9th December 2020
4th December 2020
A list of some of the major films and songs that I’ve used in various lessons
Films, TV & Theatre
Around the World in 80 Days // Young Learners 5 // 27th October 2019
Big Bang Theory // Young Learners 5 // 17th November 2019
Blind Date // Adult Speaking Class. Theme: Love & marriage
Car Share // IELTS // 19th February 2019
Chungking Express // Adult C, L 1 // 5th March 2019 /// IELTS // 16th April 2019 /// IELTS // 4th March 2019
Dead Poet Society // Adult C, L 3 // 7th November 2019
Dracula // Adult C, L 1 // 2nd January 2019
Dragon’s Den (US Shark’s Tank) // Adult C, L 3 // 18th March 2019
Far Flung Floyd // Adult professionals // Adult mechanics: What can go wrong ?
Far Flung Floyd // Vietnamese Party Food // 19th May 2020
Four Weddings and a Funeral // Adult Speaking Class. Theme: Love & marriage Part 2
Holidays from Hell // IELTS // 10th February 2019
Ing … // IELTS 5-6.5 // 4th September 2019
Inglorious Besterds // Adult C, L 1 // 26th February 2019
Live and Let Die // Young Teens // 27th February 2019
Lost in Translation // IELTS // What do you like this film ? // 6th April 2020
Man Who Fell To Earth // Young Learners 4 // 16th November 2019
Most Haunted // Adult C, L 1 // 2 January 2019
Nosferatu // Adult C, L 1 // 2 January 2019
The Owl and the Sparrow (Vietnam) // IELTS // 16th April 2019
Psycho // Adult C, L 3 // 12 November 2019
Rebel Without A Cause // Adult C, L 3 // 15 August 2019 \ 12 November 2019
Reservoir Dogs // Adult C, L 3 // 23rd September 2019
Social Network // IELTS 5-6.5 // 4th September 2019 /// Adult C, L 3 // 5th September 2019
Star Wars The Last Jedi // IELTS // 14th January 2019
Summer Holiday //Young Learners 4 // 23rd November 2019
Take Care of my Cat (South Korea) // IELTS // 16th April 2019
Tokyo Story (Japan) // IELTS // 16th April 2019
Top Gear // Adult professionals // Adult mechanics: What can go wrong ?
Top Gear / Vietnam / Porsche challenge / Tesla car / Break for the border /
Twin Peaks // Young Learners 5 // 17th November 2019
2001: A Space Odyssey // Young Learners 4 // 16th November 2019
Waiting For Godot // Adult C, L 1 // 5th March 201
Abba ‘Mamma Mia’ // Young Learners 2 // 18th May 2019
The Archies ‘Sugar, Sugar’ // KG 1 // 5th May 2019
Louis Armstrong ‘Hello Dolly’ // Young Learners 2 // 26th April 2019
Louis Armstrong ‘Wonderful World’ // Young Learners 2 // 1st June 2019
The Bangles ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’ // Young Learners 2 // 1st June 2019
The Beatles ‘I’ll Be Back’ // Adult Speaking Class, Level 1
Beatles ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ // Adult C, L 3 // 14 November 2019
David Bowie ‘Changes’ // IELTS // 16th April 2019
David Bowie ‘Space Oddity’ // Young Learners 4 // 16th November 2019
Bucks Fizz ‘Making Your Mind Up’ // Adult C, L 2 // 27th May 2019
Chic ‘Good Times’ // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019
The Coasters ‘Poison Ivy’ // Teenagers: Architecture & Mythology // 13th March 2020
The Deep Six ‘It’s Happening’ // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019
Bob Dylan ‘Times They Are A-Changin’ // Adult C, L 3 // 3rd December 2019
Eifel 65 ‘Move Your Body’ // KG Safari 1 // 2nd March 2019
Flying Lizards ‘Money’ // Adult C, L 3 // 14 November 2019
James ‘Sit Down’ // KG 1 // 24th January 2019
Gene Kelly ‘Singing in the Rain’ // Young Learners 3 // 17th August 2019
Gladys Knight ‘Baby, Don’t Change Your Mind’ // IELTS // 16th April 2019
Kraftwerk ‘The Model’ // Young Learners 5 // 17th November 2019
Kraftwerk ‘We Are The Robots’ // KG 1 // 24th January 2019
Ali Hassan Kuban ‘Habibi’ // Teenagers: Architecture & Mythology // 13th March 2020
Led Zepplin ‘Whole Lotta Love’ // Adult C, L 1 // 12 & 19 December 2018
John Lennon ‘Starting Over’ // IELTS 5-6.5 // 14th August 2019
John Lennon ‘Imagine’ // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019
Lykki Li ‘Little Bit’ // Young Learners 4 // 1st May 2019
Don McLean ‘Vincent’ // Young Learners 4 // 26th October 2019
Men At Work ‘Down Under’ // IELTS 5-6.5 // 21st August 2019
Paul McCartney ‘Another Day’ // Adult Speaking Class, level 2
Kylie Minogue ‘can’t get you’ // IELTS // 21st January 2019
Nirvana ‘Teen Spirit’ // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019
Ohio Express ‘Yummy, Yummy, Yummy’ // KG 1 // 5th May 2019
Otis Redding “Dock of the Bay’ // IELTS // 16th April 2019
REM ‘Stand’ // KG 1 // 24th January 2019
Cliff Richard ‘Summer Holiday’ // Young Learners 4 // 23rd November 2019
Russian National Anthem (2 versions) // Young Learners 3 // 7th September 2019
The Sonics ‘Have Love, Will Travel’ // IELTS // 10th February 2019
Spice Girls ‘Tell Me What You Want’ // Young Learners 4 // 9th November 2019
Steppenwolf ‘Born To Be Wild’ // Adult Class, Level 3 // 22nd April 2019
Stray Cats ‘Strut’ // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019
Sweet ‘Love is like Oxygen’ // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019
Talking Heads ‘Once In A Lifetime’ // Adult Speaking Class, level 2
Tchaikovsky ‘Swan Lake’ // Adult C, L 3 // 4th December 2019
Tuareg music // Adult Speaking Class, level 3. Theme: Travel // 11th February 2020
10cc ‘Dreadlock Holiday’ // IELTS 5-6.5 // 4th September 2019
Hank Williams ‘I’m so lonesome’ // IELTS // 21st January 2019
‘Run, Rabbit, Run’ // KG 1 // 24th January 2019
Arabian Nights // Adult Speaking Class, level 2, Part 6 24th January 2020
Reading practice // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3. Theme: Crime & Punishment
Sherlock Holmes // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3. Theme: London 3rd March 2020
9th October 2020
John Lennon, founder of The Beatles, was born on this day, October 9th 1940.
Happy Birthday, John.
We miss you and love you, always.
One of his most famous songs, ‘Imagine’ : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkgkThdzX-8
25th September 2019
Tonight I want to focus on forming complex sentences in order to boost the speaking prowess of my students. Being able to speak in long sentences, with subordinate clauses and relative pronouns, linked by appropriate discourse markers, will improve their scores in the speaking tests, along with use of stress, intonation, chunking, and a liberal smattering of expressions and vernacular, thereby demonstrating a familiarity with different uses of English.
So, without further ado … complex sentences. Let’s kick off with some basic information about my friend Pete:
Pete’s family are Irish. He was born in Kent, south England. He loves music especially Jazz and he can play saxophone, keyboards, guitar and bass. He is 40 years old. He is bald, and wears glasses. Currently he plays bass in a band called ‘The Deep Six’. They have a video on YouTube. In the photo, Pete is with the famous 60s drummer Kenny Jones. He was in The Small Faces. Later he joined The Who after their original drummer died.
Pete, who was born in Kent in the south of England, is of Irish heritage. Although he is just forty, Pete looks older, probably due to the fact that he is bald, as well as having to wear glasses. His great passion in life is music, especially Jazz, but his interest is not merely passive; he plays several instruments. In addition to saxophone and keyboards, Pete is proficient on guitar. Having said that, he actually plays bass now in a band named The Deep Six, who have a video on YouTube. Pete is seen here with the legendary drummer Kenny Jones who rose to fame in the 60s as drummer for chart-topping band The Small Faces before joining The Who following the death of their original drummer.
And here is said video:
I am sure if you watch the video, give it a ‘thumbs up’ and ‘like’, Pete will be tickled pink.
Now, a quick practice:
This is Wei Minzhi. She was born near Beijing. She was chosen to be in a Chinese film called ‘Not One Less’. She was 13. She played a substitute teacher but had no experience teaching (and no experience acting). The area is very poor. Some of the children have to leave school to work. The film was shown all over Europe, even at special film festivals. She was famous. She did no more acting. She studied in USA. She lives in Hawaii. Wei is married and has two children.
Students have five minutes to reorganise this information into a style more suited to an IELTS student.
Now – a Socratic activity; students are arranged in small groups, selected by choosing a card (Ace, 2 or 3), given a task and have to collate information and present it to the class, utilising the resources available, namely internet for facts, images or videos. Let’s revisit some old friends; first one of my favourite authors, Dr Franz Kafka:
Born: 1883 Prague, Czech Republic (at the time, part of the Austro-Hungarian empire) // Died 1924 in Austria. Never married, engaged twice. Had three sisters. Was vegetarian. Difficult relationship with his father. Famous for writing, but only produced three novels, all of which were published after his death. Most famous of these is ‘The Trial’ which has a famous opening line, “Somebody must have made a false accusation against Joseph K., for he was arrested one morning without having done anything wrong.” This book is seen as a warning about totalitarian governments. He lived in Prague which is Czech and Protestant, but he spoke and wrote in German, and he was Jewish. He is one of the most influential writers of the Twentieth Century, and his name has become an adjective, ‘Kafkaesque’ meaning impenetrable, convoluted, mysterious and unsolvable. More information can easily be found online, for example:
Now let’s turn to John Lennon, seen here with his Japanese wife, Yoko Ono (also an artist, but more avant-garde).
