Tonight’s class will focus on the town of Green Bank, Virginia (which is a southern state in the USA). Green Bank is a very small town. The population in 2019, according to Wikipedia, was 182 yet it has become famous as the town without Wi-Fi. Wireless internet is banned and mobile phones (cell phones USA) are unable to make or receive calls, nor can they send texts. The reason …
Telescopes can be used for light or for sound. The above picture shows the radio telescope, which is 485ft tall, at Green Bank. It listens out for sounds from space. You may hear electromagnetic radiation in the class video.
Light and sound travel in waves. A star will emit light waves but electromagnetic radiation can also travel by radio waves. Giant telescopes are situated in areas with low light pollution while radio telescopes need to be in areas without Wi-Fi or mobile telephone, which can cause interference. You may have experienced this on an airplane when you are told to switch off phones during take-off and landing.
What’s the best thing about being in a relationship?
What’s the best thing about being single?
What headings would you put these under ?
Life is more fun than being alone. Problems are easier to solve.
We have total, 100% freedom ! Do what we want, when we want.
We have less responsibility.
If you meet someone you like, you can ask them out on a date.
There’s a time to play and a time to settle down and raise a family.
No in-laws !
How do couples meet ?
How did you meet your: wife / husband / boyfriend / girlfriend / partner ? Or was it a blind date ?
Activity: Arrange a blind date for these three men. Which lady is the best choice … and why ?
How do you think the dates will be ? Will they keep meeting, maybe get married … or never see each other again ?
PETER. Age 46. Lawyer. Likes cooking, travelling, wine, driving, tennis. Divorced, 2 children. Looking for a 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:
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 !
And … if all goes well, there could be wedding bells
FREE SPEAKING: What is a traditional wedding in your country ?
In the UK and many western countries, the bridegroom waits in the church next to the Best Man, who has the rings. The church music starts and the Bride walks down the aisle next to her father, who will ‘give her away.’ Behind the Bride are her Bridesmaids. The Vicar will start the service. At the end, the Bride and Groom kiss.
Match words with meaning
Honeymoon // a secret relationship
Romantic // promise to do something/ be loyal to someone.
Divorce // when people decide they will get married
After three or four lessons, I expect my students to know several common idioms (their meaning and how to use them appropriately), a number of low-frequency words (L-FWs), how to introduce an answer, how to form a complex sentence and to demonstrate varieties of intonation and stress.
Without these features, you ain’t gonna get above a ‘5’, no way. Therefore, time for a quick review, see how you’re measuring up to the standard, whether you need to turn over a new leaf and put your nose to the grindstone.
Therefore, let’s recap
it’s raining cats and dogs
it costs an arm and a leg
piece of cake
I’m burning the candle at both ends
once in a blue moon
pass with flying colours
turn over a new leaf
put your nose to the grindstone
Part 1: What do the aforementioned idioms mean ?
Part 2: Give each student an idiom. They have to use it, correctly, in a sentence.
absent-minded // sky-high, astronomical // an entrepreneur //
hawkersor peddlers // a mover and a shaker // consider //
Part 3: Students have to describe their neighbourhood, using as many L-FWs, and idioms, as they are able.
That’s a very interesting question
Well, that’s a great question
Well, there is so much to say about that subject, where shall I start ?
It’s funny you put that question to me because earlier today I was just thinking about …
As a young Vietnamese (add your own nationality), I …
Part 4: Students have to demonstrate they know how to introduce their answer.
What do you want to do in the future ?
Give them one minute to prepare a very short reply.
Part 5: Moving on, students have to form complex sentences out of the following information, using intonation to reflect excitement or a positive point and, conversely, a negative factor. Discourse markers to be employed in order to link ideas, naturally. Furthermore, I shall be listening for adverbs and adjectives.
