Young Teens: course review.

27th February 2019

This is my final class with this group as they have tests next week, conducted by the Vietnamese staff. Therefore it is a review lesson, going over recently-acquired words and practising listening skills.

It threatens to be quite passive (although this class is anything but passive) so I need to start with some energetic team games, focussing especially on speaking.

To begin, a STB game based on the previous unit (‘Special Places’). I’ll show various pictures of world landmarks and ask about them, for example where is this:

Bonus points for naming the mythological creature, and for asking the riddle with which it is associated. Other sites include the Taj Mahal, the Parthenon, a lighthouse, and the recently-discovered Hang Soon Dong cave here in Vietnam.

Here we can review UNESCO and world heritage sites. Vietnam currently has eight sites on the UNESCO list – how many can the students name ? https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/vn

Next a ‘run ‘n’ write’ activity. I’ll board an incorrect sentence and the students must correct. I need about seven sentences to give everyone a chance to take part:

What London like

was the weather what like

We goes on a boot trap (in past tense)

It weres (ADVERB) interesting

£75 is ext … exp …

You should criss the rood careful

Dali were a really famous lawyer.

As a bonus, can they draw a Dali-esque clock ?

Next we can have small group work. I shall show various photos and they have to write a short piece using as many adjectives and adverbs as possible:

really / quite / very / not very /

expensive / popular / delicious / boring / exciting / scary

carefully / easily / quickly / noisily

psycho / palace / famous for / in common / gadget.

As usual, it helps to give a model to serve as an example. I shall use this photo:

‘Live and Let Die’ (1973)
James Bond escapes from some extremely scary alligators.

In this picture, the British spy James Bond is surrounded by some very scary alligators who are extremely hungry. He tries using his magnet gadget on his watch but it doesn’t work. Bond is famous for escaping from very dangerous situations. Quickly, he runs across the water stepping on the backs of the creatures. Bond films are incredibly popular because they are amazingly exciting. Do you find them interesting or boring ?

Now for the students:

Typical Vietnamese food
The magnificent Heath Ledger as the Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’ 2009.
London’s Buckingham Palace, hone to the Queen.
Dali and friends.

To end the activity section, an opinion poll. This makes the students get up and ask classmates for their views, so listening and speaking skills are utilised – and no teacher-talking-time !

This survey will be based on Special Places. The students are offered a choice of four locations: The Pyramids of Giza, the Parthenon in Athens, The Taj Mahal in India and Buckingham Palace in England.

Which site do you want to visit most ?

Why ?

What is the weather like there (use adverbs) ?

What can you do there ?

What could be a problem ?

After this, it’s time for the book work and assigned lesson plan. As mentioned, there is a lot of listening and video watching, so that should occupy most of the remaining time.

To finish we need a high-energy game. ‘Family Fortunes’ is good as it makes the students work together, and can be a test of general knowledge. I could ask: name four countries in Europe, four typical dishes from USA, four famous singers etc.

A list of class games can be found in a previous post: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2018/12/17/note-explanations/

If the energy is just not there, I can always play a YouTube clip of funny animals, or a song (in English) that has been requested.

Let the students leave smiling … but also prepared for next week’s tests.

Young Teens: deeply, madly, truly.

21st February 2019

Yes, it’s adverb time. This class was introduced to them last week, while I was happily sipping a beer in Thailand, a remarkably beautiful country which, despite being quite close to Vietnam, has a significantly different culture, atmosphere, vibe.

Tonight’s class focuses on speaking, so I’m hoping for a lively session with all students enthusiastically participating.

To begin with, there are several types of adverb:

I use a mnemonic device to help me remember the five main types: DF MPT (degree, frequency, manner, place, time).

I shall look at the adverbs they learnt last week and make a ‘run & write’ game. Class will be split into two teams; I’ll board or say a word (careful, fast, angry etc) and one person from each team will have to write it as an adverb.

To reinforce, I’ll select one of the more outgoing students to act out various scenarios, for example the student can walk carefully, speak quietly, eat quickly. Thus the students will have both written and spoken some basic adverbs.

Next, I shall try a new game, introduced by a song from The Who ‘Who are you ?‘ (which people may know as the theme from CSI:Vegas): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_3ks7-OjGc    

I’ll just use the opening bars (some versions have lyrics which are inappropriate for the classroom !)

