A: My laptop is so slow. B: Buy a new one. A: I would if I had the money. B: Why is it so slow? A: That’s a good question. B: Did you take it to a computer shop? A: I would if I had the money. B: Well, I guess you have to live with it. A: Sometimes I want to throw it out the window. wanna B: You don’t want to do that. A: Why not? B: You might hit someone on the head.
Re-write but with smart phone instead of ‘laptop.’
Being a bit short – not having much or enough money.
A:Can I borrow £5? quid B: Sure. Why do you need it? A: I want to buy lunch. B: Where’s your money? [Pronunciation: Wheres yah monnnee ?] A: It’s not in my wallet. B: Your wallet is empty? A: I don’t have even one quid in it. B: Being broke is no fun. [Broke = having no money] A: Even if it’s only for a short while. B: It’s always good to have friends. A: Friends will lend you money when you’re broke. B: As long as you pay them back.
Write a similar dialogue but with different situations.
Look up the meaning of these words and expressions, then see how they’re used in the following dialogue.
Sentence order – exercises for you to practice rearranging the words in a sentence to make your English more interesting. This is especially useful for IELTS students.
Vocabulary – a feature just on boosting your command of the English language, and finding higher, or better, low-frequency words for basic English.
Increase vocabulary. The average native-speaker uses about 2 000 words. You can boost your vocabulary by learning verbs, adverbs and adjectives which can be easily found by a Google search. Also, use an online thesaurus.
Speak in longer sentences. Say what you want to say (make your point), then elaborate by giving examples, adding reasons and maybe an anecdote. Along with this, give the opposite view by using conjunctions such as ‘however’, ‘on the other hand’ etc.
Pronunciation. Many native speakers have a problem understanding English learners, so we will practise slow and careful enunciation, intonation and stress.
24th January for 30th January 2020. IELTS Bands 4 – 5.5 Unit 7
Firstly, a big hello to all my readers and followers in India. Yesterday I had over fifty visits from students from the sub-continent and I want you all to know how much I appreciate you taking the time to check out my blog. Thank you so much.
My Indian friends – what is the standard of behaviour in your classrooms ? In my centre, in Sai Gon, Vietnam, we have to employ classroom management (normally reserved for ‘young learners’) to adults. Namely, we have to continually tell the class:
No mobile / cell-phones in the classroom UNLESS it has been sanctioned by the teacher for educational purposes.
No eating, chewing gum, slurping drinks
NO CHATTING WHILE THE TEACHER IS TALKING. THE TEACHER IS HERE TO HELP YOU. FURTHERMORE, IN MOST CULTURES, THIS IS UNBELIEVABLY RUDE AND UNACCEPTABLE.
Take notes, write down new words, practice using them
The teacher is here to help YOU learn. We are not here to entertain you.
These are not MY rules – they are the rules of the centre. If you cannot abide by them, then stop coming to class, stop wasting everyone’s time and money.
Let’s leave the last word to Uncle Ho, bác hồ:
Understand, my Vietnamese classes ? Even Uncle Ho says you,
“need to work much harder.”
And now, without further ado, a warm up exercise to see how much the class has remembered from the last lesson … if anything.
Firstly, complete these phrases and then use them in sentences:
over the ______ // under the ________ // under ________ // more or ________
I’m over the …… because I passed my IELTS test.
Ms Linh is not here, she’s feeling under ………..
The class understood the video, more ……..
So many tests at school, the pupils were under ………
Secondly, what do these words mean, the make a short sentence using them:
I shall try to incorporate some teaching points about India in this blog which, although written before the Lunar New Year (Tet Holiday), is for next week.
The above sentence is an example of the type of English that is expected in order to pass the IELTS exam. As you can plainly see, it isn’t too difficult; I inserted a low-frequency word (‘incorporate‘), used a relative pronoun (‘which‘) in order to make the sentence longer and more fluent, then employed a discourse marker (‘although‘) to link contrasting ideas together in a coherent sentence.
To recap, what you will need to use in both writing and speaking are:
adjectives (but not just the most basic, common ones)
complex sentences (introduce extra information in supporting clauses)
Does this look like YOUR city ? What is similar, what is noticeably different ?
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
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 ?
Remember: you can increase sentences by using adjectives – just say what you see. Basic adjectives such as colours, sizes or materials will all add to your word count and make your speech more interesting (as well as improving scores in tests).
I was delighted when I received your wedding invitation. (FIRST PERSON ‘I’, or use the THIRD PERSON – he/she/it/ a name)
The lady was delighted.
The young lady was delighted.
The beautiful young lady with long straight blonde hair, and wearing a pretty pink top, was delighted.
The young woman, who has long straight blonde hair, was delighted by the invitation.
Look at the photos of the three men and three women.
Read their likes and dislikes, and what they want out of life.
Try to arrange matches.
How successful will the dates be, do you think ?
PETER. Age 46. Lawyer. Likes cooking, travelling, wine, driving, tennis. Divorced, 2 children. Looks for quiet lady with no children, to look after the house and him.
JAMES. Age 26. IT worker. Likes music, dancing, going to clubs, beach holidays. Single. Looks for young lady who is loud and fun, likes to party.
David. Age 22. Model. Likes fashion, clothes, cocktail bars, smoking cigars. Looking for a women who is a model so we can look great together. Must be very beautiful and wear expensive clothes.
And now the ladies: which woman would be the best match for these men ?
Jane. Age 22. Likes fashion, clubbing, kittens, holidays in the sun. Looks for a man with a steady job and ‘down-to-earth’. Non-smoker only.
Lisa. 28. Banker. Likes quiet restaurants, badminton, travelling. Looks for a mature man with good income for long term relationship. No boys, please !
Emily. 20. Likes dancing, fashion, going out with my friends. Movies. Wants a young, cute boy-friend so we can go to parties together. No boring old men, please !
If the dates are successful, they could lead to weddings, married life and children … but we’ll save that for the next blog. In the meantime, here’s some clips of when the big day doesn’t go to plan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCkcU9h5ggc
Genres (types of music): pop / rock / country and western / punk / classical / jazz blues / opera / R ‘n’ B / techno / rap
What kind of music do you like ? Ask your classmates, and try to keep the conversation alive for as long as possible. You can say what genres you like, then give examples of artists and special CDs or records. How do you buy music, how do you listen to it (computer, CD, iPhone, MP3 player ?) Do you play an instrument ? Would you like to play something ? Do you ever go to concerts ?
give in / turn off / start off / put out / cut down/ cut out/ put up with
1 I’m working too much, therefore I must _________ on my hours.
2 You can’t smoke here ! ____________ that cigarette.
3 We have to _________ so much noise and dirt here in Cat Lai (industrial area).
4 I always __________ to my wife when she demands something; it is easier !
5 Time to knock off. Before you go, make sure to _________ your computers.
6 For health reasons, my doctor advised me to _________ fatty food.
7 The film ___________ great, but soon became too complicated.
You are at a job interview and have to introduce yourself. Start by giving some facts, your educational background and how long you have worked in your current/ present job. Describe your personality and finish by saying what you like to do in your spare time.
I was born in …. and I graduated from …. University in 2019 with a major in Business Administration. Since then I’ve had two year’s experience in administrative work at ATHA and followed that with a stint in SLH Corporation.
I’m a very organised person, well-balanced and efficient. I’m hard-working and dedicated.
In my free time, I like to travel and I love to paint. In addition, I enjoy going out and having coffee with friends. I also support Barcelona and enjoy playing badminton after work.
I live in a:
quiet, residential street. Peaceful at night.
lively and busy commercial area, many shops
dirty and dusty industrial part of town. Very noisy.
My home is a / an:
apartment and I live alone
rented room share with friends
house live with family
pros and cons – advantages and disadvantages
adverbs of degree (very, extremely, incredibly, remarkably, unbelievably)
I travel to work by:
Motorbike. It’s quite / rather far and extremely stressful.
Use Grabbike. It’s very convenient albeit rather expensive.
On the bus. Although it’s incredibly cheap, it’s not very pleasant.
Idioms and expressions
At work I find myself doing the same thing day in day out. It’s tedious.
Learning English is, for me, easy, a piece of cake. It’s very important and fun.
In my free time:
I enjoy watching films and playing sports. I am competitive !
adore hanging out with my friends and family.
love shopping. I can spot a bargain and I hate being ripped off !
in my opinion, is vital for the future. It’s imperative we learn.
is a necessary task. It’s awkward and frustrating, but I need it.
is highly enjoyable and relaxing. I love to improve my mind.
The War Remnants Museum is
extremely popular with tourists, a major attraction in the city.
well laid-out and organised. The exhibits are fascinating.
very sombre and thought-provoking. Well worth a visit.
educational and essential. We can discover much there.
not suitable for children, though I would recommend it to adults.
