Working in pairs or small groups, gather information about these countries, then make a presentation. Add something about yourself ;would you like to visit these countries ? Why ? What would you do there ? What would you eat and buy ?
Brasilia (Brasil) Seoul (South Korea)
Ottawa (Canada) Egypt (Cairo)
Brasil 183 888 841 // South Korea 51 047 000
Canada 37 000 000 // Egypt 97 055 000
Brasil – Portuguese // South Korea – Korean
Canada – English & French // Egypt – Arabic (EgyptianArabic)
Today, lots of new words to help you describe the area in which you live (the area you live in). For my classroom-students, I can listen to pronunciation and help them with natural rhythms but online students should use a dictionary with sound … then practice, practice, practice.
Where do you live ? What’s the area like ?
Remember to link words together – it’s called ‘chunking’ in IELTS language.
I live in a:
quiet, residential street. Peaceful at night.
lively and busy commercial area, many shops
dirty and dusty industrial part of town. Very noisy.
What are your first impressions of the man above, Mr Bob Dylan. What do you think of first – his appearance or his personality ? Probably the way he looks.
First impressions count
Today we’re having an advanced class using new words and expressions to describe both the physical and personality attributes of famous musicians.
So, as a warm up, how would you describe Mr Bob Dylan ?
Start with his looks, which are more factual, though subjective (i.e. to some young people, he will look ancient, while to older people, he may look distinguished and wise).
Then, tell me what you think he is like. You probably don’t know Mr Dylan, personally, so you can’t say, “He is incredibly friendly,” or, “He is extremely stand-offish.”
Therefore, you must employ opinion phrases:
He seems to be …
In my opinion …
I don’t know him personally, but I would say he is …
However, would it surprise you to know that Mr Dylan won the Noble Prize for Literature in 2016, and that his music has been unbelievably influential all over the world ?
I will show you some photos of rock stars, and you will practice sentence building. tell me what they look like, and what you think they are like as people. Can you explain why ? Finally, to practice complex sentence, I will give you basic information, and you have to incorporate these facts into long sentences using discourse markers and relative pronouns.
normal-looking // weird- looking // looks more dead than alive // bags under eyes
How would you describe these rock stars ?
Johnny Rotten, Real name John Lydon. Born 1956. Was in the Sex Pistols from 1975 – 1978. Formed band PIL. Changed name back to Lydon. Married Nora Forster in 1979. He was going to be on the Pan Am flight that crashed in Lockerbie, Scotland. He wrote a book, published in 2008.
John Lydon, who performed under the name Johnny Rotten while he was in the Sex Pistols from 1975 – 1978, is married to Nora Forster, and has been married since 1979. After leaving the Sex Pitols, he formed a new band, PIL, and had a book published in 2008. He escaped certain death by missing his flight on the doomed Pan Am flight that exploded over Lockerbie in Scotland.
Look at how much information I pack into the first, complex sentence:
Name – John Lydon
Stage name – Johnny Rotten
Band name – Sex Pistols
Time of band – 1975 – 1979
Marital status – married
Wife’s name – Nora Forster
How long married – since 1979
Now – how does he look ? Friendly ? Sweet and quiet ? What do you think ?
Make complex sentences:
David Bowie born 1947 and died 2016. Born in Brixton, south London. First big record was ‘Space Oddity’ in 1969. Record was in the Top 5. ‘Ziggy Stardust’ was released in 1972. It was incredibly influential. Many musicians say it is one of their favourite records. In 1976 he was in a film called ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth.’ In 1977 he moved to Berlin, Germany and made two important records, ‘Low’ and ‘Heroes.’ He was married to the super model Iman. She is Somali-American. Bowie made records up until his death in 2016. He died of Cancer.
Choose a musician; what do you think they are like ?
Which one would you like to meet, and why ?
Which one makes music you would like to hear ?
If these musicians are too old for you, tell the class about your favourite modern musician. Is it …
Tonight’s subject is relationships, and the book work seems well-balanced, with vocabulary, listening and speaking exercises. However, this is quite a strong group and appear motivated. With that in mind, I push them to learn more, in order to prepare them for their next class, which will be the quantum leap into IELTS.
However = discourse marker, better than just saying ‘but.’
With that in mind = expression meaning ‘because of that.’
in order to = to help for the future – I am learning Vietnamese in order to speak to my students.
quantum leap = massive (very, very large) jump forward or progression
Bearing in mind that Vietnamese operate on ‘elastic time’ (a polite way of saying the students turn up in dribs and drabs, ie, ten, twenty or thirty minutes late), so I can’t start any serious teaching until the whole class is present. Therefore, I use some warm up activities.
Warm Up: Call My Bluff.
This is a vocabulary-building exercise. I introduce a new word, then give three possible definitions. Students have to deduce, or just guess, the correct meaning.
– adj means something that is very common, everywhere
– noun equipment used in scuba diving
-name used towards close friends or family
– noun a small built-in safe in a hotel
– adj something very special, different or important
– verb to paint Chinese or Japanese characters with great care
– adverb discourse marker meaning because of that, this happened
– noun a person who cheats other people to get more money
– verb a type of pass in football that leads to a goal being scored.
– noun a chair used by a dentist, that can be lowered or raised
– verb to get only important information from a lot of text
– adj something made from different materials or many different colours
Then students have to write four sentences using the new words, as well as trying to repeat them throughout the lesson.
I’m not going to give you the answers – look up the definitions yourself, it will help you to learn.
Warm Up: What is the name, to you, of …
What is the name of your mother’s husband ?
What is the name of your mother’s sister ?
What is the name, to you, of your mother’s brother’s son.
What is the name of your father’s mother ?
What is the name of your father’s mother’s father
Next stage is sentence building:
I am from London. It is an expensive city.
To combine these pieces of information, we use the relative pronoun ‘which‘:
I am from London which is an expensive city.
We replace the pronoun ‘it’ with a relative pronoun ‘which’ and create a longer sentence. This skill is important / vital / imperative to attain a good IELTS score.
Kimmy is from Tokyo. It is very crowded.
Tony is from New York. It is a vibrant city.
Scott wants to visit the War Museum. It is in District 1.
Lisa teaches in Beijing. It is the capital of the PROC (People’s Republic of China).
Moving on … My friend
When we link information about a person, the pronoun, ‘he’ or ‘she’ is replaced by the relative pronoun ‘who.’
On the left is my friend Peter. I met him in 2010. I met him in London.
On the left is my friend Peter, who I met in London ten years ago.
On the left is my friend Peter, who I met in 2010 in London.
Try linking these: Remember to replace ‘he’ and use ‘who’ but you have to change the sentence.
Peter is Irish. He was born in Dublin // Peter, who is Irish, was born in Dublin
Peter loves music. He can play saxophone, keyboards, guitar and bass.
Peter is 40 years old. He is bald, and wears glasses.
Peter plays bass. He has a video on YouTube.
Peter is with the drummer Kenny Jones.He played in The Small Faces in the 1960s.
Be careful with the last one. The pronoun ‘he’ is about Kenny Jones.
Be careful with the next two. We only need ONE relative pronoun:
The drummer Kenny Jones.He played in The Small Faces in the 1960s. He is withPeter.
The Manager Mr Smith. He is from Australia. He is going to travel to Mexico.
The manager, Mr Smith who is from Australia, is going to travel to Mexico.
Students, working in pairs or small groups, must come up with a storline for these couples.
Describe these two people. What are they wearing ? What are their personalities ? What do you think they do ?How do they meet ?
Be creative and feel free to use dialogue.
How do they know each other ?
What will happen when they meet ?
Will they get on ?
Will they have a terrible time ?
How about these
Try to invent an interesting, fascinating story line. Maybe they haven’t met since there were born ?
Now, let’s get creative:
Write a short story using dialogue and adjectives.
