IELTS: Mindset 2 first review

22nd December 2020

IELTS information for Ghana students – Achilinks Consult
Ready to pass with flying colours

After three or four lessons, I expect my students to know several common idioms (their meaning and how to use them appropriately), a number of low-frequency words (L-FWs), how to introduce an answer, how to form a complex sentence and to demonstrate varieties of intonation and stress.

Without these features, you ain’t gonna get above a ‘5’, no way. Therefore, time for a quick review, see how you’re measuring up to the standard, whether you need to turn over a new leaf and put your nose to the grindstone.

Therefore, let’s recap

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

turn over a new leaf

put your nose to the grindstone

5 Best IELTS Practice Tests for International Students | ApplyBoard
Students putting their noses to the grindstone

Part 1: What do the aforementioned idioms mean ?

Part 2: Give each student an idiom. They have to use it, correctly, in a sentence.

L-FWs:

gritty / industrial / quite / safe / residential / boring / peaceful / suburban / bustling / vibrant / city centre.

ubiquitous // naïve // stroll // a bazaar // bizarre // predictable

absent-minded // sky-high, astronomical // an entrepreneur //

hawkers or peddlers // a mover and a shaker // consider //

Part 3: Students have to describe their neighbourhood, using as many L-FWs, and idioms, as they are able.

Encouraging IELTS students to read beyond the course book | Collins ELT
Students burning the candle at both ends

Introductions:

That’s a very interesting question

Well, that’s a great 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 …

As a young Vietnamese (add your own nationality), I …

Part 4: Students have to demonstrate they know how to introduce their answer.

What do you want to do in the future ?

Give them one minute to prepare a very short reply.

Student Visa For Australia Without Ielts 12th Pass Students in Jalandhar,  VISA Solution Services | ID: 8848189962
It’s funny you asked me that question because recently, I have been considering moving to Australia …

Complex Sentences:

Part 5: Moving on, students have to form complex sentences out of the following information, using intonation to reflect excitement or a positive point and, conversely, a negative factor. Discourse markers to be employed in order to link ideas, naturally. Furthermore, I shall be listening for adverbs and adjectives.

First, choose the correct relative pronoun (who, which, whose or where)

London //

capital of UK // many shops and museums // expensive and cold

Teacher John //

from New Zealand // smiles and plays guitar // talks too fast

Ironman //

real name Tony Starke // very rich and intelligent // is fictional

Thailand //

90 minutes flight from HCMC // friendly people, great food // many western tourists and crowded

ABC English Centre //

located in city centre, District 1 // use laptops and tablets in classes // lessons are four hours long, with extra homework.

Team work

Part 6: Class split into two teams. They have to plan a day in their city (here, of course, it’s Sai Gon) for my friend Ethan.

The exercise can be found on this blog: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/12/16/ielts-planning-a-day-out/

Just look for this picture:

Ethan Hawke Sticks Up For Texas, Reps Beto and Turns a Dead ...

Finally: review negotiation language. Watch this video and discuss your views on the tourists opinion of Sai Gon:

How do the tourists feel about the city ?

As residents, do you agree with the review ?

Students can discuss the video using the following language:

I agree totally // I agree to an extent // I disagree // I’m not entirely sure about that // No way ! // They don’t know what they are talking about !

optimistic // uninformed // delusional // open-minded // enthusiastic

IELTS: Intonation, stress, let me feel the emotion (Volume 1)

16th November 2020

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for my Asian students is copying the speech patterns of English, how our voices rise and fall, how we pause for effect then stress key words, augmented by body language and facial expressions.

Best way to improve is to copy so, without further ado, some classic film lines.

Let’s dive in !

First up, ‘The Italian Job’, a British film from 1969 starring Michael Caine, who is still working today, an actor from south London: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8g_GeQR8fJo

“You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off !”

Now, let’s cross the pond (the Atlantic Ocean) and go Stateside, with Tom Cruise being yelled at (shouted at) by Jack Nicholson who you may remember from a previous video. The clip is from ‘A Few Good Men,’ a 1992 drama: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5j2F4VcBmeo

This can be for two students or teams: Start at 0:13 – 0:19

“You want answers,”

“I want the truth,”

“You can’t handle the truth !”

Movin’ on, most of most students are teenagers … this one’s for them. Emely Martinez and some informal, vernacular: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7nyqZJG1WU&list=PLcFdqEA1TNzMEObFQ-XYy4u6dYnrkUSEa&index=13

Watch from the beginning

“Oh my gosh, I think I’ve just come up with the best theory … teenage life sucks !”

