IELTS, Theme: Shopping

5th August 2020

A compilation of shopping activities to promote longer sentences, idiomatic language and fluency.

Exercise 1: compound nouns

Exercise 2: devil’s advocate

Exercise 3: role-play

Exercise 4: coffee in Saigon

Exercise 1: compound nouns to do with shopping

window shopping

binge shopping

bulk shopping

impulse shopping

dumpster diving

Match the compound noun with the photos:

Did the lady go out to buy this top or did she decide only when she was in the store ?

Vocabulary:

Prices are sky-high / It cost an arm and a leg /

marked down / on sale / discount / what a bargain !

I couldn’t resist it / I simply had to have it / retail therapy

Make sentences using some of the above language.

Talk about shops in your city:

Do people go dumpster diving ? Why or why not ?

Have you ever used retail therapy (buying something to make you feel happy) ?

Have you ever gone out to buy just one thing and come back with many items !

Does your husband/ wife / partner like shopping ?

Exercise 2: Devil’s advocate.

This is to develop argument skills, how to politely disagree with someone.

Example: one student wants to buy a beautiful, luxurious Rolex watch. It really is an outstanding timepiece:

Image result for Rolex

Without doubt, this is a luxury item. The pros

It is gorgeous and so elegant. I will feel so special wearing it. People will admire and look up to me. They will think I am wealthy and have a great career. I will attract many cute women (or handsome men). I may feel superior to other people who only have cheap watches or nasty fake knock-offs.

Now play Devil’s advocate. Say what are the cons of owning such an item.

Firstly, agree with the first student – it is without question a luxury item. Having said that …

It will attract attention … but maybe from thieves or pickpockets. It is a lot of money, maybe an obscene amount of money when so many people are poor. Can you justify owning such a materialistic item ? Will it make you arrogant ? Will you think you are better than other people BECAUSE of a thing ? Finally … what does it DO ? Fundamentally, it tells the time. My fake Rolex will tell the same time … but it cost $20 NOT $ 5 000 !

Now students’ turn. Similar concept but this time, the latest iPhone:

Image result for iphone 11

The iphone 11 (woooooowwwwwwww !)

One student wants to buy it, the other must give reasons why it is not such a good idea.

Useful phrases: 

a waste of money / not necessary // a fashion accessory // you can’t afford it //

How to Hire and Keep Quality Retail Staff - SBIA

Exercise 3 Role play game:

Three students will act out working in a department store, a shop with a sale on, and a street market. Other students have a set budget (say £100) and have to buy three items.

They can practice with the following language:

How much is this, please ? // Could you bring the price down for cash ? // Do you take plastic (credit cards) ? // If I smile, can you take off 10% ?

Wow, that’s a bargain ! // Sorry, that’s too much // Is that your best price ?

I’ll take it ! // Wrap it up ! // Let me think about it and come back // Sorry, that’s too much.

The items can be T-shirts, pens, bags, shoes, watches etc and the teacher can print out photos and hand them out.

Image result for van heusen shirts store
A department store selling expensive designer shirts
Image result for clothes on sale
Image result for london street market
London street market.

Exercise 4: Coffee in Sai Gon

Describe this picture; use adjectives and opinions.

Highlands Coffee has great coffee, air-con and free wifi. Having said that, the service is a little slow, there are no waiters and the cost is unbelievably expensive !

Vietnam is famous for coffee; coffee shops are ubiquitous. In fact, there are so many, it’s hard to see (difficult to understand) how they stay in business let alone turn a profit.

Be that as it may, let’s use this as a learning opportunity. To practice making longer sentences, and as a warm up exercise, the students can ask each other, “Where do you go for coffee ?”

Tips:

Don’t answer the question directly and immediately; Begin with a short introduction:

Sai Gon has so many coffee shops, some are cheap while others can be quite expensive although they have a wide range of delicious coffee. Personally, I like going to …

Then

Explain:

  1. How MUCH do you like it (adverbs) ?
  2. What kind of coffee (adjectives) ?
  3. What do you think about this ? (opinions)
  4. WHY do you like it (give reasons)
  5. Interesting words, phrases, idioms

Personally, I like Happy Coffee which is an independent shop where I live. I enjoy going there so much because the owner is very friendly and tries to speak English with me. There isn’t a lot of choice, so I order cappuccino with hot, fresh milk. In my opinion, it is good value and tastes delicious. What I like about the shop is the free wifi, the comfortable chairs and the atmosphere. Furthermore, it is usually very quiet and it therefore a good place to read. I love to put my feet up, kick back and sip my damn fine coffee.

Adult Speaking Class, level 2: Deciding what to buy.

11th May 2020

This was a one – to – one lesson for a lady about to retire and move from Vietnam to Boston, USA. The assigned book work was about a young man climbing mountains and hang-gliding; I felt this was more appropriate to my student’s needs.

Deciding what to buy

You are on a shopping trip to the USA

Which of these items would you buy ? Which appeal to you ? Which hold no interest ?

Vocabulary

That looks wonderful // I need to try it (them) on first // That’s good quality

No, that’s a rip off (too expensive) // That’s not my style // That really suits me

You must be joking ! // Brilliant ! // Wrap it up ! // Do you take credit cards ?

$75
$200
$145
$ 8,435
$47
$2,800
$9.95
$91.99
$25

Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: Going shopping, looking for a bargain.

7th April 2020

A Guide For Shopping In Macau For All Shopaholics In 2020!
Shopping in Macau

This lesson aims to introduce students to a wider range of vocabulary, phrases and expressions, and then gives them an opportunity to role play and act out the language.

A plan such as this only works with motivated students, and can be very fun for both learners and the teacher.

Print outs or photos of various consumer items will enhance the lesson, but first:

vocabulary

SHOPPING

Which shops do you like and why ?

Use these words and phrases to help you write your answer: 

big, small, fresh, clean, cheap, expensive, near my house, convenient 

range of choice, quality, cost, location, crowded

store layout (what does it look like ? Is it easy to find things ?)

staff helpfulness: average (normal), exceptional, non-existant !

value for money (good quality at a good price)

bargains (good quality and great price)

waitrose-little-wimbledon-convenience-store-interior.gif 700×450 ...
Interior of a Waitrose supermarket in the UK
19 Things You Need To Stop Doing To Grocery Store Workers In The ...
Food shopping is not always a pleasant experience

Haggling

This is the practice of trying to get a better or lower price for an item. This doesn’t happen in shops, which have a fixed price, but is common, indeed even expected, in markets, depending on the location and culture. Be careful – too much haggling can upset the trader.

7 Tips on Haggling in the Arabic World | TravelGeekery
haggling can be an art – there are many guides online

Vocabulary: fixed price / negotiate / bargain / rip-off / no deal !

Expressions: I wasn’t born yesterday / you’re having a laugh !

[I will pre-teach these expressions in a class, but online students will have to look them up. If you ever need help, just leave a message]

Legian, Bali, Indonesia - August 13, 2018: Indonesian Souvenir ...
What do you think is meant by ‘GENUINE FAKE’ ?

Make a conversation:

One is a market-trader, the other a customer.

You can choose the item(s): watch, phone, T-shirt, food etc.

The language is informal, intonation can be strong but still be polite.

EXAMPLE:

Here, the trader sells ‘genuine fake’ sunglasses

Customer: How much are these sunglasses, please ?

Trader: Oh, those are genuine Gucci, made in France. I can let you have for the special price.

Customer: Gucci … really ?

Trader: Absolutely, look … it says ‘Guchi’ here. Try them on … they are perfect for you.

Customer: Hhhmmmm, ‘Guchi’ … OK, how much are they ?

Trader: To you, my first customer, special price. Only $50

Customer: Are you having a laugh ! I’ll give you $5 tops, no more.

Trader: These are genuine Gucci … OK, OK, just for you, $45. They come from France.

Customer: Gucci are ITALIAN ! What a rip-off. I’m out of here.

Amazon.com: Gucci Sunglasses GG 0448 S- 001 Black/Grey: Clothing
Genuine Gucci sunglasses

With a larger class, have three students selling the same type of item but in different setting, for example:

a department store,

Selfridges has just opened its Christmas shop 145 days early

a shop having a sale

Japanese department store makes grovelling apology after ...

and a street market

Brick Lane Market | London Guide | Qbic Hotel

To make it more realistic, the students have to alter their vocabulary to suit the store, that is, polite standard English for the department store, everyday English for the shop and more slang and idioms for the street market.

The items could include:

Handbags:

Beautiful weaved dried water hyacinth lady handbag for sale on the ...
Branded Luxury Handbag Women Bags Designer Handbag Logos Designer ...
Mumu Korean Back Pack Mini Sling Bag Sale Cute Bags Women Ladies ...

Set your own prices to reflect the realities of where you live.

Watches:

Street markets | Xian china | pbruch | Flickr
Mens Wooden Watches for Sale | COBB & Co. USA
Rolex 16233 - Buy and Sell used Rolex Watches and Jewellery in ...
A genuine Rolex

Adult Class, Level 3: Can’t buy me love.

14th November 2019 AEF 2A pp. 14 – 15.

Tonight, attitudes to money: What does the first singer think about money ? What is important in his life ?

Image result for beatles can't buy me love

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKfALmKL0VU

Now, compare with this attitude:

Image result for flying lizards money

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-P2qL3qkzk

The first song is romantic; the man doesn’t care about money, he wants love. However, the lady sings, “I want your money !” This is called being materialistic, wanting expensive things and money.

Vocabulary – p. 154. Verbs pertaining to money.

Activity. You inherit a small fortune and want to splurge out (spend a lot of money). Working in small groups, tell what how you would spend your luxury day.

Plan a luxury day

To develop narrative writing and speaking skills, use words or phrases such as:

Firstly // Initially // I would start // It would kick off with …

secondly, thirdly etc

after that // afterwards // following that // and then …

for a change // as a contrast// for a break // to take a break from all the …

lastly // I’d end up // I’d round the day off with

You could:

luxury breakfast // luxury spa treatment // horse-carriage ride

shopping // luxury yacht

See Barcelona play // Attend a play at a London theatre

OR add your own ideas

Where would you go ? What would you do ? What would you buy ?

Activity: Devil’s advocate.

This is to develop argument skills, how to politely disagree with someone.

Example: one student wants to buy a beautiful, luxurious Rolex watch. It really is an outstanding timepiece:

Image result for Rolex

Without doubt, this is a luxury item. The pros …

It is gorgeous and so elegant. I will feel so special wearing it. People will admire and look up to me. They will think I am wealthy and have a great career. I will attract many cute women (or handsome men, whatever !). I may feel superior to other people who only have cheap watches or nasty fake knock-offs – like Thay Paul 🙂

Now play Devil’s advocate. Say what are the cons of owning such an item. Firstly, agree with the first student – it is without question a luxury item. Having said that

It will attract attention … but maybe from thieves or pickpockets. It is a lot of money, maybe an obscene amount of money when so many people are poor. Can you justify living in a Socialist country and owning such a materialistic item ? Will it make you arrogant ? Will you think you are better than other people BECAUSE of a thing ? Finally … what does it DO ? Fundamentally, it tells the time. My fake Rolex will tell the same time … but it cost $20 NOT $ 5 000 !

Now students’ turn. Similar concept but this time, the latest iPhone:

Image result for iphone 11

The iphone 11 (woooooowwwwwwww !)

One student wants to buy it, the other must give reasons why it is not such a good idea.

Useful phrases: a waste of money / not necessary // a fashion accessory // you can’t afford it //

Image result for neither a borrower nor a lender be

Role play game:

Three students will act out working in a department store, a shop with a sale on, and a street market. Other students have a set budget (say £100) and have to buy three items.

They can practice with the following language:

How much is this, please ? // Could you bring the price down for cash ? // Do you take plastic (credit cards) ? // If I smile, can you take off 10% ?

Wow, that’s a bargain ! // Sorry, that’s too much // Is that your best price ?

I’ll take it ! // Wrap it up ! // Let me think about it and come back // Sorry, that’s too much.

Image result for van heusen shirts store
A department store selling expensive designer shirts
Image result for clothes on sale
Clothes on sale – ‘to clear’
Image result for london street market
London street market.

NOW – to make it more animated – the people working in the shops will no doubt be using different varieties of English. Let’s see if the students can alter their voices to portray an upper-class, well-spoken salesperson; a basic shop worker and a working-class street trader. I (old ham actor that I am) shall demonstrate. Yes, it’s not a conventional lesson but maybe the students will appreciate something different (even if the management don’t).

To end, I really want the students to gain confidence in speaking, so a lot of talking in small groups. I have various talking points they can discuss, and once they feel relaxed, we can play:

Just a Minute: students are given an open subject and must speak for one minute without deviation, hesitation or repetition. Other students time them and judge their performance.

Language review: students must give the correct word to a definition pertaining to tonight’s theme.

And then … take care, see you next week, later, dude !

Image result for lighting cigar with money