MOTIVATION: why do the characters do what they do ?
PLOT: what happens … and why ?
CHARACTERS: make sure each one is an individual and speaks differently.
Where do they meet ?
How do they meet ?
How do they know each other ?
What do they think of each other and how do they express it ?
Boram, a young Korean lady, is at home getting ready to go out. She has put on her favourite white and pink dress and, with her lucky pink bow in her luscious chestnut hair, looks absolutely stunning.
Today she is going to meet her cousin who is coming to Seoul for the first time. Boram needs to practice violin, because she plays in the university orchestra and they have an important concert coming up, however, she is concerned about her cousin getting lost in the big bewildering city. That is typical of Boram, always putting other people first. She is a very sweet and thoughtful caring lady.
[In the first sentence I named the lady – Boram. Therefore, we can use a pronoun – she – because we know the subject]
The story so far … we have two young Asian cousins who are about to meet each other, after a long time. Boram, a caring, thoughtful young music student, is going to the train station to meet Leon, also a musician, who is travelling to Seoul but doesn’t know the city. Despite having a busy schedule, Boram insists upon meeting Leon and making sure he is safe.
After his journey, Boram feels certain Leon must be hungry and in need of coffee. She decides to take him to a great cafe near the station. They can talk and get to know each other.
Boram pays for the drinks, and they go to find a table:
Here, there are introducing themselves. The conversation may go something like this:
Boram: How was the journey ? Are you tired ?
Leon: No, I’m Ok, thanks. This coffee looks great. Wow, how long has it been ?
Boram: Hhmmm, let me think … it must be six years since we last meet. How are your parents ?
Leon: Both very well, thank you, and they send you a little present. So, mum says you play piano ?
Boram: Violin. I play in the university orchestra. You’ve grown so much !
Leon: Of course, I’m not ten anymore haha. You play ? Can I hear you sometime ?
Boram: Actually, I’m playing this afternoon. If you like, I can take you and introduce you to some of my friends.
Leon: That would be cool. You are so kind. I insist on buying you lunch to say thank you.
That was a fairly natural exchange of pleasantries. They both appear nice people, and very polite. However, it is not very exciting or interesting. So, let’s make Leon less grateful and more self-centred:
Boram: How was the journey ? Are you tired ?
Leon: Oh, man … it was like … boring, you know. No hot girls on the train.
Boram: Oh. Sorry. How is your coffee ?
Leon: It’s terrible, We have much better in Busan. This place is lame. Don;t you know any cooler joints ? You look a bit boring. Mum says you’re a musician ?
Boram: Yes, I play vio…..
Leon: I’m a musician, I play bass in a radicle hip-hop, thrash-metal band.
Boram: I’d love to hear your band.
Leon: Ha ! I don’t think so. We don’t make music for little girls. This is real music.
Boram: Oh, well, would you like to hear my orchestra play ?
Boram: Great ! We are playi …
Leon: No, idiot, I’m joking, I can’t listen to that old crap ! Hey, can you give me some money ?
What do you think of Leon now ? Not so nice, hey ? See how he interrupts Boram, mocks her music and then demands money ? He’s a ‘nasty piece of work.’
Let’s turn the tables. How about if Boram, despite looking angelic and ‘butter-wouldn’t-melt- in-her-mouth’ appearance, is in reality arrogant, impatient and thoughtless.
Leon: It is so nice of you to meet me. I haven’t been to Seoul before on my own.
Boram: I had no choice. My mum made me, I don’t want to waste my time here.
Leon: And thank you for buying the coffee. I was really tired.
Boram: Mum gave me the money. Come on, drink it then I can go. I’ve got more important things to do.
Leon: Oh, I don’t want to keep you if you’re busy …
Boram: ‘Busy’ ? I have rehearsals in two hours and I have to go all the way across the city to meet you. Ridiculous, a grown man like you needs me to hold his hand.
Leon: Really, if you need to go, it’s ….
Boram: Well, if you say it’s Ok, I’ll go. You know the way ? If not just ask someone or, I don’t know, get a taxi. Do you have my phone number ?
Leon: No, what is i… ?
Boram: Oh, it doesn’t matter, I’m to busy to pick up. I gotta go.
That should change our perception of Boram. Not so friendly now, is she ?
Try writing short dialogues for different situations:
1: Leon really wants to see the top museums
2: Boram wants Leon to meet her friend, she thinks they would be good together
3: Leon is having an interview for a job and he is very nervous. Boram supports him.
4: Boram wants to take Leon shopping for new clothes. Leon likes his clothes and they have a playful argument.
5: They discover they really don’t like each other but they have to stay together because they are family.
And now … what to do if you’re stuck at home, self-isolating, and have lots of time to kill. My internet friend, Rachel Kim, from South Korea has a tip about a new craze sweeping her homeland:Dalgona coffee:
This is the eve on a new IELTS class, utilising a new text book, and the first lesson is …listening. When I ask students (and they make the effort to reply) what is the hardest part of learning English, understanding the spoken word is invariably top of the list.
As with all skills, practice is the obvious answer, starting slowly, then building up and improving. Naturally, language skills are integrated; a knowledge of ‘chunking’ – or linking words together and natural contractions will be extremely beneficial. Likewise, the more vocabulary the student knows, the more chance they have of understanding what is being said.
The key problems are straightforward:
Speed of conversation.
Chunking, contractions, natural speech patterns (which differ markedly from the written word).
Accents (both native and non-native).
Dialects, slang words, expressions, idioms … figurative not literal language.
Cultural references (subjects only known by local people)
Now I will concentrate on ‘real-world’ examples, videos aimed at native speakers, not for English students.
I choose these videos to illustrate the whole world of spoken English; no disrespect is intended to anyone who speaks in a non-standard way, or is struggling with pronunciation. On the contrary, anyone who can converse in a second language has my utmost respect … it is a skill unavailable to the writer of this blog 😦
And now, without further ado, lets’s kick off with my hometown. Here’s some native Londoners having a chat (talking):
The subject of this video – which has useful captions, or subtitles, in English – is ‘which possession would you never lend to another person ?’ You will also be able to see some famous London landmarks.
TIPS: watch the video is short sections – maybe just in ten-second sections – repeat and repeat until you feel familiar with the words and are able to repeat them.
An additional benefit from watching real-life videos is that you will pick up many expressions that you will simply not find in text books. Remember, many speaking tests give extra points for ‘natural language’. For example, the trader uses the phrase, “On and off,” meaning he has been doing the job but not continuously. Let’s say I have been teaching for ten years, but during that time, I took some long breaks, to study, to travel etc. I would say,”I’ve been teaching for ten years, on and off.“
You will also notice how ‘real’ people often deviate from standard English. In this clip, the man says, “Me and my wife have been ….” though the ‘correct’, the standard form would be, “My wife and I have been …”. This merely illustrates that text guides are just that … a GUIDE … they are not real life. To learn English, to really learn, you must immerse yourself in videos, music, films and, dare I repeat myself (yes, I dare) PRACTICE.
British English speaker, Asian theme: east meets west
This is a favourite clip of mine, a British beer enthusiast trying a Vietnamese beer. This clip introduces new vocabulary relevant to beer (‘head’, ‘aroma’, ‘carbonated’, as well as some good expressions such as, “More than likely,” and, “Let’s dive in.”
I’ll ease you in softly; this first clip is designed for English learners, and has a variety of different scenes, actors and situations, all intended to prepare you for the variety of American accents … and in such a big continent, there are a wide variety of accents.
Is this easy to understand ? Do you notice any differences between the London accent and the USA accent ?
Same tip, watch as much as you can, pause, try to copy, say the words, then continue. When you feel confident, turn off the captions and see how much you are able to understand. Do not expect to understand everything. Maybe you will only understand half, but see how this figure increases with practice.
TV show, American accent.
This is from a USA sit-com called ‘Friends’ (1994 – 2004)
In this short clip, some friends are joking about the way one of them speaks, putting the stress on the ‘wrong’ word in a sentence. Again it has captions, so listen and … practice !
But now, time to turn it up a notch (make it harder). This clip is advanced, the speaker is very enthusiastic, very quick. and uses a lot of everyday phrases you will – more than likely – not know. Therefore, a quick pre-teaching session:
recommend– to suggest something good / something YOU think others will like
aside from– something else, apart from
staple food– food that can be part of every meal (rice, bread, potatoes)
drowned– totally covered in a liquid or sauce
popular– something many people like (negative form is ‘unpopular’)
original– the first of something. Adverb is originally.
mix– adding two or more things together. Mixed is the past tense.
tons of– lots of (slang, common) e.g. Ha Noi has tons of coffee shops
amazing– adjective means really great, very special.
districts– areas of a city (Quan)
snack– eating food to stop you getting too hungry. Verb – snacking.
super– common adverb to mean very, very much e.g. Sai Gon is super hot.
This video exemplifies all the problems students have listening to English: the vocabulary, the accent, the linking together and the sheer speed of speech. Don’t worry … apply the same principles; watch in small sections, read the captions, repeat and repeat until you feel comfortable. Remember – you don’t have to understand every word, just enough to follow what he is saying.
And now, let’s go to a land down under and listen to some different forms of English. This time, Australian:
Again, let’s take it easy to begin with, learn some Aussie (Australian) expressions and listen to the local accent:
This lists ten expressions that you may have heard in films or TV shows. But now it’s time to put them into practice. Here’s a genuine news story. Without using text or captions, how much can you understand ?
The clip is called ‘Australian Hero’ so that should give you an idea.
Bringing It All Back Home – an Australian in Vietnam
This ex-pat (someone who has emigrated from country and now lives and works in another) from down under (Australia) is going to show us where he lives in Sai Gon, District 3 (near the city centre) (0:22 – 0:45):
(He starts by saying he had some camera problems):
“Hopefully I’ve got that all sorted now and I can give you a decent tour of the …um, the apartment.
“It’s a really nice er, street here, sort of early morning and it’s quite a hustle and bustle. Here we got office workers coming out to eat and what have you.
“Ah, I’ll just take you into the er, where is this ? This is the actual building, here, and er … and this is where I actually, er … down, gotta (got to) go through this alley, it’s very congested … and this is how I get to where I live.”
And now the fun begins !
Quite possibly, the majority of my students will be using English as a lingua franca with other non-native speakers. I therefore encourage them to use the standard form, in order for them to be (hopefully) understood. I encourage slow and clear enunciation, avoidance of contractions and figurative language. Here, English is functional, precise communication is the aim.
We refer to this as a form of code-switching: basically changing the language to suit the occasion, something we all do naturally (for the most part). Namely, we change our vocabulary, syntax and accent(s) depending on whom we are addressing, be it a parent or younger brother, a police officer or a troublesome telesales caller, our manager, our colleague, our first-day intern.
Our first non-native speaker is from Germany. I had some students who worked here in Vietnam for a German company, so I felt it relevant they familiarise themselves with English through a German filter.
On a cultural note, many Germans have English as a second language, so travelling there only speaking English shouldn’t pose such a problem. UK and Germany have something of a ‘love-hate relationship’, with Britons seeing Germans as lacking in humour and having a very limited diet (potatoes, sauerkraut and sausage). Having said that, we secretly admire, if not envy, their efficiency and technological expertise, not to mention their success on the football field.
Working life in Germany:
In this clip, a worker is describing a typical German schedule (01.26 – 02.07):
During one evening class, a student asked me for some advice; his manager is Korean and when the manager speaks to my student, in English, my poor student is unable to understand what is being said. Obviously, there is little I can do about the manager’s English, but I gave the student some useful phrases that are polite and should stop the Korean from ‘losing face’, and I’ll add these after the video.
Serendipity is a word for luck or coincidence. Just two days after this conversation, I was surfing on YouTube when I came across this perfect video from my new YouTube chum (friend), Ms Rachel Kim. Ms Rachel is very friendly and sweet, so I recommend you visit her channel, like and subscribe. I’m sure it will make her very happy.
21st August for 25th August 2019. Everybody Up 2, U 7 L2
This is an early morning class, and quite typical; one or two very good girls, one, possibly two good boys. The rest range from those who cannot speak without shouting at the top of their voices (the Vietnamese, bless them, are not the quietest nation on Earth), those who pay attention to anything save the lesson, and those who are so inactive and immobile as to be positively catatonic.
One way to counter this negativity is to make the lessons more kinetic, more active, though the size of the class and the dimensions of the room are not conducive to much activity. It is also important to realise that these are children, ‘forced’ to come to extra school on their weekend, and their motivation levels plummet from, “Please teach me English,” to “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn … I REALLY don’t give a damn.”
We recently had a project activity, cutting out and colouring a room. This proved quite successful, and even those who are permanently seated, chin in hand, yawning thick and fast, were engaged and doing something. So, today, I’m going to mix things up a little. We’ll start by rearranging the chairs into islands of four, as opposed to the traditional horseshoe arrangement.
Warm Up: A quick game. I’ll give each island a board and marker and I’ll review the last lesson, ‘time’. I’ll call out a time and the students have to write it, in figures. This can be extended to cover other lessons, including basic maths (to practise the use of the words ‘plus’, ‘minus’, ‘times’ and ‘divided by’. Also, for general knowledge, do they know any countries where English is spoken (as first language) ? What countries are there in Asia … Africa … South America ? Then look at this picture for 30 seconds. Write down what you remember. I’ll be listening for adjectives as well as nouns, and encourage the use of full sentences, e.g. I see a big white mirror, I see a small green cupboard etc.
Now I’ll go straight into bookwork, subject ‘meals’. Here, I’ll follow a standard school lesson plan:
Show the four flashcards and review as a class, especially pronunciation, then pass them one by one around. First student (make sure said student is a top cat, or the activity goes down like a lead Zeppelin) takes the card, says the word, then passes to the next … after the third student has spoken, introduce a new card to the first student and so on.
Next, a run ‘n’ write. Two students must run to the board and write one of the new words. For the top cats, they can write two words, or even all four.
There are four pictures, but I prefer to say the words myself rather than play the audio (which is often a monotone, transatlantic drone). Students shout out (this class like shouting, to a fault !) the words.
Grammar structure – focus on the key sentence – have students repeat.
Book work, page 66. Elicit information about the pictures, just try to get the students speaking English as much as … Encourage them to ask each other. Use a top cat to start e.g. “What do you see in picture 2 ?”, “What are they doing here ?”, “What time is it in picture 3 ?” etc.
This should take us up to break time, with drilling and substituting pronouns, noticing how the verb changes i.e. I eat breakfast at 7:00, He eats breakfast at 7:00.
After break, in their gangs of four or threes, I’ve prepared an activity sheet; some questions, some things to do, some information to gather, something that requires the students to listen:
Everybody Up 2 Activity sheet
1) Write five buildings that you find in a city
2) Write three words that begin with th … / ch … / sh … / wh ….
3) On a clock, show: 10.15 / 2.30 / quarter to five
4) Draw a picture of your bedroom. What do you have in your room ?
5) Tell me three things you like to do after school.
6) Draw a girl wearing a yellow hat, pink coat, green pants and blue boots.
7) Draw a bald man playing guitar wearing an orange jumper and black pants.
8) What does Teacher Paul like ? Write two things ?
9) What are the five senses ?
10) A doctor works in a hospital. Write a sentence.
Where does a teacher work ? / Where does a cook work ?
11) Look at the picture: Which flag is which country ?
Brazil / South Korea / Canada / Egypt
12) What do you eat for breakfast ? When do you eat Breakfast ?