quality.
Along with Czech beer, I also really like Mexican beer such as Corona or Desperado.
Having said that, these beers can be expensive so sometimes I just drink Vietnamese beer, maybe Saigon Red or 333 because they are much cheaper.
1 Answer the question in a proper sentence
2 Give examples
3 Give reasons
4 What else ?
5 An opposite conjunction (but, however, having said that, on the other hand)
6 What instead ?
Remember to use adverbs and adjectives to make your speech more interesting
Well, I like many beers but my favourite is Czech beer.
For example, Pilsner, Budweiser or Staropramen.
I think the taste is very good as well as being excellent quality.
Along with Czech beer, I also really like Mexican beer such as Corona or Desperado.
Having said that, these beers can be expensive
so sometimes I just drink Vietnamese beer, maybe Saigon Red or 333 because they are much cheaper.
Ask each other some of the following questions:
The interviewer must keep asking questions until the speaker has nothing more to say.
Interviewer can ask, ‘Why do you say that?’, ‘What other reasons?’ ‘Why else ?’
Do you think sports are good ?
What do you like about working for your company ? / Attending your school ?
Do you spend, save or invest your money ?
What films do you like best ? Do you go to the cinema or watch at home ?
Tomorrow night I’m substituting a new IELTS class which is going to be very heavy on reading. In order to offset this passive activity, I want to promote and encourage as much speaking as possible AND to make the students take notes of any new words or phrases. Apparently, note-taking is not big in Vietnam; for a teacher, it can seem that the students are expecting to be entertained. It’s quite amazing the amount of students who attend class without notebooks, writing implements or the motivation to open their mouths and practice the language they are paying to learn.
Therefore, I have to make it clear at the outset what I expect them to do if THEY expect to get a good grade. Taking a photo of the board is not good enough, they need to physically write and practice the new vocabulary. Wether I am successful is another matter (for another blog).
And so, without further ado, tomorrow’s plan.
The theme is about changing lives, making decisions, trying something new. Consequently, I’ll play three songs which feature a change of one description or other. Let’s start with the song alluded to in the title, ‘Changes’ by the British legend David Bowie:
Finally the use of change in a more abstract way, a mental activity. If someone makes a decision then has a different view, we say they ‘change their mind’. That is the subject of our last song, ‘Baby, Don’t Change your Mind’ by Gladys Knight & the Pips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IjDftWaXpA
The first task is to identify the type of change mentioned in the song then subsequently moving on to a second task; what do they think of the music ?
This will involve forming opinions, and using special vocabulary pertaining to music. To begin with, the students have been given several opportunities to practise these:
In my opinion
I feel that
From my point of view
Then some new phrases to express like or dislike:
I really love it / I quite like it / I’m crazy about it
I can take it or leave it / I don’t mind it
I’m quite keen on it / I’m not so keen on it
I’m into it / I’m not really into it / I’m not into it at all !
I can’t stand it / It’s excruciating / I can’t bear it
It’s not my cup of tea / It’s right up my street
Now vocabulary pertaining to the actual music:
melodic / tuneless
catchy / boring
repetitive / interesting
rhythmic / great beat /
uplifting / depressing / melancholic
The students will have to move around the room (always a challenge as most students are glued to their seats for the whole three-hours and simply will not move) and interview each other. It’s my job to get them to elucidate and expand their answers, to illustrate that a basic, ‘I like it’, isn’t what is expected from an IELTS student … and isn’t going to be accepted by THIS teacher.
Thereafter, I want to move from music to cinema. I’m going to show some stills of Asian films and let the students work together to create possible scenarios. As always, I’ll model one example. This is from one of my favourite directors, Hong Kong’s Wong Kar-wai, and the film in 1994s ‘Chungking Express’.
This still doesn’t give much information … but it has some. The figure wears a long trench-coat as worn by detectives or private eyes in US crime films). Her blonde hair is a wig and she wears sunglasses … at night. What does that suggest ?
Furthermore, the scene is well-lit by the store; what area of Asia could this be, where there is so much light, neon, brightness and excitement ?
