IELTS: My hometown

28th October 2020 Mindset 2 Unit 1: Speaking

My Little Town - Wikipedia

A new class, new students, so let’s hit the ground running, get the students mixing, talking to each other and up from their seats. I prepared a questionnaire. They have to interview different classmates and learn a little about them

Gather information about your classmates

QuestionNameResponse
Why are you studying IELTS ?
Where would you most like to visit and why ?
Would you like to live abroad ?
What is the hardest thing about learning English ?
How do you solve this ?
How often do you use English ?

Do you read, write or speak at school or at work ?
What do you most like about western culture or
countries ?
What idioms do you know ? 

This lead into the idiom it’s raining cats and dogs which most students had heard (it means raining heavily).

Today’s lesson is based on types of housing and areas; some extra terms:

gritty / industrial

quite / safe / residential

boring / peaceful / suburban

bustling / vibrant / city centre

Which would you apply to these:

All photos are from the UK

Ask each other about your hometown or your neighbourhood.

What do you like about your neighbourhood ?

What don’t you like ?

Explain why you don’t like something.

Subject Index: IELTS – themes, language, exercises.

27th October 2020

An index of various IELTS classes and topics useful to IELTS students

Subject // Lesson // Date

How to pass IELTS (with flying colours) // IELTS // 26th July 2020 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/07/26/ielts-how-to-pass-with-flying-colours/

How to attain 8.5 // IELTS: Chasing 8 1/2 // 12th October 2020: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/10/12/ielts-8-1-2-chasing-8-1-2/

Advanced idioms (chasing 8 1/2) // Get your motor running // 15th October 2020

Apple workers in China // IELTS // 30th July 2019

Australia // IELTS 5-6.5 // 21st August 2019

Complaints // IELTS: Making complaints // 24th July 2020

Electronic devises // IELTS speaking exercise // 4th March 2019

Food // British Food // IELTS // 28th September 2020

General // IELTS // 19th February 2019

General // IELTS: Final Review // 5th March 2019

Holidays from Hell // IELTS // 10th February 2019

Hometown & neighbourhood // IELTS // My Hometown // 28th October 2020

IELTS introduction (survey) // IELTS // 31st December 2018

India // IELTS: Hello, India // 24th January 2020

Kindle // IELTS 5 – 6.5. Writing example // 15th March 2020

Making excuses IELTS // Speaking // small talk, making excuses // 12th May 2020

Manufacturing in Vietnam // IELTS // 30th July 2019

IELTS: Mindset first day warm up // IELTS: Mindset // 23rd June 2020

Neighbourhoods // new vocab and idioms // There are places // 6th October 2020

Plan a day: What my friends can so in Sai Gon // IELTS 5-6.5 // 21st August 2019

Schools in UK // IELTS: UK school system // IELTS // 17th September 2020

Shopping // IELTS-level exercises //IELTS, theme: shopping // 5th August 2020

Technology & conversation topics // Good Technology // 19th October 2020

Tet Holiday // IELTS // 28th January 2019

Travel

Travel: airport to city centre // IELTS // 10th February 2019

Travel in two minutes // IELTS // 19th February 2019

Travel // IELTS 5-6.5 // 14th August 2019

Travel: my stay in Bangkok in pictures // IELTS // 10th February 2019

Travel: one day in Sai Gon // IELTS 5-6.5 // 14th August 2019 //

Travel: recommend a holiday // IELTS // 4th March 2019

What’s the story (lazy student) // IELTS // 7th January 2019

Yoga & exercise // IELTS writing practice // 25th April 2020

IELTS Project // Holidays prepare an advert, plan a day // IELTS // 16th June 2020

Pre-IELTS challenge: creative writing, plan a day, pronunciation // Adult Class Level 3 // 30th May 2020

IELTS Games:

IELTS: warm up games // https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2019/02/25/ielts-warm-up-games/

Call My Bluff // IELTS 5-6.5 // 28th August 2019

Chinese Whispers // IELTS 5-6.5 // 4th September 2019

Role-play: shopping// IELTS 5-6.5 // 28th August 2019

What’s the Story ? (Chinese film) // IELTS 5-6.5 // 11th September 2019

Films

Chungking Express (film) // IELTS // 16th April 2019 /// IELTS // 4th March 2019

Ing …(film) // IELTS 5-6.5 // 4th September 2019

Lost in Translation // IELTS // What do you like this film ? // 6th April 2020

Not One Less (video clip) // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

The Owl and the Sparrow (Vietnam) // IELTS // 16th April 2019

Social Network // IELTS 5-6.5 // 4th September 2019 //

Star Wars The Last Jedi // IELTS // 14th January 2019

Take Care of my Cat (South Korea) // IELTS // 16th April 2019

Tokyo Story (Japan) // IELTS // 16th April 2019

Grammar

Adverb exercise // IELTS: use adverbs frequently // 3rd July 2020

Discourse Markers // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019 /// IELTS // 7th January 2019 //// IELTS 5 – 6.5. Writing example // 15th March 2020

IELTS ‘ness’ or ‘ment’ ? // // 28th January 2019

Relative pronouns quiz // IELTS Review // vocabulary, discourse, sentence building // 25th June 2020

Relative pronouns // IELTS // 1st July 2020

Idioms

Expressions and phrases // IELTS // 19th February 2019

Idioms & expressions // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2, Part 4

Idioms: food // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: food // 19th April 2020

Idioms: a piece of cake // Teaching Notes // 1st June 2020

Idioms: are you pulling my leg ? // Teaching Notes // 2nd June 2020

Idioms: everyday idioms, everyday // Teaching Notes // 3rd June 2020

Idioms: part 3 extended idioms use // Teaching Notes // 4th June 2020

Idioms // Adult Speaking Class / IELTS: Right up your street // 26th August 2020

IELTS // idioms and vocab games // Preparing for speaking test // 15th May 2020

Idioms (sweets) // IELTS // 19th February 2019

New idioms for Semester 2 // Fluency, intonation & stress // 15th October 2020

Sentence building & Vocabulary

Database of idioms, L-FWs & expressions // 22nd October 2020: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/10/22/ielts-language-bank-idioms-and-l-fws-you-need-to-have-at-your-beck-and-call/

Bad Day – create a narrative // IELTS: Lesson 3 // 19th January 2019

Cities, areas, descriptions // IELTS // 31st December 2018

Expressions and phrases // IELTS // 19th February 2019

IELTS: vocabulary building // IELTS: Vocabulary activities // 24th April 2020

What difference (definitions) // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

IELTS sentence building // IELTS //22nd July 2019 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2019/07/22/ielts-sentence-building/

IELTS // Sentence building; a piece of cake // IELTS // 16th August 2020

IELTS basic sentence building // IELTS // 28th January 2019 // // IELTS // 14th January 2019

IELTS complex sentences // IELTS, Mindset: Complex sentences // 30th April 2020

IELTS complex sentences // It’s not that complicated // 24th May 2020

IELTS complex sentences // Sentence building:piece of cake // 16th August 2020

IELTS describe a film // IELTS // What do you like this film ? // 6th April 2020

IELTS describe a gadget // IELTS 5 – 6.5. Writing example // 15th March 2020

IELTS // Quick-fire talking // Part 2 questions // 12th May 2020

IELTS // Replace standard English with IELTS language // 19th August 2020

IELTS // Review // vocabulary, discourse markers, sentence building // 25th June 2020

IELTS vocabulary & expressions review // IELTS: The story so far // 7th July 2020

Speaking exercises

IELTS: How to pass with flying colours // 26th July 2020 (using idioms and low-frequency words and expressions in your speaking test) https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/07/26/ielts-how-to-pass-with-flying-colours/

British Food // Sample answers // IELTS // 27th, 29th September, 1st October 2020

Complaining // IELTS making complaints // 24th July 2020

Electronic devises // IELTS speaking exercise // 4th March 2019

Everyday expressions // IELTS / Adult Speaking 3 // Everyday expressions // 28th August 2020

Everyday expressions database // IELTS / Adult Speaking 3 // 25th August 2020

Fluency, intonation & stress // Get Your Motor Runnin’ // 15th October 2020

IELTS // intonation and stress // speaking exercises // 31st August 2020

IELTS // Speaking practice // IELTS language // IELTS // 10th August 2020

Speaking Test preparation // Last Chance Saloon // IELTS // 8th September 2020

Pre-Speaking Test review // idioms, L-FW, pronunciation // 30th September 2020

Speaking Test Part 3 // IELTS: How to nail it // IELTS // 12th September 2020

Speaking Test Part 3 // IELTS: theme – education // IELTS // 24th September 2020

Like or dislike // IELTS // 16th April 2019

Music // IELTS // 16th April 2019

Music // IELTS 5-6.5 // 11th September 2019

Music // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

One of those days // IELTS // 14th January 2019

Phrases // IELTS // 21st January 2019

IELTS // Quick-fire talking // Part 2 questions // 12th May 2020

Small talk // IELTS 5-6.5 // 28th August 2019

IELTS // Speaking exercises // small talk & making excuses // 12th May 2020

IELTS // Preparing for speaking test // 14th May 2020

Video Clips

Australian hero – Aussie slang // IELTS 5-6.5 // 21st August 2019

Complaints // IELTS: Making complaints // 24th July 2020

Corona Virus Government video // IELTS 4 – 5 // Implementing precautions // 25th March 2020

