Talk about a film you like. Why do you like it, and what is the story ?
This blog will serve as a model to IELTS students to help with their speaking and writing skills.
IELTS has lots of ‘open’ questions, to enable the student to speak freely on subjects about which they feel comfortable.
In my last online lesson, I mentioned a film that I though a student would like, as she had chosen to speak about Scarlett Johannsson.
The film in question is ‘Lost In Translation‘. Here is a little piece about the film.
Short introduction – do not answer the question immediately
Organised structure – one point per paragraph
A change of attitude – a critical view
LOOK OUR FOR
Complex sentences – combining two or more bits of information in the same sentence.
Discourse markers – words to link ideas together
Adverbs and less common adjectives
So, without further ado, the question:
Talk about a film you like. Why do you like it, and what is the story ?
INTRODUCTION – talk about cinema or films in general DON’T immediately talk about your favourite film.
Watching films and going to the cinema is one of my passions, so choosing just one film is going to be terribly difficult, not to say impossible. However, if I have to select one film, it would be ‘Lost in Translation’, with Scarlett Johannsson.
First paragraph. Information about the film and the main charcters.
The film, directed by Sophia Coppola, daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, was made in 2003, and takes place in Tokyo. A young, newly-married girl, named Charlotte, is alone in her hotel because her husband is constantly out working. Staying at the same hotel is a middle-aged, world-weary American actor, Bob Harris, in Japan to make a commercial for Japanese whiskey.
Second paragraph. The plot – what happens … and why.
Both characters appear to be suffering from culture shock and seem afraid to leave the security of the hotel. For example, despite seeming to be impressed by all the neon and energy of the city, Bob spends his night in the hotel bar with other tourists, while Charlotte reads and listens to music in her room.
Third paragraph. Develop the plot.
They meet in the hotel where age difference notwithstanding, they seem to get on extremely well, extremely quickly. Furthermore, they give each other energy and courage to venture outside. We learn that Bob is less than happy in his current life, while it becomes apparent that Charlotte is doubting her own marriage. At one point it look like they will get together. However, Bob decides to go back to the USA, leaving Charlotte, but not before they share an embrace on the street, in which Bob whispers something in her ear. We, that is the audience, do not get to hear what he said; we have to speculate.
Fourth paragraph: Something negative for balance.
Some people could be irritated that the final words are a mystery, other could be severely disappointed by this love story that never quite happens. The two protagonists return to their lives which will, possible, be unfulfilling. This negativity is like a black cloud on an otherwise bright, sunny day.
Conclusion: A short summary.
‘Lost in Translation’ is described as a romantic-comedy-drama. The characters are totally believable and likeable, while, technically, the cinematography is stunning. Furthermore, in my view, it is a charming, heart-warming, and life-affirming movie.
WARNING: THIS BLOG CONTAINS IMAGES OF WAR THAT ARE NOT SUITABLE FOR YOUNG READERS
April 30th is a national holiday in Vietnam. My Vietnamese students should know why, other students can probably guess.
Describe this photo:
What is the subject ? What is the background and history ? Why is this picture significant ?
What happened after this snapshot?
background– recent story or history to some event.
significant (adjective) – very important or large.
significance (noun) / significantly (adverb)
snapshot– a moment in a photo – captured by time.
In this photo we can clearly see …
The photo shows …
The photo depicts …
war / conflict / civil war / agent orange / reunification / peace treaty / ceasefire / chemical warfare / the seat of government / reeducation / education growth / Le Duan / public opinion / anti-war sentiments / Vietnam War Memorial, Washington DC / My Lai / Kim Phuc
Use the above vocabulary to describe the following photos. Organise your thoughts, then employ discourse markers to link your ideas together.
If you are not certain, you may use expressions such as:
I’m not entirely sure, but I think …
This would seem to show …
I’m not familiar with this image …
Practice speaking in complex sentences by using relative pronouns (who, where, which, whose)
This is a great opportunity for IELTS students to interpret the information represented on this graph. What is the trend ? What is the anomaly ? How would you categorise the fluctuation in figures from 2007 – 2010 ?
NEXT PHOTO MAY DISTURB SOME READERS
THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST ICONIC PHOTOS, NOT JUST OF THE WAR IN VIETNAM, BUT OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY.
THERE ARE NO ADJECTIVES CAPABLE OF DESCRIBING THE IMAGE.
THE PHOTO HAS BEEN CREDITED WITH TURNING AMERICAN PUBLIC OPINION AGAINST THE WAR.
