Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: Holiday plans

20th May 2020

Holiday plans

Where would you like to go ?

Look at the four photos. What do you know about the four places ?

What do you need to think about ?

They are all capital cities … will that make them cheap or expensive ?

Do they speak English there ? What is the temperature in winter and summer ? How would you find information ? What do you like to do on holiday ?

Extra activity – describe the photos in as much detail as you can. Use adjectives and make your voice sound excited (or unhappy).

WoW BUENOS AIRES — WOMEN OF WEARABLES
Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina
Supermodel Trish Goff's Guide to Nairobi | Departures
Nairobi, capital of Kenya
How Moscow has changed in the 2010s (PHOTOS) - Russia Beyond
Moscow, capital of Russia
Visiting Copenhagen on a budget – On the Luce travel blog
Copenhagen, capital of Denmark

Work in pairs – write or talk about these points:

Before I go – what do you need to do ?

While I’m in ________________, I’m going to _____________

Are there any places you don’t want to visit ? Why not ?

Pros and cons (good and bad points)

Buenos Aires:

Very colourful city with interesting buildings. Cheaper than some western cities.

In South America – could be a long flight (my class is in Vietnam). Language is Latin – American Spanish.

Nairobi:

National parks and museums. Some great food and can be cheap. English spoken.

Not very safe at night. Insects and bugs plus bad hygiene in some places.

Moscow:

Amazing culture and architecture. Generally safe for tourists. Lots to see and do.

Can be very expensive. Can be bitterly cold in winter. Most people have just basic or no English.

Copenhagen:

Friendly people, small city can be explored on foot. Great beer and healthy, fresh food. High quality standards. English widely spoken, like a second language. Safe.

Is notoriously expensive. Can be very cold and wet in winter. Very long flight (from Viet Nam).

Ask each other what they like best, where they would probably go, where they probably won’t go !

Advanced levels:

To practise complex sentences, make your own answers

The four cities are all interesting in their own way, but if I had to choose just one, I think I would probably select Nairobi in Kenya.

Firstly, I have never been to Africa and it look so different to Europe and Asia. Seeing those beautiful giraffes just walking past the window must be an amazing, unforgettable experience.

Secondly, I know that English is widely spoken in Kenya, so there should be no language barrier even though I expect a lot of culture shock.

However, I expect the heat will be a serious issue, so I must pack a lot of powerful sun cream, sunglasses and a hat. Additionally, i don’t really know much about the city, so I will have to read up.

In conclusion, I feel all cities offer something amazing but my choice would be Nairobi. I’m sure I will have an incredible time in Kenya.

IELTS: Speaking exercises

12th May 2020

Speaking exercises

In Israeli City of Haifa, a Liberal Arab Culture Blossoms - The ...

Today’s theme is the use … the correct use … of discourse markers.

Furthermore, speakers MUST NOT say ‘like’ or ‘kinda’.

It is a pet peeve of mine to hear people interrupt the flow of a conversation with the unnecessary and incredibly irritating application of the word ‘like’ as a … totally incorrect … discourse marker [or discourse particle]. To illustrate, at a previous centre, a centre with a very prestigious reputation, I heard some US teachers say the following:

“I went out last night and had, like, two beers.”

“Are you looking for, like, an apartment

This filters down to the students, some of whom deliberately say ‘like’, because they think it makes them sound American and cool. I correct that misconception; it makes them sound that they are unable to complete a simple sentence. When I notice this as a problem, I tell the student to listen to themselves and count how many times they use ‘like’ erroneously.

Why Do People Say "Like" So Much? | Grammar Girl

And so, to work …

Practice how to speak fluently and with the correct use of linking words. For example:

however // having said that // although 

firstly // following that // after that // and then finally

Just a minute

Students must speak for a minute with no deviation, hesitation or repetition.

Students can select a subject and then ask another student or team to speak for a minutes. Otherwise, choices could be:

books // local food // foreign food // clothes shopping // music // siblings //

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5 things only siblings of a disabled person would know

Platinum Fashion Mall: Bargain Shopping for Clothes and Accessories
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Speaking Test

You meet a fellow traveller at the airport when your flight is delayed. Make small talk conversation including idioms and expressions.

To make this more of a competition, award two points for every idiom, one for every expression, and additional points for discourse markers.

Colleagues discussing over business card while sitting in waiting ...

Topics can be:

Talk about the flight. How bad the airline is, frequently late. Do they fly often ?

Introduce yourself. Why are they flying ? Business or pleasure ?

Ask about work – do they like it ? Where do they work ?

Ask about family … but not too personal

Ask about where they live

REMEMBER to react, and to use stress and intonation.

Oh, really // how interesting // tell me more // where is that exactly ? // Oh, right // Me too ! // I had a similar experience //

Conversation practice

You have plans to go to a new restaurant but one of you can’t make it because something turned up. Apologise and give the reason why you must change the plan. Offer alternative suggestions. 

Example:

Search for new partner leaves me wondering where she's waiting ...

Hello, Sharma ? I’m so sorry, I can’t make it tonight.

Sharma will ask why. Give your reason

Have to work late // family member is ill // have an exam tomorrow // missed bus // not feeling well // have to attend a family event //

Activity 2

In the UK we try to hide our emotions, keep a stiff upper lip, but sometimes people can get angry. Repeat the exercise, but this time, the person waiting is in a bad mood.

The Myth of the 'Angry Black Woman' — Her Culture

Now the person waiting does not accept your excuse.

This the the third time you’ve cancelled ! // I’ve already been waiting 30 minutes // You only tell me NOW ! // I don’t care, get here now or never call me again ! //

How could you apologise and offer to make it up to her ?

6 Creative Ways to Say Sorry Using Flowers

IELTS: Quick-fire talking

12th May 2020

A chance to practise IELTS-standard speech, answering questions on everyday subjects.

Speaking topics

laptops // holidays // engineering // work // travelling // study

motorbikes // family // living in your town or city //

laptops

Positive asian woman lying on floor with laptop | Free Photo

Introduction

1stpoint

2ndpoint

anecdote (personal story)

conclusion

This first example is a warm up; you will need to speak a little longer, but this introduces the main points to include.

Laptops are an incredibly useful piece of technology. They can be used for work, hobbies, music and to stay in touch with friends.

I use my laptop every day. I plan lessons and use the internet to search for lesson plans, English language games and interesting video clips to show my students.

Because I live so far from my home country, I find the internet essential. I can maintain contact with friends and family by using: Skype, Facebook, Viber, Instagram … well, there are so many social media sites.

I like Apple; I know there are very expensive, but they seem to work so well. I rarely have a problem with my computer which is great because I know nothing about IT !

There was one issue I had in Vietnam. My plug snapped and I had to buy a new cable. I eventually found a store in District 3. I had to wait 30 minutes but finally a man came with an ‘Apple’ plug … and it was less than half the UK price.

To conclude, laptops are part of my life. I use them every day for work, relaxing and chatting with friends.

Check how many adjectives and adverbs are used. Are you utilising such word types ? If not – do so !

Useful expressions

A strong introduction:

That’s a very interesting question

Well, there is so much to say about that subject, where shall I start ?

It’s funny you put that question to me because earlier today I was just thinking about …

To buy time, or to show the examiner that you have a wide vocabulary but need to check the correct word:

Let me think (about it)

How can I put it … ?

What’s the word … ?

To conclude:

At the end of the day

All in all

To wrap up

Now … your turn. Either in pairs, or at home by yourself, prepare an IELTS standard presentation, using the formula above. Choose from:

SaludTues Tweetchat 12/4/18: “Healthy Holidays - How To” | Salud ...
Family life
Despite high education levels, Arab women still don't have jobs
At work
Coronavirus | Tech-challenged Japanese struggle to work from home ...
Travelling to work
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On holiday
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Studying

IELTS, Mindset: Complex sentences

30th April 2020

The correct sequence of tenses for complex sentences

Today we’ll concentrate on building longer, more interesting sentences, altering sentence structure, and applying discourse markers and relative pronouns in order to be proficient in meeting the IELTS requirements.

Let’s kick off with some basic sentences, each containing one fact.

Park So Yeon ( 박소연) - MyDramaList

Park So-yeon is from South Korea. She performed under the name ‘Soyeon’. She was in the band T-ara from 2009 – 2017.

One possibility is to make a longer, main sentence (an independent clause) then break it up with some extra but not essential information (a dependent clause):

Park So-yeon, who performed under the stage name Soyeon, was a member of the South Korean group T-ara from 2009 until they broke up in 2017.

Here, I employed a relative pronoun (‘who’) to introduce the dependent clause, and altered the sentence slightly, adding some extra words.

