IELTS: There are places I’ll remember …

6th October 2020

IELTS Mindset 1.Speaking lesson U2 – Places and buildings

English language, British culture – let’s kick off with two iconic parts of Liverpool, immortalised by The Beatles:

Penny Lane Tattoo - Trang chủ | Facebook
Forever Strawberry Field | The Salvation Army - YouTube

In case you are unaware of these classic songs, here’s ‘Penny Lane’, a song from 1967 which, amazingly, only reached Number 2 in the pop charts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-rB0pHI9fU

How much can you understand ?

A typical, run of the mill IELTS question will be about your hometown or about your neighbourhood.

First, some new vocabulary. I will expect you to learn these:

gritty / industrial

quite / safe / residential

boring / peaceful / suburban

bustling / vibrant / city centre

apparently – something you believe to be true

conversely – the opposite, on the other hand, however

actually – saying something that is surprising or is the truth

New idioms

bear with me – please wait a very short time

bit of a sore point – something that makes you sad or angry

like a madhouse – a place or area that is crazy, too noisy, too busy etc

run of the mill – ordinary, typical, unusual, boring

you take your life in your hands – doing something that is extremely dangerous

NOW … your turn

Tell me about your neighbourhood

Remember, give me a great introduction, have a positive point, a negative point and a short conclusion.

Use some of the new vocabulary

Real estate news: Outstanding Housing Projects Of Kien A Investors
An apartment block in the Cat Lai area of Sai Gon. Artist’s impression.
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The reality of living in Cat Lai, one of the busiest ports in south east Asia

Well, that question is a bit of a sore point with me because I live in a terribly noisy gritty industrial area. My apartment is near the Cat Lai port which is one of the busiest in Vietnam. Consequently, we have containers driving past, day and night which, as you can imagine, creates so much pollution.

However, allow me to talk about the good points. Firstly, it is significantly cheaper than, say, District 1 or 3, as it is quite far to the centre. The shops, also, tend to be on the cheap side. Additionally we have some street markets where I can pick up some very cheap food and fresh fish. We are well-served with several convenience stores although, in my opinion, Family Mart charges an arm and a leg.

Conversely, my friends avoid visiting me because it is so dangerous to ride a motorbike here, we really take our lives in our hands every time we go out. Furthermore, I love fresh air so I open my windows, yet I have to dust and clean every day because so much dirt comes in. Finally, we have open-air karaoke nearly every night and street wedding parties most weekends which means loud and terrible singing. It’s like a madhouse, I really detest this horrible noise.

I am lucky with my neighbours, and the apartment is really spacious. Having said that, the area is so bad that as soon as possible, I will leave and find somewhere cleaner and safer.

British Food: IELTS sample answers continued

1st October 2020

Index of /wp-content/uploads/2019/01/

Today we’ll turn our attention to Part 2: uninterrupted speaking for up to two minutes.

Remember, you have a minute to write notes. Use the method which works best for you, but I suggest you write a keyword that will help you recall L-FWs or an idiom.

Look at the previous blogs to see some useful words: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/09/28/british-food-various-exercises-various-levels/

mouth-watering / nutritious / filling / spicy / bland / traditional /

prices can be sky-high / cost an arm and a leg / astronomical / not my cup of tea

And: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/09/29/british-food-part-2-sample-answers-for-ielts/

Indian Street Food in London Compilation - including some Restaurant Food  (Part 3). - YouTube
Indian street food in London

Part 2: What problems would you have with the food if you lived in the UK ?

You should say:

what UK food you know,

if you have ever tried it

if you have ever seen it

if you think you would enjoy it … and why (or why not).

Try to speak for the full 2 minutes. By now, you should know the formula: great introduction, some positive points, some negative, an anecdote, then a conclusion.

Well, that’s a very pertinent question because recently, I have been thinking about where I would like to study, and the UK is certainly top of my list. I am sure there would be some culture shock, especially when it comes to the food.

In class, we have seen some photos of traditional food such as toad in the hole, the full English breakfast and of course, the traditional Sunday roast. I think that British people have special food at Christmas time with … let me remember … turkey and vegetables then a special pudding which they set alight. I guess they use strong alcohol to make it burn. It looks tremendous fun.

I come from a small town, so I only had local food, but now I live in a big city, I can experience more western cuisine although we mostly eat fast food. So, no, I haven’t tried British food. Not yet, but the Christmas food looks mouth-watering.

Sometimes I watch a movie and I look out for what people eat. It looks very different from my country. Oh, of course, we use chopsticks here, as well as spoons, but they use a knife and fork in the UK. I tried once. My friend Jenny, who went to London on holiday, came back with a present for me. It was a knife and fork. I tried, I really tried but I couldn’t get the hang of it.

However when I see people eat in restaurants, I am a little nervous. They look so expensive. It must cost an arm and a leg to eat there.

Would I enjoy it ? I am not sure but I think so. My favourite food is chicken and sea food so I am sure I can get those easily. Maybe the food would possibly be bland compared to Asian food because we use lots of fresh vegetables and spices. On the other hand, new food is part of the new culture. Now I start to feel hungry !

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Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: New Slang (when you notice the stripes). Idioms & expressions

15th July 2020

I recreated the shirt from the New Slang music video : TheShins
The US band The Shins with their song ‘New Slang’

Notes, new idioms & slang

Why the long face ? Someone looks miserable or unhappy.

She can talk the hind legs off a donkey ! Talking non-stop !

The tip of the iceberg.

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Piece of cake No problem, easy, no trouble

Same thing, day in, day out everyday is exactly the same, very boring.

On the lookout looking for something

Cooking the books cheating with the company accounts. Writing false information.

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A bright spark someone who is very clever

You’re pulling my leg ! joking but pretending to be serious.

The boot’s on the other foot the situation has changed.

You can’t miss it you will certainly recognise it when you see it, when you are there.

Big time ! (US modern popular culture) Absolutely, totally, very, very much

Brass monkeys it’s extremely, painfully cold

Once in a blue moon something that happens extremely rarely

Bob’s your uncle there you are ! No problem, all fixed ! (UK slang)

Now … your turn

Practice using these saying in everyday conversations … answers, as per usual, at the end of the blog.

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1) I love the beach. but I rarely go, just ……………………………….

2) If you’re late for class again, the teacher will be furious …….

3) You look so sad ……………………… ?

4) I’m freezing ! It’s ……………………. in here

5) Seriously ? You can marry three wives in UK ? No, you’re ……..

6) Oh, my job is so tedious, …………………………

7) She wouldn’t shut up ! She ….

8) It’s no problem; I’ll clean your laptop, remove the virsus and Trojans and ………

9) I used to earn more than my wife but she got a big promotion, so now …………. She earns more than me !

10) I need a new pair of shoes. I’m ………………… for some high quality Italian leather.

11) The accountant was sacked. He was ……… but that was not all ! That’s just the …………………… He was also stealing computers and selling them.

12) This lesson was a ………………… for me because I’m such a ……………….

13) I didn’t use ‘you can’t miss it.’ Write your own sentence.

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Answers

1) once in a blue moon

2) big time

3) why the long face ?

4) brass monkeys

5) pulling my leg

6) Same thing, day in, day out

7) can/could talk the hind legs off a donkey.

8) Bob’s your uncle

9) the boot’s on the other foot.

10) on the lookout

11) cooking the books / tip of the iceberg

12) piece of cake / bright spark

Well, if you’re such a bright spark, write you own sentences and test your partner.

BONUS: what expressions can you hear in this song ?

NOTE TO TEACHERS; IF POSSIBLE, TURN OFF THE OVERHEAD SO STUDENTS CAN’T SEE THE SONG TITLE.

Ms Nanci Griffith: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmvyBTXuRQw

IELTS: The story so far. Vocabulary review and speaking tips

7th July 2020

LUYỆN THI IELTS TẠI HẢI PHÒNG - huyenielts

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, time to take stock and make sure the students have absorbed the information and are au fait (French for well informed, know the point) with the vocabulary so far. With that in mind, here’s a quick warm up. Replace the high frequency words with low-frequency ones, then use your newly-acquired discourse markers to construct longer sentences.

Let’s kick off with some common or garden IELTS subjects:

What do you do in your free time ?

I drink coffee with my friends. There are many coffee shops in my hometown

Will Chinese Drink Coffee over Tea?

School keeps me very busy, but if I can find some time for myself, I enjoy hanging out with my friends in coffee shops, which are ubiquitous in Sai Gon.

TIP: The question here is about free time, so don’t just talk about coffee shops – mention at least two other different activities – even if you DON’T do them, just talk about them !

Example, playing music, watching films, listening to music, sports, shopping, helping family, reading – thing you enjoy NOT to do with studying or work

Now … Your Turn: [tips at the end]

Remember, you should be able to speak in complex sentences with a low-frequency word or two, some idiomatic language, contractions and discourse markers, all spiced up with a liberal sprinkling of adverbs and adjectives. Furthermore, try to introduce the answer, rather than stating it outright.

I don’t like English grammar. I am boring with it.

