The story so far … we have two young Asian cousins who are about to meet each other, after a long time. Boram, a caring, thoughtful young music student, is going to the train station to meet Leon, also a musician, who is travelling to Seoul but doesn’t know the city. Despite having a busy schedule, Boram insists upon meeting Leon and making sure he is safe.
After his journey, Boram feels certain Leon must be hungry and in need of coffee. She decides to take him to a great cafe near the station. They can talk and get to know each other.
Boram pays for the drinks, and they go to find a table:
Here, there are introducing themselves. The conversation may go something like this:
Boram: How was the journey ? Are you tired ?
Leon: No, I’m Ok, thanks. This coffee looks great. Wow, how long has it been ?
Boram: Hhmmm, let me think … it must be six years since we last meet. How are your parents ?
Leon: Both very well, thank you, and they send you a little present. So, mum says you play piano ?
Boram: Violin. I play in the university orchestra. You’ve grown so much !
Leon: Of course, I’m not ten anymore haha. You play ? Can I hear you sometime ?
Boram: Actually, I’m playing this afternoon. If you like, I can take you and introduce you to some of my friends.
Leon: That would be cool. You are so kind. I insist on buying you lunch to say thank you.
That was a fairly natural exchange of pleasantries. They both appear nice people, and very polite. However, it is not very exciting or interesting. So, let’s make Leon less grateful and more self-centred:
Boram: How was the journey ? Are you tired ?
Leon: Oh, man … it was like … boring, you know. No hot girls on the train.
Boram: Oh. Sorry. How is your coffee ?
Leon: It’s terrible, We have much better in Busan. This place is lame. Don;t you know any cooler joints ? You look a bit boring. Mum says you’re a musician ?
Boram: Yes, I play vio…..
Leon: I’m a musician, I play bass in a radicle hip-hop, thrash-metal band.
Boram: I’d love to hear your band.
Leon: Ha ! I don’t think so. We don’t make music for little girls. This is real music.
Boram: Oh, well, would you like to hear my orchestra play ?
Boram: Great ! We are playi …
Leon: No, idiot, I’m joking, I can’t listen to that old crap ! Hey, can you give me some money ?
What do you think of Leon now ? Not so nice, hey ? See how he interrupts Boram, mocks her music and then demands money ? He’s a ‘nasty piece of work.’
Let’s turn the tables. How about if Boram, despite looking angelic and ‘butter-wouldn’t-melt- in-her-mouth’ appearance, is in reality arrogant, impatient and thoughtless.
Leon: It is so nice of you to meet me. I haven’t been to Seoul before on my own.
Boram: I had no choice. My mum made me, I don’t want to waste my time here.
Leon: And thank you for buying the coffee. I was really tired.
Boram: Mum gave me the money. Come on, drink it then I can go. I’ve got more important things to do.
Leon: Oh, I don’t want to keep you if you’re busy …
Boram: ‘Busy’ ? I have rehearsals in two hours and I have to go all the way across the city to meet you. Ridiculous, a grown man like you needs me to hold his hand.
Leon: Really, if you need to go, it’s ….
Boram: Well, if you say it’s Ok, I’ll go. You know the way ? If not just ask someone or, I don’t know, get a taxi. Do you have my phone number ?
Leon: No, what is i… ?
Boram: Oh, it doesn’t matter, I’m to busy to pick up. I gotta go.
That should change our perception of Boram. Not so friendly now, is she ?
Try writing short dialogues for different situations:
1: Leon really wants to see the top museums
2: Boram wants Leon to meet her friend, she thinks they would be good together
3: Leon is having an interview for a job and he is very nervous. Boram supports him.
4: Boram wants to take Leon shopping for new clothes. Leon likes his clothes and they have a playful argument.
5: They discover they really don’t like each other but they have to stay together because they are family.
And now … what to do if you’re stuck at home, self-isolating, and have lots of time to kill. My internet friend, Rachel Kim, from South Korea has a tip about a new craze sweeping her homeland:Dalgona coffee:
This lesson is to encourage students to think creatively, and to help them with sentence buildings by encouraging the use of discourse markers and complex sentences.
Additionally, here is a golden opportunity to utilise adjectives and adverbs, so often conspicuous by their absence, not to mention a chance to create dialogues where characters can use idioms, expressions and features of everyday real English.
Let’s kick off (start) with an example.
