Young Learners, Level 4: This is the best part of the trip …

14th June for Saturday 15th June. Everybody Up 4, Unit 8 Lessons 1 & 2

My manager is very supportive, and concerned over my welfare; she tells me not to expend too much energy in class, especially on a Saturday when I can have three young learner classes. Imagine 50 – 60 children committed to screaming their heads off for as long and as loudly as possible …. Welcome, as the saying goes, to my life.

Last week I prepared quite a bit of work for this class, including general knowledge based on but not in the text book. Unfortunately, it was a minor holiday in Vietnam, and a lot of the top cat students were away and … it became apparent that my multi-media presentation of classical music and classic film, and using the students to represent the movement of the heavenly bodies was … yeah … a waste of time and energy. Not entirely true … three girls were interested, the rest stared at the floor or the ceiling or the clock, while the boys had a contest, who could be the biggest ignoramus. It was a tight contest; they all won.

So, this week, after a debilitating fever, painfully sore throat and constant sneezing, I’m sticking to the book, and devising activities that will make the students use the target language and the target language only (OK, maybe a few new words for the top cats).

It’s a gross generalisation, but in my experience, so many Vietnamese want to do the work as quickly as possible and then do nothing. This covers students from all my centres, TAs, office staff, public servants, contractors, builders … This may explain why my new apartment has cracks inside and out and why so many tenants have had to retile their floor as the original tiles simply broke leaving inches of dust and debris … but, I digress … and so, without further ado, the lesson plan:

Warm Up: Last lesson the subject was future tense and activities. Therefore, I shall board some times – this afternoon / tomorrow / next Monday / next Thursday / next weekend / next month

Under these, I shall write some scrambled nonsense, e.g. ‘who as ees’. The students, placed in teams, have to elect one person to find the corresponding flash card somewhere in the room (‘see a show’) and then say a third-person sentence e.g. “He’s going to see a show this afternoon.’

Information gathering: Class into four groups. One member will be going away and the others in the team have to get information from him or her, then present to the class.

Team 1: Going to Phu Quoc island / is going next month / will be staying in a hotel near the beach / will be going swimming / is going with family

Team 2: Going to London / is going next week / is going to see a show / is staying with family / is going with older sister.

Team 3 : Going to Ha Noi / is going next Tuesday / is going on a bus tour / is going to stay in a big hotel / is going with school

Team 4: Going to Dak Lak Province / is going tomorrow / is going to ride an elephant / will stay in a tent / is going with VUS TAs

The selected member will stand at the front of the class with the information sheet. One teammate must run up, ask one question then tell the rest of the team, who will write the information down. Then a different teammate will run up and ask.

Planning a day out

I have a niece and nephew coming to Saigon. The teams have to plan a day for them including what to see and do, how to travel and what to eat. Of course, they need to but some souvenirs, so where are the best places ?

My ‘niece & nephew’.

We shall probably have to board many ideas first. Where do tourists go in HCM ? What is traditional food ? How can they travel ? Do the girls want to take the niece and the boys take the nephew only ?

Hopefully, this will encourage a lot of speaking and ideas and I can show a map of HCM to help.

And if the students are still drawing a blank (or being too lazy to think), this could inspire them: It’s spoken in English, with text, but with Viet accent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0tncoIxT1s

As with all ‘real-world’ videos, the film should be stopped and new words or expressions boarded. The students are later made to write the words down (the majority will simply NOT do any kind of writing unless pressured), and then encouraged to use them where appropriate.

That should easily cover the first hour. After the break, we hit the books, do the workbooks and fast-finishers get an activity sheet, while I can spend at least some time checking the pronunciation and grammar.

Teen Team Project: Tourism in HCM.

20th January 2019

This three-hour lesson was totally devoted to planning, preparing and presenting a project about tourism.

Thailand is very close and there, tourism accounts for 9.4% of their economy, a figure which is expected to rise to 12.8 % by 2028 (source: World Travel & Tourism Council).

https://www.wttc.org/-/media/files/reports/economic-impact-research/countries-2018/thailand2018.pdf

This affords the teacher an opportunity to add other elements to the lesson; in addition to new vocabulary and collocations, we have, in the first two paragraphs, examples of alliteration and quoting sources to make a report more official; an opinion supported by facts.

Alliteration is a poetic devise, using words that begin with the same letter. Source quoting – stating where information is found – is a vital aspect of academic writing, so to learn it before university will be very beneficial. However, it is important to use books, newspapers or websites that are official and respected, as opposed to Wiki sites or blogs.

