Teenage IELTS Challenge

21st June 2022

The Three Johns, a Rock band from the UK

Can a young teen class have better English than an IELTS class ? That is the challenge. Without pushing the students too far, and with realistic expectations, let’s introduce some low-frequency words (L-FW), phrases and idioms.

Furthermore, students will also be expected to speak in longer sentences, using connectives as well as a wide range of adjectives.

The subject of our current unit is very dear to my heart: music. Let’s rock !

First match the new words with the meaning

ubiquitous // over the moon // genre // extremely

kind of or type // to feel very, very happy // everywhere // an adverb that means very, very

Roll up your sleeves and practice: Fill in the gaps using the new words AND your own ideas.

Today, music is ______________ . We can hear music on our _______ and when we go to _______________.

Yoyoka, a Japanese drummer, is ____________ talented. She must ________ many hours, every day to be so skillful.

If I pass my English test with A+, I will be ___________________ . My parents will be so happy, they will _______________.

My favourite _______ of music is ____________ because it makes me feel ___________ and ____________ .

Genres (types) of music:

Jazz / rap / pop / rock / classical / electronic

Look at the photos. What genre are they ?

Why do you think so ?

Kraftwerk from Germany
T-ara from South Korea
Chloe Chua from Singapore
Miles Davis from USA
Rolling Stones from the UK
Cassper Nyovest from South Africa

Grammar exercise. Rewrite the following blog post in the Past Tense (verb 2)

EXAMPLE: Yesterday I go to school and I have a speaking test. I do very well and my parents are over the moon.

Yesterday I went to school and I had a speaking test. I did very well and my parents were over the moon.

Now … your turn

Last week I see a concert on TV. The group is Blackpink and they play for 30 minutes. They sing many songs and dance extremely well. It is so exciting I am over the moon. The next day I buy their music and decide to be a pop star too !

Watch this concert and write your own blog using Past Tense (verb 2) as well as adjectives and new words. Let me help you with the start:

This morning I watched a video from T-ara. The band … (what song did they play ? Did they all sing ? What else did they do ?

Did you like the music ? Why or why not ?

Were they alone on stage ? What did they wear ?

How did the audience feel ? Do you wish you were there ?

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

Butterfly Decal: ‘Red Ribbon in Long Hair’ EP

12th June 2022

A still from Niall’s Red Ribbon: A Short Story video

Butterfly Decal, the band I am in along with my dear friend Niall Keohane, are finishing the final mix on our debut EP.

The Jazz-inspired EP, entitled ‘Red Ribbon in Long Hair’, has four tracks:

1) Red Ribbon: A Short Story

2) Red Ribbon Suite

3) Swing, Princess, Swing

4) Miles et Juliette

Track 1 is a piece of first-person prose over a Jazz background and sound effects, a collage of film, music and poetry.

The video features Niall’s stunning B&W photography, (from the UK), while I add some shots from Sai Gon, Viet Nam. As the track nears the end, a theme from the next cut appears, low in the mix, leading to …

Track 2, an instrumental piece in three movements. Parts 1 and 2 share a melody but have a tempo change, whereas Part 3 leads to a melodic resolution.

Track 3, ‘Swing, Princess, Swing’, is based around a two-chord guitar structure. I’m only playing a $40 acoustic guitar here but Niall’s production makes it sound (almost) professional. Niall also adds backing vocals.

Track 4 is another story set to music. In the late 1940s, Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis travelled to Paris where he met, and fell in love with, singer Juliette Greco. As with Track 1, this cut features narrative, music and effects.

We plan, once we have enough material, to make our music available online on Bandcamp or SoundCloud, as well as posting more videos on YouTube.

The production was by Niall at his home studio in Birmingham, UK

Thank you so much for visiting this site. If you have time and interest, please view the videos and share them with your friends. The ‘Likes’ and views really help.

Love I’ve found you: Miles Davis & Juliette Greco

22nd April 2022

Juliette Greco, actress and singer, suffered a traumatic childhood. Her mother withheld maternal love, claiming that Juliette was conceived without the mother’s consent. The mother, along with Juliette’s sister, were arrested by the Gestapo in World War II, and sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp. After liberation, the mother left Europe for Indochina, leaving Juliette in the care of her former French teacher.

In the immediate post-war years, Juliette frequented the bohemian areas of Paris, meeting such luminaries as Albert Camus & Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Cocteau and Boris Vian, among others.

Paris hosted an International Jazz Festival in May 1949, and it was there that Juliette first saw American Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis.

Miles, coming from an affluent African-American family, began playing trumpet at the age of nine. In 1944 he was accepted at the prestigious Institute of Musical Arts (now called Juilliard) but dropped out in order to devote his time to playing, and he got a gig playing with Jazz legend Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker.

