Adult Speaking Class, Level 3. Theme: Work problems

5th February 2020

What can go wrong at work ?

Image result for work fails

Warm up: Ask students about problems at work. Encourage them to share their own stories.

Computers

Image result for computer work fails

The network is down (LAN or WAN)

My computer has crashed

The wifi is slow

I forgot my password

The printer is jammed / the ink has run out

I can’t access the file

Staff

Image result for unfriendly work staff

We get on well together

We’re on the same wavelength (think the same thing)

He doesn’t pull his weight (doesn’t do his share of work)

My boss is a slave-driver (ironic / irony)

You’re not the boss of me !

He gets on my nerves ! (He annoys me)

Image result for unfriendly work staff

General conditions

Image result for air con fail at office

We need a pay-rise ! (we need more money for this job)

The air-con is too high / too low

It’s a great atmosphere here (it’s a nice place to work, people are friendly).

It’s not the friendliest place in the world ! (it’s not a happy or friendly office).

The commute is too long (time travelling to/from work).

Image result for japanese commuters

Create a scenario:

What could the problems be ? Work in pairs or small groups. What would you do in these situations ? How would you feel ?

It is 11.55 am, just five minutes before lunch. You missed breakfast and are very hungry but then your supervisor comes to YOU and demands that you write some emails and check some files.

It is 16.00, you are tired and want to go home. You have to send some emails to Germany but … what could go wrong ?

The air con is on 18 degrees. You are very cold and only have a thin shirt.

You need to print out a file but the printer has jammed.

You try to send an important file to a college’s computer but the wifi is slow … and then your computer crashed.

You have some angry costumers … very angry !

Image result for angry customers

An incident at work

Your colleague, John Harris, had an accident in the workplace. 

Watch the first clip (0.00 – 0.40)

You have to report to your manager.

What was the task ?

What happened exactly ?

Were all safety procedures followed ?

What should have happened ?

Vocabulary

Idioms and expressions:

Very busy:

I’m snowed under / I’m up to my eyes in work / I’m working flat out /

Very quiet, not much work:

We are having some down time / It’s a quiet period / The place is deserted /

Time phrases– think of sentences using:

recently / nowadays / once in a while / in the long term  / a few years ago

Talk about your work-day using a time phrase and an idiom.

Talk about some problems at work. How did you solve them ?

Have you ever had an angry costumer ? How did you deal with them or handle the situation ?

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3, Part 5

4th February 2020

Contents

Conversation practice.

Free speaking exercise: organise food for a work or university party.

Grammar: as ……. as // comparatives & superlatives // reported speech // similes //

Grammar ‘as ….. as’

Structure: as + adjective + as

Bangkok isn’t as cheap as HCM

He feels German beer is as good as Belgian beer, if not better.

Image result for man drinking 2 beers"

At 27% alcohol, Samuel Adams Utopias isn’t as strong as Nuclear Penguin which comes in at 32%.

comparative & superlative

bigger // biggest

more confusing // the most confusing

Example: 

Ha Noi is not as big as HCM but is bigger than Hue.

For me, learning German is not as confusing as learning Korean, but Mandarin is the most confusing language to learn.

We use animal similes a lot in English:

Image result for animal similes"

Example

He’s as busy as a bee

Try these: lamb // lion // mouse // dodo // bird // skunk

As drunk as a ….. // As dead as a ….. // As brave as a ……

As free as a ….. // As gentle as a …… // As quiet as a ……

Image result for drunk as a skunk meme"
If you need some help with the ‘drunk as a ……’ question.

Conversation Practice

Make sentences with these words or expressions:

In a class, write out the words on paper and distribute to the students, either individually or in groups. Give them a time limit and award points for each word used, plus bonuses for interesting or creative sentences.

spectacular / visually stunning / you get what you pay for / mouth-watering / a waste of money / significantly / according to / how can I put it ? / Somewhat / incredibly / as good as gold / as drunk as a skunk /

Reported Speech

Also known as ‘indirect speech’, reported speech is used to tell what someone has said.

Example:

Three Japanese students, Keiko, Rina & Mei are looking at their new university. Keiko, in the black cardigan says:

Keiko: Now I feel as wise as an owl.

However, with all the street noise, Mei didn’t hear so she asks Rina (who wears a pink and white striped top).

Mei: The building is stunning, but what did Keiko say ?

Rina: She said that she felt as wise as an owl.

Image result for three japanse students"

Rina uses the past tense to tell Mei what Keiko said – she said she felt as wise as an owl.

Look at these:

Susan: “Mary works in an office.” This is Susan speaking directly.

Susan said (that) Mary worked in an office. This is someone telling what Susan said.

