IELTS: Speaking Test, Part 3: How to nail it.

12th September 2020

Ten don'ts for the IELTS speaking test | British Council
Having to think on your feet.

My classes at campus have practised (and practised; I make those guys put their noses to the grindstone) Parts I and II of the speaking test. To recap:

Part I: 4 – 5 minutes, warm up questions. Answer with two, three or four sentences, throwing in a few L-FW (big words), idioms as appropriate, and demonstrate you know how to form a complex sentence.

Part II: 1 minute to make notes, 2 minutes solo speaking. This is your chance to shine, show all you’ve learnt, and score points for vocabulary (including idiomatic language, low-frequency words, adverbs and adjectives), grammar including, as you know, complex sentences which will earn you a higher score as well as being much more interesting to listen to as opposed to short simple sentences. Fluency, so make use of those multi-purpose sentences such as, “Well, that’s an interesting question,” “It’s funny you ask me that question because I have just been thinking about …” etc. Lastly, and not to be underrated, pronunciation, intonation and stress.

Now, we come to Part III

psycho scream

Yes, I know, it can be a nightmare ! The questions are so complex, how could you possibly answer even in your native language ? Well, you can’t … no one can, especially not in a minute or so and under the pressure of a test.

Take a look at this example:

Does the media have a positive or negative effect on the music people in your country buy ?

What a question ! You may be tempted to say, “I haven’t the foggiest idea,” “I haven’t a clue,” or “I have absolutely no idea, next question, please.”

i have no idea what you are talking about - LDS S.M.I.L.E.

The secret is to take power back – make yourself comfortable with the question … and here’s how:

Firstly, we need a great introduction. Some examples are:

Well, that’s a very complicated question …

What a hard question, I may have to think about this …

I’m not sure I know how to answer that because I don’t have enough information, however …

The secret is to take this general question and make it personal, so you can speak about what YOU know, as well as using IELTS language.

Show that you understand the question by defining ‘media’.

I usually get my information from the internet, although I know some people use TV, radio or newspapers.

For me, the internet is great for learning about new singers or groups with sites such as YouTube or Spotify as opposed to newspapers where I can only read about music.

The media is tremendously important for musicians. They are able to upload videos to YouTube, have a Facebook page or a Twitter account. Fans can know when they have a new song or go on tour.

This time, instead of using expressions such as in my opinion, you can use:

in my experience

allow me to tell you what I do

I can’t speak about other people, but I

EXAMPLE:

Well, that’s a very complicated question but I will endeavor to answer. I usually get my information from the internet, although I know some people use TV, radio or newspapers. Usually, I join a Facebook page of a band I like, or follow them on Instagram. Naturally, I look at YouTube which is great because it suggests other music I may like. Therefore, I am able to hear new artists. I’m not sure how much this affects how other people buy music. In my experience, I will buy music if I really like it, for example, downloading a song on iTunes. I can just buy the songs I like, so it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

This time we can use examples:

I’m not sure I know how to answer that because I don’t have enough information, however I can think of one example. I remember when Taylor Swift won an award for best video but Kanye West stopped her speech. This made a lot of people think very badly about him, so maybe they stopped buying his music.

Why Taylor Swift and Kanye West hate each other

I’m not sure I know how to answer that, but let me try. The media is tremendously important for musicians. They are able to upload videos to YouTube, have a Facebook page or a Twitter account. Fans can know when they have a new song or go on tour. I can’t speak about other people, but I rarely buy music anyway, just once in a blue moon.

Hyomin (T-ara) bất ngờ có mặt tại Nha Trang | Văn hóa | Thanh Niên

What a hard question, I may have to think about this … oh, I know, fans can follow their favourite singers on social media, such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. I usually get my information from the internet. I would be over the moon if a music star replied to my comment. On the other hand, if they don’t answer, some people may stop liking them.

The Shins - Simple Song (Live On Letterman) - YouTube

Well, that’s certainly a hard question. I really don’t know what other people in Vietnam do, but allow me to tell you what I do. I like to listen to English songs, to help me improve my language skills. My friends and I tell each other about English or American bands and we look up the words … the lyrics … to help us. I can give you an example. My teacher played a song in class by a band called The Shins, who are from USA. I quite liked the song although most of the words are very difficult to understand. I know one of my friends bought the last CD because he liked it so much.

US singer Kacey Musgraves slammed for sexualising Vietnamese ao dai by  wearing only top half of outfit | South China Morning Post

That’s a very complicated question. However, I can think of one singer who upset many people in Vietnam and Vietnamese people in USA. Do you know Kacey Musgraves ? She sings country music, which is not really my cup of tea, but that is not why she is famous. She wore an ao dai on stage, but only the top part … she didn’t wear the trousers. Many people thought this was so disrespectful. For me, I don’t think I would buy her records after this, even if I did like them.

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.

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3 / IELTS: English expressions

25th August 2020

A database of common UK & USA expressions, phrases and idioms for students who want to learn more, in order to increase their command of and respect for the English language. I have provided my IELTS students with half a dozen (a dozen = 12, therefore half a dozen = 6. Having said that, a ‘baker’s dozen’ = 13 … welcome to English !) idioms, but this blog is aimed at students who are willing to go above the barest minimum.

We kick off (start) with expressions and idioms, as they are tremendous fun, then move on to collocations. How words fit together is a powerful tool in learning English … huge chunks of texts suddenly group themselves into small word blocks, enabling you to predict what will be said (especially useful in listening exercises).

Finally, we wrap up with some negotiation phrases. In the next blog, I’ll give you a chance to use these in sentences, but for now, familiarise yourself with a handful of new expressions … it could be right up your street.

Alice Sara Ott - It was a very emotional and intimate... | Facebook
Alice Sara Ott – German-Japanese pianist. I recommended her to a musician friend and he said it was right up his street.

Expressions / 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

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

Tongue in Cheek: Idiom Meaning - English Expression Videos - YouTube
“I think Donald Trump is the greatest US President …” Do you think President Obama would say this and be serious ?

Keep your hand in // to practise something so you don’t forget how it’s done

Bucket down / raining cats and dogs // raining very heavily

Have a go / give it a bash / give it a shot // to try something

Call it a day // to stop work and go home early

Go ahead // sure, do it

Under one roof // everything in one place

Through thick and thin // together in good times and bad times.

Through Thick and Thin (2015)

To spill the beans // to tell a secret, or to share some private information

I should cocoa // UK slang, old-fashioned = I really don’t believe it or you

kick-off // A sports expression from football – means to start

tied up / snowed under / rushed off our feet / flat out / up to my eyes // very busy

daylight robbery // much too expensive, very over-priced.

on your bike // go away !

Norman Tebbit's dad getting on his bike, looking for work until he ...

to throw a wobbly // to become angry and shout and curse

Bang up to date // totally modern and new or completed all your work on schedule

otherwise engaged // busy – a polite way of saying ‘go away’

I know where you’re coming from // I understand what you are saying and how you think

to get hold of someone // try to make contact with someone by phone, in person, email etc

speak of the Devil // to talk about something and then they appear

to be into something // to really enjoy or like something or someone

to put something over someone / to pull the pull over someone’s eyes // try to trick or cheat someone

There’ll be Hell to pay // you will be in BIG trouble !

Hell breaks loose // people will be very angry and upset

I’ll give you a bell / a shout // I will call you on the phone

Knock off / to finish work

knock it off // stop doing that !

That’s proper loud // UK slang ‘proper’ meaning very – that’s very loud

Well chuffed // extremely happy

come again ? / You what ? // UK slang for say it again, please

What do you reckon ? // What do you think of something ?

Collocations

To run a business

To conduct / carry out a survey

Can I have a word with you / a quick word

Do you have minute ?

Voting with their feet

Can I put you on hold ? / to be put on hold / Hold the line

A victory for common sense

I’m none the wiser

On the button / on the money

get the hang of it

scraping the barrel

Scraping The Barrel Cartoons and Comics - funny pictures from ...

Negotiation Language

Negotiation Table Stock Photos And Images - 123RF

I fail to see the relevance

I don’t see how that applies

That’s as maybe

I don’t get/see your point / I think you are missing the point

I don’t see where you’re going with this

I beg to differ

I appreciate that

You raise an interesting point

Having said that

Interesting that you say that

I think / feel that

In my opinion

I take issue with that

I don’t know about that

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

IELTS: writing & speaking practice

19th August 2020

Replace the standard English words with idioms, expressions and low-frequency words

How English testing is failing Chinese students by driving numbers ...
Hello to my Chinese students

Speaking topic:

What do you do in your free time ?

[Suggested answers after photos]

I study at school many days. I study in morning and I study at night. When I have free time I like to meet friends and have coffee. I go to see movie but not very much.

Sometimes me and my friends go swimming. It is cheap. And I very like to read manga comics because I feel funny. Nothing more.

Foreign Education, Visas, Immigration & IELTS Coaching - Rao ...
Hello to my Indian students

Well, That’s an interesting question because I actually spend most of my time at school or studying. Most days I’m burning the candle at both ends. Having said that, when I do get free time, which is once in a blue moon, I love to just hang out with my friends, maybe go to coffee shops which are ubiquitous in my city. Although I enjoy movies, I rarely go nowadays.

Occasionally my friends and I go swimming because we don’t need much equipment and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Additionally, I really enjoy reading Manga comics, which are from Japan and are extremely popular, I believe, all over the world.

Canadians anticipate rise in demand from Mexico - Languages Canada
Hola to my Mexican students

Speaking topic:

What food is popular in your country ?

In my country are many foods, yes, we have pho, banh mi and Banh xeo. Yes. If you come to my country, you should have pho. Yes. Pho is noodles and soup and beef and vegetables. Yes. Also in my country we have banh mi. Do you know banh mi ? Banh mi is, banh mi is bread, yes, with many delicious things. It is cheap. Banh mi is sold on the street. And banh xeo I very like.

Vietnam's toughest exam - Chao Hanoi
IELTS students studying to go to New Zealand

Thank you for the question, because I can introduce you to some mouth-watering dishes from Vietnam. Allow me to mention just two which, in my opinion, are the most popular.

Firstly, we have pho, our national dish. Pho is noodle soup with different types of meat, with the addition of fresh herbs and vegetables. Don’t worry, you can find pho everywhere, it is ubiquitous.

Secondly, and great for a quick snack or food on the move, is banh mi which is … what’s the word ? Sandwich ? Yes, it is like a sandwich, filled with grilled meat, herbs and vegetables. The best thing is the price, which is really affordable. Again, you can pick these up anywhere in Sai Gon and it won’t cost an arm and a leg.

Speaking topic:

What country would you like to visit ?

Mô hình thi IELTS dành cho du học sinh New Zealand

The country I would like to visit is USA. I want to study in a big city in USA. I have family in USA. I will to stay with family. But I need the good mark in IELTS. I must work more harder. My family live in a big city. They say it is very cold and it is raining many days. In USA I will eat many fast food and I want to be in movies.

IELTS in the USA

It’s funny you put that question to me because just today I was thinking about where I want to study. I have my heart set on studying in the USA as I have some family in Seattle, which is a large city in Washington state. However, to follow my dream, I need a high score in IELTS, so I need to put my nose to the grindstone. May I tell you about Seattle, where I plan to stay ? Unlike Sai Gon, it can be very cold, and it frequently rains cats and dogs, although we also have a rainy season here in Vietnam. Once in the States, I will eat fast food which is mouth-watering. Having said that, I know it is unhealthy, but still delicious. Maybe I will be a movie star ? In USA, anything is possible.

IELTS: Sentence building – a piece of cake !

16th August 2020

Idiom - A piece of cake - Funky English

I have written another blog about complex sentences which you can access here:

https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/05/24/ielts-complex-sentences-its-not-that-complicated/

Complex sentences, which you will need to get a respectable IELTS score, are actually quite simple to form as they merely require two or more pieces of information in one sentence.

Ms Jane is from Seattle which is the biggest city in Washington state, USA.

We know where Jane is from as well as something about the city of Seattle

Mr Bean, who is played by the actor Rowan Atkinson, is extremely popular and tremendously successful, being shown all over the world, not forgetting his appearance at the London Olympics in 2012.

This example has been extended by adding more adverbs and adjectives. We know the actor’s name, how popular he is, as well as learning that he was part of the UK Olympics and when that was.

Mr. Bean Live Performance at the London 2012 Olympic Games - YouTube

Let me give you an example, then set you on your way to practice which, as you know, makes perfect.

A typical IELTS question is:

Tell me about something you want to buy.

I’ve drilled it into my students, some of whom, but by no means all, actually listen to me, to always introduce your answer; never answer directly

DON’T answer immediately but introduce the answer by repeating or rephrasing the question:

That’s a very interesting question

Well, there is so much to say about that subject, where shall I start ?

It’s funny you put that question to me because earlier today I was just thinking about …

Last week, someone mentioned wanting to buy a pair of Converse trainers so let’s start there:

Converse Chuck Taylor® All Star® Leather Hi | Zappos.com

It’s funny you put that question to me because earlier today I was just thinking about what I would buy if I had the money.

I have my heart set on buying a pair of Converse, which is an American company with a star logo, who make very fashionable footwear.

To make the sentence more interesting, as well as complex, I simply stated the country, the logo and what they produce … piece of cake, hey ?

OK, your turn … write a complex sentence about these products. Additionally, practice writing different types of introductions.

Best of British (good luck !):

Apple rumored to announce 'iPhone 12' in October, Apple Watch and ...
Apple 12 … What can you tell me about Apple ?
Ralph Lauren grey Big Pony Logo Polo Shirt | Harrods UK
Ralph Lauren shirt. Where is the company from, what is their logo. Are they cheap ?
Line up: the Ferrari official car range
Ferrari sports car
Organ Yamaha PSR-S670 – Hữu Phước Music
Yamaha keyboard.

If Thay Paul had the money …

Rickenbacker 330 Left-Handed, Jetglo at Gear4music
“… such stuff as dreams are made on.”
Steampunk Cavalier | Shakespeare quotes, Shakespeare quotes life ...

IELTS: How to pass with flying colours

26th July 2020

Ramones hey ho let's go youtube

Hey ! Ho ! Let’s Go ! Let’s kick out the jams with some new vocabulary from the last lesson:

disappointed (adj) // dread (verb) // spare a few minutes (phrase) // a drive (noun) // big time ! (US expression, popular culture // popular fiction or literature // prima donna

Take a few minutes to read them … THEN …

Our school is having ________ to use less plastic, as well as encouraging people to recycle.

My sister spends so much time in the bathroom, she is such a _________

If we don’t pass IELTS with at least 7.0, Thay Paul is going to be angry at us _______

Miss Julie didn’t get the job at Apple; she was terribly ______________

I don’t understand this app, can you ________ to help me ?

I was terrified of the speaking test, I was _______ it.

The Harry Potter books, although tremendously successful, are considered ‘popular fiction’. Charles Dickens or Jane Austin, on the other hand, are classified as _____________ .

My student told me about a famous Hemingway story called ‘The Old Man and the Fish’ … I think she got the title wrong … _______________ !

Never Yet Melted » Ernest Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961)
“What do you mean, ‘The Old Man and the FISH ?’ I won the Noble Prize for that book.”

And now, time to put our noses to the grindstone How to get a killer IELTS speaking score … There are four areas to focus on … they are … ?

Marathon Man(1976) starring Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier and ...
“You’ve forgotten ?”

OK, take it easy, to recap, we listen for

  1. Fluency – use of discourse markers. WITHOUT A WIDE RANGE OF DISCOURSE MARKERS YOU WILL NOT GET HIGHER THAN A ‘5’.
  2. Lexical resources – big words. Know synonyms and multi-syllable words to impress the examiner. Not to mention, a sprinkling of idioms, phrases, phrasal verbs, the whole nine yards.
  3. Grammar – it’s OK to make a few mistakes, grammatically, but what we want to hear are complex structures – basically, altering the structure of a sentence or including several pieces of by using information in one sentence by using relative pronouns.
  4. Stress and intonation – listen to native speakers and COPY how we speak, when we stress words, when we ‘swallow’ letters, our body language.

We need to hear examples of ALL the above or YOU WILL NOT GET HIGHER THAN A ‘5’. I will be furious if that happens, big time !

Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo ...

Now, look at these idioms:

It’s raining cats and dogs // It costs an arm and a leg // piece of cake // I’m burning the candle at both ends // once in a blue moon // pass with flying colours //

And these words:

Boring: tedious // forgetful: absent-minded // expensive: sky high // what will happen: predict // everywhere: ubiquitous.

How to use these in your responses:

IELTS question: What do you do in your free time ?

Staying at home is boring so I go swimming. I meet friends for coffee. If it’s raining, I like to play video games.

IELTS – style:

For me, staying at home is terribly tedious, so I frequently go swimming. It’s fun, healthy and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Sometimes it’s raining cats and dogs so I enjoy playing video games, big time !

IELTS question: Who do you live with ? Notice how we start we a supportive clause

Because I’m still a student, I live at home with my family, that’s my mother, father, younger brother and older sister. My sister is such a prima donna, always in the bathroom, always buying new clothes. Furthermore, she dreads doing housework because she may hurt her nail varnish. She’ll wash up once in a blue moon.

IELTS question: Do you often eat out ?

Well, that’s a great question as I detest cooking. Having said that, I’m extremely lucky because in my neighbourhood, restaurants are ubiquitous, from expensive sea food to affordable street food. I eat crab or lobster once in a blue moon as the prices are sky-high, moreover, I actually prefer simple, mouth-watering street food.

IELTS question: What are your plans for the future ?

Make your own answers, using at least TWO discourse markers, TWO adverbs, TWO low-frequency words AND the idiom given.

TEAM 1: Well, there is so much to say about that subject, where shall I start ? (use ‘nose to the grindstone’).

TEAM 2: It’s funny you put that question to me because earlier today I was just thinking about … (use ‘burn the candle at both ends’).

TEAM 3: As I young Vietnamese, I … (use ‘pass with flying colours’).

happy asian students graduating | Luu Tutoring
Students who passed with flying colours

IELTS: Introduce your answers, and speaking review.

21st July 2020

I Think I'll Go Home and Mull This Over Before I Cram It Down My ...

A good introduction is not just beneficial but imperative for an impressive IELTS response. Therefore, this blog will mainly, although not exclusively, focus on a strong opening gambit, an attention-grabbing prologue.

Useful expressions

If you need some time to think, employ one of these ‘time-buying’ expressions:

That’s a very interesting question 

Well, there is so much to say about that subject, where shall I start ? 

It’s funny you put that question to me because earlier today I was just thinking about …

Let me think …

How can I put it …

Well, I would say …

Quick warm up: What do you do in your free time ?

I meet my friends for coffee

One of my favourite things to do, if I have some spare time, is to hang out with my closest friends

Which answer do you think would impress the examiner ?

Now … your turn

Where would you like to visit in Viet Nam (or your own country) ?

DON’T answer immediately; introduce the answer by repeating or rephrasing the question:

Vietnam has many beautiful places but my choice would be Hoi An.

Vietnam is famous for it’s beautiful beaches, vibrant cities and amazing nature but for me, Hoi An is the one place I would love to explore.

1 Tell me about your hometown

Thank you for letting me introduce to you my hometown which is Da Nang, one of the biggest cities in Vietnam, although it is much smaller than Ha Noi or Sai Gon. 

2 Talk about a film you like

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.

3 Do you use computers at work or school ?

Laptops are an incredibly useful piece of technology. They can be used for work, hobbies, music and to stay in touch with friends.

Practice: try forming introductions for these questions

Home

  • Do you live alone or with friends / family ?
  • How long have you lived there ?
  • Is there anything you don’t like about living there ?
  • What sort of accommodation would you like to like in ?

Shopping

  • Do you like going shopping for clothes
  • Is fashion important to you ?
  • Do you have to wear a uniform at school or work ?
  • Where do you normally buy your food and why there ?

Free Time

  • Do you do any sporting activities ?
  • What do you like to do at weekends ?
  • What would you change about your daily routine ?
Nanci Griffith - Once In A Very Blue Moon (1986, CD) | Discogs
Once in a VERY blue moon by Nanci Griffith

Review … from my recent classes, make sure you have learnt these words and expressions:

Keep your nose to the grindstone' - meaning and origin.
Put your nose to the grindstone

endeavour (to try) // outcome (the result) // ubiquitous (everywhere) // tedious (boring) // fascinating (very interesting) // sky-high (expensive)

once in a blue moon (very rare) // put my nose to the grindstone (work especially hard) // achieve on merit (to get something by working for it) // burn the candle at both ends (work day and night) // give or take (about, approximately) // big time ! (absolutely, totally, very much) // I’ll mull it over (I’ll think about it) //

although // additionally // therefore // moreover // having said that // on the other hand

Rewrite the following using IELTS-language:

English grammar is (adverb) boring and I spend about two hours a day studying grammar. I work all day, and go to evening class and then study. I study all day and night.

I almost never have any free time. If I have free time, I go to drink coffee. Coffee shops are everywhere but in some the prices are not cheap.

My friend Tom never studies. His uncle will give him a job, but I want to deserve my job. Tom is (adverb) lazy. I tell him to try to study grammar, to work very hard / but / he never listens. He thinks video games are very interesting. He (adverb) says he’ll think about it but nothing changes

so the result will be a ‘FAIL’

AE 456 - Expression: Burn the Candle at Both Ends - Aussie English
Unique coffee spot La Viet in Da lat, Central Vietnam | Coffee ...

Coffee shops in Sai Gon are ubiquitous although in some, the prices are sky-high.

Finally, if you did well :

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, July 26, 2019 ...

IELTS Speaking Practice: “Lend me your ears,” and take a tip from Thay Paul

16th July 2020

Julius Caesar Quote: “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ...
A quote from Julius Caesar by Shakespeare

Words and expression to use, tips, phrases and idiomatic language

Recap: to pass IELTS with flying colours, you will needs to demonstrate a command of everyday English, the ability to express it with stress and intonation, as well as being able to link your ideas with appropriate discourse markers.

I need to hear nouns described by interesting adjectives, verbs intensified by adverbs and conversation enlivened by low-frequency vocabulary.

Piece of cake, right ?

Low – frequency words (LFW)

Boring: tedious // forgetful: absent-minded // expensive: sky high // what will happen: predict // everywhere: ubiquitous.

Activity 1: Make sentences using the above five LFW

Introduce your answer by:

Let me think // How can I put it // Well, that’s an interesting question

Useful expressions:

In my opinion // From my perspective // For me // Allow me to explain // By which I mean //

Discourse Markers:

as well as // furthermore // additionally // on the other hand // having said that // however // although // despite that

Activity 2: Give each student a discourse marker and they have to use it in a sentence

EXAMPLE ‘in addition’

I have a busy life; I have to study, work my part-time job and help my family. In addition, I go shopping for my neighbour because he is too old to go out.

NOTE: use of ‘because‘ to explain why you do something … and therefore construct a longer sentence.

Idioms:

It’s raining cats and dogs // It costs an arm and a leg // piece of cake // I’m burning the candle at both ends.

Activity 3: Who can use these idioms correctly ?

Relative pronouns – who / which / where / whose

Activity 4: Use the correct relative pronoun:

We arrived at a nice beach ______ we could swim and lie in the sun.

A man ______ mobile phone was ringing did not know how to switch it off.

The patient, ______ had a serious disease, was taken to hospital immediately.

Smithsfield is a small village ______ people live a quiet life.

This dress is made of silk, _____ is a very expensive and delicate material.

Buying time:

Could you repeat that, please // I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that // Would you mind rephrasing the question

Model answer: What do you do in your free time ?

AsianBossG;r)

One of my favourite things to do, if I have some spare time, is to hang out with my closest friends and just catch up on our news, maybe hit a mall because they are air-conditioned and have a wide array of amenities such as shops, cafes and, if I may say, bathroom facilities, as well as services like ATM machines and free wifi. My closest friends are Sheila, who is from Japan and studies here in Sai Gon, and Kerry, who is a gorgeous Thai lady. As we all come from different countries, there can be issues. Allow me to explain; we have to communicate in English, however Kerry is just starting her studies, so we have to use Google translate frequently. Having said that, it’s such tremendous fun to be with my best friends. It helps me forget about the pressure and stress of work.

Use this an a plan – now tell me what YOU do in YOUR free time … DO NOT just copy the above example !