In answer, the film is set in Hong Kong. The lady is organising some smuggling. If it works, she will make a lot of money. If it fails, her life is certainly in severe danger. Whatever happens, this night will change her life.
Now, the students have to look at these stills:
Where is this film set ? What could be the life-changing situation ? For a clue, consider the ages of two of the characters. On the other hand:
Where is this set ? (the signs give a clue). This is a film about five young ladies who have just left school. What changes are they facing ? Finally, a film closer to home:
The students will probably recognise the setting and the situation. How do they read the body language of the actors ? What could change ? How are the girls in this situation in the first place ?
After this, it’s time to hit the books.
To make reading more of an active activity, the students can work in pairs. One will read one paragraph, then relate the information to their partner. This is then repeated with the second partner reading then relating. Thus they practice reading, speaking and listening.
Furthermore, they can try to rephrase some lines, a useful ability to have in an IELTS test.
To end, we could show some clips of films, then pause and ask the students what they think will happen next, and to describe what they see in the shot. This helps develop the use of adjectives and discourse markers. And who knows … maybe they will change their habits and actually get up from their chairs.
I’m now taking my second IELTS class, and the great thing is that I’ve already made lesson plans. Additionally, my class is much smaller – seven students as opposed to 17 – and they seem slightly more motivated and animated.
But there is still room for improvement … and I’m referring here to myself, as a teacher. My centre tries to promote as much student talking-time as possible, ideally aiming for as high as 80% student conversation … ideally. In reality, the teacher has to face a number of obstacles. I’ll save those for another, more general blog, as I want to dedicate this post to extra work, and tips to get the students talking.
First up, I need to make the students take notes (Vietnamese are not in the habit of doing this, as my centre manager explained). Instead, they will often just take a photo of the board. Secondly, once the student has sat down, they generally will not move until it is time to leave … three hours later.
I will now insist that they take out and use notebooks, the rationale being that the active process of writing will help them remember the words or phrases much better than taking a photo (which they may never look at) or relying on their memory.
Likewise, I will strongly recommend that instead of sitting and talking with the same person all class, they get up and move around, practice with different people (“But teacher, I am tired, I am lazy,” – I have actually heard these from people half my age ).
Now, without further ado, some extra work.
In Lesson Two, I started off with some compound nouns, based upon shopping. This was a way to introduce new vocabulary as well as filling time while late students arrive.
My manager suggested that this could be developed into a speaking exercise. For example, using the compound nouns ‘bulk shopping’, ‘window shopping’, ‘binge shopping’, ‘impulse shopping’ and ‘dumpster diving’, make a presentation with questions:
Have you ever made an impulse purchase ?
How often do you go window shopping ?
Do you ever buy in bulk ?
Is dumpster diving popular in Viet Nam ?
Then, what are the pros and cons of:
Basically, get the students speaking as much as possible. To help them develop longer, more complex sentences, I’ve given them sheets of discourse markers, and each week we focus on one type and select three words. For example, last week was ‘addition’; instead of saying ‘and’, they could use ‘additionally’, ‘furthermore’, or ‘moreover.’
This gets practiced when they have to link two basic sentences:
I like coffee. I like tea.
They could be linked by a simple ‘and’, but try using new discourse markers.
Sentences can be built up by using adjectives, adverbs, discourse markers, and by the use of clauses. This will entail relative pronouns … but that is for another lesson. The students have two months and hopefully they will see improvements after every lesson.
Before the final speaking test, I’ve prepared a list of some useful vocabulary and expressions that will come in very useful. Furthermore, in response to one of my students, I’ve included an exercise on relative pronouns.
Tonight is my final class before the speaking test, and it’s jammed-packed with language skills such as listening, pronunciation and, not forgetting, speaking.
The words in bold indicate the way native-speakers sometimes link words together, to form one linguistic unit, a process referred to as ‘chunking’ in the IELTS book (though I had not previously come across this term).
This is defined on the Cambridge English Dictionary website as:
In terms of the Speaking Test, it will help students sound more natural, more fluid, so is very beneficial, along with learning fixed expressions and an idiom or two. But first, as the students will be arriving in dribs and drabs, we’ll need a warm-up before the lesson can start in earnest. Let’s use some examples from the film alluded to in the heading, Wong Kar-Wai’s ‘Chungking Express’ (1994).
