IELTS: Focus on Japan

18th October 2021

Listening practice:

Life in Japan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xwg5-YY4pdg

Activity one

Listen to one or two facts, then paraphrase them. Add your opinions, and how Japanese culture differs from your life.

New vocabulary, expressions, listening to accents.

Listen out for:

‘you guys’ (US), ‘omg’ (oh my god), ‘screwed up’, ‘really cool cafes’, ‘despite’, ‘strict’.

Check her grammar – any mistakes ?

Image result for amazing things in Japan

Activity Two

Listening for information

This clip ‘7 Cool things to do in Tokyo’ has a lot of practical information.

Write down as much as you can. At first, try without subtitles.

Include prices, opening times, locations etc: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3enIWRJtHQ

Image result for amazing things in Japan

Activity Three

Project:

You have three days in Tokyo; what would you choose to do ? Read the cntraveler and plan your city-break.

Remember to use IELTS language, explain your choices and maybe add an anecdote.

https://www.cntraveler.com/gallery/best-things-to-do-in-tokyo

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden Tokyo
Image result for amazing things in tokyo

This is an edited version of an earlier blog:

https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/01/25/adult-speaking-class-level-2-part-6-2/

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

IELTS: Focus on India

18th October 2021

Image result for hello India

Firstly, a big hello to all my readers and followers in India. I want you all to know how much I appreciate you taking the time to check out my blog. Thank you so much.

Exercise one: Find out some basic information about India from the internet, such as capital and major cities, population, food, religion, imports and exports.

I give you four minutes to do an Internet search, then present to class. DO NOT simply read from Wikipedia.

Exercise two:

Adjectives: look at the photos and describe what you see.

Try these adjectives:

exotic / mysterious / exquisite / captivating / enchanting

How Narendra Modi inaugurated Abu Dhabi's first Hindu temple | Condé Nast  Traveller India
Image result for Indian culture
Image result for Indian culture

Exercise two: compare and contrast

Does this look like YOUR city ? What is similar, what is noticeably different ?

Image result for Indian city scene
Image result for Indian train station
School, Colleges to Reopen From Next Month? What we Know so Far

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

New Vocabulary:

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 ?

What to do in India

The American foodie and blogger Mark Wiens travelled to Kolkata: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvNdOJMDMyQ

Listen for at least five words you didn’t previously know. In small groups ask each other:

What impressed you ? What disturbed you ? Would you like to go there ? If so, why, if not, why not ?

Here is a chance to practice adjectives, linking words and using the word ‘because’ – giving reasons, supporting your comments.

Famous Indians

In small groups, you have to make a short presentation about one of these famous Indians:

Mahatma Gandhi
Image result for famous indian siddharta buddha
Siddhartha – the Buddha
kalpana chawla
Kalpana Chawla

The class have five to ten minutes to research information, speed read and extract relevant facts with which to enlighten the class. Follow up, tell me about some Indian artists or sports stars.

And now, goodbye from this mysterious, exotic land. Hope to meet you very soon …

Image result for Indian sunset

This is an edited blog that first appeared on 24th January 2020: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/01/24/ielts-hello-india/

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

Love and Chaos. Part 9(I) Richard 2

30th September 2021

Wichertstasse, Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin

Part Nine. Berlin. Sylvester 1995

Richard smiled at a group of children who were setting off firecrackers on the street. He was walking back from the phone box, ineffectively-gloved hands as deep as possible in jacket pocket, shoulders hunched together, wooly hat covering as much face as possible, said face facing down, avoiding the skin-scraping sandpaper hail.

Lot’s wife would have had no problem; turning back against the blizzard would be impossible. Lot’s wife survives, Lot’s daughters wouldn’t have got Lot Czar-bared, and maybe the world would have been a better place. Yes, Richard had found a King James version of the Bible, and had decided that Genesis was populated by some seriously demented people. Chris would love it.

Apropos of Chris, Richard made a detour along Wichertstrasse to get some food in. The street, parallel to Rodenberg, was more commercial, having several stores. A small German-language school, admonishing Richard every time he walked past, a small Spar market, a Waschcentre and shops to be filed under ‘miscellaneous’. Into Spar, grabbing a wire basket and loading up with the new staple food; a frozen fish pie that was reasonable and actually delicious. The Spar home-brand pizza was a sorry item, but 99 Pfennings, you couldn’t go (far) wrong. 99 Pfennings German Camembert (Camembert-style), brown bread, some tomatoes for colour, certainly not for taste, giant sausage, beer, Sekt and Ritter’s chocolate bars. The packing was great, the variety of flavours were great, they tasted fucking great. In the spirit of Christmas, you could forgive the Germans so much, for producing such heavenly chocolate, and the beer wasn’t bad either. The women … some of the women … were breathtaking.

Gabi. Why didn’t he make a play for Gabi ? She was so far out of his league, there would have been nothing to lose. This time last year, he was together with her, alone, in a locked bathroom. But that was last year. This year is ending with more Teutonic screaming from an unknown male on Johanna’s number. So that is that. Johanna can go to hell with the rest of 1995. Two dates, a building up of critical mass and then … and then.

Chris was flying back today. He should have some Physics books. Maybe something on String Theory. At least Stephen Hawking’s ‘Brief History of Time,’ that was thin enough. Pimms, maybe, Stilton, unlikely, gossip unquestionably. Chocolate, well, that’s covered.

Several hours later, the flat remarkably toasty from continual offerings to the Öfen, a thumping on the door. Laden with cases, nose and ears red from imminent frostbite, smiling ear to frozen ear stood Chris;

“Recalled to life, recalled to active duty, the beer goes on, the beat goes on, Berlin goes on !”

Love and Chaos. Part 9(G) A Christmas Miscellany

24th September 2021

Berlin in winter. Photo by Martin O’Shea

Part Nine. Berlin. December 1995

Sunday morning and the room reeked of hangover.

Richard had to use the bathroom, had to vomit, had to open a window, had to drink litres of designer French water, had to take several aspirins, had to have a blood transfusion, had to be joking to think that this was any sort of life.

Richard could not get out of bed, could not turn or move; who had used his head as a punch bag ? He checked his face. Teeth intact. Stubble, even the stubble stank of old cigarettes, but no discernable cuts, bruises, bleeding.

The room had an unbearage fug of everything that was unholy and unhealthy. He had to open the window but it was minus God-knows what outside. It would purify the stench … or was that sunlight ? There would be no sunlight for at least five months, meanwhile … water.

But every movement resulted in an internal knockout blow to the head. Some inner-cranial entity was hell-bent on kicking the crap out of the back of Richard’s eyes. And he had to vomit. The thought made him want to vomit. He had to use the bathroom. The thought of that made him want to vomit. The infamous, cruel and unusual, you are being held to account, porcelain punishment.

Dreading how much repulsive fluid was able to emerge, projectile or explosive, from this paragon of animals, and what a Styxian stench would engulf the flat, our pilgrim makes the journey, more or less on his knees, to the bathroom, and we shall close the door on that chapter and return when sufficient ablutions have been made.

London, the clocks one hour behind. Chris woke up in Battersea, in Melanie’s flat. She sat on his bed as he drank his tea. There was toast with jam and marmalade waiting. Later they could go into the West End, take in a museum, see a film, have a beer and talk over old times. The room had central heating, the flat had a newly-painted feel, everything seemed so clean, ordered and organised.

London, several miles north in Chalk Farm, Alan was nursing a cold in his sister Jo’s flat. How could he have been such an idiot as to go walking, in the Berlin winter, knowing he had a late flight that evening. Freezing streets, overheated U-Bahns, chilly airport lounges, a stifling cramped sweaty plane, draining immigration, bedlam at baggage and then … and then the long journey on the London Tube. After several teas, lots of sympathy noises, and a potential overdose of Lemsip, Alan screened the Super 8 film.

“She’s gorgeous, that Julie. You little tinker, you ! I told you Berlin would do you the world of good.”

Back on Berlin time, Daniel Roth was reflecting on his night out. Instead of hitting the Czar Bar, or meeting workmates in some lifeless stuffy time-frozen 70s style pub, he went solo, trying some bars around Yorckstrasse. New year, new start. He restricted himself to wine, and experimented holding his cigarette in different styles. He didn’t want to look too affected or effeminate, yet he succeeded in being both. However, he did end up chatting with two German girls and could feel them about to succumb to his charms, giving him a double Weihnachten (Christmas) gift, until they linked arms and departed. Daniel spent the rest of the evening drinking with the old Turkish barkeeper, whose face seems inscribed with wisdom, gentleness and experience. He thought back over his conversation with Jeanette, and his killer put down.

His feet were fast freezing, coins devoured by the phone box, Jeanette’s voice exuding warmth, comfort, opulence.

“We absolutely adored it, there’s no question, no question at all that it meets our criteria, only, well, how shall I put it delicately ? Daniel, it is a little near the bone for some of our board. I’m sure you know the section to which I allude.”

Daniel paused for effect.

“The magazine’s called ‘Savage Revolt’.”

A few seconds of silence.

“Do you know, you are absol…, no, quite right, we have an obligation to the artist, and … and, if certain people don’t wish to read it, they don’t have to, yes, yes. Let’s do it. I’m going to go to bat for you.”

“Unedited ?”

“Unedited, you have my word. Now, my young Hemingway, what are you doing on Silvester ? I’m having a little soiree and you simply must come. There’s a lot of people that want to meet you.”

Sunday afternoon, Daniel found one of the few Lebensmittel open and bought more wine, Sekt, chocolate, tins of goulash, giant tins of soup, cigarettes, cigarette papers, factory-produced bread and cake-type items, then returned home. He was going to read some books Chris had loaned him, maybe write a follow-up story. It seemed official. He was going to be published, and people wanted to meet him. Controversial already. But, it was Berlin. Maybe it was all just so much bullshit. He opened the wine, opened Dickens, took a swig straight from the bottle and thought, “Fuck me !”

“Fucking hell, never, never, never again,” announced Richard to no one in particular, as there was no one with him, save the Tasmanian devil running amok inside his brain. He had finished the water, and was now settling down for a day of mint tea and self-recrimination.

Serves him right for expecting anything good to happen in this shit city, in this shit life. He had hoped that he would be waking up, snuggling up, to Johanna.

At least this time he couldn’t blame himself for being drunk or too forward or not forward enough. He had been at the bar early, and waited. And waited … and waited. Johanna had stood him up.

Merry fucking Christmas

Education is everything

23rd September 2021

Post image
The fictional Sam Seaborn, played by Rob Lowe

Written by Aaron Sorkin, creator of ‘The West Wing’.

Teaching is exhausting; it requires Herculean feats of strength, mental and physical, and the compassion of the Buddha.

Teaching can be soul-destroying; it requires the wisdom of Solomon and the tolerance of Job.

Teachers can be disrespected, ignored and insulted.

Teacher reviews may be gauged on how popular they are, how many games they play, not on how much they teach or how many students actually pass.

But teachers can also change lives.

That is what makes it worthwhile.

We need to change more lives.

“We need gigantic monumental changes.”

IELTS Oral Test: A refresher

17th September 2021

IELTS reading, paraphrasing, skimming, scanning in IELTS reading. IELTS  academic and general exam.

Tomorrow I have a class taking their IELTS speaking test. Thus, I present a reminder about what you need to say in order to:

ace the test

pass with flying colours

hit that baby right out of the ballpark

I will be listening for the following:

  1. Fluency – use of discourse markers. WITHOUT A WIDE RANGE OF DISCOURSE MARKERS YOU WILL NOT GET HIGHER THAN A ‘5’.
  2. Lexical resources – Low-frequency words (big words). Know synonyms and multi-syllable words to impress the examiner. Not to mention, a sprinkling of idioms, phrases, phrasal verbs. Paraphrasing is very important
  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 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.

To elucidate:

Fluency – Ability to speak at length without noticeable effort. A good range of discourse markers and connectives. Answer is coherent and pertinent. Self-correction is totally acceptable.

Lexical Resources – A wide vocabulary to cover a variety of topics. Low-frequency words. Ability to form collocations. Use of everyday as well as less common idioms and expressions. Paraphrasing, by which I mean rephrase the question you have been asked – don’t just repeat the exact wording.

Grammatical Range – A combination of simple and complex sentences. Generally error-free. Verb tenses must be correct, and subject must agree with verb form.

Pronunciation – Must be clear and easily understood. Effective use of stress, intonation and rhythm. If you are telling a happy story, sound happy.

I have a whole range of blogs to assist, and you can find the index for IELTS here: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/12/04/subject-index-ielts-themes-language-exercises-2/

Some specific blogs that may be of some help:

https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/07/26/ielts-how-to-pass-with-flying-colours/

https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/10/12/ielts-8-1-2-chasing-8-1-2/

For specific help with Part III of the Oral Test: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/09/15/ielts-speaking-test-part-3-how-to-nail-it/

To help with L-FWs & expressions: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2021/01/27/ielts-vocabulary-boosting-fixed-expression-theres-nothing-i-like-more/

Sterling Ielts School Student Png Images - Ielts Students Images Png  Transparent PNG - 378x456 - Free Download on NicePNG
Good luck – Best of British !

IELTS: Animal Magic – Expressions N – Z

12th August 2021

In the morning, my students are like bears with sore heads
Man’s best friend
Newts of the Yuba | South Yuba River Citizens League
I’m a newt, and I’ll have you know I’m totally sober

NEWT: As pissed as a newt – Informal British English meaning to be drunk.

SIDEBAR: This is is very unusual saying, but around 200 years ago, young teenage sailors were known as ‘newts’. It didn’t take much alcohol for these boys to become very drunk, hence the expression.

OWL: To be a night owl – someone who stays up late, maybe all night.

PANDA: To have panda eyes – night owls and insomniacs often have black rings around their eyes, like a panda. I first heard this in Malaysia.

QUAIL: To quail at something – to be afraid or nervous about something.

RED HERRING: A false clue in a mystery or detective story

NOW LET’S TAKE THESE EXPRESSIONS OUT FOR A SPIN

  1. When did you last sleep ? You ____________________________________
  2. The police followed a clue but it was just a _____________________
  3. My neighbour is a real _____________________ playing music all night.
  4. I have toothache but I __________ at going to the dentist.
  5. Did you hear him sing karaoke ? He was ___________________________ !

Are you ready for some more ?

SWAN: Swan song – a final appearance.

TIGER: A tiger mum – a mother who pushes her children to study and study and study.

UNICORN: Life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns – sometimes life is hard and we have to deal with problems (tell me about it).

VULTURE: The vultures are circling – vultures wait for animals to die, then they swoop down and eat the dead body, so this expression means something very bad is about to happen.

WHALE: Having a whale of a time – having a wonderful time, really enjoying yourself.

X: Give me a break ! However, check out this little beauty:

This is an X ray tetra, a non-aggressive fish found in the Amazon

YAK: To yak or yakking – to talk non-stop, usually about nothing important.

Yakety Yak - song by The Coasters | Spotify
YAKITY YAK" LYRICS by THE COASTERS: Take out those papers...

ZEBRA: Zebra crossing – black and white marking on the road. In the UK, cars usually stop to allow people to walk safely. In Viet Nam … hhmmmm not so much (i.e. never).

The most famous zebra crossing in the world. From The Beatles ‘Abbey Road’ LP

Speaking of The Beatles, allow me to quote from ‘A Hard Day’s Night’

  1. The party was amazing, we all had _________________________
  2. The show was her last ever, it was her ________________________
  3. Will you stop _______ ! I can’t think !
  4. Walk to the ________________________ because this road is dangerous.
  5. She has a _____________________ who makes her study English every day.
  6. The business is losing too much money. The _________________________
  7. I have to pay my rent, my student loan, my electric bill. This is no fun ________________________________________________________
Bye bye from The Monkees

IELTS: Animal Crackers – animal expressions to impress examiners

10th August 2021

This Is Bat Country GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Just because you’re having online classes, with different teachers, (lucky you) doesn’t mean you should stop expanding your knowledge of weird and wacky English expressions, and let me tell you, you won’t find many of these in those cotton-pickin’ textbooks.

