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.
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 ?
At breaktimes, all the younglings come pouring out of their classes, screaming their little heads off …
Students are unhappy about tuition fees
They are _____________
She can speak five languages, do karate and is now learning violin
She has added __________________________
She thought the novel would be extremely exciting.
Unfortunately, for her, it’s just a ___________________ story.
Some areas of downtown are no-go areas.
You really _________________________________________ if you go after dark and alone.
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 ?
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 ________________________________
Excuse me, I have to take this call _______________________
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.
Practice making complex sentences, with two clauses at least, from these simple sentences.
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 were formed in west London in the early 1960s. They are a very famous, influential bands despite never having a Number 1 hit single.
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:
In the early 1990s, I inherited an 8mm Bell & Howell cine camera and, with my flatmate Martin O’Shea as actor, began making short films in the East End of London.
We had a two-bedroom flat near Mile End Tube Station (which we could somehow afford on a student grant), walking distance to Bethnal Green, Brick Lane and Limehouse, areas synonymous with names such as Hawksmoore (the architect), The Kray Twins (local crime lords) and Jack the Ripper (local ripper).
The area is incredibly historic, and well worth a walk for local historians, psychogeographists, or anyone with a passing interest in this less salubrious quarter of London.
Walk is what we did, one Saturday night, up to Victoria Park, down to the street markets of Brick Lane and back home via the city farm at Stepney and a visit to St Dunstan and All Saints Church, where we had a lovely chat with the vicar. He was in his working outfit, white, pressed and clean … us, none of the above.
This was where we decided to film what was, I believe, our first film together, ‘A Day Well Spent’, and I think this would be Spring 1992.
Now the technical side. 8mm film lasted four minutes in total. The film had to be thread, in a figure 8 shape, in the camera, then reversed after 2 minutes. This meant keeping careful time, and not shooting anything vital in the dying seconds before the film ran out.
The film was silent and the camera, I believe, had no zoom and no auto-aperture; the light had to be set manually. Basically, it was a ‘point and shoot’ affair. Close-ups had to be physically close, long-shots, far away.
So, we had four minutes to tell a story, beginning, middle and end. Martin plays a tramp, a happy-go-lucky, Chaplinesque character. He awakes, on a rubbish heap, scratches himself, looks around and gets up. He wanders through the City farm at Stepney
Naturally, he’s hungry and seeing the chickens gives him an idea; he has to ‘procure’ an egg for breakfast, without being detected or suffering an avian assault. With his cunning and agility, he is successful, and celebrates his victory by holding his prize aloft as he runs past St Dunstan’s.
However, when he searches his pockets, he only has a fork with twisted prongs … not a suitable implement to eat his breakfast. Disappointed, he throws the egg away, and decides to go back to sleep.
We also had a recurring event, namely a visit from the rozzers (London slang for police). One burly boy in blue was curious what we ne’re-do-wells were up to in his manor. To see a young guy, in trenchcoat, asleep on a rubbish tip alerted his instincts. And we had a recurring escape, namely I showed my camera and all became clear … “Oh, they’re making art,” heavy irony on the pronunciation of ‘art’, and that sarcasm has repeated through the years.
Or maybe, like most people of my generation, he would have seen some short compilation films on BBC1 after 5.30 pm and before the 6.00 pm News. This was how so many of my friends were introduced to the world of Harold Lloyd.
Everyone knew Chaplin, most people had heard of Buster Keaton, but Mr Harold Lloyd was totally unknown. That all changed with a series of 20-minute programs featuring scenes from his silent films … and all my school-friends were knocked out by them. You would even hear people shout out as they left school, “Don’t forget to watch Harold Lloyd.”
Harold Lloyd, referred to as ‘The Third Genius’ was, and remains, a major influence, especially in how to tell a story by images alone and how comedy works. This photo from ‘Safety Last’ (1924) is iconic … and even more amazing when you know that Lloyd lost a thumb and finger in an accident on a film set.
His films and many clips are available on YouTube. I used to show them during break time to my Kindergarten class, and they loved him … I was able to silence 15 hyper-active kids with a silent movie star.
Meanwhile, Mr O’Shea is busy in Berlin with a massive project: to put all our 8mm and Super 8 films onto computer, add commentaries and upload them on social media. Wish him luck, and take some time to watch Harold Lloyd … you won’t be disappointed
The video has a lot of new words, so I will pause the clip and board new words. Following the video, I’ll ask these questions. Being a large class, the students can work in teams, maybe each team having the name of an animal (that should be fun for Team Monkey).
Which big cat has spots, which has stripes ? Why do they have patterns ?
What is the name of the line that goes around the middle of the Earth ?
Rain forests has two things … what ?
What fruit can you find ?
What animals live at the top of trees ?
Is Vietnam in the tropics ?
Why are rain forests important ?
They absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen
They are home to lots of different wildlife
They produce water and rainfall for the planet
Moving on rapidly – Adverbs
Give me a sentence for these photos:
The jaguar runs quickly // The jaguar with black spots, runs very quickly
How do I follow that !
The remainder of the lesson is given over to reading, the theme being a music recital, so I can lead in by asking who play an instrument (then explaining that my long nails on my left hand are for playing guitar, not for scaring students).