Damn fine coffee // IELTS 5-6.5 // 4th September 2019

London street trader // IELTS 5-6.5 // 28th August 2019

Not One Less // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Social Network // IELTS 5-6.5 // 4th September 2019

Vietnam – country in transition // IELTS // 30th July 2019

Vietnamese beer review (Sai Gon Red) // IELTS // 21st January 2019

Vietnam (unexpected things vlog) // IELTS 5-6.5 // 14th August 2019

Mark Wiens Kolkata, India // IELTS: Hello, India // 24th January 2020

Writing Examples

IELTS language // IELTS 5 – 6.5. Writing example // 15th March 2020

IELTS // Writing exercises // re-arrange poor writing // 12th May 2020

IELTS // IELTS 5 – 6.5. Writing example // 15th March 2020

Yoga & exercise // IELTS writing practice // 25th April 2020

IELTS: Language bank. Idioms and L-FWs you need to have at your beck and call.

22nd October 2020

A database of idioms that my physical classes covered previously as well as new idioms plus a reminder of some low-frequency words that are guaranteed to impress the examiner. Let’s kick off with some vocabulary building:

computer literacy (noun) computer literate (adjective)

flexible / flexibility / flexi-hours

to adapt / adaptability /

prospects

standard of living

networking

future skills

essential workplace skills

prosaic [cf with ‘run of the mill’]

cf is Latin for ‘compare’ // e.g. is Latin meaning ‘for example’ // i.e. is Latin for ‘that is’.

Now …

18 Relatable Tiger Mom Memes | SayingImages.com

Complete the sentences:

If you learn English you will increase your job ____________

Nowadays, most young people are _____________ _________________ . They are able to use programs such as Word, ___________ & ________

When selecting a university, you may have to be ______________ in case you don’t get into your first choice.

Getting a great, well-paying job is essential if you want a high ________________________ .

One student moved to Boston where the temperature can drop to below freezing. He’s really having ________ to the new culture.

My actor friend is busy 24/7, attending parties, setting up meeting, pitching ideas and Tweeting. That guy is constantly ______________ .

Class Game

Split class into two teams. One team selects a word or phrase and the other team has to use it, correctly of course, in a sentence. Bonus points for throwing in any appropriate idioms.

Rickenbacker 330 Left-Handed, Jetglo at Gear4music

I would love this guitar which is a left-handed Rickenbacker, a famous American company with a very distinctive look and sound, yet, to my dismay, it costs ______________________

Idioms from Semester 2

Another string to (your) bow – a new skill or learning experience

bear with me – please wait a very short time (usually spoken as opposed to written)

bit of a sore point – something that makes you sad or angry

down in the dumps – depressed, unhappy, feeling gloomy

hit the ground running – to start something immediately and with all your energy

like a madhouse – a place or area that is crazy, too noisy, too busy etc

run of the mill – ordinary, typical, normal, usual, boring

up in arms – to be very angry about something, to protest strongly

you take your life in your hands – doing something that is extremely dangerous

Idioms from Semester 1

Which you should all know by heart and be able to reel off at the drop of a hat.

it’s raining cats and dogs

it costs an arm and a leg

piece of cake

I’m burning the candle at both ends

once in a blue moon

pass with flying colours

EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it! | Chynna Pope: The Beacon Hellion

Extra expressions for Top Cats:

Ring any bells ? // do you remember //

More or less // not exactly but approximately

Get the gist // do you understand the main point ?

Right up your street // this is something you will really like

Rabbit, Rabbiting on // UK slang, especially in London … talking too much

Tongue in cheek // not being serious about something

Keep your hand in // to practise something so you don’t forget how it’s done

Bucket down / raining cats and dogs // raining very heavily

Have a go / give it a bash / give it a shot // to try something

Call it a day // to stop work and go home early

Go ahead // sure, do it

Under one roof // everything in one place

Through thick and thin // together in good times and bad times.

Remember these old chestnuts ?

without further ado // tricks up your sleeve  // ace the test

pass with flying colours  // do yourself proud // 

you are in the driver seat (or you are in the driving seat)  // 

occur // inevitably // pertinent

This taxi has put me in the driver's seat of my life': Female taxi driver  shares inspiring story - it s viral - Hindustan Times
Guess who’s in the driver’s seat ?

Personal and personality adjectives:

patient / firm / authoritative / determined / brave / energetic / level-headed / down-to-earth / strong / fit / healthy / imposing / honest / loyal / civic-minded / caring / hard-working /

Finally, some adverbs you must have in your arsenal:

very / extremely / amazingly / unbelievably / quite / rather / undeniably / remarkably / totally / absolutely /

Phew!. The last time I wrote it was so long… | by Vaibhav Sinha | How I  Learnt Piano | Medium
Phew ! Thay Paul is a Tiger Teacher

For those who really want to expand their horizons, an extensive collection of idioms, expressions and collocations can be found on this blog: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/08/25/adult-speaking-class-level-3-ielts-english-expressions/

IELTS, Adult Speaking Class, level 3: Good Technology

19th October 2020

Technology

Information Management Technology (IMT) Definition

Let’s kick off with a song. Maybe the music isn’t your cup of tea, but that’s not the point. Just see how much you can understand.

