Lockdown Lessons: A respectful reminder.

11th February 2021

Image result for online learning

Firstly, may I wish you all …

Image result for i/en|chuc mung nam moi 2021

Due to the return of COVID to Sai Gon, schools and language centres have been closed down, and online classes have restarted.

A big shout out to the staff at my centre. Instead of taking things easy in the build up to Tet, and enjoying time with their family, they had to work all hours to prepare for the change to distance learning.

To make these lessons work, we need students, and their parents, to follow these simple rules:

Respect your teacher and your teacher will respect you

tôn trọng giáo viên của bạn

You HAVE TO turn on your camera. If your camera is not working, you HAVE TO inform the centre.

Answer your teacher when you are asked a question.

Please control your background noise. No music, computer games or talking. Try to find somewhere quiet for the class.

Let’s work together and make the best of this situation and hopefully, we can all meet at the school in the near future.

Stay safe, stay well

A Tale of Two Classes

11th December 2020

Compare these two photos; which class do you think was more dynamic ?

Photo 1
Photo 2

The basic lesson was the same: what are you doing now, add a connector (or discourse marker) and say what you want in the future.

Students are taught how to use vernacular language, practise changes in intonation and alterations in stress, as well as chunking (natural linking together of words).

The photos, as the saying goes, tell their own story.

Photo 1 is from a high-level IELTS class where I wanted to increase vocabulary, and encourage the students to use more intonation … or basically ANY intonation in their voice.

The topic went down like the proverbial Led Zeppelin (and I wasn’t feelin’ a Whole Lotta Love for the class). I managed to elicit some half-arsed replies before they returned to their mobiles (or cell phones if you’re in the USA) or their natural comatosed state.

The Big Short GIFs | Tenor

On the other hand, take a gander (have a look) at the second photo; same basic lesson target, but my goodness, what a difference, and this from an intermediate class.

Both classes were small in size (about six students) and predominantly teenagers, so how do we account for the chasm between them ?

To use academic language (for one of my new IELTS students):

This would seem to suggest that it was the students, as opposed to the lesson, that was the issue.

Academia GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Words such as ‘inspire’ or ‘motivate’ are synonymous with teaching. However, as someone who attempts to teach, I must add that a successful lesson relies on synergy; one cannot motivate those who actively resist being motivated.

Teachers only have so much energy, and they can’t afford to waste it on customers who shuffle into class, scowling, ignoring the teacher, sitting at the back clutching their bag, defensively, in front of them before becoming engrossed in their phones and ignoring any questions put to them. I’m not talking about children here, but young adults or adults, on a course that they chose, and need for their future.

Joking Season 2 GIF by Outlander - Find & Share on GIPHY

I wish I were.

So, to my great students, who come to class willing to learn, to be active, to practice and are polite and respectful:

Elvis Presley Saying Thank You Very Much GIFs | Tenor

Speaking Practice – warm up game

7th October 2020

An activity for all levels

Teaching speaking skills 1 | TeachingEnglish | British Council | BBC

A major problem for students is pronunciation and also, in some classes, it can be rather tricky to get the students talking. Obviously, many learners are scared of mispronouncing and ‘losing face’ by their mistake.

This activity helps with both issues.

Arrange the class in small groups and hand each member an card. The students have to read out the information, while the other write down what they hear. Many of my students feel that work is something to be done as quickly as possible, but that will not work in this situation.

Instead, the other team members will need to check what is being said. This encourages slow, clear and careful pronunciation. To assist, use expressions such as:

Can you speak slower, please.

Would you mind speaking slower, please.

How do you spell that ?

Could you repeat that, please.

Sorry, I didn’t catch the phone number.

Let me confirm …

Is that ‘b’ as in blue or ‘p’ as in pink ?

Teachers: adapt to suit the level of your class. Add email address, specific requests etc

Asian Women Are Not For You. Many years ago, at a tech/startup… | by J Li |  Medium

Hi, my name is Jane

I’m 22 and work as DJ

I’m really into dancing and parties

I don’t like reading or housework

I hang out with my best besties

We go to clubs and bars

I get there by motorbike or taxi

My email is jane98@aol.com

25-Year-Old Black Man Running Through Suburban Georgia Neighborhood Killed  By Two White Men

Hi, I’m James

I’m 27 and I’m a football coach

I like to watch films. I’m a gamer

I’m not into shopping or dancing

I meet up with my brother

I go to the gym and the cinema

I have my own motorbike, Yamaha

My mobile is 098 724 5628

Beautiful Mexican Women And How To Date Them

Hello my name is Anna /

I have just turned 19

I’m studying chemistry

In my free time, I eat out I love hanging out with my friends

My blog is AnChem@wordpress

Indian Women Have Come a Long Way' - India Real Time - WSJ

Hello, I’m Carole

I’m 35 and a university lecturer

I’m really into reading

I hate playing sports I detest clubs and loud music

My fb page is CaroleCambridge.

Long Straight Layer Style Wig For Young Lady - Rewigs.co.uk

Hi, call me Sarah All right ?

I will be 24 next week

I work in a shopping mall

I go to work by bus

I love eating out. Chinese food.

My cell is 089 428 1015

Genomind Blog | teen girls

I’m Tammy

I’m sweet 16

Next year I go to university

I love sitting in the park, reading

I enjoy listening to music & singing

Email me on tam16@yahoo.com

Womens Soccer League / Soccer Girls USA

Hello everyone, I’m Jill

I’m 16 …. no, I’m actually 27

I play football in USA

I go to the park on foot

We eat at Mexican restaurants

My number is 555 207 8291

French Style Slouchy Wool Felt Beret Women Fashion British Chic Girls Beret  Hat Lady Solid Color Winter Hats Women Dropshipping|Women's Berets| -  AliExpress

Hi. You can call me Billie

I don’t want to say my age !

I am a professional dancer

My partner gives me a lift to work

I want to work in the theatre

Contact on billie09@gmail.com

Herr Deutschland is a Berliner - EXBERLINER.com

My name is Harry Brown,

I come from Berlin, Germany

I listen to music and play football

I love shopping with my girlfriend

I usually grab a taxi

My phone is 39 402 4951

Pin by Darlene H on Eye Candy #4 | French man, Handsome men, Lines for girls

My name is Peter

I was born in France

I watch movies at home and read

I hate theatre, it is so boring

I always use Grabbike.

Facebook me Peter of Paris

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My name is Julie

I’m an actress and I’m 31

I love theatre more than cinema

I often hang out in the park

Call on 38 703 8946

Chinese Students Need Faith | Christian Reformed Church

My name is Eric

I am only 18

I love football and playing piano

I never read books or go shopping

My iPhone was stolen in the park

Teaching Notes: Thank you, Miss Linh

22nd September 2020

A quick shout-out to a great student, Ms Linh. Very briefly, I teach a 90-minute speaking class; the work is prepared form me, I just have to deliver the lesson, and check for pronunciation, intonation and stress.

Now, although the students choose which lessons and subjects to attend, they can find the subject rather tedious, the work repetitive and therefore, they get bored and when students get bored, they may project their annoyances onto the teacher, such as mumbling or whispering a response, yawning and sighing (loudly), avoiding eye contact or outright refusing to answer.

I had such a situation last night, a miserable wet Monday. I’m supposed to make the students repeat the target language until they can pronounce it perfectly … but it just wasn’t happening.

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.” – English  proverb | Free English Materials For You

Eventually, like pulling hen’s teeth, the class began talking more and trying to use the new expressions I had offered them.

At the end of the class, while some students couldn’t wait to split, one or two came up and were complimentary. The aforementioned Ms Linh said that although the subject was less than fascinating, she could see that I was really trying to make it interesting.

That was such a lovely thing to say, so now I say to you, Ms Linh:

Different Ways of Saying "Thank You" with Flowers ⋆ FloraQueen

IELTS Listening Notes

20th September 2020

Some notes I found as I was cleaning my old Apple Mac. I’m not sure where they are from; a book, website or centre notes. I thought they may be of some use to teachers of IELTS.

IELTS Listening Test - Error Correction

IELTS Listening

Before I do a listening practice, I tell my students to R.U.P.

read, underline key words and predict the answer.

TOP-DOWN LISTENING

(Going from meaning to language, using background knowledge to understand the meaning of a message).


Activities:

     Students generate a list of things they already know about a topic and things they would like to learn more about, then listen and compare.

     Students generate a set of questions they expect to hear about a topic, then listen to see if they are answered.

     Students look at the question sheet and identify its structure before listening.

     Students read a list of key points to be covered in a talk, then listen to see which ones are mentioned.

BOTTOM-UP LISTENING

(Going from language to meaning, using linguistic knowledge clues to understand the message).


Activities:

     Students listen and distinguish between positive and negative statements.

     Students listen and identify key words that occur in a spoken text.

     Students listen to a conservation and complete a form.

     Students use stress and intonation to identify word and sentence functions.

IELTS Listening Test – 10th June to 15th June 2019



Everything you need to prepare for IELTS Listening | IDP IELTS

SOME EXAMPLES OF MICRO LISTENING SKILLS:

     Discriminate among the distinctive sounds

   Recognize the functions of stress patterns, intonation contours

     Recognize reduced forms of words (contractions)

     Recognize grammatical word classes (noun, verb, etc.), systems (tense, agreement, pluralization), patterns, rules and elliptical forms

     Recognize that a particular meaning may be expressed in different grammatical forms

   Recognize cohesive devices in spoken discourse

Beautiful chinese female student Stock Photos, Royalty Free Beautiful  chinese female student Images | Depositphotos®


So, I made a lesson plan for teaching section 4 of the listening test like this.


Pre-listening:

1.       read the instructions carefully to see what they are expected to do (especially the number of words they can write for each answer) R.U.P.

2.       identify the topic of the lecture. Teacher can activate their background knowledge by asking them what they know about it, maybe showing a short video clip

3.       identify the structure of the test (how many parts, key words) so that students do not get lost in the middle of the listening

4.       pair a weak student and a strong student so that they can help each other in predicting the answers

a.       part of speech (e.g. expressions or idioms)

b.      collocations

c.       meaning (make a list of guesses to help the weaker students)


While-listening:

1.       Students listen to the recording and do the task individually.

2.       Peer check

3.       Task correction (the teacher then plays the recording again bit by bit to check the answers)


Post-listening:

1.       Students work in group to share their experience after doing the task. What difficulties they had or how they could recognize the answers. (5minutes).

To build confidence, I often play a recording up to three times, highlighting new vocabulary or expressions. I then let the students write the answer on the board, so everyone can see, correcting if necessary.

2.       sharpening the macro skils:

Activity to help students recognize paraphrases:


Students stand in 2 lines. There are 2 circles in front. The teacher shows 1 word (e.g crowded) and plays the recording. When the students hear the paraphrase of that word (e.g a lot of people), the first pair jump into the circle. Who can do that first gets 1 point for his team. The first pair then go the back and the procedure is repeated with another word. This can be adapted for older and adult students.

Activity to teach new vocabulary after listening:


The teacher can choose 5 or 6 words that he would like to teach and print them out. Then, put students into groups with a set of words for each group and play the recording. When students hear the word from that set, they have to quickly knock on their desk and take that piece of paper. Who gets the most words wins. The students in group read the words and explain the meaning. Teacher checks the pronunciation and meaning as a class.

The Teacher may wish to set a speaking task related to the topic as a post-listening  activity

I believe the students can do better if they are well-prepared in ‘pre-listening’, and for ‘post-listening’, if we can make use of the recording to teach them some skills in doing the task, they will perform better the next time.

Canadians anticipate rise in demand from Mexico - Languages Canada

Thank you, Princess

4th August 2020

Last night, after a three-hour IELTS class, another IELTS student was waiting to speak to me. It was one of my ‘Top Cats’, someone of whom I’m expecting great things.

The student, who I call Princess as she is so elegant, polite, refined and respectful, presented me with the following gifts:

September is a special month in Vietnam what with Independence Day (2nd), the anniversary of Ho Chi Minh’s death (also the 2nd, though some say 3rd) and the Mid-Autumn festival which this year falls on the 13th.

Why you should visit Hanoi for Mid-Autumn festival | The Independent
Mid-Autumn Festival in Ha Noi
Mid-Autumn Festival - Be completed with moon cakes
Mid-Autumn Moon cakes

Thank you my Princess … see you next week 🙂

Quotes for the classroom

2nd September 2020

Today is Independence Day in Vietnam, so let’s start with Uncle Ho, Ho Chi Minh (1890 – 1969). He has some very sage advise, especially for Vietnamese students:

Ho Chi Minh quote: I'm very moved to be here today, ... Our lives...

“We need to work much harder.”

Don’t take my word for it, listen to Uncle Ho. Now, let’s go back to Ancient China and listen to Master Kong … Kong Fuzi … Latinised as Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC):

Pin by Kelly Ferrara Carlson on point to be noted.... | Confucius quotes,  Philosophical quotes, Philosophy quotes

Moving forward, and westward, we come to Ancient Greece and the philosophy of Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC). I think he deserves two quotes n’est-ce pas ?

Aristotle quote Best Quotes – Quotes – BestQuotes
Pin by F. M. on Man Made History...the Good and the Evil | Aristotle quotes,  Philosophy quotes, Teaching quotes

Our inspirational journey takes us my homeland, a “Precious stone set in the silver sea,” (Shakespeare, and more from the Bard, later). The court of Queen Elizabeth, and her adviser and alchemist, the mysterious John Dee (1527 – 1608 or 1609), furthermore, the man credited with coining the phrase “British Empire.”

TOP 10 QUOTES BY JOHN DEE | A-Z Quotes

As promised, something from Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)

Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to  heaven – William Shakespeare - Quotes

I totally agree. The quote is from Henry VI, Part II.

Finally … Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013):

Nelson Mandela Education Quote Gallery - Basecampatx

Young Learners classroom games: word battleship, snakes and ladders.

24th August 2020

I’ve spent so much time reading books about classroom activities, looking at websites and blogs only to reject the vast majority as not being suitable for my level of students. Here are a couple of games that have been successful over the years, in different centres and with different ages, though I usually employ them with students aged between 6 and 10. Adapt them as you wish, and have fun.

Word Battleship

This is based on the old paper and pencil game (later upgraded for the electronic and computer age).

Oversized Battleship Game
ABCD
1
2
3
4
Word Battleship

Board a grid as above (add more cells as required). Put the class into teams.

[I let them choose their own names, and if a student says, ‘Errrrrr,” then that’s the name I give them … additionally, this always gets a laugh]

Ask the teams questions based on previous lessons, general knowledge, whatever suits your class. You could either elicit an answer from the team as a whole, or individual members.

If the student answers correctly, they are allowed to choose a cell, example “C3.” On a separate sheet, have the same grid with scores assigned to each square. In the example that follows, C3 would score 25 points.

The following questions were used to review past tense grammar, as well as forming collocations:

Put the sentences into the past tense (simple past). Say complete sentence.

1 Last week we learn about technology

2 I buy a new iPhone last night.

3 Michael Jackson write many good songs.

4 Oh, no … I do not do my homework !

5 Have they decide what printer to buy ?

6 He see all the ‘Avengers’ films in one day !

7 It’s Friday ! I think today was Wednesday !

8 On holiday, I walk along the beach.

9 My grandmother send me an email.

10 Have you play the new video game ?

Complete the collocation

11 (go) to the cinema [I _______ to the cinema]

12 (play) guitar

13 (take) a photo

14 (chat / go) online

15 (do) voluntary work

16 (make) a decision 

ABCD
12550105
2102510025
35010255
45251050

Snakes and ladders

The Timelessness of Snakes and Ladders | by Doug Bierend | re:form ...

Another activity based on a classic game. I first used this in a very energetic class of 9 – 11 year olds and, thanks to the size of the room, I was able to draw a grid on the floor and use students as ‘counters’, to move around the ‘board’.

If that isn’t possible, just board a grid like so:

STARTGO FORWARD 2
GO BACK 1
GO FORWARD 1
HA HA
BACK TO START
GO BACK 3FINISH

All you need is a die or dice and different colour board markers. As before, arrange the class in teams, then ask each team a question. The student who answers then throws the die (preferably NOT at the teacher but one thing at a time), and I chart their progress on the board. You can decide whether or not the students need an exact score to land on Finish or not … play it by ear.

[ ‘dice’ is generally accepted for both singular and plural. For English-language learners it’s probably better to use ‘dice’.]

Culturally Responsive Teaching: A Guide

iTalk Lesson Structure: What to expect

7th August 2020

For my iTalk customers, there have been some changes to the lesson structures.

The lessons will focus on vocabulary and pronunciation. We want you to sound like a native-speaker and that means hard work.

From now, the lesson will be arranged as follows:

A quick warm up to practise recent phrases or vocabulary, and to pass the time until all the students arrive.

This will be a chance for you to do some extended talking to develop sentence-building skills, incorporate idioms, expressions and prepare yourself for a speaking lesson.

The main lesson will be the handout ONLY.

Firstly you will learn new vocabulary and practice:

pronunciation, stress and intonation

Next there is usually some listening so you can hear native speakers use these words. The recording will be played two or three times for you to hear and copy.

Next up is the main language of this lesson. You will repeat these expressions several times and test each other. During this time, the teacher will listen and give guidance.

The idea is for you to sound like a native-speaker. You will ONLY achieve that by practice and practice.

Finally, the remainder of the lesson is for YOU to practice using the language, in various scenarios. I recommend changing speaking partners. Practice means repeating and improving.

Practice does NOT MEAN saying the text once, as quickly as possible, then declaring, “Teacher, finished !”

The teacher is here to help YOU learn.

We are not here to entertain you.

I will not tolerate any sarcasm, rudeness, insults or disrespect.

In the event that I have been insulted or disrespected, I shall end the lesson and you can answer for your actions to the management

I do not plan these lessons – it is just my job to deliver them and help your pronunciation

YOU chose the lesson … if you are bored, that is not my problem. This is a language school not an entertainment centre.