Adult Class, Level 3: Relationships

26th May 2020

AEF 5B pp 50 – 51

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Tonight’s subject is relationships, and the book work seems well-balanced, with vocabulary, listening and speaking exercises. However, this is quite a strong group and appear motivated. With that in mind, I push them to learn more, in order to prepare them for their next class, which will be the quantum leap into IELTS.

However = discourse marker, better than just saying ‘but.’

With that in mind = expression meaning ‘because of that.’

in order to = to help for the future – I am learning Vietnamese in order to speak to my students.

quantum leap = massive (very, very large) jump forward or progression

Bearing in mind that Vietnamese operate on ‘elastic time’ (a polite way of saying the students turn up in dribs and drabs, ie, ten, twenty or thirty minutes late), so I can’t start any serious teaching until the whole class is present. Therefore, I use some warm up activities.

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Egyptian students preparing for their lesson

Warm Up: Call My Bluff.

This is a vocabulary-building exercise. I introduce a new word, then give three possible definitions. Students have to deduce, or just guess, the correct meaning.

1. Ubiquitous

– adj means something that is very common, everywhere

– noun equipment used in scuba diving

-name used towards close friends or family

2. Significant

– noun a small built-in safe in a hotel

– adj something very special, different or important

– verb to paint Chinese or Japanese characters with great care

3. Consequently

– adverb discourse marker meaning because of that, this happened

– noun a person who cheats other people to get more money

– verb a type of pass in football that leads to a goal being scored.

4. Extrapolate

– noun a chair used by a dentist, that can be lowered or raised

– verb to get only important information from a lot of text

– adj something made from different materials or many different colours

Then students have to write four sentences using the new words, as well as trying to repeat them throughout the lesson.

I’m not going to give you the answers – look up the definitions yourself, it will help you to learn.

Warm Up: What is the name, to you, of …

What is the name of your mother’s husband ?

What is the name of your mother’s sister ?

What is the name, to you, of your mother’s brother’s son.

What is the name of your father’s mother ?

What is the name of your father’s mother’s father

Next stage is sentence building:

I am from London. It is an expensive city.

To combine these pieces of information, we use the relative pronoun ‘which‘:

I am from London which is an expensive city.

We replace the pronoun ‘it’ with a relative pronoun ‘which’ and create a longer sentence. This skill is important / vital / imperative to attain a good IELTS score.

Try these:

Kimmy is from Tokyo. It is very crowded.

Tony is from New York. It is a vibrant city.

Scott wants to visit the War Museum. It is in District 1.

Lisa teaches in Beijing. It is the capital of the PROC (People’s Republic of China).

Moving on … My friend

Peter on the left, with famous drummer Kenny Jones

When we link information about a person, the pronoun, ‘he’ or ‘she’ is replaced by the relative pronoun ‘who.’

On the left is my friend Peter. I met him in 2010. I met him in London.

On the left is my friend Peter, who I met in London ten years ago.

On the left is my friend Peter, who I met in 2010 in London.

Try linking these: Remember to replace ‘he’ and use ‘who’ but you have to change the sentence.

Peter is Irish. He was born in Dublin // Peter, who is Irish, was born in Dublin

Peter loves music. He can play saxophone, keyboards, guitar and bass.

Peter is 40 years old. He is bald, and wears glasses.

Peter plays bass. He has a video on YouTube.

Peter is with the drummer Kenny Jones. He played in The Small Faces in the 1960s.

Be careful with the last one. The pronoun ‘he’ is about Kenny Jones.

Be careful with the next two. We only need ONE relative pronoun:

The drummer Kenny Jones. He played in The Small Faces in the 1960s. He is with Peter.

The Manager Mr Smith. He is from Australia. He is going to travel to Mexico.

2018 - Mexico City - OJ, Man | Another day of wandering the … | Flickr

The manager, Mr Smith who is from Australia, is going to travel to Mexico.

Creative writing.

This is a simplified version of an IELTS blog: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/03/29/adult-speaking-class-level-3-storytelling/

Students, working in pairs or small groups, must come up with a storline for these couples.

Describe these two people. What are they wearing ? What are their personalities ? What do you think they do ? How do they meet ?

Be creative and feel free to use dialogue.