I will show three still of character inter-action. The students have to give me as much information as they can (description) and tell me, in their opinion, what is happening. The stills:
To help the students, I will guide them: where are the characters, how are they dressed, what is their body language ? We can then move on to ‘reading’ a picture. Look at the colours – which are warm, which are cold ? How close are the characters ? The woman in the first picture is wearing sunglasses inside and an obvious wig and heavy coat – why ? What is the relationship between the policeman and fast-food worker in the second ? Follow the eye-lines, look at the space between them look at how the bottles on the counter go from blues (cold) to red (hot, passion, love) as they move from cop to the girl. As a final clue, what symbol is on her T-shirt ? Finally, how would they characterise the meeting in the last photo ? Do they appear friendly ? Is there a social-economic or class issue ?
This is one of my favourite films, the acting is great and the cinematography is breathe-taking. The American director Quentin Tarantino is also a big fan of the film, so here’s a link into a listening exercise. Tarantino is from the US, so let’s see how much the students can understand from a ‘real-life’ video (from 0:00 – 0:45):
What expressions does Tarantino use to indicate a long time ?
We then move to a controlled practice session. Over the past weeks, the students have learnt new vocabulary and expressions but, unless they are used, they will be forgotten … and we can’t have that. So, time for some small group work:
I’m planning a trip to Nha Trang (a beach town in South Vietnam, about an hour’s flight from Ho Chi Minh City). I have two hotels in mind, but I need advise from some Vietnamese. They also have to use as many of these words as possible:
visually stunning / mouth-watering / you get what you pay for / spectacular / a waste of money / significantly / somewhat / according to / how can I put it ?
Students must tell me about the hotels, the area, the food and which one they would choose for me:
Victory Hotel 2* Rooms not very clean, no view. No complimentary breakfast.
Sandy Bay Hotel 4* Much more expensive, although it has breakfast buffet, and room has a balcony with view of the sea.
Trip Advisor recommends Sandy Bay, but they said Victory was dirty and very over-priced.
Local food is great
WILF (What I’m looking for): can the students describe the scenery and food ? Can they compare the price and quality difference ? Can they use expressions appropriately ?
With the adjectives, I’ll be listening out for intonation – ‘spectacular !’
To quote another source of information, ‘according to’ and for the prices, the 4* is ‘significantly more’ expensive than … Then, in conclusion, can they make a judgement – ‘a waste of money’ or accepting that high quality means high prices, ‘you get what you pay for.’
By now it’s time for the book work, and we have a lot to get through tonight.
The speaking practice involves a two-minute talk about an electronic device. The books offers some ‘stepping stones’, guides about what to say. To help the class, I’ll model an answer showing discourse markers, adjectives and adverbs, as well as some ‘low-frequency’ vocabulary (or ‘better words,’ if you will). My topic will be my Kindle.
There should be a short introduction (one or two sentences), then each point arranged in different paragraphs, then ending with a short conclusion. The book suggests saying:
How long you have had it ?
How often you use it ?
What you use it for and
Why you use it so often.
They don’t all have to be answered, and other points can be made, but the speaker should be aiming for two minutes without repetition, hesitation or deviation.
One of my favourite electronic devices is my Kindle, an ebook reader, which is small and light. I always take it with me when I travel; I’d be lost without it.
The Kindle is primarily a way to buy, store and read books in electronic format. At first, I wasn’t convinced, I liked reading real books. However, books take up a lot of space and, at least in the UK, are rather expensive. When I saw what a Kindle can do, and that so many books are free, I was hooked ! I had to get one. I bought my device in 2014 and I’m still using it today.
As mentioned, I use my Kindle for reading. Literature and poetry is one of my passions. Instead of going to a shop, I just browse the online store, click and wait for it to download. With reasonable wifi, this can just take a minute or so … then I can start reading. It is no surprise that ebooks are ubiquitous in the UK.
