Teenagers: Architecture and mythology

13th March 2020

Image result for architecture and mythology

Contents

Art – giving opinions

Collocations

Expressions

Egyptian pyramids

Greek mythology

Music (naturally !)

Hello everyone, I welcome you to my blog page, and may I take this opportunity to thank ALL OF YOU who have visited my site. Having nearly 100 visits for a teaching blog is extremely gratifying.

Now, without further ado, let’s jump straight in, “Time waits for no man.”

Image result for time waits for no man quote
A famous quote from the English writer Geoffrey Chaucer

First off the bat, a little plug for my friend ‘Pete’ who has an online radio show on Mixcloud. If you’re interested, you can listen here: https://www.mixcloud.com/flatwoundssounds/

Show 4, 29th August 2019

The playlist is a mix of Jazz, Blues, Soul, R ‘n’ B & Rock ‘n’ Roll. However, in terms of an English lesson, listen to his narrative between songs. Although Pete lives in Birmingham now (central England), his accent betrays his Kent, (south-England) origins. Listen to how his voice deviates from Standard English.

A Propos (speaking about) of music, my last lesson featured two songs, one Nubian, the other a 50s Rock ‘n’ Roll number:

Nubia is a region that encompasses south Egypt and north Sudan
One of my online students has chosen the English moniker ‘Ivy’; consequently, this song is for her.

Now, time to get down to work. I introduced the class to some expressions; therefore we need to revise and practice:

between you and me // let’s get it over and done with // my hands are tied // off the cuff

I would like to let you go home early but …..

……… I think students have too much homework

Jazz musicians are famous for their spontaneity; they often play ………..

Oh, man ! We have to clear up after the party. Oh, well, ……….

Collocations

collect / raise / undertake / boycott

Charities run campaigns to ……….. money

I’m going to ……….. shops that treat their staff poorly

Scientists need to ……. further research into the Corona Virus

There is little recycling, if any, in Vietnam. We need to ……… awareness of the importance to the planet.

ART

Giving opinions – remember, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer; the exercise is to help you express what YOU feel when you see these works of art.

Expressions:

It’s not my cup of tea // it doesn’t appeal to me // I just don’t get // I see no artistic value // I have no time for it.

OR … positive:

It’s very uplifting // the picture speaks to me // I’m drawn to the image // it is ineffable (unable to be expressed in words) // it transcends language.

Image result for constable haywain
John Constable 1821
Image result for wyndham lewis as a tyro
Wyndham Lewis 1921
Image result for basquet artist
Jean-Michel Basquet 1980s
Image result for ancient egyptian art
Ancient Egyptian art

NOW – a curious point … how can a civilisation that can construct these:

Image result for pyramid of giza

only represent the human form like this:

Image result for ancient egyptian human form

How perfect are the Pyramids ?

“The builders of the Great Pyramid of Khufu aligned the great monument to the cardinal points with an accuracy of better than four minutes of arc, or one-fifteenth of one degree,” Glen Dash, an engineer who studies the Giza pyramids, wrote in a paper published recently in The Journal of Ancient Egyptian Architecture … ” https://www.livescience.com/61799-great-pyramid-near-perfect-alignment.html

Now, take a look at his ariel view, showing the layout:

Image result for aerial view of pyramids

At this juncture, let’s take a little diversion, from ancient Egypt to ancient Greece.

The night sky has 88 constellations, many named after characters or creatures from Greek mythology. I’d like to focus on one, the giant hunter Orion. This is his constellation, and is one of the more easier groups to see, especially at this time of year:

Image result for orion constellation

These random stars (which may in fact be many millions of light years apart) were seen by the Greeks thus:

Image result for orion constellation

You see the hunter with his bow and arrow, but I wish to draw your attention to the three stars arranged diagonally in the centre, the ‘belt’ of the hunter. Compare those with the arrangement of the Egyptian pyramids:

Image result for orion constellation and pyramids
Image result for orion constellation and pyramids

How would you account for this ? Coincidence or conspiracy ?

Let’s leave the last word to our National Poet, William Shakespeare, with this famous quote from Hamlet:

Image result for there are more things in heaven and earth

Adult Speaking Class, Level 2. Theme: Plan a luxury day

12th March 2020

Grammar: second conditional

Object: encourage creative thinking and sentence building.

Vocabulary: expressions related to money

Image result for luxury life

What would you do IF you were a millionaire ?

What would you do IF you were a millionaire for a day ?

Image result for trading places

Second conditional – this is used for a situation that is not impossible … but not very probable.

If I had a million pounds, I would … (stop working !)

If you had a billion $, you could … (buy an island)

If + Sub + had …, Sub + would / could

If you had unlimited money, what would you do ?

Plan a luxury day

How would you spend a luxury day ? 

To develop narrative writing / speaking – use words/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

Example:

To kick off, I would have salmon breakfast at a five-star … no, seven-star hotel. After that, I would go shopping for some suits and ties and then drive around London in a Rolls-Royce car, chauffer-driven, of course.

To take a break from the hustle and bustle, I’d relax at my hotel spa, then go for afternoon tea at another top hotel.

Lastly, I’d round the day off with a helicopter trip around the city and then fly direct to a stadium and go to my VIP (Very Important Person) seat to see one of my favourite bands play live.

Your turn:

You could:

luxury breakfast
luxury spa treatment
horse-carriage ride
shopping
luxury yacht
Attend a play at a London theatre
See Barcelona play

OR add your own ideas

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

Expressions connected to money

A ton of money = very much money

Having money to burn = having more money that someone needs

It costs an arm and a leg = something very expensive

Money talks ! = having money can solve many problems

Rolling in it = having so much money (‘it’ refers to money)

Swanky = slang for very expensive or elegant (it’s a swanky restaurant)

However, as Shakespeare said,

Image result for all that glisters is not gold quote

Would money make you happy ?

Can money buy you health, love or happiness … maybe that is for another lesson.

Adult Class, Level 2: Making your mind up !

27th May 2019

Tonight is a new class, a block of four lessons, and phrasal verbs dominate the session – they almost take over. These, like idioms, can be very confusing for a learner, yet are an integral part of everyday English. Don’t give up, keep on trying and you’ll pick it up in next to no time.

First, as a warm up, we’ll go over some recent lessons and see how much of the lingo (slang for language), the students have picked up. They recently had a lesson about choice, confusion and making decisions … or not making decisions. Being unable to act, or to decide is known as procrastination … and is a flaw in one of Literature’s most famous characters, the prince of Denmark; I’m referring to none other than Shakespeare’s Hamlet. This quote may be familiar …

Shakespeare is a world-famous writer, and a great example of British culture … but what about Vietnam ? If I wanted to read some classic Vietnamese texts, what would the students suggest ?

The task is for the students, in small groups, to decide upon one suggestion for each of the following.

To begin with, the Great British seaside. the sun rarely peeks out so when it does, we rush off to the seaside. What can you see here:

Blackpool, a famous seaside town in north England.

The seaside is associated with building sandcastles, donkey rides, deck chairs, paddling, pier, sun cream and ice cream. I want to visit a typical Vietnamese beach town. Where is the best … and why ?

Now, seasides and travelling help us build up an appetite … so what to eat ? What do the students think of a traditional British breakfast (not that I’ve ever eaten one ! It’s not exactly vegetarian-friendly) ?

Again, I want to try a traditional Vietnamese breakfast. What should I eat, where should I go, what should I drink ?

Now, being British, and a teacher to boot (as well), I enjoy a beer (or two …). Here’s a typical British pub:

I’m not sure such places exist in Vietnam, but what do I know ? Maybe the students can help me ? Where could I go to drink beer and which is the best Vietnam brand ?

This is just a quick game to occupy the first part of the lesson (while students are still arriving). Let’s keep the theme of being decisive, tied in with phrasal verbs. We’ve had Shakespeare and ‘high’ culture; now it’s time to be more ‘popular’. British people over a certain age and yes, that includes me, will recognise this number (slang for a song): The music doesn’t start until around the 0:30 mark.

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

This is a famous song that won a contest back in the day (when I was younger). See how many phrasal verbs there are in the lyrics (words of a song).

Then we can go to the desert survival game :

Desert survival

You need to select five items below to help you survive in the desert.

Factors to consider:

food, drink, heat, cold, injuries, attracting attention, wildlife

First aid kit / matches / rope / knife / compass 

cigarettes / blankets / barrel of water / flare gun / torch

magnifying glass / Beatles CD / make up set / dried food 

grammar study book / Angry Birds game / air rifle / sun block

Negotiation language

I see your point but … that’s interesting, however …

I’m not sure about that I can’t go along with that 

I don’t feel that is entirely right / I fail to see the merits

I respectfully disagree / I find your contention somewhat flawed

The students, first in small groups, then as a class, have to decide upon five items to help them survive in the desert. Some items are multi-purpose, for example, a CD is useless in terms of listening to music, but the reverse could be used as a mirror, to reflect the sun, while the sides are sharp and could be used for cutting. Cigarettes are loathsome and not usually associated with long life … however … in the desert, they could save your life. Snakes hate cigarette ash so, at night, light the tobacco and sprinkle the ash in a large circle, then you can safely sleep inside.

And then time to hit the books.

The early bird catches the worm … do the students understand this saying ? What do they think it means ?

To end the lesson, we could try a Family Fortunes game … in small groups, I ask questions and require four answers. They will usually be about me, for example, what four instruments can I play, what four sports do I do ? which four places have I been to in Vietnam, what do I like most about Vietnam, etc ….

And … not forgetting … what quote from Shakespeare do they know ? And they’re not going home until they say it.

Adult Class Level 1: Waiting for Frodo.

5th March 2019

Tomorrow night is the last of the four-week series of lessons with one of my favourite classes. Next week they have a test, so a lot of the lesson will be taken up with review work, some reading and grammar. Very important, but can be a tad dry. I want to get the students speaking English as much as possible yet this, I regret to say, can sometimes be a challenge.

I’ll write another blog specifically about the issues I’ve faced trying to motivate my Vietnamese students but, for now, the lesson plan.

The main theme is the actor Sir Ian McKellen. Immediately, we have two interesting points about his name, namely, what does ‘Sir’ mean and why is his name spelt ‘McK …’ ?

‘Sir’ (‘Dame’ for a lady) is an award given by the Monarch (king or queen) for services to the country. It replaces ‘Mr’ so instead of Mr McKellen, he is now called Sir Ian. The ceremony can be viewed here (Ringo Starr of The Beatles is being knighted by Prince William):

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

As for the ‘McK’, Mc is Gaelic (Irish & Scottish) for Mac or son of. Therefore McKellen means ‘son of Kellen’.

Sir Ian has had a long and distinguished career, in both theatre and film. I was lucky enough to see him on stage in London in a play by the Irish playwright Samuel Beckett, ‘Waiting for Godot’, but he is surely more famous, worldwide, for being in some Hollywood blockbusters.

Sir Ian Mckellen, with Sir Patrick Stewart, in ‘Waiting For Godot’.

So first, to warm up, a word bomb game. I’ll board the word ‘cinema’ and see how many words, phrases and names can be elicited from the class.

Then we’ll move into a quick Present Perfect review. I’ll write:

I have see many films.

What is the error here ? What would be the contraction of ‘I have’ ? How would the negative be formed ? How could this be turned into a question ?

The present perfect is formed by subject + have or has + past participle (verb 3). Thus, I have seen, not ‘see’. The contraction is ‘I’ve’, the negative becomes ‘I haven’t seen ‘ while the question form is ‘Have you seen ?’ After this modelling, A few exercises for the students.

I have (meet) Sir Ian

You have (read) ‘Lord of the Rings.’

We have (study) a lot of expressions

She has (go) to the cinema many times.

The students have to give the three forms of these short sentences. Now we’ll turn to Sir Ian. Some students may recognise his face, but I’m sure all of them will know him from at least one of these films: This clip is nearly ten-minutes long, so I’ll just show the top two films, the ‘X-Men’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ (7:19 – end).

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

I like using ‘real-life’ videos, as they are great for hearing English being used naturally. The problems in listening can be offset by the benefits in learning new expressions, and many videos actually have subtitles. I often play a short excerpt from a video several times, breaking it down so the students start to recognise the patterns, then practice among themselves.

In the whole clip, I would highlight the following expressions:

We’re counting down

There’s a lot to choose from

Divide(s) opinion

A great opportunity

Stole the film

Then, to practise, match them with these sentences:

Some people love Justin Bieber, some people hate him. He ……..

What food shall we order, ……………

The test is in five days, ……..

Brad Pitt was so good he …………

Going to Australia will be a ……………. to learn more English.

At this point, the book work can commence. They’ll learn about Sir Ian, and read a short interview with him. Questions fall into six categories and he gives succinct answers to each. So now it’s the turn of the students to get up from their chairs (they always need motivating to do that despite my continual promulgations that moving around will create energy and lessen the boredom of a three-hour lesson), speak with different people and practice English. It generally falls on deaf ears. A teacher needs to be patient; it’s part of the job.

The questions will be based on but amended from the interview they have just read:

What Kind of music do you like ?

Can you name any plays by Shakespeare ?

What time do you usually get up ?

How do you relax ?

Can you play a musical instrument ?

What skill(s) would you like to acquire ?

What is the best thing about HCM City ?

What is the best book you’ve read OR the best film you’ve seen ?

One of my favourite films: ‘Chungking Express’, a Hong Kong movie from 1994.

There is a lot of book work tonight, so it’s good to break it up with some games or a complete change of pace. I used this still last night in my IELTS class, where it met with a pretty luke-warm reception. I showed them how to ‘read’ a picture. First, ask what the students think is happening in this shot. What do the characters feel about about each other ? I mentioned the emotions evoked by the use of colour; here dull – blue and grey, but as we get closer to the lady (Faye Wong), the colours turn red – the sauce bottles, the Coke machine. Then look at the symbol of her T-shirt, look where her eyes are staring ….

We could then move onto film genres – make a class survey by dividing the teams in two and assigning one captain to each. They have to collate information such as favourite type of film, Vietnamese or American, how often do they go to the cinema, do they ever stream films at home and with whom do they go to the cinema ?

To end, the Family Fortune game seems very popular, where the students are put into small groups, given a board and marker, and have to come up with four answers to various questions.

Additionally, I could use some photos from an internet search, about Vietnam, and ask the teams to tell me an interesting story. I will encourage them to expand their sentences by employing adjectives, adverbs, idioms and expressions.

Then, to quote Prospero in Shakespeare’s ‘Tempest’

“..and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”