In this game, I will put the students into small groups, and give one pupil a paper with some basic information on it:

Four People

NAME: Alan NAME: Jane

FROM: Cambridge FROM: Manchester

WEATHER: Mild and sunny WEATHER: Wet, grey, rainy

JOB: Student JOB: Lawyer

LIKES: Reading books LIKES: Shopping online

Rowing Films Badminton Cats

WHY IN VN: Exchange study WHY IN VN: Work for UK company

BEST: Lots of museums BEST: Good wifi, interesting history

WORST: Traffic & pollution WORST: Scams, noise, traffic

OPINION: Great place but too noisy

OPINION: Fascinating but walk carefully

NAME: Peter NAME: Anna

FROM: Birmingham FROM: New York

WEATHER: Grey, cold WEATHER: Very cold, very hot in summer

JOB: Journalist JOB: Electrician

LIKES: Making models LIKES: Sudoku

Travelling Football Piano Meeting friends

WHY IN VN: Writing a story WHY IN VN: Travelling around Asia

BEST: Meeting Vietnamese people BEST: Cheaper prices. Good food

WORST: Too hot. Food too spicy WORST: Extremely hot and sticky

OPINION: Incredibly noisy and humid OPINION: Amazingly fun place.

This is an exercise to help students form questions. A great way to start a speaking exercise is simply to model it first, eliciting as much information from the students. For example, I could board answers and ask the students what questions could they ask to get these answers. To broaden their vocabulary, I will demonstrate various approaches;

To enquire about my job:

What do you do for a living ?

What do you do ?

What is your occupation ?

How do you make a living ?

For my likes:

What do you like doing in your free time ?

What are your hobbies ?

What kinds of things are you into ?

The students ask the chosen student questions, then report back to the class. To make sure all the class are paying attention, I’ll ask questions and award points. It is common situation that students who are NOT presenting have very limited interest in other students who are speaking.

Depending on time, I will add a quick game where I board a basic sentence and the students have to elaborate by adding adjectives and, now, adverbs.

The student is good – The intelligent student works extremely well.

The food is nice / The weather is hot / The homework was hard / My cat is lazy.

And onto the bookwork. Today’s book mentions Cambridge (which they read about before with reference to the boat race), Buckingham Palace in London (which most of the students know is the home of the Queen) and Bristol in west England, which, I am sure, will be unknown to the students: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khM7tjui86Q

This is quite a good video, as it is just visual (thus giving the students a little break, as well as introducing them to a new city), and it can be followed up by asking what people can do there ? What kind of buildings did they see ? Would they like to go there ? What did they think about it ? Interesting or boring … and then use adverbs to make their answers more interesting.

Also, I like to let the students hear different accents because in the real world, they probably will not be listening to English teachers speaking slowly, carefully and in Standard English, but to people from all over the English-speaking world or, more likely, non-native speakers. Locals from Bristol have a different accent to mine (east London but with Standard for work), so here is a short clip illustrating the difference, and it has subtitles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qKBRnyWleU

The students can try to copy the sounds and also learn everyday fixed expressions. All in all, I’m hoping it’ll be an exciting and active class.

In keeping with the emphasis on speaking, in the reading section, one section of the class can read one paragraph, then close their books while the other students ask them questions, so here we have reading with speaking and listening skills being practised.

Young Teens: Unesco Sites.

31st January 2019

Lesson Plan

What happens next: Show four clips and ask students to guess what will happen next. Introduce the word ‘predict’, model, then encourage the use in sentences (I predict the man will ….).

Following the clips and slides about fortune telling, the students can interview each other:





What are you going to do for Tet Holiday ?
Do you believe in fortune telling ? Why ?
Have you had your fortune told ? Why not ?
Do you have any superstitions ?
Do you think you are going to pass your English test ?
What special things are you going to do at Tet ?

The students must ask two classmates the same question and then record the response. If needed, prompt with questions about special Tet customs.

With the video clips, what better way to start than with former President G.W. Bush: The clip I want starts at 7:14

Next one is the elephant clip at 1:54 

The following should please my students as it involves some fighting). 

Finally, this clip can start at 0:05

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

On the board I’ll write some collocations – reading palms, telling fortunes, predicting the future.

Role-playing: the students can pretend to tell their partner’s fortune. The subjects, more appropriate to this age, can be: school, future job, university, holiday, a surprise, travel, making a new friend.

Before the book work, featuring World Heritage Sites, a short video. Students must try to remember as much information as possible https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tpA11u2jdQ

Real-world examples are a great way to introduce new vocabulary and phrases. In this clip, I can focus on: former / iconic / sparking interest / pass up the opportunity.

On slips of paper, I’ll write the ten sites, while on the board, I’ll write ten countries. The students, in pairs and as a race, will have to find the site associated with the country and stick it on the board. A chance to burn off some energy before the book work. If the class is too rowdy after a fun game (which can happen, a victim of its own success), I’ll do a quick Hangman game using vocabulary from a previous lesson (sonnet, conscious, reporter, lawyer, suddenly, meanwhile …)

After the bookwork, I can do some more run ‘n’ write games. I’ll write an incorrect sentence on the board and a student from each team must rewrite. First one to finish, including punctuation, wins.