Describe these two people. What are they wearing ? What are their personalities ? What do you think they do ?How do they meet ?
Students can here perform a task suited to their level.
Firstly, just describe the photos. Remember do not start with a pronoun (he, she, it). Instead, tell me what you see.
Example: I see a young lady with a bow in her hair NOT She has a bow in her hair.
For more advanced students, explain more about the young lady. Do you think she is beautiful (or pretty, cute, adorable, gorgeous) ? What are her origins ? She looks Asian, but she could live anywhere in the world. Describe how she looks and what she’s wearing. What do you think her personality is ?
After, do the same with the young man.
For advanced students, look at the background. The young lady is standing in a white room, with a book and some flowers. What does that suggest to you ? White is often associated with purity and innocence. Flowers could be sweet and feminine (although different flowers have different significance in different cultures), while the book indicates education and intelligence. Her hair bow appears to have musical notes as a pattern, so possible she is a musician ?
As for IELTS students, write a description then replace any basic words with low-frequency vocabulary (example, replace beautiful with gorgeous, stunning etc).
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.
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 ?
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.
Now, try the same exercise with any of these situations:
Next time, we can work on dialogue … have fun and STAY SAFE
Object: encourage creative thinking and sentence building.
Vocabulary: expressions related to money
What would you do IF you were a millionaire ?
What would you do IF you were a millionaire for a day ?
Second conditional – this is used for a situation that is not impossible … but not very probable.
If I had a million pounds, I would … (stop working !)
If you had a billion $, you could … (buy an island)
If + Sub + had …, Sub + would / could
If you had unlimited money, what would you do ?
Plan a luxury day
How would you spend a luxury day ?
To develop narrative writing / speaking – use words/phrases such as:
Firstly, initially, I would start, it would kick off with …
secondly, thirdly etc
after that, afterwards, following that, and then …
for a change, as a contrast, for a break, to take a break from all the …
lastly, I’d end up, I’d round the day off with
To kick off, I would have salmon breakfast at a five-star … no, seven-star hotel. After that, I would go shopping for some suits and ties and then drive around London in a Rolls-Royce car, chauffer-driven, of course.
To take a break from the hustle and bustle, I’d relax at my hotel spa, then go for afternoon tea at another top hotel.
Lastly, I’d round the day off with a helicopter trip around the city and then fly direct to a stadium and go to my VIP (Very Important Person) seat to see one of my favourite bands play live.
OR add your own ideas
Where would you go ? What would you do ? What would you buy ?
Expressions connected to money
A ton of money = very much money
Having money to burn = having more money that someone needs
It costs an arm and a leg = something very expensive
Money talks ! = having money can solve many problems
Rolling in it = having so much money (‘it’ refers to money)
Swanky = slang for very expensive or elegant (it’s a swanky restaurant)
However, as Shakespeare said,
Would money make you happy ?
Can money buy you health, love or happiness … maybe that is for another lesson.
London, my hometown, is a multi-cultural world city. However, there are some problems. For students who live in S.E. Asia, the weather will be awful; grey skies, bitter wind, freezing, depressing rain.
A second factor is money. Unless one has a good job and a good income, London can be a hard place to live.
How does she link her ideas together and keep talking ?
REMEMBER: listening to native speakers in a great way to improve your English. I suggest you only listen to SHORT pieces … maybe just ten or twenty seconds. Write down any new words or phrases. Listen again, then repeat. Speak along with her. Listen to how native-speakers link words and use intonations. Notice how often we use expressions.
What famous buildings or attractions can you think of in London ?
To help you, here’s a video about Top 10 London Attractions
Watch the video then explain how someone can travel on public transport in London.
Now, this video is chockablock (full) of new words and expressions. I’ve selected a sample:
about which more later / bank fees on transactions / hang around
get in everybody’s way / money put onto / top-up / cap
pay-as-you-go / stick (as verb) / as long as it’s nice and fresh / escalator
as far as …. concerned / obvious /on no account swipe
you’ve got to / the thing about …… is / particularly weirdos
get charged / get skinned / reasonable / Routemaster
Now, by listening to the video, and using a dictionary, you try to make some sentences using these new words or phrases.
Here are some examples foryou:
On no account tell anybody your PIN number for your bank card.
Prices are so high in central London, you can easily get skinned (pay TOO much).