Now for a personal favourite, the inimitable Peter O’Toole an actor I had the pleasure of seeing, and briefly meeting, back in my London days. Here, Peter is on a talk show, explaining about a long, arduous flight from Japan to the USA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuhHThAaymQ

I heartily recommend watching the whole clip, however our section starts at 2:21

“Coming from Japan, one indeed stops at lots of places … Hawaii and all over … and it coincided, our stopping, with the cocktail hour … everywhere we went, it was cocktail hour … and one doesn’t want to be discourteous …”

Finally, my favourite TV chef (after Keith Floyd, obviously) is the beautiful Ching-He Huang

My Day on a Plate: Ching He-Huang

Here’s an assortment of phrases and lines from one of her numerous YouTube clips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVmAMQYTtHk

The whole clip is under two minutes. Here are some selections, in order of appearance.

“From street food to fine dining, Hong Kong is the place that has some of the best food on the planet. Every time I come my absolute favourite thing to do is eat.”

“So this is the pineapple bun, this is the moment I’ve been waiting for, it’s flakey and it’s sweet … it’s really good.”

“It’s small and punchy … just like you !”

“The sweetness of the prawns … eeerrrrrrrr !”

“This is some serious woking !”

The last phrase shows how we can play with English; a wok is a traditional Chinese frying pan. Here, Ching uses the noun (wok) to form a verb (woking), which is non-standard, in fact, it isn’t in any of the online dictionaries I searched. Having said that, most native-English speakers watching the show will know what she means.

If you are unsure, Ching is saying that the restaurant is extremely busy, there is a lot of high-energy cooking going on (woks are associated with high-temperature, very quick dishes).

Ching-He Huang recipes - BBC Food

IELTS Speaking: intonation and stress

31st August 2020

Asian University Life Concept. Group Arkivvideomateriale (100 %  royaltyfritt) 32097208 | Shutterstock

I cannot overstate how important it is how IELTS students present their answers. Look the examiner in the eye (but do not stare !), use body language … watch interviews to see how native-speakers use their face, hands and body in everyday conversation.

Try saying the following sentences with the appropriate intonation and stress.

Intonation is how we raise or lower the pitch of our voices to express meaning for example with positive adjectives, our voices become higher, while becoming slower and deeper with negative adjectives.

Stress is how we make some words louder to show they are the important words in the sentence.

Now … practice

Example: Turn off the music – I hate that song !

Listening to 'extreme' music makes you calmer, not angrier, according to  study | Music | The Guardian

Turn off the music – I hate that song !

TIPS: decide if the sentence is positive, neutral or negative.

I love this film. I could watch it a hundred times.

My sister is such a prima donna, always taking selfies !

How much did you pay for that shirt ? Are you crazy ?

I’m not going out in this weather ! It’s raining cats and dogs.

Why are you so tired ?

I’ve been up all night studying for IELTS.

Oh, you’ve been burning the candle at both ends.

What the hell do you call this ?

Lessons Learned from a Bad Grade | Fastweb
An ‘F’ … what the hell do you call this ?

I’m going to work much harder to pass IELTS, I’m going to put my nose to the grindstone.

Wait a minute, wait a minute … hmmmm, this is a damn fine cup of coffee !

How often does my husband clean the house ? Once in a blue moon.

Now … practice stress

How old are you ? (say this as a general question)

How old are you ? (someone is acting childish)

I don’t believe it (you see someone after a long time – happy)

I don’t believe it (something bad happens – angry)

Watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTgT1eENbIs

You’ve been gone so long. Where were you ? (sad and worried)

You’ve been gone so long. Where were you ? (angry)

OK, you can play with your phones, but if the manager sees you … (friendly warning)

OK, you can play with your phones, but if the manager sees you … (angry warning)

The film ? Not really my cup of tea but it was OK (quite good)

The film ? Not really my cup of tea but it was OK (just so-so)

Bored People Watching Film in : video stock a tema (100% royalty free)  1014817775 | Shutterstock
The film was OK

IELTS: Speaking Practice

10th August 2020

To pass IELTS with flying colours you need to use low-frequency words, idiomatic language, discourse markers AND speak with natural intonation, stress and rhythm.

This means PRACTICE, PRACTICE & PRACTICE

TwoSet Violin Perfects Their Practice

So, without further ado, complete these idioms:

Once in _______________

Put (my, your etc) _______________     to the ______________

Burn (ing) __________________   at ______________

It’s raining _____________________

It costs ___________________________

Piece ________________

Now use them in a sentence:

A 4star hotel in Singapore _______________________ (very expensive)

Wear boots and a coat; it’s been ____________________ (very bad weather)

He parties all day and night! He can’t ________________ forever. (doing something for too many hours)

She is not academic, she’ll read a book ______________ (hardly ever).

If you are serious about IELTS, you’ll need to _____________________ (start working much harder).

