To my IELTS students: An open blog.

14th January 2021

International Students Should Switch Off Phone During Classroom -  FreeEducator.com

I met an old class on Tuesday for a speaking test, and one of the students asked me why I stopped taking that class. I thought the reasons were pretty obvious, however if you really need me to explain, how about these:

I was absolutely sick of one of the students sitting directly in front of me, ignoring everything I said because she (yes, you all know who she is) was too busy on her phone, even bringing in a power-bank to make sure she had enough battery for three hours.

‘Student’ Care have mentioned this to her, and once even sent a representative to the class to tell her to stop. It had NO EFFECT; she continued using the phone each and every lesson.

I stopped calling on her to answer in class, as I only ever saw the top of her head. No doubt someone had posted a picture of a coffee or a cat to which she absolutely had to react, immediately, or risk losing a ‘friend’ that she probably hasn’t even met.

During the test I asked her to explain the centre rules, which she totally agreed with … in theory. I followed this with asking why she broke the rules. She replied that she, “Was bored.” She claimed that she was unaware that such behaviour was disrespectful.

Furthermore, I realised that with one exception, nobody was learning anything more; the class seemed happy at their level, and were not making any effort to expand their knowledge. Every lesson I stressed the importance of pronunciation features. I didn’t detect even 1% improvement, nor even the desire to improve.

Well, how did that work out for you in the speaking test ? Not so great, hey ?

Finally, I set a ‘test’ in my last two classes with you. Remember ? I gave you speaking practice then, instead of walking up and down monitoring your activity, I treated you like responsible adults. Instead of working, out came the mobile phones and English was replaced by the less than euphonic sound of the Vietnamese language.

Previously, I had given students one-to-one help. Instead of being thanked for this individual guidance, I was greeted with, “Me, again ? I spoke to you last week.”

I hope that answers your question.

Moving onwards or downwards, my Wednesday class. Talk about laid-back, I need to check if they still have a pulse.

Bored Of Education: Students' Feelings Towards High School Mostly Negative,  Study Finds

I’ve dispensed with social pleasantries such as, “How are you ?” as I was receiving answers such as, “I’m tired,” or “I’m exhausted.” Just what a teacher wants to hear before a three-hour class.

DRINK SOME GODDAMN COFFEE

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I made it perfectly clear, in the first lesson, that I am NOT here to entertain you. YOU are here to pass IELTS, which is a hard subject and requires active participation on your part. This means SPEAKING.

If your teacher asks you a question, damn well answer

Answer loudly and clearly, not just mumble begrudgingly. I told you last night, I am here to help you, I am not the enemy. If you refuse to speak or practice you are only hurting your own prospects.

At least last night, one of the ‘students’ admitted that she lacked energy or enthusiasm but, the punchline … she wants to be an English teacher.

65+ Are You Serious Memes That You Can Relate To - GEEKS ON COFFEE

Now we come to tonight’s class, which contains three young men.

Your behaviour over the last weeks has been unacceptable. This is a Cambridge IELTS class, not a Beer Club, certainly not a Kid’s class.

So, here are the rules:

NO SHOUTING IN THE CLASSROOM

SPEAK ENGLISH

NO CALLING OUT STUPID ANSWERS

LEARN THE NEW VOCABULARY – YOU WILL NEED IT TO PASS

NO FIGHTING IN THE CLASS – YES, I ACTUALLY HAVE TO WRITE THIS

Not too much to ask or to expect.

If you do not comply, I will stop the lesson and refuse to teach your sorry asses

I will not let you schmucks ruin an otherwise lovely class

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“My way or the highway.”

IELTS: Speaking Practice

10th August 2020

To pass IELTS with flying colours you need to use low-frequency words, idiomatic language, discourse markers AND speak with natural intonation, stress and rhythm.

This means PRACTICE, PRACTICE & PRACTICE

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So, without further ado, complete these idioms:

Once in _______________

Put (my, your etc) _______________     to the ______________

Burn (ing) __________________   at ______________

It’s raining _____________________

It costs ___________________________

Piece ________________

Now use them in a sentence:

A 4star hotel in Singapore _______________________ (very expensive)

Wear boots and a coat; it’s been ____________________ (very bad weather)

He parties all day and night! He can’t ________________ forever. (doing something for too many hours)

She is not academic, she’ll read a book ______________ (hardly ever).

If you are serious about IELTS, you’ll need to _____________________ (start working much harder).

Now – give me an adverb and a low-frequency word

EXAMPLE:

Teaching unmotivated students is terribly tedious.

Lazy Student Quotes, Quotations & Sayings 2020

Thai food is ______________ _______________

(very tasty)

After failing her test, she was _________ _________

(very sad)

Marvel films are _____________ _______________

(very popular)

My poor old grandma is getting ___________ _______

(very forgetful)

Practice saying these for correct intonation

Swami Vivekananda quote: Everything is easy when you are busy. But ...

Speaking Practice – use discourse markers to extend your speaking and to link ideas.

Try to use: although / consequently / therefore

Describe something you own which is very important to you. 

You should say: 

where you got it from

how long you have had it

what you use it for

explain why it is important to you. 

  • You will have to talk about the topic for 1 to 2 minutes. 
  • You have one minute to think about what you’re going to say. 
  • You can make some notes to help you if you wish. 

Rounding off questions 

  • Is it valuable in terms of money? 
  • Would it be easy to replace? 

This could be a physical object, a memento with sentimental value, or an abstract noun such as health, happiness etc.

Small talk …. Try to talk for as long as possible – then change subjects:

your home town / your favourite holiday / family / favourite hobby / a great place to visit in your city / some terrible things about your city /

iTalk Lesson Structure: What to expect

7th August 2020

For my iTalk customers, there have been some changes to the lesson structures.

The lessons will focus on vocabulary and pronunciation. We want you to sound like a native-speaker and that means hard work.

From now, the lesson will be arranged as follows:

A quick warm up to practise recent phrases or vocabulary, and to pass the time until all the students arrive.

This will be a chance for you to do some extended talking to develop sentence-building skills, incorporate idioms, expressions and prepare yourself for a speaking lesson.

The main lesson will be the handout ONLY.

Firstly you will learn new vocabulary and practice:

pronunciation, stress and intonation

Next there is usually some listening so you can hear native speakers use these words. The recording will be played two or three times for you to hear and copy.

Next up is the main language of this lesson. You will repeat these expressions several times and test each other. During this time, the teacher will listen and give guidance.

The idea is for you to sound like a native-speaker. You will ONLY achieve that by practice and practice.

Finally, the remainder of the lesson is for YOU to practice using the language, in various scenarios. I recommend changing speaking partners. Practice means repeating and improving.

Practice does NOT MEAN saying the text once, as quickly as possible, then declaring, “Teacher, finished !”

The teacher is here to help YOU learn.

We are not here to entertain you.

I will not tolerate any sarcasm, rudeness, insults or disrespect.

In the event that I have been insulted or disrespected, I shall end the lesson and you can answer for your actions to the management

I do not plan these lessons – it is just my job to deliver them and help your pronunciation

YOU chose the lesson … if you are bored, that is not my problem. This is a language school not an entertainment centre.

IELTS: What I expect from YOU

7th August 2020

bored Student" photos, royalty-free images, graphics, vectors ...
Mobile phones, yawning, sleeping, listening to music … to paraphrase Pink Floyd, “We don’t want no education.”

What is the standard of behaviour in your classroom ?

At my centre, in Sai Gon, Vietnam, we have to employ classroom management (normally reserved for ‘young learners’) to ‘adults’ and some unspeakable teenagers.

At one previous centre, I even had a student write in his book, “I haven’t done any work, I’m not going to do any work,” then laugh at me. Unfortunately, that is not an isolated incident.

Even though we have classroom rules they are mostly ignored, but that is indicative of the country as a whole [1].

To make sure my customers are in no doubt, here are some rules and reminders:

No mobile / cell-phones in the classroom UNLESS it has been sanctioned by the teacher for educational purposes. My lessons start on time – if you use your phones …

I HAVE THE RIGHT TO TAKE THEM AWAY

No eating, chewing gum, slurping drinks

YOU WILL BE SENT OUT OF THE CLASS AND HAVE TO EXPLAIN TO THE MANAGER WHY YOU ARE EATING

No chatting while the teacher is talking [2].

FURTHERMORE, IN MOST CULTURES, THIS IS UNBELIEVABLY RUDE AND UNACCEPTABLE.

The teacher is here to help YOU learn.

We are not here to entertain you.

You have a chosen a three-hour IELTS course, so deal with it.

Take notes, write down new words, practice using them. Week after week I give you sample answers, new phrases and personal help to enable you to improve your scores.

If I see you are not taking my advise, I will not waste time and energy on you.

Finally, I will not tolerate any sarcasm, rudeness, insults or disrespect.

In the event that I have been insulted or disrespected, I shall end the lesson and you can answer for your actions to the management

If you are serious, I will do all I can to help you. If you just want to joke around and stop me doing my job, there will be consequences.

Time to turn over a new leaf

You need to work MUCH harder, but don’t take my word for it:

I'm very moved to be here today, ... Our lives are now much better, but Vietnam remains a very poor country. We need to work much harder. - Ho Chi Minh

[1] motorbike riders don’t wear helmets, they overload their bike, use mobile phones, drive any way and any direction THEY want … public urination is endemic, recycling means throwing rubbish in the gutter and for many people, dogs are not pets, but lunch … and they joke about that to my face.

[2] good luck with this one … in nearly five years, I have never had a class that is able to just SHUT UP and listen. At first, I was shocked, adults speaking to each other, normal volume, continually while the teacher is teaching. As we say in the UK, empty vessels make the most noise, and there is a LOT of noise.

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

7th June 2020

Personality adjectives and idioms

How many of these do you know ?

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

Expression – don’t judge a book by its cover

Personality adjectives

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

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

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

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

Jobs

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

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

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

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

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

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

funny //aggressive // dependable // generous

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

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

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

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

Extending vocabulary – personality types

Computer geek / nerd / social misfit

hunk / fit / health freak

Family man / new man / sensitive

boffin / egghead / professional man 

Lazy / work-shy / good for nothing

workaholic / married to his job

arty / cool dude / beatnik

useless layabout / waste of space

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

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

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

REMEMBER– use expressions of opinion

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

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

“I believe that…” “It seems to me …”