Adult Speaking Class, level 3: Let’s go to San Francisco … or Boston … or Chicago.

18th May 2020

In our last blog lesson, we focused on what we needed to do BEFORE travelling to the States, all the boring logistics and organising, booking and planning. Now … we are all set. All we have to do is select which city to visit.

Which of these destinations are most appealing to you and why ?

Boston

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Boston is the capital of Massachusetts and gateway to New England. One of America’s oldest cities, it’s steeped in history – brimming with cobblestone streets and significant heritage sites – as well as gleaming skyscrapers.

Unlike many other US cities, it’s best explored on foot. One of the most popular tours is the Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile path that passes 16 important sites, including America’s first state school, the oldest church in Boston, and several markers that tell the story of the American Revolution.

The tour is greatly enhanced by the costumed guides, who’ll passionately transport you back to the 1700s during the 90-minute walk.

Chicago

4K+) Beautiful Chicago Skyline Skyscrapers Day to Night Aerial ...

Chicago, my kind of town! A unique city with a character all of its own, Chicago offers a wide variety of shopping, dining, museums, theatre, music and nightlife options.

Chicago is on Lake Michigan, boasts over 20 miles of beachfront and some of the most dynamic and visually stunning architecture in the world. The city is famous for its skyscrapers such as the Hancock Building and the Willis Tower, which features several glass-bottomed ledges at 1,300ft above the city streets, making it a fantastic photo opportunity for the brave!

North Michigan Avenue is also known as the “Magnificent Mile” as this is where most visitors and residents come to shop, with firm favourites lining the street such as Tiffany, Nike and Nordstrom.

San Francisco

San Francisco indulges the senses with the wonderful array of scenic beauty, arts, museums, bars, restaurants and nightlife. San Francisco is famously known as the “City on the Bay” and its stunning location and undulating surroundings have been taking visitor’s breath away for centuries.

Enjoy fresh seafood and spot playful sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf, a fun and family-friendly district of the city; dine on authentic dim sum in the vast Chinatown or join the crowds of shoppers amidst the bustle and cable cars of Union Square.

No trip to San Francisco would be complete without a visit to the infamous prison at Alcatraz island. Rent a bicycle and ride across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito for a scenic day out and fantastic photo opportunities; brave Lombard Street, the “crookedest street in the world” or bring many movie favourites to life as you stroll the city streets.

San Francisco is the perfect destination for exploring and creating new memories in, with world-class sports, dining and adventure. 

Video

Before you watch this video, what do you know about San Francisco ?

Which of the sights mentioned in the guide do you see ?

What really struck you (impressed) about San Francisco ?

What was intriguing (interesting, fascinating) ?

What did you make of (think of) the architecture ?

Did you see any mouth-watering (delicious) food ?

What adjectives would you use to describe San Francisco ? 

GRAMMAR

Make your comments stronger, and increase your English, by adding adverbs. 

unbelievably // incredibly // extremely // undeniably // amazingly //

quite // rather // somewhat //

Example: The house was old – the house was extremely old.

San Francisco is …

The food in San francisco is …

Riding cable cars must be …

Remember, if you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair

J. B. Phillips Quotes | QuoteHD
YAROK Hair Care - . Be sure to wear some flowers in your... | Facebook

Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: May Day

5th May 2020

May Day

Compare May Day in the UK and in Viet Nam

How do you ‘read’ these pictures ?

In the UK, it a pagan celebration. In other countries, it is more political.

[pagan = a religion where many gods may be worshipped and dating back before Christianity]

History

The first mention of a May Day celebration dates back to the Roman times, and a celebration of the goddess Flora.

Flora,Roman Goddess of flowers. OK , so she is not a real person but Flora certainly had an influence in early Greek and Roman societies and later in the art world. But alr. Andrea Mantegna, Greek And Roman Mythology, Flora Flowers, Moon Garden, Sacred Feminine, Luca, Beltane, Italian Painters, Gods And Goddesses

This would be a festival over several days, and included theatre performances.

May Day continued to be associated with fertility and the worship of mythological or pagan gods. The celebrations would often involve dancing around a maypole, and crowning a May Day Queen.

Dental products and supplies as a wholesale worldwide

A modern may pole, this one from Sweden, where it is now used to celebrate Midsummer, not the traditional 1st May.

Britain has a long tradition of May Day celebrations, from at least the C15th. However, many church leaders objected to the pagan origins (worshipping old gods, not the one Christian God) and celebrations were banned in many places.

Today, May Day celebrations are not so popular, and in cities, one is more likely to see political demonstrations, than prancing on the village green

In 1889, 1st May was selected as the International workers’ Day

What do you think about these photos ? Political, or cultural ?

How about these photos from Nigeria, UK and Hawaii ?

May Day: APC, PDP, others felicitate with Nigerian workers
Video ~ The Kings Morris Dancers | King's Lynn Online
leis

In Hawaii, May Day is a little different. The flower necklaces, or leis, are given to people as a sign of friendship, celebrating the culture of Hawaii or the ‘aloha spirit.’

The festival is celebrating in school and communities, with many free concerts, dancing, guest speakers and food.

However, it is not all peace and love:

Clashes as May Day protesters march in cities across Europe ...

Protesters clash with police in Berlin, Germany.

Meet The Man That Made A Decision That Saved Your Life And You Don ...

During the time of the USSR, May Day parades were held, with seemingly endless displays of tanks, soldiers, missiles and weapons of all description.

In Hong Kong in 2019, protesters used May Day to demonstrate about bad working conditions.

In Literature, we have the American writer Nathaniel Hawthorn, ‘The Maypole of Merry Mount’:

Early American Literature: The Maypole of Merry-Mount

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:

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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

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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.’)