This lesson is to encourage students to think creatively, and to help them with sentence buildings by encouraging the use of discourse markers and complex sentences.
Additionally, here is a golden opportunity to utilise adjectives and adverbs, so often conspicuous by their absence, not to mention a chance to create dialogues where characters can use idioms, expressions and features of everyday real English.
Let’s kick off (start) with an example.
Describe these two people. What are they wearing ? What are their personalities ? What do you think they do ?How do they meet ?
Students can here perform a task suited to their level.
Firstly, just describe the photos. Remember do not start with a pronoun (he, she, it). Instead, tell me what you see.
Example: I see a young lady with a bow in her hair NOT She has a bow in her hair.
For more advanced students, explain more about the young lady. Do you think she is beautiful (or pretty, cute, adorable, gorgeous) ? What are her origins ? She looks Asian, but she could live anywhere in the world. Describe how she looks and what she’s wearing. What do you think her personality is ?
After, do the same with the young man.
For advanced students, look at the background. The young lady is standing in a white room, with a book and some flowers. What does that suggest to you ? White is often associated with purity and innocence. Flowers could be sweet and feminine (although different flowers have different significance in different cultures), while the book indicates education and intelligence. Her hair bow appears to have musical notes as a pattern, so possible she is a musician ?
As for IELTS students, write a description then replace any basic words with low-frequency vocabulary (example, replace beautiful with gorgeous, stunning etc).
Now, let’s get creative:
Write a short story using dialogue and adjectives.
MOTIVATION: why do the characters do what they do ?
PLOT: what happens … and why ?
CHARACTERS: make sure each one is an individual and speaks differently.
Where do they meet ?
How do they meet ?
How do they know each other ?
What do they think of each other and how do they express it ?
Boram, a young Korean lady, is at home getting ready to go out. She has put on her favourite white and pink dress and, with her lucky pink bow in her luscious chestnut hair, looks absolutely stunning.
Today she is going to meet her cousin who is coming to Seoul for the first time. Boram needs to practice violin, because she plays in the university orchestra and they have an important concert coming up, however, she is concerned about her cousin getting lost in the big bewildering city. That is typical of Boram, always putting other people first. She is a very sweet and thoughtful caring lady.
[In the first sentence I named the lady – Boram. Therefore, we can use a pronoun – she – because we know the subject]
Tell me about her cousin, Leon.
Now, try the same exercise with any of these situations:
Next time, we can work on dialogue … have fun and STAY SAFE
Object: encourage creative thinking and sentence building.
Vocabulary: expressions related to money
What would you do IF you were a millionaire ?
What would you do IF you were a millionaire for a day ?
Second conditional – this is used for a situation that is not impossible … but not very probable.
If I had a million pounds, I would … (stop working !)
If you had a billion $, you could … (buy an island)
If + Sub + had …, Sub + would / could
If you had unlimited money, what would you do ?
Plan a luxury day
How would you spend a luxury day ?
To develop narrative writing / speaking – use words/phrases such as:
Firstly, initially, I would start, it would kick off with …
secondly, thirdly etc
after that, afterwards, following that, and then …
for a change, as a contrast, for a break, to take a break from all the …
lastly, I’d end up, I’d round the day off with
To kick off, I would have salmon breakfast at a five-star … no, seven-star hotel. After that, I would go shopping for some suits and ties and then drive around London in a Rolls-Royce car, chauffer-driven, of course.
To take a break from the hustle and bustle, I’d relax at my hotel spa, then go for afternoon tea at another top hotel.
Lastly, I’d round the day off with a helicopter trip around the city and then fly direct to a stadium and go to my VIP (Very Important Person) seat to see one of my favourite bands play live.
OR add your own ideas
Where would you go ? What would you do ? What would you buy ?
Expressions connected to money
A ton of money = very much money
Having money to burn = having more money that someone needs
It costs an arm and a leg = something very expensive
Money talks ! = having money can solve many problems
Rolling in it = having so much money (‘it’ refers to money)
Swanky = slang for very expensive or elegant (it’s a swanky restaurant)
However, as Shakespeare said,
Would money make you happy ?
Can money buy you health, love or happiness … maybe that is for another lesson.
This is polite conversation, to pass the time, or to get to know some basic information about people. Do not ask anything too personal; this will differ from culture to culture, but in the UK and the west in general:
Ask why someone is not married or has no children.
Ask how much money they earn, get from their job.
