IELTS, Adult Speaking Class, Level 3. Warm up conversation starters

9th October 2020

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.

adults-casual-cellphone-1413653 - Study Finds

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.

Better answer:

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

Cheap Shopping Place in Singapore - Buy Souvenirs in the Bugis Street Area
Remember … there are some affordable shopping areas in Singapore although they tend to be away from the city centre but well worth a visit.

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:

IDIOM OF THE WEEK: Cat Got Your Tongue... - Cairns Language Centre |  Facebook

Quotes for the classroom

2nd September 2020

Today is Independence Day in Vietnam, so let’s start with Uncle Ho, Ho Chi Minh (1890 – 1969). He has some very sage advise, especially for Vietnamese students:

Ho Chi Minh quote: I'm very moved to be here today, ... Our lives...

“We need to work much harder.”

Don’t take my word for it, listen to Uncle Ho. Now, let’s go back to Ancient China and listen to Master Kong … Kong Fuzi … Latinised as Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC):

Pin by Kelly Ferrara Carlson on point to be noted.... | Confucius quotes,  Philosophical quotes, Philosophy quotes

Moving forward, and westward, we come to Ancient Greece and the philosophy of Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC). I think he deserves two quotes n’est-ce pas ?

Aristotle quote Best Quotes – Quotes – BestQuotes
Pin by F. M. on Man Made History...the Good and the Evil | Aristotle quotes,  Philosophy quotes, Teaching quotes

Our inspirational journey takes us my homeland, a “Precious stone set in the silver sea,” (Shakespeare, and more from the Bard, later). The court of Queen Elizabeth, and her adviser and alchemist, the mysterious John Dee (1527 – 1608 or 1609), furthermore, the man credited with coining the phrase “British Empire.”

TOP 10 QUOTES BY JOHN DEE | A-Z Quotes

As promised, something from Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)

Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to  heaven – William Shakespeare - Quotes

I totally agree. The quote is from Henry VI, Part II.

Finally … Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013):

Nelson Mandela Education Quote Gallery - Basecampatx

IELTS: Mindset, introduction lesson

23rd June 2020

Preparation Offline | IELTS Asia | British Council

A new class, so I have to assess their ability, motivation and potential.

Let’s kick off with a Family Fortune game – I give writing boards to the class, arranged in small groups, and ask for four answers to basic questions.

Example : Four places I’ve been to in Viet Nam / Four things I love about Viet Nam / Four things I hate / Four instruments I can play / Four languages I can speak. To test general knowledge, Four countries in Asia or capital cities / Four countries in Europe / Four cities in the USA

Next up, I want to get the class speaking as soon as possible so, they can interview each other asking basic questions. No one speaks alone, so this helps to cover any shyness as all the class are speaking at the same time.

Why are you studying IELTS ? /

Do you think IELTS will be difficult ? / Why ?

Do you use English at school or work … how ? /

What do you do in your free time ? /

What do you do or what do you study ? /
Would you like to live in USA or UK ?

Moving on, time to explain the importance of sentence building. We would expect new IELTS students to be able to speak quite fluently, in reasonable long sentences. If students answer in four words or under, or even single words, then the teachers know we have a ‘difficult’ class.

To give an example, I’ll introduce a standard IELTS-style question:

Where would you like to visit in Viet Nam (or your own country) and why ?

Example Answer:

I show them a plan:

Introduction / First good point / second good point / something bad / conclusion.

I choose Hoi An

Hoi An: Vietnam's most charming city - Exoticca Blog

Introduction: DON’T answer immediately but introduce the answer by repeating or rephrasing the question:

Vietnam has many beautiful places but my choice would be Hoi An.

First Good Point:

Firstly, Hoi An is a historical city with a wonderful Japanese bridge and lovely old shops. At night, the shops use romantic lanterns.

Second Good Point:

Hoi An is close to Da Nang, so I can fly there easily and quickly. There are many things to see and do in the local area.

Now, something negative

HoweverHoi An is very small and can be extremely crowded in summer. Maybe it will be difficult to find a hotel or a table at a good restaurant.

Conclusion

In my opinion, Hoi An is a very special place to visit because it is a town of Vietnamese culture.

How to build sentences:

Use adjectives to describe nouns (beautiful, historic, romantic)

adverbs to describe adjectives and verbs – give more information (very, easily)

opinion phrases (in my opinion)

linking words to connect positive to positive or positive to negative – discourse markers (however)

reasons why an action is being done (because)

Now – your turn:

Where do you want to visit ? This can be in Vietnam or anywhere.

Women wearing Vietnamese ao dai granted an imperial favor
Hue
Getting Around Hanoi [2019] Guide to Get Around Hanoi for ...
Ha Noi

Finally, to test knowledge of occupations and personality adjectives, I will show the class photos of five friends and elicit their opinions. https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2018/12/28/friends-men-teaching-sheet/

At IELTS level I would expect the students to form basic sentences such as:

“In my opinion, he is … “

“For me, he looks like … “

“He seems to be a … “

It will probably be a mixed-ability class, so I shall encourage the top learners, asking them to describe the photos, using as many adjectives and adverbs as they can.

Business English: Role-playing activities

6th May 2020

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 

Employment Agency

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Bacon ‘n’ eggs

Current vacancies


1...Junior hotel manager (trainee). Age 18 – 23

Qualifications: Degree or current student, preferably in Hotel Management or related course.

Experience: Not necessary but work in service industry or food retail an asset. 

Personality: Out-going and confident, able to speak to staff and guests. Must be flexible and focused.

Skills: English imperative. Japanese or Russian an asset. Spreadsheets and Powerpoint. 

Salary: to be negotiated

2…Sous Chef

Qualifications: Catering certificate. Health certificate. First aid. 

Experience: 3 years in a 3* or above establishment.

Personality: Strong-willed, reliable and determined. Able to cope under pressure.

Skills: Communication skills. English a bonus but not essential.

Salary: £18 – 21 per hour depending on experience.

3…Domestic engineer (hotel cleaner)

Qualifications: Not necessary

Experience: Previous domestic engineering work would be an asset.

Personality: Hard-working, cheerful, dependable, able to work on own initiative.

Skills: Good at cleaning.

Salary: £4.75 rising to £4.99 per hour.

Again, this is an opportunity for the class to be inter-active, to mingle, to try out their English skills, and mostly, to break away form the stolid teacher-student dynamic.

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