Now … Your turn

Conversation Practice: In pairs or small groups, ask each other these questions. If the answer is too short, ask the person to tell you more, to explain with more details.

How Dialogue Teaches Critical Thinking and Empathy

Family questions

Ask each other about your families

How many siblings do you have ?

[You can give names, ages, jobs, what and where they study, what they look like, what their personality is like, if you have something or nothing in common with them]

Do you live with your parents and grandparents ?

Do you often meet your cousins ?

Who is the youngest member of your family ? 

Who is the oldest ?

Who is your favourite person in your family and why ?

Useful expressions

Can you tell me more ? // In what way ? // Why do you say that ? //

Oh, that’s interesting … // well, // actually // in fact …

on the other hand // having said that // although

Keep the conversation going

Oh, really ? Tell me more Why do you say that ?

Could you explain what you mean ? Why did you do that ?

Three students talking to each other outdoor in a college ...

Final Review:

Coffee shops in Sai Gon are _________________________ .

I always forget my keys, I’m so __________________ .

In an IELTS listening test, we can sometimes _______________ the answer.

We wanted to stay at the Hotel California but the prices were _____________ .

The meeting was so long and extremely _____________________ .

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: New Slang (when you notice the stripes). Idioms & expressions

15th July 2020

I recreated the shirt from the New Slang music video : TheShins
The US band The Shins with their song ‘New Slang’

Notes, new idioms & slang

Why the long face ? Someone looks miserable or unhappy.

She can talk the hind legs off a donkey ! Talking non-stop !

The tip of the iceberg.

The Unusual Meaning and Origin of the Idiom 'Tip of the Iceberg ...

Piece of cake No problem, easy, no trouble

Same thing, day in, day out everyday is exactly the same, very boring.

On the lookout looking for something

Cooking the books cheating with the company accounts. Writing false information.

Insurance Company Broker Caught Cooking the Books - Workers ...
Pros and Cons of Utlizing a Traditional Grading Scale

A bright spark someone who is very clever

You’re pulling my leg ! joking but pretending to be serious.

The boot’s on the other foot the situation has changed.

You can’t miss it you will certainly recognise it when you see it, when you are there.

Big time ! (US modern popular culture) Absolutely, totally, very, very much

Brass monkeys it’s extremely, painfully cold

Once in a blue moon something that happens extremely rarely

Bob’s your uncle there you are ! No problem, all fixed ! (UK slang)

Now … your turn

Practice using these saying in everyday conversations … answers, as per usual, at the end of the blog.

10 Surprising Facts about Japanese Schools. Daily life as a ...

1) I love the beach. but I rarely go, just ……………………………….

2) If you’re late for class again, the teacher will be furious …….

3) You look so sad ……………………… ?

4) I’m freezing ! It’s ……………………. in here

5) Seriously ? You can marry three wives in UK ? No, you’re ……..

6) Oh, my job is so tedious, …………………………

7) She wouldn’t shut up ! She ….

8) It’s no problem; I’ll clean your laptop, remove the virsus and Trojans and ………

9) I used to earn more than my wife but she got a big promotion, so now …………. She earns more than me !

10) I need a new pair of shoes. I’m ………………… for some high quality Italian leather.

11) The accountant was sacked. He was ……… but that was not all ! That’s just the …………………… He was also stealing computers and selling them.

12) This lesson was a ………………… for me because I’m such a ……………….

13) I didn’t use ‘you can’t miss it.’ Write your own sentence.

Top 6 Most Difficult Courses To Study in Nigeria

Answers

1) once in a blue moon

2) big time

3) why the long face ?

4) brass monkeys

5) pulling my leg

6) Same thing, day in, day out

7) can/could talk the hind legs off a donkey.

8) Bob’s your uncle

9) the boot’s on the other foot.

10) on the lookout

11) cooking the books / tip of the iceberg

12) piece of cake / bright spark

Well, if you’re such a bright spark, write you own sentences and test your partner.

BONUS: what expressions can you hear in this song ?

NOTE TO TEACHERS; IF POSSIBLE, TURN OFF THE OVERHEAD SO STUDENTS CAN’T SEE THE SONG TITLE.

Ms Nanci Griffith: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmvyBTXuRQw