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.
26th November 2019. AEF 3 Listening Part 2 & Units 5 & 6 review (p.63)
Tonight, the lesson is heavy on listening and review. I try to get as much student-talking time as possible, so I’m got some ideas up my sleeve to, hopefully, lighten and brighten the class.
The topic is celebrity interviews, especially interviewing famous people who may be:
arrogant // self-obsessed // pretentious // obnoxious // full of themselves
Which of those words would, in your opinion, apply to these people:
Use opinion phrases (In my opinion, For me, He seems to be, I get the impression she is …)
A celebrity is anyone famous, but most often it’s an actor, musician, TV personality or just a regular person who has made the news (had a story about them in the newspaper, online media etc). Sometimes they can be arrogant or full of themselves in interviews. However, occasionally the interviewer may upset the star. What do you think is happening here [start at 04:23] in this Robert Downey Jr interview:
I have an assortment of activities for the speaking.
First up – small talk
I’ll hand out some papers with a short dialogue of small talk. This is basically learning how to keep a conversation going by using appropriate responses.
Students can use the following:
Really ? // I see // Are you ? // Right // That’s interesting // That’s a good point // Where is that exactly ? // Oh, me too // Do you enjoy it ? // Do you like it there ?
Then the students can pair up and ask each other questions such as:
Why are you studying English ?
Where do you live ?
Where would you like to visit ?
What do you do in your free time ?
What do you want to do in the future.
Students can change partners for each question.
Next up – Call My Bluff
Class put into two or three teams. Each team has a sheet with four words or phrases, followed by three definitions. A different member of the teams reads out a definition, embellishing the wording to make it more convincing. The opposing team have to guess the correct definition.
Finally, for a fun ending, the students can interview each other, but one pretends to be a difficult celebrity. They can use language from tonight’s lesson, or preferably, invent their own.
Tomorrow night’s class is heavy on speaking and listening. One theme is travel, focusing on getting to the airport or station. I’ve noticed that students in all classes, of all ages, prefer activities to actual bookwork. Hence, I shall do maybe up to an hour of ‘games’ designed to practise and reinforce vocabulary, introduce new expressions and, mostly, get the students producing English among themselves.
Again, I’ll be able to recycle material from other classes, adapted to the news of these specific students.
Firstly, I’ll introduce some common fixed expressions. Three should be enough at this level:
Long time no ….
At the end of the …
Better luck next ….
‘At the end of the … ‘ is a very common expression, especially used by footballers in post-match interviews. Here is just one example:
I will play this 2 or 3 times, asking the students what it is about and can they hear the expression (which is said twice).
Next up, a quick review of new vocabulary. I’ll show some definitions and the students have to give me the word or phrase:
What you think of something when you just see it (two words)
Something you want to do or achieve in life – a
Sending a file, picture or music using email –a
An adjective meaning very good – a
Expression meaning you have chosen the best area or shop or office – Y c t t r p.
The third activity is to practise speaking and using new language. Students are put into small groups and take turns speaking. The topic shall be travel, and the students have to use the following:
amazing / attachment / incredibly / predict / first impressions / you’ve come to the right place
With all speaking exercises, it helps if the teacher or a top student models first, so that all the students understand what they have to do. I shall use the same words but my theme shall be food:
On Saturday, I was out shopping and I felt very hungry. I went into a restaurant and my first impression was not encouraging. It looked a bit dirty and I predicted that the food wouldn’t be very exciting. However, they had an interesting menu with vegetarian options, which was amazing ! I ordered some pho and salad and it was incredibly delicious. I thought to myself I’ve come to the right place. I took some photos so I’ll send them to you by attachment on my next email.
The following activity maintains the groups. This activity shows three options for getting downtown from the airport. There are also three pairs of people who arrive at different times and have different requirements. The students must read the information and discuss the merits of each method. Then they must advise the travellers which method is best suited to their needs. This activity can be found on a previous blog, and the link is:
While they students work, the teacher shouldn’t interfere unless directly asked, or give too many extra instructions; the students need time to work alone and develop language skills. However, I can listen out for any mistakes in grammar, pronunciation etc. At the end of the exercise I can board these and the class can make corrections. This prevents an individual student becoming embarrassed.
Before the book work (today it’s listening to videos and answering comprehension questions), there is one more exercise from a book. The subject is ‘have you ever done it ?’ and the students are presented with 14 situations. There are given the base verb and have to answer the questions making sure to use both positive and negative answers. For example:
I ………… Star Wars films (see) I have seen all the Star Wars films
I ………. to Thailand (go) I have been to Thailand
Then it’s time for the assigned work. I’ll aim to work and leave about 15 minutes for some informal games. The Family Fortune (FF) game is very popular; here groups are given a board and marker and have to write four answers, some general knowledge, some about me. Examples from last night are:
Four countries in Europe
Four ways to say ‘hello’ except in Viet or English.
Four foods from Italy (here we have a lot of fun with exaggerated pronunciation). What better teacher than Christoph Waltz from ‘Inglorious Basterds’ ?
This scene can have two roles. First we compare how a Brit would respond to hearing of someone having an accident (turn our heads, look very sympathetic and say ‘Ahhhhhh, poor you,’). Then we see how Mr Waltz’s character responds (0:54 – 1:34). In the film, a young lady has broken her leg and the German inquires how the accident happened.
The Italian pronunciation scene begins at 2:24.
We can alternate with some personal questions such as ‘What will I do after work ?’, ‘What are four things I dislike about Vietnam ?’ and what four instruments can I play ?’ (It doesn’t matter if I can only play one, it’s just a test of vocabulary, and it makes me seem much more interesting !)