“Wow … that’s so strong, but it’s got a ball of coconut ice-cream in the middle … whoah !”
And the young lady who I believe is Korean adds:
“I wanna try … This is the coffee king … ahhhhhhhh !”
The young travellers give their views on the environment and cleanliness of District 1 which is the city centre [UK] or downtown area [USA].
To what extent do you agree with them ?
What do Vietnamese students think of the Vlogger’s appraisal of Sai Gon ?
Let’s move on and talk about traffic which is quite a serious issue in Vietnam. Firstly, attending driving school … what can go wrong ? A clip from the world-famous motoring show from the BBC, ‘Top Gear.’
Last night, after a three-hour IELTS class, another IELTS student was waiting to speak to me. It was one of my ‘Top Cats’, someone of whom I’m expecting great things.
The student, who I call Princess as she is so elegant, polite, refined and respectful, presented me with the following gifts:
September is a special month in Vietnam what with Independence Day (2nd), the anniversary of Ho Chi Minh’s death (also the 2nd, though some say 3rd) and the Mid-Autumn festival which this year falls on the 13th.
Hello, my name is Paul and I’m from London. I’m an English teacher, and I have been in Vietnam for about 2 years. My hobbies are reading books, watching films and listening to music. In Vietnam, I have been to Ha Noi and Hue and I really want to visit Hoi An and Halong Bay.
about: with time. I have been studying English for about 6 months.
really: adverbs I am happy / I am really happy – stronger and more interesting
continuous verbs: I like to read / I like reading / She likes to read
She likes reading
They like watching movies
She likes listening to music
Introduce yourself, and answer the questions:
What is your hometown ?
How long have you lived in your town or city ?
What are your hobbies ?
Where do you want to visit ?
sub + have/has + verb 3 (past participle)
I have visited Ha Noi
She has eaten Thai food
We have seen Barcelona play football
Look out for plurals and 3rdperson verb endings
I like sports / he loves cooking /
I don’t like smoking / She doesn’t like smoking
I like playing computer games/ reading books/ watching films.
He likes playing football / going to the park / studying English
A new class, so I have to assess their ability, motivation and potential.
Let’s kick off with a Family Fortune game – I give writing boards to the class, arranged in small groups, and ask for four answers to basic questions.
Example : Four places I’ve been to in Viet Nam / Four things I love about Viet Nam / Four things I hate / Four instruments I can play / Four languages I can speak. To test general knowledge, Four countries in Asia or capital cities / Four countries in Europe / Four cities in the USA
Next up, I want to get the class speaking as soon as possible so, they can interview each other asking basic questions. No one speaks alone, so this helps to cover any shyness as all the class are speaking at the same time.
Why are you studying IELTS ? /
Do you think IELTS will be difficult ? / Why ?
Do you use English at school or work … how ? /
What do you do in your free time ? /
What do you do or what do you study ? / Would you like to live in USA or UK ?
Moving on, time to explain the importance of sentence building. We would expect new IELTS students to be able to speak quite fluently, in reasonable long sentences. If students answer in four words or under, or even single words, then the teachers know we have a ‘difficult’ class.
To give an example, I’ll introduce a standard IELTS-style question:
Where would you like to visit in Viet Nam (or your own country) and why ?
I show them a plan:
Introduction / First good point / second good point / something bad / conclusion.
I choose Hoi An
Introduction: DON’T answer immediately but introduce the answer by repeating or rephrasing the question:
Vietnam has many beautiful places but my choice would be Hoi An.
First Good Point:
Firstly, Hoi An is a historical city with a wonderful Japanese bridge and lovely old shops. At night, the shops use romantic lanterns.
Second Good Point:
Hoi An is close to Da Nang, so I can fly there easily and quickly. There are many things to see and do in the local area.
Now, something negative
However, Hoi An is very small and can be extremely crowded in summer. Maybe it will be difficult to find a hotel or a table at a good restaurant.
In my opinion, Hoi An is a very special place to visitbecause it is a town of Vietnamese culture.
How to build sentences:
Use adjectives to describe nouns (beautiful, historic, romantic)
adverbs to describe adjectives and verbs – give more information (very, easily)
opinion phrases (in my opinion)
linking words to connect positive to positive or positive to negative – discourse markers (however)
reasons why an action is being done (because)
Now – your turn:
Where do you want to visit ? This can be in Vietnam or anywhere.
Yes, keep on Rockin’ in the Free World … but first, you’ve got to get there.
As spoken, we would say:
“First, ya gotta get there.”
So today’s lesson will be in the form of a game, a challenge or quest, if you will, where the students, assigned to one of two teams have to get from:
What a prize ! The dirty filthy insalubrious streets of Ha Noi to the cozy comforts and warm welcome of east London, and my local, the Birkbeck Tavern.
Said task is achieved by earning points, said points are earned by answering questions, and using a wide range of linguistics features namely: adjectives, adverbs, discourse markers, relative pronouns, low-frequency words, expressions, idioms and, naturally, displaying a wide array of para-linguistic attributes, to wit: intonation, stress, eye-contact, body language, gestures, clear pronunciation, turn-taking and rhythm because, contrary to popular belief, when it comes to speaking English, NOT all God’s children got rhythm.
(Yes, the above sentence contained an example of non-standard English, but the vast majority of people do not speak pure standard English all the time).
Now, we have a massive task to undertake … without further ado … let’s go !
First up, a revision and practice. In the last lesson, the class learnt (a-hem!) four new words: ubiquitous, significant, consequently and, it was on my blog, extrapolate. The teams, and let’s name them after famous English explorers, Drake and Cook:
… the teams have to use all four words in sentences. One point for each correct sentence. However; incentive, three points for using two in a grammatically-correct sentence, five for using three words and TEN points for using all words words in one sentence. That should get them some air miles and off the runway.
Next up, the teams challenge each other. They offer points to the other side if they can use these words or expressions correctly:
however / with that in mind / quantum leap / in order to / cats and dogs / kick the bucket / therefore / dribs and drabs
It works like this. Team Drake will say, “We offer 5 points for Team Cook to use the word ‘however’ in a sentence.” If the task is accomplished, Cook gain the 5 points. If the team is unable to use the word, then Drake win the points. The skill is in guessing which words or expressions will be hard to use, and offering high points accordingly.
Moving on, creative writing. My class can use relative pronouns IN THEORY, but not so much in practice. One may even say, NOT AT ALL in practice. Thus, I will give information about our two friends from last week. The teams have to compose a short piece combining all the information, but in the form of complex sentences with relative pronouns and discourse markers.
Johnny Rotten, Real name John Lydon. Born 1956. Was in the Sex Pistols from 1975 – 1978. Formed band PIL. Changed name back to Lydon. Married Nora Forster in 1979. He was going to be on the Pan Am flight that crashed in Lockerbie, Scotland. He wrote a book, published in 2008.
John Lydon, who performed under the name Johnny Rotten while he was in the Sex Pistols from 1975 – 1978, is married to Nora Forster, and has been married since 1979. After leaving the Sex Pistols, he formed a new band, PIL, and wrote a book which was published in 2008. He escaped death by missing his flight on the Pan Am flight that exploded over Lockerbie in Scotland.
Our young lady is
Sakuri. 21. Born in Tokyo. Studies History at university. Works as waitress. Wants to be a film star. Has two sisters. One sister elder, one younger. Her father is a piano salesman. Mother designs clothes. Sakuri likes reading, films, anime, shopping, going out with friends. Uses Apple iPhone X. Always on Instagram, FB, and Yalo. Is learning English.
Haruto. 23. Born in Okasuka. Left school at 16. Plays keyboards in a band. Likes Beethoven, Jazz and Elton John. Works different jobs. Was TA in a school but was sacked after four hours. Has no siblings. Father left home when Haruto was 4. Mother works 6 days a week in a factory. Uses Samsung Galaxy. Hates social media sites. Listens to music all day.
Points awarded for creativity and relative pronouns and complex sentences.
And now for something completely different: London.
Quick-fire round: I want a list of three. Start a sentence and give THREE examples
In London, you can eat British food …
In London there is public transport …
London has many famous buildings …
There are many famous football clubs in London …
Plan a day for my friends Tina and Michael:
I have two friends arriving in Sai Gon. They want a typical, authentic experience. Plan a day for them. It must include:
Somewhere for a snack
An interesting building or location
Something to do in the evening
Give tips and advice.
How do they travel around ? What are the pros and cons ?
What are their options and estimate the prices.
Try to use as much new vocabulary as possible, words and expressions.
Finally, pronunciation. I will show Drake and Cook two clips, one from ‘Twin Peaks’, the other of the actor Peter O’Toole being interviewed. The teams, all members, have to imitate or copy the voice, gestures and intonation. Points out of 50 for this task.
The quote is, “Oh, I’ll shuffle through my memory.” Said quote appears from 0:45 – 0:51 in the clip.
And that, as they say, is a wrap. The remainder of the lesson can be devoted to book work, possibly, had-outs, unlikely, or general chit-chat, undoubtedly. Who says English can’t be fun … probably my students !
Here’s another request blog; a friend, Pete (who has featured in some of my lessons) is planning a party this Friday. His daughter, who is turning 18, has requested some Vietnamese food.
However, Pete lives in the UK, which is still under lockdown (quarantine), so many restaurants are closed. Furthermore, he lives in the middle of the country, so had no access to really fresh sea food (the Vietnamese only say sea food is fresh IF it was swimming in the sea just ten minutes before).
Additionally, Pete won’t be able to get his hands on some vegetables or ingredients so we’ll have to take that into account. Having said that, here are some tips for making Vietnamese food in a western kitchen.
Banh xeo is like a pancake filled with beansprouts, shrimps, salad, grilled meat …
Grilled pork is ubiquitous – a street food stable served with rice and pickled vegetables.
Fried spring or summer rolls – can be a bit fiddly (difficult) to make, and require special material. Probably available in Asian supermarkets, but hard to get in small towns (or just order online like everyone else in 2020). Contains salad leaves and shrimp and vegetables).
Pho (pronounced ‘far’) is THE traditional food of Vietnam, and is normally eaten for breakfast. It’s basically noodle soup with meat of your choice. Shrimps (prawns) or just vegetables could be substituted. Another ubiquitous dish.
And now, without further ado … how to cook Vietnamese:
First, one of the UK’s most loved, and sadly missed chefs, Keith Floyd. Keith came to Vietnam as part of an east Asian cooking show. In Sai Gon, he made this dish, beef cooked in sweet and spicy stock: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fO6cSQ8Vly8
The scene starts at 06.39
But, I hear you protest, how can a westerner make authentic Vietnamese food ?
For fans of the fowl, connoisseurs of the chicken, I haven’t forgotten you. Here’s an interesting recipe, lemongrass chicken (lemongrass, which is ten-a-penny in Vietnam, that is, very cheap, can be so expensive in the UK. I once saw 5 lemongrass on sale for £1, that’s over 30 000 VND): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJtMlTnqyw0