Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Art – what do you think ?

13th April 2020

Giving Opinions

The following is a list of opinion phrases, aimed at expanding your vocabulary as well as enabling you to practise the linking sounds required in order to sound like a native speaker.

“In my experience…” // “As far as I’m concerned…”

“I’m absolutely convinced…” // “Speaking for myself…”

“In my opinion…” // “Personally, I think…”

“I’d say that…” // “I’d suggest that…”

“I’d like to point out that…” // “I believe that…”

“What I mean is…” // “It’s obvious to me…”

“It seems to me …” “This could possibly …”

What do you think of the following works of art ?

The Last Supper by Leonardo 1490s

As far as I’m concerned, this mural painting is one of the greatest achievements of European culture.

Personally, I think the painting is overrated. I can’t see what is so special about it.

Now, your turn. Use the above expressions; what do you think about …

Dance at Bougival by Renoir 1883
Chinese landscape
Man Pointing by Giacometti 1947
Socialist Realism from Viet Nam
Starry Night by Van Gogh 1889
Lobster Telephone by Dali 1936
Traditional Korean Painting. Life Of Ordinary People Painting ...
Traditional Korean painting
The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living by Damien Hirst 1991

Getting a gaff – living in Sai Gon

20th February 2020

The dream … the reality.

Guidelines For Successful Dating With Vietnamese Girls | iDateAsia Reviews  and Tips on How to Date Vietnamese Girls
Image result for dirty sai gon

A major attraction of living in Sai Gon is the cost of living. Teachers are not usually well-paid and as language teachers, we maybe do less than twenty-five hours a week (which is more than enough, depending on the students).

My arrival was not without problems. I will not mention the name of any institution, as I probably have more to be thankful for than otherwise. Having said that … moving across the world to a new culture and a new job is rather nerve-wracking – there will be problems, predictable and marvellously unexpected. One thing that can be counted on is paperwork. It must all be in order … and it will all be expensive.

First, in order to work as a teacher in Vietnam, one needs a BA degree (any subject, though anything involving linguistics would be an advantage), an official teaching certificate, such as CELTA: (this is a Google image)

Image result for celta qualification

Then a police background check, a CRC. There is not ONE agency that provides this service, so it is good to look on the internet first to check prices. They do vary considerably. I use Disclosure Scotland.

The teacher should also be a native-speaker but I have worked at centres that employed teachers from the Baltic States, and Spain.

Then there is the visa. One needs a WORK VISA to enter the country and be legally employed.

Image result for Vietnamese work visa

The ‘DN’ (top right corner) designates this as a business visa, and are issued for varying periods of time. I obtained mine by post from the Vietnamese Embassy in London. Therein, the first ‘issue’. My school had to send me an invitation (to be presented at the Embassy). Unfortunately, I was sent an invitation with the wrong entrance date, then told it would take a week to amend their error. Meanwhile, I’d paid for my (non-refundable) ticket and I had some unnecessary stress hoping I could get the paperwork in time.

“All’s well that ends well,” as the bard said. However, I had to pay for an express service which I believe was £140 ($180), and that was without postage and postal order fees (which brought the cost to over £170).

Furthermore, the three certificates (BA degree, teaching certificate & CRC) have to be notarised, then sent for stamping by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and then stamped by the Vietnamese Embassy.

It set me back around £500, and that was without the work permit fee, the flight and money to keep me going until payday. However, one cold (London) morning, I flew, changing once at Bangkok, to Sai Gon and walked out to look for the staff who, I was assured, would be waiting for me. Walking out into the noise, the heat, the chaos that was … and still is … my life.

I had been told I would be driven to a hotel, where I would stay for three days, at the school’s expense.

Image result for tan son nhat airport

Just like in the films, a young lady was waiting for me with a board welcoming me to Sai Gon. Yes, she was young. So young I was wondering if they had sent a student instead. Said lady then informed me that we would be taking a taxi and that I would be paying for it, but not to worry; it would be deducted from my first pay check, and because I was travelling with a local, I wouldn’t be ripped off by a tourist taxi.

I was a little taken aback by this news (I had been travelling for around twenty four hours, therefore not at my best), but it was compounded as Ms Information (as I later dubbed her) told me that I was also expected to pay for my complimentary hotel but again, not to worry, it would be deducted later.

