Adult Speaking Class, Level 3 / IELTS. Using idioms should be right up your street.

26th August 2020

Yesterday I blogged a database of idioms, collocations and negotiation language. That is just the tip of the iceberg. If you have looked at English-language study books, you will, no doubt, have seen several dictionaries solely devoted to idioms; we use them so often, and there are so many.

For my IELTS students, I have repeatedly taught half a dozen (six) in order for the students to incorporate them into their natural speech … without idiomatic language, you will not break past the 5 score (taken along with grammar, vocabulary and intonation, naturally).

Therefore, for Top Cat students, or anyone looking to learn some more, this blog is for you.

cats top cat | Cartoon cartoon, Desenhos animados antigos ...

Expressions or idioms

Ring any bells ? // do you remember //

More or less // not exactly but approximately

Get the gist // do you understand the main point ?

Right up your street // this is something you will really like

Rabbit, Rabbiting on // UK slang, especially in London … talking too much

Piece of cake // no problem, very easy, sure

Tongue in cheek // not being serious about something

Now … how you use them:

Student A: Hello, we met last year at Julie’s party.

Student B: Sorry, that doesn’t ring any bells (I don’t remember).

DO I KNOW YOU? NOPE. DOESN'T RING ANY BELLS - no memory gandalf ...

Student A: Are you ready to go ?

Student B: Go where ?

Student C: Cake, food, drink, singing, dancing … ring any bells ?

Student D: Oh, Tony’s birthday party. Sorry, I forgot.

Student A: Are you ready for the test ?

Student B: Yes, more or less.

Student C: I’ll wait for you.

Student D: I won’t be long, I’m more or less finished.

Student A: Do you have to read all the document ?

Student B: No, just to get the gist.

Summarizing and Note Taking

Student A: You should listen to this CD, it’s right up your street.

Alice Sara Ott - Nightfall - Amazon.com Music
Alice Sara Ott | News | Reizvolle Schattenspiele - Auf dem Album ...

Student B: Oh, French piano music, I love it. That’s right up my street.

Student A: What did your girlfriend want ?

Student B: She was rabbiting on about something to do with her clothes, I wasn’t really listening.

Teacher A: Hey ! Miss Mary … stop talking. You’re a little rabbit !

Why People Say Rabbit Rabbit on the First Day of the Month

Student A: Can you drive me home ?

Student B: Sure, piece of cake.

Pink Beer Print Hawaiian Shirt – Hawaiian Shirts Online
John’s new business shirt

Student A: Have you seen John’s new shirt ? It’s so elegant.

Student B: Are you serious ? It’s terrible.

Student A: I know ! I was being tongue in cheek.

Tongue In Cheek: "Tongue In Cheek" Meaning With Useful Examples ...

Now … your turn.

Add the correct idiom [answers at end of blog]

1) Shall we see the new action film ? It sounds ______________

2) Are you still talking ? You are such a __________

3) She said I was the best student but I think she was being ___

4) You said you would bring something … cheese, tomato, garlic bread ____________ ?

5) The IELTS speaking test was a ________ after reading Thay Paul’s blogs (I hope).

6) Student A: Did you understand the project ? Did you ________ of the idea ?

Student B: Well, ______________ but not every single detail.

7 Interesting things you probably didn't know about Shu Qi of A ...
This film, starring Shu Qi looks right up my street.
  1. Right up your street 2. rabbit 3. tongue in cheek 4. ring any bells 5. piece of cake 6. get the gist / more or less.

IELTS / Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Going for a song !

21st August 2020

Some lessons can be rather hard-going, too much IELTS listening or speaking practice so, to mix things up, I use some little diversions to cleanse the palate.

[Today, I will not explain every new phrase – look them up yourselves, write them down and USE them and USE them and USE them !]

Therefore, here’s a little activity I used last week. It’s a hit song from the early 1980s, in fact, it was massive ! The song is an example of Synth pop which is pop music played, or predominantly played, on keyboards or synthesisers. Synth pop, which dominated the charts during my teen years, was not really my cup of tea, I was more into jangly guitar bands such as The Beatles, The Byrds and, in the 1980s, we had The Smiths.

Having said that, I really liked this hit by the band Human League who came from Sheffield which is in the north of England. The single was tremendously successful, staying at number 1 for five weeks in the UK as well as reaching the top of the US charts although for just three weeks which is still an amazing achievement.

Without further ado, the activity: What is happening in this video. Secondly, what is the story – can you understand what the man says and then, can you understand the woman’s reply ?

Try answering these questions:

What job did the woman have ?

How long did it take for the women to become a big star ?

Is the man leaving the woman ?

Does the woman still love the man ?

What does the woman want to do ?

And now, the full lyrics:

You were workin’ as a waitress in a cocktail bar
When I met you
I picked you out, I shook you up and turned you around
Turned you into someone new
Now five years later on, you’ve got the world at your feet
Success has been so easy for you
But don’t forget, it’s me who put you where you are now
And I can put you back down too

Don’t, don’t you want me?
You know I can’t believe it when I hear that you won’t see me
Don’t, don’t you want me?
You know I don’t believe you when you say that you don’t need me
It’s much too late to find
You think you’ve changed your mind
You’d better change it back or we will both be sorry

Don’t you want me, baby?
Don’t you want me? Oh
Don’t you want me, baby?
Don’t you want me? Oh

I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar
That much is true
But even then, I knew I’d find a much better place
Either with or without you
The five years we have had have been such good times
I still love you
But now, I think it’s time I live my life on my own
I guess it’s just what I must do

Don’t, don’t you want me?
You know I can’t believe it when I hear that you won’t see me
Don’t, don’t you want me?
You know I don’t believe you when you say that you don’t need me
It’s much too late to find
You think you’ve changed your mind
You’d better change it back or we will both be sorry

Don’t you want me, baby?
Don’t you want me? Oh
Don’t you want me, baby?
Don’t you want me? Oh

Don’t you want me, baby?
Don’t you want me? Oh
Don’t you want me, baby?
Don’t you want me? Oh
Don’t you want me, baby?
Don’t you want me? Oh
Don’t you want me, baby?
Don’t you want me? Oh
Don’t you want me, baby?
Don’t you want me? Oh
Don’t you want me, baby?
Don’t you want me? Oh
Don’t you want me, baby?

Songwriters: John William Callis / Philip Oakey / Adrian Philip Wright The Sound of the Crowd lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Domino Publishing Company

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. THIS BLOG ISN’T MONETISED IN ANY WAY. THE VIDEO AND LYRICS ARE TAKEN FROM THE INTERNET. NO COPYRIGHT VIOLATION IS INTENDED, AND I WILL REMOVE THE BLOG UPON REQUEST WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

THANK YOU TO THE SONGWRITERS, THE BAND AND THE PUBLISHERS

QI: Quite interesting

27th July 2020

QI – Interesting facts

Surprised Shocked Excited Asian Woman Face Isolated On White ...

1 Under extreme high pressure, diamonds can be made from peanut butter.

2 Women buy 80% of everything that is for sale.

3 In ancient Greek the word “idiot” meant anyone who wasn’t a politician.

4 Just like humans, British cows moo in regional accents.

5 Until 1913, children in America could legally be sent by parcel post.

Sending Children by Parcel Post

6 Americans eat 10 billion doughnuts every year.

I'll Bring the Coffee and the Donuts' | by Lillian Brown ...

7 A group of kittens is called “a kindle”.

8 Albert Einstein claimed that his second best idea was to boil his eggs in his soup, thereby saving on washing up.

The Fascinating Eating Habits of Notable Geniuses - What Did ...

9 Science students who wear white lab coats perform better in tests.

10 Hewlett Packard printer ink is 20 times more expensive than 2003 Dom Perignon

Which is cheaper - the most exclusive champagne in the world... or ...

For the teacher:

Silent letters in words such as “knife” and “psychic” are called aphthongs.

Phrasal verbs and idioms: Dialogue practice

15th June 2020

Continuing the series of short dialogues, to help students see how idiomatic language can be used in everyday conversation.

Depending on the students’ motivation, these scenes can be acted out, which is generally more fun than simply learning from text books.

I have included many expressions and idioms – ask your teacher for the meaning or look up the answer online.

To warm up, elicit some collocations with ‘take’ and ‘make’ then ask the students to listen out for which ones are featured.

Two asian muslim woman standing and talking in the office with a ...

Dialogue: Bear with me

To practise simple past/ past continuous and collocations with ‘make’and ‘take’.

A: How’s it going ? You look busy.

B: Sorry, can you bear with me a moment ? I just need to finish off this report. Take a seat.

A: Sure, take your time. I was making plans with John last night.

B: Really ? What did you decide to do ?

A: We couldn’t make up our minds. I wanted to go to the cinema, he wanted to stay home.

B: There ! All finished. Now I’m going to take a break.

A: Good for you ! 

Two asian business women having a meeting with laptop in modern ...

A: Did you go out ?

B: We were leaving when it began to rain cats and dogs. Also, the traffic was chockablock.

A: So what happened ?

B: We stayed in and ordered take out. We tried English food.

A: Was it delicious ?

B: It was OK, nothing special. The menu was in English … I couldn’t make it out.

A: You should have taken a photo of the food.

Top 10 famous English foods - By food author Howard Hillman
Traditional British food – fish and chips
WATCH: Can this viral Swedish fika hit create world peace? - The Local
Fika – coffee and cakes in Sweden

A: I was thinking about ordering some food. Have you had lunch ?

B: No, I’m starving … I could eat a horse.

A: Let’s go eat. After, we can check out the stores. I’m on the lookout for a pair of trainers.

B: OK, I’ll take my break now. We can take a taxi to SaiGon Centre.

A: Super ! So many shops … but I won’t be able to make up my mind.

B: I’ll help you – piece of cake.

Saigon Centre Tower 1 - The Executive Centre

Beginners’ English: How do you feel ?

17th March 2020

Emotions vocabulary: 

scared // surprised // in love // angry // confused

sad // upset // happy // overjoyed // livid (very angry)

Emotions vocabulary: Practice

Tell me about these people

First, a man. Pronoun is ‘he’.

I am // you are // he is // she is // they are // you (plural) are // we are

He is happy. ADD an adverb (so, very, extremely)

He is very happy. He is overjoyed

She is …

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

Adult Class, level 3: The Russian Soul

3rd December for 4th December 2019 AEF 7B pp. 70 – 71

Tonight we focus on a reading, extrapolating information from a chunk of text, and listening. Additionally, there is a test which may occupy thirty minutes so we’ll need to hit the ground running (not so easy when students arrive at various times but it’s Viet Nam … what ya gonna do ?) … so let’s test their knowledge of Mother Russia:

Word Bomb: Russia – Famous people / cities / famous for / history / food / language / artists /

Image result for russian food
Image result for russian doll
Image result for russian church

Do they know this man ?

Image result for tchaikovsky
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Maybe they know this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cNQFB0TDfY

Because we have a lot of reading and comprehension, I want to create opportunities for speaking. Here is a short dialogue practice:

New vocabulary:

surprised // surprising

disappointed // a disappointment

confused // confusing

Image result for disappointed date
This man is … ? Why ?

DIALOGUE


Excuse me, sorry to bother you but do you speak English ?

Yes, a little. Are you German ? Your accent sounds German, maybe Czech …

No, I’m Russian. My name is Anna. I come from Moscow and it is freezing.

I’m Tony. Pleased to meet you, Anna. What do you do ? (what is your job)

I’m a student, reading architecture. How about you ?

I’m a musician. I play piano, guitar, clarinet but mostly cello.

Wow, how interesting. Do you know any Russian music ? We have great composers.

I simply adore Tchaikovsky. Are you surprised ? However modern music is confusing.

Yes, I agree. I went to a concert but I was very disappointed. It was just tuneless noise !

What can the students tell me about this famous house:

Image result for ho chi minhs house

Then depending on the time remaining, we can choose some activities from this list: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2019/11/27/adult-class-level-3-games-without-frontiers/

Adult Class, level 3: A diva … moi ?

26th November 2019. AEF 3 Listening Part 2 & Units 5 & 6 review (p.63)

Tonight, the lesson is heavy on listening and review. I try to get as much student-talking time as possible, so I’m got some ideas up my sleeve to, hopefully, lighten and brighten the class.

The topic is celebrity interviews, especially interviewing famous people who may be:

arrogant // self-obsessed // pretentious // obnoxious // full of themselves

Which of those words would, in your opinion, apply to these people:

Use opinion phrases (In my opinion, For me, He seems to be, I get the impression she is …)

Image result for arrogant lawyer
a lawyer
Image result for ronaldo celebration
Ronaldo celebrates a goal … but is this too much ?
Image result for obnoxious bieber
Image result for prince philip quotes
and The Queen’s husband, Prince Philip.

A celebrity is anyone famous, but most often it’s an actor, musician, TV personality or just a regular person who has made the news (had a story about them in the newspaper, online media etc). Sometimes they can be arrogant or full of themselves in interviews. However, occasionally the interviewer may upset the star. What do you think is happening here [start at 04:23] in this Robert Downey Jr interview:

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

Now we have the same interviewer with film director Quentin Tarantino:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTE8FPgHeE4

Image result for im shutting your butt down
Quentin Tarantino

So now the class are prepared for the book work.

I have an assortment of activities for the speaking.

First up – small talk

I’ll hand out some papers with a short dialogue of small talk. This is basically learning how to keep a conversation going by using appropriate responses.

Students can use the following:

Really ? // I see // Are you ? // Right // That’s interesting // That’s a good point // Where is that exactly ? // Oh, me too // Do you enjoy it ? // Do you like it there ?

Then the students can pair up and ask each other questions such as:

Why are you studying English ?

Where do you live ?

Where would you like to visit ?

What do you do in your free time ?

What do you want to do in the future.

Students can change partners for each question.

Next up – Call My Bluff

Class put into two or three teams. Each team has a sheet with four words or phrases, followed by three definitions. A different member of the teams reads out a definition, embellishing the wording to make it more convincing. The opposing team have to guess the correct definition.

Finally, for a fun ending, the students can interview each other, but one pretends to be a difficult celebrity. They can use language from tonight’s lesson, or preferably, invent their own.

Young Learners, Level 5: Because it’s there !

7th Nov for 1oth November 2019 E Up 5, U7, L 4 pp. 70 – 71

Image result for did Mallory really say because it's there

George Mallory was a British explorer who wanted to climb Mount Everest. This is such a dangerous activity, a journalist asked him why … to which, Mallory is said to have responded, “Because it’s there.”

Warm up: Runaround.

Class in three teams, named Polo, Cook and Buzz

Related image

General knowledge questions about the world:

A – Mount Everest is the tallest mountain … where is it ?

1 – Tibet and Nepal // 2 – France and Germany // 3 – Kenya and Tanzania

B – The longest river is … ?

1 – Yellow in China // 2 – Amazon in South America // 3 – Nile in Africa

C – The largest city – most people living there – is … ?

1 – Delhi, India // 2 – Tokyo, Japan // 3 – Shanghai, China

D – Tallest building in the world ?

1 – Landmark 81, HCMC // 2 – Burj Khalifa // 3 – Taipai 101, Taiwan

E – Marco Polo was Italian but he travelled to … ?

1 – China // 2- South Africa // 3 – Canada

F – The first man on the Moon was … ?

1 – Buzz Aldrin // 2 – Neil Armstrong // 3 – Thay Paul

G – Captain Cook discovered … ?

1- Vietnam // 2 – Egypt // 3 – Australia

H – Which Greek hero fought skeletons ?

1 – Jack // 2 – John // 3 – Jason

British Culture

This class likes exciting stories, so I think they will enjoy this:

Image result for 5th nov fireworks

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4FGmYNCGW4

The story happened in 1605 when the king was James I. A group of men wanted a new king so they planned to kill James.

Image result for James I

One of those men was Guy Fawkes. He knew a lot about bombs and gunpowder. the plan was to put 36 barrels of gunpowder under the building where the powerful people would be waiting for the King. Maybe you know Guy Fawkes … ?

Image result for guy fawkes

Guy Fawkes was waiting at night, under the building …

Image result for guy fawkes

However, guards and soldiers discovered him.

