IELTS: Intonation, stress, let me feel the emotion (Volume 1)

16th November 2020

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for my Asian students is copying the speech patterns of English, how our voices rise and fall, how we pause for effect then stress key words, augmented by body language and facial expressions.

Best way to improve is to copy so, without further ado, some classic film lines.

Let’s dive in !

First up, ‘The Italian Job’, a British film from 1969 starring Michael Caine, who is still working today, an actor from south London: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8g_GeQR8fJo

“You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off !”

Now, let’s cross the pond (the Atlantic Ocean) and go Stateside, with Tom Cruise being yelled at (shouted at) by Jack Nicholson who you may remember from a previous video. The clip is from ‘A Few Good Men,’ a 1992 drama: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5j2F4VcBmeo

This can be for two students or teams: Start at 0:13 – 0:19

“You want answers,”

“I want the truth,”

“You can’t handle the truth !”

Movin’ on, most of most students are teenagers … this one’s for them. Emely Martinez and some informal, vernacular: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7nyqZJG1WU&list=PLcFdqEA1TNzMEObFQ-XYy4u6dYnrkUSEa&index=13

Watch from the beginning

“Oh my gosh, I think I’ve just come up with the best theory … teenage life sucks !”

Now for a personal favourite, the inimitable Peter O’Toole an actor I had the pleasure of seeing, and briefly meeting, back in my London days. Here, Peter is on a talk show, explaining about a long, arduous flight from Japan to the USA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuhHThAaymQ

I heartily recommend watching the whole clip, however our section starts at 2:21

“Coming from Japan, one indeed stops at lots of places … Hawaii and all over … and it coincided, our stopping, with the cocktail hour … everywhere we went, it was cocktail hour … and one doesn’t want to be discourteous …”

Finally, my favourite TV chef (after Keith Floyd, obviously) is the beautiful Ching-He Huang

My Day on a Plate: Ching He-Huang

Here’s an assortment of phrases and lines from one of her numerous YouTube clips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVmAMQYTtHk

The whole clip is under two minutes. Here are some selections, in order of appearance.

“From street food to fine dining, Hong Kong is the place that has some of the best food on the planet. Every time I come my absolute favourite thing to do is eat.”

“So this is the pineapple bun, this is the moment I’ve been waiting for, it’s flakey and it’s sweet … it’s really good.”

“It’s small and punchy … just like you !”

“The sweetness of the prawns … eeerrrrrrrr !”

“This is some serious woking !”

The last phrase shows how we can play with English; a wok is a traditional Chinese frying pan. Here, Ching uses the noun (wok) to form a verb (woking), which is non-standard, in fact, it isn’t in any of the online dictionaries I searched. Having said that, most native-English speakers watching the show will know what she means.

If you are unsure, Ching is saying that the restaurant is extremely busy, there is a lot of high-energy cooking going on (woks are associated with high-temperature, very quick dishes).

Ching-He Huang recipes - BBC Food

Adult Speaking Class, level 3: Married Life; phrasal verbs & new expressions

19th September 2020

A varied lesson plan. Firstly, we’ll (we will) start with a talk about married life. After, we’ll focus on phrasal verbs and finally we’ll conclude with some new expressions.

Naturally there will be many opportunities for you to practise, and I’ll (I will) include the answers at the end of the blog.

Married life

Conversation Practice

Shu Qi & HK-star Stephen Fung are getting married!! Congratulations 👏👏 |  Wedding, Pre wedding photos, Wedding shoot
Getting Married in Denmark, No 1 for international couples

What advise would you give to someone getting married ?

How does life change after marriage ?

What is the normal marriage age in your country ?

Are married people expected to have children ?

How many children are expected ?

Is there pressure from family to have children ?

Is marriage ‘give and take’ ? Is it a continual compromise ?

How important are families in your country ?

Do you live in a nuclear or extended family ?

(nuclear = parents & children / extended= parents, children & grandparents, maybe aunts, uncles, nieces etc)

Britain should learn from India's family values
An extended family

Phrasal verbs

Learn more here: http://learnenglishteens.britishcouncil.org/vocabulary/advanced-vocabulary/family

Phrasal verbs: coming out // look after // hang up // turn down // give up // hang out // look up to // take after // turn up

What phrasal verb means:

take care of // spend time with friends // to be like someone // stop doing something // make music louder // make music softer (quieter) // to respect someone // turn off a phone conversation // plan to go outside

Want to Be a Better Husband? Hang Out With Good Friends - Focus on the  Family
Hang out with friends

Look after your young sister
(Treeless Mountain, South Korea, 2008)

Now … your turn

Which phrasal verb would you use?

Many people 1) ………. Nelson Mandela.

In ‘Treeless Mountain’, a young girl has to 2) ……… of her young sister.

She looks just like her mother, she really 3) ………. her.

Learning Mandarin is too hard, I 4) ………..

Are you 5) …… tomorrow night ?

New expressions / vocabulary

unique = one of a kind, there is only one of them, very special

numerous = many

typical = normal, usual

straightaway = immediately, right now

clue = evidence (the police look for a clue.) 

I haven’t got a clue = I’ve no idea !

First impressions count = the first thing you see is very important

blows your (my) mind = something so amazing, you almost can’t believe it.

Can’t judge a book by its cover = you can not tell what something or someone is like just by how it or they look.

We form a first impression within one tenth of a second of meeting someone  - Bias Beware
Making a very good first impression

Now … your turn

What words or expressions would you use ?

1. Can you please send me that email …….. (now).

2. He looks so quiet and nice, but he plays very loud guitar. That proves you …………………………………….

Welcome to the anyonecanplayguitar.co.uk YouTube channel - YouTube
He looks a very nice, quiet young man, but …

3. Don’t worry, there are ……. coffee shops on the main road.

4. Wow ! He knows so much, it totally ……………. (really surprises me)

5. You can’t replace that broken vase, it was …….. (only one of a kind).

Broken Antique Clay Pot On A White Background Stock Photo, Picture And  Royalty Free Image. Image 7542747.

6. What is 1 693 093 divided by 37 ? I …………………………. (no idea at all)

You Just BLEW MY MIND Quickmemecom You Just Blew My Mind Memes | Quickmeme  | Meme on ME.ME
How do tell them I haven't got a clue.... - Giggs Manager | Meme Generator

Answers:

take care of // look after

spend time with friends // hang out

to be like someone // take after

stop doing something // give up

make music louder // turn up

make music softer (quieter) //turn down

to respect someone // look up to

turn off a phone conversation // hang up

plan to go outside // coming out

  1. look up to 2. take care of 3. takes after 4. give up 5. coming out

New expressions

1. straightaway or immediately 2. can’t judge a book by its cover 3. numerous 4. blows my mind 5. unique 6. haven’t got a clue !

Remember … practice, practice and practice

8-Year-Old Japanese Girl Stuns Robert Plant By Nailing Led Zeppelin Drum  Part | HuffPost

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Booking a room, and hotel vocabulary.

18th September 2020

A variety of speaking exercises and pair work to help you on your travels.

 

Welcome to the Haiyatt; in China, it's not the hotel it sounds like
File:WGBC2018IN-Participants at hotel reception 01.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Booking a hotel room

Vocabulary:

adjoining rooms– rooms next to each other 

amenities– services, shops, transport

bed and breakfast – small hotel or a room in someone’s house. 

complimentary breakfast– free, included in the price. 

Deposit – money paid in advance 

High season / low season– popular times

housekeeping– cleaning staff 

late charge– extra fee for not checking out on time.

Rate– the fee per room per night, per person. 

vending machine – machine that sells snacks, drinks.

Are Hotels a Great Location for Vending Machines?
B&B Là Gì? Khám Phá Thuật Ngữ B&B Trong Nhà Hàng Khách Sạn

You are going to Bangkok and need to book a hotel. What questions would you have ?

Airplane Arriving To Bangkok Airport Travelling To Thailand by moovstock on  Envato Elements

How much is the rate for 4 people ? What time is check-in / out ?

Could I book adjoining rooms ? What is in the area ?

Where exactly is the hotel ?

How do we get to the hotel from the airport ? 

Approximately how much is the taxi ?

Getting Around Bangkok - A Guide to Taxis, Buses, Trains and Mobile Apps -  BEAT HOTEL

Make a list.

Take turns being a tourist and working on front desk / booking.

Language to use:

Receptionist: Greet the guest / Ask for ID (passport, ID card). Check how many nights the guest(s) are staying / Ask to see booking confirmation /

What else could you ask ?

Guest: Explain you have a reservation / Present ID and booking confirmation. Ask about amenities in the hotel and what to see in the local area.

You could check if the hotel has a laundry service // can they book a taxi ? / do they organise tours ? Are there vegetarian restaurants in the area, or banks, money exchange, hairdressers ? What else could you need ?

Now … your experiences:

TripAdvisor's Worst Hotels In The World - Thrillist Nation
Terrible And Dirty Broken Shower In A Cheap Hotel Stock Image - Image of  repair, cheap: 114694251

What was your favourite hotel room and why ?

 Conversely, what was your worst room ?

What was bad about it ? In what way were you disappointed ? 

How did the service excel ? Was it good value for money ?

Would you strongly recommend it ?

How did you find the staff ? Was it easy to get to ?

Is it in a safe neighbourhood ?

American Horror Story: The Cecil Hotel | by Josh Dean | Matter | Medium

Idioms Part 3: All above board, nothing under the table.

4th June 2020

Time to put your money where your mouth is !

We’ve had two previous posts chockablock with idioms. Now, when push comes to shove, can you use them in your everyday English. Remember, those studying for IELTS will get extra points by demonstrating a knowledge of idiomatic language … so pull your finger out and put your nose to the grindstone.

This is an extended dialogue sequence. Practice the idioms and intonation and stress. You may wish to try short sections first, before attempting the whole exercise.

Hello, how’s your day been ?

Oh, so-so. And you ? Did you finish off the reports ?

Yes, more or less. 

You better make sure they’re finished. You know what the Director’s like.

I know. If things aren’t done, all hell breaks loose !

Better keep on his good side. What else do you need to do ?

File some invoices, send off some emails and I need to get hold of Anna in HR.

I think she’s off sick today. 

That’s a pity. Did you finish the wages ?

Yes, piece of cake ! Now I’m going through all the bank statements for the last quarter.

Not cooking the books I hope. Are we still going out tonight ?

Oh, sorry, I can’t know. Something’s come up.

What ? I thought you wanted to see the film. Johnny Depp’s in it.

I know, but I have to work late. Why don’t you ask the Director ? He’s really into cinema.

I don’t think so !

Why not ? He’s such a charming man.

Well, I beg to differ. He’s an old windbag and he drinks like a fish !

Johnny Depp Is Face of Christian Dior Parfums | Hollywood Reporter
Mr Johnny Depp
46 Best Plays - Comedy images in 2018
My manager drinks like a fish
The Smiths - This Charming Man (Acoustic Version) - YouTube
A charming man
Insurance Company Broker Caught Cooking the Books - Workers ...
Writing false numbers – cooking the books
Are men really talking too much? We've done the maths | Stuff.co.nz
Talk, talk, talk … what an old windbag !