IELTS: Complex sentences practice

15th January 2021

Two young Asian woman studying on the desk — Stock Photo © hans3513  #17626271

Being able to use complex sentences, effortlessly, is vital in attaining a respectable IELTS score. With that in mind, this blog is to help students practise.

Quite simply, give more information about your subject.

Extra exercises and vocabulary may be found on a previous blog: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/11/23/ielts-introduction-to-complex-sentences/

Without further ado, let’s dive right in !

Tips To Ace All Bands In Your IELTS Test - Skoolmates

To form a complex sentence, we simply need to combine two pieces of information in one sentence, linked by a relative pronoun.

As with all grammar exercises, it makes far more sense to show than tell:

10 Awesome Facts About Rabindranath Tagore Which Show His Prominence

This is Rabindranath Tagore. He was a poet. He was born in Kolkata, India. He won the Noble Prize for literature in 1913.

So, we have several pieces of information. Let’s start by making a long but simple sentence:

Rabindranath Tagore won the Noble Prize for literature in 1913.

As you see, we start with the subject (Rabindranath Tagore) therefore we don’t need the pronoun ‘he’ in this new sentence.

To make this sentence complex, we just add a further piece of information about the subject, by using a relative pronoun:

who = for a person // which for a thing // where = for a place // whose = possession

The name is clearly not English, so let’s talk about his background:

Rabindranath Tagore, who was born in Kolkata, won the Noble Prize for literature in 1913.

Rabindranath Tagore won the Noble Prize for literature in 1913 is our main clause (clause being part of a sentence containing a subject and a verb).

who was born in Kolkata gives extra information but it makes no sense on its own. Therefore, it needs the main sentence to give it meaning. In grammar, this is known as a subordinate clause.

Now – we could develop this further:

Rabindranath Tagore, who was born in Kolkata which is in India, won the Noble Prize for literature in 1913.

The first subject was Rabindranath Tagore, so we used ‘who’ to give more information.

The second subject was the city, Kolkata ‘which’ is in India.

Confusion by New Order - Songfacts

Yes, confusion ! Kolkata is a place so why use ‘which’ and not ‘where’ ?

Good question; it depends on the clause:

Kolkata which is in India

India is not a person, therefore we treat it as a thing and use ‘which’. Again, show don’t tell:

London, where I was born, is the capital of the UK. [object is ‘I’, a person, so we use ‘where‘.]

London, which is the capital of the UK, is where I was born. [object is ‘capital’, not a person, so we use ‘which‘]

Let’s get back to our Indian poet. The third subject is the Noble Prize … you could add more information here (awarded every year in Sweden).

Naturally, one could write endlessly, constantly adding more information about subjects but, for this exercise, just focus on a main clause and a subordinate clause.

NOW … Your turn

Subject (comma) + relative pronoun + (comma) main clause starting with a verb:

Rabindranath Tagore, who was born in Kolkata, won the Noble Prize for literature in 1913.

Make complex sentences:

Stockholm. Capital city of Sweden. Is very expensive. Is very cold in winter.

Louise Glück. Born in 1943. Born in New York, USA. Won Noble Prize for Literature in 2020. She is a poet.

Starbucks is a coffee chain. Company founded in 1971. Company started in Seattle in north-west USA. Starbucks is the world’s largest coffeehouse chain (information from Wikipedia).

Seattle is in USA. Seattle is famous for Grunge music. Many bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden came from Seattle.

Mozart. A famous composer. Born in Austria. Died in 1791. Buried in a common grave.

Vincom Centre. In District 1 by Hotel Continental. Largest shopping mall in Sai Gon. Has many international brands such as Hugo Boss and Ralph Lauren.

Frida Kahlo was an artist. She was born in Mexico. She was born in 1907. She painted many portraits and self-portraits.

Sergei Eisenstein is a famous film director. He was born in Latvia (then part of Russia). In 1930 he began a film in Mexico. It is about the Day of the Dead festival. This festival is every year at the beginning of November.

Louise Glück wins Nobel Prize in Literature 2020
Louise Glück – Noble Prize winner 2020
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Nirvana
How a Horrific Bus Accident Changed Frida Kahlo's Life - Biography
Frida Kahlo
Films > Sergei Eisenstein
Day of the Dead, Mexico. Film by Sergei Eisenstein.
Asian Woman With Thumb Up Stock Photo, Picture And Royalty Free Image.  Image 42574102.
Good luck !

Love and Chaos Part 2(C) The Knock On The Door

24th November 2020

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Samuel Taylor Coleridge awoke from a dream with the words of Kubla Khan flowing, demanding to be transcribed and he immediately collected his ink and paper, no less his thoughts, which were racing through those ancient, mythical, mysterious lands.

His hand, desperate to record those indescribably, wondrous images, not knowing where they would lead him, his mind, knowing he mustn’t a moment waste, compelled him to write, write, write …

And then the wretched Man from Purlock.

A matter of pressing business, must be attended to, forthwith. Coleridge tried to dissuade him, entreating him to return at a later time, but requests and pleas wouldn’t move this persistent Man from Purlock. He decreed that Pleasure Domes, stately or otherwise, could wait, they would still be there after satisfactory conclusion of matter at hand, which must be gone into with the greatest care.

Still The Poet attempted swift conclusion of conversation, but unlike the distorted, other-world time of the vision, the minutes now dragged heavy-weighted, Xanadu receding, shapes blurring, demands to be left in peace to regain the inspiration holding no truck with this intractable Man from Purlock.

And when finally The Poet could return to his desk and thoughts, try as he might, no further impression was vouchsafed him. The poem remained unfinished.

DGA Quarterly Magazine | Winter 2006 | Shot to Remember - Amadeus
From the film ‘Amadeus’ by Milos Foreman 1984

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart increasingly felt unable to trust a soul. His genius which had promised so much, had proved to be a curse, a Faustian pact that was rapidly drawing to its inevitable, diabolical finale.

He had hoped the spirituality of his music would elevate him and his audience. Instead he was rooted amongst worldly pettiness, of insidious jealousy and bitter hatred. Far from reaching the Parthenon of the gods, he would sink as surely as his Don Giovanni.

There was no doubt that there was a conspiracy against him. Would he meet his end by swift blade, or slow poison, left to die like a dog.

Just as he was obsessing over such thoughts, he was startled by a heavy pounding of his door. Opening, he was confronted by a tall, dark, masked man who held out the commission.

Mozart was to write a Requiem.

Not only would he die, they would humiliate him, make him know exactly what fate had in store. And in such a fitting way, make him compose music for his own death.

For there was no question. Death had paid him a visit and Mozart knew it wouldn’t be long before they were to meet again.

Ludwig van Beethoven, it is said, was starting work on his fifth symphony, when his landlady knocked on his door, one, two three, four, which gave him the immortal opening that heralded the piece and which, many years later, was broadcast over occupied Europe, four notes that proclaimed that the Allies were on their way, the darkness was over.

It was Fate, knocking on the door …

BEETHOVEN: THE KNOCK OF FATE | Looking for Things To Do? Kuala Lumpur's  best Events Calendar | KL100

IELTS / Adult Speaking Class: Everyday Expressions for Conversation.

28th August 2020

Conversational routines & fixed expressions

If you are using these in class, the teacher will help you with pronunciation.

Remember: your IELTS score will also depend on how clearly you speak, your rhythm and correct use of intonation and stress. Therefore listen to native-speakers, copy and practice.

EXPLORING WONG CHUK HANG | Hong Kong Travel Video | ANYDOKO
Enjoy your drink … this one’s on me

This one’s on me // Let me think about it // It doesn’t matter // Thanks for coming

I don’t believe a word of it //  I’ll be with you in a minute // I see what you mean

It was lovely to see you // I don’t get the point  // As I was saying 

You look great today // I’ll be making a move then // Just looking, thanks 

Chubby Hubby - Sawadee ka! Rules of etiquette When travelling in Thailand
I’ll be making a move then … bye

Match the phrase(s) with the situation

[answers at end of exercise]

Saying goodbye after meeting an old friend

Compliment someone 

You are asked a question but need time to consider

Someone tells you a story – you think it is false. 

Friends drinking in a pub / bar

You go into a shop but not necessarily to buy anything

A customer arrives but you are busy for that moment.

You don’t understand what someone is trying to prove

You understand what someone thinks (but not necessarily agree with)

There is a small problem / Someone upsets you but you want to make it OK

To continue with a conversation that was interrupted. 

10 Things You Didn't Know about Shu Qi
Ms Shu Qi – you look great today !
  1. It was lovely to see you 2. You look great today 3. Let me think about it 4. I don’t believe a word of it 5. This one’s on me [I will pay for this drink] 6. Just looking, thanks 7. I’ll be with you in a minute 8. I don’t get the point 9. I see what you mean 10. It doesn’t matter 11. As I was saying 

Expressing likes and dislikes

Like:

I absolutely love … I’m crazy about … 

I (really) like I’m into // I’m a big fan of … 

I’m quite keen on

I haven’t heard (seen/read) this before, but I think it’s great

No strong opinion: 

I have mixed feelings about ….

I don’t really have any strong views / feelings either way

I don’t mind

It’s OK 

Dislike:

I hate

I detest

I can’t stand

I don’t really like

I think it’s awful 

I’m not a big fan of …

I’m not that keen on …

Now … your turn

What do you feel about:

Facebook offers sincere apology to the Thai people over auto-translate  error – Thai PBS World
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Mozart
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English tea shop

Adult Class, Level 3: Can the Can

11th December for 12th December 2019 AEF 4A pp. 34 – 35

Image result for vietnamese celebrate U23"

Let’s kick off with a moral booster. What is happening here ?

Students work in pairs and compose a short speech to explain the picture. I need an introduction, a main section, or two, then rounded off with a neat conclusion.

In addition, students have to use these words or expressions:

celebrating or celebration

over the Moon

National pride

And one of these adverbs: remarkably / incredibly / unbelievably

If the students are struggling, they can use these points:

What was the event ? When was it ? Was happened ? How do they feel ?

Student Survey

Students ask each other:

Can you play football ?

When you were five, could you swim ?

Are you able to sing in English ?

Can you wiggle your ears ?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggsc_B14Qyo

‘be able to’ means the same as ‘can’:

I am able to play piano / I can play piano

‘be able to’ is more formal than ‘can’ PLUS it can be used in all tenses:

Image result for Mozart as a child"

Mozart was able to play piano at age three. PAST TENSE Mozart could play …

Image result for child walking"

I have been able to walk since I was ten months old PRESENT PERFECT

What could we substitute – ‘can‘ or ‘could‘ ?

Image result for Apple X1"

I would like to be able to buy the iPhone 11 INFINITE

Is it possible to substitute ‘can‘ or ‘could‘ ?

Image result for hard-working asain student"

You will be able to pass your test if you listen to your teacher (haha) FUTURE SIMPLE

Speaking practice

In small groups, discuss these images; what skills would you like to have … and WHY ?

Students can ask each other:

“Are you able to … ?” “Would you like to be able to … ?” “Could you tell me why (or why not) ?”

Image result for yoga"
Image result for eat a giant sandwhich"
Image result for bungee jumping"
Image result for speak perfect Eng"
Image result for singing karaoke"

What happens next ? I’ll show the class some videos then pause them and ask for their predictions. What better way to start than with former President G.W. Bush: The clip I want starts at 7:14

https://youtu.be/JhmdEq3JhoY

Next one is the elephant clip at 1:54

https://youtu.be/sUVuaja6u0E 

The following should please my students (as it involves some fighting). https://youtu.be/4H4gLEOmWrY

Finally, this clip can start at 0:05 

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

This activity is known as photo-bombing

Fortune telling

I’ll deal five cards to a student then ‘read’ their future. For example, a student is dealt:

2, 7, 10, Jack, Queen

I will choose a male student and say, “You will pass a big test in two year’s time. You will have seven beautiful girlfriends and then you will find your Queen. Together, you will have ten children and the eldest boy you will name Jack.

I shall then ask some of the more creative students to ‘read’ their partner’s fortune.

Finally, this is Dynamo. How is he able to do this ?

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

Image result for dyanmo walking on thams"

Adult Class, Level 3: If I make them learn, it’ll be a miracle !

22nd April 2019

Cutting it a bit fine, as this lesson begins in just over four hours. I’ve substituted this class before and, being diplomatic, they need a non-standard teaching method. Just going through the course book, expecting students to do the assigned work – to talk together in English, to practice and produce – is for the birds ! It ain’t gonna happen, brother !

What we have here is a class of teenagers … yeah … an adult class comprised solely of teenagers … to answer Bob Geldof, that is WHY I don’t like Mondays.

The answer … simply to be crazier than the students. It has the element of surprise.

Last time, after preparing thirty minutes of activities and getting no response, I sat next to the students and MADE them speak to me. I asked one boy (yes, he was still in school uniform) a question and it was a deer caught in the headlights – “He’s asking me a question … in English … and expects me to answer ?”

So, without further ado, tonight’s lesson plan which involves First conditional, future clauses, reading and speaking. On the surface, I’m dead in the water – however, I have some tricks up my sleeve ….

First activity will be something I learnt from my time with a theatre group (never more than five people but that constitutes a ‘group’). I’ll draw a red dot on the floor and get all the class to stand around it (yes, I know getting the class up from their chairs will probably take up most of the lesson). The exercise is to focus all of our energy at the spot. We start be pointing our right hand at it for eight seconds, then changing to our left hand, our right leg followed by our left. This is repeated for four seconds, two seconds and finally one second. I think it’s a fair bet that none of the students have started a lesson in that manner before.

Next, I shall invoke the help of my friend Dali. I shall make the students say his name, elongating it as long as possible, while twirling my (imaginary) moustache. Then I shall show them his photo and an example of his work:

I will try to elicit, to get feedback, from the class. Last week, I covered this class and I did a lesson about personality adjectives. How would they describe Dali, just from his picture, and what do they think about his art ? I will guide them towards the subject, the colours, the background. Hopefully, it will be inspiring to at least some of the students.

Now, grammar time, First Conditional.

If I have 10 million VND, I will buy a Honda motorbike.

Conditional + subject + verb …… (comma) sub + will + verb …

First conditional uses present tense ( have) and will do something. It is used when something is very possible. In Vietnam, 10 million VND is not an impossible amount for a basic motorbike.

HOWEVER, If I had 100 million VND (not so likely) I would buy ….

To test comprehension, I’ll board some incorrect sentences and see if the students can change them:

If you’ll learn English you are get a good job

My mum will hit me unless I does get good grades

She won’t going to bed until he came home

If you buy an Apple X, you would be happy

After you leave the class, you would be terribly sad.

Finally, in this rather short post, some pre-teaching for the reading section.

The words are:

prodigies

controversy

determined

forbidden

outstanding

excelled

rebelled

took up

resent

How could they apply them to the following pictures:

Both Mozart and Beethoven were incredibly gifted children. Mozart’s first composition was written when he was just five years old.

President Trump plans to build a wall between USA and Mexico. Not everyone thinks this a good idea, while some totally approve of it. It has made many people very angry.

Now, how about this sign I saw in Indonesia (Yes – this is genuine, hand on heart) ?

How would they describe this young lady:

And finally, what do they students understand by this picture ?

So, we shall see how my little rebels deal with the lesson. If all else fails, I can make then sit through some REAL music:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egMWlD3fLJ8

Now, that’s a chopper !