I wondered what other joys lie in wait. I didn’t have to wait long. The assigned hotel had a power cut and wasn’t sure if they even had a room for me that day. After waiting with Ms Information in a cafe near the school (damn fine coffee if I remember, and I paid for it without being prompted; couldn’t handle any further deductions from a pay check I’d yet to receive), we returned to the hotel. A room was free but no wifi in the room.

On that note I thought, as I’m paying anyway, I’m going to choose my own hotel (I’d been to Sai Gon several times previously).

Later that evening, I met my manager and all was cleared up; no taxi bill, no hotel bill. I met some of the teachers, including the young lady whom I was replacing. She was young, blonde and beautiful, three things I have never been. Her students are going to hate me … and I wasn’t far wrong.

That weekend I observed some classes. Some teachers were very accommodating and helpful, some clearly didn’t want me in their class. I was left in no doubt that one in particular did not consider it her job to help me at all. And she didn’t. Each to their own.

Now, I was staying in my hotel, and getting the street motorbike to school. Ms Information would phone a street bike to take me home, very kind. I managed to find a room in District 3, which was ideal for me. Lots of shops and markets, lots of things within walking distance (I do not ride a motorbike).

This was situated in a small alley off a main road, Nguyen Dinh Chieu, in between a lingerie shop and a pharmacist. I felt at home.

The door was unlocked by inserting one’s hands through the black square and unlocking a padlock. There was no recycling. All rubbish, or trash if you are American, was dumped outside. It was rarely there a few minutes before some neighbour would pounce on it and rip it open looking for … who knows ? But the debris would be scattered outside the door. I took to dumping my rubbish, or garbage if you are American, further down the alley. At this point, I downloaded the Grab Bike app and was able to use their services to get home, easily halving the cost of the street bikes:

Image result for grabbike

Probably not the image the company wants to promote, but more realistic than the twenty-somethings with pearly-white teeth and a perpetual smile. And footwear. I informed Ms Information that she no longer needed to order me a motorbike, I could book myself, with Grab. Maybe you can guess what happened … yes, I jumped on a bike she ordered for me and was on my way to the old hotel. So, back to my digs:

No photo description available.

The room was basic, no fridge or cooking facilities, but a shower and private bathroom. Furniture provided. Kindle on bed and bottled-water on standby.

No photo description available.

The simple life. I think I paid three million Vietnamese a month plus electric which could be up to another million depending how often I used the air-con. In all, I paid a maximum of four million VN Dong – about £135 / $175 a month, for a six-month contract.

Yet, nothing especially Viet or Asian about it. It evoked more of a Leonard Cohen in Greece feel. Nothing wrong with that of course … “You get used to an empty room.”

No photo description available.

However, one Tet, when most of the tenants were away, I think someone broke into my room, as my suitcase which was always padlocked and contained my laptop, Kindle and money, wouldn’t open. It seemed that someone had tried to open it and had broken off their implement.

After that, I changed the door lock and spent a million on new, European-made security locks and bolts. Nothing from Taiwan, sir, give me that impressive and weighty German monstrosity. It’ll do the job.

But … at the end of my six months contract, I wanted out. The next place was just a few streets away, living above a clothes shop. I forget the rent, but it was similar to the first place, perhaps a tad more. Renting can be risky in Vietnam. At short notice, the owner can decide to take back the space, and the tenants have only a short time to find a new place.

The clothes shop had that exact fate. As you can see, it has gone, but this was the location, number 19. A husband & wife team sold shirts and Tshirts, living behind the store front. I had two floors upstairs, with a little verandah for outdoor cooking, and a shower that was apparently a danger-hazard. I was advised to fill a bucket with hot water and use that as opposed to standing directly under the sprocket. Power cuts were not unknown.

One night there was shouting and screaming – more than is usual in Sai Gon – as a house but three doors away was on fire. Exit flat sharpish and waiting in the street for the all clear before my year’s work-contract was up and I was ready to clear out of Viet Nam and head home.

Which I did. London … in winter. I took care of some paperwork, a new CRC, new work Visa and back on that plane for a lovely thirteen-hour flight. My new place, however, was an apartment. Way out in the sticks, near Cat Lai, the busiest port in S.E. Asia:

Image result for cat lai

The local area was terrible: containers, night and day, honking of horns, trucks stomping over speed bumps, few amenities, few restaurants, not an ATM for miles and karaoke … open-air, all day and most of the night karaoke.

The apartment was great, and the swimming pool was fantastic – even if everyone if the neighbourhood felt it was their right to come and use it.

And then the rainy season began … the jolly old rainy season. Here are some arty (I wish) shots. A little Impressionistic:

For Christmas, they made this effort, which just looked like giant spiders from my vantage point:

One night, the Moon looked spectacular. Unfortunately, my phone camera couldn’t do it justice but anyway:

I mentioned karaoke. There were some people whose hobby was warbling, screaming, croaking, belching etc into a microphone, turned full whack, and ‘entertaining’ everyone within a two-mile radius. How could it get worse ? Wedding parties.

There was a vacant lot opposite my flat. It served as a car wash weekdays, but at weekends was rented out for wedding parties. These are noisy. Really noisy.

The first two hours usually have a professional singer or band. Most guests start to leave at that point … but not all. Some stay and avail themselves of the free beer, the karaoke and the microphone … for hours.

What starts as a romantic event ends up like this: Imagine these gentlemen screaming and shouting and whooping all day. Welcome to my (old) life.

Image result for drunk viet men

And then we have the neighbours. Lovely people, but they were from Central Viet Nam so couldn’t take the heat. Thus, they installed three air-con units, the third of which blew directly into our balcony, sprinkling us with dust, muck, dirt, goodness only knows what kind of air-bourne viruses … and heat.

Enough, as they say, is enough. Time to move.

So now I’m still in District 2, but near shops, near a main road, near amenities, not a container in sight (or sound) … and we can have pets.

Of course, my very first night there, a local restaurant had … karaoke. However, we have a police office in the next street, so they make sure karaoke is contained and punishable by (I don’t want my English humour landing me in hot water, so add your own comment here) ………………..

Since then, very little except, around Christmas time all night, and for many nights, they decided to dig up all the roads:

Vietnamese food can be wonderful, albeit a little samey (to a casual eater, it can appear to be no more than bowls of different types of noodles with different types of meat, topped with a forest of fresh-ish vegetation).

I’m not knocking the local food, I’ve written blogs about my favourite dishes, but sometimes … an ex-pat will miss that little something from home. Never fear, in District 1, in the shadow of Bitexco, we have a number of stores selling, and usually at a very good price, various items from around the world:

58 Ham Nghi Street, District 1

And finally, I mentioned we are allowed pets … allow me to present my puppy, Dali (if you’ve been following my teaching blogs, you’ll no doubt appreciate the moniker):

Dali, the surrealist puppy

Young Learners, Level 4: Final activity sheet.

4th December for 7th December 2019 E Up 4 pp. 80 – 81

This is my final lesson with this relatively ‘easy’ class. There are only 13 students, and the class is well-behaved compared to many others. Today, there is a final checkup and a creative project. To keep the festivities going, I’m going to prepare an activity list, covering various subject. These can be done in small teams, maybe pairs or threes.

  1. Name three things we can have for lunch

2. What did this man eat and drink ?

Image result for man eating curry and tea

I need the whole sentence using the past tense for ‘eat’ & ‘drink’ and a linking word.

3. Make a sentence: Jane – models 😡 cloths 😀

Jane likes to design clothes but she doesn’t like to make models

Peter – songs 😡 movies 😀 // Tina – pictures 😡 stories 😀

4. Draw a picture of Dali !

Image result for Dali

5. Tell me four types of art.

6. What are you going to do this afternoon ?

7. Tell me three things we can make.

8. What does Teacher Paul like ? Two thing …

9. Someone who plays guitar is a … // someone who tells the news is a …

10. This is my friend Mark:

He works in films and in plays. What is his job ?