The thing about the British Museum is that is can get so crowded.
Don’t stand in front of the escalators or you will get in everyone’s way.
Give a summary of ‘getting around’ London by public transport.
What are the ‘dos and don’ts’ ?
How many different kinds of transport is the Oyster valid on ?
Famous Londonders – real and fictional
Who is the most famous detective in literature ? Most of you would probably say Sherlock Holmes … but have you read him ? This is a great site for English learners – literature but in simple, everyday English
I am an English man, so I always drink damn fine tea. In order to make tea I naturally need boiling water. In my house I have an appliance which boils water. It plugs in to the electric and can boil water in just a few minutes. However, it has no other purpose.
Think of something you use everyday – but don’t make it too obvious.
In December 2019, The UK had a general election. USA have their election at the end of 2020.
Idioms and collocations
campaign / victory / vote / party / voter
It was a long and dirty election _________which divided the country. The Conservatives won a landslide _________ in the last general election. I usually cast my _________ for the candidate who is more business friendly. The problem with two _________systems like the USA’s, is not all views are represented. I’m a typical floating _________ , I never decide how to vote until the day of the election.
If you elect me for President, I will make a difference. I will lower taxes for every citizen and I will make sure that every worker gets a fair deal. I will not stand by and watch the poor and the needy being downtrodden.
How long is a political term in your country ?
Do you think it’s important to vote?
If you were elected leader of your country, what law would you change first?
You will see some character information. Use this to create a character for yourself.
Take some time to think. Put some effort into this by using the facts and incorporating them.
Lee Morgan 27 musician born Chicago resides Sai Gon not married
Likes music ! barbecue and spicy food cinema going to clubs and dancing
Dislikes early mornings 9 – 5 jobs Vietnamese food traffic no-smoking ban
Hi, my name’s Morgan, Lee Morgan. I’m 27 and I hail from Chicago, Illinois, which is a dynamic city, but pretty damn cold in winter; icy winds and snow. I’m currently living here, in HCM or Sai Gon, whatever. I’m still single, haven’t found the right girl yet but there are a heap of cute ladies in Vietnam, right ?
I’m a professional musician so, of course, I love music, it’s my passion. I also really love barbecue and hot, spicy food like chilli or gumbo. Yeah, what else … oh, I also enjoy taking in a movie, but at the cinema, not on DVD … no atmosphere at home. Because I finish work late, I often find myself going to clubs and dancing the night away. Great way to meet women, too !
What I’m not crazy about is getting up early. I never get up before noon, no way ! Oh, yeah, sorry to say, I really can’t find any Vietnamese food I like, hey, sorry. Some of it’s OK, but it’s just soup and noddles and bones ! The traffic is another pet hate, it’s hellish and absolutely dangerous. Lastly, I’m a smoker and I want to smoke where and when I want. I hate that I get told not to smoke.
If you have just met, what questions could you ask Lee ?
Remember – nothing too personal. When he answers, show interest, maybe add information about yourself.
BACKCHANNEL – say ‘yeah’, ‘oh, right’, ‘really ?’ etc
I was born in Hue but I grew up in Na Trang.
Really ? I’m from Na Trang. When did you move to HCMC ?
I like sports.
Me too. I play badminton every week and football every Sunday.
We’ve been married for three years but no kids.
Why not ? What is wrong with you, or is your wife too lazy to have kids ?
(this is not considered a correct or polite thing to say. Instead, change the subject)
Kenjie Ozu 24 medical student born Tokyo resides Sai Gon engaged
Likes Jazz music / keep fit / karaoke / meeting friends / computer games
Dislikes noise and pollution / smoking / animal cruelty / fast food
Rob Forster 31 lawyer born Sydney resides Sai Gon married, 2 children
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
I am John = I’m John // You are Anna = You’re Anna
Past Continuous exercise
Write positive sentences in past continuous.
I was reading a great book
subject + was / were + verb ing (+ noun, adjective + noun)
you / play / cards /// you were playing cards
Alice / walk / around the lake
Fiona and Sam / visit / the castle
we / read / a book about Australia
my sister / feed / the birds
Greg and Phil / count / their money
Write in the past tense
Andrew (am) born in New York and (come) to Viet Nam in 2016. He (live) in District 1 but it (is) too expensive so he (move) to District 9. Last week, he (have) a party and he (dance) all night and (drink) too much Tiger and Sai Gon Special beer. In the morning, he (catch) a plane and (go) to Ha Noi.
In Vietnam’s capital he (see) Uncle Ho, (hear) traditional music and (buy) many Rolex watches … but they (are make) in China.
Present simple & Present continuous
Present simple & continuous exercise: use always + ing
Tony has lost the key again. He’s always losing the key. [This is permanent.]
My motorbike has broken down again. It is ………… (break + ing)
The rice is burnt ! She is ………. the rice. (burn + ing)
The security guard is asleep. He is ……………… on duty. (sleep + ing)
powerful (very strong), flood (big water), missing (we do not know where these people are, or if they are alive).
Hello, my name is John and I’m from New York. I’m a taxi-driver, and I have been in Vietnam for one year. My hobbies are dancing, watching films and playing computer games. In Asia, I have been to Thailand and Laos and I really want to visit Japan and Korea.
continuous verbs (verb + ing): I like reading.
How many continuous verbs can you see ?
Interests / hobbies
Now you write something and introduce yourself.
Name / Job / How long have you been at (your company or school ?)
Hometown / Hobbies/ Where you want to visit
Try to learn these words / expressions:
like / love / adore /
dislike / hate / detest /
and / as well as / additionally
but / however / on the other hand /
usually / normally / often /
And these adverbs: very / really / extremely / highly / quite / somewhat
Now make short sentences. For example:
I adore coffee as well as tea (I like coffee and tea)
London is extremely expensive. On the other hand, Thailand is quite cheap.
Match the words or expressions:
tired // considering
sometimes // selfish
thinking about // kind of
type of something // exhausted
Not generous // occasionally
Now practice using them:
I can’t go out tonight, I’m ………..
Bill is ……………. buying a new motorbike
Ms Vi only goes to visit her family in Hue ………….. because it is so far.
What ………… laptop are you using ?
Share your sweets with your friends ! Don’t be ……..
What is the best word ?
want / like / need / prefer
She likes coffee but …….. tea
I ….. to speak English to study in USA.
He …. to buy a new Yamaha Exciter but he …… to save up money.
realise / suppose / understand / remember
I ……. we could go shopping and then go swimming.
Do you ……… when you were at school ?
She didn’t …… he was Chinese, so she spoke Korean to him !
Tom (to be) born in Sydney and (arrive) in Viet Nam in 2015. He (work) as an engineer in District 1 but (want) to work near his home in Go Vap. Last week, his wife (have) a party. Firstly, she (buy) a fancy new dress and shoes then (cut) her hair. She (dance) all night and we (hear) her singing. In the morning, she (catch) a plane and (fly) to Australia.
Notice the reflexive verbs:
You may find yourself / you may ask yourself
What are they doing ?
He is shaving … /// She is looking at …
Past time expressions
Not for a long time / not recently / oh, I can’t recall it was so long ago
quite recently / fairly recently / about a month or so ago
last week / last month / last year / yesterday / just this morning
the day before yesterday / a fortnight ago / ages ago / I’ve never done that
What words are being said ?
Cheese or cheers / Ship or sheep / close (the door) or close (near)
work or walk / heard or hurt / house or ours / open or a pen
Sentence Building &Speaking Subjects
laptops / holidays / engineering / travelling
motorbikes / family / living in your hometown / modern life / traditions
anecdote (personal story)
Laptops are an incredibly useful piece of technology. They can be used for work, hobbies, music, and to stay in touch with friends.
I use my laptop every day. I plan lessons and use the internet to search for lesson notes, English language games and interesting video clips to show my students.
Because I live so far from my home country, I find the internet essential. I can maintain contact with friends and family by using: Skype, Facebook, Viber, Instagram … well, there are so many social media sites.
I like Apple; I know there are very expensive, but they seem to work so well. I rarely have a problem with my computer which is great because I know nothing about IT.
There was one issue I had in Vietnam. My plug snapped and I had to buy a new cable. I eventually found a store in Quan 3. I had to wait 30 minutes but finally a man came with an ‘Apple’ plug … and it was less than half the UK price.
To conclude, laptops are part of my life. I use them every day for work, relaxing and chatting with friends.
Tips: If you need time to think before answering, use one of the following phrases:
Let me think (about it)
How can I put it … ?
What’s the word … ?
What is happening ?