Ask how much something cost. “I like your shirt. How much was it ?”
Talk about politics. “You’re from China ? Chairman Mao was a disaster !”
PLAY IT SAFE – talk about music, football, food or … in the UK … the weather.
Very warm for this time of year.
Did you see …….. last night ? (the football game, the news etc)
How long have you worked here ?
The traffic was so bad this morning.
What team do you support ?
John: I can speak German. Peter: Can you ?
Bella: Ms Nguyen went to Thailand. Carole: Did she ?
Bill: He likes K-pop. Harry: ______________ ?
We are going to the pagoda later. ______________ ?
Ms Thinh has a new job.______________ ?
house prices in your city / why you have or don’t have a pet
an interesting program you saw recently
What you want to do in the future. / Somewhere you would love to visit.
Keep conversations going:
I see / Do you really think so ? /
That’s good point / I hadn’t thought of that
Oh, that’s interesting/ Yeah, right ! / Sure / OK May I just add something ? /
Oh, where is that exactly ?
Speaking Practice – use discourse markers to extend your speaking and to link ideas.
Describe something you own which is very important to you.
You should say:
where you got it from how long you have had it what you use it for and explain why it is important to you.
You will have to talk about the topic for 1 to 2 minutes.
You have one minute to think about what you’re going to say.
You can make some notes to help you if you wish.
Rounding off questions
Is it valuable in terms of money?
Would it be easy to replace?
This could be a physical object, a memento with sentimental value, or an abstract noun such as health, happiness etc
For my Vietnamese students:
How different is Vietnam from other Southeast Asian countries?
What do you think Vietnam will be like 50 years from now?
What do you think Vietnam’s neighbours think of you ?
24th January for 30th January 2020. IELTS Bands 4 – 5.5 Unit 7
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:
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:
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)
complex sentences (introduce extra information in supporting clauses)
Does this look like YOUR city ? What is similar, what is noticeably different ?
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
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 ?
A miscellany of lesson notes aimed specifically at basic-level English
Grammar – adjectives // helping verbs // comparatives & superlatives // I used to // modal verbs // much or many ? // past tense exercises // possessives // relative pronouns // should or shouldn’t // some or any // I need // verbs – most common verbs present, past and past participle.
Vocabulary – new words and expressions
Vocabulary – film
Vocabulary – Kitchen
Vocabulary – what do you need ?
Speaking practice – introductions // repairs // future tense
If you meet a new friend or business acquaintance
Hello, how are you ? Very well, thank you, and yourself ? / I’m great
hot, cold, sweet, bitter, Vietnamese, weak, strong, expensive, Indian
Now add a reason – ‘because’, ‘as’
I love good strong coffee because it wakes me up and I also adore sweet Indian tea in the evening as it helps me to unwind.
Make longer sentences:
I like Sai Gon but I don’t like Ha Noi
I like films and I like games
My friend likes street food but he doesn’t like restaurants
Vocabulary – adjectives
standard / higher / / opposite / higher
good / brilliant // bad / terrible
beautiful / gorgeous // ugly / hideous
interesting / fascinating // boring / tedious
expensive / over-priced // cheap / bargain
modern / hip / trendy // old-fashioned / out-dated
gentle / calm // angry / hot-headed
big / massive / huge // small / tiny
important / significant // unimportant / insignificant
tiring / exhausting // relaxing / peaceful
Helping verbs: have / want / need /go / like
Subject + helping verb + infinite …..
I have to find my mobile phone // She goes to work // He needs to relax
Write sentences for these pictures:
He wants ….
She likes ….
Negative: He doesn’t …
Grammar – comparatives and superlatives:
big / bigger / biggest (-er / -est for small words)
interesting / more interesting / the most interesting (more / the most for longer words)
Sai Gon is bigger than Ha Noi
Chinese is the most difficult language to learn
London expensive Sai Gon
Thailand hot Canada
Moroccan food spicy French
Action films exciting rom-com (romantic-comedy)
I used to …
When I was young, I used to play football. Now I am too old !
I do NOT play football NOW. I played football when I was young
Write sentences. Example: When I was young, I used to read comics.
When I lived in Germany I used to …
This pen belongs to me, it is mine.
The laptop belongs to Jane, it is _______
It’s John’s book, it belongs to ______
We all work for HLS, it is ______ company.
