Unusual London Buildings. What do you think they are ?

6th September 2020

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:

 

Tate Modern

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

Globe Theatre

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.

Police Station

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

Lloyd’s Building

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

Carlton Hotel, London - Wikipedia
The old Carlton Hotel where Ho Chi Minh once worked

Activities

Young Learners

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.

IELTS

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

Low-frequency words

Opinion phrases

Idiomatic language

Anecdote or a personal review, giving reasons for their thoughts

Target Language:

Quite unusual / eye-catching / remarkable / innovative / quintessentially British / controversial / brilliant /

It’s not to my particular taste / / I have my heart set on visiting / a unique experience (now add an adverb) / a truly unique experience / a magnet for tourists /

17 Signs That You Probably Need A Break From London - Secret London

Adult Speaking Class, level 3: Dali, DaDa and Surrealism

23rd April 2020

Dali

EXERCISE: What do you think of this painting ? It is by Salvador Dali; what do you know about him ? Prepare a short presentation for next class 🙂

The Persistence of Memory 1931

How to ‘read’ a painting.

Firstly, as with a poem, the title, not to mention the time it was created, can supply us with vital clues and information.

Memory – how well can you remember what you did last night ? Maybe last week ? Last year ? How about what you did at junior school or even, what are your earliest memories ?

Our memories can be unreliable, a mixture of truth, half-truths and maybe fabrications. Therefore, Dali could be saying that the past, as we remember it, may not be the truth – it can be distorted, warped or mutated.

This can be shown by the main subjects: watches. The closed (protected ?) watch is overrun with ants. Could this mean that the ‘truth’ will never be revealed ?

The remaining watches appear to have melted. Have they stopped ? We can see that two of the watches show different times.

What do you associate with watches; time, naturally. Is Dali warning us about how fast time flies, or how we can so easily waste time ? Alternately, is the artist pointing out that human time is nothing compared to time in the universe, which is measured in millions of years and light years ?

How about the image in the centre ? This looks like a self-portrait, also distorted, of Dali himself:

A new Florida art installation reanimates Salvador Dalí - Axios

The ‘Dali’ portrait is covered by a distorted watch. Could Dali be telling us how he feels his own mortality – his time left on Earth – or is he being forced down by forces beyond his control – how we can’t escape time ?

Such possibilities show how we can interpret a work of art.

We can say anything we feel provided we can support our ideas.

This makes for some very interesting points of view; even if we don’t agree with the point, we can appreciate the argument.

Now let’s focus on the colour and background. Dali was born in the Catalonia region of Spain, and take a look at this photo of the coastline:

Catalonia Discovery - cycling & walking in Catalonia | Inntravel

Do you see, it is not entirely unlike the cliffs in the top right of the painting.

Additionally, we have what appears to be the natural realities of sea and sky.

This mixture of reality and distorted, dream-like images is termed Surrealism. It is not pure fantasy, nor is it strict reality, but a hybrid (mix) of the two.

How about the tree ? It looks dead, destroyed, more like a human skeleton. This could be a reference to the horrors of World War I (1914 – 1918), when vast areas of French forest were bombed and shelled into grotesque nightmares worlds:

Woods in Wartime - Trees on the Front Line - Picturing the Great ...
Photograph by Frank Hurley: ‘Chateau Wood 1917’

Interestingly, many of my young students now interpret the tree in environmental terms, how nature is being destroyed by deforestation, by pollution, by human encroachment on the land.

I find that to be a justification for the importance of art; we project our own concerns and issues, factors that affect our current lives onto art that may have been created hundreds of years ago. The art still speaks to us.

SIDE EXERCISE: Which do you prefer, the painting or the photo ? Or, develop your argument to state the positives of both.

Now, let’s move on to the colours. What do you associate, or what is the symbolism of bright blues and yellows ? Conversely, what do you think of when you see dark colours, deep browns and black ?

Finally, let’s focus on the ‘Dali’ image; it is placed at the centre of the painting, like a sun in a solar system about which, everything moves. We have a hybrid of reality (sky, sea, cliffs) and surreal images (the melted, disfigured watches) not forgetting the (war-scarred ?) tree, both real and surreal.

With Dali being the central image, is the painting saying that is a view of Dali’s imagination ? Maybe a dream (don’t dream have a surreal quality ?), maybe his statement on how the world is going ?

All things considered, how do you react now ? Is this optimistic or pessimistic ? Do you consider it realistic or fantastic or surreal ?

Now you try

Dada

Dada | Definition & History | Britannica

I previously mentioned World War I. For the first time, war was industrialised, soldiers died in incomprehensible numbers from heavy artillery, bombs, machine guns, gas, flame-throwers, airplane attacks, as well as hand to hand fighting.

Despite the huge loss of life the politicians and leaders persisted in fighting. As a reaction to this madness, a new art movement was formed in Switzerland, central Europe, and was named Dada.

The Dada artists wanted to attack all in modern life that had lead to, and was prolonging, the war.

In my home city, London, we have a great Museum with a significant Dada collection. If you’re interested, here’s a link: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/d/dada

What do you think of these ? Analyse them and DON’T BE AFRAID TO USE YOUR IMAGINATION

Man Ray, ‘Cadeau’ 1921, editioned replica 1972
Man Ray Cadeau 1921
Dada Movement Overview and Key Ideas | TheArtStory
Marcel Duchamp LHOOQ 1919
idesign dadaismphongtraonghethuatdada 07
George Grosz ‘The Pillars of Society’ 1926