Tonight, I would focus on presentation skills, vocabulary used in travel promotion, and fixed expressions. The later is a great addition to the students’ repertoire, allowing them to sound more like a native-speaker. We use fixed expressions all the time. So, without further ado, into the notes.

Firstly, as a warmer, we talked about HCM / Sai Gon; what does it have to offer the tourist ?

“Trash, garbage,”

Thank you, Sir, but I don’t think you’re getting the point of the exercise. Walking around the room, various answers were put forth: history, mystery, great food, cheap (dirt cheap as we would say in the UK), interesting buildings, friendly people.

Conversely, what were the problems or issues that were keeping tourists away ? Traffic was an immediate response, pollution, petty crime, scams. Perhaps the biggest problem is simply lack of knowledge. When most westerners hear about Vietnam, they think about war, boat people, refugees … the unspeakably horrific photo of Kim Phuc, running away from a burning village. So what could be done to encourage tourism ? That was the project.

I wanted to illustrate the difference between a scam and petty crime. The latter includes bag-snatching and pickpocketing, the former is tricking people out of money, for example fake taxis, over-charging, giving people incorrect change etc. We then watched a short video, highlighting some issues, as well as listening to English being spoken by some young Vietnamese. A good way to learn is to check for mistakes. What grammar or pronunciations errors can you find here?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-j0FfVIKJnw

At one stage, the presenter is walking past a group of tourists, some of whom wave to the camera and make various gestures. This allowed me to introduce a neologism, a new word or phrase that has evolved out of modern technology: photo-bombing. Here is a famous example of the British actor Benedict Cumberbatch with the rock group U2:

Now was a chance for some new vocabulary, words and phrases associated with holidays and travel.

breathtaking / stunning/ sensational / incredible / remarkable/ exclusive / inspiring / spectacular /

once in a lifetime experience/ never to be forgotten / unbeatable prices

book now to avoid disappointment/ best decision you’ll ever make

Structure: To begin with / furthermore … additionally / the fact is … / therefore

As an Example, I showed a short file about London:

VISIT LONDON TODAY !

SEE

Buckingham Palace Tower Bridge

British Museum Wembley Stadium

Shops, parks, theatres, restaurants

London – one of the world’s GREAT cities

A holiday of a lifetime ! Book early !

Mr Paul Tours – visit our website mrpaultours@ukonline.co.vn for more information.

From this, I made a short presentation:

Now is the perfect time to visit London, England’s glorious capital. The weather is perfect for walking, so you can enjoy the lush parks, world-famous museums and incredible, unbelievable shops. There is something for everyone … and more ! Like sports ? Go to one of the many Premier League football games. Love shopping ? Everything is here – shop till you drop ! Adore culture – soak up hundreds of years of history.

Flights from TSN airport daily. Seven-day all-inclusive package tour starting from only 50m VND ! All transfers and transport included. Air-conditioned mini bus with Vietnamese-speaking guide.

So what makes a good presentation ?

Volume – not too loud, but not too soft.

Intonation – sound enthusiastic, but again, not overly so. If you sound bored, the listeners will be.

Pace – not too fast, or too slow

Eye contact – look at the audience, engage with them but don’t stare at anyone.

Walk around – this can be energising, but too much will be distracting.

Stick to the point. Avoid repetition or deviating from the subject.

Keep slides simple and basic; too much text and the audience will be too busy reading to listen to you (I got that tip from a former student, a marketing executive).

Gestures, and body language. Look professional and people will take you seriously. Open hand signs indicate honesty. Cross-armed seems hostile.

And then it was time for the teacher to pipe down (stop talking) and let the students work. Most classes have mixed abilities, confidence levels, introverts and extroverts. I wanted each of the four groups to have at least one confident student, so I asked some of the students quietly, explaining my rationale, and they agreed (one deferred, but promised to move next class … right, Ms Uyen ?)

I gave them a set time, after which they had to present. Then came the issue of who would go first; here’s where a pack of playing cards comes in handy. I picked an Ace, 2, 3 & 4 and let the students choose. You can’t argue with the cards !

The work was very impressive, some groups quoted their source material, others had very gifted public speakers. We’ll build on this in the next lesson, when they can practise using fixed expressions and travel adjectives (and the accompanying intonation).

A special thanks must go to my TA, the wonderful Ms Vy, who assisted and co-taught with me. I’ll be writing about my experience with TAs at various schools … but that is for another day.