Peter O’Toole: a legend

24th December 2021

Oscar-nominated actor Peter O'Toole

During the 1950s a new group of actors emerged who captivated audiences, firstly on stage, later on screen. Talent, charm, charisma, personality, magnetism, attributes that could never be taught; actors such as Richard Burton, Richard Harris, John Hurt and Peter O’Toole had these gifts in abundance.

I was lucky in that living in London, I was able to go to the theatre and saw Mr John Hurt in ‘Month in the Country’, while I caught Peter O’Toole in ‘Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell’. Additionally, I once ‘met’ Mr O’Toole at a book signing in London.

Actor Peter O'Toole new book expose | UK | News | Express.co.uk
Peter O’Toole in ‘Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell’

As for Mr Richard Harris, I had the pleasure of serving him one time in an upmarket bakery in west London. He was on form that day, possibly having partaken of a liquid lunch. Unfortunately, I did not get the opportunity to see Mr Richard Burton. Now, back to Peter O’Toole.

I have a great clip of the magnificent Irish actor being interviewed by the fast-talking USA TV host David Letterman. Students can compare the two accents.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is jfqvjp6h5gpfnupzclbn.png

Letterman asks O’Toole if he has a story about fellow actor, Richard Harris. Instead of a rather pedestrian, “Let me see …,” O’Toole, cigarette in hand, responds, “Oh, I’ll shuffle through my memory,” before proceeding to tell said story (this occurs at 0:32 – 3:33).

The activity can be extended by asking the students to copy O’Toole’s voice and elocution. Obviously I don’t condone smoking but students have had great fun sitting crossed legged, imaginary cigarette held aloft, and repeating, “Oh, I’ll shuffle through my memory.”

The serious aspect here is to demonstrate the rhythms and stresses in English – the elongated “oh,” as he thinks, the focus on the verb, “shuffle’, the linking of “through my,” and the final stressed but downwards – intonations of “memory.” A lot of work covered in just six words. Good value for your teaching bucks !

Peter O'Toole Documentary | Brendan O'Connor - RTÉ Radio 1

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.

Poems for pronunciation practice.

16th April 2021

I loved the beat generation. Then I realised it has no place for women |  Books | The Guardian
Members of the ‘Beat Generation’ hanging out & chewing the fat in New York, 1950s. Allen Ginsberg, whose poem ‘Howl’ ends this blog, is on the right, smoking a cigarette.

A major issue I encounter with ESL students is pronunciation and associated features such as intonation, stress, rhythm and pacing. Therefore, I decided to select some English-language poems for practice in class, while online students can find a multitude of YouTube videos of poems being recited by professional actors. I shall add some links at the end of the blog.

Now, without further ado, poetry.

Amazon.com: Poetry: Jeong-hie Yun, Da-wit Lee, Hee-ra Kim, Nae-sang Ahn,  Myeong-shin Park, Yong-taek Kim, Hyun Seok Kim, Chang-dong Lee, Hyun Kim,  Dong-ha Lee, Jun-dong Lee, Michel Saint-Jean, Myung-soo Jung, Seung-ho Lee,  Sung-min
Poetry can take many forms, not just writing; poetry in cinema, in dance, in speech … in life.

Let’s take a look at the first poem, ‘Dreams’ from 1922.

Recite the poem slowly and clearly. In the first line, stress ‘fast‘ and ‘dreams‘.

Secondly, listen for the rhyming pattern in lines 2 & 4: ‘die’ rhymes with ‘fly’, while verse 2 rhymes ‘go’ with ‘snow.’

Regarding ‘colour’, which tone of voice to use, decide if this is a positive or negative poem. Discuss in class what you think and give reasons.

Remember, art (painting, cinema, literature etc) is subjective; each person is allowed to have their own opinion. Develop speaking skills to enable you to support your views (give reasons).

Dreams

BY LANGSTON HUGHES

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Read more at: https://www.biography.com/news/langston-hughes-poems

The following poem, from 1938, was featured in the British film ‘Four Weddings and a funeral’ (1994), and may be viewed here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDXWclpGhcg&ab_channel=englishclasspoems

Funeral Blues

By W.H. AUDEN

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message ‘He is Dead’.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

A highly emotional rendition, one person expressing their feelings over a loved-one’s death.

Let’s continue with a nonsense poem by Edward Lear from 1876:

The Akond of Swat

Who, or why, or which, or what, Is the Akond of SWAT?

Is he tall or short, or dark or fair?
Does he sit on a stool or a sofa or a chair,
        or SQUAT,
    The Akond of Swat?

Is he wise or foolish, young or old?
Does he drink his soup and his coffee cold,
        or HOT,
    The Akond of Swat?

Does he sing or whistle, jabber or talk,
And when riding abroad does he gallop or walk
        or TROT,
    The Akond of Swat?

Does he wear a turban, a fez, or a hat?
Does he sleep on a mattress, a bed, or a mat,
        or COT,
    The Akond of Swat?

A great poem to demonstrate rhythm as well as ‘floating opposites’ e.g. young & old, hot & cold, not forgetting synonyms such as talk & jabber. Now, for really advanced beatniks, try the beginning of the famous, indeed infamous, poem ‘Howl’

Howl, Parts I & II

Allen Ginsberg  1926-1997

For Carl Solomon

I

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz, …

The poem, along with a recitation by the poet, may be accessed here:

https://poets.org/poem/howl-parts-i-ii

And now, as promised, some YouTube links of magnificent actors reciting majestic poems.

First up, Richard Burton reading the beginning of fellow Welshman Dylan Thomas’ ‘Under Milk Wood’.

Now Benedict Cumberbatch, who you may know better as Sherlock or Dr Strange, reciting a John Keats poem, ‘Ode to a Nightingale.’

Finally, Amanda Gorman reading her own ‘The Hill we Climb’ from President Biden’s inauguration 2021.

Adult Speaking Class, level 2: Breaking the silence.

2nd March 2021

Social interaction
The future of social interactions | by UV | Medium

Ôi Trời ƠiOy Vey! – Are you kidding me ! Last night’s class was chockablock with new, high-level vocabulary:

I don't underStand - Confused asian lady | Meme Generator

Ok, take it easy, let’s break it down. Firstly, you were not expected to learn or remember everything; I told you to … well, you tell me. Try to complete the sentences with the new words. If you need help, the vocabulary box follows the questions, while I’ll put the answers at the end of the blog.

1) I didn’t understand everything, but I got the ________

2) Light and sound travel in ___________

3) X-Rays and microwaves are a form of (type of) __________________

4) For me, trying to pronounce Vietnamese words is a real ____________

5) Can you buy twelve eggs ? Yeah, buy me ______________

6) I don’t understand the Zoom instruction video, there’s so much computer __________

7) One of y tá (nurse) Cam’s duties is to take a patient’s ________ , to measure their heartbeat.

8) They love each other dearly, but they don’t always see __________________

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) - Full HD Movie For Free | hdbest.net
A scene from ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe ?’ with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor who actually were married … twice, in fact.

VOCABULARY: a dozen // gist // struggle // pulse // jargon // waves // eye to eye // electromagnetic radiation //

Types of Electromagnetic Radiation | Tnuda

Despite the jargon, there were some useful, everyday phrases that you can start to use:

lack of ..

for the sake of …

actually quite …

away from …

there’s no chance of …

NOW … YOUR TURN – complete the sentences, then make your own examples (in pairs or teams).

A) I need a holiday, I have to get ________________ the city.

B) She thought the film would be tedious but is was ____________ interesting.

C) Unless you study harder, _______________ you passing the test.

D) People can be very unhealthy due to a _________ vitamins in their diet.

E) He always agrees with his wife _______________________ peace and quiet.

Finally, for extra practice:

i) I don’t phone the UK on my mobile because it’s ___________

Been struck down by a mobile phone bill shock? – Which? Conversation

ii) If my Wi-Fi keeps disconnecting, I will ______________________

7 Tips For Dealing With a Conflict at Work, Even In Quarantine

iii) Things that can affect society and how people behave. For example, the original ‘Star Wars’ films were an incredible ____________________

Poll: Are You a Die-Hard Star Wars Fan? | StarWars.com

Answers

1) gist 2) waves 3) electromagnetic radiation 4) struggle 5) a dozen 6) jargon 7) pulse 8 ) eye to eye

A) away from B) actually quite C) there’s no chance of D) lack of E) for the sake of

i) prohibitively expensive ii) lose my mind iii) sociological phenomenon

A piece of cake - APC Languages