The song is called ‘Good Technology’ and is from a band called Red Guitars who were from Hull which is in the north-east of England :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cs0OkiCZNRI

The lyrics:

Good Technology

Red Guitars

We’ve got photographs of men on the moon
We’ve got water that is good for us
We’ve got coffee that’s instantaneous
We’ve got buildings that are very tall
We’ve got cigarettes that are low in tar
We’ve got policemen can tell us who we are
We can reproduce a work of art
We’ve got missiles can tear the world apart
Good, good, good, good, good, good technology

We’ve got trains that run underground
Aeroplanes that fly very fast
We’ve got music that is popular
We’ve got machines that sound like orchestras
We’ve got ability to transplant a heart
We’ve got freezers full of body parts
We’ve got computers that can find us friends
We know roughly when the world will end
Good, good, good, good, good, good technology

We’ve got animals with transistors in
We’ve got pills that can make you slim
We’ve got factories turning frozen chickens out
We’ve got ovens that cook in seconds flat
We’ve got plastics that are indestructible
We’ve got deodorants that make us smell of flowers
We’ve got detergents to clean up the sea
We’ve got sounds can turn you inside out

Sometimes I wonder what it is all about
There’s lots of leisure time to sit and work it out
There’s a TV show I’ve got to see
Good, good, good, good, good, good technology
Good technology

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Stuart Ross

Now, to cut down on ‘Teacher Talking Time’ and to get the class prepared to speak, to use intonation and stress as well as affording them the chance to use their L-FWs and idioms, a little warm up activity.

Firstly, what did you think of the song, with special reference to the lyrics and themes. remember – this song was from the 1980s, before mobile phones and the internet, which are now ubiquitous.

Ask and answer. Speak to many different students.

Elicit answers, interview your fellow students, pump them for information, don’t allow them to get away with a two- or three-word answers

How many hours do you use a computer every day ?

[Ask what the computer is used for, ask for examples, favourite sites, what is the work – play balance ?]

Do you have a smartphone ? If so, what type ?

Have you ever read an e-book ? Which one ?

What are your favourite video games ?

Do you write or read a blog ?

Are you on Instagram or Twitter ? Why or why not ?

When do you post comments online ?

Do you make phone calls or text family and friends ?

Who is teaching whom here ?

Father and son with computer. Father and son working on a laptop , #ad,  #son, #Father, #computer, #laptop, #working #ad | Father and son, Sons,  Father

Thinking on your feet.

What is happening here ? What’s the story ?

I Hate My Fucking Computer | Computer & Tech Support | Quikteks | Quikteks  Tech Support
🐣 25+ Best Memes About Nigerian Scammer Meme | Nigerian Scammer Memes
Welcome To Smart Japan
Bill Gates jumping over a chair - GIF on Imgur

IELTS – Get your motor runnin’: fluency, stress and intonation

15th October 2020

Get Your Motor Runnin' Head Out on the Highway | Donald Trump Meme on ME.ME

Our plan for the next semester is to develop speaking skills – presentation and delivery – as well as, naturally, increasing vocabulary, colocations, phrases, idioms … in short, the whole nine yards.

New idioms

I don’t want to overburden the class with too many idioms, so these are what we’ll be using over this semester. That means using them repeatedly until they become second nature and the students, of whom I am very fond, will have another string to their bow … oh, heck – ANOTHER idiom !

Another string to (your) bow – a new skill or learning experience

bear with me – please wait a very short time (usually spoken as opposed to written)

bit of a sore point – something that makes you sad or angry

down in the dumps – depressed, unhappy, feeling gloomy

hit the ground running – to start something immediately and with all your energy

like a madhouse – a place or area that is crazy, too noisy, too busy etc

run of the mill – ordinary, typical, normal, usual, boring

up in arms – to be very angry about something, to protest strongly

you take your life in your hands – doing something that is extremely dangerous

NOW … your turn … what idioms fits ?

Lunatics Paradise: Australia's Renewables Fiasco Like Living in a Madhouse  – STOP THESE THINGS

At breaktimes, all the younglings come pouring out of their classes, screaming their little heads off …

it’s ___________________________________

Students protest against tuition fees - BBC News

Students are unhappy about tuition fees

They are _____________

You still can!': Music teacher champions adult students learning violin

She can speak five languages, do karate and is now learning violin

She has added __________________________

Yawning Girl Reading A Boring Book Stock Photo, Picture And Royalty Free  Image. Image 19559231.

She thought the novel would be extremely exciting.

Unfortunately, for her, it’s just a ___________________ story.

Street Photography in Austin - Assignment Chicago

Some areas of downtown are no-go areas.

You really _________________________________________ if you go after dark and alone.

buster-keaton-396846_640

Poor Buster is so funny, yet he always looks _______________________

Oh, dear …

This beautiful young lady seems to be upset about something.

Possibly something the man said is a ______________________ with her ?

Excited Motivated Multiracial Business Team Stock Footage Video (100%  Royalty-free) 1037298239 | Shutterstock

We’re going to have a tremendous success with our new product which we shall be launching in Europe, the US and parts of Asia.

We’re really going to ________________________________

Marcello Mastroianni

Excuse me, I have to take this call _______________________

Part two:

How would you describe these neighbourhoods ? I want full sentences, as complex as you can make them, bursting with idioms, expressions and Low-Frequency Words. Give your opinions – would you like to go there, or even live there ? Explain your rationale.

Old Manchester pubs and cinemas from the '60s to '90s
Manchester, north-west England
Inmueble en venta - Earls Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN4 | Knight Frank
Tunbridge Wells, south of London
Birmingham UK Industrial scene | Birmingham uk, Birmingham, Industrial
Birmingham in the British Midlands

Rural Retreats | Wales Cottages
Rural Wales
The Edinburgh festival is cancelled: long live the festival | Scotland |  The Times
Edinburgh, capital of Scotland, during the festival

Part three:

Practice making complex sentences, with two clauses at least, from these simple sentences.

Example:

Cinema Paradiso getting Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray release in UK – Film Stories

Johnny always went to the cinema when he was a child.

As a child, Johnny always went to the cinema.

GRAMMAR NOTE – the first word after the supporting clause has to be the subject.

We always played games when we had Mr Tony as our teacher.

He speaks English well although his written work is rather poor.

The Who | Discography | Discogs

The Who were formed in west London in the early 1960s. They are a very famous, influential bands despite never having a Number 1 hit single.

Asian Woman Selfie stock photos and royalty-free images, vectors and  illustrations | Adobe Stock

My neighbour only works in a convenience store. She thinks she is a big star. She is constantly taking selfies.

And … to end, let’s start copying some classic movie scenes:

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn%3AANd9GcQBhjzqbLv-Fe17vj4O7Ep4GZ4je0erYx6AXA&usqp=CAU

The lines to copy are from 0:14 – 0.37

Here’s the first of the day, fellas … to old D.H. Lawrence … yyahhhhhhHHHHHHH … NIC, NIC, NIC, ffff, fffff … cccahhhh, indians !

IELTS: 8 1/2 … Chasing 8 1/2

12th October 2020

8½ (1963) | The Criterion Collection

Let’s hit the ground running … my recent tests highlighted key areas on which all students, without exception, need to work, namely:

fluency

complex sentences

pronunciation including intonation and stress

Not forgetting, to constantly increase and expand their vocabulary. A reminder of some recent language:

gritty / industrial

quite / safe / residential

boring / peaceful / suburban

bustling / vibrant / city centre

apparently – something you believe to be true

conversely – the opposite, on the other hand, however

actually – saying something that is surprising or is the truth

New idioms

bear with me – please wait a very short time

bit of a sore point – something that makes you sad or angry

hit the ground running – to start something immediately and with all your energy.

like a madhouse – a place or area that is crazy, too noisy, too busy etc

run of the mill – ordinary, typical, normal, usual, boring

you take your life in your hands – doing something that is extremely dangerous

Top Five Tips for Crossing the Street in Vietnam

Exercise 1: Using the new vocabulary. Fill in the blanks:

I live near some factories in a ___________ , ________________ area.

The traffic is my neighbourhood is a nightmare, I __________________ every time I go out or try to cross the road.

I was rather disappointed in the latest Bond film it was merely a ____________________ spy movie.

This is a library ? With all this noise ! It’s _______________________ here.

Let me check my files, __________________ a moment.

Don’t ask him about his test score, it’s a bit of a ____________ . He only got 65% although he was expecting to ace the test.

China is the biggest country in the world, oh, no, sorry ________________ it’s Russia.

The lockdown has affected many urban areas. What used to be a _________________ , ____________ city centre is now a ghost town.

Exercise 2: what is a ghost town ? Can you understand these lyrics ? The Specials with ‘Ghost Town’:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZ2oXzrnti4

Ghost Town

The Specials

This town (town) is coming like a ghost town
All the clubs have been closed down
This place (town) is coming like a ghost town
Bands won’t play no more
Too much fighting on the dance floor

Do you remember the good old days before the ghost town?
We danced and sang, and the music played in a de boomtown

This town (town) is coming like a ghost town
Why must the youth fight against themselves?
Government leaving the youth on the shelf
This place (town) is coming like a ghost town
No job to be found in this country
Can’t go on no more
The people getting angry

This town is coming like a ghost town
This town is coming like a ghost town
This town is coming like a ghost town
This town is coming like a ghost town

Songwriters: Jerry Dammers

Exercise 3: What do you know about The Specials. Here’s some facts. Arrange them in the form of an IELTS-standard paragraph.

The Specials were formed in Coventry, in the British Midlands.

Formed in 1977. They had two main singers, Terry Hall and Neville Staple.

Their music is a mix of punk and reggae.

They had a number 1 song in 1980.

‘Ghost Town’ was also a number 1. It was released in 1981. This song is about the recession in the UK. Many people had no work, no money and no hope.

The Specials broke up (disbanded) in 1984 but later reformed. They still perform together.

Next blog will focus on pronunciation. To my classroom students, be prepared for a lot more speaking and practising so, yes ! You DO have to say it again … and again …

Bruce Lee quote: Practice makes perfect. After a long time of practicing,  our...

Attaining 8 1/2 … a piece of cake.

8 1/2 – Brisbane International Film Festival

IELTS: There are places I’ll remember …

6th October 2020

IELTS Mindset 1.Speaking lesson U2 – Places and buildings

English language, British culture – let’s kick off with two iconic parts of Liverpool, immortalised by The Beatles:

Penny Lane Tattoo - Trang chủ | Facebook
Forever Strawberry Field | The Salvation Army - YouTube

In case you are unaware of these classic songs, here’s ‘Penny Lane’, a song from 1967 which, amazingly, only reached Number 2 in the pop charts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-rB0pHI9fU

How much can you understand ?

A typical, run of the mill IELTS question will be about your hometown or about your neighbourhood.

First, some new vocabulary. I will expect you to learn these:

gritty / industrial

quite / safe / residential

boring / peaceful / suburban

bustling / vibrant / city centre

apparently – something you believe to be true

conversely – the opposite, on the other hand, however

actually – saying something that is surprising or is the truth

New idioms

bear with me – please wait a very short time

bit of a sore point – something that makes you sad or angry

like a madhouse – a place or area that is crazy, too noisy, too busy etc

run of the mill – ordinary, typical, unusual, boring

you take your life in your hands – doing something that is extremely dangerous

NOW … your turn

Tell me about your neighbourhood

Remember, give me a great introduction, have a positive point, a negative point and a short conclusion.

Use some of the new vocabulary

Real estate news: Outstanding Housing Projects Of Kien A Investors
An apartment block in the Cat Lai area of Sai Gon. Artist’s impression.
HCM city aims to reduce seaport traffic jams
The reality of living in Cat Lai, one of the busiest ports in south east Asia

Well, that question is a bit of a sore point with me because I live in a terribly noisy gritty industrial area. My apartment is near the Cat Lai port which is one of the busiest in Vietnam. Consequently, we have containers driving past, day and night which, as you can imagine, creates so much pollution.

However, allow me to talk about the good points. Firstly, it is significantly cheaper than, say, District 1 or 3, as it is quite far to the centre. The shops, also, tend to be on the cheap side. Additionally we have some street markets where I can pick up some very cheap food and fresh fish. We are well-served with several convenience stores although, in my opinion, Family Mart charges an arm and a leg.

Conversely, my friends avoid visiting me because it is so dangerous to ride a motorbike here, we really take our lives in our hands every time we go out. Furthermore, I love fresh air so I open my windows, yet I have to dust and clean every day because so much dirt comes in. Finally, we have open-air karaoke nearly every night and street wedding parties most weekends which means loud and terrible singing. It’s like a madhouse, I really detest this horrible noise.

I am lucky with my neighbours, and the apartment is really spacious. Having said that, the area is so bad that as soon as possible, I will leave and find somewhere cleaner and safer.

IELTS: Pre-speaking Test Review.

30th September 2020

Kill Bill: Volume 1 Review. “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”… | by  Dillon McCarty | incluvie | Medium
revenge is a dish best served cold- -The Godfather-Don vito Corleone |  Godfather quotes, Revenge quotes, Gangster quotes

Indeed … next week is the speaking test, so I get to interview the students, one-to-one, to see how much they have listened to me and retained the information.

For some students, the biggest test will be NOT using their phones for ten minutes. Be that as it may … No time for learning anything new, tonight will just be as many activities as reasonable, and then practice.

I shall offer my help to those that request it.

So, let’s kick off with the first game:

Two teams … on the board, single words. Teams have to complete the idiom and give the definition.

mouth // candle // cats // piece // arm // grindstone // sky // blue //.

Next, one team selects a word, then asks one member of the other team to use it in a sentence.

Moving on up: Complex sentences. I shall give the names of some famous companies and the teams have to compose a complex sentence using relative pronouns and discourse markers.

For example:

I have my heart set on buying a pair of Converse, which is an American company with a star logo, who make very fashionable, not to mention very cool, footwear.

The teams have to choose from:

The rare vintage Rolls-Royce that once carried the Lord Mayor of Manchester  and royalty - Manchester Evening News
Rolls Royce
McDonald's joins the plant revolution - New Food Magazine
McDonalds
Oppo mobile A9 2020 (Space Purple, 4GB RAM, 128GB Storage): Amazon.in:  Electronics
Oppo Chinese phone company
Ikea sells on external platform for the first time | RetailDetail
Ikea Swedish furniture

Keep the ball rolling with a pronunciation game. I’ll play two clips of native speakers. The teams, one by one, have to copy using correct intonation and stress.

First write down what they say. Then … say it.

For the young gentlemen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxwcQ1dapw8

For the young ladies: (from 6:24 – 6:34) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oq7Sx4VOJa0&t=407s

Keeping things truckin’ next activity is:

‘Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Word ?’

The following is a list of words and expression I’ve used, and blogged, over the course of this course. How many do the teams know … I want definition and an example in a sentence:

without further ado // tricks up your sleeve //inevitably // ace the test // pass with flying colours // pertinent // do yourself proud // you are in the driver seat // occur

Think on your feet

The dog ate my homework - Family and Fertility Law

A classic excuse for British schoolchildren, when they haven’t done their homework, is to tell the teacher that their dog ate their homework.

I will give the teams some scenarios and they have to come up with a creative response:

You are late to class … why ?

You have been using your mobile phone the whole lesson, despite knowing the centre rules … why ?

You have been riding a motorbike with three people on it … why ?

You only got a 3.5 in your IELTS test … why ?

And now, it just remains to wish the teams all the luck they deserve.

See you next week … revenge is a dish best served cold

BBC Two - Mastermind - The history of Mastermind

IELTS, Speaking Test Part 3. Theme: Education

24th September 2020

Part 3 of the speaking test can be tremendously daunting. However, with some tricks up your sleeve, you will be able to ace the test, pass with flying colours and do yourself proud.

Captain Picard Facepalm Meme - Imgflip
An expression meaning to have a great idea or plan to help you be successful

I covered this in detail in a previous blog: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/09/15/ielts-speaking-test-part-3-how-to-nail-it/

So this is a brief summary, the ‘Cliffs Notes’ version, if you will.

CliffsComplete Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet: Complete Study Edition (Cliffs  Notes): Amazon.co.uk: Shakespeare, William, Jacobson, Karin, Lamb, Sidney:  0785555026179: Books
Cliffs Notes are guides for students studying Literature. There are many similar concepts online, for example Sparknotes.com

Right off the bat, relax … be cool. You merely have:

1) To demonstrate you understand the question

2) To demonstrate you have IELTS-standard language to respond

3) To reply based on either your opinion or experience. YOU DECIDE

As per usual, let’s kick off with a killer introduction. Prepare some expressions so you can adapt them for the specific question. To refresh your memory:

Well, that’s a very complicated question …

What a hard question, I may have to think about this …

I’m not sure I know how to answer that because I don’t have enough information, however …

Next stage is to explain how you’re going to answer:

in my experience

allow me to tell you what I do

I can’t speak about other people, but I …

Finally, exactly, spot on; you answer … only now, YOU are in control, you are in the driver’s seat. Respond in a way that will earn you points. We want to hear low-frequency words, idioms, phrasal verbs, vernacular (“big time !”). Furthermore, frame your answers in complex sentences, use body language and intonation and stress. If you can illustrate your response with an anecdote, all the better.

Should I Take an IELTS Class?

Examples

What do you think schools will be like in the future ?

This type of question invites you to give YOUR thoughts (“In my opinion,” etc)

Well, I’m currently in my last year of high school, so this is a very pertinent question for me. Naturally, I can’t foresee the future however, I could offer some predictions though, of course, this is just my opinion.

To start with, I can only speak about …… (say your country) as I don’t know enough about the educational systems in other countries.

For me, I feel that technology will play a greater part in schools, such as using the internet, working on tablets and joining online groups. Personally, I’m in a small Facebook group to help with learning English and I find it tremendously helpful and rewarding.

On the other hand, this can be extremely expensive. Providing tablets for a whole school will cost an arm and a leg, so maybe this will only occur in private schools. Furthermore, as the population increases, there will be many more students. This could lead, inevitably, to larger class sizes.

I really hope our system continues to improve although we have to be realistic; higher standards means higher costs … but I feel it will be worth the expense.

Now, that was quite a long reply but let’s break it down:

The first paragraph personalises the question, as well as adapting an introduction expression.