English speakers use animals as:

metaphor (my neighbour is a pig)

simile (she drinks like a fish)

idiom (look what the cat dragged in)

adjective form (he is rather bovine – like a cow, she moves with a feline grace – like a cat)

Today, I’m going to introduce you to expressions featuring animals, some of which may not be suitable for polite company …hey, you want to learn REAL English … that’s how we speak !

Now, without further ado …

ANTS: Ants in your pants – when someone can’t keep still, is always moving about which can be very irritating.

BATS: Bat-shit crazy – NOT used in formal, standard English. This is more common in US English to describe someone who is acting very strangely.

CATS: To let the cat out of the bag – to tell a secret, to tell something you were not supposed to disclose.

DOGS: Gone to the dogs – someone or something that was once respectable but is now dirty, useless etc.

ELEPHANT: Couldn’t hit an elephant – implies that someone is very bad at something for example, if they had a rifle they wouldn’t be able to hit a very large target.

SIDEBAR: “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance,” are the famous last words of John Sedgwick, an officer in the Union army in the US Civil War. He meant that the enemy was so far away, they couldn’t possible hit a massive target let alone a single man. Sedgwick was, ironically, shot and killed by the enemy. Read more here:

https://www.phrases.org.uk/famous-last-words/john-sedgwick.html

FISH: Like shooting fish in a barrel – refers to something that is so easy, no effort at all is required to be successful.

An Elephant in My Pajamas: The Misplaced Modifier – Ivy Global Blog
Groucho Barks ?

At this point, time to stop and reflect, practice what you’ve learnt. What expression fits ?

  • He used to be a respectable professional, but his wife left him he began drinking and now he’s _______________________________
  • The bloody woman next to me on the plane just wouldn’t sit still. She had ___________________________________
  • I’m never teaching that class again ! The kids are all __________
  • This job is so easy, it’s _________________________________
  • Oh ! I knew they had a secret. Now the _____________________
  • Don’t worry about Peter, he’s so bad, he _______________________
The quest for best animal joke ever! | Earth Rangers: Where kids go to save  animals!
Hahahah ants in my pants, I love that one !

Ready for some more ? OK, let’s kick it !

GOLDFISH: Living in a goldfish bowl – a life with no privacy, everyone can see what you do, all the time.

HORSE: A dark horse – someone that has hidden talents or abilities

INSECT: Go away, you little insect – not polite, used when someone is making you feel very uncomfortable, or is harassing you.

JACKASS: You jackass ! – again, very informal signifying a silly or stupid person.

LION: Taking the lion’s share – taking the biggest amount of something.

MONKEY: Too much monkey business – too much madness or uncontrollable behaviour

Practice makes perfect so … kick it !

  • You spent $100 on that Relox watch, made in China ! _____
  • Being famous is awful, everyone taking photos all the time, it’s like _____________________________________
  • I can’t work for this company anymore, I don’t trust them, ________________________________________
  • As the CEO, he took ___________________________ of the bonus.
  • I don’t want to buy those cheap fake sunglasses, go away you _________
  • Wow, Julie wrote this ? It’s so good, she’s a real _________________ always so quiet in class.

OK, enough for one blog, I’ll continue N – Z if there’s any interest, I’ll continue N- Z even if there isn’t any interest. Now I gotta prepare for two online classes and a speaking placement test, drink tea (I am English, don’t forget) and hope my internet doesn’t act like a jackass and pack up on me.

Everyone, stay safe and well.

Thank you for visiting this site

Young Learners: Sentence building and Zoom warm up games.

2nd August 2021

A selection of short exercises to develop sentence building and encourage use of adjectives. Games aimed at students aged 7 – 12

Warm up game 1

Who can name a country or city beginning with ‘A’ … ? ‘B’ … ?

Warm up game 2

What country do you associate with:

  1. sushi 2. hot curry 3. the White House 4. kangaroos 5. pizza ?

Warm up game 3

What animal is the biggest ?

How many eyes do most spiders have ?

What is more dangerous, a crocodile or an alligator ?

What does a camel have in its hump ?

What is the only bird that can fly backwards ?

What do pandas eat ? What do you call a baby kangaroo ?

Answers: A blue whale (up to 98 feet) // 8 eyes // crocodiles // camels store fat NOT water // hummingbird // bamboo // joey

Warm up game 4

Adjectives – words to describe a person or a thing

Example: The Kangaroo is small // cute // funny

Name an adjective beginning with ‘A’ … // ‘B’ … // etc

Students should be instructed to write down new words and then try to use them

Sentence building 1

What is your favourite film (or TV show, book) and why ?

EXAMPLE: I really love Star Wars because it is amazing and has many exciting space fights. The actor is incredible and the Princess is so beautiful. The film is sometimes funny and sometimes scary.

Sentence building 2

Tell me about your family ?

What do they look like ?

What are they like ?

EXAMPLE: I love my mummy very much because she helps me with my homework. She is small and has long black hair. She is friendly and happy. She likes to play badminton because it is healthy and fun.

Sentence building 3

Write interesting stories about these photos. Use adjectives and long sentences

Premium Vector | Cute elephant character playing music and singing isolated  .
Asian Woman Eating Pizza In Restaurant Stock Video - Download Video Clip  Now - iStock

Zoom Classes: You cut my hours, you slash my wages and you give me these ?

27th July 2021

Teacher suspended after appearing topless during Zoom video lesson | Nestia
Google Images. A teacher was reported suspended after appearing shirtless on Zoom

In a previous blog I tried, against my nature, to show a positive side to Zoom teaching. Teachers, TAs, admin staff are kept in employment, albeit with significant pay cuts, while the students are able to practise their English skills … should they choose.

I’m trying to keep this light-hearted, but all anecdotes are true, based on my experiences of Zoom. CUT TO last year, our first period of lockdown.

I can’t turn my light on, I’ve got no power

First up, back in the early days, teachers went to campus and used laptops to hold Zoom classes. The first five or ten minutes were spent waiting for late-comers, asking people to put their cameras on, then to KEEP their cameras on, ditto mics. One character, a teenage boy was sitting in darkness … this was a daytime class and Sai Gon in the day in bright, big time. Said teenager claimed that he had no electricity in his house, therefore could not put on the lights.

Do you sense a ‘however’ coming on ?

However … his laptop was working (sure, maybe it was running on battery). His wifi was working, but, the smoking gun … a slither of bright light from the corner of the room. Yes, said young gentleman had drawn his curtain and was ‘claiming’ he had no power.

Do you sense another ‘however’ coming on ?

However … I had an ace up my sleeve for, off-screen but next to me was my manager. I updated Mr No-Power on this development. A native teenager lying to an English teacher is not so unique. But would he lie to his Vietnamese manager. Damn right he would.

Just the tip of the iceberg. My camera’s not working

The teacher asks, politely requests, a student to put the camera on. This is after the class has seen a slide giving class rules AND a video in Vietnamese explaining what is expected. It is expected that students will put on their cameras. CUT TO a black screen, and yet another (here is where a teacher needs the patient of a whole temple of Buddhas) invitation to turn on the camera. Student claims camera is not working. Unfortunately, student had turned ON the camera and we could all see, in glorious Technicolor, the student, bold as brass (but thick as a brick). The mistake was then realised, and the student could be seen reaching for the lower corner of the laptop, and camera fades to black.

But that’s just one or two rotten apples, right ?

Are you kidding ? I teach IELTS which is the serious subject; a good grade here is a passport to a different country, to study, to live, maybe get exposed to different points of views, philosophies and outlooks. So you would think the students would be really motivated, right ?

Think again, pucko !

I had one IELTS class with about eight or nine students, including professional people and even a doctor. Guess what … despite the rules being reiterated, the Vietnamese-language video, I end up speaking to eight or nine black screens. Every lesson.

Doesn’t your campus kick ass ?

Kiss ass rather than kick ass. They go, half-heartedly through the motions, make rules but lack the balls to enforce them.

The reasons are clear. Firstly, this is not a state school, the students are CUSTOMERS … they generate revenue. It is a business axiom that the customer is always right. A business needs to keep and expand its customer base. My campus wants customers to return, to tell their friends, schoolmates, family members, each and everybody, they produce Disneyesque promotional films of photogenic children saying how they love learning here, and how they love their teachers (ya never see the fat ugly kids with buck teeth do ya).

Oh, man, you must be puttin’ me on ?

I wish ! You can look for yourself on YouTube, though not too soon after eating; there are stomach-churningly nauseating. Furthermore, the punters are locals, they are Vietnamese. I’ve seen some YouTube videos of a South African man explaining a similar situation in China. When push comes to shove, the natives support each other. Always. Teachers are a dime a dozen, they come ‘n’ go, and who can blame them ? Customers are more valued, they will always take precedence over a foreigner (that is how we are designated). Ready for one or two final delicacies ?


But teenagers are famous for their good behaviour

Haha, yeah good one. Just a brief entrance here. I had one class, back at campus, with some teens. I began saying hello to each student. Some would just stare at me, refusing to say a word. Then they initiated a new game; I would call a customer and rather than answer immediately, the teen would say, “Me ?” with terrible over-acting, faux surprise. This carried on with every subsequent teen. Finally, a teen, let’s called her Mary, copied her classmates, to wit:

Me: Mary, what’s number 3, please ?

Mary: Me ?

Cue the Beethoven

Beethoven as a Child and His Father's Alcoholism - MagellanTV

Me: Is your name Mary ?

Mary: Yes.

Me: Then answer the question and stop wasting my time.

I went on to explain that I will do everything to help anyone who really wants to learn. However, those who just want to insult me and disturb my lesson … well, let’s Samuel L. explain:

GIF jules winnfield and i will strike down upon thee with great vengeance  and furious anger ezekiel 25 17 - animated GIF on GIFER - by Grilace

Finally, (though you can guess this one could run and run), another IELTS class. I was given a real motley crew of unmotivated, unanimated, lifeless schlimels (if you don’t know what that means, look it up, I ain’t doing all the work for you). One schliemel was a teenage boy, a poster-boy for gormlessness. He informed me, by chat box, that his mic wasn’t working. Now, IELTS is all about speaking and practising, it ain’t just watching the teacher, it ain’t TV, dig ? You’ve gotta join in or you are wasting your (parents’) money.

Did you strike down upon him with great vengeance and furious anger ?

I farmed out that hit. Stopped the lesson and let everyone see that I was contacting Customer Care who, in turn, phoned gormless schliemel. Lo and behold, the mic miraculously started working. The guy would have been happy to sit and listen for an hour or two without contributing anything. After, he could go away and laugh that he hadn’t done any work.

If the job sucks, why d’you do it ?

Good question. I’ve spoken to many teachers, in various countries, and the answer is generally, ‘What else can I do ? It’s my profession’. And, at the moment, I don’t need to tell you, travel just ain’t as easy as it used to be.

Is there anything good about it ?

No. OK, I’m pulling your leg. A minority of students are sweet, respectful and polite. They really want to learn, and I can see the progress week by week. Occasionally, very occasionally, an adult student can become a friend, while the younger kids provoke avuncular feelings. Very rarely, one gets to meet a Princess. But these, as stated, are the minority.

“What a piece of work is man ?” What indeed

These situations are hardly isolated.

I saw an interesting site that highlighted some deplorable behaviour by participants. Read the full page here: https://skierscribbler.com/9307/news/inappropriate-behavior-in-zooms/

A new set of guidelines, according to the article, has been set following recent misbehaviors:


Camera’s must be on during online classes, students that fail to comply with this rule may be marked absent (unless there are extenuating circumstances).


In all zoom calls there is now a mandatory waiting room.


Students are no longer allowed to change their names.

Backgrounds must be one of the default zoom backgrounds or a solid color.


If students have a profile photo, it has to be of themselves.


In some classes, chat restrictions have also been implemented.

The teachers are all taking a massive financial hit to keep these lessons going. ‘T’is a pity the customers display contempt and disrespect. C’est la vie.