Another, more advanced, option, which I recommend experimenting with as it will impress the examiner, is to start with a dependent clause. Allow me to demonstrate:

Performing under the name Soyeon, the South Korean singer Park So-yeon achieved fame as a member of the band T-ara, with whom she played from 2009 until 2017.

You will, no doubt, notice that the grammar may have to change, that is altering the verb form, by which I mean transforming the simple past into present continuous.

Now, you can guess what’s coming, it’s your turn to practise. I realise that not all of you are so enamoured of T-ara and South Korean women as I am, therefore, for that express purpose, I have selected three examples and you merely have to choose the person that most interests or appeals to you:

Daniel Craig thừa nhận sẽ thủ vai điệp viên 007 lần thứ năm - Phim ...

Daniel Craig is an actor. He is most famous for playing James Bond. His wife is Rachel Weisz. She is also an actor.

Thandie Newton Net Worth | Black actresses, Beautiful celebrities ...

Thandie Newton is an English actress. She has three children. She studied at Cambridge University. She was in Mission Impossible II with Tom Cruise.

Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen to visit US, angering Beijing - Nikkei Asian ...

Tsai Ing-wen is president of Taiwan. The official name of the country is the Republic of China. She has been president since 20th May 2016. She was the first woman to be president of ROC Taiwan.

Next stage is to introduce some information and then offer up an alternate view, that is to say, a critical response which can be achieved by the use of appropriate discourse markers.

Let’s focus on the most recent Noble prize laureate ( Literature):

Handke in 2006

Peter Handke is an Austrian writer. His first novel was published in 1966. The English title is ‘The Hornets’. Handke was critical of the Noble Prize. In 2014, he called for the award to be abolished. Many people were critical of Hendke winning because he had supported the Serbia cause in the breakup of Yugoslavia.

There is a lot of information here, some purely factual (dates, nationality) some regarding the reaction to the award.

The Austrian writer Peter Hendke, whose first novel ‘The Hornets’ was published in 1966, was awarded the Noble laureate in 2019 despite his previous comments calling for the abolition of the award. Furthermore, there was a lot of criticism surrounded the announcement due to Hendke’s support of the Serbians during the Yugoslavian war.

Alternately:

Although there was a lot of negative critical reaction, Peter Hendke, an Austrian writer whose first book was published in 1966, received the Noble Prize for Literature in 2019 in spite of the fact that he had previously called for the award to be abolished. The writer, whose first book was titled ‘The Hornets’, had additionally expressed views supportive of Serbia which caused a backlash once the winner of the award was announced.

Your Turn:

Either write about somebody famous, somebody you admire or write something about yourself, making sure to include something positive and negative.

Next time, we can work on introductions, how to respond to IELTS questions by leading into the answer as opposed to simply answering directly.

T-ARA Comeback Cancelled! - Soyeon And Boram Leave The Group But ...

IELTS: Writing practice. Yoga, health & well-being

25th April 2020

Asian girl does yoga on gym carpet. lotus pose. | Premium Photo

I know that yoga and exercise are popular activities among my students, so let’s use this topic for some sentence building.

IELTS candidates will be expected to speak for two minutes on a given subject, then engage in a dialogue with the examiner.

The candidate will feel more confident with an arsenal of phrases, expressions, idioms, discourse markers, and an impressive array of ‘low-frequency vocabulary‘ (big words).

The candidate, additionally, has to employ complex sentences and well-structured responses in order to boost their score.

As with music, practice is the key:

High Quality Stock Photos of "monk tai chi"

I set a test for one of my IELTS students, Ms Nguyen. As a warm up, I asked her to tell me about a place she wanted to visit, so this was similar to an IELTS speaking test, Part 1. Following that, I asked her to prepare a Part 2-style answer about a hobby which prompted her to relate her experiences regarding yoga.

To start, we went over some phrases and sentence structure. Ms Nguyen was recovering from a slight injury: how could she phrase this …

I’m not in any pain, but I’m only about 70% recovered.

I’m not in any pain, although I’m only about 70% recovered.

Although I’m not in any pain, I’m only about 70% recovered.

Although I’m only about 70% recovered, I’m not in any pain.

Here, we replaced ‘but’ with ‘although’, and then altered the word order.

Which sentence do you prefer ?

Exercise: Rearrange this basic sentence (sample answers at end of blog)

I’ve been to South Korea but I haven’t been to Japan

Part 1 exercise: tell me about a place you’d like to visit.

{Low-frequency words & expressions: extraordinary, outstanding nature, notwithstanding}

Japan:

16 Japan experiences every traveler should enjoy | CNN Travel

I like the culture, by which I mean sophisticated cuisine, outstanding nature and kind-hearted people. Good points notwithstanding, I am not so enamoured on the working culture which seems to be highly stressful especially compared to the norm in Vietnam.

Although I really like Japan, I am currently undecided as to whether to study there or not. On the plus side, the subject, sustainability, fits in with their life ethos. Additionally, the fee is lower for international students and, furthermore we will be supported by extra classes. Despite these benefits, I have some serious concerns over issues such as sexism as well as the constant pressure which leads to a high rate of suicide.

POINTS TO CONSIDER:

Do you see how Ms Nguyen gave three examples in her opening sentence, and used the adjective + noun structure (‘outstanding nature’ etc).

Use of adverbs (‘highly’, ‘currently’).

Low-frequency words (‘enamoured of’, ‘sophisticated’, ‘notwithstanding’).

Discourse markers (‘despite’, ‘although’, ‘additionally’).

Moreover, see how Ms Nguyen utilises complex sentences. Keep these in mind as you read her second exercise:

Part 2 exercise: tell me about a hobby or activity you enjoy.

{I gave Ms Nguyen some time to prepare, and allowed her to use a thesaurus to look up better words. Having said that, there are still some little grammar mistakes; can you spot any ? Don’t worry, a few mistakes are to be expected.}

Yoga

Sống tích cực mùa Covid- 19: Sao Việt tập gym, yoga, chăm sóc da ...

Every yoga student has individual needs and abilities therefore the instructor will suggest a method suitable to our needs and requirements. This including advise to prevent us from harming ourselves or pushing our bodies too far.

To be specific, on Tuesday we shall concentrate on stretching our shoulders, neck and spine . We shall do this by adopting positions designed to facilitate this objective. Initially, I felt some soreness because it was an unnatural position. However, there are various levels and when one has mastered the first, they can progress, move on to the next.

If I have a great, productive class, I feel relaxed, calm and refreshed. Some people may overemphasis the benefits of yoga but for me, it isn’t that complicated. I find it a pleasing way to release stress from work and to keep myself active.

Otherwise, I tend to just stay at home socialising with my family, then watching my favourite documentary shows.

Yoga, despite being seen as a very restful and gentle past time, can actually be very dangerous including concussions, injuries and broken bones. Having said that, I know my limits and keep within those parameters.

In conclusion, yoga is my favourite activity as it not only helps my body to reduce stress and keep healthy, but also it is a fun way to occupy my free time and bond socially with my colleagues.

SAMPLE ANSWERS:

Although I’ve been to South Korea, I’ve yet to visit Japan.

I, so far, haven’t been to Japan, although I once travelled to South Korea.

I visited South Korea although I haven’t been to Japan.

Ms Nguyen’s mistake: in the first paragraph, she uses include in the continuous form, not the present simple (“This including advise,” instead of ‘this includes advise.’)

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Cultural differences

24th April 2020

IELTS Examination Jakarta

This blog is aimed at IELTS level students, or anyone who wants to learn how to speak or write in longer sentences.

This involves the use of complex sentences and discourse markers. Furthermore, a wide vocabulary is necessary to prevent repetition and to maintain interest as well as, of equal importantance, to make you feel that you are able to express what you really want to say.

One must not forget that when speaking, intonation, stress and body language will all help to make you sound more like a native-speaker.

To recap, a complex sentence uses different clauses (part of a whole sentence) to make a longer, more interesting sentence.

(I will write a blog just about complex sentences, with examples and exercises, in the near future)

Example: Thay Paul plays guitar. Thay Paul is from London. London is the capital of the UK

Thay Paul, who plays guitar, is from London which is the capital of the UK.

The bold text is the main clause, the plain text is a supporting clause. Which and Who are relative pronouns (Paul = who, & which links London to “capital of the UK”). Therefore, we have three pieces of information in one complex sentence.

Discourse markers link ideas together. Look out for ‘although’, ‘therefore’, ‘furthermore’ which should all be part of your everyday vocabulary.

For vocabulary, you can look at your work; could you replace a basic word with a better one ? Make use of a thesaurus, and note down any new words you encounter.

Now, moving on, today’s theme is cultural differences. This doesn’t have to mean travelling to a different country or continent, but even in the same country. For example, one of my neighbours told me about a business trip she took. Ms Phuong is from south Vietnam, but she had to travel to Ha Noi in the north. This is her account of the journey:

BIS Hanoi Students Ambassadors Raise Focus on Sustainable Issues ...