First, choose the correct relative pronoun (who, which, whose or where)
capital of UK // many shops and museums // expensive and cold
Teacher John //
from New Zealand // smiles and plays guitar // talks too fast
real name Tony Starke // very rich and intelligent // is fictional
90 minutes flight from HCMC // friendly people, great food // many western tourists and crowded
ABC English Centre //
located in city centre, District 1 // use laptops and tablets in classes // lessons are four hours long, with extra homework.
Part 6: Class split into two teams. They have to plan a day in their city (here, of course, it’s Sai Gon) for my friend Ethan.
Describe these pictures, using adjectives and your opinions.
Highlands Coffee has great coffee, air-con and free wifi. Having said that, the service is a little slow, there are no waiters and the cost is unbelievably expensive !
Vietnam is famous for coffee; coffee shops are ubiquitous. In fact, there are so many, it’s hard to see (difficult to understand) how they stay in business let alone turn a profit.
Be that as it may, let’s use this as a learning opportunity. To practice making longer sentences, and as a warm up exercise, the students can ask each other, “Where do you go for coffee ?”
Don’t answer the question directly and immediately; Begin with a short introduction:
Sai Gon has so many coffee shops, some are cheap while others can be quite expensive although they have a wide range of delicious coffee. Personally, I like going to …
How MUCH do you like it (adverbs) ?
What kind of coffee (adjectives) ?
What do you think about this ? (opinions)
WHY do you like it (give reasons)
Interesting words, phrases, idioms
Personally, I like Tap Coffee which is an independent shop where I live. I enjoy going there so much because the owner is very friendly and tries to speak English with me. There isn’t a lot of choice, so I order cappuccino with hot, fresh milk. In my opinion, it is good value and tastes delicious. What I like about the shop is the free wifi, the comfortable chairs and the atmosphere. Furthermore, it is usually very quiet and it therefore a good place to read. I love to put my feet up, kick back and sip my damn fine coffee.
Before the exercise, elicit and board as many relevant words and phrases as required. The students have a discourse marker list, so I could insist that they use certain words (moreover, therefore, consequently etc). Additionally, I’ll need to explain vernacular phrases such as ‘kick back’ and ‘put my feet up’.
IF a student doesn’t like coffee, then they can say where they go and what they drink. IF they don’t go anywhere or like anything (yes, I have had that in a class), then they can explain WHY NOT!
Key vocabulary: ambience // aroma //atmosphere
In a list of three, use one comma and a linking word (and):
The service is a little slow, there are no waiters and the cost is unbelievably expensive !
In a list of two, just use a linking word (and):
Mega Mart has amazing choice and is good value for money.
How to make Vietnamese coffee
Tell me: what do I need ? What type of coffee is best ? Where can I buy it ?
New verbs: pour / stir / fill up /
Make a long, fluent presentation.
Signpost expressions: used to help tell a story or a narrative. They allow the listener to help organise the information.
Useful words or expressions:
Firstly / afterwards / and then / following that /
don’t forget to … / you can always ….
lastly / finally / at the very end …
In your experience, what coffee is best ? Trang Nguyen, Highlands or Milano ? Maybe street coffee ?
Pat Well, I’m exhausted. I need a damn fine cup of coffee and a big piece of pie.
Sam There’s a Highlands over the road, or we can go to Coffee Bean or Milano.
Pat I’d prefer Tran Nguyen but it costs an arm and a leg. Highlands is also incredibly expensive.
Sam But great quality and superb cakes. Come on, I’m starving, I need coffee now !
Pat OK, hold your horses hahaha. After we can meet up with Thay Paul.
Sam Sounds good. Now … shall we have chocolate cake or fruit cake … ?
costs an arm and a leg = very expensive
hold your horses = please be patient and wait
Inside HighlandsCoffee Shop
Sam Hi, I’ll have a large cappuccino, please. What do you fancy ?
Pat Tough decision. I’m going for the cheesecake and a slice of blueberry pie.
Sam Oh, me too. Big slice, no, only joking, I have to watch my weight.
Pat I think you look great. Lets also get some chocolate cake and we can share.
Sam Brilliant. Oh, did I show you my recent photos ? Here, on my phone.
Pat Let me see … oh, so funny. Who’s that ? The man next to Niall ?
Sam That’s Jimmy, he’s in Niall’s band. He plays drums and drinks like a fish !
Pat And that’s you, a selfie. You look adorable. Butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth !
drinks like a fish = drinks a lot of alcohol
Butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth ! = looks very sweet and nice … but can be very naughty
One of the biggest stumbling blocks for my Asian students is copying the speech patterns of English, how our voices rise and fall, how we pause for effect then stress key words, augmented by body language and facial expressions.
Best way to improve is to copy so, without further ado, some classic film lines.
“You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off !”
Now, let’s cross the pond (the Atlantic Ocean) and go Stateside, with Tom Cruise being yelled at (shouted at) by Jack Nicholson who you may remember from a previous video. The clip is from ‘A Few Good Men,’ a 1992 drama: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5j2F4VcBmeo
This can be for two students or teams: Start at 0:13 – 0:19
“Oh my gosh, I think I’ve just come up with the best theory … teenage life sucks !”
Now for a personal favourite, the inimitable Peter O’Toole an actor I had the pleasure of seeing, and briefly meeting, back in my London days. Here, Peter is on a talk show, explaining about a long, arduous flight from Japan to the USA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuhHThAaymQ
I heartily recommend watching the whole clip, however our section starts at 2:21
“Coming from Japan, one indeed stops at lots of places … Hawaii and all over … and it coincided, our stopping, with the cocktail hour … everywhere we went, it was cocktail hour … and one doesn’t want to be discourteous …”
Finally, my favourite TV chef (after Keith Floyd, obviously) is the beautiful Ching-He Huang
The whole clip is under two minutes. Here are some selections, in order of appearance.
“From street food to fine dining, Hong Kong is the place that has some of the best food on the planet. Every time I come my absolute favourite thing to do is eat.”
“So this is the pineapple bun, this is the moment I’ve been waiting for, it’s flakey and it’s sweet … it’s really good.”
“It’s small and punchy … just like you !”
“The sweetness of the prawns … eeerrrrrrrr !”
“This is some serious woking !”
The last phrase shows how we can play with English; a wok is a traditional Chinese frying pan. Here, Ching uses the noun (wok) to form a verb (woking), which is non-standard, in fact, it isn’t in any of the online dictionaries I searched. Having said that, most native-English speakers watching the show will know what she means.
If you are unsure, Ching is saying that the restaurant is extremely busy, there is a lot of high-energy cooking going on (woks are associated with high-temperature, very quick dishes).
One of my students has chosen the English name ‘Cherry’, so this song goes down well (especially when I try, and fail, to hit those high notes).
Now, down to business
Past tense – what is the past tense for:
eat // drink // see // become // live // travel // ride // sleep
Moving on – complete the sentence:
Last night I _____ Chinese food
Yesterday he ______ hot, sweet tea
She ______ all night
Marco Polo _______ famous for his travel stories.
He ______ from I___ to C________
In Thailand, Mr Paul _____ a large grey intelligent elephant.
Also he _____ many beautiful colourful temples
Now, past continuous
Make sentences using continuous form. Remember – verb + ing
What are they doing ? They are telling stories
Use flashcards. Have students ask and answer the questions. Call two students, one from each team and have them stand on a mark. Awards points for pronunciation as well as correct answers. Drill class to make sure everyone is taking part.
Next hand out six flashcards, three to each team.
Ask them, “What were you doing when I drank coffee ?” They must answer in the present continuous e.g. I was setting up the tent.
Finally, have a student mime an activity. Only that student’s team may answer.
Moving on, today’s subject is a reading exercise about exploring a cave. As a lead-in, show this video about a famous cave in Viet Nam: