IELTS – Get your motor runnin’: fluency, stress and intonation

15th October 2020

Get Your Motor Runnin' Head Out on the Highway | Donald Trump Meme on ME.ME

Our plan for the next semester is to develop speaking skills – presentation and delivery – as well as, naturally, increasing vocabulary, colocations, phrases, idioms … in short, the whole nine yards.

New idioms

I don’t want to overburden the class with too many idioms, so these are what we’ll be using over this semester. That means using them repeatedly until they become second nature and the students, of whom I am very fond, will have another string to their bow … oh, heck – ANOTHER idiom !

Another string to (your) bow – a new skill or learning experience

bear with me – please wait a very short time (usually spoken as opposed to written)

bit of a sore point – something that makes you sad or angry

down in the dumps – depressed, unhappy, feeling gloomy

hit the ground running – to start something immediately and with all your energy

like a madhouse – a place or area that is crazy, too noisy, too busy etc

run of the mill – ordinary, typical, normal, usual, boring

up in arms – to be very angry about something, to protest strongly

you take your life in your hands – doing something that is extremely dangerous

NOW … your turn … what idioms fits ?

Lunatics Paradise: Australia's Renewables Fiasco Like Living in a Madhouse  – STOP THESE THINGS

At breaktimes, all the younglings come pouring out of their classes, screaming their little heads off …

it’s ___________________________________

Students protest against tuition fees - BBC News

Students are unhappy about tuition fees

They are _____________

You still can!': Music teacher champions adult students learning violin

She can speak five languages, do karate and is now learning violin

She has added __________________________

Yawning Girl Reading A Boring Book Stock Photo, Picture And Royalty Free  Image. Image 19559231.

She thought the novel would be extremely exciting.

Unfortunately, for her, it’s just a ___________________ story.

Street Photography in Austin - Assignment Chicago

Some areas of downtown are no-go areas.

You really _________________________________________ if you go after dark and alone.

buster-keaton-396846_640

Poor Buster is so funny, yet he always looks _______________________

Oh, dear …

This beautiful young lady seems to be upset about something.

Possibly something the man said is a ______________________ with her ?

Excited Motivated Multiracial Business Team Stock Footage Video (100%  Royalty-free) 1037298239 | Shutterstock

We’re going to have a tremendous success with our new product which we shall be launching in Europe, the US and parts of Asia.

We’re really going to ________________________________

Marcello Mastroianni

Excuse me, I have to take this call _______________________

Part two:

How would you describe these neighbourhoods ? I want full sentences, as complex as you can make them, bursting with idioms, expressions and Low-Frequency Words. Give your opinions – would you like to go there, or even live there ? Explain your rationale.

Old Manchester pubs and cinemas from the '60s to '90s
Manchester, north-west England
Inmueble en venta - Earls Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN4 | Knight Frank
Tunbridge Wells, south of London
Birmingham UK Industrial scene | Birmingham uk, Birmingham, Industrial
Birmingham in the British Midlands

Rural Retreats | Wales Cottages
Rural Wales
The Edinburgh festival is cancelled: long live the festival | Scotland |  The Times
Edinburgh, capital of Scotland, during the festival

Part three:

Practice making complex sentences, with two clauses at least, from these simple sentences.

Example:

Cinema Paradiso getting Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray release in UK – Film Stories

Johnny always went to the cinema when he was a child.

As a child, Johnny always went to the cinema.

GRAMMAR NOTE – the first word after the supporting clause has to be the subject.

We always played games when we had Mr Tony as our teacher.

He speaks English well although his written work is rather poor.

The Who | Discography | Discogs

The Who were formed in west London in the early 1960s. They are a very famous, influential bands despite never having a Number 1 hit single.

Asian Woman Selfie stock photos and royalty-free images, vectors and  illustrations | Adobe Stock

My neighbour only works in a convenience store. She thinks she is a big star. She is constantly taking selfies.

