The Beatles solo cinema projects. Some not-so-fab films (part 2)

9th September 2022

The solo cinematic careers of John, Paul and George were covered in Part 1, which may be accessed here: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2022/08/31/the-beatles-solo-cinema-projects-some-not-so-fab-films-part-1/

So now it’s Ringo’s turn, and he co-starred alongside Richard Burton, and Peter Sellers among others. Furthermore, two-time Oscar winner Marlon Brando was in one of the films so they should have been magical … unfortunately that is not the case.

Let’s start with the source material, novels by Terry Southern.

Southern had published these books in 1958 and 1959 respectively, then in the 60s he worked on such iconic films as ‘Dr Strangelove,’ ‘The Collector’ and ‘Easy Rider.’

Writer Terry Southern

‘Candy’ is said to be based on Voltaire’s ‘Candide’ but I think the film, described as a sex farce, owes more to de Sade.

A blonde-haired, blue-eyed innocent teenage girl is sexually manipulated and exploited throughout the film. Ringo only appears in one sequence (with a brief appearance at the end of the movie) playing a gardener, speaking broken English with some kind of accent. He is later identified as being Mexican though he sounds pure Merseyside.

Brando appears as a guru, and actually displays some excellent comic timing. Just a pity the material is rather weak, laboured and very dated.

Candy star Ewa Aulin with Marlon Brando

The film, however, was quite a commercial hit although reviews were mixed. Today it has acquired cult status and is very much a late 60s period piece, the look, the sound and social mores.

‘Candy’ was released in the US on 17th December 1968, and the soundtrack features The Byrds and Steppenwolf.

A year later, Ringo’s second solo film was released. In ‘The Magic Christian,’ he has a co-starring role alongside Peter Sellers (who had memorably played three roles in Kubrick’s ‘Dr Strangelove’).

The film is a satire on wealth and greed, and a condemnation of capitalism. Sellers plays a man of immense wealth, who sees Ringo’s character as the son he never had, and subsequently adopts him.

Ringo with 60s icon Raquel Welch

The film is a series of set-pieces where Sellers shows what people will do for money; a Shakespearean actor is bribed to strip during the famous soliloquy in ‘Hamlet,’ a traffic warden is asked to eat a parking ticket, and the climax shows respectable businesspeople diving into a tank of unmentionable content to retrieve paper money. This film does not go in for subtlety.

Again, the film is packed with familiar faces from film and British TV, and again, as with ‘Candy,’ it’s not a film I would rush to re-watch.

Finally, there is another Beatles connection in this film. The main song is ‘Come and Get It,’ performed by Badfinger but written by Paul McCartney.

Speaking of The Beatles, they spent January of 1969 rehearsing for a proposed TV special or live concert. This was captured in the documentary film ‘Let It Be,’ released in May 1970 by which time the band had broken up.

But the music remains … forever.

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.

The Beatles solo cinema projects. Some not-so-fab films (part 1)

22nd August 2022

Before The Beatles broke up in 1970, each member had released at least one solo record or appeared in a non-Beatles film.

These solo outings are a ‘must-see’ for Beatles fans, although none of them match the artistic excellent of The Beatles music, or come anywhere close. Most are now curio pieces, examples of the late 60s zeitgeist, and are of little cinematic merit despite amazing casts and writers.

I hadn’t previously seen any of the following five films. Unfortunately it proved to be a rather disappointing experience.

Anyway, in true Beatles style, “One, two, three, four …”

Let’s start in the Autumn of 1966. The ‘Revolver’ LP had been released in August. John Lennon was offered a part in an anti-war black comedy so left the UK to film in Germany and Spain. Meanwhile, Paul McCartney was approached to write a score for a domestic comedy-drama called ‘The Family Way.’

The film was released on 18th December 1966 (June 1967 in the US), while the soundtrack LP was issued in the new year, on 6th January 1967. First, the film review.

‘The Family Way’ is by far my favourite of the five.

The Boulting Brothers, producer and director, were significant names in 50s British cinema, making some classic films on a limited, post-war budget (films such as ‘I’m All Right, Jack’, ‘Brighton Rock’ & ‘Lucky Jim’ among others). The script was by Bill Naughton, who had written the iconic 60s play ‘Alfie’.

British viewers (of a certain age) will recognise many familiar faces from film and TV, especially the male lead, Hywel Bennett (later to play the eponymous Percy in 1971, music written by Ray Davies of The Kinks).

Hayley Mills & Hywel Bennett

The title is somewhat misleading, as the phrase is a British euphemism for being pregnant, usually out of wedlock (a social stigma at this time). In fact, the lack of a family is the main point of the film.

Set in the Manchester region of north-west England, the film following the wedding of Jenny and Arthur, Jenny from a middle-class background, Arthur’s father a life-long employee at the local gas works. Arthur enjoys classical music and literature, at odds with his uneducated father. There are tensions at the wedding between father and son, but the real problem occurs on the wedding night; Arthur is unable to consummate the marriage, and the couple to sleep separately throughout most of the film.

Finally Arthur overcomes his issues, and the couple go on a belated honeymoon, and will move into their own home when they return. It is also heavily implied that another man was Arthur’s biological father, although he now seems to fully accept and love his dad.

Of the five films under discussion, this is the only one I would be happy to watch again. Additionally, it is also one with the least contribution from a Beatle.

Paul McCartney wrote some pieces which his producer, the legendary George Martin, scored and wrote variations for orchestra. According to online sources, Martin had to force McCartney to finish the work, staying at McCartney’s house one night until Paul had produced some music. [1]

Paul McCartney at the film’s premiere

As for the music, I feel it’s pretty uninspiring and inconsequential. The LP clocks in at under 27 minutes, and I doubt if many Beatles fans who actually own it, play it often.

However, it may hold a very important key. Because of the northern setting, McCartney thought a brass band would be a good idea, and it has been suggested that this led to the idea of ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.’ Of course, that LP is another story altogether …

‘Sgt Pepper’s’ epitomises the ‘Summer of Love’ in 1967. Meanwhile, the US forces were increasing in Vietnam, fighting was escalating.

At this point, John Lennon made his solo screen outing as Private Gripweed in ‘How I Won The War,’ released on 18th October 1967

The film centres on a lower middle-class man who becomes an officer (Michael Crawford), and how out of touch officers were with the men under their command. The humour, often black, is very hit-and-miss, not to say outdated. Occasionally the jokes don’t work at all.

Lennon, with cropped hair, merely plays a version of himself, and is competent and enjoyable to watch although the film does drag. The plot is basically a group of soldiers being sent into the desert to prepare a grassy area suitable for a game of cricket.

The film received moderate reviews which was disappointing as the director was Richard Lester, who had made ‘A Hard Day’s Night,’ the first Beatles film, which was so fresh and exciting.

Another interesting incident is that Lennon stayed in a villa in Spain during the shoot, a villa that reminded him of a certain building in Liverpool, a Salvation Army garden called Strawberry Fields.

One of the co-stars, Jack MacGowran, would be the lead actor in ‘Wonderwall’ (1968) for which George Harrison composed the music.

Harrison’s soundtrack was released on 1st November 1968, while the film wouldn’t get a full UK release until 12th January 1969.

MacGowran plays a stereotypical absent-minded scientist, who lives alone in a drab, brown-toned apartment, piles of dusty papers everywhere. One day, through a crack in the wall, he sees into the next apartment (alluded to in the LP cover). His neighbour is a beautiful young girl (Jane Birkin) who practises free love, her living space open and multicoloured. The scientist envies her life, and boyfriend, until he witnesses the other side of the permissive society; the irresponsibility. The girl gets pregnant, the boyfriend leaves her and she attempts suicide. The scientist sees this and calls an ambulance, thus saving her. The film is a condemnation of the hippie lifestyle, the squares save the day, depth and character over superficial image.

Jane Birkin
Jack MacGowran

Musically, the LP has its admirers, featuring Harrison’s fascination with the sitar. This works well with the film and places the film firmly in the late 60s. The music is quite listenable, without the images, mixing eastern and western influences, and did receive some praise from contemporary reviewers.

Ringo, meanwhile, made two films in the late 60s, both based on books by Terry Southern, ‘Candy’ and ‘The Magic Christian.’ The much-loved drummer worked with such screen legends as Richard Burton, Peter Sellers and Marlon Brando … but I will save that for another blog.

Goodbye from Ringo

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.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Family_Way_(soundtrack)

Taking Care of Business: Act Three

25th April 2021

Nicholas Young (Elvis) & Martin O’Shea (the Colonel). Original Berlin cast

ACT THREE

     Elvis appears. He goes over to the TV’s and repeats his movements from Act One, but without any enthusiasm. Finally, he goes to a chair and slumps down. On a table he sees an old pizza box, with some left-overs. He picks one piece and eats, but mechanically, his jaws moving in a uniform rhythm, also without enthusiasm or pleasure. There is more debris in the room and rubbish on the floor. After his food, Elvis just sits staring vacantly into space.

     Enter Colonel, slowly, with a sideways glance, a look of pity and confusion rather than disgust.    

Col: Well, I’m still here. I was re-instated in my post. For the sake of peace and quiet, I apologised and promised not to do it again, a promise I have every intention of keeping, I might add … my back was aching for days afterwards. I left my girlfriend or at least tried to … she wanted to break up with me. Something about me not being so much fun anymore, no sense of adventure. Work’s the same. I no longer bother to speak about what’s going on in my life … I merely listen to others drone on. I’ve developed a whole series of gestures and non-committal phrases like these …

(demonstrates various movements of head and body to match his words)

You don’t say; no, really ? Well, whatdoyaknow ? How do YOU feel about that ? What do YOU want to happen …Thanks for coming, hope to see you again, real soon … When I come home … it’s this. The work has dried up and so has he. No-one seems to want an Elvis, anymore. I felt in some way responsible for his depression. I tried to cheer him up by doing things like this …

(to Elvis)

Hey, Elvis, I put some flyers around town and some adds in papers, how about leaving Graceland for a while and going back on the road ? You know your public needs you.

(addresses audience)

we got a little response … we were put on a short list for a walk-on part in a TV add … Elvis likes TV, but they chose to go with a George Michael look- a-like in the end.

Elv: Won’t they get a surprise when they go to the can !

Col: Right ! Who needs it ? Walk-on parts ! Opening shops selling any old tack.

Elv: You know, I think you’re right there, boy. I shouldn’t be limiting myself to small commerce. I have a higher calling. Doggone right, you know, I’ve got it, I know what I have to do … call the Limo, Colonel, we’re off to … the Reichtstag ! (1)

Col: Say what ?

Elv: Yeah, I’m gonna offer my services to the state, hell knows they could use them. What do those politicians know about real life ? C’mon let’s go see ol’ man … er, who’s the big boss man, these days ? Is that big mother still there ? (2)

Col: No, there’s a new kid on the block. And that kid’s a woman.

Elv: Hilary ? Man, she’s cute. Love that hair-band thing.

Col: No, not Hilary. Not cute, either.

Elv: But a woman ?

Col: More or less. Give or take, though you’d probably want to take more than give. Name’s Merkel.

Elv: “Urkel” ? Oh, well, I be damned if I’ll go then. Wait till they get a President worth clambaking … can’t have a man like me wasting photo-ops with a two-bit cow-faced in-bred hillbilly.

Col: (To audience) Then I had an idea and bear in mind that I’m getting increasingly desperate. This is something I tried a few weeks back.

(To Elvis)

Hey, Elvis, Paul McCartney’s outside, he wants so much to meet you. Can you find the time to give him an audience ?

(A mere nod from Elvis. Colonel goes off stage and returns presently, dressed as a Beatle, dark suit and Beatle wig. Throughout, he speaks with an exaggerated Liverpool accent.)

Col: All right there, Mister Presley, honour to meet ya, like, it really is, fab, gear and groovy. Me and the lads got all your records, we really love you, we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you, like every time we write a song, we think, “how would it sound if Elvis sang it ?”

Elv: Better.

Col: Hey, you could be right there, Cock.

Elv: Bet your arse I’m right.

Col: So, which one of us is your favorite … everyone has a favorite Beatle ? Is it me ?

Elv: None of you.

Col: Oh, ‘ey, ain’t you a one, hey, a right Bobby Dazzler. Is it me ? It’s normally me. All the girls like me.

Elv: Boy, you sure as hell look like a girl. Whoa … I like the drummer … Bongo. He’s all right. ‘Course, he’s not the best drummer in the world.

Col: “In the world” ? He’s not even the best drummer in The Beatles. Ta-da ! An oldie but goldie. But can I ask you, where does your talent come from. People ask me all the time to …

Elv: Stop talking ?

Col: Oh, you do like a laugh, oh, ‘ey, fab, like, gear, WWHHHHOOOOOHHHHHHHHH

Elv : No, boy, I mean … stop talking ! You can get a signed photo on your way out. It’s my time to commune with the higher power now. An’ if you wanna know where my gift comes from, well, I suggest you get your skinny, white arse down to the local Baptist church. Randy Scouse git !

Col:

(To audience, as he removes his Beatle garb)

I gave it my best shot, what do you expect ? It got to the point where I was past caring, I thought I’d just let him rot, what’s it to me ? If he couldn’t pay his rent, I’d sling his fat arse out of the joint. ‘Course, I might need some help, someone with a JCB, maybe, but then … something happened. I was at work, drying glasses, when this guy comes in. He orders a beer and we strike up a conversation, you know, I’m thinking about the tips, well, this guy, he’s talking about his house and he’s got some light switch, which, I dunno, either it worked, or only sometimes, doesn’t matter … this guy’s talking to me … about light switches ! I don’t know the guy and he’s not drunk, he just goes on and on and on, he presses the switch one way, on comes the light, then when he tries it the opposite way, the light stays on, that kinda thing … and I’m LISTENING TO HIM ! I’m trying to follow him, see where he’s going with this … then it struck me … OK, the Ku’Damm (3) is hardly the road to Damascus, but this night, could I honestly say that my flatmate was any crazier than this guy, Mr Off-Switch ? Or any of the others in that sad and sorry place ? The guy playing video games all day long ? The girl who puts all her hope in computer-dating ? Anyone who’s ever gone to a Karaoke bar ? Maybe he had the answer … he felt that his life simply wasn’t good enough so he did something about it … little extreme for some tastes, I grant you, but … he did something. He was happy … was … so who was I to judge ? He made people laugh and, for a time, forget their own lives, their own problems. You know, I think people envied him. Really. He had the balls to be what they wanted to be. HE’S NOT ELVIS … he knows that. Did I have any better solutions, any answers, any … thing ? The next day, a letter arrived which gave me an idea. It was actually a bill for 46 Euro that’s 45 for the pizza and 1 for the stamp. I phoned and put a little proposition to them. They could have Elvis eat there every night for a week. I got him a booking …                   

Elv: What’s that you say, boy ?

Col: Elvis, you listen and listen good. 

(Speaks in a heavy, Southern accent)

I’m an old army man and I’m used to discipline. Now I’ve been good to you, almost too good, lettin’ you enjoy the fruits of your labour, an’ all. But heavens to Murgatroyd, they want you ! Your public’s crying out … they’ll be banging on the doors… Elvis, you’ve got to throw a little bone once in a while. I’ve got you booked into a week’s residency and by golly, you’re gonna do it.

Elv: A gig ?

Col: You betcha a gig.

Elv: Enough to keep us here, safe in Graceland ?

Col: More pizza than even you can imagine … but ya gotta get back into shape, son, back into motion.

Elv: Yeah, I have to … warm up a bit, that’s all. Why I can hear the crowd now … faint but expectant … murmuring. I can feel the excitement mounting … the lights, the make-up people running around, the choir doing their scales, musicians tuning. I gather my children around me for a little prayer, the audience getting louder and louder, sweat beginning to pour. I’m calm, gotta keep my people under control, but my heart’s pounding. I owe so much. People living their humble, God-fearing lives, have this one night to get a taste of, a glimpse of … something … higher. They need me … they need me to show them the way, to give them hope, belief, happiness … they need my love … they deserve … my love.

(Colonel slowly exits during Elvis’ speech. As Elvis reaches the end, ‘If I Can Dream’ comes on so that he can go immediately into his routine. He mimes along to the entire song. There should be no parody in the performance. Elvis can give out towels or flowers to women and as the music ends, the play finishes and lights go down.)

Notes

(1) Reichtstag – the German Parliament building.

(2) A reference to former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl

(3) Ku’Damm the main shopping road in west Berlin

Subject Index: Film, TV, Theatre & Music

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

Music

Abba ‘Mamma Mia’ // Young Learners 2 // 18th May 2019

The Archies ‘Sugar, Sugar’ // KinderGarten 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 Class, Level 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’ // KinderGarten Safari 1 // 2nd March 2019

Flying Lizards ‘Money’ // Adult Class, Level 3 // 14 November 2019

James ‘Sit Down’ // KinderGarten 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’ // KinderGarten 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 Class, Level 3 // 4th December 2019: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2019/12/03/adult-class-level-3-the-russian-soul/

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’ // KinderGarten 1 // 24th January 2019

Reading exercises

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

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Home is where the heart is.

8th June 2020

Today, lots of new words to help you describe the area in which you live (the area you live in). For my classroom-students, I can listen to pronunciation and help them with natural rhythms but online students should use a dictionary with sound … then practice, practice, practice.

Vocabulary booster

Where do you live ? What’s the area like ?

Căn hộ Homyland Riverside | Gia Phát Investment
Apartment block in District 2, Sai Gon
Two-up two-down - Wikipedia
Two-up, two-down houses in UK
Happiness Full Hanok Guesthouse, Jeonju, South Korea - Booking.com
Traditional house in Jeonju, South Korea
South Side Chicago Neighborhoods | South Side Chicago Projects ...
The Projects, South Side, Chicago
Istanbul Buildings - Turkish Building Design - e-architect
Apartment in Istanbul, Turkey
Lagos shanty megastructures
Lagos, Nigeria … a plan for the future ?

Remember to link words together – it’s called ‘chunking’ in IELTS language.

I live in a: 

quiet, residential street. Peaceful at night.

lively and busy commercial area, many shops

dirty and dusty industrial part of town. Very noisy.

What Happened To County Kilburn? | Londonist
How would you describe living here ?

My home is a / an:

apartment and I live alone

rented room which I share with friends

house and I live with my family

Things you wanted do know when visiting an Indian home for dinner ...
Their home is _____

advantages and disadvantages pros and cons 

adverbs of degree

(quite, rather, very, extremely, incredibly, remarkably, unbelievably) 

I travel to work by motorbike. It’s quite far and extremely stressful.

Using Grabbike. It’s very convenient albeit rather expensive.

On the bus. Although it’s incredibly cheap, it’s not very pleasant.

Bangkok by Bus: A cheap way to see the top sights,or simply get ...
does she get to work ?

Idioms and expressions

At work I:

find myself doing the same thing day in day out. It’s tedious.

am always busy, attending meetings or writing reports.

have a variety of different jobs, I don’t have time to get bored !

Asia business woman success celebration keeping arms raised at ...

Notice the collocations

In my free time I:

enjoy watching films and playing sports. I am competitive !

adore hanging out with my friends and family.

love shopping. I can spot a bargain and I hate being ripped off !

Spice Souk, Old DUBAI - UNITED ARAB EMIRATES | Visit dubai, Dubai ...
What does she like doing … ?

Learning English is, for me:

easy, a piece of cake. It’s very important and fun.

vital for the future. In my opinion it’s imperative we learn.

a necessary task. It’s awkward and frustrating, but I need it.

highly enjoyable and relaxing. I love to improve my mind.

English Classes - International Linguistic Program - Destination ...
An international English class in Canada

The War Remnants Museum is

extremely popular with tourists, a major attraction in the city.

well laid-out and organised. The exhibits are fascinating.

very somber and thought-provoking. Well worth a visit.

educational and essential. We can discover much there.

not suitable for children, though I would recommend it to adults.

Ho Chi Minh City: where bikes rule the roads | Mascaras and Backpacks

Increase your word power

Match the basic words with others of similar meaning (synonyms)

For example boring = tedious

interesting / on time / forgetful / live (I live in) / happy / unhappy / get (a qualification) /

reside / punctual / fascinating /absent-minded / jovial / miserable / attain /

smart (clever) /place / tired / reliable / great ! / try /

brilliant / exhausted / intelligent / endeavor / environment / dependable /

honest / make / bad (evil) / small / unimportant / not often /

prepare / seldom / nasty / insignificant / trustworthy / minute

Now make sentences with the new words e.g. (for example)

After studying for three years, Jenny attained her BA Degree.

Beautiful Chinese Graduate Stock Photos - FreeImages.com
Congratulations, Jenny !

Music vocabulary

What do these words means ?

rhythm / melody / lyrics / beat / solo / orchestration

Genres (types of music):

pop / rock / country and western / punk / classical / jazz / blues

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 Mechanics: Olympics – going for gold.

10th February 2019

This is a lesson plan for an adult class I teach comprised mainly of professional engineers and mechanics. The level is mixed, as is natural with all classes, but I would place most students at Intermediate level. In order to boost them to the next stage, I will introduce more expressions, higher vocabulary and more student talking time.

I’ll be trying to implement a CELTA-style plan: ‘Present, Practice, Produce’ (PPP) which basically means I demonstrate some new language, allow the students to practice and then use the language on their own, checking for pronunciation, intonation and context. The key word is PRACTICE; whatever your field, whatever natural talent you may possess, you have to be disciplined and work, train … which brings us (neatly, I thought) to our subject – the Olympics.

Aside – the themes aren’t really that important, they are merely a starting point for learning. Having said that, they have to hold some measure of interest for the student. Allow me to quote the C15th monk John Lydgate, “You can’t please all the people, all of the time.” Even if some of the students aren’t big sports fans, they will at least be aware of the Games, and should find the videos interesting and beneficial.

I’ll begin with a video about the Olympics. It’s aimed at young native speakers, which is helpful for English – learners as the language will be easier to follow. Additionally, it will introduce some European history to my Vietnamese learners, and afford them the chance to listen to native speakers at a natural pace. And now, without further ado, the video:

Video: Listening practice

Try to watch before the lesson, and make a note of any new vocabulary.

listen for: gather together/ for the length of the games/ common ground/ truce

in honour of/ originally/ ancient/ off and on/ alternating / interlocking/ myth/

Questions – Ask each other Speaking practice

When were the first Games ? When were the final (ancient) games held ?

Who was Zeus ?

How many events were there at first ? What events were later added ?

What were winners given ? 

Where and when were the first modern games staged ?

What are the Paralympics ?

What are gold medals made of ?

Why were the five colours of the rings chosen ?

What is the goal of the Olympics ?

“The most important thing is not to win but to take part.” Do you agree ?

Video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsDY1Ha83M8

What do you think of the video ? Give positive and negative reactions.

Try to use some of the following expressions:

spectacular / impressive / co-ordinated / visually stunning / well-organised / you get what you pay for

a waste of money / a drain on natural resources / spectacle but no substance

Team work speaking practice

The Olympics are going to be held in Vietnam. Is this good or bad ?

Divide the class into two teams, one ‘for’, the other ‘against’.

Points to consider:

The cost – how will it be financed ?

How can it generate revenue for Vietnam ?

Impact on the environment 

Does Vietnam have the infrastructure to cope ?

Is south-east Asia a good choice in terms of climate ?

Is Vietnam a good choice ? 

Does it have big cities ? 

Does it have space for an Olympic village ?

What about crime and petty theft ? 

Are the police able to deal with the influx of crowds ?

Do the Vietnamese people care enough about sports ?

Is Vietnam enthusiastic about sports ?

Politics – people from all different countries and political beliefs will arrive. Could that be an issue ?

The legacy – what will happen after the Games are over ?

Raising awareness of Vietnam on the world stage. 

What do people think when they hear ‘Vietnam’ ?

Encourage overseas investors

Is the cost worth it ?https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2012/oct/23/london-2012-olympics-cost-total

This is from a ‘high-brow’ newspaper and quotes a figure of £8.921 billion. Can Vietnam afford this kind of money ? In China, a lot of money went on infrastructure such as improving airports, subways and roads, and it has been claimed that a profit of $146 was generated. However, Montreal took over 30 years to pay off debts incurred by hosting the Olympics.

Part of the London Olympic complex with the athletes village and, in the distance, the Olympic Stadium, now home to West Ham football club.
Sir Paul McCartney at the Olympic opening ceremony in London 2012

What could Vietnam organise for an opening ceremony ?

Make a plan for the next lesson. Think about celebrating the country’s traditions, nature, economy, history, beauty. What would attract people to Vietnam ?

Welcome to Vietnam – the image
Welcome to Vietnam – the reality