Apart from idioms, phrasal verbs and low-frequency words (LFW), IELTS students need a collection of expressions and collocations to spice up their English.
With that in mind, here are some notes from the previous lesson, along with revision exercises and a splattering of vibrant vocabulary.
As for speaking tests, I listened to eight students last week and only heard one complex sentence. Now, it wasn’t one of my classes; my students know exactly what I will do if they don’t speak in IELTS-style sentences:
I just jammed around with two key words: ‘heart’ & ‘gold’.
Exercise 1: define these expressions & idioms
a heart of gold
a heart to heart
hand on heart
a heart of stone
a heart of gold (yes, again, it’s called practice)
as good as gold
the golden touch
silence is golden (especially when one works in Vietnam)
Exercise 2: use these expressions & idiomsin an IELTS style, employing complex sentence(s).
EXAMPLE: My mother, who works incredibly long shifts at the hospital, has a heart of gold. Even when she is exhausted, she always finds time for me.
facetious // uncharacteristically // overheads // euphemism // lingua franca // prima donna
shaking in my boots // going to powder my nose // going to see a man about a dog // footloose and fancy free
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In a previous blog I tried, against my nature, to show a positive side to Zoom teaching. Teachers, TAs, admin staff are kept in employment, albeit with significant pay cuts, while the students are able to practise their English skills … should they choose.
I’m trying to keep this light-hearted, but all anecdotes are true, based on my experiences of Zoom. CUT TO last year, our first period of lockdown.
I can’t turn my light on, I’ve got no power
First up, back in the early days, teachers went to campus and used laptops to hold Zoom classes. The first five or ten minutes were spent waiting for late-comers, asking people to put their cameras on, then to KEEP their cameras on, ditto mics. One character, a teenage boy was sitting in darkness … this was a daytime class and Sai Gon in the day in bright, big time. Said teenager claimed that he had no electricity in his house, therefore could not put on the lights.
Do you sense a ‘however’ coming on ?
However … his laptop was working (sure, maybe it was running on battery). His wifi was working, but, the smoking gun … a slither of bright light from the corner of the room. Yes, said young gentleman had drawn his curtain and was ‘claiming’ he had no power.
Do you sense another ‘however’ coming on ?
However … I had an ace up my sleeve for, off-screen but next to me was my manager. I updated Mr No-Power on this development. A native teenager lying to an English teacher is not so unique. But would he lie to his Vietnamese manager. Damn right he would.
Just the tip of the iceberg. My camera’s not working
The teacher asks, politely requests, a student to put the camera on. This is after the class has seen a slide giving class rules AND a video in Vietnamese explaining what is expected. It is expected that students will put on their cameras. CUT TO a black screen, and yet another (here is where a teacher needs the patient of a whole temple of Buddhas) invitation to turn on the camera. Student claims camera is not working. Unfortunately, student had turned ON the camera and we could all see, in glorious Technicolor, the student, bold as brass (but thick as a brick). The mistake was then realised, and the student could be seen reaching for the lower corner of the laptop, and camera fades to black.
But that’s just one or two rotten apples, right ?
Are you kidding ? I teach IELTS which is the serious subject; a good grade here is a passport to a different country, to study, to live, maybe get exposed to different points of views, philosophies and outlooks. So you would think the students would be really motivated, right ?
Think again, pucko !
I had one IELTS class with about eight or nine students, including professional people and even a doctor. Guess what … despite the rules being reiterated, the Vietnamese-language video, I end up speaking to eight or nine black screens. Every lesson.
Doesn’t your campus kick ass ?
Kiss ass rather than kick ass. They go, half-heartedly through the motions, make rules but lack the balls to enforce them.
The reasons are clear. Firstly, this is not a state school, the students are CUSTOMERS … they generate revenue. It is a business axiom that the customer is always right. A business needs to keep and expand its customer base. My campus wants customers to return, to tell their friends, schoolmates, family members, each and everybody, they produce Disneyesque promotional films of photogenic children saying how they love learning here, and how they love their teachers (ya never see the fat ugly kids with buck teeth do ya).
Oh, man, you must be puttin’ me on ?
I wish ! You can look for yourself on YouTube, though not too soon after eating; there are stomach-churningly nauseating. Furthermore, the punters are locals, they are Vietnamese. I’ve seen some YouTube videos of a South African man explaining a similar situation in China. When push comes to shove, the natives support each other. Always. Teachers are a dime a dozen, they come ‘n’ go, and who can blame them ? Customers are more valued, they will always take precedence over a foreigner (that is how we are designated). Ready for one or two final delicacies ?
But teenagers are famous for their good behaviour
Haha, yeah good one. Just a brief entrance here. I had one class, back at campus, with some teens. I began saying hello to each student. Some would just stare at me, refusing to say a word. Then they initiated a new game; I would call a customer and rather than answer immediately, the teen would say, “Me ?” with terrible over-acting, faux surprise. This carried on with every subsequent teen. Finally, a teen, let’s called her Mary, copied her classmates, to wit:
Me: Mary, what’s number 3, please ?
Mary: Me ?
Cue the Beethoven
Me: Is your name Mary ?
Me: Then answer the question and stop wasting my time.
I went on to explain that I will do everything to help anyone who really wants to learn. However, those who just want to insult me and disturb my lesson … well, let’s Samuel L. explain:
Finally, (though you can guess this one could run and run), another IELTS class. I was given a real motley crew of unmotivated, unanimated, lifeless schlimels (if you don’t know what that means, look it up, I ain’t doing all the work for you). One schliemel was a teenage boy, a poster-boy for gormlessness. He informed me, by chat box, that his mic wasn’t working. Now, IELTS is all about speaking and practising, it ain’t just watching the teacher, it ain’t TV, dig ? You’ve gotta join in or you are wasting your (parents’) money.
Did you strike down upon him with great vengeance and furious anger ?
I farmed out that hit. Stopped the lesson and let everyone see that I was contacting Customer Care who, in turn, phoned gormless schliemel. Lo and behold, the mic miraculously started working. The guy would have been happy to sit and listen for an hour or two without contributing anything. After, he could go away and laugh that he hadn’t done any work.
If the job sucks, why d’you do it ?
Good question. I’ve spoken to many teachers, in various countries, and the answer is generally, ‘What else can I do ? It’s my profession’. And, at the moment, I don’t need to tell you, travel just ain’t as easy as it used to be.
Is there anything good about it ?
No. OK, I’m pulling your leg. A minority of students are sweet, respectful and polite. They really want to learn, and I can see the progress week by week. Occasionally, very occasionally, an adult student can become a friend, while the younger kids provoke avuncular feelings. Very rarely, one gets to meet a Princess. But these, as stated, are the minority.
Konzerthaus Berlin, on Gendarmenmarkt, in the Mitte district.
Part Five. Berlin. Winter 1994
Chris arrived home a little after three in the morning, being quiet, but not too quiet, hoping that if Richard were awake, he could tell him about the new look Czar Bar and how he had seen Jake, Gaptooth and a new German who looked exactly like David Hockney.
He opened the door to the main room, the light from the hall casting a dramatic beam straight up to Richard, arms sprawled, head at an awkward angle, half undressed, not moving, a quilt partially covering him but not a sound.
Chris’ heart stopped. He immediately sobered up and ran to the body, reaching for the pulse and holding his hand in front of the nostrils. The wrist pulsated, the back of Chris’ hand was chilled by breathe.
He got up and looked in the kitchen, turning on the light without any danger of waking Richard. There, on the table, were seven or eight cans of cheap beer, most of them empty and crushed. Then he looked in the bin, and there were three of four more empties.
Chris walked back into the room and did his best to make Richard comfortable, taking off the one shoe he still wore, his watch, in case he caught himself, and put the quilt fully over him, as the Ofen was going out and the room was getting cold.
He stoked up the Ofen and went to sit in the kitchen, taking one of the remaining beers and calmly drinking until his heart could return to a normal rhythm.
It had stirred up a painful memory, one that had haunted his childhood.
At eight or nine, Chris had found his elder sister on the bathroom floor, vomiting and screaming. Not knowing what to do, he just cried and went to hold her, joining in her screams.
And then he felt her slip away.
He sat with her until his parents came home, who told him that she had eaten too many sweets and was now sleeping, aware that this simply wasn’t true, that something very, very bad had happened, but not knowing why or what, except that he really did know what, but would never know why.
Sitting in his Berlin kitchen, sipping the gassy, tasteless beer, his heart still pounding, Chris was unaware that he was crying.
Richard had seemed so happy. He had been dancing around the flat, not complaining about the sudden drop in temperature which would mean another six months of chopping wood, wearing coats indoors and going into the cellar for briquettes.
He had caused a minor sensation at work, by thanking the staff when they brought him dirty plates and singing along to the radio. He was speaking to Chris about Biberkopf one night at the Ankor.
“It’s always on the same station,” he said of the work radio, ”and they only have about fifty records, which they play in various sequences. There’s a few classics, a few modern hits, and a whole bunch of shit. As for those new Elton John songs, postcards and that bloody cat …”
“That’s not Elton John. I know who you mean and it’s some American asshole.”
“Really ? Well, whatdoyaknow ? Oh, I heard that Crash Test Dummies song, you know the one ? Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm ? Fucking freaky goddamn lyrics, kids with weird birthmarks, and white hair. Never heard it before, but there was this drunk guy in London who was humming it on the tube, late one night. Actually it’s a really good song. Can’t stop humming it, myself. Oh, and what’s that Bryan Ferry song about Berlin ? Non-stop Berlin ?”
Chris looked puzzled, then understood.
“Oh, I know what you mean and every word is wrong ! Nearly every word. It’s ‘Don’t Stop The Dance’.”
“Think I prefer my version.”
“Me, too. More appropriate.”
And they burst into an impromptu rendition, much to the surprise of the cute, ginger-haired waitress, who clearly wasn’t impressed.
“I was thinking,” began Richard, “we should have a culture night, The Gang. I was looking through Tip at work, (Tip is one of two listing magazines, the other being Zitty. Both cover a two week period and come out alternate weeks. Tip is the glossier of the two) and there are so many concerts going on. Classical concerts and Opera. Looks quite cheap, too.”
Chris leant back, drank some beer and thought. “All right. Yeah. A night at the Opera. Let’s go.”
He got up and went to the magazine rack, taking the copy of Zitty (which was favoured by the alternative scene) and opened it to the music pages.
“Here, the Komische Oper, ‘Strange, or funny Opera’. They perform in German, I think. Yeah. Hey, look … Thursday and, yeah, great, Saturday, Carmen by Bizet. I could dig that.”
“You know Bizet never went to Spain ?”
“Would that be true ?”
“Aye, it would.”
“Well, I say. I’m gonna file that under ‘interesting but also boring facts’.”
“Well, you do what ya gotta do.”
The following Saturday, Monika, Chris, Gabi, Lorelei, Arizona Al and Richard all met in the foyer of the theatre. Arizona was last to arrive, and turned up in knee length purple boots, dark green velvet trousers, an old, brown leather flying jacket, and floppy hat, a thin, wooden instrument strung across his back.
He bounded into the theatre, jumping up the steps. He got quite a few interested and happy looks, and even gave a small performance, singing ‘Ring of Fire’ on his curious contraption.
“Hey, like my dulcimer ? Pretty cool, hey ? I did some busking on the U-Bahn earlier and made enough to pay for my ticket.”
The coat-check girl was also amused by the dulcimer as Arizona handed it to her, along with his hat and slightly effeminate, small shoulder bag.
Richard had the tickets and led them into the auditorium, finding the six seats, and was a little put out that Arizona sat down next to Lorelei, leaving him on the outside.
They all looked around the hall, admiring the décor and the atmosphere. The musicians could be heard tuning up, but were out of sight. Arizona Al lifted himself up, straining to see where the music was coming from, and turning to Richard, asked him,
“Hey, where’s the orchestra ?”
“In the pit.”
Arizona couldn’t contain himself, but jumped up and down in his seat, pounding the arms of the chair and inadvertently bashing into Lorelei.
“Hey, listen up, man, I just asked Richard where the orchestra was, and he said, ‘in the pit’. Orchestra pit ! I never knew what that meant before !”
They all enjoyed the show, Arizona especially, who watched it with a child’s innocence, and Richard was continuously nudged, poked and slapped.
After, they went to a bar in the old Nikolaiviertal, one of the oldest areas of Berlin, recently made over and gentrified, but still retaining a definite charm, due to the river Spree forming the western border, and the imposing, brick, twin-spired Nikolaikirche dominating the cobbled-streets of quaint shops and bars.
Gabi meet a friend, Heike, who worked in stage design and had also seen the new production of Carmen.
Chris said, “Oh, hey, did you know, Bizet, the guy who wrote it, never even went to Spain ? Isn’t that just the craziest ?”
The Gang all found this very interesting, and when Richard turned to look at Chris, he saw him lower his eyes and hastily take a long gulp of beer.
Before Richard left for work on Monday, he met Chris, just back from the studio who informed him,
“Arizona had a great time. Told me he made a connection with Heike.”
“Oh, you mean they got on well ?” asked Richard.
“No, dude, he fucked her. Twice, apparently. Said it was his first … ‘connection’ in Berlin.”
“Ah, yes, he broke his duck.”
“He wants to go out with us, again.”
“I bet he does. We’re not his pimps, you know.”
“You mean procurers ? Never mind. You know what’s opening this week ? Pulp Fiction ! The new Tarantino !”
“Man, I’ve been counting the days, big time.”
“We can all go, Saturday. It’ll be at the Odeon, English version with Kraut text.”
“I have to get to my terrible job now, but you get The Gang onto it. That is your mission, should you choose to accept it.”
Chris saluted, as Richard made his way to the elevated U-Bahn station and waited on the chilly platform for the westbound train.
So Arizona had made his first conquest. Chris had already been with a couple of girls, but, so far, Richard had struck out. But he was waiting. Lorelei had left her boyfriend. Maybe he had played at least some small part in her decision ? She had sent over messages, had come to the Opera and he was sure she was expecting him to sit next to her. At the end of the night, she had kissed him on the cheek, and held his arm. He took all this as a sign that he only had to be patient and the girl he was so in love with would be his.
However, only Arizona, Chris, Monika and Richard made it to the cinema. Gabi wanted to see it in German and Lorelei was going with her.
Again, Richard was next to Arizona in the cinema but, once he realized Lorelei wasn’t coming, due to a choice of languages, he sat back, swigged his beer and waited for the excitement to begin. They had been surprised at the cast: John Travolta ? Bruce Willis ?
But from the opening scenes in the diner, and the title music, they knew they were in for one hell of a ride.
The twist contest took place, Richard digging Arizona in the ribs,
“Hey, this cat can really dance.”
Arizona jumped up and pointed to the T-shirt Tarantino was wearing in the kitchen scene, as he recognized the logo and began telling a story about it, making Richard miss untold lines.
The highlight of the night, however, occurred in the last diner scene. The Samuel L. Jackson character has a wallet embossed with the legend, ‘Bad Motherfucker’. The German translation for this, when it appeared, full screen in a classic Tarantino close-up, was, ‘Böser Schwarzer Mann’ (Angry Black Man.)The entire cinema erupted into spontaneously laughter.
From that point on, they re-enacted lines of dialogue and added new words to their vocabulary.
Every time a customer ordered mayonnaise with chips, Richard let out an, ‘Errrchh, they fuckin’ drown ‘em in that shit, I seen ‘em do it!’, to the total mystery of the east German chef.
One night Richard got a call at work. It was Lorelei. She said that Monika was over at the nearby Café Haller, and was wondering if he wanted to come over, when he’d finished his shift.
He worked at double speed the remainder of the evening.
As clean and fresh as possible after a five hour shift in a hot kitchen, he walked over to the bar where Lorelei had started working. She was finishing up her shift, adding up her dockets, and gave Richard a hug, as he cried out how good it was to see her.
As he looked over, he saw Monika waving from a far table. Next to her was a man in a leather jacket. Lorelei explained that it was ‘only’ Werner, a really nice, harmless customer, who was keeping Monika company and keeping the leeches away. She told him to go sit, and she’d send a beer over, and gave him such a lovely smile and wink.
Monika stood up to hug and kiss Richard and Lorelei came over to sit next to Werner. He appeared to be in his mid thirties and had tight curly hair that looked one moment blonde, the next brown. He had rather protruding eyes and slightly buck teeth, but was very friendly and pleasant, the kind of guy you can always depend on to help move furniture, or pick you up from a distant location.
Richard tried speaking in German, which was improving, but still very basic. Lorelei said that it was cute to hear him, so he continued, as long as possible. At one point, he saw Werner look at him, with the kind of look that said, ‘how can two fucks like us be with two beautiful women like these ?’
Before Richard had finished his first beer, Werner said he had to leave, and Richard shook his hand like he was an old friend.
And then it all went wrong.
Lorelei looked at Richard, smiled and got up as well.
Richard thought that he would be the one, finally, to leave with Lorelei.
Instead, she turned to him and held out her hand. They shook, then she went over to Monika, kissed her goodbye, and left. With Werner.
Richard slumped down, feeling lifeless and humiliated and just plain lost.
“I’m never going to be with Lorelei, am I ?” was his rhetorical question.
Monika slowly shook her head, looking at him with real concern, not knowing what to say, and began to feel both uncomfortable and genuinely hurt, as if she could not only sense, but physically feel his pain.
She offered to drive him home, and suggested they go somewhere to drink in Prenzlauer Berg. He agreed and she almost had to help him out of the bar and into her car.
As they drove, Richard thanked her for everything, and told her that he’d be all right. He asked her to drop him by an U-Bahn station, where there would be an Imbiss open and he could buy some beer. It was better if he were alone, but he told Monika that Chris was at home.
She let him out and he waved her on. He didn’t want her to see him buying as many cans as he could carry.
A good introduction is not just beneficial but imperative for an impressive IELTS response. Therefore, this blog will mainly, although not exclusively, focus on a strong opening gambit, an attention-grabbing prologue.
If you need some time to think, employ one of these ‘time-buying’ expressions:
That’s a very interesting question
Well, there is so much to say about that subject, where shall I start ?
It’s funny you put that question to me because earlier today I was just thinking about …
Let me think …
How can I put it …
Well, I would say …
Quick warm up: What do you do in your free time ?
I meet my friends for coffee
One of my favourite things to do, if I have some spare time, is to hang out with my closest friends
Which answer do you think would impress the examiner ?
Now … your turn
Where would you like to visit in Viet Nam (or your own country) ?
DON’T answer immediately; introduce the answer by repeating or rephrasing the question:
Vietnam has many beautiful places but my choice would be Hoi An.
Vietnam is famous for it’s beautiful beaches, vibrant cities and amazing nature but for me, Hoi An is the one place I would love to explore.
1 Tell me about your hometown
Thank you for letting me introduce to you my hometown which is Da Nang, one of the biggest cities in Vietnam, although it is much smaller than Ha Noi or Sai Gon.
2Talk about a film you like
Talk about cinema or films in general DON’T immediately talk about your favourite film.
Watching films and going to the cinema is one of my passions, so choosing just one film is going to be terribly difficult, not to say impossible. However, if I have to select one film, it would be ‘Lost in Translation’, with Scarlett Johannsson.
3 Do you use computers at work or school ?
Laptops are an incredibly useful piece of technology. They can be used for work, hobbies, music and to stay in touch with friends.
Practice: try forming introductions for these questions
Do you live alone or with friends / family ?
How long have you lived there ?
Is there anything you don’t like about living there ?
What sort of accommodation would you like to like in ?
Do you like going shopping for clothes
Is fashion important to you ?
Do you have to wear a uniform at school or work ?
Where do you normally buy your food and why there ?
Do you do any sporting activities ?
What do you like to do at weekends ?
What would you change about your daily routine ?
Review … from my recent classes, make sure you have learnt these words and expressions:
once in a blue moon (very rare) // put my nose to the grindstone (work especially hard) // achieve on merit (to get something by working for it) // burn the candle at both ends (work day and night) // give or take (about, approximately) // big time ! (absolutely, totally, very much) // I’ll mull it over (I’ll think about it) //
although // additionally // therefore // moreover // having said that // on the other hand
Rewrite the following using IELTS-language:
English grammar is (adverb) boring and I spend about two hours a day studying grammar. I work all day, and go to evening class and then study. I study all day and night.
I almost never have any free time. If I have free time, I go to drink coffee. Coffee shops are everywhere but in some the prices are not cheap.
My friend Tom never studies. His uncle will give him a job, but I want to deserve my job. Tom is (adverb) lazy. I tell him to try to study grammar, to work very hard / but / he never listens. He thinks video games are very interesting. He (adverb) says he’ll think about it but nothing changes
so the result will be a ‘FAIL’
Coffee shops in Sai Gon are ubiquitous although in some, the prices are sky-high.
To make the lesson come alive, have the students act out scenes or give them a set time to make up sentences containing as many phrasal verbs as possible.
Same as Shakespeare … English is meant to be USED and SPOKEN … not just studied in a dry text book.
So, without further ado:
the cat out / the fire out / up with it (something unpleasant) / on a happy face
it in your own words / up or shut up ! / it away / it another way
well soon / over it ! / on with it / away with murder / on the bus
stuffed ! (impolite) / with the program (US) / some fresh air
a career move / your move a pig’s ear of something / a wish /
up for lost time / the best of something / fun of someone /
the right thing / away with that old technology / your best /
a funny walk / the dishes / your hair
it on ! / it to me / “my bow of burning gold” (poem) / about change
it up at the next meeting / a smile to my face / up children well
turns speaking / it up with the manager / up my trousers a little /
a good look at yourself / a hike ! / medicine / a deep breathe
look after/ think about / wear out / give up / grow up / takes after
tell off / look up to / hang up / go for / passed away
Phrasal verbs work like normal verbs, so they can be used in the infinite (look,think), the past tense (I wore out, I looked up to ..) and in continuous (I am hanging up now).
Make sentences using phrasal verbs in:
I need to think about that for a while. (present)
He gave up smoking ten years ago (past)
We are looking after our niece today (present continuous)
verb + particle e.g. find + out = find out (learn something)
The verb can be present, past, future or continuous:
I give up
I gave up
I’m finding out about HCM City.
I will (I’ll) find out about the cost.
buy out / up
give up / away /
CLUE: first identify what tense is being used
They were __________ free samples
The computers are down; we have to ________ the meeting
A soldier has to _______ orders
The company was ______ by a Japanese company
The stocks are very low, we should ________ as many as we can
Don’t ________ on your dream 🙂
Make sentences with these phrasal verbs:
take care of // hold on // move on // take over // think it over
look after // think about // give up // grow up // takes after // tell off // look up to
Which phrasal verbs fits here ?
She really …………. her father, they are so alike.
I can’t go out, I have to ……….. my nephew.
Mandarin is too hard, I just …………. (past tense verb)
Many Vietnamese ………………. Uncle Ho
I’m not sure which bank is best. Let me ………. it and get back to you.
I had to ………….. my son because he ate all the cakes.
My manager is very immature. He needs to ………… and quickly !
give up / go for / grow up / hang out with / hang up / look after / look up to / tell off / passed away / takes after /think about / wears out
Izzy is talking to Kate on Skype. Izzy can’t go out on Saturday because she has to
____________ (take care of, be responsible for) her little sister, Georgie. Izzy says she’ll __________ (consider) bringing Georgie too. Georgie interrupts, and Izzy has to
_____________ (end the phone/Skype conversation). Georgie’s hamster has ________
(died) and she’s upset. Izzy says she loves her little sister but she __________
(makes her tired).
Meanwhile, Sam is wondering why Izzy doesn’t want to _____________ (spend time with) them. He thinks Izzy should bring Georgie to the cinema, but maybe Izzy won’t ________
(like, agree to) the idea.
Izzy is annoyed because her sister is trying to look like her, but Kate says it’s sweet that Georgie _____________ (respects and admires) her big sister. Izzy disagrees that they are similar; Georgie ______________(is similar to an older relative) her dad, whereas Izzy is more like her mum.
When Georgie asks Izzy to get her a hamster, Izzy gets angry. She tells her sister
to ________ (become an adult). Georgie says their dad will _______(Izzy)_______
(speak angrily to Izzy because she’s done something wrong). In frustration, Izzy says
“I __________ (admit defeat)!”. Fred and Sam take Georgie to look at some kittens, then they all go to the cinema. Georgie is the only one who isn’t scared by the film.
17th September for 23rd September. AEF 3 pp. 50 – 51
Last week, we covered past tense – simple, continuous and perfect. However, that is a lot to take in, especially for students who are not so confident. Looking at charts and learning the jargon can be daunting and far too theoretical.
This problem has long been identified and addressed; grammar, as theory, reduced to a minimal. Grammar, used in writing and more importantly speaking, maximised.
Therefore, my policy in this block of lessons (four per block) is to reduce book work, simplify the theory and try to allocate at least half the lesson to student-talking time.
Last night’s lesson seemed to work well; the Socratic approach which makes the students collect information and then collate it into a presentation. This was followed by students reading to each other in small groups, with some useful expressions to use … and repeat and repeat and …yeah, you get the idea.
Let’s go to work !
But first, back to basics. Some students are not fluent in the three forms of basic verbs:
Grammar – verb practice
Here’s the 15 most common:
infinite \ present // past // past participle (verb 3)
Regular verbs, just add -‘ed’. However, as you see, in this list only one common verb, ‘want’, is regular.
NOTE: ‘to be’ is different: I am hungry You are hungry She is hungry.
Now, practice: In groups of three or four, they have to ask each other questions in order to feel more natural using the past tense. Lets’s start simply with the simple past:
What did you do today ?PAST SIMPLE
Each student takes turns describing their day. Always give ideas, as some students spent too much time thinking of what to say, whereas the purpose is to speak.
I will also board: buy / drink / surf the internet / help parents / cook / do homework
To make it more interactive, the students can ask follow-up questions, such as, “What did you eat for lunch ?”, “What time did you start school ?”, “How did you get to work or school ?” etc. Groups can monitor each other to make sure past tense is being used properly.
NEXT: Past Continuous. Subject was doing something in the past ….
Example: Last night I was listening to T-ara:
However, we usually use past continuous to say we were doing something WHEN something new happened.
EXAMPLE: I was listening to T-ara when someone knocked on my door.
The structure is Subject + was or were + verbing, followed by past simple
Try this: dream // alarm clock ring
He was dreaming when the alarm clock rang.
Now – practice: Make a sentence from these pairs of photos:
Finally, the past perfect. Two things happened in the past, one before the other.
The students ‘met’ Dr Kafka last week.
Dr Franz Kafka had lived all his life in Prague until he moved to Berlin in the 1920s.
Subject + has or had + verb 3 then use past simple.
John Lennon – in The Beatles / goes solo in 1970
Dali – paint over 1 500 paintings / dies 1989
Bringing it closer to home, Bac Ho (Uncle Ho Chi Minh) – work London / meet these young Germans.
Finally, for presentation, the students can be arranged in four groups (draw playing cards so students work with new partners). I will give them ten minutes to work together and make a short presentation, with all members speaking, about the above four historical figures. Those who draw Ho Chi Minh should have an advantage, so I will be expecting more from them.
Presentations should include:
Date and place of birth.
Why there are famous
Give examples of their most famous works or activities
Where they lived
When and how they died.
ALSO – why we should remember them.
Then, I will turn to the books and hand-outs, before returning to some speaking practice before the end.