11. Where does he live ?

Image result for Venice

12. How does Mark go home ?

13. If I go to Nha Trang, what do I need to take with me ? Three things …

14. Space – What is the biggest planet ? // What is the sun ? // Can we hear in space ?

15. Watch Mr Mark. What did he eat for breakfast ? What words did Mr Mark use ? Can you smile like him ?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crPVJ3CXs1g&list=PL97HViQblvdEM3zsauRxnIg1baFTNmsDM&index=20&t=165s

Image result for mark wiens face

Finally … who can say:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxwcQ1dapw8&list=PL97HViQblvdEM3zsauRxnIg1baFTNmsDM&index=26&t=0s

Young Learners, Level 4: Daaaaaaaallliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii ……

24th October for Saturday 26th October 2019. E Up U 6, L 4 pp. 58 – 59

Warm up: Student description

In a previous lesson, the class learnt about basic adjectives to describe appearance. I will therefore choose a student and describe the physical characteristics, e.g. this student has long straight hair, is not very tall, and wears black glasses. The students must guess the student I am describing.

To make it more fun and engaging, it’s a good idea to put the class into teams for a bit of competitive spirit.

This is my friend, Ms Quynh. She has long straight black hair.

We can extend their vocabulary by including clothes: Ms Quynh is wearing a white top and a colourful skirt.

I will choose some students and give them a student to describe, while promoting the value ‘be polite‘. They can describe their hair, whether or not they wear glasses, and if that isn’t enough, they can identify them by their clothes.

To continue the theme of Art and creativity, I think it’s time they met Dali !

Dali normally gets a reaction (especially when we have fun elongating his name as long as possible). It’s also a chance to learn a few new words:

creative / genius / unusual / surreal

The last word maybe a little advanced, but it’s a good way to introduce new words; inside the word is ‘real’ so surreal has something to do with reality … but what ? Here’s a clue:

This is a mixture of reality and fantasy. The students can say which is which … and why does Dali give the elephants tuba faces … is there a reason or is it just crazy ?

I will then expect the student to form basic sentences using these new words, and not forgetting new vocabulary from previous lessons, for example,

“Dali’s paintings are very unusual.”

Next up, is a scene from the popular Children’s classic, ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

What is happening ?

Again, a mix of reality and fantasy. How would the students describe this ? It could be turned into a game … students put into small groups and given boards and markers. Points for the best vocabulary.

Key words: tea-party / young girl / bow tie / sleeping / garden

Now, to continue the theme and introduce some listening and reading skills, a video. This is the singer-songwriter Don McLean with ‘Vincent’, about the artist Vincent Van Gogh:  This can be played in the background as the students do a writing project today.

This version also has the lyrics, as well as various paintings by the artist.

A useful lesson will be the subjectivity of art – it is a chance for the student to think and to give their views, and to try to develop the English skills to express their thoughts. Clearly, this is a perfect opportunity to introduce some fixed expressions to express opinions:

In my opinion …

I feel that …

For me …

And even an idiom – it’s not my cup of tea !

What kind of art are these and what do they think of them ?

Image result for giacometti artist
Alberto Giacometti
Image result for roman mosaic minotaur
Image result for great photographic art
Henri Cartier Bresson – 1908 – 2004
Image result for famous vietnamese paintings
Vietnamese silk painting

Then, with time against us, and a lot to get through, we’ll turn to the book work. They will watch a video which also shows sculpture, mosaic and photographs. The book also mentions Van Gogh, and a sculpture based on the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party from ‘Alice’.

Finally, to wrap up after the project, a little bit of fun. Who better than Dali (or at least a great actor playing Dali) ? 

Adult Class, Level 3 (mixed): You practice what I preach.

17th September for 23rd September. AEF 3 pp. 50 – 51

Last week, we covered past tense – simple, continuous and perfect. However, that is a lot to take in, especially for students who are not so confident. Looking at charts and learning the jargon can be daunting and far too theoretical.

This problem has long been identified and addressed; grammar, as theory, reduced to a minimal. Grammar, used in writing and more importantly speaking, maximised.

Therefore, my policy in this block of lessons (four per block) is to reduce book work, simplify the theory and try to allocate at least half the lesson to student-talking time.

Last night’s lesson seemed to work well; the Socratic approach which makes the students collect information and then collate it into a presentation. This was followed by students reading to each other in small groups, with some useful expressions to use … and repeat and repeat and …yeah, you get the idea.

Let’s go to work !

