IELTS: Notes for fluent speaking

21st January 2022

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Royalty – free image. Copyright: lev dolgachov

My IELTS students have some speaking tests coming up, so I’d like to boost their confidence by giving them a speaking exercise. I shall choose topics they feel confident with, namely pets, and shopping.

Firstly, a reminder of what you need to do in order to pass with flying colours.

An introduction to the question

Use complex sentences and relative clauses

Use an idiom or two

Use L-FWs (replace basic words with ‘better’ ones e.g. use ‘ubiquitous‘ instead of ‘everywhere’ ‘tedious‘ instead of ‘boring’)

Check your pronunciation and intonation.

Now, without further ado, the questions:

Do you have any pets ?

Do you like shopping ?

What is your favourite possession and why ?

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Image from unsplash.com

Let’s start with pets (I know one of my students has three cats).

Introduction

Do you like all animals, some or only one type ?

Are you allowed to keep pets where you live ?

Talking points

What are the names of the animals ?

How old are they ?

What do they look like ?

What are their personalities ? (You now have an opportunity to use great adjectives)

Where did you get them ?

Who looks after them ?

Do you have any funny stories about they did ? How do they make you feel ?

Idioms: burning the candle at both ends (Playing with my pets helps me unwind after I’ve been burning the candle at both ends with work and study.)

Moving on to shopping, so much to talk about …

Shopping Images | Free Vectors, Stock Photos & PSD
freepik

Introduction

What do you feel about shopping ?

Is shopping something you dread doing, or is it fun, or even an obsession ? Are you a shopaholic ?

What stops you from shopping ? (Lack of money, or safety concerns now during the pandemic ?)

Talking points

Tell me about the types of shops and shopping areas (street markets, small independent stores, chain shops, malls).

What do you like buying most ?

With whom do you go ?

What else do you do at a mall ?

Do you have a funny story about buying something, or having to return an item ?

What do you think of online shopping ? What is good and bad about it ?

Is internet shopping becoming more popular in Vietnam (your country) ? Why do you think so ?

Idioms: costs an arm and a leg (I really enjoy going to Diamond Plaza and just looking at the beautiful designer dresses. However, as a student, I can’t afford one because they cost an arm and a leg.)

Sample answer

Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus 10th Generation 8" Tablet 32GB Slate B0839NDRB2 -  Best Buy
A Kindle Fire ebook and tablet

My Kindle

One of my favourite electronic devices is my Kindle, an ebook reader, which is small and light. I always take it with me when I travel; I’d be lost without it.

The Kindle is primarily a way to buy, store and read books in electronic format. At first, I wasn’t convinced, I liked reading real books. However, books take up a lot of space and, at least in the UK, are rather expensive. When I saw what a Kindle can do, and that so many books are free, I was hooked ! I had to get one. I bought my device in 2014 and I’m still using it today.

As mentioned, I use my Kindle for reading. Literature and poetry is one of my passions. Instead of going to a shop, I just browse the online store, click and wait for it to download. With reasonable wifi, this can just take a minute or so … then I can start reading. It is no surprise that ebooks are ubiquitous in the UK.

Although I read a lot, the Kindle is more than just an ebook. It has wifi so I can access the internet, play music, write notes and play games.

The wifi is vital, especially when I travel. I can maintain contact with friends and family, watch YouTube if the hotel TV is less than enthralling, or read travel guides such as Trip Advisor. Naturally, I can also book tickets or make reservations and therefore pay significantly less.

I recently travelled to Thailand to meet some friends. I didn’t want to buy a new SIM card, and my friend only had an old phone, so there was a dilemma; how to stay in touch ? Thanks to my Kindle, I had email access, so we could plan when and where to meet. 

I can’t watch Vietnamese TV, due to the language barrier. Consequently, the Kindle plays an even bigger part of my life, as I need some way to relax after burning the candle at both ends.

The choice of books is amazing. In the stores, a single book can cost around £10, but recently I downloaded the entire output of the Russian writer Tolstoy for less than £1.50 … incredible !

Kindles come in many shapes and sizes, so before you buy, you need to ascertain how you’ll be using it. For example, do you want a basic ebook reader, just for books, or the latest model with wifi ? This will, naturally, affect the cost. Then you have to decide upon the extras, for example how much storage space do you require, or a super-fast charger or protective case ? All of these bump the price up considerably.

If you’re interested in purchasing one, I have some information for you. I did a quick Google search and saw prices started at under 2 million VND, averaged around 5 million, but some were over 15 million. That, for me, is too extravagant.

In conclusion, my Kindle is very much a part of my life. It accompanies me everywhere. I simply don’t know what I would do without it.

A UK expression meaning good luck

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

2022 – The Year of the Grammar. Back to Basics

5th January 2021

Basic grammar is a continual problem with my online classes, that and the stubborn reluctance [contumacy for those who like to learn new words] to write down new words, or to learn from their mistakes.

Basic grammar is basically lacking.

Many older student will, I am sure, have traumatic memories of conjugating verbs endlessly, without ever applying them in real-life situations. Hence, I propose a synthesis; drilling of verb ending, and then applying them in simple sentences.

Enough preamble, let’s go to work !

Let's go to work.

The verb ‘to be’

Only teach constructions in upper level classes

I am // I’m

you are // you’re

he is // he’s

she is // she’s

it is // it’s

Mr John is // Mr John’s

we are // we’re

they are // they’re

Have students repeat until their grammar is perfect. Make games, see who can conjugate the verbs clearest and quickest.

Now … practice:

First let’s use an adjective:

happy / sad / lucky / hard-working / lazy

Let’s start with the adjective ‘happy’

I am happy // I’m happy

you are happy // you’re _______

he _____ \

she ______ \

it _______\

Mr John ______ \

we ____ \

they ______

Secondly, let’s use a continuous verb (verb + ing)

reading / playing / swimming / watching TV / eating

I am reading

you ___ _______

he __ _________

she __ _______

It __ _______

Mr John __ _____

we __ ______

they __ ________

The verb ‘to have’

I have

you have

he has

she has

it has

Ms Jane has

we have

they have

Now … practice:

Let’s use some common nouns

Watch Twin Sisters Online | Vimeo On Demand on Vimeo

sister (or twin sister) / piano / dog / iPad / new book

I have a ____

you ____ ______

he ___ _________

she ___ _______

Ms Jane ____ _______

we ____ ______

they ____ _______

OK, Snoopy, enough is enough … but we have just started. More blogs to follow.

Happy 2022, the Year of the Grammar

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

Poland: history, culture and beer

27th December 2021

Poland: Maps | Holocaust Encyclopedia

A compilation of exercises about this east European country, birthplace of the scientist Nicolaus Copernicus, the musician Frédéric Chopin, filmmakers Roman Polanski & Krzysztof Kieślowski and footballer Robert Lewandowski, to name just a few.

Salt Mine near Krakow, southern Poland

14 miles from Krakow in South Poland is this deep salt mine. Everything here has been hand-carved from blocks of salt. The mine has nine levels with over 300km of tunnels. Part of the mine is open to visitors.

The mine has 22 galleries, 64 metres to 135 metres underground. Guided tours take about two hours.

Additionally there is a chapel here measuring 54 m by 18m and 12m high. It took two men over thirty years to build. Visitors can also see an underground lake, and musicians playing brass instruments.

Pope John Paul and Bill Clinton are some of the famous visitors.

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Krakow Town Square

Poland is famous for its vodka, as well as its beer.

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It’s beer o’clock !

What does our friend think of this Polish beer ?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUjQhsbAi6k

Cheers – Twoje zdrowie

New vocabulary: 

infamous / indication / originally / generic /bouquet / aroma /synthetic

Instead of saying ‘ let’s smell it’, he says ……..

What does he say before he drinks ?

Just by watching his expression, can you tell if he likes it ?

How does he describe the taste ?

20 Things to do in Kraków

Do you think they planned their trip well ?