John was born in Liverpool, during World War II, in 1940. Liverpool was a port, so was a target for German bombers. He grew up very poor. At school he was rebellious, but liked art. When he first heard Rock ‘n’ Roll, he knew he had to be a singer. He formed The Beatles. His guitar playing was enthusiastic but basic. He wrote many songs which have become classics. When The Beatles split up in 1970 he went solo. His most famous solo work is the ‘Imagine’ LP. The title track has the lyric, “Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too.” He protested against the war in Vietnam. He was shot in 1980 outside of his New York apartment. He has two sons, Julian by his first wife, and Sean from Yoko.
The third group will get NO help from me – they shouldn’t need it. Their subject is “the father of the Indo-Chinese people, and his name is Ho Chi Minh.”
This task involves the students working together, assigning tasks, then producing and presenting their report. All members of the team have to speak. Furthermore, they should be encouraged to use English during the preparation stage, only resorting to Vietnamese for clarification or translation of new words.
Quick end game: After the book work, which I have to teach, my hands are tied, we can unwind with some speaking practice.
Using discourse markers: I give teams two words which they have to incorporate into a sentence, for example ‘therefore‘ and ‘subsequently‘.
having said that & furthermore
moreover & consequently
initially & eventually
likewise & specifically
meanwhile & notwithstanding
on the whole & instead
What Difference Does It Make ? : I give students a paper with two words or phrases that are related but different. They have to clarify the distinction, for example
teacher / headmaster
educate / bring up
take an exam / retake an exam
do homework / do housework
quite common / ubiquitous
required subject / optional subject
similarity with / disparity between
skim / extrapolate
And to play us out, let’s go back to John Lennon and his iconic song, ‘Imagine’. The music starts around 0:40:
Nothing to kill or die for … Peace xx
17th September for 23rd September. AEF 3 pp. 50 – 51
Last week, we covered past tense – simple, continuous and perfect. However, that is a lot to take in, especially for students who are not so confident. Looking at charts and learning the jargon can be daunting and far too theoretical.
This problem has long been identified and addressed; grammar, as theory, reduced to a minimal. Grammar, used in writing and more importantly speaking, maximised.
Therefore, my policy in this block of lessons (four per block) is to reduce book work, simplify the theory and try to allocate at least half the lesson to student-talking time.
Last night’s lesson seemed to work well; the Socratic approach which makes the students collect information and then collate it into a presentation. This was followed by students reading to each other in small groups, with some useful expressions to use … and repeat and repeat and …yeah, you get the idea.
Let’s go to work !
But first, back to basics. Some students are not fluent in the three forms of basic verbs:
Grammar – verb practice
Here’s the 15 most common:
infinite \ present // past // past participle (verb 3)
Regular verbs, just add -‘ed’. However, as you see, in this list only one common verb, ‘want’, is regular.
NOTE: ‘to be’ is different: I am hungry You are hungry She is hungry.
Now, practice: In groups of three or four, they have to ask each other questions in order to feel more natural using the past tense. Lets’s start simply with the simple past:
What did you do today ? PAST SIMPLE
Each student takes turns describing their day. Always give ideas, as some students spent too much time thinking of what to say, whereas the purpose is to speak.
I will also board: buy / drink / surf the internet / help parents / cook / do homework
To make it more interactive, the students can ask follow-up questions, such as, “What did you eat for lunch ?”, “What time did you start school ?”, “How did you get to work or school ?” etc. Groups can monitor each other to make sure past tense is being used properly.
NEXT: Past Continuous. Subject was doing something in the past ….
Example: Last night I was listening to T-ara:
However, we usually use past continuous to say we were doing something WHEN something new happened.
EXAMPLE: I was listening to T-ara when someone knocked on my door.
The structure is Subject + was or were + verbing, followed by past simple
Try this: dream // alarm clock ring
He was dreaming when the alarm clock rang.
Now – practice: Make a sentence from these pairs of photos:
Finally, the past perfect. Two things happened in the past, one before the other.
The students ‘met’ Dr Kafka last week.
Dr Franz Kafka had lived all his life in Prague until he moved to Berlin in the 1920s.
Subject + has or had + verb 3 then use past simple.
John Lennon – in The Beatles / goes solo in 1970
Dali – paint over 1 500 paintings / dies 1989
Bringing it closer to home, Bac Ho (Uncle Ho Chi Minh) – work London / meet these young Germans.
Finally, for presentation, the students can be arranged in four groups (draw playing cards so students work with new partners). I will give them ten minutes to work together and make a short presentation, with all members speaking, about the above four historical figures. Those who draw Ho Chi Minh should have an advantage, so I will be expecting more from them.
Presentations should include:
Date and place of birth.
Why there are famous
Give examples of their most famous works or activities
Where they lived
When and how they died.
ALSO – why we should remember them.
Then, I will turn to the books and hand-outs, before returning to some speaking practice before the end.