Jake poured four shots and made the introductions. The newcomer was Johan, a Frenchman who had served in the army in the north west of Berlin and stayed on. After the first round of vodkas and a second, for luck, Johan began,
“I thought, yeah, nice day, I cycle to work, I borrow Claude’s bike. I have to go and show a new man what to do, right ? This new man, my God he is how ? Less than useless, then I leave and see the fucking rain, Man. So I get the U-Bahn. Fucking hell, the U-Bahn, weird people. Then I get on the U5 at Alex and go to the special section for bikes and I stand the bike and fix my hair and I can feel someone looking at me, so I turn and it’s a woman, Man, fucking beautiful, do you understand Jake ?”
Jake was leaning on the bar, hat over eyes and nodding.
“No. You don’t. I mean she was . . . ah, Man, like really beautiful. OK, so I look at her, she looks away, but then she looks back at me. Now, I look away. But I look back. And we do this for two stops. And then we look at each other at the same time, and she smiled at me, Man, and I know, I know, you know ?”
“Yeah,” Jake again.
“But then I’m thinking, fucking hell, don’t get off at Weberweise, no go on, go on. And she stays. And now we are looking at each other and smiling and you know, then comes Rathaus and we’re both on and I think, this is it, I just have to get off with her and (here Johan made a long kissing noise). But then I think, oh no, fucking hell, Man, no, no. I have Claude’s bike and he needs it back tonight. So we get to Samariter Strasse and I have to get off. So I give her this look, like, hey, baby, sorry, come on, another time, OK. And I get off and the doors close and you know what she did ? She make with this (here Johan stuck up a middle finger) and make a face like this (here Johan made a very good impression of a shrew). Women. Fucking hell.”
“I think that calls for another round. Jake, if you’d be so kind,” offered Chris, who then proceeded to tell his story, editing and embellishing as he saw fit, tailoring it to the needs of his audience.
Not to be left out, Richard, made loquacious by vodka, told an abridged version of his pointless pursuit of Lorelei.
Jake shuffled back from serving other customers, as business had started to pick up and selected a new CD. He felt that the night had a Nick Cave vibe to it, and played ‘The Weeping Song’.
“Who needs a vodka ?” All hands up. Jake poured, then started to tell his story. As he was about to start, A large German shouted out his order and Jake screamed back in fluent German. The German raised his hand in apology and waited.
“You think you got it bad, I’ll tell you a story. It’s my thirtieth birthday, and I’m working in a McDonald’s in Michigan. Some arsehole in a suit comes in and asks for me, then hands me some papers, ‘You’ve been served’. My wife was divorcing me. Then the manager who was half my age with a squeaky voice and squeaky acne calls me over and tells me not to waste time, and to get back to work. Someone had taken a McShit in the crapper and it had blocked the pipes.”
Jake went over to serve the German and the three contemplated the just-told tale. Johan sucked in his cheeks and proclaimed Jake the winner. The prize, unsurprisingly, was a vodka.
“Yeah, it was the squeaky acne that got my vote,” declared Richard.
By this time, all determination to leave early and sober had been left far behind. The bar was busy, Jake constantly serving and changing CD’s as the mood took him. At one stage, having run out of cleanish shot glasses, he asked Chris to go and collect some, then gave him the key to the storage room, where there was a small sink.
This was rewarded with free drinks, so Chris was pleased to help. Then Jake needed a ‘quick piss’ and Chris covered the bar. Jake pointed to the large blackboard with the range of drinks and prices. Chris enjoyed being behind the bar, as opposed to under it, he quipped, so much that he stayed there and helped out Jake for the rest of the night. And Jake, knowing about him needing work, offered him work for the whole of his next shift, the following Wednesday.
Thus, within a day and a half of jumping out of a pasta restaurant window, Chris had landed on his feet, helping out in an east Berlin squat bar.
“Only in Berlin,” he enthused.
“The beat goes on, Berlin goes on. And not a bad way to get a job. Just turn up at the site, get absolutely vodka drunk . . . ”
“And get offered a position,” concluded Chris, as they shook hands. Then he made an executive decision. It was time for more vodka.
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.
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:
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.
Christmas (in UK and Germany) / food expressions and dialogue
Cinema (grammar: must or have to)
Coffee in Sai Gon
Collocations (put, get)
Directions, giving and asking
Expressions and practice
Karaoke (noise pollution)
Listening Practice: 5 weird things Vietnamese do // making a video
Music and vocabulary (Paul McCartney / Talking Heads)
Poland: salt mine, speaking practice, beer guide, travel guide.
Shopping (buying presents, Black Friday)
Describe these German Christmas pictures
At Christmas we have decorations, Christmas cards and an excessive amount of food !
We have a Christmas tree. The tree is decorated with fairy lights and bells and also there are presents on the floor around the tree. In the west, at the top of the tree, traditionally there is an angel.
How many free days do you have or do you have to work ?
What do you think of the food ? Listen out for adjectives and adverbs.
Food expressions and dialogue
It’s not to my taste = I don’t like it
It’s a little spicy for my palate
I find it somewhat bland
I’ll try anything once
I like my meat rare / medium / well done
I’m vegetarian / vegan
Mick Fancy eating out at lunch ? (Fancy – do you like / want to)
Jack Great idea. What do you have in mind ? (What is your idea / plan ?)
Mick Wanna try that new Indian place ? 10% off promotion this week.
Jack Sounds cool but I’m not into Indian food. Too spicy for my palate. (don’t like)
Mick I could go for some Korean. Sink my teeth into some juicy rare steak !
Jack I prefer my meat well done. Get a side order of kimchi too.
Mick I’ll pass; it’s not to my taste. Too much garlic.
I prefer /choice \ choose /my taste / not my taste / trailer / concession stand /
all-star cast / director / film studio / controversial / family film / book online
What’s on at the cinema ? What’s playing this week ? Not my cup of tea.
What types of film can you name ?
Horror Stories // about people’s lives and emotions
Biopic //Space films, or films set inthe future
Romance Films // about fighting and soldiers
Comedy // Loud, exciting films with explosions and fast cars
Western // Stories about real famous people
Sci-fi // True stories with real people, not actors
Drama // Stories about police or spies or crime
Animation (Anime) // Scary films about ghosts or monsters
Musical // A film about cowboys, set in USA
Documentary //A cartoon, illustrated film
War // Love stories
Thriller // Funny films
Action // Stories with singing and dancing
Look at a cinema listing. Discuss what is on this week, what is playing.
Which films (if any) appeal to you ?
must or have to / don’t have to or mustn’t ?
have to = other people tell you // must = your decision
don’t have to = not necessary // mustn’t = is forbidden
You have to have a degree in order to be an engineer
I must stop eating at Lotteria !
You don’t have to bring any beer to the party.
You mustn’t run a red light or use your mobile phone on your motorbike.
The new James Bond film may be sold out. We ______ buy tickets NOW !
I hate comedies ! Do I _____ go ?
You _______ eat too much popcorn; it’s bad for you.
You ________to be over 18 to see this film
You don’t ____ bring your passport to get intoa cinema in Viet Nam.
Coffee in Sai Gon
Describe this picture; use adjectives and opinions.
Highlands Coffee has great coffee, air-con and free wifi. Having said that, the service is a little slow, there are no waiters and the cost is unbelievably expensive !
Vietnam is famous for coffee; coffee shops are ubiquitous. In fact, there are so many, it’s hard to see (difficult to understand) how they stay in business let alone turn a profit.
Be that as it may, let’s use this as a learning opportunity. To practice making longer sentences, and as a warm up exercise, the students can ask each other, “Where do you go for coffee ?”
Don’t answer the question directly and immediately; Begin with a short introduction:
Sai Gon has so many coffee shops, some are cheap while others can be quite expensive although they have a wide range of delicious coffee. Personally, I like going to …
How MUCH do you like it (adverbs) ?
What kind of coffee (adjectives) ?
What do you think about this ? (opinions)
WHY do you like it (give reasons)
Interesting words, phrases, idioms
Personally, I like Tap Coffee which is an independent shop where I live. I enjoy going there so much because the owner is very friendly and tries to speak English with me. There isn’t a lot of choice, so I order cappuccino with hot, fresh milk. In my opinion, it is good value and tastes delicious. What I like about the shop is the free wifi, the comfortable chairs and the atmosphere. Furthermore, it is usually very quiet and it therefore a good place to read. I love to put my feet up, kick back and sip my damn fine coffee.
Before the exercise, elicit and board as many relevant words and phrases as required. The students have a discourse marker list, so I could insist that they use certain words (moreover, therefore, consequently etc). Additionally, I’ll need to explain vernacular phrases such as ‘kick back’ and ‘put my feet up’.
IF a student doesn’t like coffee, then they can say where they go and what they drink. IF they don’t go anywhere or like anything (yes, I have had that in a class), then they can explain WHY NOT!
Key vocabulary: ambience // aroma //atmosphere
In a list of three, use one comma and a linking word (and):
The service is a little slow, there are no waiters and the cost is unbelievably expensive !
In a list of two, just use a linking word (and):
Mega Mart has amazing choice and is good value for money.
How to make Vietnamese coffee
Tell me: what do I need ? What type of coffee is best ? Where can I buy it ?
New verbs: pour / stir / fill up /
Make a long, fluent presentation. Useful words or expressions:
Firstly / afterwards / and then / following that /
don’t forget to … / you can always ….
lastly / finally / at the very end …
In your experience, what coffee is best ? Trang Nguyen, Highlands or Milano ?
The man is: funny / amusing / weird / strange / entertaining / has a screw loose
His dancing is: highly unusual / very comical / somewhat crazy / charming
Salt Mine near Krakow, Poland
14 miles from Krakow in South Poland is this deep salt mine. Everything here has been hand-carved from blocks of salt. The mine has nine levels with over 300km of tunnels. Part of the mine is open to visitors. There are 22 galleries from 64 metres to 135 metres underground. Guided tours take about two hours.
There is a chapel here measuring 54 m by 18m and 12 m high. It took two men over thirty years to build.
There is also an underground lake, and musicians playing brass instruments.
Pope John Paul and Bill Clinton are some of the famous visitors.
Speaking Practice: Three friends are planning where to go on holiday.
Pete Any suggestions ? I’d really like to go to Norway. They have some great sights.
Burt Yeah, I agree, but the weather could be an issue. I hate the cold.
Doug The scenery is amazing, true. However, it’s gonna be incredibly expensive.
Pete I found a tour; it consists of flights, hotels, boat trips and sightseeing.
Burt I’ve heard Norway is terribly expensive. If we go to Europe, I’d prefer Poland.
Doug Sounds good. Great architecture, lots to see and do, and brilliant beer.
Pete Perfect. Let me look up some info on Google … look at this !
Burt That’s so majestic. I’d say we forget Norway and head for Poland
Doug I’d love to see the salt mine, amazingly unique. It’s a UNESCO sight.
Speaking Practice: Three friends are discussing their holiday.
Doug This bed and breakfast has a good reputation, as well as being central.
Pete Good point. We don’t want to be in the suburbs, waste time, travelling.
Burt Yeah, keep it simple: good location, good price. Shall we book ?
Doug Go for it ! Wait … damn internet, so slow. Oh, we’ve encountered a glitch.
Pete It’s taking it’s time ! Look, we’re connected. Better be quick.
Burt OK, let me see … three beds for five nights. Arrival date … enter … done !
Doug Poland, here we come ! This is no ordinary trip. Look at these churches
Pete Absolutely majestic ! Maybe we’ll keep going back, every year.
Burt Well, I’d also love to visit Austria, Prague, Barcelona … everywhere !
Speaking Practice: Three friends are in Krakow.
Doug Man, this place is really buzzing. What shall we do now ?
Burt We could head towards the Palace, maybe grab some food on the way.
Pete Yeah, I’m up for that. Could use some coffee, as well. Either of you peckish ?
Doug Sure, I’m always hungry. Do you fancy going on the booze cruise ?
Burt How much is it gonna cost ?
Pete Surprisingly cheap. But I’m not sure, It’s not really my cup of tea.
Doug Fair enough. Maybe we’ll just chill out later in the old quarter. A beer or two.
Burt Or twenty. We should get a move on;the Palace closes at five.
Pete Take it easy. Let’s hit the Palace tomorrow early. It’s now beer o’clock !