Image result for go to work

But first, back to basics. Some students are not fluent in the three forms of basic verbs:

Grammar – verb practice

Here’s the 15 most common:

infinite \ present // past // past participle (verb 3)

1to bewas werebeen
2to havehadhad
3to dodiddone
4to saysaidsaid
5to gowentgone
6to getgotgot/gotten
7to makemademade
8to knowknewknown
9to thinkthoughtthought
10to taketooktaken
11to seesawseen
12to comecamecome
13to wantwantedwanted
14to useusedused
15to findfoundfound

Regular verbs, just add -‘ed’. However, as you see, in this list only one common verb, ‘want’, is regular.

NOTE: ‘to be’ is different: I am hungry You are hungry She is hungry.

Now, practice: In groups of three or four, they have to ask each other questions in order to feel more natural using the past tense. Lets’s start simply with the simple past:

What did you do today ? PAST SIMPLE

Each student takes turns describing their day. Always give ideas, as some students spent too much time thinking of what to say, whereas the purpose is to speak.

Related image
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Image result for go to school
Image result for easy rider bike
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I will also board: buy / drink / surf the internet / help parents / cook / do homework

To make it more interactive, the students can ask follow-up questions, such as, “What did you eat for lunch ?”, “What time did you start school ?”, “How did you get to work or school ?” etc. Groups can monitor each other to make sure past tense is being used properly.

NEXT: Past Continuous. Subject was doing something in the past ….

Example: Last night I was listening to T-ara:

Image result for T-ar

However, we usually use past continuous to say we were doing something WHEN something new happened.

EXAMPLE: I was listening to T-ara when someone knocked on my door.

The structure is Subject + was or were + verbing, followed by past simple

Try this: dream // alarm clock ring

He was dreaming when the alarm clock rang.

Now – practice: Make a sentence from these pairs of photos:

Image result for reading
Image result for telephone ring
Related image
Image result for rain
Image result for angry teacher
Image result for pulp fiction jules eating
Image result for pulp fiction honey bunny

Finally, the past perfect. Two things happened in the past, one before the other.

Image result for Kafka
Image result for Berlin 1920

The students ‘met’ Dr Kafka last week.

Dr Franz Kafka had lived all his life in Prague until he moved to Berlin in the 1920s.

Subject + has or had + verb 3 then use past simple.

Try these:

John Lennon – in The Beatles / goes solo in 1970

Image result for john lennon beatles
Image result for john lennon imagine

Dali – paint over 1 500 paintings / dies 1989

Image result for dali
Image result for dali tomb

Bringing it closer to home, Bac Ho (Uncle Ho Chi Minh) – work London / meet these young Germans.

Image result for uncle ho in Paris
Image result for uncle ho in russia

Finally, for presentation, the students can be arranged in four groups (draw playing cards so students work with new partners). I will give them ten minutes to work together and make a short presentation, with all members speaking, about the above four historical figures. Those who draw Ho Chi Minh should have an advantage, so I will be expecting more from them.

Presentations should include:

Date and place of birth.

Why there are famous

Give examples of their most famous works or activities

Where they lived

When and how they died.

ALSO – why we should remember them.

Then, I will turn to the books and hand-outs, before returning to some speaking practice before the end.

Young Learners, Level 4: It’s The Late Show live from Sai Gon ….

21st May 2019

Lesson Notes for Saturday 25th May. I’m going to be buzzin’ for this lesson, on cloud nine, ripped and raring to go. Also, a big shout out to my teaching colleague Ms Han, who incidentally is as cute as a button, for being so friendly, so positive, so darn wonderful.

As you can see, the above paragraph was full of vernacular, similes, modern slang and idioms (and ended with some poetic repetition). It’s not the kind of language one would encounter in a school book, but it’s exactly the kind of talk that takes place every day on the streets of London, of New York, Melbourne, Singapore … all over the world where people try to emulate the language of English-language TV, film, music and the internet.

Taking my cue from David Crystal and his magnificent book ‘The Stories of English’, I use the classroom to teach Englishes; that is, both standard and ‘natural’. What qualifies as natural would fill not just a blog page, but an entire book, probably without a satisfactory resolution, but let’s take it to mean what would be heard in my home town, London.

A great boost for students is to learn expressions as opposed to just single words. This helps them develop a natural flow, and introduces them to the treasures of language available. So how to develop these ideas into practical activities … piece of cake !

This class have an average age of 11, so they have quite a good command of English without the teenage moodiness (that will come, have no fear). Our theme over the last weeks is ‘creativity’, and my aims are to greatly expand their vocabulary and the opportunities of speaking English to each other.

Therefore, I always board new words or phrases, then allow time for the students to write them down. As previously stated, this is not a common practice in Vietnam, so I have to encourage the students to find paper, take out note books, writing implements, sharpen pencils, in short, everything to do with writing except actually writing.

My board can look like this:

A list of adjectives, partly obliterated by the students during break time, which they take literally.

The students have to write down these words and then learn the meaning and be prepared to USE THEM. Both the TA (again, a first-rate chap, top notch) and I will then say these words endlessly, to help them sink in, and encourage the students to use them whenever possible. Therefore … our first warm up game is …

Hangman

Here, I will just reinforce the new words: / useless / bland / genius and our friend Dali.

I will then hand out boards and, in small groups, the students must write four positive adjectives (e.g. handsome, pretty, clever, etc) and four negative adjectives for a bad student (e.g. talkative, noisy, sleepy etc).

Art Review

Last week they learnt some new words. For a more kinetic exercise, I shall describe a type of art (painting, sculpture, mosaic, photograph) and two students have to run to the board and write the word. This is fun if I assign a certain colour marker to a team, then hide the markers around the room, pretend to throw them out of the room etc.

Project Presentation

Last week, the students were split into small groups and had to produce a short, illustrated story. They can continue this, and it will give us a chance to enforce appropriate classroom behaviour, namely, listening politely when other students are presenting work. This is also not a popular activity in Vietnam, from children to adults: if THEY are not involved, they have no interest. It’s not just the teacher that gets ignored.

Spelling Test

Our centre is having a major spelling contest, and this will occupy the quarter hour before break. After said break (when something is guaranteed to be broken), we do book work which, this week, is rather minimal; it’s basically a list of jobs and asking what people want to be when they grow up. Some of the jobs are in the arts such as actor or musician, so … to engage the students and get them producing English and having fun, we can make a US-style talk show:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K22baZRNQKc

This is a compilation of clips from David Letterman, who speaks in a very quick, New York manner. We can start around 2:41 and play about 30 seconds. Drinking the perfume should amuse my students.

In groups, one person can pretend to be famous, either in arts, science or sports. The rest of the group have to interview him, each member asking a question such as:

When did you start (acting, playing sport, learning an instrument etc)

How long did you practice or How many hours a day do you rehearse ?

How old were you when you won your first award or medal ?

Tell us about yourself – where were you born ?

Do you have any brothers or sisters ?

What do you want in the future ?

Who do you like or who inspires you ? Why do you say that ?

Next, we need to create a studio set. We’ll do a ‘word bomb‘ or ‘mind map’ game. Who works on a TV show ?

We have a host and of course, we need a guest.

But we need someone to work the camera (cameraperson), the sound (sound engineer) and a director to shout ‘Action !’ We’re in HCM City, so we need a great backdrop for our show:

Tonight, live from Ho Chi Minh City, it’s The Late Show ….

This will hopefully make my students energetic and not sleepy. We shall see.

Young Learners, Level 4: Art for art’s sake.

16th May 2019

This is for Saturday morning’s class, 10.10 – 12.10. Seventeen students, a little noisy and raucous but a breeze compared to Levels 1 & 2.

Today, there is a a lot of work already set for the students, including a major spelling contest, and a story-writing project. Additionally, I always over-plan the lessons, meaning that they will always be work that I can use in subsequent lessons. Such is the case today.

We can start with descriptions of people:

Warm up: Student description

In a previous lesson, the class learnt about basic adjectives to describe appearance. I will therefore choose a student and describe the physical characteristics, e.g. this student has long straight hair, is not very tall, and wears black glasses. I will choose some students and give them a student to describe, while promoting the value ‘be polite‘.

To continue the theme of Art and creativity, I will show some artists. The class already met Frida Kahlo but I thinks it’s time they met Dali !

Dali normally get a reaction (especially when we have fun elongating his name as long as possible). It’s also a chance to learn a few new words:

creative / genius / unusual / strange / surreal

The last word maybe a little advanced, but it’s a good way to introduce new words; inside the word is ‘real’ so surreal has something to do with reality … but what ? Here’s a clue:

This is a mixture of reality and fantasy. The students can say which is which … and why does Dali give the elephants tuba faces … is there a reason or is it just crazy ?

I will then expect the student to form basic sentences using these new words, and not forgetting new vocabulary from previous lessons.

Next up, is a scene from the popular Children’s classic, ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

Again, a mix of reality and fantasy. How would the students describe this ? It could be turned into a game … students put into small groups and given boards and markers. Points for the best vocabulary. What is happening ? Also, how to tell a story – an introduction and then mentioning items point by point, linking with appropriate discourse markers. YES ! I’m going to make the students study hard today.

Always good to give a model answer, tell the students what I expect to hear, or WILF as I’ve heard it termed in some schools (What I‘m Looking For).

Now, to continue the theme and introduce some listening and reading skills, a video. This is the singer-songwriter Don McLean with ‘Vincent’, about the artist Vincent Van Gogh:

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

This version also has the lyrics, as well as various paintings by the artist such as:

Then, with time against us, and a lot to get through, we’ll turn to the book work. They will watch a video which also shows sculpture, mosaic and photographs. The book also mentions Van Gogh, and a sculpture based on the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party from ‘Alice’.

A useful lesson will be the subjectivity of art – it is a chance for the student to think and to give their views, and to try to develop the English skills to express their thoughts. Clearly, this is a perfect opportunity to introduce some fixed expressions to express opinions:

In my opinion …

I feel that …

For me …

And even an idiom – it’s not my cup of tea !

Finally, to wrap up after the spelling tests and writing projects, a little bit of fun. Who better than Dali (or at least a great actor playing Dali) ?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_q1V_xjHhLM

Adult Class, Level 3: If I make them learn, it’ll be a miracle !

22nd April 2019

Cutting it a bit fine, as this lesson begins in just over four hours. I’ve substituted this class before and, being diplomatic, they need a non-standard teaching method. Just going through the course book, expecting students to do the assigned work – to talk together in English, to practice and produce – is for the birds ! It ain’t gonna happen, brother !

What we have here is a class of teenagers … yeah … an adult class comprised solely of teenagers … to answer Bob Geldof, that is WHY I don’t like Mondays.

The answer … simply to be crazier than the students. It has the element of surprise.

Last time, after preparing thirty minutes of activities and getting no response, I sat next to the students and MADE them speak to me. I asked one boy (yes, he was still in school uniform) a question and it was a deer caught in the headlights – “He’s asking me a question … in English … and expects me to answer ?”

So, without further ado, tonight’s lesson plan which involves First conditional, future clauses, reading and speaking. On the surface, I’m dead in the water – however, I have some tricks up my sleeve ….

First activity will be something I learnt from my time with a theatre group (never more than five people but that constitutes a ‘group’). I’ll draw a red dot on the floor and get all the class to stand around it (yes, I know getting the class up from their chairs will probably take up most of the lesson). The exercise is to focus all of our energy at the spot. We start be pointing our right hand at it for eight seconds, then changing to our left hand, our right leg followed by our left. This is repeated for four seconds, two seconds and finally one second. I think it’s a fair bet that none of the students have started a lesson in that manner before.

Next, I shall invoke the help of my friend Dali. I shall make the students say his name, elongating it as long as possible, while twirling my (imaginary) moustache. Then I shall show them his photo and an example of his work:

I will try to elicit, to get feedback, from the class. Last week, I covered this class and I did a lesson about personality adjectives. How would they describe Dali, just from his picture, and what do they think about his art ? I will guide them towards the subject, the colours, the background. Hopefully, it will be inspiring to at least some of the students.

Now, grammar time, First Conditional.

If I have 10 million VND, I will buy a Honda motorbike.

Conditional + subject + verb …… (comma) sub + will + verb …

First conditional uses present tense ( have) and will do something. It is used when something is very possible. In Vietnam, 10 million VND is not an impossible amount for a basic motorbike.

HOWEVER, If I had 100 million VND (not so likely) I would buy ….

To test comprehension, I’ll board some incorrect sentences and see if the students can change them:

If you’ll learn English you are get a good job

My mum will hit me unless I does get good grades

She won’t going to bed until he came home

If you buy an Apple X, you would be happy

After you leave the class, you would be terribly sad.

Finally, in this rather short post, some pre-teaching for the reading section.

The words are:

prodigies

controversy

determined

forbidden

outstanding

excelled

rebelled

took up

resent

How could they apply them to the following pictures:

Both Mozart and Beethoven were incredibly gifted children. Mozart’s first composition was written when he was just five years old.

President Trump plans to build a wall between USA and Mexico. Not everyone thinks this a good idea, while some totally approve of it. It has made many people very angry.

Now, how about this sign I saw in Indonesia (Yes – this is genuine, hand on heart) ?

How would they describe this young lady:

And finally, what do they students understand by this picture ?

So, we shall see how my little rebels deal with the lesson. If all else fails, I can make then sit through some REAL music:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egMWlD3fLJ8

Now, that’s a chopper !

Young Teens: course review.

27th February 2019

This is my final class with this group as they have tests next week, conducted by the Vietnamese staff. Therefore it is a review lesson, going over recently-acquired words and practising listening skills.

It threatens to be quite passive (although this class is anything but passive) so I need to start with some energetic team games, focussing especially on speaking.

To begin, a STB game based on the previous unit (‘Special Places’). I’ll show various pictures of world landmarks and ask about them, for example where is this:

Bonus points for naming the mythological creature, and for asking the riddle with which it is associated. Other sites include the Taj Mahal, the Parthenon, a lighthouse, and the recently-discovered Hang Soon Dong cave here in Vietnam.

Here we can review UNESCO and world heritage sites. Vietnam currently has eight sites on the UNESCO list – how many can the students name ? https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/vn

Next a ‘run ‘n’ write’ activity. I’ll board an incorrect sentence and the students must correct. I need about seven sentences to give everyone a chance to take part:

What London like

was the weather what like

We goes on a boot trap (in past tense)

It weres (ADVERB) interesting

£75 is ext … exp …

You should criss the rood careful

Dali were a really famous lawyer.

As a bonus, can they draw a Dali-esque clock ?

Next we can have small group work. I shall show various photos and they have to write a short piece using as many adjectives and adverbs as possible:

really / quite / very / not very /

expensive / popular / delicious / boring / exciting / scary

carefully / easily / quickly / noisily

psycho / palace / famous for / in common / gadget.

As usual, it helps to give a model to serve as an example. I shall use this photo:

‘Live and Let Die’ (1973)
James Bond escapes from some extremely scary alligators.

In this picture, the British spy James Bond is surrounded by some very scary alligators who are extremely hungry. He tries using his magnet gadget on his watch but it doesn’t work. Bond is famous for escaping from very dangerous situations. Quickly, he runs across the water stepping on the backs of the creatures. Bond films are incredibly popular because they are amazingly exciting. Do you find them interesting or boring ?

Now for the students:

Typical Vietnamese food
The magnificent Heath Ledger as the Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’ 2009.
London’s Buckingham Palace, hone to the Queen.
Dali and friends.

To end the activity section, an opinion poll. This makes the students get up and ask classmates for their views, so listening and speaking skills are utilised – and no teacher-talking-time !

This survey will be based on Special Places. The students are offered a choice of four locations: The Pyramids of Giza, the Parthenon in Athens, The Taj Mahal in India and Buckingham Palace in England.

Which site do you want to visit most ?

Why ?

What is the weather like there (use adverbs) ?

What can you do there ?

What could be a problem ?

After this, it’s time for the book work and assigned lesson plan. As mentioned, there is a lot of listening and video watching, so that should occupy most of the remaining time.

To finish we need a high-energy game. ‘Family Fortunes’ is good as it makes the students work together, and can be a test of general knowledge. I could ask: name four countries in Europe, four typical dishes from USA, four famous singers etc.

A list of class games can be found in a previous post: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2018/12/17/note-explanations/

If the energy is just not there, I can always play a YouTube clip of funny animals, or a song (in English) that has been requested.

Let the students leave smiling … but also prepared for next week’s tests.