Give this to Anna and Gary, it is _______
Grammar: modal verbs
Modal verbs are helping verbs that show
permission (sự cho phép)
possibility (khả năng)
can / could / have to / must / might / should
can’t / couldn’t / don’t have to / mustn’t / mightn’t / shouldn’t
1. Ted’s flight from Amsterdam took more than 11 hours. He must be exhausted after such a long flight. He might prefer to stay in tonight and get some rest.
2. Hiking in the mountains ______ be dangerous. You _____ research the route a little more before you start.
3. You _____ take your umbrella today. The weatherman said there’s a storm in Nha Trang and it ______ rain this afternoon.
4. When you have a small child, you ______ leave small objects lying around. Such objects _____ be swallowed.
5. I _____ believe she said that to the supervisor!
6. Jenny’s wedding ring is enormous! It ______ be very expensive.
7. Please water the plants. If they don’t get enough water, they _____ die.
Try to make sentences:
I need to…. She wants to… You have to… We like to … He hates to …
Much or many ? A little or a few ?
[a few = countable / little = uncountable]
Is there much work left ? I really want a little free time to run some errands.
There are ….. shops in the mall. I need to buy …… items
Is there ….. beer in the fridge, or do I need …… more ?
There are only a … millionaires inVietnam but they have so ….. money.
There are far too ….. karaoke singers. I need …….. peace.
PAST TENSE EXERCISE:
Complete the exercise with the verbs inside the box.
drink / fall / hurt / sell
spend / write
choose one of these verbs and use the past tense form
1. Mozart ……. more than 600 pieces of music.
2. ‘How did you learn to drive?’ ‘My father …….. me.’
3. We couldn’t afford to keep our car, so we ……. it.
4. I was very thirsty. I ……… the water very quickly.
5. Paul and I played tennis yesterday. He’s much better than me, so he ……. easily.
6. Don ……. down the stairs this morning and his leg.
7. Jim …….. the ball to Sue, who …….. it.
8. Ann …….. a lot of money yesterday. She ……. a dress. It ……. £100
Grammar – Present Perfect
Subject + have/ has + past participle
I have been to Ha Noi
She has visited London
They have seen that film so many times but (they) have never understood it.
I have read ‘My Sassy Girl 1’ although I have not read ‘My Sassy Girl 3’
(I haven’t read)
Have you read any good books recently ?
To talk about something in the past but not when it happened
He has looked at the report – YES
He has looked at the report last week – NO
(He looked at the report last week) just use simple past
Can use with ‘for’ and ‘since’
I have lived in HCM since 2010
I have lived in HCM for seven years
Exercises: Put these sentences into present perfect
I John (read) your email several times. John has read your email …. 2. She (wear) that skirt many times. 3. My family (visit) Brazil a few times. 4. I (eat) already. 5. Mia (finish) her homework. 6. You (break) the glass again. 7. They (pay) for everything. 8. It (never snow) like that. 9. I (meet) Anna once. 10. We (see) him before.
Grammar – Relative Pronouns:
who For people: This is the man who sold me the fake Rolex !
which For things: We tried fish and chips which is delicious.
where For places: Let’s go to the shop where we saw the great bargins.
Whose Possessive: That’s the singer whose record we heard last night.
The car, whose driver was young, won the race.
We arrived at a nice beach ______ we could swim and lie in the sun.
A man ______ mobile phone was ringing did not know what to do.
The patient, ______ had a serious disease, was taken to hospital immediately.
Smithsfield is a small village ______ people live a quiet life.
A boy ____ sister is in my class was in the bank at that time.
I know a person ____ can speak seven languages.
We visited the church _____ is in the middle of the square.
It is a protected area of land _____ you can see a lot of interesting wildlife.
This dress is made of silk, _____ is a very expensive and delicate material.
Grammar: should / shouldn’t
Complete the sentences. Use the verb in brackets. Sometimes the verb will be nagative Use contractions where possible.
It’s cold. You … a cardigan. (wear)
She’s always tired. She … to bed late every night. (go)
… now? (we / leave)
You … some fruit or vegetables every day. (eat)
The students … their mobile phones in the exam. (use)
You … the teacher to help you if you don’t understand the lesson. (ask)
People … fast in the town centre. (drive)
… the dress or the skirt? (I / buy)
Grammar: ‘some’ or ‘any’
we use ‘some’ for a statement
we use ‘any’ for a negative or a question
There are some great websites for learning English. PLURAL / countable
There is some Czech beer on sale at VinMart. PLURAL / uncountable
There aren’t any beer clubs near here
We don’t have any French cheese
Are they any good films playing ?
Do you have any English tea?
1 Do you have ______ questions about the new project ?
2 Let me give you _______ advice.
3 You don’t need to bring ____ pens or paper. There will be ______ print-outs available.
4 There will be _____ visitors from Germany coming. Do you know ____ German ?
Jim I can’t wait for Tet. Do you have any plans ?
Alf Of course ! I’m going to watch some films and get some rest.
Jim Have you bought any special food ?
Alf I don’t have any time for shopping. I’ve still got some beer. How about you ?
Jim I need to buy some fruit, some biscuits, and do I need any special food for Tet ?
Alf Absolutely ! You must buy some cakes and some sweets.
Jim Anything else ? I need some advise.
Alf Just make sure you have some beer. A LOT of beer. Cheers !
Grammar: I need
subject need (helping verb) infinite verb (to + verb) completion
I need to visit a dentist
She needs to stop buying clothes !
subject need (helping verb) article / determiner noun
He needs a laptop / I need the report
We need some overtime / She needs a bottle of water
I need tôi cần // I want tôi muốn
1 I ____ to visit Thailand. 2 He ______ to find a job now !
3 Her mother ____ her to get married. 4 Do you ____ to see Twin Peaks ?
5 She can’t go out, she _____ to finish her homework.
6 They _____ new shirts but they ______ to buy computer games instead.
Some items are essential (very important) Some are useful
Some are luxury items (don’t really need them)
EXAMPLE: I think a fridge is essential. However, a meat slicer is a luxury item.
What are they made of and what are they used for ?
EXAMPLE: A toaster is made of metal and is used to toast bread.
What do you need …. ?
What do you need to make pho ?
What do you need to ride a motorbike ?
What do you need for a party ?
What animals do you need for a zoo ?
What do you need to do before you go out ?
Sentence building – verb practice
REMEMBER: ‘to be’ is different:
I am busy / you are busy / she is busy
I was busy / you were busy / she was busy
I was quite busy / really busy / I was extremely, incredibly busy !
I have been busy / you have been busy / she has been busy
Look at this picture: describe what you see
First – what is the subject ? A man
What does he look like ? Adjectives
What is he wearing ? Colour, material, pattern
Where is he ? What is he doing ?
A young man with short dark hair, dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and black and white spotted tie is sitting in a restaurant or coffee shop. He is drinking from a small white cup. We know he is drinking damn fine coffee !
Write the subject first ( A young man ). THEN, you can use pronouns (he).
Write long sentences for one of these pictures.
Colin Good morning, I’m Colin.
Mike Pleased to meet you, Colin. I’m Michael but call me Mike.
Colin Thanks, Mike. Have you worked at ….. long ? (a long time ?)
Mike Yes, quite long; about five years. Oh, I like your phone.
Colin Thank you. It’s an LG which is much better, I think, than Apple.
Mike Where did you get it ? (buy it)
Colin Tokyo, where there are so many phone stores.
Mike I really want to go ! Have you met Ms Mi who works in HR ?
Colin Not yet … but she looks very pretty ! (gorgeous / adorable)
Ben Excuse me … is this seat taken ?
Fred I’m sorry ?
Ben May I sit here ?
Fred Oh,by all means. I’m Fred.
Ben Pleased to meet you, Fred. I’m Ben. Are you German ?
Fred Yes, from Berlin, which is the capital. I’m here for three days.
Ben Then you should go to Ben Thanh market where you can buy a Rolex.
Fred Too expensive. My job is great but the salary is terrible !
Ben Ms Na, who works in HR , has a Rolex. Only 400 000 VND.
Fred Really … ? Fake ?
Ben That’s it ! Made in China ! You have a meeting here ?
Fred Yes, with Ms Na; she is gorgeous and so adorable… is she married ?
Ben Yeah … she’s my wife !
Something is either working OR not working
The watch is working The watch is broken – it is not working
I am repairing it – it WAS broken, now it is working again. It has been repaired.
The motorbike is broken. It needs to be repaired / fixed / mended
The mechanic is repairing / fixing / mending the motorbike
It is repaired / fixed / mended
Peter Hi, Mark. How’s it going ? (how are you ?)
Mark Not bad. However, I have a problem. My laptop’s broken.
Peter Oh, dear. What kind is it ?
Mark It’s a PC (personal computer).
Peter Oh, I understand. They are good but sometimes are flawed.
Mark Where can I get it fixed? Do you know somewhere ?
Peter Sure, no problem. There are many shops near here.
Mark Can you take me ?
Peter Sorry, my bike has a problem. It’s not working.
Mark I’ll take a look. Maybe I can mendit. I enjoy fixing engines.
Peter Brilliant. It costs so much to repair a bike.
Mark And it costs so much to use Grabbike every day !
Dialogue practice (ordinal numbers, phrasal verbs, future tense)
Harry and Martin are chatting at work.
Harry What are you going to do tonight ?
Martin I will knock off about 6, then I’m going to the cinema.
Harry What are you going to see ?
Martin Not sure. My girlfriend’ll choose. I’m picking her up later.
Harry Sounds fun ! I’m going to drop off my laundry, then I’ll go swimming.
Martin What days are your taking off for Tet ?
Harry The 14th, 15th and 16th. Then I’ll come back to work.
Martin Why ? Do you have to finish off some work ?
Harry No, I want to start working on the 4th German project.
Now practice – in small groups or pairs, what are YOU going to do tonight or on your free day ?
After work, I will go to the cinema // This weekend I want to drink beer
Tonight, I’m going to meet some friends // I will hang out with my Thai girlfriend.
Use adjectives and extend the sentences:
After work, I will go to the big cinema at Diamond Plaza to see a new American movie.
On Saturday, I’ll (I will) meet my beautiful Thai girlfriend and we will eat delicious and healthy sushi.
What do we do when we go to the airport to catch a flight ?
Take a taxi/ buy a ticket / board the aeroplane / go through security
claim baggage / go thorough immigration / go though customs
check in / buy duty-free / pack your bags
You are flying from Sai Gon to Hue. Where do you go in the airport ?
What will you do at check in ?
What documents do you need ?
How can you check in ? Two ways …
What happens at security ?
Things you love, things you hate ! Try to make long sentences using adverbs and discourse markers (linking words such as furthermore, additionally, however, although etc)
What do you see here ?
Start with the subject or subjects.
What are they doing ? Where do you think they are ?
19th November for 21st November 2019 AEF 2B pp. 18 – 19
Tonight’s lesson will focus on listening, which is always a challenge for the students so, to lighten the load, not to mention the mood, I’ll organise a lot of speaking activities.
First up, a mobile phone survey:
The students will be arranged in small groups. One member will be responsible for gathering the information, then reporting back to me.
Next up – a new persona.
Students are put into two or three groups, with about four in a group. Each member is given a card with some information about their new identity. They read the information to the group who have to try to understand and write down details such as email addresses, phone numbers or Facebook accounts. Example:
Hello, my name is Tony
I’m 23 and I love shopping for shirts and ties.
I’m not into reading or books. I find them boring.
My mobile number is 0943 552 8207
It’s highly probable the other students will need to hear some of the information again, so they can use the following:
I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your phone number (email address etc)
Could you repeat that, please ?
Could you spell that, please ?
Would you mind speaking slower, please.
And then, to book work and listening exercises.
Grammar: Past perfect (for and since)
Why is this young lady so upset ?
Maybe this is the reason …
Her neighbour has been renovating his house the whole day !
He has been making a lot of noise since 8 o’clock in the morning.
He has been drilling for six hours, non-stop !
First, the past perfect formulae
Subject + have or has + been + verbing
Since used for a given time or date
For used to tell how much time.
Example – John joined his company, LPR Productions in November 2018.
He has been working for LPR since 2018
He has been working for LPR for one year.
Students than have a chance to practise by asking each other a variety of questions, on subjects ranging from work or school, to friends, holidays, sports, interests etc.
Just a Minute
Students are put in pairs. They have to speak for one minute on a subject without hesitating, repeating or deviating (speaking about a different subject). This will test the students’ ability to speak fluently, as well as giving opportunities for using discourse markers and new vocabulary learnt so far. Subject are deliberately open, for example:
food // travel // work or study // life in Sai Gon // their family // their house.
Viet Nam presentation – where should I go on holiday ?
Three teams, representing Ha Noi, Hue and Nha Trang.
This exercise encourages team work and, furthermore, allows the students to develop their intonation skills; they will have to sound excited and optimistic.
To assist, here are some words and phrases to embellish their speech:
cultural centre // historical importance // breathe-taking scenery // tranquil // relaxing // hustle and bustle // mouth-watering food // never to be forgotten //unforgettable // once in a lifetime experience.
To give some help, I can perform a quick example:
COME TO LONDON, UK’s magnificent capital city and one of the world’s GREAT cities.
SEE such iconic, historical sights such as:
Buckingham Palace, home of our Queen, Tower Bridge over the Thames river.
Visit the world-famous British Museum to see the wonders of the world, or watch a football match at Wembley Stadium, in the country that invented the sport.
There is something for everyone:
Shops; you can buy everything here, to suit all budgets, from street markets to high-end department stores. To relax, London has so many tranquil parks, right in the centre of the city. Maybe see famous movie stars at one of London’s many, beautiful theatres, or dine out at restaurants cooking traditional British food or anything from anywhere.
Tonight I want to focus on forming complex sentences in order to boost the speaking prowess of my students. Being able to speak in long sentences, with subordinate clauses and relative pronouns, linked by appropriate discourse markers, will improve their scores in the speaking tests, along with use of stress, intonation, chunking, and a liberal smattering of expressions and vernacular, thereby demonstrating a familiarity with different uses of English.
So, without further ado … complex sentences. Let’s kick off with some basic information about my friend Pete:
Pete’s family are Irish. He was born in Kent, south England. He loves music especially Jazz and he can play saxophone, keyboards, guitar and bass. He is 40 years old. He is bald, and wears glasses. Currently he plays bass in a band called ‘The Deep Six’. They have a video on YouTube. In the photo, Pete is with the famous 60s drummer Kenny Jones. He was in The Small Faces. Later he joined The Who after their original drummer died.
Pete, who was born in Kent in the south of England, is of Irish heritage. Although he is just forty, Pete looks older, probably due to the fact that he is bald, as well as having to wear glasses. His great passion in life is music, especially Jazz, but his interest is not merely passive; he plays several instruments. In addition to saxophone and keyboards, Pete is proficient on guitar. Having said that, he actually plays bass now in a band named The Deep Six, who have a video on YouTube. Pete is seen here with the legendary drummer Kenny Jones whorose to fame in the 60s as drummer for chart-topping band The Small Faces before joining The Who following the death of their original drummer.
I am sure if you watch the video, give it a ‘thumbs up’ and ‘like’, Pete will be tickled pink.
Now, a quick practice:
This is Wei Minzhi. She was born near Beijing. She was chosen to be in a Chinese film called ‘Not One Less’. She was 13. She played a substitute teacher but had no experience teaching (and no experience acting). The area is very poor. Some of the children have to leave school to work. The film was shown all over Europe, even at special film festivals. She was famous. She did no more acting. She studied in USA. She lives in Hawaii. Wei is married and has two children.
Students have five minutes to reorganise this information into a style more suited to an IELTS student.
Now – a Socratic activity; students are arranged in small groups, selected by choosing a card (Ace, 2 or 3), given a task and have to collate information and present it to the class, utilising the resources available, namely internet for facts, images or videos. Let’s revisit some old friends; first one of my favourite authors, Dr Franz Kafka:
Born: 1883 Prague, Czech Republic (at the time, part of the Austro-Hungarian empire) // Died 1924 in Austria. Never married, engaged twice. Had three sisters. Was vegetarian. Difficult relationship with his father. Famous for writing, but only produced three novels, all of which were published after his death. Most famous of these is ‘The Trial’ which has a famous opening line, “Somebody must have made a false accusation against Joseph K., for he was arrested one morning without having done anything wrong.” This book is seen as a warning about totalitarian governments. He lived in Prague which is Czech and Protestant, but he spoke and wrote in German, and he was Jewish. He is one of the most influential writers of the Twentieth Century, and his name has become an adjective, ‘Kafkaesque’ meaning impenetrable, convoluted, mysterious and unsolvable. More information can easily be found online, for example:
Now let’s turn to John Lennon, seen here with his Japanese wife, Yoko Ono (also an artist, but more avant-garde).
John was born in Liverpool, during World War II, in 1940. Liverpool was a port, so was a target for German bombers. He grew up very poor. At school he was rebellious, but liked art. When he first heard Rock ‘n’ Roll, he knew he had to be a singer. He formed The Beatles. His guitar playing was enthusiastic but basic. He wrote many songs which have become classics. When The Beatles split up in 1970 he went solo. His most famous solo work is the ‘Imagine’ LP. The title track has the lyric, “Imagine there’s no countries It isn’t hard to do Nothing to kill or die for And no religion, too.” He protested against the war in Vietnam. He was shot in 1980 outside of his New York apartment. He has two sons, Julian by his first wife, and Sean from Yoko.