Image result for guy fawkes arrested

The King was so grateful, he told people to make huge bonfires all over the country. We still do this today, and have fireworks as well as making a dummy we call ‘Guy’, from old clothes and old material. We put a mask on him to look like Guy Fawkes. Children take this ‘Guy’ around and ask people to give them some money:

Image result for penny for the guy

Now book work … reading about climbing Everest.

Comprehension quiz:

How tall is Everest ?

Who tried to climb it in 1924 ?

Who were the first people to climb it ?

When did they achieve it ?

Who was the first woman to reach the top ?

Where would YOU most like to explore ?

Image result for great wall of china

The Great Wall of China … like Marco Polo ?

Image result for james cook in australia

Australia and New Zealand like Captain James Cook ?

Image result for buzz aldrin on the moon

The Moon … like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin ?

Next time … computers: geeks, nerds and gamers..

Image result for computer geeks

Adult speaking class, Level 1: Review – adjectives, contractions and sentence building.

25th October 2019

I want my students to know present and past tense of common verbs, a range of adjectives (both positive and negative) and a good selection of nouns. Additionally, I’d like them to be able to put them together in long sentences, and start to use English contractions.

And so, to kick off (to start), a past tense exercise.

Ask your neighbour, “What did you do today ?”

I will give present tense verbs – students must use the past tense.

Example:

This morning, I go out and drink coffee: This morning I went out and drank coffee.

Later, I meet an old friend and we have lunch together and talk and laugh.

In the afternoon, I sit in the park, play guitar and sing songs.

Adverbs – these make your English more interesting and give more information.

Sai Gon is hot. Sai Gon is so // very // extremely // incredibly hot.

Sai Gon has delicious food – Sai Gon has extremely delicious food and it’s so cheap.

NOW – sentence building:

I love Sai Gon because it’s so hot. Additionally, the food is incredibly delicious and very cheap. However, it can be extremely noisy, dirty and polluted.

Tell me about Nha Trang: Speak about hotels / food / how to get there / things to do

Image result for nha trang

Tell me about these clothes and the people:

Language to use:

beautiful / stunning / eye-catching

cotton / silk / leather / straw / denim (jeans)

short hair / medium-length hair / shoulder-length hair / long hair

straight hair / curly hair / wavy hair

interesting / boring / delicious / bland / healthy / polluted / huge

teenager / young / in his 20s / middle-aged / elderly / old

Image result for check shirt for girls
Related image
Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling

Contractions: when we speak quickly, we contract (shorten words) to make a new sound.

Example: I am = I’m / you are = you’re / he is = he’s / she is = she’s

I am happy =

You are sad

He is angry

She is very eye-catching

I will = I’ll (sounds like ‘eye – all’)

Tomorrow, I will go to work = Tomorrow, I’ll go to work

I’ll send you an email tonight

Call me after 5pm, I’ll be free then.

Try this Beatles song:

‘I’ll Be Back’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQw2psyjm5w

I want to = I wanna I want to hold your hand

I am going to = I’m gonna I am going to buy a new iPhone

I have go to = I gotta I can’t go to the cinema, I have got to go to work

Conversation Practice:

I want to speak to my sweet lovely student Ms Tram. However, she is at work.

Caller: Hello, may I speak with Ms Tram, please ?

Receiver: Certainly. Who’s calling, please ?

Caller: My name is ……….

Receiver: I’m sorry, could you repeat that ?

Caller: No problem. My name’s ……..

Receiver: Could you spell that, please ?

Caller: Surely (of course) . . . . . . . .

Receiver: Thank you. Hold the line, please. I’ll connect you.

Caller: Absolutely. I’ll hold.

Receiver: I’m afraid Ms Tram has just gone to lunch.

Caller: Again ? She’s always eating hahaha.

Receiver: I’ll transfer you to her office, then you can leave a message.

Caller: Great idea. Thanks a bunch !

Receiver: You’re welcome

Finally – where did Ms Tram go for lunch ? What did she order ? Did she like the food ?

Image result for British cafe food

Adjectives for food:

delicious / bland / spicy / filling / appetising / healthy / unhealthy / vegetarian / traditional

protein / carbohydrates / fat / fibre / vitamins /

fried / deep-fried / baked / boiled