As a guest in Vietnam, I am not sure of Vietnamese culture and customs. Work in teams and make a presentation to the class, explaining Tet holiday in terms of food, how it’s prepared, and who is invited to eat. Are there any strange or unusual traditions associated with Tet ?
Watch this video // Have a look at this short clip
UK London slang:
Have a butcher’s at this clip (butcher’s hook = look)
To form a complex sentence, we simply need to combine two pieces of information in one sentence, linked by a relative pronoun.
As with all grammar exercises, it makes far more sense to show than tell:
This is Rabindranath Tagore. He was a poet. He was born in Kolkata, India. He won the Noble Prize for literature in 1913.
So, we have several pieces of information. Let’s start by making a long but simple sentence:
Rabindranath Tagore won the Noble Prize for literature in 1913.
As you see, we start with the subject (Rabindranath Tagore) therefore we don’t need the pronoun ‘he’ in this new sentence.
To make this sentence complex, we just add a further piece of information about the subject, by using a relative pronoun:
who = for a person // which for a thing // where = for a place // whose = possession
The name is clearly not English, so let’s talk about his background:
Rabindranath Tagore, who was born in Kolkata, won the Noble Prize for literature in 1913.
Rabindranath Tagore won the Noble Prize for literature in 1913 is our main clause (clause being part of a sentence containing a subject and a verb).
who was born in Kolkata gives extra information but it makes no sense on its own. Therefore, it needs the main sentence to give it meaning. In grammar, this is known as a subordinate clause.
Now – we could develop this further:
Rabindranath Tagore, who was born in Kolkata which is in India, won the Noble Prize for literature in 1913.
The first subject was Rabindranath Tagore, so we used ‘who’ to give more information.
The second subject was the city, Kolkata ‘which’ is in India.
Yes, confusion ! Kolkata is a place so why use ‘which’ and not ‘where’ ?
Good question; it depends on the clause:
Kolkata which is inIndia
India is not a person, therefore we treat it as a thing and use ‘which’. Again, show don’t tell:
London, where I was born, is the capital of the UK. [object is ‘I’, a person, so we use ‘where‘.]
London, which is the capital of the UK, is where I was born. [object is ‘capital’, not a person, so we use ‘which‘]
Let’s get back to our Indian poet. The third subject is the Noble Prize … you could add more information here (awarded every year in Sweden).
Naturally, one could write endlessly, constantly adding more information about subjects but, for this exercise, just focus on a main clause and a subordinate clause.
NOW … Your turn
Subject (comma) + relative pronoun + (comma) main clause starting with a verb:
Rabindranath Tagore, who was born in Kolkata, won the Noble Prize for literature in 1913.
Make complex sentences:
Stockholm. Capital city of Sweden. Is very expensive. Is very cold in winter.
Louise Glück. Born in 1943. Born in New York, USA. Won Noble Prize for Literature in 2020. She is a poet.
Starbucks is a coffee chain. Company founded in 1971. Company started in Seattle in north-west USA. Starbucks is the world’s largest coffeehouse chain (information from Wikipedia).
Seattle is in USA. Seattle is famous for Grunge music. Many bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden came from Seattle.
Mozart. A famous composer. Born in Austria. Died in 1791. Buried in a common grave.
Vincom Centre. In District 1 by Hotel Continental. Largest shopping mall in Sai Gon. Has many international brands such as Hugo Boss and Ralph Lauren.
Frida Kahlo was an artist. She was born in Mexico. She was born in 1907. She painted many portraits and self-portraits.
Sergei Eisenstein is a famous film director. He was born in Latvia (then part of Russia). In 1930 he began a film in Mexico. It is about the Day of the Dead festival. This festival is every year at the beginning of November.
What’s the best thing about being in a relationship?
What’s the best thing about being single?
What headings would you put these under ?
Life is more fun than being alone. Problems are easier to solve.
We have total, 100% freedom ! Do what we want, when we want.
We have less responsibility.
If you meet someone you like, you can ask them out on a date.
There’s a time to play and a time to settle down and raise a family.
No in-laws !
How do couples meet ?
How did you meet your: wife / husband / boyfriend / girlfriend / partner ? Or was it a blind date ?
Activity: Arrange a blind date for these three men. Which lady is the best choice … and why ?
How do you think the dates will be ? Will they keep meeting, maybe get married … or never see each other again ?
PETER. Age 46. Lawyer. Likes cooking, travelling, wine, driving, tennis. Divorced, 2 children. Looking for a quiet lady with no children, to look after the house and him.
JAMES. Age 26. IT worker. Likes music, dancing, going to clubs, beach holidays. Single. Looks for young lady who is loud and fun, likes to party.
DAVID. Age 22. Model. Likes fashion, clothes, cocktail bars, smoking cigars. Looking for a women who is a model so we can look great together. Must be very beautiful and wear expensive clothes.
And now … the ladies:
JANE. Age 22. Likes fashion, clubbing, kittens, holidays in the sun. Looks for a man with a steady job and ‘down-to-earth’. Non-smoker only.
LISA. 28. Banker. Likes quiet restaurants, badminton, travelling. Looks for a mature man with good income for long term relationship. No boys, please !
EMILY. 20. Likes dancing, fashion, going out with my friends. Movies. Wants a young, cute boy-friend so we can go to parties together. No boring old men, please !
And … if all goes well, there could be wedding bells
FREE SPEAKING: What is a traditional wedding in your country ?
In the UK and many western countries, the bridegroom waits in the church next to the Best Man, who has the rings. The church music starts and the Bride walks down the aisle next to her father, who will ‘give her away.’ Behind the Bride are her Bridesmaids. The Vicar will start the service. At the end, the Bride and Groom kiss.
Match words with meaning
Honeymoon // a secret relationship
Romantic // promise to do something/ be loyal to someone.
Divorce // when people decide they will get married
After three or four lessons, I expect my students to know several common idioms (their meaning and how to use them appropriately), a number of low-frequency words (L-FWs), how to introduce an answer, how to form a complex sentence and to demonstrate varieties of intonation and stress.
Without these features, you ain’t gonna get above a ‘5’, no way. Therefore, time for a quick review, see how you’re measuring up to the standard, whether you need to turn over a new leaf and put your nose to the grindstone.
Therefore, let’s recap
it’s raining cats and dogs
it costs an arm and a leg
piece of cake
I’m burning the candle at both ends
once in a blue moon
pass with flying colours
turn over a new leaf
put your nose to the grindstone
Part 1: What do the aforementioned idioms mean ?
Part 2: Give each student an idiom. They have to use it, correctly, in a sentence.
absent-minded // sky-high, astronomical // an entrepreneur //
hawkersor peddlers // a mover and a shaker // consider //
Part 3: Students have to describe their neighbourhood, using as many L-FWs, and idioms, as they are able.
That’s a very interesting question
Well, that’s a great 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 …
As a young Vietnamese (add your own nationality), I …
Part 4: Students have to demonstrate they know how to introduce their answer.
What do you want to do in the future ?
Give them one minute to prepare a very short reply.
Part 5: Moving on, students have to form complex sentences out of the following information, using intonation to reflect excitement or a positive point and, conversely, a negative factor. Discourse markers to be employed in order to link ideas, naturally. Furthermore, I shall be listening for adverbs and adjectives.
First, choose the correct relative pronoun (who, which, whose or where)
capital of UK // many shops and museums // expensive and cold
Teacher John //
from New Zealand // smiles and plays guitar // talks too fast
real name Tony Starke // very rich and intelligent // is fictional
90 minutes flight from HCMC // friendly people, great food // many western tourists and crowded
ABC English Centre //
located in city centre, District 1 // use laptops and tablets in classes // lessons are four hours long, with extra homework.
Part 6: Class split into two teams. They have to plan a day in their city (here, of course, it’s Sai Gon) for my friend Ethan.
My story: I flew, by private jet, to Hong Kong, and had the time of my life, so many parties, so many interesting people, non-stop fun !
The reality, the truth: I went to work in the morning, then was so exhausted, I just sat and watched YouTube videos.
Warm – up: Students ask each other about each other’s weekend. Students must tell two stories, one true, one false. Students have to guess which is true.
Naturally, saying I have a private jet is not very believable so the story has to be feasible.
On Saturday, after working in the morning, I met my friend Ms My. I had promised her that I would take her to try western food. Therefore, I invited her to eat pizza. It was her first time and she really liked it but wasn’t sure how to eat it – knife and fork or use hands !
On Sunday, I was too lazy to cook and, because my dog needed a walk, I went to a local restaurant and tried some Vietnamese sea food. The prawns were delicious, but the soup was just OK, nothing special. My dog liked everything and was over the Moon (very happy).
Which one is true ? Did I eat pizza with a beautiful young lady OR did I take my dog to eat seafood ?
How was your weekend ?
Did you do anything special last weekend ?
What did you get up to over the weekend ?
Thanks for asking, I …
Well, I had a great time. First I …
Oh, nothing special, I just …
Today’s lesson is about people exaggerating about their weekends, in order to seem more interesting. So, a talking activity:
What would you do ?
Your young niece plays piano. It is terrible !
Do you …
a) Say that was really good, well done
b) Say hmmm, that is very hard to play, you just need to practice.
c) Say troi oi (omg, oi vey !) that was awful – stop, stop, STOP !
Why did you say that ?
Your partner makes dinner for you. It is terrible ! (partner can mean husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend).
a) Say, “That was delicious, darling,” and eat it all.
b) Say, “It looks wonderful, but I’ve already eaten. I’ll have it later,” then throw it out.
c) Say, “This tastes like dog food ! Never, ever cook again. Order me pizza !”
Your friend or girlfriend comes to your house to visit and meet your parents. Your parents are traditional and old-fashioned.
a) Say that your house is being decorated, so you have to meet in town.
b) Say that you want to meet her parents and will visit her instead.
c) Say, “No way ! My parents will scream ! Put some normal clothes on and wear a hat.”
Let’s kick off with an old friend: Peter from England.
Age 24 // MA in Business Studies Born in Surrey, close to London Unemployed // Single //
Enjoys pubs, tennis and movies Wants to run his own company
From that information, build a complex sentence – basically combine two, three or more facts and connect them with relative pronouns and discourse markers:
Peter, who has a MA in Business studies, wants to run his own company.
Peter, who is from Surrey, enjoys pubs, tennis and movies.
From this point, the sky is the limit.
Despite being unemployed, Peter, who has a Master’s Degree in Business Studies, has entrepreneurial dreams of owning his own company.
Although he has an MA and is actively seeking employment Peter, who is from Surrey which is close to London, still finds time to indulge his passion for tennis, even becoming a member of an exclusive sporting clubs, whose membership fees are sky-high.
NOW …YOUR TURN
Write and then present a complex sentence about your partner. Gather some basic information, such as:
Age (if they are willing to say) // where they are from
Job or Study // Where they work or study //
What they like doing// What they dislike // Plans for the future
For Speaking Class level 2, I expect at least one relative pronoun (who, where, which, whose).
For IELTS, try for two relative pronouns, two L-FWs and at least one expression or idiom.
You should be familiar and able to use these words at the drop of a hat:
If you are using these in class, the teacher will help you with pronunciation.
Remember: your IELTS score will also depend on how clearly you speak, your rhythm and correct use of intonation and stress. Therefore listen to native-speakers, copy and practice.
This one’s on me // Let me think about it // It doesn’t matter // Thanks for coming
I don’t believe a word of it // I’ll be with you in a minute // I see what you mean
It was lovely to see you // I don’t get the point // As I was saying
You look great today // I’ll be making a move then // Just looking, thanks
Match the phrase(s) with the situation
[answers at end of exercise]
Saying goodbye after meeting an old friend
You are asked a question but need time to consider
Someone tells you a story – you think it is false.
Friends drinking in a pub / bar
You go into a shop but not necessarily to buy anything
A customer arrives but you are busyfor that moment.
You don’t understand what someone is trying to prove
You understand what someone thinks (but not necessarily agree with)
There is a small problem / Someone upsets you but you want to make it OK
To continue with a conversation that was interrupted.
It was lovely to see you 2. You look great today 3. Let me think about it 4. I don’t believe a word of it 5. This one’s on me [I will pay for this drink] 6. Just looking, thanks 7. I’ll be with you in a minute 8. I don’t get the point 9. I see what you mean 10. It doesn’t matter 11. As I was saying
Expressing likes and dislikes
I absolutely love … I’m crazy about …
I (really) like I’m into // I’m a big fan of …
I’m quite keen on
I haven’t heard (seen/read) this before, but I think it’s great
No strong opinion:
I have mixed feelings about ….
I don’t really have any strong views / feelings either way
Various exercises for you to practise grammar, both past simple and past continuous. Answer follow the photos.
Past Tense exercises
Past simple: most common way of talking about the past.
Regular verbs just add –ed e.g. walk = walked / look = looked / play = played
Past continuous: was / were + verbing e.g. I was playing / We were looking
Irregular verbs not used in past continuous e.g. we were seeing a film OR we saw a film NOT we were sawing a film.
Present perfect– talk about an action that happened in the past
subj + have/has + verb3 (past participle).
Past perfect – talking about two actions, both in the past, one before the other
e.g. I had listened to the CD before I saw the band play live.
Subj + had + verb3
The verb ‘to be’
I am / I was // you are / you were // he, she, it is / was // they, we are / were
Past tense / Shakespeare exercise
Change these lines into the past:
1 In Act One, Romeo ….. (is) in love with _________
2 Benvolio ……… (try – past continuous) to stop the fight.
3 The Prince ………. (demand – past perfect) to see Capulet before seeing Montague.
4 Romeo, Mercutio & Benvolio ……. (are) in the street talking.
5 The two families …… …. (be, present continuous) been fighting for years.
6 Romeo ….. (ask) the Nurse who Juliet is.
7 Mercutio & Benvolio …… (do, not) know Romeo was in love with Juliet.
8 The famous ‘balcony’ scene … (take) place in Act 2.
9 The Friar ……. ……. (go, past perfect) out collecting flowers.
10 At the end of Act 2, Romeo and Juliet …… (are) married.
1) was (Rosaline) 2) was trying 3) had demanded 4) were 5) have been 6) asked 7) did not (didn’t) 8) took 9) had gone 10) were
Past tense exercise
Change the verb form – can be:
past simple (think about regular & irregular verbs)
past continuous (verb + ing)
present perfect (subject + have/has + verb3)
past perfect (subject + had + verb3)
It is …. a hot, Sai Gon night. The wind blow …….. up from the river, but the humidity drive ….. me crazy. Sweat pour ……… down my back.
I were walk …………. by the Old Town, lanterns were light ……. and sway ….. in the breeze. I … visit …….. an old friend before I decide ………. to take this long, steamy walk. I …. live ……….. here over two years, but everyday, I am almost
kill ……. by crazy motorbikes. I need …. .. a coffee and see …… a cafe over the road. As I were cross ……………….. the street, a motorbike race …….. towards me. If I ……. jump ……… aside, he would …present perfect…. hit …. me. But that were …… his idea.
He turn ….. around and pull …… out a gun, aim …… and fire ……… . I ……. ……….(be) present perfectshot at more times than I care to remember, I know …….. the score; duck and run. I run …… .I ………did, (negative) have time to think. I can … think later – if I am still alive. I make …. it into the coffee shop, and were look ……. out the window across the street.
The shooter were dress …… all in black and keep …… his helmet on. He were walk …………. this way. Quickly, I look ……. around. Were there another exit ? Can …. I escape by a back door ? Yes ! I ……. be (past perfect) ……here…before. I remember ………. a fire exit on the first floor. I leap …… for the stairs, just as the shooter were about to open the door.
Answers: was / blew / drove / poured // was walking / lit / swayed / visitid / decided / lived // killed / needed / saw / was crossing / raced / jumped / have hit / was // turned / pulled / aimed / fired / I have been shot at / knew / ran / didn’t / could / was / made / looked // was dressed / kept / was walking / looked / was / Could / had been / remembered / lept
Here are 7 verbs in the PRESENT. Choose the correct verb AND use it in the correct tense.
teach / live / go / see / drink / am / have
Harry (1) …….. drinking tea yesterday, when he (2) ……. an idea. I haven’t (3) …….. my neighbours how to drink tea. I am sure they will be happy. They have not (4) …… to the UK yet. I have (5) …. in many cities in England. Now I am in Viet Nam. I have (6) …. many wonderful sights, but I have never (7) …… a cup of good, English tea.
Answers: 1) was 2) had 3) taught 4) been 5) lived 6) seen 7) drunk
Put the present tense verbs into past continuous
EXAMPLE Linh drinks tea – Linh was drinking tea
1 Tina watches TV
2 Sam shouts, ‘Oh, no!’
3 My father plays football
4 Bella designs a beautiful dress
5 The cat sings karaoke all night long !
6 Paul listens to The Beatles
7 Anna buys an Apple.
Answers: 1) was watching 2) was shouting 3) was playing 4) was designing 5) was singing 6) was listening 7) was buying
75 % of verbs are REGULAR – just add -ed to form past tense
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, time to take stock and make sure the students have absorbed the information and are au fait (French for well informed, know the point) with the vocabulary so far. With that in mind, here’s a quick warm up. Replace the high frequency words with low-frequency ones, then use your newly-acquired discourse markers to construct longer sentences.
Let’s kick off with some common or garden IELTS subjects:
What do you do in your free time ?
I drink coffee with my friends. There are many coffee shops in my hometown
School keeps me very busy, but if I can find some time for myself, I enjoy hanging out with my friends in coffee shops, which are ubiquitous in Sai Gon.
TIP: The question here is about free time, so don’t just talk about coffee shops – mention at least two other different activities – even if you DON’T do them, just talk about them !
Example, playing music, watching films, listening to music, sports, shopping, helping family, reading – thing you enjoy NOT to do with studying or work
Now … Your Turn: [tips at the end]
Remember, you should be able to speak in complex sentences with a low-frequency word or two, some idiomatic language, contractions and discourse markers, all spiced up with a liberal sprinkling of adverbs and adjectives. Furthermore, try to introduce the answer, rather than stating it outright.
I don’t like English grammar. I am boring with it.
A lot more people go to China than Viet Nam.
She forgets everything.
Thai food is good.
I think Barcelona will beat Real Madrid on Sunday
I like to go to cinema and go to shopping and go my friend house and sleep.
I don’t go out now. It rains all day.
The examiner asks you a question but you didn’t understand
I didn’t hear you.
Errrrrr, I don’t know
OK, yes I like it
The examiner asks you a question but you need time to think of an answer.
I don’t know.
Tell me about your city
It very dirty.
I was born here. I love it.
We can do many things here.
Has many traffic jam. Yes. people nice.
Do you like to eat ?
Of course !
Yes. I eat with my family. I eat with my friends at school. I eat after school. I eat at night with my family
Words and expression to use, tips, phrases and idiomatic language.
Low – frequency words
Boring: tedious // forgetful: absent-minded //
expensive: sky high // what will happen: predict // everywhere: ubiquitous.
Could you repeat that, please // I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that // Would you mind rephrasing the question
In my opinion // From my perspective // For me //
Let me think // How can I put it // Well, that’s an interesting question
Allow me to explain // By which I mean //
As well as // furthermore // additionally // on the other hand // having said that // however // although // despite that
It’s raining cats and dogs // It costs an arm and a leg // piece of cake // I’m burning the candle at both ends
Relative pronouns – who / which / where / whose
One of my favourite things to do, if I have some spare time, is to hang out with my closest friends and just catch up on our news, maybe hit a mall because they are air-conditioned and have a wide array of amenities such as shops, cafes and, if I may say, bathroom facilities, as well as services like ATM machines and free wifi. My closest friends are Sheila, who is from India and studies here in Sai Gon, and Kerry, who is a gorgeous Thai lady. As we all come from different countries, there can be issues; allow me to explain. We have to communicate in English, however Kerry is just starting her studies, so we have to use Google translate frequently. Having said that, it’s such tremendous fun to be with my best friends. It helps me forget about the pressure and stress of work.
Yesterday, I went to visit my friend. We played badminton then walked in the park.
After, we ate lunch and drank beer. Later, I bought coffee and wrote some emails.
Corrections: Write in the past tense
I (am) born in London and (arrive) in Viet Nam in 2015. I (work) as teacher in District 1 and 3 but I (want) to work near my home. Last week, my friend (have) a party. She (dance) all night and I (hear) her singing. In the morning, she (catch) a plane and (go) to Thailand.