And … to end, let’s start copying some classic movie scenes:

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn%3AANd9GcQBhjzqbLv-Fe17vj4O7Ep4GZ4je0erYx6AXA&usqp=CAU

The lines to copy are from 0:14 – 0.37

Here’s the first of the day, fellas … to old D.H. Lawrence … yyahhhhhhHHHHHHH … NIC, NIC, NIC, ffff, fffff … cccahhhh, indians !

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Dialogue practice

14th June 2020

An extended scenario that can be used for three speakers, or two, whatever the class needs. Here, a student goes to an expensive private language centre to enquire about course requirement and prices.

The English for Secondary School Preparation course is ideal for ...

You will notice a lot of idiomatic speech as well as expressions. These are designed to show you how to use them in everyday conversation … have fun !

Nottingham Language Centre | Nottingham Trent University

Dialogue Practice

A student comes to the office to get some information about courses

Objective: practice expressions and pronunciation of contractions.

Student Good evening, I’m looking for an English course

PEC 1 You’ve come to the right place !

PEC 2 How may we assist ? What exactly are you looking for ?

Student Well, I’d like to improve my pronunciation, as well as my grammar.

PEC 1 Seems to me that you are already quite good at English.

Student You’ re most kind, but one can always better oneself.

Cambridge English

PEC 2 We’ve an interesting class starting soon … it’s upper-intermediate.

Student Yes, I’d prefer to hit the ground running. When does it start ?

PEC 1 Hold on, let me check …..

telephone rings 

PEC 2 Hello, PEC … oh, hold the line please, she’s busy. OK, she’ll call back soon.

PEC 1 There’s a class commencing the day after tomorrow .

Kings College – Chào mừng bạn đến với English Language Centre – Du ...

Student Or maybe a private lesson ?

PEC 2 I can check … bear with me … yes, with teacher John. He’s passionate about teaching.

Student Sounds good. May I ask the fee ?

PEC 2 Certainly ….  she writes the price down on paper and hands it to the student.

Student Blimey ! I’ll have to think it over and get back to you. I must work now.

Student leaves.

PEC 1 Think he’ll come back ?

PEC 2 Over my dead body !

Hands up if you like this blog:

Trung tâm ngoại ngữ VAE - Việt Nam Advanced Education - Giới thiệu ...

Adult Class, Level 3: Relationships

26th May 2020

AEF 5B pp 50 – 51

Latin American Community Center launches new Family Immigration ...

Tonight’s subject is relationships, and the book work seems well-balanced, with vocabulary, listening and speaking exercises. However, this is quite a strong group and appear motivated. With that in mind, I push them to learn more, in order to prepare them for their next class, which will be the quantum leap into IELTS.

However = discourse marker, better than just saying ‘but.’

With that in mind = expression meaning ‘because of that.’

in order to = to help for the future – I am learning Vietnamese in order to speak to my students.

quantum leap = massive (very, very large) jump forward or progression

Bearing in mind that Vietnamese operate on ‘elastic time’ (a polite way of saying the students turn up in dribs and drabs, ie, ten, twenty or thirty minutes late), so I can’t start any serious teaching until the whole class is present. Therefore, I use some warm up activities.

Egyptian students protest against examination leaks – Middle East ...
Egyptian students preparing for their lesson

Warm Up: Call My Bluff.

This is a vocabulary-building exercise. I introduce a new word, then give three possible definitions. Students have to deduce, or just guess, the correct meaning.

1. Ubiquitous

– adj means something that is very common, everywhere

– noun equipment used in scuba diving

-name used towards close friends or family

2. Significant

– noun a small built-in safe in a hotel

– adj something very special, different or important

– verb to paint Chinese or Japanese characters with great care

3. Consequently

– adverb discourse marker meaning because of that, this happened

– noun a person who cheats other people to get more money

– verb a type of pass in football that leads to a goal being scored.

4. Extrapolate

– noun a chair used by a dentist, that can be lowered or raised

– verb to get only important information from a lot of text

– adj something made from different materials or many different colours

Then students have to write four sentences using the new words, as well as trying to repeat them throughout the lesson.

I’m not going to give you the answers – look up the definitions yourself, it will help you to learn.

Warm Up: What is the name, to you, of …

What is the name of your mother’s husband ?

What is the name of your mother’s sister ?

What is the name, to you, of your mother’s brother’s son.

What is the name of your father’s mother ?

What is the name of your father’s mother’s father

Next stage is sentence building:

I am from London. It is an expensive city.

To combine these pieces of information, we use the relative pronoun ‘which‘:

I am from London which is an expensive city.

We replace the pronoun ‘it’ with a relative pronoun ‘which’ and create a longer sentence. This skill is important / vital / imperative to attain a good IELTS score.

Try these:

Kimmy is from Tokyo. It is very crowded.

Tony is from New York. It is a vibrant city.

Scott wants to visit the War Museum. It is in District 1.

Lisa teaches in Beijing. It is the capital of the PROC (People’s Republic of China).

Moving on … My friend

Peter on the left, with famous drummer Kenny Jones

When we link information about a person, the pronoun, ‘he’ or ‘she’ is replaced by the relative pronoun ‘who.’

On the left is my friend Peter. I met him in 2010. I met him in London.

On the left is my friend Peter, who I met in London ten years ago.

On the left is my friend Peter, who I met in 2010 in London.

Try linking these: Remember to replace ‘he’ and use ‘who’ but you have to change the sentence.

Peter is Irish. He was born in Dublin // Peter, who is Irish, was born in Dublin

Peter loves music. He can play saxophone, keyboards, guitar and bass.

Peter is 40 years old. He is bald, and wears glasses.

Peter plays bass. He has a video on YouTube.

Peter is with the drummer Kenny Jones. He played in The Small Faces in the 1960s.

Be careful with the last one. The pronoun ‘he’ is about Kenny Jones.

Be careful with the next two. We only need ONE relative pronoun:

The drummer Kenny Jones. He played in The Small Faces in the 1960s. He is with Peter.

The Manager Mr Smith. He is from Australia. He is going to travel to Mexico.

2018 - Mexico City - OJ, Man | Another day of wandering the … | Flickr

The manager, Mr Smith who is from Australia, is going to travel to Mexico.

Creative writing.

This is a simplified version of an IELTS blog: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/03/29/adult-speaking-class-level-3-storytelling/

Students, working in pairs or small groups, must come up with a storline for these couples.

Describe these two people. What are they wearing ? What are their personalities ? What do you think they do ? How do they meet ?

Be creative and feel free to use dialogue.

How do they know each other ?

What will happen when they meet ?

Will they get on ?

Will they have a terrible time ?

How about these

Ethnic indian mixed race girl and black guy in library | Premium Photo
American Jewish Committee | The Electronic Intifada
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How do these two know each other ?

Try to invent an interesting, fascinating story line. Maybe they haven’t met since there were born ?

Now, let’s get creative:

Write a short story using dialogue and adjectives.

MOTIVATION: why do the characters do what they do ?

PLOT: what happens … and why ?

CHARACTERS: make sure each one is an individual and speaks differently.

Ideas:

Where do they meet ?

How do they meet ?

How do they know each other ?

What do they think of each other and how do they express it ?

EXAMPLE:

Boram, a young Korean lady, is at home getting ready to go out. She has put on her favourite white and pink dress and, with her lucky pink bow in her luscious chestnut hair, looks absolutely stunning.

Today she is going to meet her cousin who is coming to Seoul for the first time. Boram needs to practice violin, because she plays in the university orchestra and they have an important concert coming up, however, she is concerned about her cousin getting lost in the big bewildering city. That is typical of Boram, always putting other people first. She is a very sweet and thoughtful caring lady.

[In the first sentence I named the lady – Boram. Therefore, we can use a pronoun – she – because we know the subject]

Tell me about her cousin, Leon.

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:

16 Japan experiences every traveler should enjoy | CNN Travel

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

Sống tích cực mùa Covid- 19: Sao Việt tập gym, yoga, chăm sóc da ...

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.’)

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Cultural differences

24th April 2020

IELTS Examination Jakarta

This blog is aimed at IELTS level students, or anyone who wants to learn how to speak or write in longer sentences.

This involves the use of complex sentences and discourse markers. Furthermore, a wide vocabulary is necessary to prevent repetition and to maintain interest as well as, of equal importantance, to make you feel that you are able to express what you really want to say.

One must not forget that when speaking, intonation, stress and body language will all help to make you sound more like a native-speaker.

To recap, a complex sentence uses different clauses (part of a whole sentence) to make a longer, more interesting sentence.

(I will write a blog just about complex sentences, with examples and exercises, in the near future)

Example: Thay Paul plays guitar. Thay Paul is from London. London is the capital of the UK

Thay Paul, who plays guitar, is from London which is the capital of the UK.

The bold text is the main clause, the plain text is a supporting clause. Which and Who are relative pronouns (Paul = who, & which links London to “capital of the UK”). Therefore, we have three pieces of information in one complex sentence.

Discourse markers link ideas together. Look out for ‘although’, ‘therefore’, ‘furthermore’ which should all be part of your everyday vocabulary.

For vocabulary, you can look at your work; could you replace a basic word with a better one ? Make use of a thesaurus, and note down any new words you encounter.

Now, moving on, today’s theme is cultural differences. This doesn’t have to mean travelling to a different country or continent, but even in the same country. For example, one of my neighbours told me about a business trip she took. Ms Phuong is from south Vietnam, but she had to travel to Ha Noi in the north. This is her account of the journey:

BIS Hanoi Students Ambassadors Raise Focus on Sustainable Issues ...

I asked Ms Phuong to tell me what happened.

What to do in Hanoi for 5 days – Hanoi guide for first-time ...
Hanoi old quarter

Last week I went to Hanoi and it was partly business, partly pleasure.

I wanted her to elaborate:

I went to Hanoi, last week, and it was partly business, partly pleasure. Although my expectations were low it turned out to be a greatly rewarding experience.

That was a great introduction, please continue:

I have mixed feelings

I was curious, so I allowed Ms Phuong ten minutes to gather her thoughts, write notes, then tell me:

I have a love-hate relationship, as I believe many south Vietnamese do, with Hanoi. On one hand, I really enjoy the cuisine, the flowers and the colonial architecture. Good points notwithstanding, I have one serious issue with the city and that is the work culture.

Being born in the south, I am used to long working hours, up to ten hours a day and, if need be, working on Saturday mornings. Southern workers tend to be highly focused on work and are always seeking ways to improve their performance. In contrast, workers based in the north seem to lack such a strong work ethic. The working day is limited (is capped) to eight-hours a day and, in my experience, this is a common practice. Furthermore, staff frequently go out for refreshment or leave early.

I noticed this while I was living in Hanoi, and when I return to the city on business. Fortunately, my staff comply with a strict office working policy; I encounter this issue when dealing with suppliers. I have to waste time waiting which makes me feel frustrated as there is nothing I can do to expedite matters.

NOW – what did you make of Ms Phuong’s answer ? I’m speaking in terms of the English, not necessarily the point she makes about Ha Noi.

(make of = think about).

How many complex sentences did you notice ? How about discourse markers ? Were there any words you didn’t know ?

Ho Chi Minh City - Wikitravel
Work meetings are more about therapy than productivity, study ...

Oh, no … we are not finished, not by a long chalk (not by a long way). Now it’s your turn. Write a short piece based on cultural differences or, if you prefer, write a rebuttal to Ms Phuong’s experience.

Guidance:

A short introduction

First point with reasons to support your view.

A contrary (opposite) view.

Short conclusion.

For those studying for IELTS, read it to yourself, and use a stopwatch … can you speak for two minutes ?

Say “Good bye” với 10 cách thú vị và ý nghĩa - EIV Education