A Tale of Two Classes

11th December 2020

Compare these two photos; which class do you think was more dynamic ?

Photo 1
Photo 2

The basic lesson was the same: what are you doing now, add a connector (or discourse marker) and say what you want in the future.

Students are taught how to use vernacular language, practise changes in intonation and alterations in stress, as well as chunking (natural linking together of words).

The photos, as the saying goes, tell their own story.

Photo 1 is from a high-level IELTS class where I wanted to increase vocabulary, and encourage the students to use more intonation … or basically ANY intonation in their voice.

The topic went down like the proverbial Led Zeppelin (and I wasn’t feelin’ a Whole Lotta Love for the class). I managed to elicit some half-arsed replies before they returned to their mobiles (or cell phones if you’re in the USA) or their natural comatosed state.

The Big Short GIFs | Tenor

On the other hand, take a gander (have a look) at the second photo; same basic lesson target, but my goodness, what a difference, and this from an intermediate class.

Both classes were small in size (about six students) and predominantly teenagers, so how do we account for the chasm between them ?

To use academic language (for one of my new IELTS students):

This would seem to suggest that it was the students, as opposed to the lesson, that was the issue.

Academia GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Words such as ‘inspire’ or ‘motivate’ are synonymous with teaching. However, as someone who attempts to teach, I must add that a successful lesson relies on synergy; one cannot motivate those who actively resist being motivated.

Teachers only have so much energy, and they can’t afford to waste it on customers who shuffle into class, scowling, ignoring the teacher, sitting at the back clutching their bag, defensively, in front of them before becoming engrossed in their phones and ignoring any questions put to them. I’m not talking about children here, but young adults or adults, on a course that they chose, and need for their future.

Joking Season 2 GIF by Outlander - Find & Share on GIPHY

I wish I were.

So, to my great students, who come to class willing to learn, to be active, to practice and are polite and respectful:

Elvis Presley Saying Thank You Very Much GIFs | Tenor

Subject Index: People & Photographs used in ESL Classes

4th December 2020

People

Alice in Wonderland (book and picture) // Young Learners 4 // 26th October 2019

Archimedes // Adult Professionals. Mechanics. Theme: Archimedes // 26th February 2020

Buzz Aldrin // Young Learners 5 // 10th November 2019

Louis Armstrong // Young Learners, Level 2 // 1st June 2019

Art: Dali, Dada, Surrealism // Adult Speaking Class, level 3: Dali, Dada & Surrealism // 23rd April 2020

Asian salesgirls (mobiles) // Adult C, L 1 // 20th February 2019

David Bowie // Young Learners 4 // 16th November 2019

Isabard Kingdom Brunel // Adult Professionals / Mechanics Part 2 // 23rd January 2020

Fillipo Brunelleschi // Adult professionals // architecture

Robert Capa // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3. Theme: War Museum

Captain Cook // Young Learners 5 // 10th November 2019

Tom Cruise // Young Teens // 17th January 2019

Salvador Dali // Young Teens // 27th February 2019

Salvador Dali // Adult C, L 3 // 23rd September 2019

Dali & his art // Young Learners 4 // 26th October 2019

Dali // Adult Speaking Class, level 3: Dali, Dada & Surrealism // 23rd April 2020

Charles Dickens // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3

Fyodor Dostoevsky // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3. Theme: Crime & Punishment

Nguyen Du (‘Tale of Kieu’) // Young Teens // 17th January 2019

Le Duan // Adult Speaking Class, level 3: April 30th // 5th April 2020

Bob Dylan // Adult C, L 3 // 3rd December 2019 /// Adult C, L 3 / // 19th August 2019

Guy Fawkes // Adult C, L 3 // 5th November 2019

Guy Fawkes // Young Learners 5 // 10th November 2019

Alfred Hitchcock // Adult C, L 3 // 12 November 2019

Sherlock Homes // Adult C, L 3 // 12 November 2019

Lê Hoàng Hùng // Adult C, L 3 // 12 November 2019

James I // Young Learners 5 // 10th November 2019

The Joker (Heath Ledger) // Young Teens // 27th February 2019

Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Pham Nhat Vuong //Adult C, L 3 //5th Nov 2019

Scarlett Johannsson // IELTS // What do you like this film ? // 6th April 2020

Kenny Jones // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Franz Kafka // Adult C, L 3 // 23rd September 2019

Franz Kafka // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Dr Henry Kissinger // Adult Speaking Class, level 3: April 30th // 5th April 2020

Stanley Kubrick // Young Learners 4 // 16th November 2019

Christopher Lee // Adult C, L 1 // 2 January 2019

Bela Legosi // Adult C, L 1 // 2 January 2019

John Lennon // Adult C, L 3 // 23rd September 2019

John Lennon // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Wyndham Lewis // Adult C, L 1 // 12 & 19 December 2018

George Mallory // Young Learners 5 // 10th November 2019

Sir Ian McKellen // Adult C, L 1 // 5th March 2019

Man from Taured // Adult C, L 3 // 12 November 2019

Ho Chi Minh // Adult C, L 3 // 23rd September 2019

Ho Chi Minh // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Wei Minzhi // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Kim Phuc // Adult Speaking Class, level 3: April 30th // 5th April 2020

Peter O’Toole on Letterman // Young Teens // 17th January 2019

Marco Polo // Young Learners 5 // 10th November 2019

Elvis Presley // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2

REM // Adult Speaking Class, Level 1: information // 16th April 2020

Mies van der Rohe // Adult professionals // architecture

Shakespeare // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3

Ringo Starr // Adult C, L 1 // 5th March 2019

T-ara // Adult C, L 3 // 23rd September 2019

Tchaikovsky // Adult C, L 3 // 4th December 2019

Theseus & the Minotaur // Young Learners 5 // 6th October 2019

Tsai Ing-wen // Taiwan: Listening Extra 12th April 2020

Alan Turing // Young Learners 5 // 17th November 2019

Vlad The impalor // Adult C, L 1 // 2 January 2019

Christop Waltz // Adult C, L 1 // 26th February 2019

Ludwig Wittgenstein // IELTS // 28th January 2019

Natalie Wood // Adult C, L 3 // 15 August 2019 \ 12 November 2019

Photos

Alcimbado // Young Learners 1 // 26th May 2019

Animals // KG 1 // 2nd March 2019

Architectural styles // Adult Speaking Class, level 2 // 9th January 2020

Art // Adult Speaking Class, level 3: Art // 13th April 2020

Asian icons // Adult C, L 3 // 15th August 2019

Bad note-taking // Teenagers // 12th January 2019

Basquet // Teenagers: Architecture & Mythology // 13th March 2020

John Bercow // Young Learners 1 // 13th April 2019

Siddharta, the Buddha // IELTS: Hello, India // 24th January 2020

David Carradine (Kill Bill) // Young Learners 1 // 24th April 2019

Henri Cartier-Bresson // Young Learners 4 // 26th October 2019

Marc Chagall // Young Learners, Level 1 // 26th May 2019

Marc Chagall // KG 1 // 7th December 2019

Kalpana Chawla (Indian astronaut) // IELTS: Hello, India // 24th January 2020

Child proteges // Young Learners, Level 4 // 1st June 2019

Chimp feeding tiger // Adult Speaking Class, Level 1:What do you need ? // 21st May 2020

John Constable // Teenagers: Architecture & Mythology // 13th March 2020

Christmas, Germany // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2

Christmas, UK // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2

Christmas, UK – food // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: food // 19th April 2020

Corona virus in Vietnam // IELTS 4 – 5 // Implementing precautions // 25th March 2020

Countries // Young Learners, Level 5 // 29th August 2019

Cute Japanese cafe Travel talk // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: Travel talk // 5th May 2020

Cute McDonalds girl // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2

Benedict Cumberbatch photobomb // Teenagers // 20th January 2019

Daisy & Anna // Beginners’ English Part 4

Julie Delpy // Adult Class, Level 3: Generally speaking // 28th April 2020

Dynamo (magician) on bus Travel talk // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: Travel talk // 5th May 2020

Families // Adult C, L 3 // 7th November 2019

Food: English breakfast // Adult Speaking Class, Level 1

Food (UK, USA, Korea, Sweden) // Young Learners 3 // 13th July 2019

Gandhi // IELTS: Hello, India // 24th January 2020

Gym equipment // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3. Theme: Health // 27th January 2020

