IELTS: Quick-fire talking

12th May 2020

A chance to practise IELTS-standard speech, answering questions on everyday subjects.

Speaking topics

laptops // holidays // engineering // work // travelling // study

motorbikes // family // living in your town or city //

laptops

Positive asian woman lying on floor with laptop | Free Photo

Introduction

1stpoint

2ndpoint

anecdote (personal story)

conclusion

This first example is a warm up; you will need to speak a little longer, but this introduces the main points to include.

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 plans, 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 District 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.

Check how many adjectives and adverbs are used. Are you utilising such word types ? If not – do so !

Useful expressions

A strong introduction:

That’s a very interesting question

Well, there is so much to say about that subject, where shall I start ?

It’s funny you put that question to me because earlier today I was just thinking about …

To buy time, or to show the examiner that you have a wide vocabulary but need to check the correct word:

Let me think (about it)

How can I put it … ?

What’s the word … ?

To conclude:

At the end of the day

All in all

To wrap up

Now … your turn. Either in pairs, or at home by yourself, prepare an IELTS standard presentation, using the formula above. Choose from:

SaludTues Tweetchat 12/4/18: “Healthy Holidays - How To” | Salud ...
Family life
Despite high education levels, Arab women still don't have jobs
At work
Coronavirus | Tech-challenged Japanese struggle to work from home ...
Travelling to work
A List of Family Holiday Destinations in Africa — Bino and Fino ...
On holiday
Sinai Scholars Society - Spring 2019 Semester - Think Jewish at ...
Studying

IELTS, Mindset: Complex sentences

30th April 2020

The correct sequence of tenses for complex sentences

Today we’ll concentrate on building longer, more interesting sentences, altering sentence structure, and applying discourse markers and relative pronouns in order to be proficient in meeting the IELTS requirements.

Let’s kick off with some basic sentences, each containing one fact.

Park So Yeon ( 박소연) - MyDramaList

Park So-yeon is from South Korea. She performed under the name ‘Soyeon’. She was in the band T-ara from 2009 – 2017.

One possibility is to make a longer, main sentence (an independent clause) then break it up with some extra but not essential information (a dependent clause):

Park So-yeon, who performed under the stage name Soyeon, was a member of the South Korean group T-ara from 2009 until they broke up in 2017.

Here, I employed a relative pronoun (‘who’) to introduce the dependent clause, and altered the sentence slightly, adding some extra words.

Another, more advanced, option, which I recommend experimenting with as it will impress the examiner, is to start with a dependent clause. Allow me to demonstrate:

Performing under the name Soyeon, the South Korean singer Park So-yeon achieved fame as a member of the band T-ara, with whom she played from 2009 until 2017.

You will, no doubt, notice that the grammar may have to change, that is altering the verb form, by which I mean transforming the simple past into present continuous.

Now, you can guess what’s coming, it’s your turn to practise. I realise that not all of you are so enamoured of T-ara and South Korean women as I am, therefore, for that express purpose, I have selected three examples and you merely have to choose the person that most interests or appeals to you:

Daniel Craig thừa nhận sẽ thủ vai điệp viên 007 lần thứ năm - Phim ...

Daniel Craig is an actor. He is most famous for playing James Bond. His wife is Rachel Weisz. She is also an actor.

Thandie Newton Net Worth | Black actresses, Beautiful celebrities ...

Thandie Newton is an English actress. She has three children. She studied at Cambridge University. She was in Mission Impossible II with Tom Cruise.

Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen to visit US, angering Beijing - Nikkei Asian ...

Tsai Ing-wen is president of Taiwan. The official name of the country is the Republic of China. She has been president since 20th May 2016. She was the first woman to be president of ROC Taiwan.

Next stage is to introduce some information and then offer up an alternate view, that is to say, a critical response which can be achieved by the use of appropriate discourse markers.

Let’s focus on the most recent Noble prize laureate ( Literature):

Handke in 2006

Peter Handke is an Austrian writer. His first novel was published in 1966. The English title is ‘The Hornets’. Handke was critical of the Noble Prize. In 2014, he called for the award to be abolished. Many people were critical of Hendke winning because he had supported the Serbia cause in the breakup of Yugoslavia.

There is a lot of information here, some purely factual (dates, nationality) some regarding the reaction to the award.

The Austrian writer Peter Hendke, whose first novel ‘The Hornets’ was published in 1966, was awarded the Noble laureate in 2019 despite his previous comments calling for the abolition of the award. Furthermore, there was a lot of criticism surrounded the announcement due to Hendke’s support of the Serbians during the Yugoslavian war.

Alternately:

Although there was a lot of negative critical reaction, Peter Hendke, an Austrian writer whose first book was published in 1966, received the Noble Prize for Literature in 2019 in spite of the fact that he had previously called for the award to be abolished. The writer, whose first book was titled ‘The Hornets’, had additionally expressed views supportive of Serbia which caused a backlash once the winner of the award was announced.

Your Turn:

Either write about somebody famous, somebody you admire or write something about yourself, making sure to include something positive and negative.

Next time, we can work on introductions, how to respond to IELTS questions by leading into the answer as opposed to simply answering directly.

T-ARA Comeback Cancelled! - Soyeon And Boram Leave The Group But ...

IELTS: Writing practice. Yoga, health & well-being

25th April 2020

Asian girl does yoga on gym carpet. lotus pose. | Premium Photo

I know that yoga and exercise are popular activities among my students, so let’s use this topic for some sentence building.

IELTS candidates will be expected to speak for two minutes on a given subject, then engage in a dialogue with the examiner.

The candidate will feel more confident with an arsenal of phrases, expressions, idioms, discourse markers, and an impressive array of ‘low-frequency vocabulary‘ (big words).

The candidate, additionally, has to employ complex sentences and well-structured responses in order to boost their score.

As with music, practice is the key:

High Quality Stock Photos of "monk tai chi"

I set a test for one of my IELTS students, Ms Nguyen. As a warm up, I asked her to tell me about a place she wanted to visit, so this was similar to an IELTS speaking test, Part 1. Following that, I asked her to prepare a Part 2-style answer about a hobby which prompted her to relate her experiences regarding yoga.

To start, we went over some phrases and sentence structure. Ms Nguyen was recovering from a slight injury: how could she phrase this …

I’m not in any pain, but I’m only about 70% recovered.

I’m not in any pain, although I’m only about 70% recovered.

Although I’m not in any pain, I’m only about 70% recovered.

Although I’m only about 70% recovered, I’m not in any pain.

Here, we replaced ‘but’ with ‘although’, and then altered the word order.

Which sentence do you prefer ?

Exercise: Rearrange this basic sentence (sample answers at end of blog)

I’ve been to South Korea but I haven’t been to Japan

Part 1 exercise: tell me about a place you’d like to visit.

{Low-frequency words & expressions: extraordinary, outstanding nature, notwithstanding}

Japan:

16 Japan experiences every traveler should enjoy | CNN Travel

I like the culture, by which I mean sophisticated cuisine, outstanding nature and kind-hearted people. Good points notwithstanding, I am not so enamoured on the working culture which seems to be highly stressful especially compared to the norm in Vietnam.

Although I really like Japan, I am currently undecided as to whether to study there or not. On the plus side, the subject, sustainability, fits in with their life ethos. Additionally, the fee is lower for international students and, furthermore we will be supported by extra classes. Despite these benefits, I have some serious concerns over issues such as sexism as well as the constant pressure which leads to a high rate of suicide.

POINTS TO CONSIDER:

Do you see how Ms Nguyen gave three examples in her opening sentence, and used the adjective + noun structure (‘outstanding nature’ etc).

Use of adverbs (‘highly’, ‘currently’).

Low-frequency words (‘enamoured of’, ‘sophisticated’, ‘notwithstanding’).

Discourse markers (‘despite’, ‘although’, ‘additionally’).

Moreover, see how Ms Nguyen utilises complex sentences. Keep these in mind as you read her second exercise:

Part 2 exercise: tell me about a hobby or activity you enjoy.

{I gave Ms Nguyen some time to prepare, and allowed her to use a thesaurus to look up better words. Having said that, there are still some little grammar mistakes; can you spot any ? Don’t worry, a few mistakes are to be expected.}

Yoga

Sống tích cực mùa Covid- 19: Sao Việt tập gym, yoga, chăm sóc da ...

Every yoga student has individual needs and abilities therefore the instructor will suggest a method suitable to our needs and requirements. This including advise to prevent us from harming ourselves or pushing our bodies too far.

To be specific, on Tuesday we shall concentrate on stretching our shoulders, neck and spine . We shall do this by adopting positions designed to facilitate this objective. Initially, I felt some soreness because it was an unnatural position. However, there are various levels and when one has mastered the first, they can progress, move on to the next.

If I have a great, productive class, I feel relaxed, calm and refreshed. Some people may overemphasis the benefits of yoga but for me, it isn’t that complicated. I find it a pleasing way to release stress from work and to keep myself active.

Otherwise, I tend to just stay at home socialising with my family, then watching my favourite documentary shows.

Yoga, despite being seen as a very restful and gentle past time, can actually be very dangerous including concussions, injuries and broken bones. Having said that, I know my limits and keep within those parameters.

In conclusion, yoga is my favourite activity as it not only helps my body to reduce stress and keep healthy, but also it is a fun way to occupy my free time and bond socially with my colleagues.

SAMPLE ANSWERS:

Although I’ve been to South Korea, I’ve yet to visit Japan.

I, so far, haven’t been to Japan, although I once travelled to South Korea.

I visited South Korea although I haven’t been to Japan.

Ms Nguyen’s mistake: in the first paragraph, she uses include in the continuous form, not the present simple (“This including advise,” instead of ‘this includes advise.’)

IELTS: Vocabulary activities

24 April 2020

Quiz Night – Call My Bluff

BBC Two - Call My Bluff

This is based on an old British TV show. A team (ideally of three) will be given a word – in the first example, it will be ‘jeopardy’. Each member reads out a definition; depending on the ability of the students, they may be able to embellish, and use intonation to add colour to their presentations. They may also use examples such as ‘Jeopardy, if you have seen a Vietnam war film, you will remember seeing a small, open-top green car. They were used all over Vietnam. These are called, jeopardies. One day, I hope to drive a jeopardy.’

The teacher can adapt this principle to review recent vocabulary.

Team A

Jeopardy

1 In danger, danger of losing or failing

2 A small car used by the army

3 A bird in Australia that can speak fluent English

Contestants

1 People who order food in a restaurant but run away without paying

2 Large vehicles for carrying heavy goods 

3 People who enter a competition, or take part.

Maximum

1 A lady with more than six children

2 The most amount of something

3 A type of sports outfit used in cycling

In the form of

1 Looking like something, in the shape of something

2 Something made of glass or metal

3 Paperwork needed to get a US visa

Team B

Reduce

1 To do something again

2 To make less of something

3 To use glass, plastic, paper again and again

Actual

1 Real, a fact

2 A person who works in theatre or cinema

3 A person who works with a company’s money and finances

Smart

1 A painting of a happy person

2 Very clever or intelligent

3 A small cake made in the UK

except the last one

1 Only the last one

2 Everyone but not the last one

3 To have to start a game over again

Internet Survey

This activity is designed to get the students talking to each other, and encouraging them to elicit more information from their classmates. 

7 tips to prepare Students & Graduates for an online video ...

The questions could be copied onto a sheet, printed out then distributed to the class, so they can walk around and talk to as many people as feasible.

Before the activity, board some key phrases to help:

What did you buy online, which website did you use, how long did it take to arrive ?

Were you happy with the purchase ? Why or why not ?

What websites would you recommend for university work or borrowing books ?

Can you trust Wikipedia …?

Question // Name // Answer

How often do you go online ?
Do you use the internet for work and/or study ? How ?
What social media sites do you use regularly ? How often ?
Have you ever bought or sold anything online ?
What is good about the internet ? What is the worst ?

Desert survival

Lost in the Desert | From the sand dunes of Mui Ne, Vietnam ...

I learnt this at International House, London, as part of the CELTA course, and I use it frequently.

The concept is to introduce phrases and expressions by which students can exchange opinions. Students are placed in small groups and have to decide upon five items. After, they must discuss with other groups their choices. If there are any differences in opinion, the teams must negotiate until the whole class agrees on five items.

First, go through the items, then drill the negotiation phrases.

You need to select five items below to help you survive in the desert.

Factors to consider:

food, drink, heat, cold, injuries, attracting attention, wildlife

First aid kit // matches // rope // knife // compass 

cigarettes // blankets // barrel of water

flare gun // torch

magnifying glass // Beatles CD // make-up set // dried food 

English grammar study book

Angry Birds game // air rifle // sun block

Negotiation language

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 of …

I respectfully disagree // I find your contention somewhat flawed

Your case (argument) is not without value, but …

Have you fully considered the implications of your decision ?

IELTS (Mindset): Why do you like the film ?

6th April 2020

A typical IELTS question could be:

Talk about a film you like. Why do you like it, and what is the story ?

The 15 Most Moving Film Endings in Cinema History | Taste Of ...
Cinema Paradiso 1988 Italy

This blog will serve as a model to IELTS students to help with their speaking and writing skills.

IELTS has lots of ‘open’ questions, to enable the student to speak freely on subjects about which they feel comfortable.

In my last online lesson, I mentioned a film that I though a student would like, as she had chosen to speak about Scarlett Johannsson.

Loạt vai diễn làm nên tên tuổi Scarlett Johansson - VnExpress Giải Trí

The film in question is ‘Lost In Translation‘. Here is a little piece about the film.

Lost in Translation (2003)
An iconic shot from the opening of the film

NOTE:

Short introduction – do not answer the question immediately

Organised structure – one point per paragraph

A change of attitude – a critical view

Short conclusion

LOOK OUR FOR

Low-frequency words

Complex sentences – combining two or more bits of information in the same sentence.

Discourse markers – words to link ideas together

Adverbs and less common adjectives

So, without further ado, the question:

Talk about a film you like. Why do you like it, and what is the story ?

Lost In Translation - Tiếng thở dài của những tâm hồn lạc lối

INTRODUCTION – talk about cinema or films in general DON’T immediately talk about your favourite film.

Watching films and going to the cinema is one of my passions, so choosing just one film is going to be terribly difficult, not to say impossible. However, if I have to select one film, it would be ‘Lost in Translation’, with Scarlett Johannsson.

First paragraph. Information about the film and the main charcters.

The film, directed by Sophia Coppola, daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, was made in 2003, and takes place in Tokyo. A young, newly-married girl, named Charlotte, is alone in her hotel because her husband is constantly out working. Staying at the same hotel is a middle-aged, world-weary American actor, Bob Harris, in Japan to make a commercial for Japanese whiskey.

Second paragraph. The plot – what happens … and why.

Both characters appear to be suffering from culture shock and seem afraid to leave the security of the hotel. For example, despite seeming to be impressed by all the neon and energy of the city, Bob spends his night in the hotel bar with other tourists, while Charlotte reads and listens to music in her room.

Third paragraph. Develop the plot.

They meet in the hotel where age difference notwithstanding, they seem to get on extremely well, extremely quickly. Furthermore, they give each other energy and courage to venture outside. We learn that Bob is less than happy in his current life, while it becomes apparent that Charlotte is doubting her own marriage. At one point it look like they will get together. However, Bob decides to go back to the USA, leaving Charlotte, but not before they share an embrace on the street, in which Bob whispers something in her ear. We, that is the audience, do not get to hear what he said; we have to speculate.

Fourth paragraph: Something negative for balance.

Some people could be irritated that the final words are a mystery, other could be severely disappointed by this love story that never quite happens. The two protagonists return to their lives which will, possible, be unfulfilling. This negativity is like a black cloud on an otherwise bright, sunny day.

Conclusion: A short summary.

‘Lost in Translation’ is described as a romantic-comedy-drama. The characters are totally believable and likeable, while, technically, the cinematography is stunning. Furthermore, in my view, it is a charming, heart-warming, and life-affirming movie.

35mm Contest #22] Lost In Translation (2003) Cho Thời Gian Ngơi ...