Although I read a lot, the Kindle is more than just an ebook. It has wifi so I can access the internet, can play music, write notes and play games.
The wifi is vital, especially when I travel. I can maintain contact with friends and family, watch YouTube if the hotel TV is less than enthralling, or read travel guides such as Trip Advisor. Naturally, I can also book tickets or make reservations and therefore pay significantly less.
I recently travelled to Thailand to meet some friends. I didn’t want to buy a new SIM card, and my friend only had an old phone, so there was a dilemma; how to stay in touch ? Thanks to my Kindle, I had email access, so we could plan when and where to meet.
I can’t watch Vietnamese TV, due to the language barrier. Consequently, the Kindle plays an even bigger part of my life, as I need some way to relax after toiling away for hours at work.
The choice of books is amazing. In the stores, a single book can cost around £10, but recently I downloaded the entire output of the Russian writer Tolstoy for less than £1.50 … incredible !
Kindles come in many shapes and sizes, so before you buy, you need to ascertain how you’ll be using it. For example, do you want a basic ebook reader, just for books, or the latest model with wifi ? This will, naturally, affect the cost. Then you have to decide upon the extras, for example how much storage space do you require, or a super-fast charger or protective case ? All of these bump the price up considerably.
If you’re interested in purchasing one, I have some information for you. I did a quick Google search and saw prices started at under 2 million VND, averaged around 5 million, but some were over 15 million. That, for me, is too extravagant.
In conclusion, my Kindle is very much a part of my life. It accompanies me everywhere. I simply don’t know what I would do without it.
Speaking for two minutes can be quite daunting and challenging, even for a native speaker. I will try to encourage the class to expand on their work as much as possible. They can do this by giving examples or lists, using personal experiences or giving full reasons for their choices.
This exercise will probably be the centre-piece of the lesson, as they’ll need time to prepare and perform. I won’t embarrass anyone by making them read aloud, but instead, I’ll circulate and offer help and tips where necessary.
As it’s the last lesson, the later part of the class can be for fun activities, maybe some general knowledge questions, or sentence building exercises, where we start with a basic sentence and see how far we can develop the story.
This is the penultimate class before the speaking test, and the assigned work involves a fair amount of reading and listening. Therefore, I want to introduce more speaking activities so the students can practice and I can check for pronunciation and correct use.
We’ll kick off with a warm up – I’ll board some fixed expressions and the students must complete them:
The last expression leads into the second activity, ‘Lonely Hearts.’
I’ll re-use the photos from a class I took last week, where I show three men and three woman with a very brief bio of each one. The students have to match them up, then speculate on what the outcome of the date will be …
After, there will be a quick-fire vocabulary game to go over the meaning of recently-learnt words and expressions.
something that is everywhere, very common, easily found
Quoting a fact from somebody else
An adverb that means much more
An adverb that is mild, a little, a little more
To repeat something
(Again, answers at the end)
The next game is Desert Survival. Students are put into two groups and given a sheet with a number of items. They have to work together to decide upon five items ONLY that will help them survive in the desert.
You need to select five items below to help you survive in the desert.
cigarettes / blankets / barrel of water /flare gun /torch
magnifying glass / Beatles CD / make-up set / dried food
grammar study book / Angry Birds game / air rifle / sun block
I see your point but … / that’s interesting, however …
I’m not sure about that / I can’t go along with that
I don’t feel that is entirely right / I fail to see the merits
I respectfully disagree / I find your contention somewhat flawed
Your case (arguement) is not without value, but …
Have you fully considered the implications of your decision ?
The students have to practice the given language and negotiate with each other, then with the other team. We need to find a consensus of five items.
This will probably be enough to take us to the book work.
The first item is the difference between ’cause’ and ‘make’
Look at this sentence:
There was a recession in 2008 because of the collapse of the housing market.
This can be re-written, to alter the style of writing:
Because of the collapse of the housing market, there was a recession in 2008
The collapse of the housing market caused a recession in 2008.
We can see ’cause’ in because of. Here, we are talking about a thing (the housing market). When we talk about the effect on people, we usually use ‘make.’
The recession made many people loose their jobs.
In the area of Ho Chi Minh where I live, there are a lot of open-air karaoke singers, and a vacant lot hired out for wedding parties.
On Saturday, a wedding party caused a lot of noise.
The guests made a lot of noise
Listening to drunken people screaming karaoke makes me angry !
Additionally, ’cause’ is more informal, while ‘make’ is frequently used in informal collocations:
The delay was caused by heavy traffic. The delay made me late.
The heavy traffic caused me to be late. The incessant noise caused me to be angry
This is a more formal than ‘made me late’ but the sentence structure has to be altered; to be is added before the adjective (late).
After, with about thirty minutes left, the energy and motivation will probably be somewhat low (to say the least), so an activity to wake them up and to encourage them to speak and express their views. I shall simply write two contentious issues on the boards, in the hope of provoking the students:
Vietnamese are so lazy
Vietname should be part of China
I am expecting a vociferous outcry, but the object here is to let the students gather their ideas and verbalise them in a suitable way for IELTS.
They will need to give their opinions, use adverbs, and back them up with reasons.
Finally, we can play a Family Fortune (FF) game. Students are put into small groups and have a set time to come up with four answers. These can be learning based (e.g. four adverbs of degree), new vocabulary or general knowledge questions. To make it more fun, I could ask questions regarding my experiences (I have lived in four countries; which ones ? What are my favourite Vietnamese dishes ? What do I like more in VN than UK ? etc).
Hopefully the class will be happy at 9.00 pm, NOT because the lesson is over, but because it has been worthwhile … probably a mixture of the two !
The answers: see / day / time / day out / everybody
ubiquitous / according to / significantly or remarkably / quite or somewhat / reiterate.
This show is about two co-workers who ride to and from work every day. It is set (the location) in the north-west of England, around Manchester so the accent may be harder to understand.
not my cup of tea – a polite way of saying that you don’t like something
piece of cake – if something is very easy, or if something is not a problem.
I checked at a previous IELTS centre about the use of idioms in the course. The verdict was that one or two are totally acceptable, as it shows a deeper knowledge of English. However, they should be used appropriately, and are more suited to speaking, as opposed to writing.
Fixed expressions / phrases
according to – when you give a fact or information that someone else says.
brand new – totally new, un-used, still in the box or wrapping.
for this / that reason – because of this / that
hard to reach – difficult to get to.
mouth-watering – food that is so delicious, it makes the mouth produce saliva by smelling it or even just talking about it.
off-peak – a quiet time, either for driving and commuting, or for holidays.
off-season – a quiet time for hotels, flights and holidays.
second hand – an item that has been previously used.
turn a blind eye – to see something wrong but pretend not to notice.
remarkably / significantly – strong adverbs of degree, showing a high change.
quite / somewhat – mild adverbs of degree
Use the new vocabulary in this conversation.
Peter: Sorry I’m late; the roads are so ——– (very busy). Sally: There was an accident ———-the radio (the radio said). You look ill. Peter: Well, I had —- (12) beers last night ! I’m glad we’re on ——- (not fixed time). Hey, is that a new phone ? It looks ———- (just bought). Sally: No, I got it ———– (previously used). I know an ———–(different) way to get to work. It’s on the back streets so ————– (because of) it’s empty. Peter: Less ———- (people going to work) ! ——————– (no problem !)
The student should be prepared to talk for up to two minutes. Having said that, there is one minute allowed for preparation.
The speaking can be planned in a similar way to writing; a short introduction; one idea or subject at a time; mention both something good, then bad; a short conclusion.
Avoid repetition, hesitating and speaking about something not directly related to the question. One way to ‘buy time’ to think is to use one of the following:
How can I put it ?
What’s the word ?
That’s an interesting question
Well, I hadn’t thought about that before
The examiner will also be looking for politeness and eye contact, as well as listening for intonation and pronunciation. Grammar is naturally important, but one or two minor mistakes are acceptable.
Last night we practised talking about holidays, so for practice, talk about a holiday you went on. Try to use some of the new vocabulary from above.
If you need some ideas, use these pictures for assistance: