iTalk Lesson Structure: What to expect

7th August 2020

For my iTalk customers, there have been some changes to the lesson structures.

The lessons will focus on vocabulary and pronunciation. We want you to sound like a native-speaker and that means hard work.

From now, the lesson will be arranged as follows:

A quick warm up to practise recent phrases or vocabulary, and to pass the time until all the students arrive.

This will be a chance for you to do some extended talking to develop sentence-building skills, incorporate idioms, expressions and prepare yourself for a speaking lesson.

The main lesson will be the handout ONLY.

Firstly you will learn new vocabulary and practice:

pronunciation, stress and intonation

Next there is usually some listening so you can hear native speakers use these words. The recording will be played two or three times for you to hear and copy.

Next up is the main language of this lesson. You will repeat these expressions several times and test each other. During this time, the teacher will listen and give guidance.

The idea is for you to sound like a native-speaker. You will ONLY achieve that by practice and practice.

Finally, the remainder of the lesson is for YOU to practice using the language, in various scenarios. I recommend changing speaking partners. Practice means repeating and improving.

Practice does NOT MEAN saying the text once, as quickly as possible, then declaring, “Teacher, finished !”

The teacher is here to help YOU learn.

We are not here to entertain you.

I will not tolerate any sarcasm, rudeness, insults or disrespect.

In the event that I have been insulted or disrespected, I shall end the lesson and you can answer for your actions to the management

I do not plan these lessons – it is just my job to deliver them and help your pronunciation

YOU chose the lesson … if you are bored, that is not my problem. This is a language school not an entertainment centre.

IELTS: What I expect from YOU

7th August 2020

bored Student" photos, royalty-free images, graphics, vectors ...
Mobile phones, yawning, sleeping, listening to music … to paraphrase Pink Floyd, “We don’t want no education.”

What is the standard of behaviour in your classroom ?

At my centre, in Sai Gon, Vietnam, we have to employ classroom management (normally reserved for ‘young learners’) to ‘adults’ and some unspeakable teenagers.

At one previous centre, I even had a student write in his book, “I haven’t done any work, I’m not going to do any work,” then laugh at me. Unfortunately, that is not an isolated incident.

Even though we have classroom rules they are mostly ignored, but that is indicative of the country as a whole [1].

To make sure my customers are in no doubt, here are some rules and reminders:

No mobile / cell-phones in the classroom UNLESS it has been sanctioned by the teacher for educational purposes. My lessons start on time – if you use your phones …

I HAVE THE RIGHT TO TAKE THEM AWAY

No eating, chewing gum, slurping drinks

YOU WILL BE SENT OUT OF THE CLASS AND HAVE TO EXPLAIN TO THE MANAGER WHY YOU ARE EATING

No chatting while the teacher is talking [2].

FURTHERMORE, IN MOST CULTURES, THIS IS UNBELIEVABLY RUDE AND UNACCEPTABLE.

The teacher is here to help YOU learn.

We are not here to entertain you.

You have a chosen a three-hour IELTS course, so deal with it.

Take notes, write down new words, practice using them. Week after week I give you sample answers, new phrases and personal help to enable you to improve your scores.

If I see you are not taking my advise, I will not waste time and energy on you.

Finally, I will not tolerate any sarcasm, rudeness, insults or disrespect.

In the event that I have been insulted or disrespected, I shall end the lesson and you can answer for your actions to the management

If you are serious, I will do all I can to help you. If you just want to joke around and stop me doing my job, there will be consequences.

Time to turn over a new leaf

You need to work MUCH harder, but don’t take my word for it:

I'm very moved to be here today, ... Our lives are now much better, but Vietnam remains a very poor country. We need to work much harder. - Ho Chi Minh

[1] motorbike riders don’t wear helmets, they overload their bike, use mobile phones, drive any way and any direction THEY want … public urination is endemic, recycling means throwing rubbish in the gutter and for many people, dogs are not pets, but lunch … and they joke about that to my face.

[2] good luck with this one … in nearly five years, I have never had a class that is able to just SHUT UP and listen. At first, I was shocked, adults speaking to each other, normal volume, continually while the teacher is teaching. As we say in the UK, empty vessels make the most noise, and there is a LOT of noise.

