This is the normal procedure (way / method) to hail a taxi in NYC. However, this would not be acceptable in Bangkok.
Hailing a taxi in Bangkok
Notice how the hand points down. In Thailand, people beckon (call) a dog with their hands up, so a taxi driver would think this was very impolite and rude. The driver would be offended; the hand signal would cause offence.
Cultural differences are one way of inadvertently causing offence. However, some people can say, write or do things that upset other people:
The 45th President is famous for his somewhat un-presidential tweets. He is referring here to the North Korean Leader, Kim Jong-il:
However, in the interests of fairness, North Korean leaders have made comments that could be offensive to the USA. The former leader, Kim Jong-un:
And sometimes, within the same country, people can disagree with each. This is all part of a free society. The problem arises when people stop arguing the facts or beliefs, but start to attack people for their looks, religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation. Some times, people can go too far in what they say:
This is the singer, and animal-rights supporter, Morrissey. He is talking about the treatment of animals in China, which he feels is intolerable. He can object. However, in this quote, he insults the entire country as seeming to be “a subspecies,” that is, not quite human. He makes his point, but do people understand his message, or get offended by his words ?
Listening practice: A non-native speaker talks about a crime.
Reading exercise: Sherlock Holmes
Warm up game: Eyewitness
Crime and detection.Being an eyewitness.
Crime and Punishment
This is a famous book by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky. Give students five to ten minutes to research information about him, then present it to the class. This practises extracting relevant information. Reading verbatim from Wiki or other sites is forbidden !
Warm up game:
Eyewitness: Show students a slide or picture of three people for two minutes. Tell them that today some computers were stolen from the office and these people were seen. Ask them to describe the people they just saw. Prompt for as much detail as possible. This will test the students’ ability to use adjectives and learn new vocabulary from each other:
Do you like detective shows ? Which are your favourites ?
The above shows are from USA, UK & South Korea. Detective shows are popular all over the world. Even famous film directors can write detective novels:
I was walking with a friend along Main Street, around 4 in the morning. The street was ………….quiet, just some tourists and a little traffic.
I was wearing a small bag, strung across my shoulder. A security guard was behind me, talking to a person in a car. …….., a motorbike came towards me on the pavement. He stopped, …………..my strap, then drove away.
Naturally, I shouted but it was too late; he was gone. My friend was worried but I told her it was OK, nobody was hurt. The ………of the bag were really worthless: pens, some medicine, a book, but also my designer glasses.
The security guard was comical in his incompetence. He shook his head, mouth open wide, and said, “It all ………. so quickly, there was nothing I could do.”
I should, …….. , have reported it to the police, that was the ……….. but people told me the thief would never be found. What I learnt from this unfortunate experience was to be very careful and never walk around with valuables.
The greatest of all fictional detectives, Sherlock Holmes, along with his loyal companion Dr. Watson, made his first appearance in Arthur (later Sir Arthur) Conan Doyle’s novel A Study in Scarlet (1887) and continued into the 20th century in such collections of stories as The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894) and the longer Hound of the Baskervilles (1902).
New Vocabulary Practice:
What is the ……… for reporting a crime. (noun)
Most of what we learnt on the first day was ………… (adj)
His wife ……….. (verb) him of eating the cake but the real ….. (noun) was the dog !
Jet Mart had two cases of Tiger beer boosted (stolen). In Mr Wall’s house, there were two cases of Tiger beer but, his lawyer defended, this is not proof, merely ……….. …………….
This is polite conversation, to pass the time, or to get to know some basic information about people. Do not ask anything too personal; this will differ from culture to culture, but in the UK and the west in general:
Ask why someone is not married or has no children.
Ask how much money they earn, get from their job.
Ask how much something cost. “I like your shirt. How much was it ?”
Talk about politics. “You’re from China ? Chairman Mao was a disaster !”
PLAY IT SAFE – talk about music, football, food or … in the UK … the weather.
Very warm for this time of year.
Did you see …….. last night ? (the football game, the news etc)
How long have you worked here ?
The traffic was so bad this morning.
What team do you support ?
John: I can speak German. Peter: Can you ?
Bella: Ms Nguyen went to Thailand. Carole: Did she ?
Bill: He likes K-pop. Harry: ______________ ?
We are going to the pagoda later. ______________ ?
Ms Thinh has a new job.______________ ?
house prices in your city / why you have or don’t have a pet
an interesting program you saw recently
What you want to do in the future. / Somewhere you would love to visit.
Keep conversations going:
I see / Do you really think so ? /
That’s good point / I hadn’t thought of that
Oh, that’s interesting/ Yeah, right ! / Sure / OK May I just add something ? /
Oh, where is that exactly ?
