Thank you, my Princess (again)

7th May 2021

Last week, the Vietnamese had a two, three or four day break. It was a chance for many to go to their hometown, see family and eat traditional food.

Last night, one lovely student, my Princess, came to class and presented me with the following:

Sweet food from one of the sweetest ladies I’ve ever met. Thank you, my Princess. See you soon

Poems for pronunciation practice.

16th April 2021

I loved the beat generation. Then I realised it has no place for women |  Books | The Guardian
Members of the ‘Beat Generation’ hanging out & chewing the fat in New York, 1950s. Allen Ginsberg, whose poem ‘Howl’ ends this blog, is on the right, smoking a cigarette.

A major issue I encounter with ESL students is pronunciation and associated features such as intonation, stress, rhythm and pacing. Therefore, I decided to select some English-language poems for practice in class, while online students can find a multitude of YouTube videos of poems being recited by professional actors. I shall add some links at the end of the blog.

Now, without further ado, poetry.

Amazon.com: Poetry: Jeong-hie Yun, Da-wit Lee, Hee-ra Kim, Nae-sang Ahn,  Myeong-shin Park, Yong-taek Kim, Hyun Seok Kim, Chang-dong Lee, Hyun Kim,  Dong-ha Lee, Jun-dong Lee, Michel Saint-Jean, Myung-soo Jung, Seung-ho Lee,  Sung-min
Poetry can take many forms, not just writing; poetry in cinema, in dance, in speech … in life.

Let’s take a look at the first poem, ‘Dreams’ from 1922.

Recite the poem slowly and clearly. In the first line, stress ‘fast‘ and ‘dreams‘.

Secondly, listen for the rhyming pattern in lines 2 & 4: ‘die’ rhymes with ‘fly’, while verse 2 rhymes ‘go’ with ‘snow.’

Regarding ‘colour’, which tone of voice to use, decide if this is a positive or negative poem. Discuss in class what you think and give reasons.

Remember, art (painting, cinema, literature etc) is subjective; each person is allowed to have their own opinion. Develop speaking skills to enable you to support your views (give reasons).

Dreams

BY LANGSTON HUGHES

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Read more at: https://www.biography.com/news/langston-hughes-poems

The following poem, from 1938, was featured in the British film ‘Four Weddings and a funeral’ (1994), and may be viewed here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDXWclpGhcg&ab_channel=englishclasspoems

Funeral Blues

By W.H. AUDEN

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message ‘He is Dead’.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

A highly emotional rendition, one person expressing their feelings over a loved-one’s death.

Let’s continue with a nonsense poem by Edward Lear from 1876:

The Akond of Swat

Who, or why, or which, or what, Is the Akond of SWAT?

Is he tall or short, or dark or fair?
Does he sit on a stool or a sofa or a chair,
        or SQUAT,
    The Akond of Swat?

Is he wise or foolish, young or old?
Does he drink his soup and his coffee cold,
        or HOT,
    The Akond of Swat?

Does he sing or whistle, jabber or talk,
And when riding abroad does he gallop or walk
        or TROT,
    The Akond of Swat?

Does he wear a turban, a fez, or a hat?
Does he sleep on a mattress, a bed, or a mat,
        or COT,
    The Akond of Swat?

A great poem to demonstrate rhythm as well as ‘floating opposites’ e.g. young & old, hot & cold, not forgetting synonyms such as talk & jabber. Now, for really advanced beatniks, try the beginning of the famous, indeed infamous, poem ‘Howl’

Howl, Parts I & II

Allen Ginsberg  1926-1997

For Carl Solomon

I

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz, …

The poem, along with a recitation by the poet, may be accessed here:

https://poets.org/poem/howl-parts-i-ii

And now, as promised, some YouTube links of magnificent actors reciting majestic poems.

First up, Richard Burton reading the beginning of fellow Welshman Dylan Thomas’ ‘Under Milk Wood’.

Now Benedict Cumberbatch, who you may know better as Sherlock or Dr Strange, reciting a John Keats poem, ‘Ode to a Nightingale.’

Finally, Amanda Gorman reading her own ‘The Hill we Climb’ from President Biden’s inauguration 2021.

A Princess should speak like a Queen.

30th March 2021

A Thai princess at Wat Benchamabophit Dusitvanaram, Bangkok, 2011

A personal blog for one of my special students, my Princess, but one which will, hopefully, be of use to princesses everywhere.

We like to encourage students to imitate the speech patterns of native-speakers by which I mean the way we link words together, form contractions (‘I’d’ instead of ‘I would’ etc), and use paralinguistics to convey meaning (intonation, stress, body language).

However, students need individual assistance so while my Princess has remarkable lexical resources, as well as the ability to tell an anecdote or two, she could improve aspects of her pronunciation.

Therefore, I have prepared some clips for princesses the world over to use for speaking practice … and so, without further ado, princesses prepare to sound like a Queen

OK, Princess, time to be a Queen. Bangkok, 2011

Clip 1 features the famous British actress Dame Judi Dench who is being interviewed and therefore speaking in her natural voice. The clip has subtitles, and I suggest watching the section from 02:06 – 02:36 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auOpam5y9Co&ab_channel=TheJamesBondVisualArchive

Clip 2 features Angela Rippon, who was the first woman to present the news on the BBC. Interestingly, she is announcing the General Election of 1979 that lead to the first woman Prime Minister in the UK, Margaret Thatcher:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysVzc3hSB50&ab_channel=bbctim123

Clip 3 is for advanced princesses; to speak like a queen, one should listen to the Queen. I present, with subtitles, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2klmuggOElE&ab_channel=BBC

We shall meet again, in the next blog. Until then, farewell, cheerio, toodle pip … goodbye my princesses.