How do they know each other ?

What will happen when they meet ?

Will they get on ?

Will they have a terrible time ?

How about these

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How do these two know each other ?

Try to invent an interesting, fascinating story line. Maybe they haven’t met since there were born ?

Now, let’s get creative:

Write a short story using dialogue and adjectives.

MOTIVATION: why do the characters do what they do ?

PLOT: what happens … and why ?

CHARACTERS: make sure each one is an individual and speaks differently.

Ideas:

Where do they meet ?

How do they meet ?

How do they know each other ?

What do they think of each other and how do they express it ?

EXAMPLE:

Boram, a young Korean lady, is at home getting ready to go out. She has put on her favourite white and pink dress and, with her lucky pink bow in her luscious chestnut hair, looks absolutely stunning.

Today she is going to meet her cousin who is coming to Seoul for the first time. Boram needs to practice violin, because she plays in the university orchestra and they have an important concert coming up, however, she is concerned about her cousin getting lost in the big bewildering city. That is typical of Boram, always putting other people first. She is a very sweet and thoughtful caring lady.

[In the first sentence I named the lady – Boram. Therefore, we can use a pronoun – she – because we know the subject]

Tell me about her cousin, Leon.

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: USA … sun, surf & sand.

18th May 2020

Holidays Stateside

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You are going to the USA. How will you prepare ?

Before you go 

What do you need to do ? Use the following words to build long sentences with linking words (also, as well as) and adverbs (extremely, absolutely, quite):

research // compare // vaccination // insurance // thermal underwear // sunblock // visa // traveller’s cheques // adapter // currency // medication reservation route // travel books (fiction and/or guides)

EXAMPLE: Before I book my ticket, I will need to research flight prices online as some airlines charge considerable more than others.

Look at this website:

http://www.gapyeartravelstore.com/blog/top-20-travel-gift-ideas-2016/

30 Inspiring Gap Year Travel Ideas
Meeting the locals is part of the travel experience

[A ‘gap – year’ is when young people travel before, or during, their university studies. It creates a gap – a space – between school and university or between the three or four years of study.]

Make a short presentation – what do you think of the items ? 

Which do you consider to be:

essential / useful / unnecessary / a waste of space ! / totally useless

You are allowed to choose five items – which would you choose and why ?

GRAMMAR

‘Have to’ and ‘must’

When packing, which items do you HAVE TO bring ? Which items MUST you bring ?

Remember: have to = requirement // must = personal choice

EXAMPLE: to travel, I have to bring my passport and I must buy some shampoo.

Travelling to USA

Usa Tourism Map - Tourism Company and Tourism Information Center

Make a list. Be sure to include paperwork, important personal items and non-essential personal items.

I have to bring // I must bring

At passport control

You will hear questions like these. Write them down. Practise asking and answering: https://www.youtube.com/watchv=RFV0hZpmmr4&index=1&list=PL97HViQblvdEM3zsauRxnIg1baFTNmsDM

However, where to go ?

The USA is enormous, stretching from the sun-kissed Hawaiian Islands to the bitter winters of New England.

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In the next blog, we’ll focus on three cities: Boston, Chicago & San Francisco … what do you know about them ?

Have a good day 🙂

I miss you already

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Beginners’ English: How do you feel ?

17th March 2020

Emotions vocabulary: 

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

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

Emotions vocabulary: Practice

Tell me about these people

First, a man. Pronoun is ‘he’.

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

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

He is very happy. He is overjoyed

She is …

Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: Collocations

17th January 2020

Collocations

Image result for joker put on a happy face

Many people ask how to progress from intermediate level to becoming fluent in English. One way is to learn collocations – these are groups of words that usually go together to make a new meaning – and so much of everyday English is made up of collocations, idioms, slang, colloquialisms etc.

Collocations – ‘make’

In the above paragraph I used ‘made up’. This is a good example.

‘Made up’ came means invented (we make up a story to tell children) & it can mean containing (my fb group is made up from people from all over the world). We can use it in the past tense or present – ‘made’ or ‘make’.

You probably know some phrasal verbs; If two people argue then become friends again, they make up. When a woman puts on lipstick, she is using makeup.

Here are some common collocations with ‘make’:

Make up your mind (decide about something).