Hamley’s toy shop // Young Learners 2 // 26th April 2019

Kitchen items // Beginners’ English Part 4

Kraftwerk // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: Describing clothes // 19th March 2020

Interesting buildings // Young Learners 3 // 13th July 2019

Jazz stars // Young Learners 1 // 24th April 2019

Jun Ji-hyun // Young Learners 2 // 1st June 2019

Las Vegas hotels // Adult Speaking Class, Level 1: information // 16th April 2020

London history and architecture // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: London // 18th April 2020

Lost in Translation // IELTS // What do you like this film ? // 6th April 2020

Wyndham Lewis // Teenagers: Architecture & Mythology // 13th March 2020

May Day – Nigeria, Hawaii, USSR, UK //Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: May Day // 5th May 2020

Nelson Mandela // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: Describing clothes // 19th March 2020

‘Man Pointing’ // Young Learners 4 // 26th October 2019

Market research call centre // Adult C, L 3 // 8th January 2019

Mike the Monkey as animals // KG 1 // 7th December 2019

Ho Chi Minh’s house // Adult C, L 3 // 4th December 2019

National Museum, Seoul // Adult Speaking Class, Level 1: information // 16th April 2020

Noble laureates // IELTS // Writing exercises // re-arrange poor writing // 12th May 2020

Kim Phuc // Adult Speaking Class, level 3: April 30th // 5th April 2020

Ngo Than Van (Veronica Ngo) // IELTS // 14th January 2019

Nicholas ‘Elvis’ (friend) // Young Learners 4 // 1st May 2019

Robert de Niro // Beginners’ English, Part 2

Pete (friend) on bass // Young Learners 4 // 22nd June 2019

Pete with Kenny Jones // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Poland (Krakow) // Adult Speaking Class, level 2

Ms Quynh (friend) // Young Learners 4 // 26th October 2019

Rock stars // Adult Speaking Class, L 3: Describing people // 27th May 2020

Ronaldinho // Young Learners 2 // 1st June 2019

Russia // Adult C, L 3 // 4th December 2019

Seurat ‘Sunday Grande Jatte // Young Learners 1 // 16th March 2019

Shops // Young Learners 3 // 3rd August 2019

Shopping – compound nouns // IELTS // 7th January 2019

Shopping in Viet Nam // IELTS // 10th April 2019

Signs (Indonesia) // Young Learners 4 // 22nd June 2019

Signs (Singapore) // 21st August 2019

Sleeping student // Young Learners 4 // 22nd June 2019

Sleeping student // Young Learners 5 // 25th August 2019

Nicola Sturgeon // IELTS 4 – 5 // Implementing precautions // 25th March 2020

‘t’ words // KG 1 // 5th May 2019

Tutankhamun // Young Learners 2 // 1st June 2019

UK (beach, breakfast, pub) // Adult C, L 2 // 27th May 2019

Vietnam // Young Learners 5 // 25th August 2019

Vietnam – famous Vietnamese // IELTS // 14th January 2019

Vietnamese folk painting // Young Learners 1 // 26th May 2019

Vietnamese karaoke // Young Learners 3 // 17th August 2019

Vietnamese police stopping cyclists // Adult C, L 1 // 5th March 2019

Vietnam traditional industries // IELTS // 30th July 2019

Vietnam war and related // Adult Speaking Class, level 3: April 30th // 5th April 2020

Wedding dresses // Adult Speaking Class. Theme: Love & marriage Part 2

Mark Wiens // Young Learners 2 // 25th August 2019

Harri Won // IELTS // 7th January 2019

Thay Paul photos

Bangkok (Al & Alison) // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3, Part 4 // 27th January 2020

Berlin 1990s // Young Learners 4 // 9th November 2019

Drinking coffee (Singapore) // Adult Speaking Class, Level 1

Driving (fairground) // Young Learners 4 // 9th November 2019

Elephant // Young Learners 3 // 7th September 2019

Elephant // Young Learners, Level 4 // 9th November 2019

Elephant // Young Learners, Level 5 // 25th August 2019

Playing guitar // Young Learners, Level 4 // 9th November 2019

With friends // Young Learners, Level 4 // 7th December 2019

With Martin (London) // Adult Speaking Class, Level 1

With students (Ha Noi) // Young Learners, Level 5 // 27th October 2019

With students (Ha Noi) // Adult Class, Level 3: Generally speaking // 28th April 2020

Teenage Class: The Truth is Out There.

Saturday 12th January 2019

The theme of the lesson is ‘trust and truth,’ and is split between reading and listening in the first half, followed by a speaking section in the second.

It’s also my first time with this class as their permanent teacher, so getting off to a good start is paramount. This means having fun and creating a conducive learning atmosphere but also stating class rules and stating the consequences for breaking said dictums.

I’ll start with a STB game. Students will probably be arriving up to fifteen minutes late, so they won’t miss any new work, while those who manage to arrive on time aren’t left waiting around. The game can be used to review recently-learnt vocabulary (in the last lesson I see they encountered such phrases as ‘off the beaten path’, ‘culture shock’ & ‘left to your own devices.’

We can then talk about different cultures. I’ll show a little of this YouTube clip (it has English subtitles which is great for my students, and the speaker is from USA so he has a different accent to mine).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHnQKvU8OiA&t=547s

Following this, I’ll show my Friends (men) sheet (I’ll put the link below). This will lead into the lesson, the theme of trust and trustworthiness. I’ll introduce the students to my ‘friends’ (yes, they are just five random photos from Google) and ask them which ones they would trust and why. They will also meet ‘Simon’ who will feature in the second part of the lesson.

https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2018/12/28/friends-men-teaching-sheet/

We’ll then move onto the Truth or False game. Here, I board three things I have done, or achieved. Two are false but one is true. The students have to ask me questions to determine the correct answer. Tomorrow the three will be:

I worked for Apple in Sweden

I have riden an elephant in Thailand

I have fluent Vietnamese, but I speak with a Huế accent

I speak a little Swedish so that could convince them that the first is true. However, my knowledge of all things tech is pitiful, so they could easily see through that. Similarly, by asking me a basic question in Vietnamese, they will, within microseconds detect the fib. The answer, therefore is:

The students can then copy the activity in small groups, while I monitor that students are speaking English (which is the whole point of any speaking activity). I will them introduce them to the phrase ‘call my bluff‘, for example, if I claim to be fluent in Vietnamese but I can’t understand anything they say … they have called my bluff. This will segue into the next game, ‘Call My Bluff.’

For this game, I prepare some A4 sheets with a number of words on with three definitions. One team will read out the word and different people will read out a definition. The opposing side has to guess the correct meaning (and new words can be recycled next lesson in a warm up exercise). For example we have:

obnoxious 1) (adjective) a very unpleasant person 2) (noun) a gas that becomes liquid at 50 degrees C. 3) (noun) a small village without a church.

mindset 1) (noun) a tool designed by scientists to analyse personality 2) (noun) a system of rules to allow students to memorise lots of information 3) (noun) a set of attitudes held by someone or a group of people.

Other words can include demeanour, troglodyte (everyone loves that word), superfluous, salient, volatile, anomaly

After this, it will be time for book work, up to break. After the interval, it’ll be more speaking. I’ll show them the picture of Simon again and say he’s coming to HCM City next week and wants some advice: where to stay, what to do, where to shop, what to eat, how to get around, what to do at night etc. The students have to plan a day for him including breakfast, going to a tourist attraction, shopping, using local transport and a night time activity.

I will give them some information about Simon, for example, he loves trying local food, is interested in history, wants to buy typical souvenirs and enjoys a beer or two at night. However, he is on a limited budget which will affect where he stays, where he goes to eat and how he travels around the city.

Activities like this help students to think critically in a second language and leads into the main exercise in the text book.

In the last twenty to thirty minutes, we need to wind down and do more activities or games after the reading and book activities. In keeping with the theme of truth, I can show some slides and ask are they true or false, eliciting as much information as possible. They include:

Loch Ness Monster
Spring-heeled Jack from Victorian England.
Elvis once flew in his private jet to a different state just to get this peanut butter and banana sandwich.

Fairies at the bottom of a garden. Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, believed in this photo.


Another end game will be with collocations – showing a list of words and asking them which ones collocate, for example an email – you can send it / open it / redirect it / delete it etc. Or maybe just a simple general knowledge quiz or hangman or a B2B.