IELTS 4 – 5 (Mindset). Implementing precautions

25th March 2020

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.

Image result for nicola sturgeon

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.

Image result for vietnam coronavirus

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.

Read more here: https://www.vietnam-briefing.com/news/vietnam-business-operations-and-the-coronavirus-updates.html/

Image result for vietnam coronavirus

The government also made an educational video. You can watch it here: https://observers.france24.com/en/20200306-government-clip-inspires-coronavirus-safety-dance-challenge-vietnam

Image result for vietnam coronavirus

IELTS: Hello, India

24th January for 30th January 2020. IELTS Bands 4 – 5.5 Unit 7

Image result for hello India

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:

I'm very moved to be here today, ... Our lives are now much better, but Vietnam remains a very poor country. We need to work much harder. - Ho Chi Minh

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:

absent-minded / jovial / reside / miserable / attain

Image result for Indian culture

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)

adverbs

low-frequency vocabulary

complex sentences (introduce extra information in supporting clauses)

stress and intonation

Adjectives: describe what you see here:

Image result for Indian culture

Try these adjectives:

exotic / mysterious / exquisite / captivating / enchanting

Sentence building: Talk fluently and coherently.

Compare and contrast:

Image result for Indian city scene

Does this look like YOUR city ? What is similar, what is noticeably different ?

Image result for Indian train station
A typical commute to work ?

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

New Vocabulary:

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 ?

What to do in India

The American foodie and blogger Mark Wiens travelled to Kolkata: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvNdOJMDMyQ

Image result for mark wiens in india

Listen for at least five words you didn’t previously know. In small groups ask each other:

What impressed you ? What disturbed you ? Would you like to go there ? If so, why, if not, why not ?

Here is a chance to practice adjectives, linking words and using the word ‘because’ – giving reasons, supporting your comments.

Famous Indians

In small groups, you have to make a short presentation about one of these famous Indians:

Image result for famous indian people
Mahatma Gandhi
Image result for famous indian siddharta buddha
Siddharta – the Buddha
kalpana chawla
Kalpana Chawla

The class have five to ten minutes to research information, speed read and extract relevant facts with which to enlighten the class. Simply reading straight from Wikipedia is not permitted.

And now, goodbye from this mysterious, exotic land. Hope to meet you very soon …

Image result for Indian sunset

IELTS Speaking Practice: Manufacturing in Vietnam.

30th July 2019

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)

adverbs

low-frequency vocabulary

complex sentences

stress and intonation

WARM UP

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.

RELATIVE PRONOUNS

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.

Exercises

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.

Factory workers in the UK during the industrial heyday

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 goods incomparably 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.

de Loutherbourg, Philip James; Coalbrookdale by Night; Science Museum; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/coalbrookdale-by-night-179866

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.

https://www.businessinsider.com/china-iphone-city-residents-foxconn-apple-effect-2018-5

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).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giJbzFUQSPQ

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.

IELTS: sentence building

22nd July 2019

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.

Sentence building – becoming fluent and coherent

Use

  • adverbs
  • adjectives
  • opinions phrases
  • linking words and discourse markers
  • new vocabulary

EXAMPLE: I like coffee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uvs7pmISe8I

Ask

  1. how MUCH do you like it (adverbs) ?
  2. What kind of coffee (adjectives) ?
  3. What do you think about this ? (opinions)
  4. WHY do you like it (give reasons)
  5. interesting words, phrases, idioms

Example

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 ?

Plan –

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.

Highlands Coffee, a popular chain in Vietnam.

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

unhappy punctual

happy feasible

possible reside

tired intelligent

get (a qualification) environment

place absent-minded

Interviews

What is your favourite beer ?

Image result for czech 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 ?

IELTS Unit 6: ch – ch – ch – ch – changes

16th April 2019

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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCgzX7vwlFk

David Bowie in the early 1970s … going through many changes

Next we have USA Soul-singer, Otis Redding. He sings about a life-changing move: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISxskvJ9FwI

Otis Redding who left his home in Georgia …..

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

Gladys Knight

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

For me

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’.

Brigitte Lin

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:

Take Care of my Cat

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 Owl and the Sparrow

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.