Now – give me an adverb and a low-frequency word

EXAMPLE:

Teaching unmotivated students is terribly tedious.

Lazy Student Quotes, Quotations & Sayings 2020

Thai food is ______________ _______________

(very tasty)

After failing her test, she was _________ _________

(very sad)

Marvel films are _____________ _______________

(very popular)

My poor old grandma is getting ___________ _______

(very forgetful)

Practice saying these for correct intonation

Swami Vivekananda quote: Everything is easy when you are busy. But ...

Speaking Practice – use discourse markers to extend your speaking and to link ideas.

Try to use: although / consequently / therefore

Describe something you own which is very important to you. 

You should say: 

where you got it from

how long you have had it

what you use it for

explain why it is important to you. 

  • You will have to talk about the topic for 1 to 2 minutes. 
  • You have one minute to think about what you’re going to say. 
  • You can make some notes to help you if you wish. 

Rounding off questions 

  • Is it valuable in terms of money? 
  • Would it be easy to replace? 

This could be a physical object, a memento with sentimental value, or an abstract noun such as health, happiness etc.

Small talk …. Try to talk for as long as possible – then change subjects:

your home town / your favourite holiday / family / favourite hobby / a great place to visit in your city / some terrible things about your city /

Listening: real-world clips.

20th April 2020

The following clips are provided not only for listening practice but also for speaking: try to copy, to imitate, the speakers. Listen out for the intonation, stress and rhythm of these native-speakers.

And now, without further ado, the first clip:

The Queen

Every Christmas, The Queen addresses the nation (make a ten-minute TV appearance). This clip has subtitles so you will be able to follow what Her Majesty says, looking up any new words.

For pronunciation practice, I suggest listening to very short extracts and trying to copy the voice. The Queen, naturally, speaks Queen’s English (the most prestigious form of standard English).

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch

Do you know this actor ? How much can you understand ?

Shakespearean pronunciation:

This includes the famous opening lines from Richard III

Now is the winter of our discontent

Made glorious summer by this son of York

The phrase ‘winter of our discontent’ or ‘winter of discontent’ has entered the language and is frequently quoted in newspapers, blogs and everyday conversation.

In the quote, Richard is referring to the new king, Edward IV, from the York dynasty. He plays with the words ‘son’ and ‘sun’, comparing the new king with the spring sun chasing away the misery and despair of an English winter.

For more real-life clips, and listening exercises, click on this link: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2019/01/23/listening-skills-tips-and-links/

Adult Professionals: Mechanics, Part 4

12th February 2020

Contents

Conspiracy theories

Engineering marvels

Why trains can’t go uphill

Conspiracy Theories:

Have you heard of film director Stanley Kubrick ?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oR_e9y-bka0

Did we REALLY go to the Moon ?

Are there ALIENS ?

DID the Wright Brothers actually invent the airplane ?https://www.businessinsider.com/10-items-not-invented-by-who-you-think-2011-8

WRIGHT BROTHERS

Which of these surprised you ?

Engineering marvels

Which ones impressed you most ?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFbug8as10U

James May – why can’t trains go uphills ?

Image result for james may train uphill

What do you think of James’ pronunciation – can you understand all ? Try to copy him: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbUsKWbOqUU

What is the problem with trains and going up gradients ?

What do they struggle to do ?

What are the scientific reasons for this ?

Image result for steepest railroad in uk

What was the problem with James May speaking ?

James normally speaks quite clearly, but there were problems. This was due, I feel, to the speed and the amount of language. Look at this conversation analysis: (0. 10 – 0.42):

And now, ‘Why can’t trains go uphills ?’ Well, the smarter ones amongst you will have recognised already, especially if you’re a qualified railway engineer, this is a bit of a trick question because of course, train can go uphills … they’re just not very good at it.

If you think about the topography of most of the world, this is clearly a bit of a problem. Human being can … albeit rather sweatily, motivate themselves up a gradient of around eighty degrees, or one in a quarter.

Listen again– hear how James:

  • links words
  • uses expressions (bit of a)
  • adds addition information / commentary in supporting clauses. 
  • Creative use of adverbs – sweatilyshows how many words can be made adverbs

Think – does James need to add the clauses ? What is the purpose ? Consider the medium (TV, internet, blog etc) and the target audience.

James is speaking to a fluent, English-speaking audience, probably native speakers, or people who have lived in the UK for a long time. Therefore, they will be more used to this natural way of speaking.

This is why I recommend student put their text books down and read real English books, watch English-speaking films and TV shows and sing English songs. It really helps.

He does make allowances for non-British audiences by showing two fifty-pence coins, but his language isn’t downgraded.

Intonation – SO important to assist in conveying meaning.