IELTS 5 – 6.5. Writing example

15th March 2020

Image result for ielts

As I constantly inform my students, IELTS is not a typical English class … it is IELTS English by which I mean, students have to demonstrate a command of the language that includes a wide range of vocabulary, the confidence to speak fluently, the correct stress and intonation to keep your listener engaged, the ability to form complex sentences and link them with appropriate discourse markers. Additionally, a knowledge of how English is REALLY spoken, to wit, sounding like the student has been interacting with real native-speakers, not merely repeating verbatim from a text book, is a must.

Piece of cake, no ? (an English idiom – you will need to learn some basic expressions, phrases and idioms to make your spoken language more natural and interesting).

OK, let’s break it down. IELTS requires a lot of work, study and practice. Students that come to my class expecting to kick back and be entertained are in for a shock, and then some. As such, I will not be defining the idioms I employ in this blog, e.g. Piece of cake – YOU will have to look them up yourself.

Image result for ielts getting started

Don’t worry, young lady, I’m here to help you. Having said that, if you’ve been on a three-month course and you’ve left it to the last week to study … then you will probably fail, and deservedly so. Yes, life in the IELTS lane is tough, it’s dog eat dog (though ‘devour’ would be a more IELTS-friendly word than ‘eat’).

Where to start ?

OK, IELTS wants what they term ‘low-frequency’ words. Basically, look at your English; replace any basic adjective or verb or indeed noun, with a ‘better’ word, a word that would be used by the higher-educated native speaker. Your best tool here is a thesaurus of which there are many online, or downloadable for free.

Image result for thesaurus

It works thus: Let’s start with a very basic adverb ‘very’. This is too simplistic for IELTS, so type in the word and click enter.

A number of words will appear. As above, the darker-shaded words are what the computer’s algorithm indicate would be more suitable, while giving additional options in lighter shades.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating – so let’s try it: rewrite these sentences using low-frequency words:

I think Bangkok a better destination than Chiang Mai

She bought a cheap bag

The film was good

Stage Two

Linking ideas with discourse markers. I give all my students a print-out of common words and expressions that must be consulted and utilised. I hope that all my students take them home and study them religiously. Conversely they may use the paper to line the bottom of a bird cage. In all reality, the majority of students say, ‘Thank you,” have a glance, put said sheet in their bag and forget all about it. Consequently, several weeks later, the students are still resorting to ‘and’, ‘but’ with a possible ‘however’.

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make the horse drink

Discourse Markers

Image result for discourse markers
I recommend my students learn at least two from each section.

Adverbs are incredibly powerful and so easily inserted into everyday text

I worked at another large and prestigious language centre, and had the pleasure of marking some essays by teenagers. From twelve pieces of ‘writing’, I found only ONE adverb.

Adverbs add information and interest to your language, but my students seem to avoid them like the plague. They may deign to insert a ‘very’ to please me … but it doesn’t ! I expect, nay, DEMAND more.

Without further ado

An example. IELTS will give students a very open-ended subject and then expect a well-constructed piece of writing, or fluent, coherent speech upon said subject, with no deviation, hesitation or repetition. It is a chance for the student to perform a solo, to demonstrate how much they have learnt and studied … or otherwise … generally it is ‘otherwise’.

Image result for reap what you sow

Time for an anecdote. I was teaching one class, and endeavouring to give them ample opportunity to speak and practice English. Nobody spoke. If I selected some students, they would make an appalling act of not having heard the question, or to answer in a single word. Some students even began laughing that teacher was asking the class but nobody was responding. Hilarious … but he who laughs last, laughs longest. I decided this class was a waste of my time (because it WAS a waste of my time) and left them to their fate … CUT TO some weeks later, it’s the day of their speaking test … suddenly, they are running up to me for help, “What should I say ?”, “I don’t know what to do”, “I’m going to fail.” Temptation was to tell them where to go ( that is an expression that does NOT imply direction !), but I gave them what help I could in the minute I could spare. Needless to say … most of the class were disappointed with their score, and no doubt, upon arrival at the family nest, were met were screams and derision. And no doubt they put the blame squarely where it belongs … on the foreign teacher !

The concluding line was an example of irony. I’m not going to tell you what irony is, look it up for yourself ! Do you want a fish or a fishing rod and knowledge of how to catch your own fish ?

Image result for give a man a fish

So now, a fairly run-of-the mill IELTS question:

Tell me about your favourite gadget

This piece is, as one would expect, quite lengthy and jam-packed with information and detail. I don’t expect you to write or speak at this level … but I expect you to TRY.

As you read, look out for:

Low-frequency words

adverbs

adjectives

discourse markers

complex sentences (sentences which coney more than one piece of information)

expressions, phrases and idioms

THEN – practice reading aloud. Not just once and, “Teacher, finished,” but again … and again … and again. Yes, this is not entertainment but it WILL help you get the score you want from IELTS

Image result for kindle fire

My Kindle

One of my favourite electronic devices is my Kindle, an ebook reader, which is small and light. I always take it with me when I travel; I’d be lost without it.

The Kindle is primarily a way to buy, store and read books in electronic format. At first, I wasn’t convinced; I liked reading real books. However, books take up a lot of space and, at least in the UK, are rather expensive. When I saw what a Kindle can do, and that so many books are free, I was hooked ! I had to get one. I bought my device in 2014 and I’m still using it today.

As mentioned, I use my Kindle for reading. Literature, including poetry, is one of my passions. Instead of going to a shop, I just browse the online store, click and wait for it to download. With reasonable wifi, this can just take a minute or so … then I can start reading. It is no surprise that ebooks are ubiquitous in the UK.

Although I read a lot, the Kindle is more than just an ebook. It has wifi so I can access the internet, can play music, write notes and play games.

The wifi is vital, especially when I travel. I can maintain contact with friends and family, watch YouTube if the hotel TV is less than enthralling, or read travel guides such as Trip Advisor. Naturally, I can also book tickets or make reservations and therefore pay significantly less.

I recently travelled to Thailand to meet some friends. I didn’t want to buy a new SIM card, and my friend only had an old phone, so there was a dilemma; how to stay in touch ? Thanks to my Kindle, I had email access, so we could plan when and where to meet. 

I can’t watch Vietnamese TV, due to the language barrier. Consequently, the Kindle plays an even bigger part of my life, as I need some way to relax after toiling away for hours at work.

The choice of books is amazing. In the stores, a single book can cost around £10, but recently I downloaded the entire output of the Russian write Tolstoy for less than £1.50 … incredible !

Kindles come in many shapes and sizes, so before you buy, you need to ascertain how you’ll be using it. For example, do you want a basic ebook reader, just for books, or the latest model with wifi ? This will, naturally, affect the cost. Then you have to decide upon the extras, for example how much storage space do you require, or a super-fast charger or protective case ? All of these bump the price up considerably.

If you’re interested in purchasing one, I have some information for you. I did a quick Google search and saw prices started at under 2 million VND, averaged around 5 million, but some were over 15 million. That, for me, is too extravagant.

In conclusion, my Kindle is very much a part of my life. It accompanies me everywhere. I simply don’t know what I would do without it.

Now … YOUR TURN

Write a piece about YOUR favourite gadget, using the above as a model

Best of British to you

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3. Theme: Job interviews

12th February 2020

Image result for job interview

Interview Language

Many interviews have similar questions. Read the following and then role-play with a partner. Feel free to add your own information, or make up something new.

Possible questions:

What experience do you have ? // What do you know about the company ? // Have you ever had to work to a deadline ?

Image result for great job interviews

Tell me about yourself

I was born in …. and I graduated from …. University in 2014 with a major in Business Administration. Since then I’ve had two year’s experience in administrative work at ABC and XYZ Corporation.

I’m a very organised person, well-balanced and efficient. I’m hard-working and dedicated.

In my free time, I like to travel and I love to paint. Furthermore, I enjoy going out having coffee with friends.

What do you know about (COMPANY) ?

XXX are an established company with a good reputation. They help …….. and there are over (xx) sites in VN (or your country).

What are your strengths ?

I feel I am easy-going, hard-working, careful and diligent. I think my greatest strength is my positive outlook, even during times of stress. I can work under pressure and I really enjoy a challenge. Lastly, I like working in a team.