 If not, why not ?

story of (my / your / our) life (lives) / place was buzzing / our mood / for starters / hop aboard / simmer down / booze cruise / the place was buzzing

Did you notice any superlatives ?

(the highest, smallest, most fascinating etc)

What do you think about Krakow ?

How does it compare with your home city or town ?

Polish food and drink

Would you like to try any of the food the travellers tried ?

Were there any new expressions you heard ? 

Is Polish cuisine closer to the Russian or to the German cuisine? What does  a Polish dinner table and food for dinner look like? Are there any  pictures? - Quora

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

Young Learners, Level 4: what can you do ?

23rd December 2021

Mind-Blowing Drum Solo From Senri Kawaguchi (VIDEO) | 102.9 The Buzz

Student Survey

Students ask each other:

Can you play football ?

If not, what sports can you play ?

Can you swim ?

Can you sing in English ?

Can you play piano ?

Image result for Mozart as a child"
Young Mozart from Austria

Can girls play drums ? Yes, they can or no, they can’t.

The amazing, incredible Senri Kawaguchi from Japan

Can boys dance ? Yes, they can or no, they can’t ?

Madu Mmesoma Anthony from Nigeria

Can you eat a huge sandwich ?

Image result for eat a giant sandwhich"

Can you wiggle your ears ?

Finally, can anybody walk on water ?

Yes they can or no, they can’t ?

The brilliant magician Dynamo from the U.K.
Bear waves goodbye to photographer at Olympic National Park in Washington |  Metro News
Bye bye from the big brown friendly bear

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

Two birds with one stone: listening and vocabulary

11th December 2021

Two Birds with One Stone”: Transmedia Serialisation in Twin Peaks | M/C  Journal

Outside of the classroom, students will often be using English with other non-native speakers. Therefore, it is good practice to listen to people speaking English to see how much, or how little, you understand.

With that in mind, here’s a short video on extending your vocabulary, learning ‘low-frequency words’, or better words. However, the instructor is from India and has an accent. To test your understanding, try listening first, then look to check if you are correct:

New Vocabulary

Instead of using ‘very’ + adjective (I am very tired), use a single word:

Try to use ‘sagacious’, ‘exquisite’, ‘colossal’ and ‘spacious’ EXAMPLES:

The classrooms in Block D are ……….. (big, plenty of room)

The furnishings are perfect, they are ………. (very tasteful)

Building an underground train network is a ………… undertaking (very big, challenging)

The old man was ………. People came to him for advice. (very clever, wise)

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

Traffic talking points

7th December 2021

A lesson chockablock with phrases, slang and expressions on the subject of traffic.

THEME: Traffic

rush hour / ring road / congested / blind spot / flyover / motorway Metro or Subway/ U-Bahn (Germany) / the Tube (London) / roundabout

road rage / one-way street / traffic jam / chockablock / cutting in / cut me off / hit every red light !

Discuss any words you don’t know with your teacher or look online

What are the issues facing you when you travel around your town or city? [what problems do you have ?]

This is an opinion question, so start your answer with:

In my opinion // In my experience // For me // I believe // I think / It seems to me

First, think of the positives:

Is it easy to travel around ?

Is petrol or gas cheap ? Are there many petrol stations ?

Can anyone attain a driver’s licence ?

What about public transport ? Cheap, reliable, clean, safe ?

Conversely, think of the negatives such as the time spent travelling.

Accidents and costs: insurance, petrol, maintenance

Dangers: pollution, other drivers, road etiquette

Condition of roads

Is traffic getting worse in your home city ? Why do you think so ? 

What can be done to ease this situation ?

Finally, what is your conclusion ?

What is happening here ?

What do you think will happen to the driver of the bus ?

Taking a Viet driving test

The second clip is from ‘Top Gear’ (UK). The boys came to Vietnam, in 2008. They had a challenge: to buy a car then drive from HCM City to Hanoi.

What could possibly go wrong ?

Note down any new expressions, then practice … and practice … and practice

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.