I’m not expecting a lot of motivation so close to a major holiday, so we can end with a video of their choice. As long as it’s in English … teaching without teaching, and letting them leave with a smile … hopefully.



Young Teens: A funny thing happened to me …

Thursday 17th January

Tonight’s class has fourteen students, mostly girls (“made of sugar and spice and all things nice,”) and four young lads, one of whom demonstrates slight Hulk-like tendencies (i.e. gets angry at the slightest provocation and starts lifting chairs as if to hurl them through several walls). Simple classroom management has to be employed here; the lads are NOT allowed to sit next to each other. Of course, at this age the boys categorically will NOT sit next to any girl (just wait a year or two until those hormones kick in!) so I have to locate them around the room. It can be dis-illutioning for a teacher to allocate so much time to controlling a class as opposed to teaching them, but such are the realities. C’est la vie.

The theme of the lesson is how to tell an anecdote, but to begin (and to wait for the inevitable latecomers), we’ll do some quick warm-up games. I’ll also be able to recycle work form other lessons (which justifies the time spent making slides / Powerpoint Presentations etc).

We’ll begin with a quiz; I’ll show four famous buildings and ask the students to identify them and tell me as much as they can about them:


After, I will point to some (previously-boarded) numbers and ask how to pronounce them, numbers such as:

2019

10, 000

£35.99p

$10.33

Friday the 13th

I’ll show them that amounts (e.g. £35.99p are often said as simply 35 99, rather than saying ‘pounds and pence.’

For a more active game, help them burn off some energy, I’ll do a ‘run & write.’ In their previous lesson, they learnt past continuous. For this game, the class can be kept in two teams (a bit of competition adds to the excitement, even if there are no prizes at all), one team has a red marker, the other, a blue. I will say a sentence using simple past, they have to write it on the board, using past continuous. For example:

Last night I slept = Last night I was sleeping

Then the whole team has to shout out the sentence. It could get somewhat noisy and impossible to monitor, but it creates freedom for everyone to speak (they are not being listened to individually) and gets the whole class involved, and a noisy engaged class is far preferable to one slouching, sighing and sleeping.

We will then move into the topic area, combining story-telling with pronunciation and accents. I have a great clip of the magnificent Irish actor, Peter O’Toole being interviewed by the fast-talking USA TV host David Letterman. The students can compare the two accents, see which one they understand easier. The clip is below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Fl3bOeXvyI

Letterman asks O’Toole if he has a story about a fellow actor, Richard Harris. Instead of a rather pedestrian, “Let me see …,” O’Toole, cigarette in hand, responds, “Oh, I’ll shuffle through my memory,” before proceeding to tell said story (this occurs at 0:32 – 3:33).

I extend the activity by asking the students to mimic / copy O’Toole’s voice and elocution. Obviously, I don’t condone smoking at all, but students have had great fun sitting crossed legged, imaginary cigarette held aloft, and repeating, “Oh, I’ll shuffle through my memory.”

The serious aspect here is to demonstrate the rhythms and stresses in English – the elongated “oh,” as he thinks, the focus on the verb, “shuffle’, the linking of “through my,” and the final stressed but downwards – intonations of “memory.” A lot of work covered in just six words. Good value for your teaching bucks !

We’ll then move into a personal anecdote of mine. I’ll create a slide and give a leading narrative using tonight’s key language:

For one thing

As I discovered last year

As you can imagine

In fact …

like the time …

Thanks to ..

People are very interested in stars as I discovered last year when I was in

I saw a very large

Outside a large

in the centre of the city. As you can imagine, I was curious. There were a lot of people there, in fact many were extremely …….

Why were they there, for whom were they waiting ? This was like the time I was in London and many film stars were going into a cinema. I waited … but nothing happened. I was thinking of going, but thanks to some screaming and shouting, I stayed. To my surprise, I saw the world-famous Hollywood movie star …

I felt very lucky. Actually, it was very exciting I just wish I had my phone with me.

The students will then turn to book work, some listening and then creating their own anecdote. Here, I will probably have to help, give ideas. Most students spent too long thinking about ideas and therefore not producing any work. I have found it better to give them a limited choice and then make them start the work.

(In my first year, at my first centre, the students had to write a short story about a boy and girl going to the cinema. I checked all the pupil’s progress, only to find one student had done nothing, all lesson, because he couldn’t think of names for his protagonists. At the end of the semester, I was asked for my recommendation; should he be allowed to progress to the next level ? Absolutely not (it was the only honest answer) CUT TO angry parents, wagging of fingers and pulling of student out of school. Good riddance to bad rubbish, as we say.)

Today we also have some speaking practice and a quick lesson about British culture, in which they will listen and read about the author Daniel Defoe. This will be a chance to elicit how much they know about British literary characters. It could be surprising; they may know Oliver Twist, or Alice (Wonderland). Who knows … some may even have heard of Robinson Crusoe … we shall see. This will then lead into famous writers from Vietnam. I think the most famous is The Tale of Kieu’ by Nguyen Du.

Very famous Vietnamese poem and I highly recommend giving it a read.

Young teens (ages 10 – 12)

Thursday 29thNovember 2018

As with Tuesday, the day began with an 8.30 training session in Quan 1, itself preceded by a 45-minute Grabbike ride (though far too much of said ride was sitting in direct sunlight at every red light). This time, however, I was paired with the very wonderful Ms Melinda (Viet-born but educated in Texas) who’s making her teaching debut tonight, so best of British to her.

This is my first young learners’ class, and I’m expecting them to be 10 – 12 years old … but we will see. The ages were right, and the class had only 13 students. The girls seemed sweet and polite, motivated and friendly. And then the first boy arrived; he looked trouble. A heavy-set, thuggish lad who kept coming into then leaving the room. As the class started, three other boys arrived, causing disruption as they loudly greeted each other with hugs and shouts. Reminded me of a similarly-aged class at another top school with pre-teen boys being hard to control, and here there was no TA; instead, a chance to match theory against practice, hope against experience.

I began by eliciting class rules then a good old STB, replacing ‘bus’ with ‘taxi’. What do they know about UK ? A simplified version of Tuesday’s game.

This lead to …

Try the birthday horseshoe game, IF they know the names of the months in English.

Here, one part of the room represents January, the opposite, December. The students must stand in a horse-shoe shape, according to when their birthday falls.

At this level, give more guidance to where students should stand.

Not a complete success. Students seemed to grasp the idea, then some people standing in the summer area said they were born in December – others told them where to stand, so that shows my instructions had to been clear to most. The problem was getting them to stand next to each other, in date order, as opposed to bunching together in one indeterminate mass. In binary terms, a failure, a flop, not a fiasco, it fell flat (but at least I make up for it with alliteration).

This lead to …

A run & write activity. I write incorrect sentences on the board. Split class into teams (they can name them themselves, assign a colour pen to each team), and one member must rewrite the sentence correctly:

What are your name ?

I eats fruit

How old is you ?

What is your hobbies

He like swim

What you do think

There isn’t a chocolate

Why is your friend

It was around this time that the aforementioned student boy 1 (SB1) hurled a plastic bottle, after several outbursts of shouting, at another student. I put his name in the class diary, which, if repeated, could lead to the school phoning his parents. He latter asked if teachers in England have a cane to whip students (apparently they don’t in VN, they just use their fists). I explained it was illegal. However, I have a pen which writes in the diary which alerts the managers who, in turn, alert the parents. The possibility of that had the desired effect. The pen, again, mightier than the fists of a Viet teacher.

On tactic in deflated the young Alpha-male is to give them a modicum of power. That is one possibility, though I prefer a ‘Taming of the Shrew’ approach, try to tame him. Patience and tolerance, with a threat of repercussion seem to work well.

Today’s theme is Free Time. The warm-ups should review previous lessons and lead into the topic.

This lead to …

Word Bomb – Hobbies – what do they do in their free time ?

Listen out for mistakes and encourage full sentences and drill collocations 

(Play sports / do homework / make models / go swimming– note present continuous).

First signs of my patience cracking. Asking the boys their hobbies, I was getting the usual rubbish such as “I like killing with a pen, I like killing with a knife …,” while some other students began (understandably) chatting among themselves. A quick shout for silence and a reprimand to answer seriously worked its charm … and so I commended them for their new replies. 

Check for time – activities up to 45 mins then book work. 

If time, can have students mime an activity and drill full collocation

play piano      play table tennis     listen to music     read a book          go swimming

The boys all like to join in any activity. Some of the girls are the opposite, two being very, very shy, and one of whom appears to be on the verge of bursting into floods.

BOOK WORK

Start by eliciting as much information from the photos.

Then use the Mingle – interview sheet. This will get the class up and active before break time, and after sitting through book work and listening exercises. 

Can also encourage introducing themselves:

Find 3 people who:

Name                                       1                                       2                                    3

Hobby

Play an instrument


Draw or paint


Read books


Watch films


Learn English


Have a pet
What pet ?



“Hi, I’m Anna. Do you like watching TV ?”

Pronunciation – phonemes

ɑ          ɔː         əʊ

Swat the correct phoneme

In teams, read out:     model        disco      show    on    door      go       walk 

Players must swat the correct phoneme

AFTER BREAK

Reading and work books. Check answers as a class to prevent students sitting doing nothing. Use some form of running dictate game.

Pre-teaching:   Match the words with the meanings

describe                        planned, in order, not a mess

imagine                        having to do too many things

typical                          feeling you have too much work

pressure                      normal, usual

organised                    to tell what something looks or like

community                 to think about something

stressed                       the place or area where you live