Increase your word power
Part 1: Match the basic words with others of similar meaning
For example boring = tedious
interesting / on time / forgetful / live (I live in) / smart (clever) / get (by hard work) attain / absent-minded /fascinating / punctual / intelligent / reside
unhappy / honest / not often / tired / place / reliable // exhausted / seldom / miserable / trustworthy / dependable / environment
small or unimportant / try / make / great / happy / not nice / / endeavour / jovial / prepare / insignificant / nasty / brilliant
John is so forgetful; he is _______________
German manufacturers are reliable; they are ____________
The increase is very small; it is _______________
The plane was on time; the service is very _____________
She is so clever; she is very ______________
Now make sentences with the new words. Put class into teams and they have to make sentences with five new words e.g. (for example):
After studying for three years, John attained his BA Degree.
Use these phrasal verbs in new sentences – BUT in the past or continuous tense.
give in / give up / put up with / put off / take off / start off
how can I put it ?
a fair comment ?
peer pressure ?
willing = happy to do something
concise = short and to the point.
sneaky = crafty, cheeky
I am __________ to help you with your homework.
Please be short and _________ when you give a speech.
The audience was only _____________ after the band played.
People can get cancer just by _________________ .
I have so much work to do and have a meeting with my boss; it’s a ______________
12th December for 14th December 2019 E Up 3, pp. 80 – 81
I’m covering this class for just one lesson (hopefully). There are 21 students and I think I’ve had this class before at a lower level. The first part of the lesson can be activities to go over the language learnt in previous lessons. This can take the form of a game, with students being placed in five groups and allowed to choose their team name.
1 Tell me about the men (basic adjectives) then use the comparative.
EXAMPLE: One man is short, one man is tall. The man with glasses is taller.
2 Who is stronger ?
3 Give me three adjectives for these clothes.
Which one is thicker ? Which one is prettier ?
4 Write three heavy objects (things) then three light objects.
5 How can your help your mum and dad in your house ? Three ways to help out.
6 What does the young girl do before work ?
7 Now what is this boy doing after school ?
7 Always / usually / sometimes / never
In the morning, Teacher Paul ……….. drinks coffee
The students in this school are ……………. quiet.
Tell me something you usually do and something you do sometimes.
8 What three chores can you do on a farm ?
I need three things: a haircut, a book and some coffee … where can I go ?
I’ll deal five cards to a student then ‘read’ their future. For example, a student is dealt:
2, 7, 10, Jack, Queen
I will choose a male student and say, “You will pass a big test in two year’s time. You will have seven beautiful girlfriends and then you will find your Queen. Together, you will have ten children and the eldest boy you will name Jack.
I shall then ask some of the more creative students to ‘read’ their partner’s fortune.
Finally, this is Dynamo. How is he able to do this ?
I think he could be a … / She seems to be …/ I get the impression that she is … / From his build, I’d say he was a … / Because of her appearance, I feel she must be a …
Personality adjectives (negative – arrogant). These are strong adjectives:
arrogant // self-obsessed // pretentious // obnoxious // full of themselves
Let’s kick off with some basic information about my friend Pete:
Pete’s family are Irish. He was born in Kent, south England. He loves music especially Jazz and he can play saxophone, keyboards, guitar and bass. He is 40 years old. He is bald, and wears glasses. Currently he plays bass in a band called ‘The Deep Six’. They have a video on YouTube. In the photo, Pete is with the famous 60s drummer Kenny Jones. He was in The Small Faces. Later he joined The Who after their original drummer died.
Pete, who was born in Kent in the south of England, is of Irish heritage. Although he is just forty, Pete looks older, probably due to the fact that he is bald, as well as having to wear glasses. His great passion in life is music, especially Jazz, but his interest is not merely passive; he plays several instruments. In addition to saxophone and keyboards, Pete is proficient on guitar. Having said that, he actually plays bass now in a band named The Deep Six, who have a video on YouTube. Pete is seen here with the legendary drummer Kenny Jones whorose to fame in the 60s as drummer for chart-topping band The Small Faces before joining The Who following the death of their original drummer.
Now, a quick practice:
This is Wei Minzhi. She was born near Beijing. She was chosen to be in a Chinese film called ‘Not One Less’. She was 13. She played a substitute teacher but had no experience teaching (and no experience acting). The area is very poor. Some of the children have to leave school to work. The film was shown all over Europe, even at special film festivals. She was famous. She did no more acting. She studied in USA. She lives in Hawaii. Wei is married and has two children.