Notice how the verb changes from present to past tense (‘works’ to ‘worked’).

Susan: “I work in an office.” 

Susan said (that) she worked in an office.

Notice how the pronoun changes from first to third person (‘I’ to ‘she’).

Exercises:

Rewrite the sentences using reported speech

1 ‘Ellie can use my phone,’ said my brother.

1 My brother said that Ellie could use his phone.

2 Benjamin: “I often have a big hamburger.”

2 Benjamin said (that) he often has a big hamburger.

(Pronoun changes from ‘I’ to ‘he’). Here Benjamin is talking about an event that happens frequently, so we keep the present tense ‘have’ but change it to the third-person form ‘has’.

Image result for african eats giant hamburger"
Benjamin frequently eats big hamburgers. Because this is a repeated action, we always use present tense, even in reported speech.

3 ‘I don’t want to sit next to Sam,’ said Jenny.

4 Hannah: “They live in Boston.” Again, this is a present tense situation.

5 Tyler: “Ian doesn’t invite girls to his parties.”

6 Linda: “Did Max fly to London two weeks ago?”

7 Robert: “Dennis often downloads the latest tunes.”

Free speaking exercise

There is a work party and the managers want to know which food to serve.

Image result for work party food"

The options are:

vegetarian / Korean / sea-food / western fast-food / traditional German cuisine

Image result for korean food"
Korean food
Image result for fast food party"
Burgers, french fries, fried chicken
Image result for traditional German food"
Traditional German food … and beer.

Discuss which food to choose. Run through the pros and cons of each one. Also think about entertainment. Use recently acquired vocabulary:

Expressions:

I adore / I really enjoy / I’m into

I don’t mind … I quite like …. I can take it or leave it

I’m not keen on …. It’s not my cup of tea (idiom, means I don’t like it)

I can’t stand (noun or pronoun) ……. (seafood) / I can’t stand it !

Spicy / bland / hard to eat / unhealthy / fatty 

not used to it / doesn’t appeal

you can’t please everyone / each to their own / fussy eater 

it’s free food – who cares ?

Image result for quotes on food"

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3, Part 3.

26th January 2020

Contents

Conversation practice: favourite possessions.

Small talk

Vocabulary booster

Small talk

Image result for talk about the weather

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:

DO NOT

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 ?

Echo questions 

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.______________ ?

Conversation Practice

Talk about: 

house prices in your city / why you have or don’t have a pet 

Image result for strange pets

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. 

Image result for possessions

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 

Image result for possessions

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 ?

Image result for vietnam future
The future of Vietnam ?

Vocabulary booster

You have to use these words:

obviously / consequently / notwithstanding / therefore / speculate

We can only (guess) on what will happen in the future

The student did no work __________ he failed the exam.

It rained several days. That fact ____________ (despite), we still had a good holiday.

If you visit Canada in winter, _________ (of course) you will need jumpers, coats and gloves.

Expressions:

cultural differences / one can only imagine / putting myself in their shoes

There are many _____________________ for Asian students who go to study in the USA.

It can be hard learning English. Many students have to work all day. I try ___________________ and seeing what I can do to make the lessons more interesting.

Being a celebratory isn’t always fun; always having your photo taken. ___________________ what it must be like.

Try using these expressions:

There is so much work, I just can’t take it anymore !

A plague on both your houses ! (from ‘Romeo & Juliet’, Shakespeare)

Are you serious ? What possessed you to come up with such a stupid idea ?

I’m speechless … the film was just so moving and emotional; I’m almost in tears.

Image result for speechless
He’s speechless !

Discourse markers: Try to learn new words / expressions here to help you link idea.

Use these words: First, find the meaning for yourself, then use them in a sentence. After, try to use them in your everyday English.

Practice, practice, practice …

For instance / conversely / above all / alternatively / similarly / therefore as revealed by

Image result for for instance
There are many things I enjoy about writing this blog, for instance receiving notes and likes from people all over the world.

For a case in point, I see I have some readers in Nepal, so, just for them:

Image result for hello nepal

Adult Speaking Class, Level 2. Theme: food

23rd January 2020

Contents

Free speaking

Idioms and expressions

Planning a party

Traditional British food

Vocabulary

Image result for world food

Idioms and expressions

tea / cherries /nutshell / cucumber / carrot

Idioms and collocations 

Growing up is hard, life isn’t always a bowl of _________ . 

He walked in, as cool as a _________ , and told the boss he wanted a pay rise.

We’re going to try using a _________ and stick approach 

I’m not a fan of karaoke, it’s not my cup of _________ at all. 

To put it in a _________ , driving motorbikes is very dangerous.

Image result for life is a bowl of cherries

Vocabulary

prefer / would rather have

When you like many things BUT one more than the others.

I like tea but I prefer coffee. He loves reading but prefers painting.

She would rather have the red dress. I’d rather be in Sai Gon than Ha Noi.

I prefer Indian food to English food. I’d rather have a good spicy curry than plain meat and vegetables.

Image result for Indian food
Indian food

Traditional British

What do you think of this food ?

Roast turkey with stuffing, baked vegetables, sprouts, carrots, potatoes baked ham

Christmas pudding with brandy cream / mince pies / gingerbread men

Image result for uk christmas food
Image result for uk christmas mince pies
Image result for uk christmas gingerbread men
gingerbread men

Planning a party

There is a party and the managers want to know which food to serve.

The options are:

vegetarian

Korean

sea-food

western fast-food

traditional German cuisine

Image result for korean food
Korean food
Image result for western fast food
western fast food
Image result for german food
German food

Discuss which food to choose. Run through the pros and cons of each one.

Expressions: I adore I really enjoy

I don’t mind … I quite like …. I can take it or leave it

I’m not keen on …. It’s not my cup of tea

I can’t stand (noun or pronoun) I can’t stand it !

Spicy bland hard to eat unhealthy fatty not used to it doesn’t appeal

you can’t please everyone each to their own fussy eater 

it’s free food – who cares ?

If music be the food of love, play on;

Hygiene (noun)– hygienic (adj)

I have concerns over the hygiene of street food.

Be wary of street hawkers and scam artists.

If you could recommend …

A Vietnamese party:

Image result for vietnamese food party
Vietnamese party food

My friends are coming to visit so I want to give them a real Viet culinary experience. What food and drink should I serve ?

First – what questions do you need to ask about my friends’ dietary habits ? 

Explain everything we need to do – where to buy, how to cook, how to eat.

Free Speaking

Questions:

What is the most unusual food you have tried ?

Dialogues

Speaking practice:

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 Starbucks but it costs an arm and a leg. Highlands is also expensive.

Sam But great quality and superb cakes. Come on, I’m starving, I need coffee now !

Pat OK,hold your horseshahaha. After we can meet up with Niall.

Sam Sounds good. Now … shall I have chocolate cake or fruit cake … ?

Inside Highlands

Sam Hi, I’ll have a large cappuccino, please. What do you fancy ?

Pat Tough decision. I’m going for the caramel freeze and a slice of blueberry pie.

Sam Oh, me too. Big slice, no, only joking, I have to watch my weight.

Pat You ? 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 Pete’s friend. 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.

Image result for butter wouldn't melt
Meaning someone looks so sweet, they would NEVER do anything wrong.

Student project

One of my adult students prepared this presentation. For my Asian students, canyou tell me the story of:

Black Glutinous Rice Cake

(Bánh ít lá gai)

1. A story.

2. Flavour

3. How to make it?

Mung bean

Boehmeria nivea

Rice flour

4. Useful.

Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: Collocations

17th January 2020

Collocations

Image result for joker put on a happy face

Many people ask how to progress from intermediate level to becoming fluent in English. One way is to learn collocations – these are groups of words that usually go together to make a new meaning – and so much of everyday English is made up of collocations, idioms, slang, colloquialisms etc.

Collocations – ‘make’

In the above paragraph I used ‘made up’. This is a good example.

‘Made up’ came means invented (we make up a story to tell children) & it can mean containing (my fb group is made up from people from all over the world). We can use it in the past tense or present – ‘made’ or ‘make’.

You probably know some phrasal verbs; If two people argue then become friends again, they make up. When a woman puts on lipstick, she is using makeup.

Here are some common collocations with ‘make’:

Make up your mind (decide about something).

Make dinner / make a sandwich.

Make time (find some spare time to do something).

Make it through the night (be able to do something after some bad news OR keep working for a very long time).

Make it through a long book (finish it, read it to the end).

Image result for reading Infinite Jest

Try these exercise … use make / made / make up / made up.

‘Infinite Jest’ is a very long book but I ……. my way through it.

I forgot my homework, so I had to ………. a story to tell my teacher.

When you come home, can you …… dinner for the children.

My teeth hurt; can you …… an appointment at the dentist for ?

The architect Gaudi never used to …… his buildings with straight lines. 

Should I wear the black or green tie ? I can’t …… my mind.

This is so confusing ! I don’t know what to ……. of it.

Your room is so messy – can’t you even ….. your bed ?

You kids ….. me crazy !

I ………. a pig’s ear of the whole business (past tense – to do something completely wrong).

I did OK in the test, but ……. some silly mistakes.

He drank several coffees to help him …… it through the night shift.

Put

the cat out/ the fire out / on your red shoes /on a happy face

it in your own words / up or shut up ! / it away / it another way

Image result for put it in your own words

Get

well soon / over it ! / on with it / away with murder / on the bus /

stuffed ! (impolite) / with the program (US) / some fresh air

Make

a career move / your move / a pig’s ear of something /a wish /

up for lost time / the best of something / fun of someone

Image result for made a pig's ear

Do

the right thing / away with that old technology / your best /

a funny walk / the dishes / your hair

Bring

it on ! / it to me / “my bow of burning gold” (poem) / about change

it up at the next meeting / a smile to my face / up children well

Image result for bring it on

Take

turns speaking / it up with the manager / up my trousers a little /

a good look at yourself / a hike ! / medicine / a deep breathe

Image result for take a break

What do these collocations suggest ?

Widely available // routine check-up

disperse the crowd // boost employment 

catch up with the news / / catch up with friends

Find longer definitions for these collocations.

Adequate supplies to meet demand

Revised edition

Major turning point

Set realistic aims

Cause insurmountable difficulties 

1) Enough things so that everyone that wants one can have one

2) Know what you want to do but it must not be too much for you to be able to do it.

3) Make problems which people will not be able to solve or cause problems that people are not able to work properly.

4) A very important moment when things changed completely

5) A new book, similar to the old one but with more up-to-date information, or mistakes have been corrected.

Speaking practice

Boss Jim, can I see you for a minute ? It’s about your punctuality.

Jim Sorry, Boss, I’ll make up the lost time after work.

Boss Damn right you will. Now, what was this email about ? I couldn’t make sense of it.

Jim I made a few mistakes because I rushed. I wanted to make sure you read it.

Boss You made a right pig’s ear of it ! Anyway, have you made your mind up yet ?

Jim About the new job ? Well, the other company made me a fantastic offer.

Boss I’m not giving you a raise; I’m not made of money ! Money doesn’t grow on trees.

Jim I’ll make my decision later and let you know.

Boss If you leave here, you’ll be making a big mistake, Buster !

Image result for make up your mind

Listening skills: Real English, native and non-native speakers.

30th December 2019

This is the eve on a new IELTS class, utilising a new text book, and the first lesson is …listening. When I ask students (and they make the effort to reply) what is the hardest part of learning English, understanding the spoken word is invariably top of the list.

As with all skills, practice is the obvious answer, starting slowly, then building up and improving. Naturally, language skills are integrated; a knowledge of ‘chunking’ – or linking words together and natural contractions will be extremely beneficial. Likewise, the more vocabulary the student knows, the more chance they have of understanding what is being said.

The key problems are straightforward:

Speed of conversation.

Chunking, contractions, natural speech patterns (which differ markedly from the written word).

Accents (both native and non-native).

Unknown vocabulary.

Dialects, slang words, expressions, idioms … figurative not literal language.

Cultural references (subjects only known by local people)

This blog will feature various videos of people speaking English. I have suggested a number of teaching sites and videos on a former blog: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2019/01/23/listening-skills-tips-and-links/

Now I will concentrate on ‘real-world’ examples, videos aimed at native speakers, not for English students.

I choose these videos to illustrate the whole world of spoken English; no disrespect is intended to anyone who speaks in a non-standard way, or is struggling with pronunciation. On the contrary, anyone who can converse in a second language has my utmost respect … it is a skill unavailable to the writer of this blog 😦

And now, without further ado, lets’s kick off with my hometown. Here’s some native Londoners having a chat (talking):

Native speakers in central London:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjEkotGQxzA

Image result for piccadilly circus people talking"

The subject of this video – which has useful captions, or subtitles, in English – is ‘which possession would you never lend to another person ?’ You will also be able to see some famous London landmarks.

TIPS: watch the video is short sections – maybe just in ten-second sections – repeat and repeat until you feel familiar with the words and are able to repeat them.

Street trader – London

Image result for london market trader"

Next up, a street-market trader. Here, the trader has to project his voice, to attract customers. It’s a mixture of commerce and performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sw94R0P2dOs

An additional benefit from watching real-life videos is that you will pick up many expressions that you will simply not find in text books. Remember, many speaking tests give extra points for ‘natural language’. For example, the trader uses the phrase, “On and off,” meaning he has been doing the job but not continuously. Let’s say I have been teaching for ten years, but during that time, I took some long breaks, to study, to travel etc. I would say,”I’ve been teaching for ten years, on and off.

You will also notice how ‘real’ people often deviate from standard English. In this clip, the man says, “Me and my wife have been ….” though the ‘correct’, the standard form would be, “My wife and I have been …”. This merely illustrates that text guides are just that … a GUIDE … they are not real life. To learn English, to really learn, you must immerse yourself in videos, music, films and, dare I repeat myself (yes, I dare) PRACTICE.

British English speaker, Asian theme: east meets west

This is a favourite clip of mine, a British beer enthusiast trying a Vietnamese beer. This clip introduces new vocabulary relevant to beer (‘head’, ‘aroma’, ‘carbonated’, as well as some good expressions such as, “More than likely,” and, “Let’s dive in.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKr6Cj-Xr9g

Image result for rea; craft beers sai gon beer"

It’s Beer o’ clock !

I have a friend in the UK who likes, no … who LOVES beer. His passion is to review beers from around the world, and today, he tries Sai Gon Red.

What does he think of it ?

Pay attention to his body language, facial expression and intonation.

Listen out for adverbs (“I quite like the idea of drinking VN beer …”)

New vocabulary:

the channel – his personal YouTube. A TV station. In the USA, there are hundreds of TV channels.

regular – normal

aroma – smell of food or drink. Positive, a great smell.

head – the top of the beer

haze – fog, mist, not clear

carbonation – addition of CO2 to make it fizzy (like Cola) 

awful – very bad, terrible, horrible

suggestion – a little idea, a little bit of something

whatsoever– adverb (England have no chance of winning whatsoever)

Expressions:

‘coming in at’ – when he tells us the alcohol percentage. This expression can be used for any measurement – the new iPhone X comes in at 25m VND.

‘More than likely’ – very probably.

‘A tiny pinch of’ – a very small amount of something.

‘Let’s dive in’ – let start, let’s do it !

‘Oh, blimey’ – oi troi oi ! Oh, dear, OMG !

‘comes through’ – can see or sense something.

‘I’m gonna have trouble finishing it’ – it won’t be easy to drink it all.

‘I think we’ll call it quits there’ – time to stop.

‘I’m gonna give that one outter ten’ – I rate that one star out of a maximum of ten.

‘I’m afraid’ – I’m sorry (We have no more milk, I’m afraid).

Break down the speech into metaphors, expressions and new vocabulary (head, aroma)

Metaphor / Expressions / Vocabulary / phrasal verbs

Reported Speech

Direct speech: “It’s a false carbonated beer.” (it is a = present tense)

Reported speech The man said it was a false carbonated beer. (was = past)

For reported or indirect speech, we put the verb into the past tense. No speech marks.

Now lets go to the other side of the pond (across the Atlantic from the UK to the USA) and listen to some examples of American English:

Teaching Scenarios (USA)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7vmzvUTwag

I’ll ease you in softly; this first clip is designed for English learners, and has a variety of different scenes, actors and situations, all intended to prepare you for the variety of American accents … and in such a big continent, there are a wide variety of accents.

Is this easy to understand ? Do you notice any differences between the London accent and the USA accent ?

Same tip, watch as much as you can, pause, try to copy, say the words, then continue. When you feel confident, turn off the captions and see how much you are able to understand. Do not expect to understand everything. Maybe you will only understand half, but see how this figure increases with practice.

TV show, American accent.

This is from a USA sit-com called ‘Friends’ (1994 – 2004)

Image result for sitcome friends"

http://www.videosinlevels.com/people-do-chandler/

In this short clip, some friends are joking about the way one of them speaks, putting the stress on the ‘wrong’ word in a sentence. Again it has captions, so listen and … practice !

But now, time to turn it up a notch (make it harder). This clip is advanced, the speaker is very enthusiastic, very quick. and uses a lot of everyday phrases you will – more than likely – not know. Therefore, a quick pre-teaching session:

Image result for what to eat in berlin"

recommend– to suggest something good / something YOU think others will like

aside from– something else, apart from 

staple food– food that can be part of every meal (rice, bread, potatoes)

drowned– totally covered in a liquid or sauce

popular– something many people like (negative form is ‘unpopular’)

original– the first of something. Adverb is originally.

mix– adding two or more things together. Mixed is the past tense.

tons of– lots of (slang, common) e.g. Ha Noi has tons of coffee shops

amazing– adjective means really great, very special.

districts– areas of a city (Quan)

snack– eating food to stop you getting too hungry. Verb – snacking.

super– common adverb to mean very, very much e.g. Sai Gon is super hot.

New Vocabulary (Berlin 5 food):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aE6hW9Z09w

This video exemplifies all the problems students have listening to English: the vocabulary, the accent, the linking together and the sheer speed of speech. Don’t worry … apply the same principles; watch in small sections, read the captions, repeat and repeat until you feel comfortable. Remember – you don’t have to understand every word, just enough to follow what he is saying.