A lot more people go to China than Viet Nam.

She forgets everything.

Thai food is good.

I think Barcelona will beat Real Madrid on Sunday

I like to go to cinema and go to shopping and go my friend house and sleep.

I don’t go out now. It rains all day.

The examiner asks you a question but you didn’t understand

What ?

I didn’t hear you.

Errrrrr, I don’t know

OK, yes I like it

The examiner asks you a question but you need time to think of an answer.

UUuhhhmmmmmm.

Hahhahahahaha

I don’t know.

Yes.

Tell me about your city

It very dirty.

I was born here. I love it.

We can do many things here.

Has many traffic jam. Yes. people nice.

Do you like to eat ?

Of course !

No

Yes. I eat with my family. I eat with my friends at school. I eat after school. I eat at night with my family

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Words and expression to use, tips, phrases and idiomatic language.

Low – frequency words

Boring: tedious // forgetful: absent-minded //

expensive: sky high // what will happen: predict // everywhere: ubiquitous.

Could you repeat that, please // I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that // Would you mind rephrasing the question

In my opinion // From my perspective // For me //

Let me think // How can I put it // Well, that’s an interesting question

Allow me to explain // By which I mean //

As well as // furthermore // additionally // on the other hand // having said that // however // although // despite that

It’s raining cats and dogs // It costs an arm and a leg // piece of cake // I’m burning the candle at both ends

Relative pronouns – who / which / where / whose

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One of my favourite things to do, if I have some spare time, is to hang out with my closest friends and just catch up on our news, maybe hit a mall because they are air-conditioned and have a wide array of amenities such as shops, cafes and, if I may say, bathroom facilities, as well as services like ATM machines and free wifi. My closest friends are Sheila, who is from India and studies here in Sai Gon, and Kerry, who is a gorgeous Thai lady. As we all come from different countries, there can be issues; allow me to explain. We have to communicate in English, however Kerry is just starting her studies, so we have to use Google translate frequently. Having said that, it’s such tremendous fun to be with my best friends. It helps me forget about the pressure and stress of work.

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Keep studying !

Adult Speaking Class, Level 1: Sentence building

27th June 2020

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How was your day ?

Today, I was very successful at work because I got my salary as well as a bonus (extra money).

When do you get your salary ? When do you get paid ?

Salary = career, professional job – usually once a month

Paid – for a job, can be daily, weekly, monthly – low-income job

Building longer sentences:

I teach at public school which can be extremely tiring because there are many students who, I feel, do not want to learn. Having said that, there are also many wonderfully gifted students who make me feel happy.

Relative pronouns– who (person), which (thing), where (place). 

Adverbs– add information – extremely, wonderfully

Opinions– I feel, I believe, in my opinion, from my point of view. 

Turn and link – although, despite, however …

VOCABULARY

gifted – talented, skilled- natural talent 

You have a gift for …. music, laughter (laugh – larf), accounting, singing

Noun there was laughter NOT there was laugh

For example – we had karaoke – there were many people singing; some were extraordinarily gifted while others were … not so talented ! There was a laugh of smiling and laughter.

Extraordinarily – very special

Now … Your Turn

Tell your neighbour or the class about your job

  1. Where you work
  2. The good things
  3. Anything bad
  4. How do you feel
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I went to the office where I work and I had a very busy day. However I think it’s good because I can finish my task. I was really excited and happy because today is the last day of the month so I got my salary and holiday bonus. I want to spend my salary for traveling or on clothes. 

GRAMMAR

I can finish subject + modal verb (can, could, might) + main verb

I got my salary I was paid so we use past tense ‘got’.

I want to spent subject + helping verb (want, like, need) + infinite (to + verb)

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Today, I went to my company where I met everyone in the office. After, I worked with my customer, who is very pleasant, and we spoke about payment. Later, I went to the bank where I withdrew a little money from the company account. It was an ordinary day but interesting because today is payday !

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This Korean lady does NOT have an ordinary job !

Beginners’ English: Sentence building

24th June 2020

A lesson is how to use an auxiliary (or helping) verb, and then make your answers longer by using simple adjectives.

Today, we use the verb ‘like’

A simple question is:

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I like ice cream or I like fruit

To make your sentences longer:

I like strawberry or chocolate ice cream.

I like all fruit. My favourites are apples and bananas.

Now … Your Turn

Ask your friend or tell me, What do you like ?

I like …

Match the answers with the pictures:

keeping fit

drinking beer

shoes

shopping

cakes

Now make your sentences longer:

I + like + verbing + noun

I like buying shoes / I like eating cakes /

I like ___________ beer / I like ________ shopping

Do you go alone or with friends ?

I like going shopping with my sister

I like drinking beer with my ______

I like keeping fit with my _________

I like eating cakes with my _____

Finally, tell we where you like to do these things ?

Look how long the sentences are now !

I like to drink beer with my friends in the beergarden.

I like to go shopping with my friend at the market.

I like to eat cakes with my _______ at the _________

I like to buy shoes with my _______ (where ?)

where can people buy shoes today ?

Market / shop / Mall / Online / Store

Beginners’ English:Grammar exercises

23rd June 2020

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Grammar

Tenses

  1. past
  2. present
  3. future

infinite verb = to + base verb (NO tense).

I + like + infinite verb + object

I like to play guitar // I love to listen to music //

I + like + verb+ing + object: I love playing guitar

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NEVER – I like to listening to music

Tell me about yourself:

At university, my major was accounting and I have worked for 8 years.

Boy = son Girl = daughter.

I have one son, who is 3 and one daughter who is 1.

My manager is a lady (or woman) and she is professional, very friendly and nice. She has short black hair and an oval-shaped face. Usually, she wears a short black dress. My manager, whose name is Dung, always helps and supports me.

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Pho is the traditional food of VN. It is soup with noodles, meat (beef, chicken), vegetables and herbs. It can be spicy if we add chilis. It comes with fresh herbs, vegetables and lime.

New idiom: bear with me= please wait a very short time.

My friend is a 29 year-old man. He has an oval-shaped face and short black hair. He is not very tall, he is quite short. However, he is very friendly and funny.

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Adjectives– size then colour.

He has a large black bag. She plays a big brown guitar

adverbs– very, (a lot) quite (a little)

London is very expensive. Bangkok is quite cheap

exterior / interior = outside / inside

I went on holiday to Singapore with my friend. We went to a shopping mall and visited some museums and enjoyed the food. Seafood at Singapore is very cheap compared to Viet Nam and it was very delicious. I bought some clothes and shoes for my baby. We stayed for four days and the flight took two hours. I will return and revisit the shopping mall.

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Shopping mall, Singapore

Dialogue

Two friends are in a coffee shop

Cath This is a great cup of coffee ! Ok, what shall we do next ?

Di I have to run to the bank. I need to deposit some money.

Cath Good idea, I wanted to use an ATM. I also need to buy some dollars.

Di You can check the exchange rate at my bank. It’s not far, we can walk. 

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Quick questions: How was your weekend ?

My weekend was quite fun.

How about (tell me about) the evening ?

We watched TV and listened to some music. I like V-Pop

I like K-pop very much OR I really like K-pop.

Directions

Where is the bank? Where’s the bank ?

How do I get to the park?

Is there an ATM nearby ?

Go straight

Turn left or turn right

turn around

keep going until you …..

take the second turning on your left

cross the road / street by the ….

go as far as the …… then ….

It’s opposite the …

We are at the bus station and we need coffee ! 

Is there a coffee shop nearby ?

Yes, turn left then go straight and keep going and it’s on your left.

Excuse me, where is the hospital, please ?

Yes, go straight and then turn left on second avenue keep going straight , the hospital is opposite the park.

Answer these two questions:

I have finished work at school. I need to go to the police station but I don’t know the area.

Xin loi, sorry, I don’t speak Vietnamese. I must go to the police station but I don’t know this area.

Adverbs

so / very / extremely / incredibly

It is hot = it is so hot !

What did you do ? Past tense

On Saturday I drank beer and ate seafood for example, I had shrimp (prawn), octopus, fish, squid. We had lots of fun. Some people drank about six beers but I only drank a little.

Travelling to Thailand

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In Thailand, the food is extremely hot (spicy) because they use a lot of chilis.

My Sony camera is very good (excellent) because the picture quality and colours are very clear.

The lens can zoom in 50 metres. The camera was reasonably-priced however, if you buy more lenses, the price increases.

I’m going to take pictures NOT I’m going to taking pictures

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Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: What type of person are you ?

19th June 2020

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I feel I am …

an easy-going person // a very generous lady or man // highly motivated //

outgoing // short-tempered // kind // lazy // bone-idle ! // introverted // wise //

unmotivated // easily bored // open and friendly // stand offish // organised //

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Read the questions then discuss.

1 Are you organised ? Can you always find your keys, books, phone, papers ?

2 Do you ever lend people money ? When and why or why not ? Do you ever borrow money ? In what situation ?

3 Do you mind, does it bother you if someone borrows your … ?

clothes // sports equipment // camera // bicycle // CDs // money // food // computer games // project workbooks //

Is there anything you would NEVER lend ?

4 Do you correct people when their English is wrong ?

Do you correct people when their Vietnamese is wrong ?

5 You feel very ill / have the flu or a cold. Do you:

go to school or work or stay in bed ? (call in sick)

stay at home but not in bed ? (catch up on TV shops, online shopping)

put on a brave face and carry on as usual ?

Carry on but let everyone know you are ill ?

6 At a shop counter, do you try to get served first (push in) or do you wait for your turn ?

7 If you have bad food in a shop, do you complain, or just leave and decide never to go back ?

8 Do you give money to street beggars ? Charities ? Do you buy things from people because they look poor ?

9 You are shopping with a full trolley. The person behind you has just one item. Do you let them go first ?

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Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Character development.

18th June 2020

Now it’s time to put the work of previous lesson together in order to come up with more rounded character descriptions.

You can tell me what people are wearing by using adjectives (what we think of the clothes, the size, colour, pattern, material, country of origin).

Additionally, you should have enough vocabulary to tell me what a person looks like (length, type and colour of hair), height, age, what they look like.

Furthermore, I expect you to remember some personality adjectives.

If we put all these together, we have some very detailed descriptions, as well as having the opportunity to use relative pronouns (who, where, which, whose) in order to develop sentence-building which is absolutely essential for IELTS students.

And so, without further ado:


Describing people

What do they look like ? What are they wearing ? What kind of person are they ?

As always, I’ll give you an example of what I want, then it’s your turn:

Billy Office manager 32

Works staff very hard. Never gives pay rises

Buys clothes and electronics. Never gives to charity

Becomes angry after beer. Member of a gym.

Not many close friends. Does not like kids

Billy, who is 32 and an office manager, is a very strict boss. He is very serious and also very mean because he doesn’t give his staff more money. Furthermore, he never gives money to charity so he is selfish.

Although he is only 32, he is almost bald. However, he has a neat beard and moustache. He has brown eyes, and he doesn’t like to smile. Billy stands with his arms across his chest, so he doesn’t look very happy.

He wears a bright and expensive cotton shirt with a white collar, but with red, white and blue stripes. Furthermore, he wears an extremely expensive watch.

In his free time, Billy goes to the gym, and also likes to drink beer. However, after too many beers, he can become aggressive. He is a loner, not having many close friends. He spends his money on himself, buying clothes and gadgets. He has no plans for a family as he doesn’t like children.

NOW … YOUR TURN:

Tell me about Ji-yeon and Kofi

Ji-yeon singer 24. Kind to her musicians. Shares money with band. Gives money to family. Performs free shows. Just drinks 1 beer. Uses Instagram & Twitter. Wants 2 children

Kofi civil engineer 37. Very professional. Buys his team lunch. Helps his brother study. Gives money to UNICEF.

Likes to dance and sing. Meets friends weekly.

Goes jogging and diets. Loves swimming. Loves all children.

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Dialogue practice

14th June 2020

An extended scenario that can be used for three speakers, or two, whatever the class needs. Here, a student goes to an expensive private language centre to enquire about course requirement and prices.

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You will notice a lot of idiomatic speech as well as expressions. These are designed to show you how to use them in everyday conversation … have fun !

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Dialogue Practice

A student comes to the office to get some information about courses

Objective: practice expressions and pronunciation of contractions.

Student Good evening, I’m looking for an English course

PEC 1 You’ve come to the right place !

PEC 2 How may we assist ? What exactly are you looking for ?

Student Well, I’d like to improve my pronunciation, as well as my grammar.

PEC 1 Seems to me that you are already quite good at English.

Student You’ re most kind, but one can always better oneself.

Cambridge English

PEC 2 We’ve an interesting class starting soon … it’s upper-intermediate.

Student Yes, I’d prefer to hit the ground running. When does it start ?

PEC 1 Hold on, let me check …..

telephone rings 

PEC 2 Hello, PEC … oh, hold the line please, she’s busy. OK, she’ll call back soon.

PEC 1 There’s a class commencing the day after tomorrow .

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Student Or maybe a private lesson ?

PEC 2 I can check … bear with me … yes, with teacher John. He’s passionate about teaching.

Student Sounds good. May I ask the fee ?

PEC 2 Certainly ….  she writes the price down on paper and hands it to the student.

Student Blimey ! I’ll have to think it over and get back to you. I must work now.

Student leaves.

PEC 1 Think he’ll come back ?

PEC 2 Over my dead body !

Hands up if you like this blog:

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