Make dinner / make a sandwich.

Make time (find some spare time to do something).

Make it through the night (be able to do something after some bad news OR keep working for a very long time).

Make it through a long book (finish it, read it to the end).

Image result for reading Infinite Jest

Try these exercise … use make / made / make up / made up.

‘Infinite Jest’ is a very long book but I ……. my way through it.

I forgot my homework, so I had to ………. a story to tell my teacher.

When you come home, can you …… dinner for the children.

My teeth hurt; can you …… an appointment at the dentist for ?

The architect Gaudi never used to …… his buildings with straight lines. 

Should I wear the black or green tie ? I can’t …… my mind.

This is so confusing ! I don’t know what to ……. of it.

Your room is so messy – can’t you even ….. your bed ?

You kids ….. me crazy !

I ………. a pig’s ear of the whole business (past tense – to do something completely wrong).

I did OK in the test, but ……. some silly mistakes.

He drank several coffees to help him …… it through the night shift.

Put

the cat out/ the fire out / on your red shoes /on a happy face

it in your own words / up or shut up ! / it away / it another way

Image result for put it in your own words

Get

well soon / over it ! / on with it / away with murder / on the bus /

stuffed ! (impolite) / with the program (US) / some fresh air

Make

a career move / your move / a pig’s ear of something /a wish /

up for lost time / the best of something / fun of someone

Image result for made a pig's ear

Do

the right thing / away with that old technology / your best /

a funny walk / the dishes / your hair

Bring

it on ! / it to me / “my bow of burning gold” (poem) / about change

it up at the next meeting / a smile to my face / up children well

Image result for bring it on

Take

turns speaking / it up with the manager / up my trousers a little /

a good look at yourself / a hike ! / medicine / a deep breathe

Image result for take a break

What do these collocations suggest ?

Widely available // routine check-up

disperse the crowd // boost employment 

catch up with the news / / catch up with friends

Find longer definitions for these collocations.

Adequate supplies to meet demand

Revised edition

Major turning point

Set realistic aims

Cause insurmountable difficulties 

1) Enough things so that everyone that wants one can have one

2) Know what you want to do but it must not be too much for you to be able to do it.

3) Make problems which people will not be able to solve or cause problems that people are not able to work properly.

4) A very important moment when things changed completely

5) A new book, similar to the old one but with more up-to-date information, or mistakes have been corrected.

Speaking practice

Boss Jim, can I see you for a minute ? It’s about your punctuality.

Jim Sorry, Boss, I’ll make up the lost time after work.

Boss Damn right you will. Now, what was this email about ? I couldn’t make sense of it.

Jim I made a few mistakes because I rushed. I wanted to make sure you read it.

Boss You made a right pig’s ear of it ! Anyway, have you made your mind up yet ?

Jim About the new job ? Well, the other company made me a fantastic offer.

Boss I’m not giving you a raise; I’m not made of money ! Money doesn’t grow on trees.

Jim I’ll make my decision later and let you know.

Boss If you leave here, you’ll be making a big mistake, Buster !

Image result for make up your mind

Adult Class Level 1: Waiting for Frodo.

5th March 2019

Tomorrow night is the last of the four-week series of lessons with one of my favourite classes. Next week they have a test, so a lot of the lesson will be taken up with review work, some reading and grammar. Very important, but can be a tad dry. I want to get the students speaking English as much as possible yet this, I regret to say, can sometimes be a challenge.

I’ll write another blog specifically about the issues I’ve faced trying to motivate my Vietnamese students but, for now, the lesson plan.

The main theme is the actor Sir Ian McKellen. Immediately, we have two interesting points about his name, namely, what does ‘Sir’ mean and why is his name spelt ‘McK …’ ?

‘Sir’ (‘Dame’ for a lady) is an award given by the Monarch (king or queen) for services to the country. It replaces ‘Mr’ so instead of Mr McKellen, he is now called Sir Ian. The ceremony can be viewed here (Ringo Starr of The Beatles is being knighted by Prince William):

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

As for the ‘McK’, Mc is Gaelic (Irish & Scottish) for Mac or son of. Therefore McKellen means ‘son of Kellen’.

Sir Ian has had a long and distinguished career, in both theatre and film. I was lucky enough to see him on stage in London in a play by the Irish playwright Samuel Beckett, ‘Waiting for Godot’, but he is surely more famous, worldwide, for being in some Hollywood blockbusters.

Sir Ian Mckellen, with Sir Patrick Stewart, in ‘Waiting For Godot’.

So first, to warm up, a word bomb game. I’ll board the word ‘cinema’ and see how many words, phrases and names can be elicited from the class.

Then we’ll move into a quick Present Perfect review. I’ll write:

I have see many films.

What is the error here ? What would be the contraction of ‘I have’ ? How would the negative be formed ? How could this be turned into a question ?

The present perfect is formed by subject + have or has + past participle (verb 3). Thus, I have seen, not ‘see’. The contraction is ‘I’ve’, the negative becomes ‘I haven’t seen ‘ while the question form is ‘Have you seen ?’ After this modelling, A few exercises for the students.

I have (meet) Sir Ian

You have (read) ‘Lord of the Rings.’

We have (study) a lot of expressions

She has (go) to the cinema many times.

The students have to give the three forms of these short sentences. Now we’ll turn to Sir Ian. Some students may recognise his face, but I’m sure all of them will know him from at least one of these films: This clip is nearly ten-minutes long, so I’ll just show the top two films, the ‘X-Men’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ (7:19 – end).

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

I like using ‘real-life’ videos, as they are great for hearing English being used naturally. The problems in listening can be offset by the benefits in learning new expressions, and many videos actually have subtitles. I often play a short excerpt from a video several times, breaking it down so the students start to recognise the patterns, then practice among themselves.

In the whole clip, I would highlight the following expressions:

We’re counting down

There’s a lot to choose from

Divide(s) opinion

A great opportunity

Stole the film

Then, to practise, match them with these sentences:

Some people love Justin Bieber, some people hate him. He ……..

What food shall we order, ……………

The test is in five days, ……..

Brad Pitt was so good he …………

Going to Australia will be a ……………. to learn more English.

At this point, the book work can commence. They’ll learn about Sir Ian, and read a short interview with him. Questions fall into six categories and he gives succinct answers to each. So now it’s the turn of the students to get up from their chairs (they always need motivating to do that despite my continual promulgations that moving around will create energy and lessen the boredom of a three-hour lesson), speak with different people and practice English. It generally falls on deaf ears. A teacher needs to be patient; it’s part of the job.

The questions will be based on but amended from the interview they have just read:

What Kind of music do you like ?

Can you name any plays by Shakespeare ?

What time do you usually get up ?

How do you relax ?

Can you play a musical instrument ?

What skill(s) would you like to acquire ?

What is the best thing about HCM City ?

What is the best book you’ve read OR the best film you’ve seen ?

One of my favourite films: ‘Chungking Express’, a Hong Kong movie from 1994.

There is a lot of book work tonight, so it’s good to break it up with some games or a complete change of pace. I used this still last night in my IELTS class, where it met with a pretty luke-warm reception. I showed them how to ‘read’ a picture. First, ask what the students think is happening in this shot. What do the characters feel about about each other ? I mentioned the emotions evoked by the use of colour; here dull – blue and grey, but as we get closer to the lady (Faye Wong), the colours turn red – the sauce bottles, the Coke machine. Then look at the symbol of her T-shirt, look where her eyes are staring ….

We could then move onto film genres – make a class survey by dividing the teams in two and assigning one captain to each. They have to collate information such as favourite type of film, Vietnamese or American, how often do they go to the cinema, do they ever stream films at home and with whom do they go to the cinema ?

To end, the Family Fortune game seems very popular, where the students are put into small groups, given a board and marker, and have to come up with four answers to various questions.

Additionally, I could use some photos from an internet search, about Vietnam, and ask the teams to tell me an interesting story. I will encourage them to expand their sentences by employing adjectives, adverbs, idioms and expressions.

Then, to quote Prospero in Shakespeare’s ‘Tempest’

“..and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”

Young Teens: deeply, madly, truly.

21st February 2019

Yes, it’s adverb time. This class was introduced to them last week, while I was happily sipping a beer in Thailand, a remarkably beautiful country which, despite being quite close to Vietnam, has a significantly different culture, atmosphere, vibe.

Tonight’s class focuses on speaking, so I’m hoping for a lively session with all students enthusiastically participating.

To begin with, there are several types of adverb:

I use a mnemonic device to help me remember the five main types: DF MPT (degree, frequency, manner, place, time).

I shall look at the adverbs they learnt last week and make a ‘run & write’ game. Class will be split into two teams; I’ll board or say a word (careful, fast, angry etc) and one person from each team will have to write it as an adverb.

To reinforce, I’ll select one of the more outgoing students to act out various scenarios, for example the student can walk carefully, speak quietly, eat quickly. Thus the students will have both written and spoken some basic adverbs.

Next, I shall try a new game, introduced by a song from The Who ‘Who are you ?‘ (which people may know as the theme from CSI:Vegas): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_3ks7-OjGc    

I’ll just use the opening bars (some versions have lyrics which are inappropriate for the classroom !)

In this game, I will put the students into small groups, and give one pupil a paper with some basic information on it:

Four People

NAME: Alan NAME: Jane

FROM: Cambridge FROM: Manchester

WEATHER: Mild and sunny WEATHER: Wet, grey, rainy

JOB: Student JOB: Lawyer

LIKES: Reading books LIKES: Shopping online

Rowing Films Badminton Cats

WHY IN VN: Exchange study WHY IN VN: Work for UK company

BEST: Lots of museums BEST: Good wifi, interesting history

WORST: Traffic & pollution WORST: Scams, noise, traffic

OPINION: Great place but too noisy

OPINION: Fascinating but walk carefully

NAME: Peter NAME: Anna

FROM: Birmingham FROM: New York

WEATHER: Grey, cold WEATHER: Very cold, very hot in summer

JOB: Journalist JOB: Electrician

LIKES: Making models LIKES: Sudoku

Travelling Football Piano Meeting friends

WHY IN VN: Writing a story WHY IN VN: Travelling around Asia

BEST: Meeting Vietnamese people BEST: Cheaper prices. Good food

WORST: Too hot. Food too spicy WORST: Extremely hot and sticky

OPINION: Incredibly noisy and humid OPINION: Amazingly fun place.

This is an exercise to help students form questions. A great way to start a speaking exercise is simply to model it first, eliciting as much information from the students. For example, I could board answers and ask the students what questions could they ask to get these answers. To broaden their vocabulary, I will demonstrate various approaches;

To enquire about my job:

What do you do for a living ?

What do you do ?

What is your occupation ?

How do you make a living ?

For my likes:

What do you like doing in your free time ?

What are your hobbies ?

What kinds of things are you into ?

The students ask the chosen student questions, then report back to the class. To make sure all the class are paying attention, I’ll ask questions and award points. It is common situation that students who are NOT presenting have very limited interest in other students who are speaking.

Depending on time, I will add a quick game where I board a basic sentence and the students have to elaborate by adding adjectives and, now, adverbs.

The student is good – The intelligent student works extremely well.

The food is nice / The weather is hot / The homework was hard / My cat is lazy.

And onto the bookwork. Today’s book mentions Cambridge (which they read about before with reference to the boat race), Buckingham Palace in London (which most of the students know is the home of the Queen) and Bristol in west England, which, I am sure, will be unknown to the students: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khM7tjui86Q

This is quite a good video, as it is just visual (thus giving the students a little break, as well as introducing them to a new city), and it can be followed up by asking what people can do there ? What kind of buildings did they see ? Would they like to go there ? What did they think about it ? Interesting or boring … and then use adverbs to make their answers more interesting.

Also, I like to let the students hear different accents because in the real world, they probably will not be listening to English teachers speaking slowly, carefully and in Standard English, but to people from all over the English-speaking world or, more likely, non-native speakers. Locals from Bristol have a different accent to mine (east London but with Standard for work), so here is a short clip illustrating the difference, and it has subtitles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qKBRnyWleU

The students can try to copy the sounds and also learn everyday fixed expressions. All in all, I’m hoping it’ll be an exciting and active class.

In keeping with the emphasis on speaking, in the reading section, one section of the class can read one paragraph, then close their books while the other students ask them questions, so here we have reading with speaking and listening skills being practised.

Adult Class Level 1: Computer World

20th February 2019

Today’s lesson is about the internet, what it’s used for, what vocabulary is associated with it and how men and women spend their time online. The main topic is ‘do men and women use the internet in different ways ?’

As a quick warm-up, the students can shout out different websites that are famous, and how they would be categorised (social media, news, commercial, blog etc).

No doubt ‘YouTube’ will be mentioned and here is a short video which ties in with the theme of a previous lesson (‘What do you want to do with your life?’). Here, 100 children are asked what they want to be. The students have to write down as many jobs as they hear, so they practice listening skills. Additionally, the children are from USA, so their accents differ from mine, exposing the class to a variety of Englishes. Some speak very clearly, other mumble so turning this into a game could be fun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUup841pZrs

Statistics are widely available to show internet usage by region and by gender. One good example may be found here: https://www.statista.com/statistics/491387/gender-distribution-of-internet-users-region/

The chart can be used as an exercise in data reading and use of comparatives for example, where are the highest users of the internet and, conversely, the lowest ? Do more men or women go online ? Then adverbs can be employed to stress the difference.

We can see that, with the exception of the Americas, men use the internet slightly more than woman in their geographic area. Regarding the Americas, the amount of women compared to men is not significantly higher. Over 80% of European men access the net, but less than 20% of African women do so. Asia is often seen as being in the forefront of technology (think of Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong) yet has a surprisingly low percentage of users, less than 40% of women compared to nearly 80% of women in Europe. What could be the reasons for this ?

High-tech Asia, yet less than 40% of Asian Pacific women actually use the internet.

However, this is a level 1 class so we don’t want to delve too deeply into the reasons, we want to get the students up and talking, and one of the best ways is make them conduct a quick survey among their classmates.

Internet Survey 

Question Name Answer

How often do you go online ?







Do you use the internet for work and/or study ? How ?







What social media sites do you use regularly ? How often ?







Have you ever bought or sold anything online ?







What is good about the internet ? What is the worst ?







This is an adult class, so I’m sure someone may refer to dating sites. this will lead us into the next activity, ‘Lonely Hearts’. Here, I’ll show three men and three women, each with a brief biography, stating their likes and what they are looking for in a partner. The class, in small teams or pairs, have to match each man to a woman, then predict what will happen on the date.

This allows the students to be creative, while encouraging the use of opinion phrases and building sentences by giving reasons to support their ideas.

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. Looks for a women who is a model so we can look great together. Must be very beautiful and wear expensive clothes.

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 !

This exercise can be used to elicit adjectives as well; the students can describe the physical appearances, and what they think the people are really like.

All the time, I’d like to encourage the students to talk more in English, reduce the teacher- student dynamic, have more open-class discussions. One way to facilitate that is to maybe repeat something controversial and see how the class react to the comment. For example, a man may say that women only use the internet for social media and gossip, men use it for important things.

Obviously, my job is to encourage students to speak with each other, to take a back seat or, as we put it, to cut down on ‘teacher-talking time.’ I’m certainly not here to foster my views or disagree with the class. However, if I feel a conversation is in danger of becoming contentious, I can point out that in Europe, USA, Australia (called ‘the west’ for convenience) such views would be unacceptable on the grounds of sexism or racism. We don’t just teach the English language; we introduce students to western culture and norms.

Adult Mechanics: Olympics – going for gold.

10th February 2019

This is a lesson plan for an adult class I teach comprised mainly of professional engineers and mechanics. The level is mixed, as is natural with all classes, but I would place most students at Intermediate level. In order to boost them to the next stage, I will introduce more expressions, higher vocabulary and more student talking time.

I’ll be trying to implement a CELTA-style plan: ‘Present, Practice, Produce’ (PPP) which basically means I demonstrate some new language, allow the students to practice and then use the language on their own, checking for pronunciation, intonation and context. The key word is PRACTICE; whatever your field, whatever natural talent you may possess, you have to be disciplined and work, train … which brings us (neatly, I thought) to our subject – the Olympics.

Aside – the themes aren’t really that important, they are merely a starting point for learning. Having said that, they have to hold some measure of interest for the student. Allow me to quote the C15th monk John Lydgate, “You can’t please all the people, all of the time.” Even if some of the students aren’t big sports fans, they will at least be aware of the Games, and should find the videos interesting and beneficial.

I’ll begin with a video about the Olympics. It’s aimed at young native speakers, which is helpful for English – learners as the language will be easier to follow. Additionally, it will introduce some European history to my Vietnamese learners, and afford them the chance to listen to native speakers at a natural pace. And now, without further ado, the video:

Video: Listening practice

Try to watch before the lesson, and make a note of any new vocabulary.

listen for: gather together/ for the length of the games/ common ground/ truce

in honour of/ originally/ ancient/ off and on/ alternating / interlocking/ myth/

Questions – Ask each other Speaking practice

When were the first Games ? When were the final (ancient) games held ?

Who was Zeus ?

How many events were there at first ? What events were later added ?

What were winners given ? 

Where and when were the first modern games staged ?

What are the Paralympics ?

What are gold medals made of ?

Why were the five colours of the rings chosen ?

What is the goal of the Olympics ?

“The most important thing is not to win but to take part.” Do you agree ?

Video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsDY1Ha83M8

What do you think of the video ? Give positive and negative reactions.

Try to use some of the following expressions:

spectacular / impressive / co-ordinated / visually stunning / well-organised / you get what you pay for

a waste of money / a drain on natural resources / spectacle but no substance

Team work speaking practice

The Olympics are going to be held in Vietnam. Is this good or bad ?

Divide the class into two teams, one ‘for’, the other ‘against’.

Points to consider:

The cost – how will it be financed ?

How can it generate revenue for Vietnam ?

Impact on the environment 

Does Vietnam have the infrastructure to cope ?

Is south-east Asia a good choice in terms of climate ?

Is Vietnam a good choice ? 

Does it have big cities ? 

Does it have space for an Olympic village ?

What about crime and petty theft ? 

Are the police able to deal with the influx of crowds ?

Do the Vietnamese people care enough about sports ?

Is Vietnam enthusiastic about sports ?

Politics – people from all different countries and political beliefs will arrive. Could that be an issue ?

The legacy – what will happen after the Games are over ?

Raising awareness of Vietnam on the world stage. 

What do people think when they hear ‘Vietnam’ ?

Encourage overseas investors

Is the cost worth it ?https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2012/oct/23/london-2012-olympics-cost-total

This is from a ‘high-brow’ newspaper and quotes a figure of £8.921 billion. Can Vietnam afford this kind of money ? In China, a lot of money went on infrastructure such as improving airports, subways and roads, and it has been claimed that a profit of $146 was generated. However, Montreal took over 30 years to pay off debts incurred by hosting the Olympics.

Part of the London Olympic complex with the athletes village and, in the distance, the Olympic Stadium, now home to West Ham football club.
Sir Paul McCartney at the Olympic opening ceremony in London 2012

What could Vietnam organise for an opening ceremony ?

Make a plan for the next lesson. Think about celebrating the country’s traditions, nature, economy, history, beauty. What would attract people to Vietnam ?

Welcome to Vietnam – the image
Welcome to Vietnam – the reality

Young Teens: Unesco Sites.

31st January 2019

Lesson Plan

What happens next: Show four clips and ask students to guess what will happen next. Introduce the word ‘predict’, model, then encourage the use in sentences (I predict the man will ….).

Following the clips and slides about fortune telling, the students can interview each other:





What are you going to do for Tet Holiday ?
Do you believe in fortune telling ? Why ?
Have you had your fortune told ? Why not ?
Do you have any superstitions ?
Do you think you are going to pass your English test ?
What special things are you going to do at Tet ?

The students must ask two classmates the same question and then record the response. If needed, prompt with questions about special Tet customs.

With the video clips, what better way to start than with former President G.W. Bush: The clip I want starts at 7:14

Next one is the elephant clip at 1:54 

The following should please my students as it involves some fighting). 

Finally, this clip can start at 0:05

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

On the board I’ll write some collocations – reading palms, telling fortunes, predicting the future.

Role-playing: the students can pretend to tell their partner’s fortune. The subjects, more appropriate to this age, can be: school, future job, university, holiday, a surprise, travel, making a new friend.