In 1949, as part of the Tadd Dameron Quintet, Miles travelled to Paris. He was spellbound by the freedom and respect he encountered, the lack of racial prejudice. Then he met Juliette Greco, and fell totally, head over heels in love.

My close friend and band mate Niall has written a song about this doomed affair, and it has just been uploaded to YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98AIDUMN_Sc&t=29s&ab_channel=ButterflyDecal

Our style of music could be defined as ‘Post-Rock’ meaning it deviates from a conventional song. Instead, Niall has written a short story which he narrates, and enlivens the track with Jazz music, sound effects and sound bites.

I hope you can find time to listen to the piece and, if so moved, ‘Like’ and ‘Subscribe’. This really helps new channels, so thank you in advance.

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

Jazz Music

29th October 2021

Charlie Parker (sax) with Miles Davis (trumpet)

JAZZ MUSIC

I love all types of music, but one of my favourites is Jazz. It can be exciting, or thought-provoking, upbeat or mellow, but it’s always different.

Unlike other types of music, Jazz is spontaneous. This means that you never hear the same song the same way; each performance is different. 

Jazz started in New Orleans but moved up to Chicago, New York and even west to California. The first records were made in 1917 and the first true Jazz genius was Louis Armstrong. If you want to hear jazz, you should listen to his records from the 1920s.

You may know some famous Jazz artists such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane or Charlie Parker. I can recommend these musicians to you as first-rate examples of Jazz.

I hope this has made you curious about Jazz, and that you go online to listen for yourself. Who knows, maybe you too will learn to love Jazz.

Duke Ellington's Far East Suite by Duke Ellington (Album, Big Band):  Reviews, Ratings, Credits, Song list - Rate Your Music

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: Coffee, cooking and cuisine

1st February 2021

ALH 7.4 pp 68 – 69

Juan Ferrer on Twitter: "Iggy Pop and Tom Waits. Coffee and Cigarettes  (2003) Jim Jarmusch.… "
Miles Davis - Cookin' - LP | JazzMessengers
Plan, Shop, Save, & Cook | Pierce County | Washington State University

Welcome to the class – hey, what’s cooking ? (what’s happening ?)

Unfortunately, I’m not 100% today. I have a sore throat so have to reduce the amount of talking … which is good news for you !

Standard English:

I’m not feeling very well // I have a slight cold // I’m not at my best

Idioms:

I’m feeling under the weather // I’m not myself tonight

Vernacular:

I feel like hell // I just want to crawl back into bed

So, to warm up here are some dialogues you can practice. Look up any new words or phrases, then try to use them throughout tonight’s lesson.

Old Compass Cafe Saigon - Vietnamese cuisine, wine, cafe, events

Pat Well, I’m exhausted. I need a damn fine cup of coffee and a big piece of pie.

Sam There’s a Highlands over the road, or we can go to Coffee Bean or Milano.

Pat I’d prefer Tran Nguyen but it costs an arm and a leg. Highlands is also incredibly expensive.

Sam But great quality and superb cakes. Come on, I’m starving, I need coffee now !

Pat OK, hold your horses hahaha. After we can meet up with Thay Paul.

Sam Sounds good. Now … shall we have chocolate cake or fruit cake … ?

Inside the coffee shop

Quán cà phê “trong mơ” của những người Việt trẻ có gì? | Báo Dân trí
Highlands Coffee, a Vietnamese coffee chain

Sam Hi, I’ll have a large cappuccino, please. What do you fancy ?

Pat Tough decision. I’m going for the cheesecake and a slice of blueberry pie.

Sam Oh, me too. Big slice, no, only joking, I have to watch my weight.

Pat I think you look great. Lets also get some chocolate cake and we can share.

Sam Brilliant.

This is an extract from a previous blog, which may be accessed here: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/06/11/adult-speaking-class-level-2-coffee-shop-chat/:

Next week is Tet Holiday

As a guest in Vietnam, I am not sure of Vietnamese culture and customs. Work in teams and make a presentation to the class, explaining Tet holiday in terms of food, how it’s prepared, and who is invited to eat. Are there any strange or unusual traditions associated with Tet ?

Standard English:

Watch this video // Have a look at this short clip

UK London slang:

Have a butcher’s at this clip (butcher’s hook = look)

Vernacular:

Check out this vid

Adult Speaking Class, Level 2, Part 3

16th January 2020

Contents

Grammar / third conditional

Jazz Music

Listening Practice / TOEIC

Money

Speaking practice

Speaking skills

Vocabulary

Grammar: 3rd Conditional

I was very hungry but too lazy to cook, so I went out to grab a bite to eat.

I thought I’d try the new pho restaurant. 

I, obviously, ordered pho bo.

However, after I had eaten 

I saw the chef !

If I had known the chef was filthy, I wouldn’t have eaten there !

This is the 3rdconditional. 

Something that happened in the past BUT you can’t change it now.

If I had known the film was so bad, I never would have gone !

If he had bought his wife flowers, she wouldn’t have been angry at him

If they had studied English, they would have passed the test.

Listening Practice

TOEIC test:https://www.examenglish.com/TOEIC/TOEIC_listening_part3.htm#

TOEIC test: https://www.examenglish.com/TOEIC/TOEIC_listening_part4.htm

New vocabulary: accurate/ correction / administration

Money

Verbs for things you can do with money:

spend / lose / waste / save / make / invest / forge / donate / pay / worship

I go to work to …….. money.

She always ………… money to charity.

He …………. money buying property

The police caught the man who was ……….. money.

Some people think the iPhone X is a ………. of money.

King James Bible
“For the love of money is the root of all evil.”

Many people over the years have tried to buy the Mask of Tutankhamen from the Egyptian Museum, but unsurprisingly the authorities here believe it is priceless so they won’t sell it 

Ebenezer Scrooge was such a stingy man, so much so that in English, we sometimes use the word Scrooge to describe people with this characteristic (who are like this). A miser is someone who hates spending any money.

Image result for ebenezer scrooge

He spent a lot of money on what he thought was a gold watch but when he had it valued, it turned out to be worthless. 

I sometimes disagree with stall holders, so I haggle which sometimes gets the price down 

Big companies like Pepsi make a killing. They should put their prices down. I sometimes like to splash out on new clothes, but not very often 

When I was a student I didn’t have enough money to live on so I took out an overdraft at the bank. I paid it all off in the end (finally)

The men were sent to prison for forgery, that is, making counterfeit money

Speaking practice:

  1. This dialogue has a lot of expressions and phrases.

Joe Hi Bill. Why so glum ? You look down in the dumps.

Bill Oh, just worrying about money. The cost of living keeps going up …

Joe And our wages stay the same. Tell me about it. I’ve had to economise. 

Bill Same here; no more beer or Highlands coffee. I feel so stingy !

Joe I always haggle at the market now, try to get the price down. I hate being ripped off.

Bill I’m worried about paying off my overdraft. The interest alone is crippling me.

Joe We should invest in land. My friend sold some land recently and made a killing.

Bill But we’ll need money to invest in the first place. Then there’s always bills.

Joe Yes, my bike’s in the shop, so I’m having to use Grabbike and that ain’t cheap !

2. This is to practice wedding and money phrases.

Tom Congratulations ! You’re finally tying the knot and getting spliced.

Bob Yeah, it’s time to settle down. I’ve taken out a mortage and a loan for the wedding.

Tom It must be costing you an arm and a leg: catering, hall, flowers, photos, invitations.

Bob Absolutely, I’ve withdrawn all my saving and gone into the red. I hate being overdrawn; the interest is sky-high. And, not forgetting, the honeymoon.

Tom You can put down a deposit and pay later. Cheer up ! Don’t be a Scrooge

Bob That’s easy for you to say. I’m gonna be broke and in debt … until I retire !

Sentence building

Use more interesting adverbs and linking words e.g.

although / as well as / somewhat / therefore 

Rearrange these basic sentences to make more interesting ones (we use ‘one’ as a pronoun for the noun instead of repeating ourselves)

Examples:

I went to the market today. I bought fish and chicken and vegetables.

Today I bought fish, chicken as well as vegetables in the market.

Last night I stayed at home because it was raining.

It was raining last night therefore I stayed at home.

Your turn:

I saw the new action film. It was a little boring.

Peter was tired but he met his friends for a drink.

Sophie studied very hard. She passed her test.

For western people, Thailand is cheap. Vietnam is cheaper.

Speaking skills

To help you improve your speaking skills, here is a small project:

Write a short piece about something you love or adore.

Start with an introduction

Say why you like it

Maybe tell some history or an anecdote (a short, personal story)

Give some examples

End with a short conclusion

EXAMPLE:

JAZZ MUSIC

I love all types of music, but one of my favourites is Jazz. It can be exciting, or slow, but it’s always different.

Unlike other types of music, Jazz is spontaneous. This means that you never hear the same song the same way; each performance is different. 

Jazz started in New Orleans but moved up to Chicago, New York and even west to California. The first records were made in 1917 and the first true Jazz genius was Louis Armstrong. If you want to hear jazz, you should listen to his records from the 1920s.

You may know some famous Jazz artists such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane or Charlie Parker. I can recommend these musicians to you as first-rate examples of Jazz.

I hope this has made you curious about Jazz, and that you go online to listen for yourself. Who knows, maybe you too will learn to love Jazz.

Vocabulary builder

Health: http://learnenglishteens.britishcouncil.org/grammar-vocabulary/vocabulary-exercises/health

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.