Make long sentences: what are the people doing, what are they wearing, what do they look like ? Then, why are they doing it ? What is the story ?
Holiday in Canada
Ron and Sid are on holiday in Canada. They are hungry but it’s cold outside.
Ron Come on, there’s a KFC franchise nearby. I’m starving !
Sid Sounds good, let me get my coat … and hat and gloves and scarf.
Ron Yeah, it’s freezing outside. This is worse than Sapa.
Sid Tell me about it ! It takes me 10 minutes to put all these clothes on.
Ron They have shovelled the snow so the path is safe. Are you ready ?
Sid Ready ! I love staying here although it’s so cold.
Ron According to the news, this is the worst winter for 16 years.
Sid Let’s go. I need some hot chicken.
Ron And some damn fine coffee.
Note the expressions ‘this is worse than …’ & ‘according to’
It is cold in Sapa BUT it is much colder in Canada: This is worse than Sapa.
John said Peter was leaving: According to John, Peter was leaving.
Try these sentences:
It is noisy in New York but much nosier in Sai Gon: This is worse than New York !
Karaoke was loud on Friday but louder on Sunday:
The test was hard on Monday but much harder on Tuesday:
Nick and Fred are discussing (talking about) their new boss
Nick Have you seen the new boss ? She looks very professional and a little scary.
Fred No, I have spoken to her. She’s quite friendly although a bit serious.
Nick I like her business suit. Is it a designer label ? It looks expensive.
Fred Maybe it’s French or Italian. I think she will be dependable.
Nick She can’t be worse than the old boss. He had a screw loose !
Fred He was a little arrogant and very bossy. And hard as nails.
Nick He was crazy. According to Jerry, he didn’t want to pay any bonuses.
Fred That’s why he got such a negative backlash. I’m glad he’s gone.
Nick Jerry and I are also very glad.
Sam Allow me to introduce myself. My name’s Sam and I’m Australian. Good day !
Pat Hi, Sam, nice to meet you. How did you get here ? By Uber or taxi ?
Sam No, mate, I drove myself. My wife and I always drive ourselves.
Pat Yeah, taxis are a luxury. Sorry, I’m Pat. Please help yourself to beer.
Sam I like the sound of that. Are you the one that wrote me the email ?
Pat Yeah. Sorry if my English is not perfect; I’m teaching myself.
Sam No problems, you speak well. Those people are really enjoying themselves.
Pat Of course, Vietnamese love free beer but we behave ourselves.
Sam Not me ! Last time I had too much, I fell down and hurt myself.
Pat Where’s your wife ? I think I saw her earlier ? She has blonde hair, right ?
Sam Nah, she’s a brunette. She’s out buying herself a new dress. And new shoes !
Pat I get it ! I do the working, my wife does the spending.
Sid It’s so cold in Germany. Have you ever experienced snow or minus temperatures ?
Lyn No, never, I hate the cold. Hang on a minute … yes, I was in Sapa once.
Sid I’m going there once the schools break up. Are you going to the staff party ?
Lyn Possibly. What time do the festivities kick off ?
Sid Around seven I guess. What are those pictures ? Is it for a project ?
Lyn Yeah, exactly. I have to make a presentation about countries so I’m using symbols.
Sid OK, let’s see … I know three lions means England and the eagle represents USA
Lyn The hammer and sickle, of course, is Russia. Do you know the towers ?
Sid Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur. I was there on business once. Amazing food.
Lyn How about the other two ? The first one is a mythical creature.
Sid From Egypt, near the pyramids. Remind me of the name.
Lyn The Sphinx. She has a woman’s face, a lion’s body and an eagle’s tail.
Sid The last one ? That’s Jesus … hang on a minute … I know, in Brazil, right ?
Listening practice: IELTS listening to phone numbers (0.55 – 3.06)
Listen out for:
You can get hold of me / you can reach me at (phone number) = my number is ….
Hello, you’ve reached the marketing department. How can I help?
Yes can I speak to Rosalind Wilson, please?
Who’s calling please?
It’s Richard Davies here
Certainly. Please hold and I’ll put you through.
Hello, marketing.How can I help?
Could I speak to Jason Roberts please?
Certainly. Who shall I say is calling?
My name’s Richard Davies .
Just a second – I’ll see if he’s in. Hang on a moment, I’m just putting you through.