A new class, new students, so let’s hit the ground running, get the students mixing, talking to each other and up from their seats. I prepared a questionnaire. They have to interview different classmates and learn a little about them
Gather information about your classmates
Why are you studying IELTS ?
Where would you most like to visit and why ? Would you like to live abroad ?
What is the hardest thing about learning English ? How do you solve this ?
How often do you use English ?
Do you read, write or speak at school or at work ?
What do you most like about western culture or countries ?
What idioms do you know ?
This lead into the idiom it’s raining cats and dogs which most students had heard (it means raining heavily).
Today’s lesson is based on types of housing and areas; some extra terms:
gritty / industrial
quite / safe / residential
boring / peaceful / suburban
bustling / vibrant / city centre
Which would you apply to these:
All photos are from the UK
Ask each other about your hometown or your neighbourhood.
Sometimes students arrive at class after a long day, bereft of energy and motivation. In such situations, it’s best to hit the ground running, get them talking and ready for a lesson. This needs to be done before they pull out their mobiles and start concentrating on their cyberlife … after which time, they are lost to reality.
Therefore, before they can hit that ‘Post’ button, pair them up and make them ask each other various questions, demanding that the answers be as complex as possible, incorporating big words (‘Low-Frequency Words’), discourse markers and relative pronouns, along with appropriate expressions.
Example: Where would you most like to visit ?
Bad answer: Nowhere. Bad answer: New York.
Introduce your answer THEN state the location THEN explain why.
Ah, that’s an interesting question because I really need a holiday. However travelling now is not a good idea because of the COVID 19 which is an extremely serious pandemic. So, I have to think about after, when it is safe to go on holiday.
I have always wanted to visit Singapore, because it looks so clean and modern and, not forgetting, so many shopping malls. I love shopping, it is my passion. I would buy so many things such as clothes, makeup and presents for my family.
IELTS students should be able to add a number of idiomatic language to really spice up their presentation. I would expect to hear:
cost(s) an arm and a leg / prices (can be \ are) sky high / mouth-watering / world famous / ubiquitous / pristine / that’s a bit of a sore point (because we CAN’T travel) / such a wide array / shop till (I \ you) drop / overwhelming / spoilt for choice / retail therapy
NOW … your turn
Questionnaire / Discussion
What kind of music do you like ? (do you play or listen ?)
Can you name any plays by Shakespeare ? (if not what writer do you like ?)
What time do you usually get up ? (weekdays and weekends)
How do you relax ? (do you have time or do you study, have family, work overtime ?)
Can you play a musical instrument ? (would you like to ? Why ?)
What skill(s) would you like to acquire ? (be creative here – what stops you learning ?)
What is the best thing about Sai Gon ? (or YOUR city)
However, this is not a one-way street. The person asking is expected to make small talk, to elicit – to encourage – the speaker to open up and expand on their answers.
Use small talk phrases such as:
Really ? That’s interesting // Tell me more // Why do you say that ? // Oh, me too // What do (did) you like best // Where is that (exactly) ? // I’ve heard about that // I haven’t heard about that, can you explain // Why do you say that ? // Oh, I get it // I’m not sure I follow.
And if your partner is stonewalling you (not talking), here’s a great idiom:
A major problem for students is pronunciation and also, in some classes, it can be rather tricky to get the students talking. Obviously, many learners are scared of mispronouncing and ‘losing face’ by their mistake.
This activity helps with both issues.
Arrange the class in small groups and hand each member an card. The students have to read out the information, while the other write down what they hear. Many of my students feel that work is something to be done as quickly as possible, but that will not work in this situation.
Instead, the other team members will need to check what is being said. This encourages slow, clear and careful pronunciation. To assist, use expressions such as:
Can you speak slower, please.
Would you mind speaking slower, please.
How do you spell that ?
Could you repeat that, please.
Sorry, I didn’t catch the phone number.
Let me confirm …
Is that ‘b’ as in blue or ‘p’ as in pink ?
Teachers: adapt to suit the level of your class. Add email address, specific requests etc
IELTS students need to know an incredibly wide array of adverbs so, with that in mind, here’s an exercise which can be easily adapted as a team game. Complete the sentences with suitable adverbs. Piece of cake, right ?
Use a thesaurus and dictionary to boost your vocabulary.
Adverbs of manner & ‘but’, ‘so’ and ‘even though’
(Fast or quickly – both can be used as adverbs, fast more for speed, quickly for time e.g. the animal runs fast and eats quickly.)
Note: ‘well’, ‘fast’ and ‘hard’ are irregular adverbs of manner.
Use a positive adverb for (+) and a negative one for (-)
Example: She sings (+) beautifully but plays piano (-) terribly.
It is raining (-) heavilyso I will bring an umbrella
I will go along with you ……I am not really hungry
……….I am not hungry, I will go with you to KFC
Grabbike is cheap …..they drive so (-).
She failed her test ……..she studied (+)
Do I look like Batman ? Then why are you speaking so …..(-)
We have learnt many idioms ….that is just the tip of the iceberg.
He loves music …much ….he sings (-).
She never eats the food ………she works there.
……..she speaks English very (+), she is afraid to speak to westerners.
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.
A lesson designed to encourage speaking and student interaction, especially useful for upper-intermediates or IELTS students, who are expected to be able to speak for two minutes fluently, with a good range of vocabulary, a knowledge of phrases and expressions, not to mention said speech to be delivered with pacing, rhythm and intonation. Furthermore, as previously demonstrated, long, complex sentences with ideas linked together with discourse markers.
Without further ado … let’s take in a movie
(to take in a movie = to go and see a movie, as opposed to watching a DVD, streaming etc)
I prefer / choice / my taste / not my taste / trailer / concession stand
all-star cast / director / film studio / controversial/ family film / book online
What’s on at the cinema ? What’s playing this week ? Not my cup of tea.
ACTIVITY 1: Use some of the words or expressions to talk about these photos:
Alfred Hitchcock, a famous director from London, is demonstrating to the cameraman what shot he wants. Hitchcock was born near my house in east London and went on to work in Hollywood with all-star casts. However, I prefer his early films made in the UK although the famous or infamous film ‘Psycho’ is one of my favourites despite being extremely controversial.
Now … your turn
Activity 2:What types of film can you name ?
Horror // Action Stories // Sci-fi // Drama // Thriller // Romance // Biopic // Comedy // Western // Animation (Anime) // Musical // Documentary // War //
Stories about people’s lives and emotions // Space films, or films set in the future // Films about fighting and soldiers // Stories about real famous people // Loud, exciting films with explosions and fast cars // A cartoon, illustrated film // True stories with real people, not actors // Stories about police or spies or crime // Scary films about ghosts or monsters // A film about cowboys, set in USA // Love stories // Funny films // with singing and dancing
Which genres are these ?
Which do you prefer ?
Prefer– to like one thing more than something else
I prefer drinking coffee to tea
He prefers living in Sai Gon rather than Hanoi
The students prefer the small room
Look at an up-to-date cinema listing. Discuss what is on this week. Which films (if any) appeal to you ?
Which do you prefer ?
Going to the cinema, watching a DVD or streaming a film online ?
What are the advantages or disadvantages to each one ?
Must or have to ? Revision
The new Spider Man film may be sold out. We ______ buy tickets NOW !
I hate comedies ! Do I _____ to go ?
You _______ eat too much popcorn; it’s bad for you.
You ________to be over 18 to see this film
You don’t ____ to bring your passport to get intoa cinema in Viet Nam.
Here are some sheets, which can be adapted and printed out, for students to practice job searching. There are three in total, the remainder will be blogged over the next few days.
Students would need to be at intermediate level, motivated and willing to move around the room, be active and creative. Students that just want to sit in their chair and NOT move for three hours (oh, boy, there ARE students like that), will not respond to such a kinetic activity.
Normally, depending on class size, I will have three employment agencies situated around the room. One or two students will pretend to work for one of the agencies, and they will greet prospective employees, and discuss their job prospects, training, experience etc.
Best way is to show an example.
The first company, very British, is called ‘Bacon ‘n’ Eggs’
This refers to a typical British breakfast, so the agency will be concentrating on the hotel and catering industry. Students can invent a character and a work background. Remember, the agency wants to find people for the job, so they will have to be very persuasive and optimistic, to really ‘sell’ the job (even if it isn’t very good).
Bacon ‘n’ eggs
The number ONE choice for employers and job-seekers.
Set out on your career here – jobs at ALL levels in the service industry, from hotel management to domestic staff, permanent or temporary.
Pop by today for a chat … and start work tomorrow !
Teaching Note: This could be used as a listening exercise. Read out the following information, then elicit answers. A simple test helps to build confidence, especially as IELTS listening can be very demoralising.
One of my favourite photos is of my friend Peter, who lives in Birmingham, England.
His wife took the photo last March. Peter is playing bass guitar in a studio. It looks like he is having fun. He plays in a band called ‘The Deep Six’.
I keep this photo on my computer in a file called ‘Music in Birmingham’.
What is the name of my friend ?
Where does he live ?
What guitar does he play ?
What is the name of his band ?
Where do I keep this photo ?
Activity 1: The student have to practice forming questions by asking me about the photo.
Activity 2: Read out the following information, then make a contest, who can answer first.
These are two of my friends, Mark and Tony. Mark is on the left, with the curly blonde hair and beard, Tony has short dark hair.
I took this photo last time I was in London, Christmas 2019 at my local pub.
Mark, who has tattoos on his arms, was in the army and now has a security firm (company) in the centre of London. Tony, on the other hand, lives from day to day, he does odd jobs, maybe some painting, maybe some construction, maybe some security work. He likes to gamble on horses, which is a popular activity in the UK.
I shot this on my iPhone and keep it because I live very far from my friends so can’t meet them very often.
As you can see, they are drinking beer, laughing and generally having a very happy time.
Now we progress, giving the information in a different order and with alternate vocabulary.
In this photo, which I was sent by email, we can see my London neighbour Arif and his sister Rita. It made me smile, because the T-shirts are ironic; they just don’t get on at all, in fact they fight like cat and dog.
Arif told me that their mother bought the shirts as a joke, and to make the point that living with them is driving her crazy. All the shouting and arguing, non-stop, 24/7.
Rita’s best friend Suzy was trying out her new camera, a Canon, and asked them to pose for her. The situation is getting complicated because Suzy likes Arif but Rita will be livid if her best friend starts dating her brother. I only received the email last week so I don’t know what is happening now.
I miss both of them, they are so friendly and funny. Arif always helps if I have a computer problem, as he works in IT, while Rita brings me special Indian food, knowing that I love spicy curry. Although she is a marvellous cook, she wants to be a business lady, a ‘mover and a shaker’. I’m sure she will do well, she is very determined and forthright. Maybe too much at times, she hates being contradicted or corrected.
Arif, who sent the email, informed me that after the photo, Rita left the room, changed clothes and threw the T-shirt away. That is so typical of Rita !
1 How did I get this photo ? // 2 Who sent it to me ? // 3 Who took the photo ?
4 Who are they and what is their relationship // 5 What is Arif’s job ?
6 What type of camera was used ? // 7 Describe Rita’s personality
8 If I wanted a physical copy of the photo, I would need to … what ?
Ask students to bring in a photograph which can be talked about it in class.
We are currently using Zoom for online teaching, so students could share photos from their computer and then get a conversation going. Encourage students to elicit more information and to push each other to speak more.
Obviously, only suggest this, as some students may be shy about sharing personal information