The second explains how you are going to answer.

The third states your main point. Moreover, it includes an anecdote (this doesn’t have to be true).

The fourth gives an opposing view – thus affording you the chance to use a discourse marker, to alter your body language and intonation, and to throw in an idiom for good measure. Also, some L-FWs, which are always impressive (if used correctly).

The final paragraph is to conclude and is, as you can clearly see, purely personal. Did you also notice the poetic repetition ? Allow me to point it out – “Higher standards means higher costs.”

Use this as a model … and now

Drew's Reviews (at home): Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) | WRGB

IELTS: The UK school system

17th September 2020

Farewell, Baxendale and his Bash St Kids - spiked
The Bash Street Kids … from ‘The Beano’ which is a famous comic from the UK, first issued in 1938.

Tonight we have a listening lesson which, although tremendously important, not to say imperative, can be somewhat tedious for the students.

One factor is the vocabulary. If students don’t know some of the words, they will not be able to answer some of the questions; that stands to reason.

that stands to reason = it is obvious, it is common sense, it can be understood. I live in Vietnam but only speak a little Vietnamese. It stands to reason that if I spoke Vietnamese, I would be more independent.

Therefore, allow me to explain a little about the UK educational system while, at the same time, pre-teaching some new vocabulary.

First up, we have Kindergarten or nursery:

How to Help Children Achieve Kindergarten Success - Education and Career  News

As you can see, the age for Kindergarten is 3 – 5. It can be free, or parents can choose to send their children to a private Kindergarten or nursery.

Maybe the word Kindergarten looks a little strange in an English lesson – quite right, it is, in fact, a borrowed word from German. If you have seen my other IELTS posts, you may have come across ‘prima donna‘, which is a borrowed word from Italian. If you can use borrowed words in your IELTS tests, it will surely impress the examiner.

Next, we have primary school for children of 5 to 11. When I was at school, it was broken down into Infants and Juniors. Infants school was two years, then we moved up into a new building, attending four years of Junior school. This was a mixed school by which I mean boys and girls were in the same class.

Woodside Primary Academy © Julian Osley cc-by-sa/2.0 :: Geograph Britain  and Ireland
Woodside Primary school in north-east London

Following on from Primary school we have, quite logically, Secondary school:

A typical class photo from the late 1970s. As you can clearly see, this is a single-sex school. Furthermore, the pupils had to wear school uniform of trousers, blazer and school tie.

Pupils spent three years here, from ages 11 – 14 at Junior High, after which they progressed to Senior High:

Walthamstow Memories - George Monoux Grammar School

Pupils have to attend school until they are 16; it is compulsory.

You must then do one of the following until you’re 18:

  • stay in full-time education, for example at a college
  • start an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training

Read more on: https://www.gov.uk/know-when-you-can-leave-school

What options are open to you after 16 ?

Pupils can either stay at school and enter the VI (Sixth) Form, or go to a Further Education College which differ in that they offer a much wider selection of options such as vocational courses which are more practical and can help students train for a specific job. VI Forms, on the other hand, are academic (theory), preparing students for university.

The VI Form is usually in the same building as the Senior High, so pupils are familiar with the teachers and students. Going to a new college, meeting new staff and students means that time is needed to settle in or settle down.

Qualifications are imperative these days, so many students want to go to University.

149 PhD, Research and Academic Positions at the University of Cambridge, UK  - Scholar Idea

Finally, we have Adult Education which, as the name implies, is for adults who wish to further their job prospects, or simply learn for their own pleasure. As many people are working, these type of education often takes place in the evening or at weekends.

New Vocabulary:

term – part of the teaching year for example First Term is from September to December

it’s a pity – it is sad or it is unfortunate

Fresher’s Week – a week for new students (Freshmen in USA) to get to know what their college has to offer, such as clubs and events.

GCSE exams – tremendously important exams taken at age 15 or 16. Good results mean the student can to VI Form or have to re-sit the exam.

tertiary – means the third – after Primary (first) & Secondary (second), tertiary refers to Higher Education, taken after the age of 18.

NVQ National Vocational Qualification – this is more practical as opposed to academic, designed to teach skills needed for a particular job:

Construction Industry NVQ Assessments Provider | Up Level Ltd
An NVQ card stating that the holder has passed exams to work in the construction industry

BA or BSc – (Bachelor of Art or Science) degrees in the arts or science. Usually attained after a three-year course. The next step is a MA (Master’s Degree) and then a PhD.

internship – gaining real-life experience by working for a company, often for low or even no pay.

Graduate Fair – a chance for students to think about what career to follow, or what company to join. They can speak to people who represent organisations:

A trip to the fair... Okay a graduate recruitment fair. - NAO trainee blog
Fairs - The University of Nottingham