Small talk responses
A great way to increase conversation and use more natural language is to practise keeping conversations going for as long as possible. Think of it as verbal tennis – keep ‘hitting’ questions and responses at each other.
What do you do ?
I’m a student ?
Really ? Where do you study ?
That’s interesting. What branch (what area) of engineering ? Mechanical, electrical ?
And this be continued – where does the person study, does the student like the course, the university, the teachers, the fellow students etc.
Really ? // I see // Are you ? // Right // That’s interesting // That’s a good point // Where is that exactly ? // Oh, me too // Do you enjoy it ? // Do you like it there ?
Now was a chance for some new vocabulary, words and phrases associated with holidays and travel.
Now is the perfect time to visit London, England’s glorious capital. The weather is perfect for walking, so you can enjoy the lush parks, world-famous museums and incredible, unbelievable shops. There is something for everyone … and more ! Like sports ? Go to one of the many Premier League football games. Love shopping ? Everything is here – shop till you drop ! Adore culture – soak up hundreds of years of history.
NOTE – the use of adjectives to really bring the presentation alive and make it exciting.
Flights from TSN airport daily. Seven-day all-inclusive package tour starting from only 50m VND ! All transfers and transport included. Air-conditioned mini bus with Vietnamese-speaking guide.
Students are put into small groups and take turns speaking. The topic shall be travel, and the students have to use the following:
amazing / attachment / incredibly / predict / first impressions / you’ve come to the right place
With all speaking exercises, it helps if the teacher or a top student models first, so that all the students understand what they have to do. I shall use the same words but my theme shall be food:
On Saturday, I was out shopping and I felt very hungry. I went into a restaurant and my first impression was not encouraging. It looked a bit dirty and I predicted that the food wouldn’t be very exciting. However, they had an interesting menu with vegetarian options, which was amazing ! I ordered some pho and salad and it was incredibly delicious. I thought to myself I’ve come to the right place. I took some photos so I’ll send them to you by attachment on my next email.
Travel – hotel recommendation
I’m planning a trip to Nha Trang (a beach town in South Vietnam, about an hour’s flight from Ho Chi Minh City). I have two hotels in mind, but I need advise from some Vietnamese. They also have to use as many of these words as possible:
visually stunning / mouth-watering / you get what you pay for / spectacular / a waste of money / significantly / somewhat / according to / how can I put it ?
Students must tell me about the hotels, the area, the food and which one they would choose for me:
Victory Hotel 2* Rooms not very clean, no view. No complimentary breakfast.
Sandy Bay Hotel 4* Much more expensive, although it has breakfast buffet, and room has a balcony with view of the sea.
Trip Advisor recommends Sandy Bay, but they said Victory was dirty and very over-priced.
Local food is great
WILF (What I’m looking for): can the students describe the scenery and food ? Can they compare price and quality difference ? Can they use expressions appropriately ?
With the adjectives, I’ll be listening out for intonation – ‘spectacular !’
To quote another source of information, ‘according to’ and for the prices, the 4* is ‘significantly more’ expensive than … Then, in conclusion, can they make a judgement – ‘a waste of money’ or accepting that high quality means high prices, ‘you get what you pay for.’
Travel: Life in Sai Gon
ubiquitous everywhere, very common
naïve innocent, inexperienced
stroll a gentle walk, for exercise (collocation: take a stroll)
a bazaar (noun) a permanent, covered market
bizarre (adjective) very strange, unusual
absent-minded extremely forgetful
sky-high, astronomical very expensive, maybe too expensive
laundry / laundromat dirty clothes / a place to wash clothes (collocation: do laundry)
predictable it is possible to guess the answer, people doing the same thing
Street _______ are common in Vietnam, and they are _________ in District 1. It is nearly impossible for a westerner to take a ________ without being approached. Some claim to sell Ray Bans or designer sunglasses, but you would have to be extremely ________ to believe they are genuine ! They are all fake, probably made in China. Many people try to _____(collocation) money by selling to tourists especially around Ben Thanh Market, a kind of _______, though this is strictly for tourists as the prices are ____________ !
What Difference Does It Make ?
