Phrasal verbs and collocations: The next level. Dialogue practice

15th June 2020

General English - Shakespeare | British Council

This level of English is for students who live, or plan to live, in English-speaking countries.

I advise my students to learn Standard English, as that will help them to communicate with other non-native speakers. Clarity in both pronunciation and meaning is paramount (of most importance).

However, that is NOT how everyday people speak in everyday situations. Therefore, here’s a set of examples and new vocabulary that you will need. Furthermore, you will feel more confident, using the language and vernacular of those around you.

Dialogue practice

phrasal verbs / collocations / idioms / adverbs

vocabulary:

fond – to like something.

more than likely = very probably, about 90% sure. 

sip – to drink a very little.

rival – competitors 

Two friends are athletes meet each other Stock Video Footage ...

A: Hi, how’s it going with you ?

B: It’s going incredibly well today. I want to celebrate. Fancy a beer ?

A: I’m not so fond of beer, I prefer coffee. How does that sound ?

B: Brilliant ! Highlands or Coffee bean ? Which one ? I can’t make up my mind.

A: Is Highlands far ? They are Vietnamese, a rival to the American company.

B: It’s quite far. We ‘ll have to take a taxi. More than likely it will rain.

A: Let’s get a move on before it rains cats and dogs. 

B: Too right ! We’ll have to give up getting a taxi once it rains. Let’s go !

At the coffee shop

Juan Ferrer on Twitter: "Iggy Pop and Tom Waits. Coffee and ...

A: Watch out! The coffee’s incredibly hot. Just sip it. What are you up to now ?

B: Just texting the office. They seem rather busy. 

A: You should take a break. Tell them to just do their best.

B: Hold your horses… there ! Finished. Piece of cake.

A: You want some cake ?

B: No, hahaha. ‘Piece of cake’… means no problem. Having said that …

A: Right ! The cakes look amazingly tasty. Shall we … ?

They buy two gloriously large cakes

Top 15 Things to See and Do in Ahmedabad, India - David's Been Here

A: Let’s dive in ! Wow … I must admit, this is remarkably good. How’s yours ?

B: I think it’s too big for me. Let me try some … oh, blimey, that’s awful !

A: Yes, afterwards, we’ll need to work out. 

B: A minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips !

A: Do you have a minute ? I’d like to go over something with you.

B: Sure, what’s on your mind ?

A: Which video do you think is better for the students ? We need to inspire them.

B: This one looks good … oh, hold on … the vocabulary is very difficult … good !

NOW … YOUR TURN

Write a short dialogue scene about planning a holiday

1: Have you decided where to go on holiday ?

2: No, I haven’t made up my mind yet.

1: Well, have you thought about …

The sad irony of youth participation in election violence | Young ...
Two friends talking in Nigeria

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Home is where the heart is.

8th June 2020

Today, lots of new words to help you describe the area in which you live (the area you live in). For my classroom-students, I can listen to pronunciation and help them with natural rhythms but online students should use a dictionary with sound … then practice, practice, practice.

Vocabulary booster

Where do you live ? What’s the area like ?

Căn hộ Homyland Riverside | Gia Phát Investment
Apartment block in District 2, Sai Gon
Two-up two-down - Wikipedia
Two-up, two-down houses in UK
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Traditional house in Jeonju, South Korea
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The Projects, South Side, Chicago
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Apartment in Istanbul, Turkey
Lagos shanty megastructures
Lagos, Nigeria … a plan for the future ?

Remember to link words together – it’s called ‘chunking’ in IELTS language.

I live in a: 

quiet, residential street. Peaceful at night.

lively and busy commercial area, many shops

dirty and dusty industrial part of town. Very noisy.

What Happened To County Kilburn? | Londonist
How would you describe living here ?

My home is a / an:

apartment and I live alone

rented room which I share with friends

house and I live with my family

Things you wanted do know when visiting an Indian home for dinner ...
Their home is _____

advantages and disadvantages pros and cons 

adverbs of degree

(quite, rather, very, extremely, incredibly, remarkably, unbelievably) 

I travel to work by motorbike. It’s quite far and extremely stressful.

Using Grabbike. It’s very convenient albeit rather expensive.

On the bus. Although it’s incredibly cheap, it’s not very pleasant.

Bangkok by Bus: A cheap way to see the top sights,or simply get ...
does she get to work ?

Idioms and expressions

At work I:

find myself doing the same thing day in day out. It’s tedious.

am always busy, attending meetings or writing reports.

have a variety of different jobs, I don’t have time to get bored !

Asia business woman success celebration keeping arms raised at ...

Notice the collocations

In my free time I:

enjoy watching films and playing sports. I am competitive !

adore hanging out with my friends and family.

love shopping. I can spot a bargain and I hate being ripped off !

Spice Souk, Old DUBAI - UNITED ARAB EMIRATES | Visit dubai, Dubai ...
What does she like doing … ?

Learning English is, for me:

easy, a piece of cake. It’s very important and fun.

vital for the future. In my opinion it’s imperative we learn.

a necessary task. It’s awkward and frustrating, but I need it.

highly enjoyable and relaxing. I love to improve my mind.

English Classes - International Linguistic Program - Destination ...
An international English class in Canada

The War Remnants Museum is

extremely popular with tourists, a major attraction in the city.

well laid-out and organised. The exhibits are fascinating.

very somber and thought-provoking. Well worth a visit.

educational and essential. We can discover much there.

not suitable for children, though I would recommend it to adults.

Ho Chi Minh City: where bikes rule the roads | Mascaras and Backpacks

Increase your word power

Match the basic words with others of similar meaning (synonyms)

For example boring = tedious

interesting / on time / forgetful / live (I live in) / happy / unhappy / get (a qualification) /

reside / punctual / fascinating /absent-minded / jovial / miserable / attain /

smart (clever) /place / tired / reliable / great ! / try /

brilliant / exhausted / intelligent / endeavor / environment / dependable /

honest / make / bad (evil) / small / unimportant / not often /

prepare / seldom / nasty / insignificant / trustworthy / minute

Now make sentences with the new words e.g. (for example)

After studying for three years, Jenny attained her BA Degree.

Beautiful Chinese Graduate Stock Photos - FreeImages.com
Congratulations, Jenny !

Music vocabulary

What do these words means ?

rhythm / melody / lyrics / beat / solo / orchestration

Genres (types of music):

pop / rock / country and western / punk / classical / jazz / blues

Music time 

Listen to Paul McCartney’s ‘Another Day’. 

What do you think of it ? How does it make you feel ? Would you dance to it ?

Talk about the music and the lyrics (words); were they easy to understand ?

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: What’s your type ?

7th June 2020

Personality adjectives and idioms

How many of these do you know ?

funny // aggressive // serious // intellectual // mean // unpleasant // scary // witty // arrogant // boring // friendly // light-hearted // a push over // mean (selfish) //bossy // impatient // a screw loose // solid as a rock // tough cookie //

Expression – don’t judge a book by its cover

Personality adjectives

kind, unkind, sweet, not sweet, nasty, generous, mean (1 nasty, 2 not generous),

friendly, unfriendly, nice, reliable, unreliable, dependable, shy, confident,

arrogant, lazy, bossy (slang = shout at people, tell them to do things)

hard-working, life and soul (of the party), awkward – difficult, hard to please

Jobs

White collar doctor, accountants, teacher, lawyer, professional, office worker

blue collar chef, factory worker, mechanic, shop workers, fix machines etc

arts artist, actor, painter, musicians, DJ, poets, writers

estate agent / consultant / plumber / PR Public Relations / HR / volunteer worker / unemployed / therapist / sportsperson / web designer / security guard / unemployed

What jobs do you think these people have / Why do you say that ?

I think / She seems to be …/ I get the impression that he is …

funny //aggressive // dependable // generous

serious // impatient // reliable // intellectual // mean

unreliable // unpleasant // scary //witty // arrogant

boring// selfish// friendly // light-hearted // nasty // bossy

a screw loose // solid as a rock // tough cookie // life and soul

Extending vocabulary – personality types

Computer geek / nerd / social misfit

hunk / fit / health freak

Family man / new man / sensitive

boffin / egghead / professional man 

Lazy / work-shy / good for nothing

workaholic / married to his job

arty / cool dude / beatnik

useless layabout / waste of space

slackers / drop-outs / cool guys / high school kids

There may be good and bad things about all of these. What do you think they are ?

Which type would you like to marry or which type do you think you are ?

REMEMBER– use expressions of opinion

“In my experience…” “As far as I’m concerned…”

“In my opinion…” “Personally, I think…”

“I believe that…” “It seems to me …”

Cat got your tongue ? Time to talk idioms

6th June 2020

We had a number of blogs devoted to idioms, so now it’s time to practice using them as part of your everyday English. Not only will IELTS students earn points, but every student will feel closer to English, and sound more like a REAL native-speaker. You can only learn so much from text books …

So, without further ado, a range of dialogues for you to practice:

Dialogue 1

Hello, how’s it going ?

Great, thanks. What have you been up to ?

Oh, same old, same old. Nothing new. Are you busy ?

A little.

Do you want a hand ? (Dya wanna hand)

That would be wonderful. Can you take over for a moment ?

Absolutely !

I’ll be right back. I need to print out some documents.

Immigrant Latinas get course in leadership – California Health Report

Dialogue 2

What shall I get on with ?

I just need you to finish off the progress reports.

Oh, piece of cake ! (pieceacake)

You’re an angel.

I know…hahaha.

Colleagues at office on coffee break | Free Photo

Dialogue 3

Hello, do you have a minute ?

Sure, what do you need ?

Could we have a little chat ?

OK, let’s go to my office. Have a seat. Now, what’s on your mind?

I’d like an increase in our budget. We desperately need a new photocopier.

Unfortunately, those things cost an arm and a leg. What is the exact price ?

I’ll find out and get back to you. We may have some money in our budget.

Office workers wasting time helping less tech-savvy colleagues

Dialogue 4

How’s the new girl ? Are you showing her the ropes?

She seems to be OK but I still need to keep an eye on her. Are we having a meeting later ?

No, it’s been called off.

Ok, back to work. I need to finish off some expense sheets. 

Yes, time is money.

See you later.

The psychology behind why you fall in love with your colleagues ...

Dialogue 5

What were you doing last night ? I tried to call.

I was watching TV. Was it important ?

We were having a party. I wanted you to come.

Your parties are such fun ! What did you do ?

We were all looking online for bargains. Anna bought some great shoes.

She’s always talking about buying shoes.

I was looking at the clothes from London. So stylish.

The friendship chat

Dialogue 6

Did you see the email from the Manager ?

Oh, that old windbag ! He was talking so much.

Yes, even his emails go on forever hahahah.

Did you bring your raincoat ? It was raining all night.

I know – it was raining cats and dogs.

They were thinking about calling off the meeting because of the rain.

Yes, maybe the traffic will be chockablock.

The life of an Indian in South Korea! 7 Funny Experiences! - Best ...

Dialogue 7

Oh, do you know how to use this Zoom program ?

Yes, it’s very easy. It’s a piece of cake! Have you met Jane’s new boyfriend ?

He seems a real loser. As far as I’m concerned, she can do much better.

What does he do ?

Nothing, the work-shy layabout. I believe he wants her money.

In my experience, guys without jobs are hopeless. A waste of space !

How did she meet him ? She’s such a workaholic ! At the gym ?

Well, not at the gym, he’s no hunk ! It’s obvious to me it won’t last.

I’m convinced it’ll soon be over. She needs a good solid as a rock guy.

Understanding the Impact of Rumors and Gossip

Idioms Part 3: All above board, nothing under the table.

4th June 2020

Time to put your money where your mouth is !

We’ve had two previous posts chockablock with idioms. Now, when push comes to shove, can you use them in your everyday English. Remember, those studying for IELTS will get extra points by demonstrating a knowledge of idiomatic language … so pull your finger out and put your nose to the grindstone.

This is an extended dialogue sequence. Practice the idioms and intonation and stress. You may wish to try short sections first, before attempting the whole exercise.

Hello, how’s your day been ?

Oh, so-so. And you ? Did you finish off the reports ?

Yes, more or less. 

You better make sure they’re finished. You know what the Director’s like.

I know. If things aren’t done, all hell breaks loose !

Better keep on his good side. What else do you need to do ?

File some invoices, send off some emails and I need to get hold of Anna in HR.

I think she’s off sick today. 

That’s a pity. Did you finish the wages ?

Yes, piece of cake ! Now I’m going through all the bank statements for the last quarter.

Not cooking the books I hope. Are we still going out tonight ?

Oh, sorry, I can’t know. Something’s come up.

What ? I thought you wanted to see the film. Johnny Depp’s in it.

I know, but I have to work late. Why don’t you ask the Director ? He’s really into cinema.

I don’t think so !

Why not ? He’s such a charming man.

Well, I beg to differ. He’s an old windbag and he drinks like a fish !

Johnny Depp Is Face of Christian Dior Parfums | Hollywood Reporter
Mr Johnny Depp
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My manager drinks like a fish
The Smiths - This Charming Man (Acoustic Version) - YouTube
A charming man
Insurance Company Broker Caught Cooking the Books - Workers ...
Writing false numbers – cooking the books
Are men really talking too much? We've done the maths | Stuff.co.nz
Talk, talk, talk … what an old windbag !

Idioms part 2: Are you pulling my leg ?

2nd June 2020

This blog is especially for my internet friend Silk Chatters, as she mentioned this idioms in a note. She has lots of interesting blogs, so have a gander at her page. Here’s a link to one of her blogs:

https://silkcordsblog.wordpress.com/2020/05/31/my-disgust-with-the-media-continues-to-skyrocket/

Idioms

Following on from yesterday’s blog, I’ve included some more everyday idioms, this time related to work. See how many you’ve come across. To kick off, many of my students are accountants. For that occupation we have:

Woman in Gray and White Pinstripe Dress Shirt Using Black Tablet Computer

number-cruncher = a slang term for an accountant

cooking the books = writing false information in accountants – a serious crime

What kind of work is accounting ?

Young bored office worker sitting at desk and working, she is ...

Exciting and adventurous … not really. My students complain that their work is uninteresting, boring and tedious. Idiomatically, we could say:

It’s like watching paint dry

same thing, day in, day out

same old, same old

How do you cope with pressure or cope with stress ?

How Accountants Can Combat Work-Related Stress | AccountingWEB

I will getaway from everything = Do something completely different

I take a breather. I take five (a short break from work)

I like to let off steam by

Ask each other: what do you do to let off steam ?

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Play table tennis
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Sing Karaoke
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Go Shopping

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Watch movies

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Read a book … or many books
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Yoyoka, aged 8, playing drums

Idioms

Keep an eye on (watch something carefully)

under the table = to give money to someone unofficially

kick the bucket = to die (informal) Did you hear ? Old Tom kicked the bucket.

A spanner in the works = a serious problem

In the right ball park (US) = not correct but close

On the right track (UK) not correct but close

Now, practice:

That’s not right but you’re …

I had to pay … to get the paperwork stamped

Can you … on the food while I answer the phone ?

Oh, poor Mr Jones, he … last week

That’s a real problem. It puts a …

Journey in Life: "Throw a spanner in the works" nghĩa là gì?
Throwing a spanner in the works. The young lady is holding a spanner

Idioms / expressions (money)

money doesn’t grow on trees

time is money

on the money = exactly right 

costs an arm and a leg = very expensive.

Don’t stop working ! _________________________________

I can’t stay in a 5 star hotel, it ____________________

Be careful with your clothes, I can’t keep buying new ones _______________________ Yes, she’s always right, always _________________

New idioms / collocations

to get hold of someone = to speak to or meet someone

Hell breaks loose = will be a lot of trouble

to be into something = to like something very much

more or less = not 100% but almost.

I beg to differ = polite way to disagree

In the next blog, we’ll look at how these idioms can be used in everyday conversations

Remember: don’t get caught cooking the books – or you’ll get a massive fine.

Consequences of the Enron Scandal

IELTS Mindset: Preparing for the speaking test.

14th May 2020

As usual, I use bold font to highlight words, expressions and idioms that students can learn and then use in their everyday speech. Remember, some expressions are only used in some situations, but an IELTS instructor will always notice an attempt to use a wider variety of English.

Những lầm tưởng về IELTS Speaking - AMERICAN STUDY

Next week, one of my IELTS classes has their speaking test therefore this blog will help, I sincerely hope, to prepare them, and enable them to achieve a commendable result.

With that in mind, tonight’s class will just be practice, practice and … more practice.

I try to relax my students by telling them that passing IELTS is easy (that normally gets their attention). I have to elaborate; IELTS is easy because they

TELL YOU WHAT THEY WANT TO HEAR

Namely, vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and para linguistics (body language, eye contact, stress, intonation, rhythm) and fluency (the ability to speak without overlong pauses) as well as answering the question relevantly.

Let’s break that down:

Vocabulary: low-frequency words // idioms // expressions //

Structure: complex sentences employing discourse markers and clauses

Let’s kick off with complex sentences. Here’s a link to a previous blog regarding just that subject; there are a number of exercises for students to practise:

https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/04/30/ielets-mindset-complex-sentences/

Now some tips on using various expressions and phrases to introduce and close your speech. Again, this is from a previous blog (IELTS 12th May 2020):

https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/05/12/ielts-quick-fire-talking/

The above blog gives an example of answering a question about laptops, then allows students to compose their own response on subjects of their choice.

Finally, here are some expressions that can be used to ‘spice up’ a student’s talk as they are all everyday phrases though some will be UK-specific as they are part of the common culture:

Not my cup of tea = a polite way of saying you don’t like something.

I can take it or leave it = have no strong feelings about something.

I’m really into it = like or love something very much.

It does what it says on the tin = something that does the job, no more, no less (this is from a UK TV commercial).

Does exactly what it says on the tin - Story behind the logo

Vocabulary game:

To pracise using low-frequency words, put students in teams, giving each team a set of IELTS words (or phrases, idioms). They have a set time, maybe a minute, to use as many as they can, speaking about any subject they choose.

Some students may prefer to be given a set topic, so choose typical general subjects such as shopping, food, their city or country, free time etc.

Words and expressions are:

ubiquitous // somewhat // not my cup of tea // significant or significantly // I can take it or leave it // exhausting // challenging // miserable // having said that // I’m keen on // all in all // consequently // allow me to explain // eventually // thrilling // put up with

Vocabulary booster

Find low-frequency words for these adjectives:

boring // repetitive // tiring // interesting // relaxing

Break A Leg: What Does "Break A Leg" Mean? | Useful Example ...

IELTS: Writing correction

12th May 2020

Writing practice

Review: 'Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am' Charts Her Life Through ...

Rewrite the following texts using new vocabulary, phrasal verbs or idioms, where appropriate. Feel free to change verbs into continuous. Correct the mistakes and use better syntax (sentence structure).

Tips:

  • Use clauses to combine sentences about the same subject.
  • Use ‘however’, ‘having said that’ etc in place of ‘but’.
  • Incorporate any new language style you have learnt on the course e.g. negotiation language, polite language, and see if you can use alliteration (words beginning with the same letter).

Warm up: Here’s a short exercise. Try to rewrite using as few sentences as possible, which will entail employing complex sentences, linked by discourse markers. An example answer follows.

My friend will come to visit me. In HCM. I will show him city. In my city is many things to show him. Him like market. I show him market. And restaurants. And museums. Many museum in HCM. I hope he will likes.

Remembering The Strong Voice of VS Naipaul - Bold Outline ...

My friend will soon pay me a visit here in Ho Chi Minh City and there is such an abundance of things to see and do, for example my friends enjoys markets therefore I shall take him to several, followed by some great local food in one of the countless restaurants. Additionally, he adores museums and we are spoilt for choice here with many fascinating exhibitions.

Now … your turn.

Firstly, this is one large chunk of text, no paragraph breaks, so organise the writing.

Avoid repeating the same word or words. Use a thesaurus to search for synonyms.

I’ve started you off with two example sentences however, the rest is up to you.

My name is Tony. I am 23 years old. I am a accountant. I very much don’t like my job. It is not exciting. Because I do the same thing every day. All day. I like travel. I like Thailand. I very want to go there. At there I can eat food spicy. I like football. I don’t like baseball. Sometimes I watch on TV football. I like very much listen music. I play piano. I play recorder. My friend asked me to be in his band but his music I don’t like. He is my friend. His music is horrible. He is very bad guitar man. I live in HCM. I don’t like sometime. Now it rain every day, very heavy. We have to live with bad rain. Every day. The traffic is bad. Much motorbikes. Air very not good. I like to shopping. I buy shirt. I have many shirt but I buy more shirt because I like shirt, I have red blue green yellow shirt and black. Today I gets email. Email is from friend. I have not see friend for long time. I was surprise.

Mo Yan in 2008

My name is Tony and I am 23 years old. By profession, I’m a accountant. However,I don’t like my job very much . I do the same thing everyday so It is not that exciting.

I like travelling and I really want to visit Thailand where I can eat spicy food as well as seeing golden temples. 

Who knows … maybe if you keep writing, you will become a Noble laureate like our writers

Toni Morrison

V. S. Naipaul

Mo Yan

Bob Dylan

Why Bob Dylan Deserves His Nobel Prize - Rolling Stone

Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: Travel talk

5th May 2020

This blog will help intermediate students develop sentence-building skills, based around the theme of travel and how to relate your experiences or wishes.

New adjectives

stunning // playful // family-friendly // authentic // world-class

New expressions

It takes your breathe away //

The ________ is breathtaking //

An unforgettable experience //

No trip to …. would be complete without …

New verbs

create // seem // include // remember // spend // demonstrate

To warm up … use the new vocabulary to express your feelings about the following photos:

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The Insider's Guide to Organize Family Tours in Italy - Find Your ...
Nanning Dibai 7 Star Hotel | Nanning 2020 UPDATED DEALS $40, HD ...
Where to find the best Tudor sights in England - Telegraph

Make complex sentences using these words or phrases

Example: I recently stayed in a world class, seven-star hotel which was an unforgettable experience for example; the chef created such spectacular food.

Now … your turn

Tower Bridge, London
Machu Picchu travel | Peru - Lonely Planet
Micchu Picchu, Peru
Designer labels and luxury goods
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Cute Maid Cafe, Japan
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How to Eat Scary Insects, Worms, and Bugs in Thailand
Trying some of the local food in Thailand
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The British magician Dynamo tries a new way to ride a bus.

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 ?