Speaking Practice – use discourse markers to extend your speaking and to link ideas.
Describe something you own which is very important to you.
You should say:
where you got it from how long you have had it what you use it for and explain why it is important to you.
You will have to talk about the topic for 1 to 2 minutes.
You have one minute to think about what you’re going to say.
You can make some notes to help you if you wish.
Rounding off questions
Is it valuable in terms of money?
Would it be easy to replace?
This could be a physical object, a memento with sentimental value, or an abstract noun such as health, happiness etc
For my Vietnamese students:
How different is Vietnam from other Southeast Asian countries?
What do you think Vietnam will be like 50 years from now?
What do you think Vietnam’s neighbours think of you ?
Sentence order – exercises for you to practice rearranging the words in a sentence to make your English more interesting. This is especially useful for IELTS students.
Vocabulary – a feature just on boosting your command of the English language, and finding higher, or better, low-frequency words for basic English.
Increase vocabulary. The average native-speaker uses about 2 000 words. You can boost your vocabulary by learning verbs, adverbs and adjectives which can be easily found by a Google search. Also, use an online thesaurus.
Speak in longer sentences. Say what you want to say (make your point), then elaborate by giving examples, adding reasons and maybe an anecdote. Along with this, give the opposite view by using conjunctions such as ‘however’, ‘on the other hand’ etc.
Pronunciation. Many native speakers have a problem understanding English learners, so we will practise slow and careful enunciation, intonation and stress.
Can I get a bus to the city centre from here ? Is it possible ?
Can you hit the lights, please ? request – turn on/off the lights
Who’s that ? It could be Peter. Speculation
You have to get over 60% or Thay Paul will KYA (kick your ass !) Obligation
Oh, you must see the new Iron Man film. Suggestion
Will you help me with my tieng Viet ? Request
May I go to the party ? Permission
You musn’t use your phone when riding a motorbike. Obligation
You ought to stop drinking so much coffee. Suggestion
You should all read English books. Suggestion
….. I use my mobile phone in class ? Asking permission
You ………. answer all three questions. Obligation
It’s too heavy; …… you help me lift it ?
Don’t wait too long – he ……. not come.
… I buy an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy ?
This activity makes students speak English to each other, exchanging information and giving them practice in taking down facts such as dates, phone numbers etc.
Arrange class into small groups and give them each an information sheet. They take turns reading aloud to their group, using natural rhythms and intonations.
It’s highly probable that other students will not understand all, so they must use some of the following phrases:
I’m sorry, could you repeat that, please.
I didn’t catch your phone number.
Would you mind speaking slower, please.
How do you spell that ?
Let me confirm, your name is …
Hello, I’m calling from Los Angles and I want to know what time does your office open ? I’m arriving on the 10th July so can you meet me at the airport ? My cell is 555 – 0743 – 9291. Also, can you recommend a good hotel downtown ?
Hi, this is Mr Muller from the Berlin office. We are waiting for your design for the Audi components. Could you email them as soon as possible. We have an important presentation on the 12th so we need them.
Hello, I’m looking for … Mr nnngggg yyyyyuun ?? Sorry, I cannot pronounce Vietnamese. This is Jack Ginsberg from the Beijing factory. We cannot meet your order by the deadline. We need at least three more days. Sorry for the inconvenience.
London calling, this is Mr Thompson for Mr Thanh. We need to rearrange the time of our conference Skype call. We must bring it forward to 11 o’clock your time. Hope that is not an issue. Any problems, give me a bell on my office number or drop me an email.
My doctor told me to cut down on fast food and to cut out alcohol completely. I also have to hit the gym, go swimming and take up a sport. I tried jogging but I gave up, it was too damn hot. My girlfriend is always on at me to loose weight.
All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages.
Shakespeare ‘As You Like It’ Act 2, Scene 7
Just A Minute
Can you speak for a minute without deviation, hesitation or repetition ?
Students work in pairs, using a stopwatch. One student has to speak for one minute on a subject but must not repeat information, take too long to answer or to speak about different subjects.
school or work / local food / Asian women / great things about your city / bad things in your city / your family / your hometown/ free time
I agree totally / I agree to an extent // I disagree // I disagree strongly
She makes a good point // She misses the point
She is spot on // She is way off // In my experience …
wierd = unusual / strange
Now, your turn. Do you agree with these statements:
Learning English is so important if you want a good job.
People who drink and drive should go to prison.
An African football team will win the World Cup before 2040.
Nobody should have to work more than 25 hours a week.
Men and women should earn the same money for doing the same job.
New Vocabulary / expressions
looking up = getting better (things are looking up).
Since we got a new manager, things are looking up.
Match the basic words on the left with words on the right, then complete the sentences with the right-hand words:
interesting // intelligent
on time // fascinating
forgetful // miserable
tired // punctual
smart (clever) // exhausted
unhappy // absent-minded
John forgot his keys again; he’s so _________
The documentary about ocean life was __________
Tony has been very ____________ since his girlfriend left him.
It would be incredible if Vietnamese students could be __________
ubiquitous = everywhere. In Viet Nam, coffee shops are ubiquitous.
incessant = never ending. The karaoke noise is incessant.
rewarding = doing something that makes you feel better about yourself. Nursing doesn’t pay much but it is tremendously rewarding.
Use these new adjectives with some of these nouns:
coffee shops / motorbikes / Vietjet / construction work / German trains
charity work / AI (artificial intelligence) / swimming / British weather
Meaning, pronunciation, structure
What is happening here?
I am thinking about a holiday.
Meaning: Am I having a holiday ? Where will I go ? Is it certain ? Alone / with friends ?
Pronunciation: In speech, we would contract “I am” to I’m and link “abouta“
Structure: What tense is being used … why ? Will it happen ?
Try these: Make as many questions / possibilities as possible
He’s having his car repaired
She having a dress made
He looked at a new apartment
My cousin will be applying for universities
I’m not sure about taking the new job.
stories that maybe aren’t true but people believe them
[urban = city // rural = countryside // haunted = a place with ghosts ]
Ten scary Vietnamese urban legends:
Project: Do you know any of these tales / legends ?
Do you know any other Vietnamese legends ?
Have you even been to the places in HCM City ?
Painting by Ferdinand keller ‘Scheherazade und Sultan Schariar’ (1880).
The main frame story concerns Shahryār ruling in “India and China”. He is shocked to learn that his brother’s wife is unfaithful; discovering that his own wife’s infidelity has been even more flagrant, he has her killed.
In his bitterness and grief, he decides that all women are the same. Shahryār begins to marry a succession of virgins only to execute each one the next morning, before she has a chance to dishonour him.
Eventually the vizier, whose duty it is to provide them, cannot find any more virgins. Scheherazade the vizier’s daughter, offers herself as the next bride and her father reluctantly agrees.
On the night of their marriage, Scheherazade begins to tell the king a tale, but does not end it. The king, curious about how the story ends, is thus forced to postpone her execution in order to hear the conclusion. The next night, as soon as she finishes the tale, she begins (and only begins) a new one, and the king, eager to hear the conclusion of this tale, postpones her execution once again. This goes on for 1,001 nights.
This is quite a long introduction; how could you reduce it to three sentences ?
A good way to keep a conversation going (to continue speaking) is by asking questions.
Look at this picture, then try to ask questions using:
who / where / when / why / how / what / do \ did / which whose ?
Who are they ?
Where do you think they are ?
How do they know each other ?
Be creative ! Make up a story about them; are any of them boyfriend/girlfriend ? How did they meet ? What do they have in common ?
who = people (Who is the pretty lady ?)
where = places (Where were you born ?)
which = things (Which motorbike is more reliable ?)
whose = possessives (Whose iPhone is this ?)
The Asian lady, whose name is Zhi, is studying Law.
Zhi, who was born in China, has lived in London for one year.
Ask each other about their day or their weekend
How was your day ? How was your weekend ?
good. On the other hand …
Today was so-so because ……….. However ……….
terrible ! Despite that
horrible / awful / dreadful
boring / tedious
My weekend was …
Today was terrible because I overslept and had no coffee. However in the evening, I have football on TV so I feel very happy.
Notice how the passage mixes past tense (‘was terrible’) with present (‘I have’ …. ‘I feel.’)
How was your day ? (use past tense)
Today, I was very happy 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:
Relative pronouns – who (person), which (thing), where (place).
Adverbs – add information
Opinions – I feel, I believe, in my opinion, from my point of view.
Turn and link – but, although, however, having said that
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.
(I have taught in two different public schools. As in the above Google Images stock photo, we had a blackboard and chalk, fans, not air-con, and windows open onto the street or the quad where students would play sports or keep fit or synchronised shouting. However, my classes were seldom as organised as this, and I often had forty-plus students. )
Make long sentences by answering these questions:
What are you working on at the moment ?
Do you enjoy your latest project ?
Would you like to work abroad ?
Is it good to have a car in a city ?
Can you live without a motorbike in Sai Gon ?
How important is the internet in your life ?
Try to make a short presentation on a subject of your choice.
Include adverbs and adjectives, new vocabulary, idioms, phrasal verbs – parts of English that you have learnt so far.
Examples – family / music / films / motorbikes / your childhood / myths of your home country
Student questionnaire : What do you like, What does he like, she like ?
Vocabulary booster: likes and dislikes
What are they doing ?
Correct all the mistakes in this piece of writing:
Every days I wokes up at between 6.00 am and 6.15 am. I always usually do the same thing namely get up, brush my tooth, put the kettle in and make coffee. Nowever, on last yesterday I getted up at 5.00 because I must to go to the airport to meeting my friend.
I had a hard time get a taxi because it was cats and dogs raining. On the airport there was so much people, all looking exhausted and depressed by the weather bad. I have never come on a plane without one time when I flyed to Ha Noi.
I seemed to wait forever for my friend. Maybe she had a problem immigration. But no I seed her and she looked very cute but also exhausted and also a little smelly.
She needed to freshen up after her long flight.
Instead of wenting to home, we came to a nice coffee shop with great coffees and good music and also so many people so we having to waited for a sit. The coffee made us to wake up so then we came to home but first she wants to doing some shop.
I taked her to Diamond plaza and we saw many shops, a whole multitude of things to see and do. We saw beatiful ao dai from silk made but it was too very expensive; it cost a leg and an arm. So instead we did window shopper which is more cheaper.
It costs an arm and a leg = an idiom that means very expensive.
What is your name / What’s your name ?
What is your job ? What do you do (for a living) ?
Are you married ? Do you have any children ?
[Culture note – in English, we don’t ask people’s age. It is impolite.]
How are you ?
I’m very well, thank you
I’m great / I’m good
I’m so so / I’m OK / I’m not bad = depends on intonation
I’m under the weather (this is an idiom which means a little bit unwell)
[Culture note – in English, we always say ‘please’, ‘thank you’ & ‘sorry’]
do / have / like / love
What does he / she do ? What does she / he love but doesn’t like ?
On Mondays I have / On Mondays he has / She has …
For lunch I eat / He eats / She eats …
What do I like to do ? He likes to / She likes to …
Lessons – I love / He loves / She loves …
I don’t like / He doesn’t like / She doesn’t like …
What do I do after school or work ? What does he do ? What does she do ?
Can I juggle 3 balls ?/ Can he ? / Can she ?
Can I sing a song in English ? Can he ? Can she ?
Which songs can you sing in English ?
Like – love / adore
dislike – hate / detest
Note: hate & detest are very strong !
What do you like ?
Give me two examples of things you like, and two you don’t like.
Example: I adore dogs. I detest cold weather.
He loves … He hates …. They adore …
Use adverbs to make sentences stronger:
I really like films OR I like films very much. I really hate karaoke !
NOT: I very much like films
Negative: I don’t like Karaoke very much. They don’t enjoy karaoke.
What are they doing ?
Try to build long sentences using the continuous verb (verb + ing)
Example: What is he doing ?
He is reading
The dog is reading
The small black and white dog is reading an orange book and smiling.
Now your turn. Match the picture with the sentences then add more information:
eating and talking / singing / playing / sleeping NOT working / drinking / walking / laughing
good as gold / butter wouldn’t melt in his\her mouth / a little rascal / a handful
well-behaved / a little madam / a young gentleman / full of him\herself
What are the pros and cons (The benefits and drawbacks ) ofhaving children ?
Pros: makes us responsible / patient / sometimes they can be funny
they can enrich our lives
Cons: sometimes they misbehave ( are naughty) / no free time / they need a lot of energy / need a lot of money for toys, sweets, uniform, books, equipment.
Is there pressure from family to have children in your culture ?
Niece (girl) and nephew (boy) = children of my brother/sister
How would you describe these children ?
She has an angelic smile.
Remember – for sentence building, use adjectives and discourse markers (linking words or phrases). Never start with a pronoun (she, it, he, they) but say what the subject is – in this example, the subject is a girl. Now we can keep building up more information:
The girl has an angelic smile.
The young girl has blonde hair and an angelic smile.
The young girl, who has long straight blonde hair, has lovely big green-grey eyes, and is smiling angelically. She wears a multi-coloured T-shirt as well as some flowers around the neckline.
Now – your turn:
Here, you can also add some verbs and background information. Where do you think he is ? How is he feeling ? Who taught him this behaviour ? Do you think his mother is with him ?
These young gentleman attend a very expensive, possibly elitist, private school. Such schools are named ‘public schools’ in the UK. they include Eton, Harrow and Gordonstoun.