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My story: I flew, by private jet, to Hong Kong, and had the time of my life, so many parties, so many interesting people, non-stop fun !
The reality, the truth: I went to work in the morning, then was so exhausted, I just sat and watched YouTube videos.
Warm – up: Students ask each other about each other’s weekend. Students must tell two stories, one true, one false. Students have to guess which is true.
Naturally, saying I have a private jet is not very believable so the story has to be feasible.
On Saturday, after working in the morning, I met my friend Ms My. I had promised her that I would take her to try western food. Therefore, I invited her to eat pizza. It was her first time and she really liked it but wasn’t sure how to eat it – knife and fork or use hands !
On Sunday, I was too lazy to cook and, because my dog needed a walk, I went to a local restaurant and tried some Vietnamese sea food. The prawns were delicious, but the soup was just OK, nothing special. My dog liked everything and was over the Moon (very happy).
Which one is true ? Did I eat pizza with a beautiful young lady OR did I take my dog to eat seafood ?
How was your weekend ?
Did you do anything special last weekend ?
What did you get up to over the weekend ?
Thanks for asking, I …
Well, I had a great time. First I …
Oh, nothing special, I just …
Today’s lesson is about people exaggerating about their weekends, in order to seem more interesting. So, a talking activity:
What would you do ?
Your young niece plays piano. It is terrible !
Do you …
a) Say that was really good, well done
b) Say hmmm, that is very hard to play, you just need to practice.
c) Say troi oi (omg, oi vey !) that was awful – stop, stop, STOP !
Why did you say that ?
Your partner makes dinner for you. It is terrible ! (partner can mean husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend).
a) Say, “That was delicious, darling,” and eat it all.
b) Say, “It looks wonderful, but I’ve already eaten. I’ll have it later,” then throw it out.
c) Say, “This tastes like dog food ! Never, ever cook again. Order me pizza !”
Your friend or girlfriend comes to your house to visit and meet your parents. Your parents are traditional and old-fashioned.
a) Say that your house is being decorated, so you have to meet in town.
b) Say that you want to meet her parents and will visit her instead.
c) Say, “No way ! My parents will scream ! Put some normal clothes on and wear a hat.”
One purpose is to encourage writing; a senior Vietnamese official explained to me that Vietnamese customers are not used to writing. In my own experience, I have seen how hard it is to make the class, regardless of age, write down new words. It can take up to ten minutes to get the whole class to write down as little as five words. They have to find paper, pen etc, then they look bewildered at the task presented to them … they will often write down one, maybe one and a half words, then simply stop.
Therefore, I want to get them used to writing from an early age. To facilitate this, allocate a specific time when the lesson stops and the class have to write down new words.
I’ve found that using hand gestures can serve an a mnemonic; allow me to illustrate. I put my thumb up, I then hold my palm up, finally I put my thumb down. This has been used to help students build a sentence with a positive verb, a negative one and an advanced discourse marker.
This helps the younglings remember how to produce a sentence such as:
I can swim however, I can’t fly
The sentence introduces younglings to a contraction (can not = can’t) as well as a higher level discourse marker (or connector) ‘however’ (instead of merely using ‘but’). Furthermore, I drill the STRESS on the negative ‘can’t‘.
So, what vocabulary do they know ?
Thank you for your question. At this stage, they know many animals, basic body parts (finger, thumb, hand etc), about twenty adjectives, and basic verbs.
Additionally, they are able to form basic sentences.
It’s now time to move into present continuous, from “I drink” to “I am drinking.” We shall start by celebrating Mid Autumn Festival, a major holiday in Viet Nam. Here’s a song which uses the continuous “singing,” as well as new vocabulary such as “holiday,” and “lantern.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTWwgI17kTs
It is correct to capitalise the ‘m’ in moon IF we are referring to our Moon. We only have one, let’s not upset it (yes, I know it’s a popular question, ‘How many moons does Earth have ?’ and the answer seems to increase every year due to space debris both natural and man-made, not to mention that now some scientists think Earth actually DOES have two … but this is Level 2, let’s not confuse the poor blighters too much).
And now, without further ado …
Warm up games: If possible, make these team games as friendly competition makes the activities more engaging.
Teacher Says – this is great because it is kinetic, and helps to pass the opening minutes while students are arriving.
Word Bomb or Mind Map – board a simple word (e.g. animals), younglings have to shout out answers. Could try colours, body parts, food, clothes depending on class ability.
Magic Bag – I open my bag and ask “What’s in my bag ?” Class has to shout out (or write) possible items I would have in a school bag. This reviews vocabulary from a previous book. As an extension, when they see the item, they have to describe it with two or three adjectives.
Screen Test (based on a children’s TV show from the 70s) – show a short video clip, just a minute or so. Then ask questions. For example, in the Mid Autumn Festival Song, we could ask:
What is the first word we see ?
How many windows does the house have ?
How many lanterns were orange ?
What lantern did the boy hold ? A star, a fish or a doll ?
What colour dress does the girl wear ?
How many dancing moon cakes were there ?
Bonus Question: Can you name 4 different lantern shapes ?
Run and Write – any game that involves the younglings leaving their seats and writing on the board. One version is to have students write a word that begins with ‘a’, then ‘b’ … and so on. Just one person at a time (to avoid possible accidents … I only have limited space in my classroom).
Memory Recall – choose 4 – 6 students and give them a flashcard from a previous lesson. Today, we could use feelings (sad, happy, hungry, thirsty, hot & cold). Younglings stand at the front of the class and hold their card up. Class shout out the words. Then the younglings hide the cards behind their backs and change the order in which they are standing. Now I ask, for example, “What does Ms Linh have ?”
Pair work talking – this is vital in breaking the teacher- student dynamic; we need to promote more student to student interaction, but making this work is a slow train coming. Arrange class in pairs and make them ask each other basic questions. At this age (my class is in the 7 – 9 age range), it may be difficult to get boys talking to girls … at 17 – 19 it may be impossible getting boys to STOP talking to, or trying to impress, girls … but that is a different story.
Subjects could include:
How are you ? (to which the answer must not be “I’m fine.”
What animals do you like ?
What is your favourite colour ?
Do you have a brother or sister ? How many ?
What food do you like ? Can you swim ? Can you play piano ?
Hope this helps. Feel free to leave any comments or suggestions.
A lesson for all ages and all levels, just adapt to suit your students’ ability. First, show the photos and try to elicit what the buildings are for, or their original function.
For Speaking Level 3 or IELTS-standard students, they can explain their reasons and use target language, adjectives, adverbs and LFW (low-frequency words). Furthermore, it shows students a different aspect of London (it’s not just Big Ben, London Eye and Tower Bridge).
Now, without further ado, the photos:
Was built 1947 – 1963 to be used as a power station (designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott who also designed Battersea Power Station and the iconic red phone boxes).
Gallery opened in 2000 by the Queen
Shows British and international art
One of the largest museums in the world
in 2018, there were 5.8 million visitors
Was built 1599, burnt down 1613.
Rebuilt and opened in 1997
Has plays by Shakespeare, as well as modern plays.
Has 857 seats and 700 standing spaces. People who stand are known as ‘groundlings.’
“To be or not to be,” is from Hamlet.
Was built in the 1920s
Only big enough for two people
Has a telephone inside
Made from an old lamppost
Now used for storing brooms
Completed in 1986
Architect was Richard Rogers
Lloyds are a world famous insurance company.
The lifts are on the outside to make more space inside.
It is 95.1 m tall or 312 ft.
New Zealand House
The building was opened by the Queen in 1963
It is the only tall building in the area.
The House has 18 floors.
However … there is something very special for Vietnamese … can you see the blue circle ?
There used to be the Carlton Hotel here, but is was destroyed in World War II
Ho Chi Minh worked in the kitchen at the hotel
Stick fact sheets around the classroom. Students, in groups, have to collect information about basic facts such as when the building was opened, and an interesting fact, then present to the class.
Adult Speaking Classes
Elicit uses of bulidings, then ask them if there are any similar buildings in their city. What interesting buildings would they show tourists ? A student has to describe one of the buildings and the other have to guess which one.
Students are assigned a building and they have to make a presentation of up to two-minutes in length (to practise for the speaking test). They may be allowed to use the internet for additional information but they are NOT allowed to merely read verbatim from Wikipedia !
As this is an IELTS exercise, we are looking for;
Good, strong introduction
Creative use of adverbs + adjectives
Anecdote or a personal review, giving reasons for their thoughts
once in a lifetime experience/ never to be forgotten / unbeatable prices
book now to avoid disappointment/ best decision you’ll ever make
holidays to suit all budgets, from 7* luxury to backpacking
To begin with / furthermore … additionally / the fact is … / therefore
Demonstration with an advert for London:
Now is the perfect time to visit London, England’s glorious capital. The weather is perfect for walking, so you can enjoy the lush parks, world-famous museums and incredible, unbelievable shops. There is something for everyone … and more ! Like sports ? Go to one of the many Premier League football games. Love shopping ? Everything is here – shop till you drop ! Adore culture – soak up hundreds of years of history.
Flights from TSN airport daily. Seven-day all-inclusive package tour starting from only 50m VND ! All transfers and transport included. Air-conditioned mini bus with Vietnamese-speaking guide.
Holiday advertising vocabulary:
Try to use as many of these adjectives and expressions as possible:
Today’s blog, or activity sheet, is about persuasion; the ability to change someone’s opinion or make them do what YOU want THEM to do. This is known as having ‘the gift of the gab.’
This skill is mostly associated with salesmen who, without cheating or lying, make their product sound so wonderful that you simply HAVE TO buy it … and then you get home and realise you have parted with your hard-earned money for something you don’t want, don’t need and will never use.
Before we kick off, let’s roll out some new expressions:
One born every minute = negative, means that the person is an idiot, who bought something useless.
He/She saw you coming = negative, means the seller thought you would buy the poor quality item or pay too much for it.
Paid over the odds = negative, means paying too much for something.
Could sell sand to an Arab = positive, means the seller is so persuasive, he could sell anything to anyone (here, people who live in the desert do NOT need to buy sand).
Unique = positive, only one or something totally different and special.
You paid £50 for that shirt ? He must have seen you coming !
The hotel was $75, I think I paid over the odds.
She’s such a great seller, she could sell sand to an Arab.
I can’t believe he though it was a real Rolex watch … for €30. Oh well, there’s one born every minute !
Mr Paul’s Wonderfully useful store
Here, you can find all sorts of incredibly useful and wonderful items.
The students have to practise their selling and persuasive skills, in order to sell these … ‘wonderful’ … items. As always, an example:
One grey sock
Ladies and gentlemen, step right up, I have an absolute unique items for you. As you see, I have, just today ONLY, one beautiful delightful almost never-used silver-coloured sock, perfect for men, women or even children, yes, they can grow into it !
This amazing item, one of a kind, can be used for so many things, for example … have crying children ? Simply put the sock on your hand and … a PUPPET ! Guaranteed to stop all tears. Been shopping and have so many dirty, heavy coins ? No problem, simply put the coins in the sock. Having a party ? What would look better than this magnificent sock hanging proudly above the door ? Can use it for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Tet Holiday, Easter, Passover, Ramadan, Birthdays, Weddings … you name it … You CANNOT live without it …
You can have this priceless item for just £100 … OK, to you, today only … £75
Now … your turn
Write a ‘sales pitch’ for one of these items, think of some uses for it, then set a price. Try to convince your classmates to buy your unique item.
Some ideas for uses are at the end of the blog
Tips and ideas:
teabag – mint tea – gets rid of spiders & mice : put on eyes to reduce puffiness
Tonight I’m covering a new class so I don’t know the ability of the class, their motivation, nor their willingness to talk English. There is a lot of book work but, to cover myself, I’ve prepared a list of activities to help get the students involved and producing English.
Hence, a compilation of adult activities:
First up – Family Fortunes
This seems to be a small class, maybe just seven students. Rather than ask them for introductions, we’ll jump straight into a game. Class divided into smaller groups and given a writing board and marker. I ask a question and then want four answers. Points for each answer that matches mine. Questions can include:
Not counting Sai Gon, I have been to four places in Viet Nam … which four ?
My four favourite things to eat in VN // Four things I LOVE about VN // Four things I HATE ! // Four instruments I can play (it’s a game, not the actual truth) // Four types of film that I like // Name four cities in Europe // Which four languages can I speak //
Moving on …
Mobile phone survey:
The students will be arranged in small groups. One member will be responsible for gathering the information, then reporting back to me.
Next up – a new persona.
Students are put into two or three groups, with each member given a card with some information about their new identity. They read the information to the group, who have to try to understand and write down details such as email addresses, phone numbers or Facebook accounts. Example:
Hello, my name is Tony
I’m 23 and I love shopping for shirts and ties.
I’m not into reading or books. I find them boring.
My mobile number is 0943 552 8207
It’s highly probable the other students will need to hear some of the information again, so they can use the following:
I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your phone number (email address etc)
Could you repeat that, please ?
Could you spell that, please ?
Would you mind speaking slower, please.
Putting students into small groups helps to take the pressure off the students, as they speak to a limited number of classmates, not alone and in front of the whole class. this is highly effective in motivating shy and quiet class.
No rest for the wicked … Call My Bluff
Class divided into small teams. Each team reads out a low-frequency word, followed by three definitions (hopefully, they will be able to embellish and add some of their own ideas). The opposing team has to review the three definitions, maybe ask for examples in a sentence, and then decide which definition is correct. Example:
In danger, in danger of losing or failing (noun)
A small car used by the army (noun)
A bird in Australia that can speak fluent English (noun)
People who order food in a restaurant but run away without paying (noun)
A large vehicle for carrying heavy things (noun)
People who enter (take part in) a competition (noun)
Others words include: maximum // in the form of //reduce // actual // smart // except the last one // obnoxious // broadsheet // charismatic // convinced // stain
Just a Minute
Students are put in pairs. They have to speak for one minute on a subject without hesitating, repeating or deviating (speaking about a different subject). This will test the students’ ability to speak fluently, as well as giving opportunities for using discourse markers and new vocabulary learnt so far. Subject are deliberately open, for example:
food // travel // work or study // life in Sai Gon // their family // their house.
Viet Nam presentation – where should I go on holiday ?
Three teams, representing Ha Noi, Hue and Nha Trang.
This exercise encourages team work and, furthermore, allows the students to develop their intonation skills; they will have to sound excited and optimistic.
To assist, here are some words and phrases to embellish their speech:
cultural centre // historical importance // breathe-taking scenery // tranquil // relaxing // hustle and bustle // mouth-watering food // never to be forgotten //unforgettable // once in a lifetime experience.
To give some help, I can perform a quick example:
COME TO LONDON, UK’s magnificent capital city and one of the world’s GREAT cities.
SEE such iconic, historical sights such as:
Buckingham Palace, home of our Queen, Tower Bridge over the Thames river.
Visit the world-famous British Museum to see the wonders of the world, or watch a football match at Wembley Stadium, in the country that invented the sport.
There is something for everyone:
Shops; you can buy everything here, to suit all budgets, from street markets to high-end department stores. To relax, London has so many tranquil parks, right in the centre of the city. Maybe see famous movie stars at one of London’s many, beautiful theatres, or dine out at restaurants cooking traditional British food or anything from anywhere.
A plane crashes in the desert. No one is hurt, but they cannot stay by the plane. They need to be rescued and to stay alive. The plane has a lot of items but they can only select FIVE:
first aid kit // matches // rope // knife // compass // cigarettes // blankets // barrel of water // flare gun // torch (flashlight) // magnifying glass // Beatles CD // dried food // make-up set // Angry Birds game // air rifle // sun cream (sun block) // English grammar book
Factors to consider: food, drink, heat, cold, attracting attention, wildlife
Class put into teams and each team must choose their five items. After, they must compare their selection with the other team(s) and argue their reasons. Here we can practice negotiation language:
I see your point, however I disagree because …
That’s interesting, however …
I respectfully disagree
I’m not sure about that
I don’t feel that is entirely right …
Class interact and practice agreeing, disagreeing and making convincing arguments.
Here I show five pictures of men or women. Students, just by appearance, have to guess the personality and occupation of my friends.
This is a good way to teach new adjectives and jobs … and, in case you’re wondering, their jobs are: unemployed (looking for a job so is sending out CVs) // DJ // Actor // self-employed plumber and … doctor (photo taken on holiday).