And now, let’s go to a land down under and listen to some different forms of English. This time, Australian:

Image result for friendly australian people"

Again, let’s take it easy to begin with, learn some Aussie (Australian) expressions and listen to the local accent:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDWsVXurkj8

This lists ten expressions that you may have heard in films or TV shows. But now it’s time to put them into practice. Here’s a genuine news story. Without using text or captions, how much can you understand ?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QCgqQdmr0M

The clip is called ‘Australian Hero’ so that should give you an idea.

Image result for australian news hero"

Bringing It All Back Home – an Australian in Vietnam

This ex-pat (someone who has emigrated from country and now lives and works in another) from down under (Australia) is going to show us where he lives in Sai Gon, District 3 (near the city centre) (0:22 – 0:45):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Qw_9HIU850

Listen for expressions, adverbs & adjectives

(He starts by saying he had some camera problems):

“Hopefully I’ve got that all sorted now and I can give you a decent tour of the …um, the apartment.

“It’s a really nice er, street here, sort of early morning and it’s quite a hustle and bustle. Here we got office workers coming out to eat and what have you.

“Ah, I’ll just take you into the er, where is this ? This is the actual building, here, and er … and this is where I actually, er … down, gotta (got to) go through this alley, it’s very congested … and this is how I get to where I live.”

And now the fun begins !

Quite possibly, the majority of my students will be using English as a lingua franca with other non-native speakers. I therefore encourage them to use the standard form, in order for them to be (hopefully) understood. I encourage slow and clear enunciation, avoidance of contractions and figurative language. Here, English is functional, precise communication is the aim.

We refer to this as a form of code-switching: basically changing the language to suit the occasion, something we all do naturally (for the most part). Namely, we change our vocabulary, syntax and accent(s) depending on whom we are addressing, be it a parent or younger brother, a police officer or a troublesome telesales caller, our manager, our colleague, our first-day intern.

Our first non-native speaker is from Germany. I had some students who worked here in Vietnam for a German company, so I felt it relevant they familiarise themselves with English through a German filter.

On a cultural note, many Germans have English as a second language, so travelling there only speaking English shouldn’t pose such a problem. UK and Germany have something of a ‘love-hate relationship’, with Britons seeing Germans as lacking in humour and having a very limited diet (potatoes, sauerkraut and sausage). Having said that, we secretly admire, if not envy, their efficiency and technological expertise, not to mention their success on the football field.

Working life in Germany:

In this clip, a worker is describing a typical German schedule (01.26 – 02.07):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGRXSpNMD4M

How long do they work in Germany ? How many breaks does the man have ?

You may start to notice slight mistakes in grammar and syntax (word order) yet the meaning should be very clear. Remember – you are not expected to be perfect, so never be discouraged.

The boot’s on the other foot

We’ve had native speakers talking about Vietnam. Now let’s have Vietnamese talking English

These young Vietnamese are offering advice to travellers about taxis and scams in Sai Gon:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyyQjZZRGaQ

Image result for avoid taxi scam in hcm"

New vocabulary:

tips– a piece of advice 

dishonest– not truthful 

options– choices 

to notice– to see

taxi stand– where taxis wait 

in my experience– what I have seen 

fake– not real

recommend– to say something is good 

convince– make people believe

What should a tourist be careful of in Sai Gon ?

Serendipity in South Korea

During one evening class, a student asked me for some advice; his manager is Korean and when the manager speaks to my student, in English, my poor student is unable to understand what is being said. Obviously, there is little I can do about the manager’s English, but I gave the student some useful phrases that are polite and should stop the Korean from ‘losing face’, and I’ll add these after the video.

Serendipity is a word for luck or coincidence. Just two days after this conversation, I was surfing on YouTube when I came across this perfect video from my new YouTube chum (friend), Ms Rachel Kim. Ms Rachel is very friendly and sweet, so I recommend you visit her channel, like and subscribe. I’m sure it will make her very happy.

Anyway, Ms Rachel made a video about trying to understand English spoken with a thick Korean accent. Starts at (0:46): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVJQK0t8m9s&list=PL97HViQblvdEM3zsauRxnIg1baFTNmsDM&index=19&t=2s

Image result for rachel Kim youtuber"

Thank you, Ms Rachel. Good luck with your channel

Should you find yourself in a similar situation, some useful phrases are:

I’m very sorry, could you repeat, please.

Would you mind speaking a little slower, please.

Excuse me, could you speak slower – my English is not good.

Now let’s really mix it up.

This one is very advanced. We have a man from the Indian sub-continent, speaking about life in Australia:

Image result for cost of living in australia"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdwiCxe8spI

Is this more of a challenge for you ? What are the problems with the accent ?