The third group will get NO help from me – they shouldn’t need it. Their subject is “the father of the Indo-Chinese people, and his name is Ho Chi Minh.”
This task involves the students working together, assigning tasks, then producing and presenting their report. All members of the team have to speak. Furthermore, they should be encouraged to use English during the preparation stage, only resorting to Vietnamese for clarification or translation of new words.
Quick end game: After the book work, which I have to teach, my hands are tied, we can unwind with some speaking practice.
Using discourse markers: I give teams two words which they have to incorporate into a sentence, for example ‘therefore‘ and ‘subsequently‘.
having said that & furthermore
moreover & consequently
initially & eventually
likewise & specifically
meanwhile & notwithstanding
on the whole & instead
What Difference Does It Make ? : I give students a paper with two words or phrases that are related but different. They have to clarify the distinction, for example
teacher / headmaster
educate / bring up
take an exam / retake an exam
do homework / do housework
quite common / ubiquitous
required subject / optional subject
similarity with / disparity between
skim / extrapolate
And to play us out, let’s go back to John Lennon and his iconic song, ‘Imagine’. The music starts around 0:40:
15th August for 21st August 2019. Pages 10 – 12 (Workbook pp 8 – 9)
Lesson focus: Reading; speed reading to extrapolate information in a limited time.
Theme: Culture shock, specifically life in Australia.
Objectives: Review new vocabulary and phrases and give a chance to practise using them. Continue work on Englishes – how written and standard English can seem to bear NO relation to spoken English.
Today’s reading is centred on life in Australia for non-native speakers so, to set the scene, a warm up song from the Australian band (and one-hit wonders) Men At Work and their chart-topping song, ‘Down Under’.
Language review: The first lesson generated many new words and expressions. The following adverbs should be a part of the students’ everyday vocabulary:
always / usually, normally, frequently / sometimes / hardly ever / never
definitely / probably / possibly / unlikely / definitely not
Vocabulary: precious / arrogant / mug (two senses) / lingua franca /
To ask politely: May I …. (May I ask your name ? May I open the window ?)
Discourse Markers: although / despite, despite that / however / on the other hand /additionally / furthermore
Collocations: To practice law or to practice medicine (a lawyer, or a medical professional)
Expressions: Fair exchange is no robbery / If I’m not mistaken
Idiom: To let off steam / time flies (when you’re having fun)
London slang: well knackered (‘well’ is used to mean very and ‘knackered’ can mean very tired, or broken. EXAMPLE – I’m well knackered = I’m extremely tired.
PRACTICE: Try to use as many of the above by commenting on these photos. This is not a writing test; I only want one or two sentences. I’m more concerned with lexical choice AND delivery – how you use stress, intonation and rhythm.
These young Asian people are letting off steam by singing their hearts out in a Karaoke room, if I am not mistaken. Very probably there are professionals, maybe they practice medicine because they look very stylish and affluent.
Book work: today we will be developing speed-reading, that is, reading a large amount of text in a limited time, in order to find specific information. Students will have to scan over the text and home in on what they need to know.
As a break, here’s a little clip about Australian slang:
What is this news story about ? How much slang did you hear ?
Group work: Prepare a guide to Sai Gon for tourists.
Allow students access to the class computer for Google images if required.
Students, in groups, can organise an itinerary for two of my friends who will be visiting Sai Gon soon. They want to see all the iconic sights and partake of typical Vietnamese activities. Having said that, their interests differ widely.
Simon loves culture, history and museums as well as being into sports and physical activities. Therefore he wants to see and try as much as possible. He has heard about snake wine and is very curious.
Jenny finds museums unbearably boring and dull. She is a shopaholic, can shop till she drops. Furthermore she can’t take the heat and is also vegetarian.
Clearly, they will need to compromise … what do you suggest ? Be creative – think outside the box.
What to see and do // where and what to eat // what to buy //
What they can do for entertainment
Safety and scams
Cultural differences – what should people do or NOT do in Vietnam ?
Use of interesting adjectives to describe the city centre.
Groups can then present to the class, with all students taking turns speaking. I shall be listening for relevance, pronunciation and use of expressions and discourse markers. Furthermore, I may learn some interesting tips.
Just a minute: To practice for the speaking tests, give the students a choice of subjects and let them speak for one minute without repeating themselves, deviating from the subject or hesitating.
Call my bluff: Class in two teams. One team reads a low-frequency word and the team give three possible definitions including examples of usage. The other team has to guess which one is the correct answer.