IELTS: Speaking exercises

12th May 2020

Speaking exercises

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Today’s theme is the use … the correct use … of discourse markers.

Furthermore, speakers MUST NOT say ‘like’ or ‘kinda’.

It is a pet peeve of mine to hear people interrupt the flow of a conversation with the unnecessary and incredibly irritating application of the word ‘like’ as a … totally incorrect … discourse marker [or discourse particle]. To illustrate, at a previous centre, a centre with a very prestigious reputation, I heard some US teachers say the following:

“I went out last night and had, like, two beers.”

“Are you looking for, like, an apartment

This filters down to the students, some of whom deliberately say ‘like’, because they think it makes them sound American and cool. I correct that misconception; it makes them sound that they are unable to complete a simple sentence. When I notice this as a problem, I tell the student to listen to themselves and count how many times they use ‘like’ erroneously.

Why Do People Say "Like" So Much? | Grammar Girl

And so, to work …

Practice how to speak fluently and with the correct use of linking words. For example:

however // having said that // although 

firstly // following that // after that // and then finally

Just a minute

Students must speak for a minute with no deviation, hesitation or repetition.

Students can select a subject and then ask another student or team to speak for a minutes. Otherwise, choices could be:

books // local food // foreign food // clothes shopping // music // siblings //

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Speaking Test

You meet a fellow traveller at the airport when your flight is delayed. Make small talk conversation including idioms and expressions.

To make this more of a competition, award two points for every idiom, one for every expression, and additional points for discourse markers.

Colleagues discussing over business card while sitting in waiting ...

Topics can be:

Talk about the flight. How bad the airline is, frequently late. Do they fly often ?

Introduce yourself. Why are they flying ? Business or pleasure ?

Ask about work – do they like it ? Where do they work ?

Ask about family … but not too personal

Ask about where they live

REMEMBER to react, and to use stress and intonation.

Oh, really // how interesting // tell me more // where is that exactly ? // Oh, right // Me too ! // I had a similar experience //

Conversation practice

You have plans to go to a new restaurant but one of you can’t make it because something turned up. Apologise and give the reason why you must change the plan. Offer alternative suggestions. 

Example:

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Hello, Sharma ? I’m so sorry, I can’t make it tonight.

Sharma will ask why. Give your reason

Have to work late // family member is ill // have an exam tomorrow // missed bus // not feeling well // have to attend a family event //

Activity 2

In the UK we try to hide our emotions, keep a stiff upper lip, but sometimes people can get angry. Repeat the exercise, but this time, the person waiting is in a bad mood.

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Now the person waiting does not accept your excuse.

This the the third time you’ve cancelled ! // I’ve already been waiting 30 minutes // You only tell me NOW ! // I don’t care, get here now or never call me again ! //

How could you apologise and offer to make it up to her ?

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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:

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I asked Ms Phuong to tell me what happened.

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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 ?

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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 ?

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Adult Speaking Class, level 2. Describing clothes.

19th March 2020

Describing clothes

Patterns

a plain T-shirt

a striped dress
a striped shirt
a checked jacket / coat
a flowery skirt
a spotted tie
baggy trousers
tight jeans
high-heeled shoes
lace blouse
designer sneakers
tracksuit

Material

leather // lace // fur // cotton // silk // nylon // denim // wool // velvet // polyester // plastic

Vocabulary:

awful // beautiful // cool // cute // designer // elegant // gaudy // old-fashioned // scruffy // smart // glamorous

Find examples of these styles. What do you think of these clothes ?

Adjectives: when we use more than one before a noun, they are in this order:

opinion / size / age / colour / origin / pattern / material + noun

EXAMPLES:

Image result for blue japanese silk dress

a great long new blue Japanese plain silk dress

Image result for plastic flower shoes

some stupid big old multi-coloured American flowery plastic shoes

Put these in the correct order:

leather / at / miniskirt / Look / fabulous / that

Look at that fabulous leather miniskirt.

wearing / an / blouse / elegant / white / She’s / lacy

shoes / high-heeled / bought / ridiculous / She

tight / socks / I hate / nylon

skirt / wearing / velvet / a / She’s / spotty

stripy / green / like / your / tracksuit / I / baggy

Discussion: What clothes do you like wearing. Where do you wear them ? Why do you like them ?