IELTS 5 – 6.5: I come from a land down under.

15th August for 21st August 2019. Pages 10 – 12 (Workbook pp 8 – 9)

Lesson focus: Reading; speed reading to extrapolate information in a limited time.

Theme: Culture shock, specifically life in Australia.

Objectives: Review new vocabulary and phrases and give a chance to practise using them. Continue work on Englishes – how written and standard English can seem to bear NO relation to spoken English.

Today’s reading is centred on life in Australia for non-native speakers so, to set the scene, a warm up song from the Australian band (and one-hit wonders) Men At Work and their chart-topping song, ‘Down Under’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfR9iY5y94s

What stereotypes are displayed in this video ?

Image result for Australian stereotypes

Language review: The first lesson generated many new words and expressions. The following adverbs should be a part of the students’ everyday vocabulary:

always / usually, normally, frequently / sometimes / hardly ever / never

definitely / probably / possibly / unlikely / definitely not

Vocabulary: precious / arrogant / mug (two senses) / lingua franca /

To ask politely: May I …. (May I ask your name ? May I open the window ?)

Discourse Markers: although / despite, despite that / however / on the other hand /additionally / furthermore

Collocations: To practice law or to practice medicine (a lawyer, or a medical professional)

Expressions: Fair exchange is no robbery / If I’m not mistaken

Idiom: To let off steam / time flies (when you’re having fun)

London slang: well knackered (‘well’ is used to mean very and ‘knackered’ can mean very tired, or broken. EXAMPLE – I’m well knackered = I’m extremely tired.

PRACTICE: Try to use as many of the above by commenting on these photos. This is not a writing test; I only want one or two sentences. I’m more concerned with lexical choice AND delivery – how you use stress, intonation and rhythm.

EXAMPLE:

Related image

These young Asian people are letting off steam by singing their hearts out in a Karaoke room, if I am not mistaken. Very probably there are professionals, maybe they practice medicine because they look very stylish and affluent.

Image result for Arrogant lawyer
Image result for mother and child
Related image

Book work: today we will be developing speed-reading, that is, reading a large amount of text in a limited time, in order to find specific information. Students will have to scan over the text and home in on what they need to know.

As a break, here’s a little clip about Australian slang:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QCgqQdmr0M

What is this news story about ? How much slang did you hear ?

Group work: Prepare a guide to Sai Gon for tourists.

Allow students access to the class computer for Google images if required.

Students, in groups, can organise an itinerary for two of my friends who will be visiting Sai Gon soon. They want to see all the iconic sights and partake of typical Vietnamese activities. Having said that, their interests differ widely.

Image result for english married couple

Simon loves culture, history and museums as well as being into sports and physical activities. Therefore he wants to see and try as much as possible. He has heard about snake wine and is very curious.

Jenny finds museums unbearably boring and dull. She is a shopaholic, can shop till she drops. Furthermore she can’t take the heat and is also vegetarian. 

Clearly, they will need to compromise … what do you suggest ? Be creative – think outside the box.

Include 

What to see and do // where and what to eat // what to buy //

What they can do for entertainment 

Travel tips

Safety and scams 

Cultural differences – what should people do or NOT do in Vietnam ?

Use of interesting adjectives to describe the city centre.

Groups can then present to the class, with all students taking turns speaking. I shall be listening for relevance, pronunciation and use of expressions and discourse markers. Furthermore, I may learn some interesting tips.

Image result for Saigon centre hcm
Image result for City museym hcm

End activities:

Just a minute: To practice for the speaking tests, give the students a choice of subjects and let them speak for one minute without repeating themselves, deviating from the subject or hesitating.

Call my bluff: Class in two teams. One team reads a low-frequency word and the team give three possible definitions including examples of usage. The other team has to guess which one is the correct answer.

IELTS: Travel follow-up

19th February 2019

Last night’s class threw up several new words, fixed expressions, idioms, cultural notes and even a reference to Thai ladyboys … you had to be there !

Being exposed to new vocabulary is one of the reasons to attend a class, but language is organic; it needs to be nurtured, developed, practised and used.

To wit, here is a list of words that arose last night:

VOCABULARY

accommodate – make space for.

alternate / alternative – one of two choices / a different way of doing something.

car share – people who work or live near each other can give each other a ride, so only one car is used.

congestion / congested – blocked up, unable to move e.g. traffic jam

commuter – a person who travels to and from work.

composite – made from different things.

dozen – a set of twelve (also from French, via Latin).

flexitime – from flexible & time. A method of working where staff can arrive at different times.

fuselage – the main body of an airplane. Word is of French origin. Notice how English borrows many words from other languages.

implement – to use, to plan and then do something.

independent – free, not under anyone’s control or rule.

institute – an organisation usually academic or scientific.

reiterate – to say again, to repeat (see how the ‘re’ often means again – repeat, re-sit, re-do, redesign, re-watch)

The BBC comedy series ‘Car Share

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7uQ4F64Ew8

This show is about two co-workers who ride to and from work every day. It is set (the location) in the north-west of England, around Manchester so the accent may be harder to understand.

Idioms

not my cup of tea – a polite way of saying that you don’t like something

piece of cake – if something is very easy, or if something is not a problem.

Actually, the idiom is ‘like taking candy from a baby.’

I checked at a previous IELTS centre about the use of idioms in the course. The verdict was that one or two are totally acceptable, as it shows a deeper knowledge of English. However, they should be used appropriately, and are more suited to speaking, as opposed to writing.

Fixed expressions / phrases

according to – when you give a fact or information that someone else says.

brand new – totally new, un-used, still in the box or wrapping.

for this / that reason – because of this / that

hard to reach – difficult to get to.

mouth-watering – food that is so delicious, it makes the mouth produce saliva by smelling it or even just talking about it.

off-peak – a quiet time, either for driving and commuting, or for holidays.

off-season – a quiet time for hotels, flights and holidays.

second hand – an item that has been previously used.

turn a blind eye – to see something wrong but pretend not to notice.

Adverbs

remarkably / significantly – strong adverbs of degree, showing a high change.

quite / somewhat – mild adverbs of degree

Exercises

Use the new vocabulary in this conversation.

Peter: Sorry I’m late; the roads are so ——– (very busy). Sally: There was an accident ———-the radio (the radio said). You look ill. Peter: Well, I had —- (12) beers last night ! I’m glad we’re on ——- (not fixed time). Hey, is that a new phone ? It looks ———- (just bought). Sally: No, I got it ———– (previously used). I know an ———–(different) way to get to work. It’s on the back streets so ————– (because of) it’s empty. Peter: Less ———- (people going to work) ! ——————– (no problem !)

IELTS Talking

The student should be prepared to talk for up to two minutes. Having said that, there is one minute allowed for preparation.

The speaking can be planned in a similar way to writing; a short introduction; one idea or subject at a time; mention both something good, then bad; a short conclusion.

Avoid repetition, hesitating and speaking about something not directly related to the question. One way to ‘buy time’ to think is to use one of the following:

How can I put it ?

What’s the word ?

That’s an interesting question

Well, I hadn’t thought about that before

The examiner will also be looking for politeness and eye contact, as well as listening for intonation and pronunciation. Grammar is naturally important, but one or two minor mistakes are acceptable.

Last night we practised talking about holidays, so for practice, talk about a holiday you went on. Try to use some of the new vocabulary from above.

If you need some ideas, use these pictures for assistance:

When did you go there ?
With whom did you go ?
How did you travel there … and why ?
What did you see and do
What were the good points
Was there anything bad about the trip ?


Some extra revision can be found on this website:

http://ieltsliz.com/ielts-speaking-part-2-topics/

Don’t say, “I’m fine.”

I use this as a warmer / ice-breaker with most of my new classes. On, the board, I’ll write:

Do NOT say, “I’m fine.”

The first students arrives and I ask how they are …

“I’m fine,” is, invariably, the response. I point to the board and try to elicit alternative answers.

This is repeated with all new students, and becomes integrated into the lesson. Late-comers (there are always late-comers in Vietnam) are greeted with the same question, and look perplexed when the whole class laughs at them for saying, what they believed to be, the ONLY possible answer.

It seems that from Kindergarten class, Vietnamese students are drilled with:

“How are you ?” “I’m fine.” Maybe an, “I’m fine, thank you,” and it’s left at that.

English is such a rich language which, admittedly, can be daunting for learners – so many ways to say the same thing.

I explain that native-speakers don’t really use “I’m fine.” It’s meaningless and conveys no emotion. If anything, it’s used sarcastically, in fights between partners:

“I’m not going to help you, do it yourself !”

“OK, fine !”

From this point we can start suggesting other responses … and intonations.

“I’m good,” “I’m great,” “I’m over the Moon.”

This leads to how we use so much intonation to express meaning in English.

A less positive reply could be “I’m so-so,” or “I’m OK.” Even there, “I’m OK,” get’s it’s meaning from how it’s pronounced … it can mean good or just so-so depended on paralinguistics (body language, tone of voice, expression).

Then we come to not feeling so great.

“I’m terrible,” “I feel lousy,” “I’m a little under the weather,” (idiom)

So, we have an ice-breaking session and mini lesson featuring pronunciation, intonation, vocabulary and use of idiom. That is rather more than fine.