Young Learners, Level 5: Sounds of the rain forest.

5th June for 6th June 2020

Here’s a quick blog for a class I’m covering tomorrow. As a warm up and review, I’ll play this music as the students enter the class: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHWhebFt_r0

Long-term fate of tropical forests may not be as dire as believed ...
A tropical rain forest

Next up, a great video (under five minutes) about the rain forest, in English but with captions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMdD6TTDZ_g

The video has a lot of new words, so I will pause the clip and board new words. Following the video, I’ll ask these questions. Being a large class, the students can work in teams, maybe each team having the name of an animal (that should be fun for Team Monkey).

Which big cat has spots, which has stripes ? Why do they have patterns ?

What is the name of the line that goes around the middle of the Earth ?

Rain forests has two things … what ?

What fruit can you find ?

What animals live at the top of trees ?

Is Vietnam in the tropics ?

BONUS POINTS:

Why are rain forests important ?

Colombia creates the world's largest tropical rainforest national ...

They absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen

They are home to lots of different wildlife

They produce water and rainfall for the planet

Moving on rapidly – Adverbs

Give me a sentence for these photos:

Pin by Jill Czarnowski on Big Cats | Jaguar animal, Animals ...

EXAMPLE:

The jaguar runs quickly // The jaguar with black spots, runs very quickly

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Karaoke
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A sloth
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Reading in a library ssshhhhhhh …
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Buster Keaton doesn’t stand in a very safe place

How do I follow that !

The remainder of the lesson is given over to reading, the theme being a music recital, so I can lead in by asking who play an instrument (then explaining that my long nails on my left hand are for playing guitar, not for scaring students).

For the quiet book-work section, I’ll play the glorious Ludwig van: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Tr0otuiQuU

Idioms: a piece of cake

1st June 2020

New expressions for working life

Office Etiquette 101 | Kamdora
I’ll be with you in just a tic … bear with me

I start my speaking classes by explaining that I do not teach English, but Englishes; how the same sentences can be pronounced in Standard English, or in my London accent, in my east London accent, in my (attempt at an) American accent etc …

For those working towards an IELTS qualification, these distinctions are point-earners. Similarly, a knowledge of idiomatic English is so beneficial, not just for boosting scores, but for making students feel they are learning real English; this is how people REALLY speak.

Have a gander at this

(This is London slang meaning take a look at this):

11 of the UK's best farmers' markets ~ Rosemary and Pork Belly

You telling me they’re chattin’ away in Standard English ? Pull the other one.

(Are you trying to make me believe that the people are talking in Standard Queen’s English ? I don’t believe you).

English, as you can see and hear, is a multifaceted language, and I see so many problems in listening exercises, due to speed of speech, accents and unknown words or phrases. So let’s tackle idioms – expressions you will hear everyday, from street markets to politicians being interviewed on the news.

Let’s kick off (start) with some common idioms and expressions:

bear with me = please wait a short time

seems to me = I think, I believe but I can not be certain

do you follow ? = do you understand ?

hold the line = please wait on the phone a very short time

I’ll get back to you = I’ll reply to you as soon as possible (ASAP)

the day after tomorrow = in two day’s time

hit the ground running = to start work at a fast pace immediately

24 / 7 = all day, every day 

Now … practice: What idiom or expression ?

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“6 – 3 = 6 ……. ?”

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“I’m exhausted, I’ve been working …”

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“No, I’m busy tomorrow, how about … ?”

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“Let’s all work with energy and be successful. I want us to … !”

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I’ll see if the manager is in …

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“Well, I’m not sure of the answer, let me … “

Work in pairs – try to make sentences using these new idioms.

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PRACTICE TIME


Idioms – A random selection. Which do you know ? Which can you use in a sentence ?

same old, same old = same thing everyday, as always

stuck in a rut = no progress or change at all. Doing the same thing in life

raining cats and dogs = extremely heavy rain

chockablock = too busy to move – traffic

cooking the books = cheating with the accounts

cost an arm and a leg + very expensive

straight up  = serious, not joking

pulling my leg  = joking with me

learning the ropes = learning what the job involves

snowed under = very busy

let’s call it a day = we can finish work now

can you run that by me again ? = please repeat.

Team game

Teams ask each which idiom fits for:

Time to finish work // Bad weather // Stuck in traffic // Too much work

The accountant was writing false information // I am new at a job // iPhone 11 is not cheap // Sorry, can you explain again //

Everyday same thing // I must change jobs //

Are you joking with me ? // No, I am honest.

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“You can believe me, mate !”

Adult Class, Level 3: Keep on rockin’ in the Free World !

30th May 2020

Yes, keep on Rockin’ in the Free World … but first, you’ve got to get there.

As spoken, we would say:

“First, ya gotta get there.”

So today’s lesson will be in the form of a game, a challenge or quest, if you will, where the students, assigned to one of two teams have to get from:

In Vietnam, Beer Is Big Business.

To …

Popular pub the Birkbeck Tavern saved from closure | East London ...

What a prize ! The dirty filthy insalubrious streets of Ha Noi to the cozy comforts and warm welcome of east London, and my local, the Birkbeck Tavern.

Said task is achieved by earning points, said points are earned by answering questions, and using a wide range of linguistics features namely: adjectives, adverbs, discourse markers, relative pronouns, low-frequency words, expressions, idioms and, naturally, displaying a wide array of para-linguistic attributes, to wit: intonation, stress, eye-contact, body language, gestures, clear pronunciation, turn-taking and rhythm because, contrary to popular belief, when it comes to speaking English, NOT all God’s children got rhythm.

(Yes, the above sentence contained an example of non-standard English, but the vast majority of people do not speak pure standard English all the time).

Now, we have a massive task to undertake … without further ado … let’s go !

Flights from London to Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)

First up, a revision and practice. In the last lesson, the class learnt (a-hem!) four new words: ubiquitous, significant, consequently and, it was on my blog, extrapolate. The teams, and let’s name them after famous English explorers, Drake and Cook:

Francis Drake
Sir Francis Drake
10 Things You May Not Know About Captain James Cook - HISTORY
Captain James Cook

… the teams have to use all four words in sentences. One point for each correct sentence. However; incentive, three points for using two in a grammatically-correct sentence, five for using three words and TEN points for using all words words in one sentence. That should get them some air miles and off the runway.

Next up, the teams challenge each other. They offer points to the other side if they can use these words or expressions correctly:

however / with that in mind / quantum leap /  in order to / cats and dogs / kick the bucket / therefore / dribs and drabs

It works like this. Team Drake will say, “We offer 5 points for Team Cook to use the word ‘however’ in a sentence.” If the task is accomplished, Cook gain the 5 points. If the team is unable to use the word, then Drake win the points. The skill is in guessing which words or expressions will be hard to use, and offering high points accordingly.

Moving on, creative writing. My class can use relative pronouns IN THEORY, but not so much in practice. One may even say, NOT AT ALL in practice. Thus, I will give information about our two friends from last week. The teams have to compose a short piece combining all the information, but in the form of complex sentences with relative pronouns and discourse markers.

Example:

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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 Pistols, he formed a new band, PIL, and wrote a book which was published in 2008. He escaped death by missing his flight on the Pan Am flight that exploded over Lockerbie in Scotland.

Our young lady is

Sakuri. 21. Born in Tokyo. Studies History at university. Works as waitress. Wants to be a film star. Has two sisters. One sister elder, one younger. Her father is a piano salesman. Mother designs clothes. Sakuri likes reading, films, anime, shopping, going out with friends. Uses Apple iPhone X. Always on Instagram, FB, and Yalo. Is learning English.

Haruto. 23. Born in Okasuka. Left school at 16. Plays keyboards in a band. Likes Beethoven, Jazz and Elton John. Works different jobs. Was TA in a school but was sacked after four hours. Has no siblings. Father left home when Haruto was 4. Mother works 6 days a week in a factory. Uses Samsung Galaxy. Hates social media sites. Listens to music all day.

Points awarded for creativity and relative pronouns and complex sentences.

And now for something completely different: London.

Quick-fire round: I want a list of three. Start a sentence and give THREE examples

In London, you can eat British food …

In London there is public transport …

London has many famous buildings …

There are many famous football clubs in London …

Plan a day for my friends Tina and Michael:

I have two friends arriving in Sai Gon. They want a typical, authentic experience. Plan a day for them. It must include:

  • Breakfast
  • A museum
  • Somewhere for a snack
  • An interesting building or location
  • Lunch
  • Souvenir shopping
  • Something to do in the evening

Give tips and advice. 

How do they travel around ? What are the pros and cons ?

What are their options and estimate the prices.

Try to use as much new vocabulary as possible, words and expressions.

Finally, pronunciation. I will show Drake and Cook two clips, one from ‘Twin Peaks’, the other of the actor Peter O’Toole being interviewed. The teams, all members, have to imitate or copy the voice, gestures and intonation. Points out of 50 for this task.

For Team Drake: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uvs7pmISe8I

The quote is, “Wait a minute, wait a minute. You know, this is, excuse me, a damn fine cup of coffee.”

For Team Cook: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Fl3bOeXvyI

The quote is, “Oh, I’ll shuffle through my memory.” Said quote appears from 0:45 – 0:51 in the clip.

And that, as they say, is a wrap. The remainder of the lesson can be devoted to book work, possibly, had-outs, unlikely, or general chit-chat, undoubtedly. Who says English can’t be fun … probably my students !