I give students a paper with two words or phrases that are related but different. They have to clarify the distinction, for example
4th December for 7th December 2019 E Up 4 pp. 80 – 81
This is my final lesson with this relatively ‘easy’ class. There are only 13 students, and the class is well-behaved compared to many others. Today, there is a final checkup and a creative project. To keep the festivities going, I’m going to prepare an activity list, covering various subject. These can be done in small teams, maybe pairs or threes.
Name three things we can have for lunch
2. What did this man eat and drink ?
I need the whole sentence using the past tense for ‘eat’ & ‘drink’ and a linking word.
3. Make a sentence: Jane – models 😡 cloths 😀
Jane likes to design clothes but she doesn’t like to make models
Peter – songs 😡 movies 😀 // Tina – pictures 😡 stories 😀
4. Draw a picture of Dali !
5. Tell me four types of art.
6. What are you going to do this afternoon ?
7. Tell me three things we can make.
8. What does Teacher Paul like ? Two thing …
9. Someone who plays guitar is a … // someone who tells the news is a …
10. This is my friend Mark:
He works in films and in plays. What is his job ?
11. Where does he live ?
12. How does Mark go home ?
13. If I go to Nha Trang, what do I need to take with me ? Three things …
14. Space – What is the biggest planet ? // What is the sun ? // Can we hear in space ?
15. Watch Mr Mark. What did he eat for breakfast ? What words did Mr Mark use ? Can you smile like him ?
2nd December for 3rd December 2019 AEF Listening p. 72 & Review p. 103
This block of lessons is something of a mixed bag; there’s a long listening piece, a review with a chunk of text, and a printed scenario for speaking practice. Listening is perhaps the hardest. Consequently, the students can be less than engaged with the lesson, faces fall and participation plummets. Although my hands are tied – I have to teach this assigned lesson – I can endeavour to bring it alive, take it off the page and into context.
To kick off – let’s go over the highlighted text and focus on ‘less than’.
In plain English, I would say, “The students will be bored.” This is rather hard and sets a negative tone so, using British politeness, I soften the language. We practised a similar technique in a previous lesson. To recap, how would you describe this gentleman:
We can all see that the gentleman could benefit from going to the gym and maybe reducing his intake of unhealthy food, but we want to be polite and not blunt (or indeed, rude). Consequently, we would say:
“He’s not the thinnest man in the world.”
Here’s how it works – we take the negative adjective (here, and excuse the impolite word, it would be ‘fat’, maybe even ‘obese‘), then apply the opposite (‘thin’) and use it in the superlative form (thin, thinner, thinnest). We simply form the sentence by saying that the subject IS NOT the opposite superlative form – he IS NOT the thinnest man … Try these two for practice – there may be more than one negative adjective you could use:
Now, today’s expression (and expressions are vital for boosting students’ English up to the next level) – ‘less than’ – what sentences could you make here ? The subject could be the man, the film or, more generally, cinema today.
Examples: The man is less than excited by the film // The man is less than engrossed with the movie // The film is less than thrilling // Films today are less than intelligent.
This item comes from China:
Products from China are less than perfect // less than top quality // less than well-made. Finally:
Movin’ on; Tonight’s listening is about a ‘boys’ night out’. What do you think that means ? If they had a friend visit Sai Gon and he asks for a ‘boys’ night out’, where would they take him ?
How do you think this man spent his boys’ night out ?
And now for something completely different; what do you think of this man ?
What’s My Line. I will pretend to be this man answering questions truthfully, and the class have to guess what this man does.
Firstly, are the following true or false ?
This man is said to be worth $180 million.
He is married to the Queen’s grand-daughter
He was arrested in 2009 because the police thought he was a homeless person.
He travels a lot for work, around the world.
In 2016, he tried to become President of the USA
He has a Noble Prize for Literature in 2017 although he has only published two books.
Class must now ask open questions and from my responses, have to guess why I am famous.
He is, of course, a singer-songwriter, an icon of the 1960s, and still releasing music to this day.
Now the students chance. In small groups, they can select a famous person and the other team(s) have to guess who they are. We can limit the guessing to a certain number of questions, or fix a time limit.
A variation on this game is to have a student sit in front of the board and write a name behind them. The student has to ask question and the rest of the class can only answer ‘Yes,’ or ‘No.’ For example, I could write HARI WON and the student could ask:
Am I a man ? // Am I alive // Am I famous ? // Am I old ? // Am I on TV ? // Do I play sports professionally ? // Do I act ? // Am I in the news a lot ? // etc