What are your weaknesses ?

Well, my English isn’t perfect, so this will be a great chance to improve. Maybe I can be a little quiet sometimes; that’s why working as part of a team will help bring me out.

Can you give an example of when you had to deal with an angry customer ?

One time, a customer didn’t like the price of a visa, and he began shouting and getting angry. I asked him if I could explain the reason. I then told him how it wasn’t our fault, but that I understood his anger and said sorry. Then I told him he could check elsewhere, but we would still be happy to serve him. He calmed down, said sorry to me and bought the visa and was happy.

Where do you see yourself in two years ?

My short-terms goals are to work hard and efficiently, so I can master this job. However, in the long-term, I would be interested in possibly doing more courses so I could be a manager.

What can you bring to the job ?

I’m very friendly and enjoy working with people. I always try to be happy at work and share my positive outlook. I’m very motivated and open to learning. I’m very excited about being a part of this great company.

Do you have any questions ?

May I just ask, what career opportunities are there at XXX ?

It is not a good idea to ask immediately about salary, money and bonuses, although this is an important part of the interview process.

Image result for great job interviews
Congratulations, when can you start ?

Listening practice

From BBC Learning English: http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningengli0sh/english/features/english-at-work/02-the-interruption

A good example that comes to mind…

I’m particularly proud of…

Time-keeping is important to me.

Firstly, this job is an ideal match for my skills and experience.

Secondly, …

Above all, the reason I want this job is …

Image result for great job interviews

Key words: 

highly motivated

can work on my own initiative

proactive

team-player

ready for a challenge

Speaking Practice:

Now you have some new words and phrases, interview each other again, making sure to really sound like the ideal person for the job.

Working in English. Being a TA (teaching assistant)

Image result for teaching assistant
Image result for angry parents

How would you handle (answer) these questions ?

How often do you communicate in English ? Have you ever used English in a work environment ?

Two teachers need things at the same time; how would you prioritise ?

How would you deal with a rude teacher ? What would you do if you had a problem with a certain teacher ?

Could you work as a team member ? Could you take orders from a younger person ? 

Some students come to you and say they don’t like a certain teacher. What would you tell them ?

Teachers earn much more than Viet staff. How do you feel about that ?

Some parents may be very angry about a grading a teaching gave. If they came and shouted at you, how would you cope ?

Can you give an example of a time when you dealt effectively with an angry customer ?

How do you see this role ? What do you imagine you’ll be doing ?

The work may become routine. Do you think you will get bored ?

Part of the job-description involves keeping a safe environment. What do you think that means ?

A child has a nosebleed; what would you do ?

A child is being noisy and shouting when the teacher speaks. What would you do ?

A child swears in class, but his parents are angry at you when you criticise the student. However, the teacher insists you phone the parents to complain.

Image result for teaching assistant unrurly class

IELTS: Hello, India

24th January for 30th January 2020. IELTS Bands 4 – 5.5 Unit 7

Image result for hello India

Firstly, a big hello to all my readers and followers in India. Yesterday I had over fifty visits from students from the sub-continent and I want you all to know how much I appreciate you taking the time to check out my blog. Thank you so much.

My Indian friends – what is the standard of behaviour in your classrooms ? In my centre, in Sai Gon, Vietnam, we have to employ classroom management (normally reserved for ‘young learners’) to adults. Namely, we have to continually tell the class:

No mobile / cell-phones in the classroom UNLESS it has been sanctioned by the teacher for educational purposes.

No eating, chewing gum, slurping drinks

NO CHATTING WHILE THE TEACHER IS TALKING. THE TEACHER IS HERE TO HELP YOU. FURTHERMORE, IN MOST CULTURES, THIS IS UNBELIEVABLY RUDE AND UNACCEPTABLE.

Take notes, write down new words, practice using them

The teacher is here to help YOU learn. We are not here to entertain you.

These are not MY rules – they are the rules of the centre. If you cannot abide by them, then stop coming to class, stop wasting everyone’s time and money.

Let’s leave the last word to Uncle Ho, bác hồ:

I'm very moved to be here today, ... Our lives are now much better, but Vietnam remains a very poor country. We need to work much harder. - Ho Chi Minh

Understand, my Vietnamese classes ? Even Uncle Ho says you,

“need to work much harder.”