Before the book work, featuring World Heritage Sites, a short video. Students must try to remember as much information as possible https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tpA11u2jdQ

Real-world examples are a great way to introduce new vocabulary and phrases. In this clip, I can focus on: former / iconic / sparking interest / pass up the opportunity.

On slips of paper, I’ll write the ten sites, while on the board, I’ll write ten countries. The students, in pairs and as a race, will have to find the site associated with the country and stick it on the board. A chance to burn off some energy before the book work. If the class is too rowdy after a fun game (which can happen, a victim of its own success), I’ll do a quick Hangman game using vocabulary from a previous lesson (sonnet, conscious, reporter, lawyer, suddenly, meanwhile …)

After the bookwork, I can do some more run ‘n’ write games. I’ll write an incorrect sentence on the board and a student from each team must rewrite. First one to finish, including punctuation, wins.

I’m not expecting a lot of motivation so close to a major holiday, so we can end with a video of their choice. As long as it’s in English … teaching without teaching, and letting them leave with a smile … hopefully.



Recycling lessons: “Reissue, repackage, repackage …”

31st January 2019

One of the less interesting aspects of teaching is lesson planning; I can easily spend an hour or more trying to make activities or find suitable video clips for a class. It can be worthwhile if said activity is a success, but quite often the reverse occurs leaving one with a sense of futility. All that time wasted …and for what ?

To counter this we can, with the necessary tweaking, use and reuse parts of previous lessons for different classes and thereby justify the time spent on creating slides that may only have been employed for a few minutes (having taken considerably longer to create).

It’s early afternoon, I have two more classes at my centre this week, one for young teens the other for actual teens, and I’m not entirely enamoured of either class. Still, needs must … so I open the student book, and see the subject is UNESCO (which should be interesting) but then I see the vocabulary; words such as ‘heritage’. I see the general knowledge section, mentioning places such as Pompeii, then referencing the Tower of Hercules. My students are Vietnamese and most, if not all, attend public schools. At age ten, eleven, twelve, it is highly unlikely they will know these places. It is also highly unlikely they will want to know these places.

There’s going to have to be some pre-teaching before the main book work and, as it’s Tet Holiday next week, I’m think I’m justified in making the lesson more game or activity based. Tet is also a time of tradition and superstition, which was the subject of last night’s adult class, so I will be able to re-use some slides, video clips and class work. The adults were at level 1, so their language skills are about the same, if not less, then these young teens. Furthermore, I will adapt and recycle for tomorrow’s class thus making the effort totally viable in terms temporal (“I never knew you wrote such bloody awful poetry,”).

As in cinema, my centre favours a ‘show don’t tell approach.’ Therefore, I’ll show a short YouTube clip about Unesco. There will be ten sites, and I’ll write the countries on the board. On paper, I’ll write the names of the sites and I’ll stick them around the room, making sure that they remain there and not torn down, eaten or generally mutilated in some way. Telling students (at least in Vietnam) NOT to do something is an sure-fire invitation for them to do exactly what they have been admonished NOT to do and I kid you NOT. In my first centre, which was modest and low-tech, the rooms had old, cantankerous CD players. Students were told not to touch them. I walked into class one day and found one boy sitting with the plug in his mouth, sucking happily away. He wasn’t a Kindergarten child … he was in his early teens.

Back to the use of video clips; I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time searching for appropriate clips. So many videos take forever to start, with opening credits and endless introductions that are merely exercises in tautology. If one can find a clip that “does what it says on the tin,” bookmark it – It’s gold.

I can also reuse slides showing various aspects of Tet Holiday and ask the students what they mean – what is ‘lucky money’ ? What special food is eaten, what clothes are worn … and why ? At this age, some role-playing could be fun … the students can act out for me the procedure for giving and receiving lucky money.

Another useful teaching ‘trick’ is to reverse the class dynamics, and have the students teach me Vietnamese, correct my pronunciation and grade my performance. They learn different English skills here, to instruct as opposed to being instructed, and as it’s fun and they are in control, it doesn’t seem like a lesson … but it is. We teachers can be a pretty sneaky bunch … we have to be … however the only object is to make sure the students leave the class having learnt new words and been given the chance to practise using them. The ends justify the means.