No photo description available.
Bangkok, 2011

Young Learners: Class Rules from Confucius

18th March 2021

Big Thinker: Confucius - The Ethics Centre Article

To help my young learners have a better classroom experience, I have to introduce some basic rules, based on the teaching of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC).

RESPECT

Your parents

Your grandparents

Your teachers

If your teacher asks you to do something, you must not say, “No.”

You will be sent out of the class and the centre will tell your parents.

Sit nicely. Listen to your teacher.

Write down new words.

Do not shout or disturb the class.

I will give you two warnings. On the third warning, you will be sent out of the class and Student Care will tell your parents.

You will then have to bow to your teacher and the class and say sorry.

Education is one of the most important parts of life

Confucius said,

“Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.”

Confucius said,

“Isn’t it a pleasure to study and practice what you have learned?”

The Analects, Chapter I

From my visit to Ha Noi, 2014.

Students come to this temple, which was built in 1070, to bring good luck and success in exams. The temple, an oasis of calm in the bustling metropolis of the nation’s capital, has been rebuilt and restored several times over the centuries.

No photo description available.
Temple of Literature, Ha Noi.
May be an image of 1 person
Temple of Literature, dedicated to Confucius
May be an image of 4 people and people smiling
Some of my students in Ha Noi 2014

Students hate TO BE corrected, but teachers like TO ADDRESS issues.

9th March 2021

Socrates

Furthermore, she loves to wear Givenchy perfume but I prefer to spend my hard-earned* on Dior.

In the modern parlance, ‘Did you see what I did there ?’ I followed four auxiliary verbs (‘hate,’ ‘love,’ ‘like’ & ‘prefer’) with infinite verbs. I sense that I’ve already lost the interest of 90% of my readers with these grammar terms, but hold your horses and I’ll explain, I’ll ‘cut the crap‘, if you will.

Language bullies, pedants, and grammar nerds who correct people all the  time: Cut it out.

OK, breaks down like this: an auxiliary verb is a ‘helping’ verb; we need more information to understand what the speaker means e.g.

I want … (what do you want ?) // He needs … (what does he need ?) // She loves … // We want … etc

An infinite verb simply means a verb in no tense (past, present or future). It is simply formed thus:

to + base verb

Examples: to eat / to go / to study / to procrastinate

Infinite has no tense, by which I mean it is incorrect to say,

“Last night I to see a film,” (past tense)

“She to go home,” (present) or

“Tomorrow he will to take a test.” (future tense).

We can combine an auxiliary verb with an infinite verb, as demonstrated in the heading and subsequent paragraph.

So what's the problem? - david lynch 1 | Meme Generator

Occasionally, a student may question my use of grammar, or mention that they have been told a different rule, to wit, last night a student informed me that, according to a different teacher, auxiliary verbs such as ‘like,’ ‘love.’ ‘hate,’ HAVE TO BE followed by a continuous verb:

I hate shopping NOT I hate to shop

He loves watching films NOT He loves to watch films

We like drinking wine after work NOT We like to drink wine after work

To Quote Dr Johnson:

PPT - 1. Get Real: An Introduction to Plato PowerPoint Presentation, free  download - ID:2610551

“I refute it thus,” :

I like to play guitar / I hate to hear karaoke / I love to listen to my friend Pete’s online radio show

But don’t take my word for it; here’s a link to an appropriate page on the Cambridge Dictionary site: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/hate-like-love-and-prefer

Hatelikelove and prefer

Grammar > Verbs > Verb patterns > Hatelikelove and preferfrom English Grammar Today

We can use hate, like, love and prefer with an –ing form or with a to-infinitive:

hate to see food being thrown away.

love going to the cinema.

prefer listening to the news on radio than watching it on TV.

He prefers not to wear a tie to work.

In American English, the forms with to-infinitive are much more common than the –ing form.

There is a very small difference in meaning between the two forms. The -ing form emphasises the action or experience. The to-infinitive gives more emphasis to the results of the action or event. We often use the –ing form to suggest enjoyment (or lack of it), and the to-infinitive form to express habits or preferences.

So there you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth.

What can we learn from this ? Well, teachers are only human (mostly) and can make mistakes. Non-native speaker teachers often teach from books that may simplify grammar and may therefore, inadvertently, be incorrect in their assertions. The books may be outdated; they may even be wrong.

Just because something is written in a book, doesn’t mean it’s true.

Check for yourself, be proactive in your learning; if you have internet access, check reputable websites.

Furthermore, even native-speakers can be wrong and I’ll be the first to admit this (even if I don’t have the wisdom of Socrates, not by a long chalk).

And now, a shout-out to a dear friend, the aforementioned Pete, who has a magnificent online radio show entitled ‘Flatwound’s Sounds‘. I listened to his most recent offering as I typed this blog and I’d like to recommend it to y’all: https://www.mixcloud.com/flatwoundssounds/flatwounds-sounds-miscellany-show-19-4th-march-2021/

flatwounds.sounds | Mixcloud
https://www.mixcloud.com/flatwoundssounds/flatwounds-sounds-miscellany-show-19-4th-march-2021/

* hard-earned cash = money or wages from a hard job.

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

23+ Simple indian woman Free Stock Photos - StockFreeImages

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

Littératures internationales Littérature Livres en français African lady  Kenya crownhotel.com.vn

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

NB: all images are taken from Google searches, (including ‘royalty-free images’) and the information is purely fictitious. As I have readers from around the world, I wish to reflect this diversity in the photos.

These blogs are for education use, and are not monetised. No copyright infringement or personal offense is intended at all.

If I have included your image, please accept my sincere apologies, and I shall remove the picture.

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