And now, without further ado, a warm up exercise to see how much the class has remembered from the last lesson … if anything.

Firstly, complete these phrases and then use them in sentences:

over the ______ // under the ________ // under ________ // more or ________

I’m over the …… because I passed my IELTS test.

Ms Linh is not here, she’s feeling under ………..

The class understood the video, more ……..

So many tests at school, the pupils were under ………

Secondly, what do these words mean, the make a short sentence using them:

absent-minded / jovial / reside / miserable / attain

Image result for Indian culture

I shall try to incorporate some teaching points about India in this blog which, although written before the Lunar New Year (Tet Holiday), is for next week.

The above sentence is an example of the type of English that is expected in order to pass the IELTS exam. As you can plainly see, it isn’t too difficult; I inserted a low-frequency word (‘incorporate‘), used a relative pronoun (‘which‘) in order to make the sentence longer and more fluent, then employed a discourse marker (‘although‘) to link contrasting ideas together in a coherent sentence.

To recap, what you will need to use in both writing and speaking are:

adjectives (but not just the most basic, common ones)

adverbs

low-frequency vocabulary

complex sentences (introduce extra information in supporting clauses)

stress and intonation

Adjectives: describe what you see here:

Image result for Indian culture

Try these adjectives:

exotic / mysterious / exquisite / captivating / enchanting

Sentence building: Talk fluently and coherently.

Compare and contrast:

Image result for Indian city scene

Does this look like YOUR city ? What is similar, what is noticeably different ?

Image result for Indian train station
A typical commute to work ?

Vocabulary building and listening

In the real world, most students will not be communicating with English-language teachers, but probably with other non-native speakers, so learning to appreciate and understand English spoken with a ‘new’ accent is an extremely useful skill. Here’s a great video which features a charming young Indian lady teaching new vocabulary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKUxuD0m5A8

New Vocabulary:

Instead of using ‘very’ + adjective (I am very tired), use a single word:

Try to use ‘sagacious’, ‘exquisite’, ‘colossal’ and ‘spacious’

The classrooms in Block D are ……….. (big)

The furnishings are perfect, they are ……….

Building an underground train network is a ………… undertaking

The old man was ………. People came to him for advise.

This is also a listening skills exercise. 

  • Do you have any problems understanding her ? Why ?

What to do in India

The American foodie and blogger Mark Wiens travelled to Kolkata: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvNdOJMDMyQ

Image result for mark wiens in india

Listen for at least five words you didn’t previously know. In small groups ask each other:

What impressed you ? What disturbed you ? Would you like to go there ? If so, why, if not, why not ?

Here is a chance to practice adjectives, linking words and using the word ‘because’ – giving reasons, supporting your comments.

Famous Indians

In small groups, you have to make a short presentation about one of these famous Indians:

Image result for famous indian people
Mahatma Gandhi
Image result for famous indian siddharta buddha
Siddharta – the Buddha
kalpana chawla
Kalpana Chawla

The class have five to ten minutes to research information, speed read and extract relevant facts with which to enlighten the class. Simply reading straight from Wikipedia is not permitted.

And now, goodbye from this mysterious, exotic land. Hope to meet you very soon …

Image result for Indian sunset

Kindergarten. Surfing Safari, Level 1: Monkeying around

5th December for 7th December 2019 Super Safari 1 U 6, L 3 & 4 (pp. 50 – 51)

Today’s objective is to impose stronger classroom management and to introduce some new activities. The class has some new students, and it’s their first time in a classroom. Last week one of the new students was hard to control, running around the room, then drawing over the walls. Naturally, bad behaviour becomes contagious so it needs to be stopped … immediately.

From experience, I have seen that rewards work better than punishments; I shall make a chart and each week assign colour stars to each student based on their behaviour. Each week, the students will be able to see how they have performed.

Furthermore, I’d like to introduce a story section. At this age (mostly around 4), a very short story using basic vocabulary is sufficient. After I tell the story, I will repeat and the students can help me retell it.

Another change will be the games. I’ve tried ‘musical statues’ or ‘freeze’ but that hasn’t worked out so well. While some students stay still, others, mostly the boys, start doing an Irish jig or windmill impressions or forming fists and moving closer and closer to me. Hitting the teacher will be an instant BLACK MARK.

It can be frustrating getting a lesson started as students (or rather their parents) arrive up to fifteen minutes late and each new arrival diverts the attention of the class. Therefore, it’s good to start with a song, and YouTube has a vast selection of suitable material. Naturally, a song featuring ‘Hello’ is appropriate.

Image result for hello children

For example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVlcKp3bWH8

This can be played twice and the students can act out the emotions (I’m good, great, wonderful).

Next – a physical activity. Here we can use Teacher Says or Mike (the monkey) says:

Stand up // sit down // jump // hop // put your hands on your head // wave hello

Next – a review of last lesson’s new vocabulary (bird, rabbit, fish, cat). I’ll put the flashcards around the room. After, I’ll ask for two students to find a certain card (while making sure no other students jumps up and joins in). The student that finds it will hold it up and ask the class, “What is it ?”. I drill for “It’s a …” form of answer.

The students that haven’t participated yet can take part in the next activity. I will show them a card and they have to act or mime that animal, while the other students must shout out the name.

Next – story time. Our class puppet is Mike the monkey. Student can sit of front of the whiteboard.

They must ask, “Hello, Mike, how are you ?”

(the TAs’ help is invaluable here, as it is for the entire lesson. In fact, the TAs make the lesson work much more than I could ever do).

Mike says, “Today I am sad.”

Students ask, “Why are you sad, Mike ?”

Mike, “I don’t want to be a monkey.”

Students, “Why not, Mike ?”

Mike, “I want to fly like Polly.”

Yes, Polly can fly (mime flying).

Mike, “I want to be big and strong like Leo.”

Yes, Leo is big and strong.

Mike, “I am small. I want to be big like Gina.”

Yes, Gina is big. VERY big.

But Mike … you are very funny. Class … where is the ball ?

Mike is funny

Repeat story but give out masks to four of the students, so they can act Polly, Leo, Gina & Mike. Possibly most students will want to take part, so it can be re-enacted as required. Make sure students copy the actions and repeat key words.

Mike is now teacher …

Thay Mike. “Is the ball big or small ? What colour is it ? It’s a small red ball.

Excellent ! Now, what letter is this ?”

Excellent ! Letter ‘d’ … ‘d’ is for dog.

Image result for d o g with monkey

Hand out as many markers as possible and see how many students can write ‘dog’. Some students still write ‘d’ as a ‘b’. By the end of the block, I would like the students to be able to write some basic words.

Next – Thay Student: Choose a student and they will tell the class what to do, for example ‘sit down’, ‘stand up’, ‘jump’, ‘be Polly’, ‘be Leo.’

Next – letter writing practice. I have some great handouts from this website: https://www.kindergartenworksheets.net/kindergarten-writing-worksheets.html

Each week, a different letter proceeded by a video. Today, letter ‘K’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGVbUgqp7LQ

Image result for bounce patrol alphabet k

This should easily take us into, if not over break time (always good to have more planned) after which is book work and activity books.

Today’s new verbs are: fly, swim, jump and walk. Once the students have learnt the pronunciation, they can practice. Which of these animals can fly … swim .. ?

Image result for various animals

Finally, at the end of the two-hour lesson (which is challenging for both students and staff), we can unwind with some colouring, but even here, the teaching continues. The TAs and I go around the class and ask them informal questions about their drawing and the colours they use. Meanwhile, we play a song that features some key vocabulary and show an image that could inspire our budding artists and allows them to develop their innocent imagination.

Image result for chagall
Marc Chagall

Adult Class, Level 3 (class 2): Happy talking, talking ….

29th August 2019

The lesson plans are set in stone, so I have to adhere to them; there will be a grammar review, a double page of listening, and then a handout for the students to practise speaking … but that’s not enough for the three hours, so I’ve decided to make as many speaking activities as possible.

Unfortunately, I’ll also have to show the presentation about classroom rules, as I’ve had some issues with ADULTS … yes, adults, disrupting the class, being disrespectful and basically trying the zen-like patience of the writer of this blog. Said writer has been working every day for nearly three weeks and my patience was never ‘zen-like’ at the best of times.

Image result for classroom rules no chatting

This problem is widespread in Vietnam; I’ve seen it at all centres, and all ages. It is quite hard for a teacher to accept the rudeness and disrespect engendered by such behaviour. So … what to do …

First, a quiet word with the student – to explain what is wrong and WHY.

Secondly, move the student to a new chair. If the student refuses, then it is time for the third move.

Last resort – abandon the lesson. Tell the school office that the student is violating THEIR rules, disrespecting the teacher and other (paying) students and that I will not be able to continue teaching with the student in the class. My feeling is that the Vietnamese will support each other, especially one who is a paying customer, so I will simply leave the room … and everyone will have wasted their time and money. To quote Brad Pitt in ‘Inglorious…’, I might get chewed out, but it won’t be the first time, sure as hell won’t be the last.

Image result for Brad Pitt inglorious

However, this happy pic does lead into a plethora of speaking activities I have planned – idea being, if they’re are speaking English, that won’t have time to speak Vietnamese (yeah, right !)

First Activity – a vocabulary building game. I give students a sheet with several new words and several definitions. They have to match them together, then make sentences from them.

Second Activity – Desert Survival. Two teams, both have a number of items to help them survive in the desert after a plane crash. From the list of 18, they have to choose just 5. They must learn and practice negotiation language such as:

I see your point

I respectfully disagree

That’s an interesting choice, however …

You’re argument is not without value, having said that …

Third Activity – eyewitness. Work in pairs. One student looks at a photo or picture of a man committing a crime. After two minutes, the other students plays the role of a police officer, trying to gather information, for example age-range, clothing, distinctive markings, behaviour etc.

Fourth Activity – small talk. A list of general topics and the students have to try to keep the conversation going as long as possible. As with all speaking exercises, give examples or models first:

What do you do ? // I’m a student . // Really ? Where do you study ? What do you study ? How do you find you class ? What do you like best about your university ? What are the biggest challenges ?

Fifth activity – Friends – I show five male friends and the students has to guess their personalities and occupations. Here I’ll board some new adjectives and jobs, as well as encouraging the students to use opinion phrases – after all, they don’t know my friends – they are basing their answers merely on looks.

To break up the speaking (which some will do, some will half-heartedly attempt, some will ostentatiously NOT do), we can use so real life listening. One popular clip is the foodie Mark Wiens eating eggs in HCM City:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crPVJ3CXs1g&list=PL97HViQblvdEM3zsauRxnIg1baFTNmsDM&index=20&t=1s

Or maybe a review of a local beer ?

Image result for horrible beer face

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKr6Cj-Xr9g

Or how to stay safe in HCM – advise from locals (in English but with accents and some grammatical errors)

Image result for petty crime in hcm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-j0FfVIKJnw

Young Learners, Levels 3 & 2: Lesson outlines

For Saturday 6th July 2019. Everybody Up 3 (U 1, L 3); Everybody Up 2 (U 1, L2)

LEVEL 3

Unscramble and find

To review recent vocabulary, board the following:

ocprpno / toopat shicp / repepp / bagbcae / traew

Around the room stick some flash cards. In twos, students have to unscramble the word, then find the flashcard and stick it on the board, saying the word loudly and clearly. For the last one, there is no card, so the students will have to find some ‘traew’.

Word snap

Students put into small groups and given a board and marker. They have to write five items from the first lessons. They then ask another group, “Do you need (onion, carrot etc) ?”. The answer must be a sentence, “Yes, we do,” or, “No, we don’t.” The first team to guess all five items is the winner. For my class of 15, we can have four teams.

Vocabulary Review

From last week: Give me a word or phrase that means:

A lot, very much or many

Great

Two adverbs (HCM is hot / HCM is ___ hot)

A person who watches to make sure nothing bad happens

Run and write relay

Students, in teams, have to run to the board and write these words, one word per student. First student runs, writes then runs to the second student who has to be seated.

Vegetable or snack ?

Select a top student; that person becomes teacher and reads out various food items. Class must put hands up and say whether it’s a vegetable or a snack.

E.g. chocolate / carrot / potato / potato chips / soda / tomato / popcorn / corn / banana etc

Can change student-teacher. This also helps to break the usual teacher – student dynamic, and allows the students to spend more time speaking to each other in English.

After, we have a lot of prepared work today including a listening test and extended book work. Hopefully, there will be activities left over, for me to use in the next lesson.

LEVEL 2

This is a new class so I don’t know if it’s going to be good or a nightmare. In my experience, levels 1 & 2 are at least 50% classroom management and trying to control the students; the teaching is incidental and slipped in between shouting at students to sit down, stop talking, stop fighting etc …

Board: He is = he’s / She is = She’s / It is = It’s

Key text – emotions – excited / bored / sick / tired

Warm up: Mingle – get the students to walk around and ask each other their names:

“What’s your name ?” “My name is …. ” or “I’m ……”

Review: Flashcards from previous lesson.

Show a card and ask the students if they are … happy, sad, hungry etc. Answer to be in a sentence (“Yes, I am”, “No, I’m not”).

Run ‘n’ write: Show a card and say, “I am …” Students, in teams, one against each other, must write on the board, then slap the board and say the word loudly.

Pre – teach: Yes, he is / No, she isn’t

Using the same Lesson 1 flashcards, ask question, eliciting either a positive or negative answer which has to be in the above form, not simply ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Book Work: Introduce new vocabulary

Sticky Ball

Quick, kinetic game. Put various flashcards on the board and the students, in two teams, have to aim for the correct picture, one team telling the other, thus encouraging more inter-student communication.

Charades. Select some top students. Show them an emotion flashcard, and they have to act it.

Book work, song and work book. Prepare handouts for fast finishers.

Young Learners, level 2: Hello Dolly, this is Louis …

26th April 2019

A lesson plan for a very active, very loud young learners’ class. They are certainly a handful, but they are good at English; there is simply no way to control them for two hours. Just have to use their energy and make very kinetic lesson plans to keep the class occupied.

After break, we focus on book work and workbooks (though some students complete these at home, and I’m faced with ‘Teacher, finished !’). I insist on fast – finishers to say ‘Dear Teacher, I believe I have finished,’ while having a stack of worksheets at hand so they have something fun but educational to do while I check individual work.

This is for tomorrow afternoon:

Warm-up: Magic Bag. I’ll pretend to have various items of clothing in my bag. I’ll mime putting them on and the students have to shout out the answer. This reviews vocabulary from a previous unit.

Yes / No game. Can be very fun – I just ask the students questions and they have to answer within five seconds BUT are not allowed to say ‘yes’, ‘no’, shake or nod their heads and make any other yes/no word (yeah, naw etc).

Hello Dolly. For fun, and to expose them to some REAL music, they can listen to Louis Armstrong and try to imitate his unique voice. Points for the best version (s):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7N2wssse14

Run ‘n’ Write. The last weeks have focused on rooms in the house. I will ask in what room do we …

sleep

cook

watch TV

wash

Then, with the class in two or three teams, one member must run to the board and write the correct room. It can be made lively by assigned a colour marker to each team and hiding them around the room, or even outside the classroom (though security probably won’t care much for that).

Who has what ? Here I choose six students and give each a flash card which they show quickly to the class, then hide behind their backs. The class must answer but using the correct form of ‘to have’, i.e. He has a sofa, she has a computer. This is a fun memory game but also drills the third-person verb form.

Picture Description. I’ll show a picture and ask the class to tell me what they see, especially asking about relative positions, looking for ‘next to’, ‘behind’ and ‘in front of’. This is from the famous toy shop, Hamleys, in London.

Vocabulary boost. A quick game to review some recent words and their antonyms. I’ll board these words, the students have to write the opposite. For this, I’ll hand out small writing boards and they can work in small teams.

clean

quiet

polite

friendly

The class probably won’t know the last two, so it’s a chance to show how we form opposite words. I can follow this up by asking the opposite of happy, well, tidy etc.

Student Survey. These are a great way to get the students talking to each other. I prepare a short questionnaire, and they have to ask three other students the questions. These are based on today’s lesson of counting, and recycled vocabulary.

How many …. do you have ?

pens / books / brothers / sisters / pets / computers

After that, it’ll be break time, then book work … and then my day will be over !