I asked Ms Phuong to tell me what happened.

What to do in Hanoi for 5 days – Hanoi guide for first-time ...
Hanoi old quarter

Last week I went to Hanoi and it was partly business, partly pleasure.

I wanted her to elaborate:

I went to Hanoi, last week, and it was partly business, partly pleasure. Although my expectations were low it turned out to be a greatly rewarding experience.

That was a great introduction, please continue:

I have mixed feelings

I was curious, so I allowed Ms Phuong ten minutes to gather her thoughts, write notes, then tell me:

I have a love-hate relationship, as I believe many south Vietnamese do, with Hanoi. On one hand, I really enjoy the cuisine, the flowers and the colonial architecture. Good points notwithstanding, I have one serious issue with the city and that is the work culture.

Being born in the south, I am used to long working hours, up to ten hours a day and, if need be, working on Saturday mornings. Southern workers tend to be highly focused on work and are always seeking ways to improve their performance. In contrast, workers based in the north seem to lack such a strong work ethic. The working day is limited (is capped) to eight-hours a day and, in my experience, this is a common practice. Furthermore, staff frequently go out for refreshment or leave early.

I noticed this while I was living in Hanoi, and when I return to the city on business. Fortunately, my staff comply with a strict office working policy; I encounter this issue when dealing with suppliers. I have to waste time waiting which makes me feel frustrated as there is nothing I can do to expedite matters.

NOW – what did you make of Ms Phuong’s answer ? I’m speaking in terms of the English, not necessarily the point she makes about Ha Noi.

(make of = think about).

How many complex sentences did you notice ? How about discourse markers ? Were there any words you didn’t know ?

Ho Chi Minh City - Wikitravel
Work meetings are more about therapy than productivity, study ...

Oh, no … we are not finished, not by a long chalk (not by a long way). Now it’s your turn. Write a short piece based on cultural differences or, if you prefer, write a rebuttal to Ms Phuong’s experience.

Guidance:

A short introduction

First point with reasons to support your view.

A contrary (opposite) view.

Short conclusion.

For those studying for IELTS, read it to yourself, and use a stopwatch … can you speak for two minutes ?

Say “Good bye” với 10 cách thú vị và ý nghĩa - EIV Education

IELTS (Mindset): Why do you like the film ?

6th April 2020

A typical IELTS question could be:

Talk about a film you like. Why do you like it, and what is the story ?

The 15 Most Moving Film Endings in Cinema History | Taste Of ...
Cinema Paradiso 1988 Italy

This blog will serve as a model to IELTS students to help with their speaking and writing skills.

IELTS has lots of ‘open’ questions, to enable the student to speak freely on subjects about which they feel comfortable.

In my last online lesson, I mentioned a film that I though a student would like, as she had chosen to speak about Scarlett Johannsson.

Loạt vai diễn làm nên tên tuổi Scarlett Johansson - VnExpress Giải Trí

The film in question is ‘Lost In Translation‘. Here is a little piece about the film.

Lost in Translation (2003)
An iconic shot from the opening of the film

NOTE:

Short introduction – do not answer the question immediately

Organised structure – one point per paragraph

A change of attitude – a critical view

Short conclusion

LOOK OUR FOR

Low-frequency words

Complex sentences – combining two or more bits of information in the same sentence.

Discourse markers – words to link ideas together

Adverbs and less common adjectives

So, without further ado, the question:

Talk about a film you like. Why do you like it, and what is the story ?

Lost In Translation - Tiếng thở dài của những tâm hồn lạc lối

INTRODUCTION – talk about cinema or films in general DON’T immediately talk about your favourite film.

Watching films and going to the cinema is one of my passions, so choosing just one film is going to be terribly difficult, not to say impossible. However, if I have to select one film, it would be ‘Lost in Translation’, with Scarlett Johannsson.

First paragraph. Information about the film and the main charcters.

The film, directed by Sophia Coppola, daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, was made in 2003, and takes place in Tokyo. A young, newly-married girl, named Charlotte, is alone in her hotel because her husband is constantly out working. Staying at the same hotel is a middle-aged, world-weary American actor, Bob Harris, in Japan to make a commercial for Japanese whiskey.

Second paragraph. The plot – what happens … and why.

Both characters appear to be suffering from culture shock and seem afraid to leave the security of the hotel. For example, despite seeming to be impressed by all the neon and energy of the city, Bob spends his night in the hotel bar with other tourists, while Charlotte reads and listens to music in her room.

Third paragraph. Develop the plot.

They meet in the hotel where age difference notwithstanding, they seem to get on extremely well, extremely quickly. Furthermore, they give each other energy and courage to venture outside. We learn that Bob is less than happy in his current life, while it becomes apparent that Charlotte is doubting her own marriage. At one point it look like they will get together. However, Bob decides to go back to the USA, leaving Charlotte, but not before they share an embrace on the street, in which Bob whispers something in her ear. We, that is the audience, do not get to hear what he said; we have to speculate.

Fourth paragraph: Something negative for balance.

Some people could be irritated that the final words are a mystery, other could be severely disappointed by this love story that never quite happens. The two protagonists return to their lives which will, possible, be unfulfilling. This negativity is like a black cloud on an otherwise bright, sunny day.

Conclusion: A short summary.

‘Lost in Translation’ is described as a romantic-comedy-drama. The characters are totally believable and likeable, while, technically, the cinematography is stunning. Furthermore, in my view, it is a charming, heart-warming, and life-affirming movie.

35mm Contest #22] Lost In Translation (2003) Cho Thời Gian Ngơi ...

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Remembering April 30th

5th April 2020

WARNING: THIS BLOG CONTAINS IMAGES OF WAR THAT ARE NOT SUITABLE FOR YOUNG READERS

April 30th is a national holiday in Vietnam. My Vietnamese students should know why, other students can probably guess.

A Guide to Vietnam's Reunification Day | Student Exchange Vietnam ...
Vietnam celebrates 40th anniversary of Saigon's fall

Describe this photo:

What is the subject ? What is the background and history ? Why is this picture significant ?

What happened after this snapshot?

background– recent story or history to some event.

significant (adjective) – very important or large. 

significance (noun) / significantly (adverb)

snapshot– a moment in a photo – captured by time.

In this photo we can clearly see …

The photo shows …

The photo depicts …

Vocabulary:

war / conflict / civil war / agent orange / reunification / peace treaty / ceasefire / chemical warfare / the seat of government / reeducation / education growth / Le Duan / public opinion / anti-war sentiments / Vietnam War Memorial, Washington DC / My Lai / Kim Phuc

Use the above vocabulary to describe the following photos. Organise your thoughts, then employ discourse markers to link your ideas together.

If you are not certain, you may use expressions such as:

I’m not entirely sure, but I think …

This would seem to show …

I’m not familiar with this image …

Practice speaking in complex sentences by using relative pronouns (who, where, which, whose)

Bác Hồ đã chọn đúng những vị trí lãnh đạo | Báo Dân trí

A picture of Le Duan with Ho Chi Minh (top) and Mao Zedong (bottom). Vietnamese students can read more here: https://baotiengdan.com/2020/02/21/le-duan-va-chien-tranh-bien-gioi-1979/

Effects on Environment - Defoliants Used During the Vietnam War
What does this landscape depict ?
Give Peace a Chance | Dissent Magazine
What is going on here ? Where is this taking place ?
The Paris Peace Accords - The Vietnam War - Edexcel - GCSE History ...
Fall of Saigon to Communist troops marks the end of the Vietnam ...

Read more at this site: https://erenow.net/ww/vietnam-war-an-intimate-history/11.php

Read the article about education in Vietnam here: https://wenr.wes.org/2017/11/education-in-vietnam

This is a great opportunity for IELTS students to interpret the information represented on this graph. What is the trend ? What is the anomaly ? How would you categorise the fluctuation in figures from 2007 – 2010 ?

Vietnam Veterans Memorial - WorldStrides
War Memorial in USA
50 Years On, My Lai Massacre Remains A Gaping Wound : NPR
To commemorate the My Lai massacre in Vietnam

WARNING:

NEXT PHOTO MAY DISTURB SOME READERS

THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST ICONIC PHOTOS, NOT JUST OF THE WAR IN VIETNAM, BUT OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY.

THERE ARE NO ADJECTIVES CAPABLE OF DESCRIBING THE IMAGE.

THE PHOTO HAS BEEN CREDITED WITH TURNING AMERICAN PUBLIC OPINION AGAINST THE WAR.

Love to Kim Phuc | worldpoet546
Ms Kim Phuc, aged 9, after her village was bombed June 8th 1972
UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Ms Kim Phúc Phan Thi meets Centre staff ...
Ms Kim Phuc now, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.
The Girl in the Picture by Denise Chong: 9780140280210 ...
Ms Phuc’s story can be read in this (highly recommended) book.

IELTS 5 – 6.5. Writing example

15th March 2020

Image result for ielts

As I constantly inform my students, IELTS is not a typical English class … it is IELTS English by which I mean, students have to demonstrate a command of the language that includes a wide range of vocabulary, the confidence to speak fluently, the correct stress and intonation to keep your listener engaged, the ability to form complex sentences and link them with appropriate discourse markers. Additionally, a knowledge of how English is REALLY spoken, to wit, sounding like the student has been interacting with real native-speakers, not merely repeating verbatim from a text book, is a must.

Piece of cake, no ? (an English idiom – you will need to learn some basic expressions, phrases and idioms to make your spoken language more natural and interesting).

OK, let’s break it down. IELTS requires a lot of work, study and practice. Students that come to my class expecting to kick back and be entertained are in for a shock, and then some. As such, I will not be defining the idioms I employ in this blog, e.g. Piece of cake – YOU will have to look them up yourself.

Image result for ielts getting started

Don’t worry, young lady, I’m here to help you. Having said that, if you’ve been on a three-month course and you’ve left it to the last week to study … then you will probably fail, and deservedly so. Yes, life in the IELTS lane is tough, it’s dog eat dog (though ‘devour’ would be a more IELTS-friendly word than ‘eat’).

Where to start ?

OK, IELTS wants what they term ‘low-frequency’ words. Basically, look at your English; replace any basic adjective or verb or indeed noun, with a ‘better’ word, a word that would be used by the higher-educated native speaker. Your best tool here is a thesaurus of which there are many online, or downloadable for free.

Image result for thesaurus

It works thus: Let’s start with a very basic adverb ‘very’. This is too simplistic for IELTS, so type in the word and click enter.

A number of words will appear. As above, the darker-shaded words are what the computer’s algorithm indicate would be more suitable, while giving additional options in lighter shades.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating – so let’s try it: rewrite these sentences using low-frequency words:

I think Bangkok a better destination than Chiang Mai

She bought a cheap bag

The film was good

Stage Two

Linking ideas with discourse markers. I give all my students a print-out of common words and expressions that must be consulted and utilised. I hope that all my students take them home and study them religiously. Conversely they may use the paper to line the bottom of a bird cage. In all reality, the majority of students say, ‘Thank you,” have a glance, put said sheet in their bag and forget all about it. Consequently, several weeks later, the students are still resorting to ‘and’, ‘but’ with a possible ‘however’.

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make the horse drink

Discourse Markers

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I recommend my students learn at least two from each section.

Adverbs are incredibly powerful and so easily inserted into everyday text

I worked at another large and prestigious language centre, and had the pleasure of marking some essays by teenagers. From twelve pieces of ‘writing’, I found only ONE adverb.

Adverbs add information and interest to your language, but my students seem to avoid them like the plague. They may deign to insert a ‘very’ to please me … but it doesn’t ! I expect, nay, DEMAND more.

Without further ado

An example. IELTS will give students a very open-ended subject and then expect a well-constructed piece of writing, or fluent, coherent speech upon said subject, with no deviation, hesitation or repetition. It is a chance for the student to perform a solo, to demonstrate how much they have learnt and studied … or otherwise … generally it is ‘otherwise’.

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Time for an anecdote. I was teaching one class, and endeavouring to give them ample opportunity to speak and practice English. Nobody spoke. If I selected some students, they would make an appalling act of not having heard the question, or to answer in a single word. Some students even began laughing that teacher was asking the class but nobody was responding. Hilarious … but he who laughs last, laughs longest. I decided this class was a waste of my time (because it WAS a waste of my time) and left them to their fate … CUT TO some weeks later, it’s the day of their speaking test … suddenly, they are running up to me for help, “What should I say ?”, “I don’t know what to do”, “I’m going to fail.” Temptation was to tell them where to go ( that is an expression that does NOT imply direction !), but I gave them what help I could in the minute I could spare. Needless to say … most of the class were disappointed with their score, and no doubt, upon arrival at the family nest, were met were screams and derision. And no doubt they put the blame squarely where it belongs … on the foreign teacher !

The concluding line was an example of irony. I’m not going to tell you what irony is, look it up for yourself ! Do you want a fish or a fishing rod and knowledge of how to catch your own fish ?

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So now, a fairly run-of-the mill IELTS question:

Tell me about your favourite gadget

This piece is, as one would expect, quite lengthy and jam-packed with information and detail. I don’t expect you to write or speak at this level … but I expect you to TRY.

As you read, look out for:

Low-frequency words

adverbs

adjectives

discourse markers

complex sentences (sentences which coney more than one piece of information)

expressions, phrases and idioms

THEN – practice reading aloud. Not just once and, “Teacher, finished,” but again … and again … and again. Yes, this is not entertainment but it WILL help you get the score you want from IELTS

Image result for kindle fire

My Kindle

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can’t watch Vietnamese TV, due to the language barrier. Consequently, the Kindle plays an even bigger part of my life, as I need some way to relax after toiling away for hours at work.

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

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

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

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

Now … YOUR TURN

Write a piece about YOUR favourite gadget, using the above as a model

Best of British to you

Adult Speaking Class, level 3, Part 2.

26th January 2020

Contents

Sentence order – exercises for you to practice rearranging the words in a sentence to make your English more interesting. This is especially useful for IELTS students.

Vocabulary – a feature just on boosting your command of the English language, and finding higher, or better, low-frequency words for basic English.

Vocabulary

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Objectives:

Increase vocabulary. The average native-speaker uses about 2 000 words. You can boost your vocabulary by learning verbs, adverbs and adjectives which can be easily found by a Google search. Also, use an online thesaurus.

Speak in longer sentences. Say what you want to say (make your point), then elaborate by giving examples, adding reasons and maybe an anecdote. Along with this, give the opposite view by using conjunctions such as ‘however’, ‘on the other hand’ etc.

Pronunciation. Many native speakers have a problem understanding English learners, so we will practise slow and careful enunciation, intonation and stress.

New vocabulary:

Look up any words you don’t know.

demonstrate / protest / gripping / predictable/ disappointing / media / 

excessive/ biased / appropriate / opponent / in opposition to / beat / currently / not my cup of tea 

hold your horses / debate / borrow / lend / expect / lease / terrible

Which words would you employ / use ?

Brazil beating Costa Rica was ……..

This film is extremely violent, it’s not ………. for children.

The politicians are ………. the issue of land-………. to the Chinese.

You can ……. money from a bank, but they …… it at a high interest rate.

The match was so ………… However, Spain – Portugal was ………

The man said Ha Noi was the best city, but he is from there so he is ……….

People were on the streets ………. and ………… against higher taxes.

The man went to prison for forty years just for littering. That was ………….

I haven’t finished yet, ……………………..

TV, radio, internet news and newspapers are called the ……..

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New vocabulary:

aggravate – to make worse

tensions – bad feelings

keep a lid on it – stop something getting worse, or not to tell someone. We’ve got a new boss coming, but keep a lid on it (don’t tell anyone).

set up – start to do something. Fred is going to set up a new business.

knock out – (from boxing) to hit someone so they fall and stay down for 10 seconds

  • to eliminate someone / thing
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Historically (adverb from history) – something that has happened over a long time.

They are currently ——– between China and Vietnam. This is nothing new as —— the two countries have had conflicts.

The government are introducing policies to ———— on inflation (prices rising).

President Trump visited North Korea to ease ——- between the two countries. He must be careful what he says or he may ———— the situation.

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England have ———– Colombia so I am ———(a great word for happy). However, the greatest shock was Germany being ———— at the group stage.

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The coverage in the Chinese media is not impartial, it is unbelievably ——— . However, this is nothing new; the media is the USA is also ———- towards either the left or right.

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Project: Look at these headlines from the UK media. Could they happen in your country ?

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A story about the Queen’s second son, Prince Andrew, and a sex scandal.

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A left-wing paper writing about a right-wing Prime Minister.

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Calling the England football manager a ‘turnip-head’.

Changing sentence order:

John read comic books as a boy. As a boy, John read comic books.

Mary sent two emails then went home. Mary went home after sending two emails.

Try changing these:

Watt worked as a maker of mathematical instruments but later found himself working with steam engines.

If we had to give credit to one inventor, it would probably be Karl Benz from Germany. Many suggest that he created the first true automobile in 1885/1886.

Sherlock Holmes is a fictional private detective created by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Japan’s high speed bullet trains, also known as Shinkansen trains, offer visitors an experience like no other with speeds reaching up to 320 km/hr !

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James Watt and the steam engine.