Young Learners, level 6: It’s festival time

3rd September 2022

Many countries have festivals that can be:

colourful / dangerous / exciting / fun / noisy / peaceful / traditional / unusual

Question 1:

What festivals do you have in your country ?

What do people do ? What are the customs ?

Is there special or traditional food ?

Complete this piece:

In Vietnam, the biggest festival is Tet Holiday. At Tet the custom is for parents to give …

Vietnamese eat special food such as …

People wear beautiful, colourful … and watch …

Festivals around the world

Tell me about these festivals. Use the new adjectives to describe them. Would you like to go ? Why or why not ?

Do you think these people are crazy or brave or just having fun ?

First, to Europe, and this famous festival in Spain:

Staying in Europe, we go to the UK:

Now we are off to Africa, to the country of Niger:

Now let’s cross the Atlantic and head to Mexico:

Time to head back to Asia, stopping at Thailand:

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

IELTS: Travel Questions

10th April 2022

Language to use

Idioms:

Once in a blue moon

It costs an arm and a leg

Put / Had my nose to the grindstone

burning the candle at both ends

Vocabulary:

visually stunning / mouth-watering / a waste of money / spectacular / you get what you pay for / significantly / somewhat / according to / how can I put it ? / unforgettable / traditional / breathtaking / unique / once in a lifetime experience / never to be forgotten /

Exercise 1: write a narrative

My old friend was visiting Bangkok and, as Thailand is close to Vietnam, I decided to take a short holiday and meet up with him.

The students must flesh out the notes, using adjectives, discourse markers, adverbs and interesting expressions. Additionally, I need to hear a structured speech, using ‘signpost language’ such as:

To begin with / firstly

After that / secondly / following that /

Then / afterwards / another memorable moment was

For me the highlight was /

In conclusion / to sum up / all in all

Along with this, the voice must depict excitement or disappointment, indicate what is factual and what is an opinion.

Ready ? Let’s go !

I flew with …

Then took the BTS Skytrain

Then a …

To my hotel. I travelled alone, however I planned to meet up with …

The highlights of the trip undoubtedly:

Not forgetting the …

And Thailand is famous for the friendliness of its people…

The only black cloud was how short the break was, and having to go …

All good things must end. It was an amazing trip and the fact that I could meet an old friend made it even more memorable. I hope we can repeat the experience, sooner rather than later.

Exercise 2: talk about your dream holiday

Tip: choose a place you can discuss at length, somewhere that offers many attractions.

I choose Hoi An

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

Recently, I have been burning the candle at both ends, studying hard for tests so I feel ready for a well-earned break. I don’t need to travel abroad as Vietnam has many beautiful places and of these, my choice would be the unique town of Hoi An.

Firstly, Hoi An is a historical city with a wonderful Japanese bridge and lovely old shops. At night, the shops use romantic lanterns. It really is a once in a lifetime experience to see such a romantic and majestic sight.

Hoi An is close to Da Nang, which has breathtaking beaches. Living in the city, I only get to swim in the sea once in a blue moon. There are so many things to see and do in the local area apart from sunbathing and, naturally, mouth-watering, incredibly fresh seafood is ubiquitous and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. As for the travel details, I can fly there easily and quickly from Sai Gon. I can be there in next to no time.

Having said thatHoi An is very small and can be extremely crowded in summer. Prices could reflect this, and a good hotel room may be astronomical in the tourist season. Additionally, it is good to be prepared for scams and being overcharged. Unfortunately, this can be a reality of travelling.

All in all, Hoi An is a very special place to visit because it is a town of Vietnamese culture, and unlike anywhere else. It is a never to be forgotten experience so if you go, make sure you take many photos to help you preserve the memory.

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

Butterfly Decal ‘Morning Lotus’

16th January 2022

A demo version of the song ‘Morning Lotus’ by the band Butterfly Decal.

The track, as you can tell, is a home recording using an iPhone only, so that explains the background noise and hissing.

The film is from a trip to Udon Thani, in beautiful Thailand.

If you know anyone you think may like the song, please share the link. I know the band will be extremely grateful.

Thank you for viewing this blog

A Princess should speak like a Queen.

30th March 2021

A Thai princess at Wat Benchamabophit Dusitvanaram, Bangkok, 2011

A personal blog for one of my special students, my Princess, but one which will, hopefully, be of use to princesses everywhere.

We like to encourage students to imitate the speech patterns of native-speakers by which I mean the way we link words together, form contractions (‘I’d’ instead of ‘I would’ etc), and use paralinguistics to convey meaning (intonation, stress, body language).

However, students need individual assistance so while my Princess has remarkable lexical resources, as well as the ability to tell an anecdote or two, she could improve aspects of her pronunciation.

Therefore, I have prepared some clips for princesses the world over to use for speaking practice … and so, without further ado, princesses prepare to sound like a Queen

OK, Princess, time to be a Queen. Bangkok, 2011

Clip 1 features the famous British actress Dame Judi Dench who is being interviewed and therefore speaking in her natural voice. The clip has subtitles, and I suggest watching the section from 02:06 – 02:36 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auOpam5y9Co&ab_channel=TheJamesBondVisualArchive

Clip 2 features Angela Rippon, who was the first woman to present the news on the BBC. Interestingly, she is announcing the General Election of 1979 that lead to the first woman Prime Minister in the UK, Margaret Thatcher:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysVzc3hSB50&ab_channel=bbctim123

Clip 3 is for advanced princesses; to speak like a queen, one should listen to the Queen. I present, with subtitles, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2klmuggOElE&ab_channel=BBC

We shall meet again, in the next blog. Until then, farewell, cheerio, toodle pip … goodbye my princesses.

No photo description available.
Bangkok, 2011

Young Learners, level 5: What were you doing when … ?

4th November 2020

E Up 5 Unit 2 review

First up, divide class in two teams, after playing a warm-up song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMcWldfg28s

One of my students has chosen the English name ‘Cherry’, so this song goes down well (especially when I try, and fail, to hit those high notes).

Now, down to business

Past tense – what is the past tense for:

eat // drink // see // become // live // travel // ride // sleep

Moving on – complete the sentence:

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Last night I _____ Chinese food

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Yesterday he ______ hot, sweet tea

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She ______ all night

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Marco Polo _______ famous for his travel stories.

He ______ from I___ to C________

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In Thailand, Mr Paul _____ a large grey intelligent elephant.

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Also he _____ many beautiful colourful temples

Now, past continuous

Make sentences using continuous form. Remember – verb + ing

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What are they doing ? They are telling stories

Use flashcards. Have students ask and answer the questions. Call two students, one from each team and have them stand on a mark. Awards points for pronunciation as well as correct answers. Drill class to make sure everyone is taking part.

Next hand out six flashcards, three to each team.

Ask them, “What were you doing when I drank coffee ?” They must answer in the present continuous e.g. I was setting up the tent.

Finally, have a student mime an activity. Only that student’s team may answer.

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

IELTS: The story so far. Vocabulary review and speaking tips

7th July 2020

LUYỆN THI IELTS TẠI HẢI PHÒNG - huyenielts

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, time to take stock and make sure the students have absorbed the information and are au fait (French for well informed, know the point) with the vocabulary so far. With that in mind, here’s a quick warm up. Replace the high frequency words with low-frequency ones, then use your newly-acquired discourse markers to construct longer sentences.

Let’s kick off with some common or garden IELTS subjects:

What do you do in your free time ?

I drink coffee with my friends. There are many coffee shops in my hometown

Will Chinese Drink Coffee over Tea?

School keeps me very busy, but if I can find some time for myself, I enjoy hanging out with my friends in coffee shops, which are ubiquitous in Sai Gon.

TIP: The question here is about free time, so don’t just talk about coffee shops – mention at least two other different activities – even if you DON’T do them, just talk about them !

Example, playing music, watching films, listening to music, sports, shopping, helping family, reading – thing you enjoy NOT to do with studying or work

Now … Your Turn: [tips at the end]

Remember, you should be able to speak in complex sentences with a low-frequency word or two, some idiomatic language, contractions and discourse markers, all spiced up with a liberal sprinkling of adverbs and adjectives. Furthermore, try to introduce the answer, rather than stating it outright.

I don’t like English grammar. I am boring with it.

A lot more people go to China than Viet Nam.

She forgets everything.

Thai food is good.

I think Barcelona will beat Real Madrid on Sunday

I like to go to cinema and go to shopping and go my friend house and sleep.

I don’t go out now. It rains all day.

The examiner asks you a question but you didn’t understand

What ?

I didn’t hear you.

Errrrrr, I don’t know

OK, yes I like it

The examiner asks you a question but you need time to think of an answer.

UUuhhhmmmmmm.

Hahhahahahaha

I don’t know.

Yes.

Tell me about your city

It very dirty.

I was born here. I love it.

We can do many things here.

Has many traffic jam. Yes. people nice.

Do you like to eat ?

Of course !

No

Yes. I eat with my family. I eat with my friends at school. I eat after school. I eat at night with my family

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Words and expression to use, tips, phrases and idiomatic language.

Low – frequency words

Boring: tedious // forgetful: absent-minded //

expensive: sky high // what will happen: predict // everywhere: ubiquitous.

Could you repeat that, please // I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that // Would you mind rephrasing the question

In my opinion // From my perspective // For me //

Let me think // How can I put it // Well, that’s an interesting question

Allow me to explain // By which I mean //

As well as // furthermore // additionally // on the other hand // having said that // however // although // despite that

It’s raining cats and dogs // It costs an arm and a leg // piece of cake // I’m burning the candle at both ends

Relative pronouns – who / which / where / whose

Thai Blends Greenbelt 3 Cinema - Home | Facebook

One of my favourite things to do, if I have some spare time, is to hang out with my closest friends and just catch up on our news, maybe hit a mall because they are air-conditioned and have a wide array of amenities such as shops, cafes and, if I may say, bathroom facilities, as well as services like ATM machines and free wifi. My closest friends are Sheila, who is from India and studies here in Sai Gon, and Kerry, who is a gorgeous Thai lady. As we all come from different countries, there can be issues; allow me to explain. We have to communicate in English, however Kerry is just starting her studies, so we have to use Google translate frequently. Having said that, it’s such tremendous fun to be with my best friends. It helps me forget about the pressure and stress of work.

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Keep studying !

Beginners’ English:Grammar exercises

23rd June 2020

Information for applicants from Vietnam - Queen Mary University of ...

Grammar

Tenses

  1. past
  2. present
  3. future

infinite verb = to + base verb (NO tense).

I + like + infinite verb + object

I like to play guitar // I love to listen to music //

I + like + verb+ing + object: I love playing guitar

Asian woman playing the guitar | The girl playing the guitar… | Flickr

NEVER – I like to listening to music

Tell me about yourself:

At university, my major was accounting and I have worked for 8 years.

Boy = son Girl = daughter.

I have one son, who is 3 and one daughter who is 1.

My manager is a lady (or woman) and she is professional, very friendly and nice. She has short black hair and an oval-shaped face. Usually, she wears a short black dress. My manager, whose name is Dung, always helps and supports me.

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Pho is the traditional food of VN. It is soup with noodles, meat (beef, chicken), vegetables and herbs. It can be spicy if we add chilis. It comes with fresh herbs, vegetables and lime.

New idiom: bear with me= please wait a very short time.

My friend is a 29 year-old man. He has an oval-shaped face and short black hair. He is not very tall, he is quite short. However, he is very friendly and funny.

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Adjectives– size then colour.

He has a large black bag. She plays a big brown guitar

adverbs– very, (a lot) quite (a little)

London is very expensive. Bangkok is quite cheap

exterior / interior = outside / inside

I went on holiday to Singapore with my friend. We went to a shopping mall and visited some museums and enjoyed the food. Seafood at Singapore is very cheap compared to Viet Nam and it was very delicious. I bought some clothes and shoes for my baby. We stayed for four days and the flight took two hours. I will return and revisit the shopping mall.

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Shopping mall, Singapore

Dialogue

Two friends are in a coffee shop

Cath This is a great cup of coffee ! Ok, what shall we do next ?

Di I have to run to the bank. I need to deposit some money.

Cath Good idea, I wanted to use an ATM. I also need to buy some dollars.

Di You can check the exchange rate at my bank. It’s not far, we can walk. 

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Quick questions: How was your weekend ?

My weekend was quite fun.

How about (tell me about) the evening ?

We watched TV and listened to some music. I like V-Pop

I like K-pop very much OR I really like K-pop.

Directions

Where is the bank? Where’s the bank ?

How do I get to the park?

Is there an ATM nearby ?

Go straight

Turn left or turn right

turn around

keep going until you …..

take the second turning on your left

cross the road / street by the ….

go as far as the …… then ….

It’s opposite the …

We are at the bus station and we need coffee ! 

Is there a coffee shop nearby ?

Yes, turn left then go straight and keep going and it’s on your left.

Excuse me, where is the hospital, please ?

Yes, go straight and then turn left on second avenue keep going straight , the hospital is opposite the park.

Answer these two questions:

I have finished work at school. I need to go to the police station but I don’t know the area.

Xin loi, sorry, I don’t speak Vietnamese. I must go to the police station but I don’t know this area.

Adverbs

so / very / extremely / incredibly

It is hot = it is so hot !

What did you do ? Past tense

On Saturday I drank beer and ate seafood for example, I had shrimp (prawn), octopus, fish, squid. We had lots of fun. Some people drank about six beers but I only drank a little.

Travelling to Thailand

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In Thailand, the food is extremely hot (spicy) because they use a lot of chilis.

My Sony camera is very good (excellent) because the picture quality and colours are very clear.

The lens can zoom in 50 metres. The camera was reasonably-priced however, if you buy more lenses, the price increases.

I’m going to take pictures NOT I’m going to taking pictures

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Three Nights in Bangkok: reading, resting & curry

28th February 2020

Tuesday morning, alarm set for 5.00 am UK time (12.00 midday in Bangkok), at the Tube before 6.00 for the 90-minute, three-train ride to Heathrow Airport. From there, Thai Airways to Bangkok.

I got the early Tube (London underground trains) because the first line is so busy, and I had a suitcase and a shoulder bag. Luckily, all three trains came within one or two minutes, while most of the journey was quiet (apart from some idiots playing videos on their phones out loud). Hard to concentrate on my book (‘Notes From Underground’ by Dostoevsky). By the time of the flight, I’d read a third of it.

Image result for notes from underground

Repacking at the airport, putting the coat in the case, then onto the self-service baggage tag print-out, which I’ve just about mastered by now.

Checked-in, security checked, re-belted and all gadgets back in the bag. A lot of time to kill. A lot of pointless, over-priced shops in which to wander, no intention of buying anything … except coffee.

Eventually time was killed or wasted or passed but ironically enough, not flew; we boarded … and just as the flight to London, this was very cold. Air-con turned up (down ?), no doubt to combat the Corona Virus, but it was like eleven hours in a flying refrigerator. The bathrooms were even colder. Before long, people were sniffing, blowing noses, sneezing. The precautions seemed to be making people ill.

The flight ? We got there, that’s all that counts. Generally, the worst thing about travelling is other passengers. There was a young chap (sturdy, young & healthy, but was stuck down by the sniffles) two seats from me who simply could NOT keep still, and naturally, at one point, the lady (term employed with irony) in front put her chair all the way back.

Next problem – we arrived very early, even ahead of schedule but I couldn’t check in to the hotel until 2.00 pm. More time to kill. I had an over-sized cappuccino at the airport and slowly meandered to the Citylink train. The airport, as the plane, freezing. The train, as the airport, freezing and the BRT (subway) … freezing. Still only 8.30 am. I took an iced Thai tea in a cafe near the hotel and read, still wearing my jumper (a jumper ? In Thailand ?), and the cafe … freezing.

I thought I’d leave my case at the hotel and walk around, head up to a shopping mall until check in time. However the hotel, when I arrived at 9.30 looking like I’d spent eleven hours in a flying refrigerator, found me a room, so a big ‘thank you’ to the staff of the Red Planet.

For those who know Bangkok, I’m staying on Surawong Road, nearest BRT is Chong Nonsi by Silom.

The hotel, by night:

I thought I’d feel better after some lunch, so I took prawn pa-nang curry. In the evening, near the hotel, I went to Jianng’s Healthy Fish Balls where, for 60 THB (£1.47 / $1.90):

Then a walk south on Silom to the Hindu temple, Wat Khaek:

Across the road is a soi (small road off a main road) with lots of street food:

The next morning began with traditional iced Thai coffee at The Coffee Club. 80 THB (£1.96 / $2.53).

Then a walk up (north) Silom to Lumphini Park. On the way, I spotted a soi (Soi 5) with a street market. Typically, there are food courts. It was still early, so I decided to come back and eat lunch here:

And I only saw two other farangs (foreigners) here.

At the end of Silom is the Metro, giving access to the park. While there, I made a new friend:

And then … “The rain began, the jolly old rain.” Before the rain got too heavy, lunch back at the market at Silom 5

Prawns and noodles 70 THB (£1.72 / $2.21), extra spicy sauce.

Later, not really hungry but thought I’d take a walk and see what caught my eye. I found Restoran Ibu, near Wat Khaek:

Restoran Ibu on Silom

The food from the menu:

And the reality:

Just as good, I’d say. Ibu fried be hun for 100 THB (£2.46 / $3.16)

That night, the jet lag caught up with me. Couldn’t sleep, with the exception of a catnap around 4.30am, until 6.30 am and then only until 8.00 am. I gave up trying, and went out to read and NOT have any caffeine … instead, at a Cafe Amazon, by the Chong Nonsi BRT, a strawberry smoothie for 65 THB (£1.60 / $2.05)

Tomorrow is the flight back to Viet Nam, which should be painless, a mere 90 minutes, but I’m flying Vietjet and these smaller airlines tend to be low- down on airport take-off slots. Consequently, Vietjet has a reputation for always having delays. The last time I flew Bangkok to Sai Gon, the delay was longer than the flight.

And now, my final afternoon in Bangkok … and just twenty pages to go of my travel reading:

Image result for chabon amazing adventures kavalier clay

At 13.10, I finished the book, sitting in Lumphini Park. Time to walk back to the hotel, and some more street food – the market at Silom 10:

This is the stall I chose, spicy Thai vegetable soup (with prawn):

A mere 50 THB (£1.23 / $1.59)

For my last meal, where else but back to Ibu, this time for something traditionally Thai, prawns in coconut milk:

115 THB (£2.84 / $3.65). The staff are really friendly and I highly recommend this restoran.

And so, back at the hotel blogging. Reading, accomplished, curries – no problem, resting … not so much, but at least I’ll be home tomorrow – Unless Vietjet decide otherwise …

Goodbye from Red Planet

Red Planet – I paid about £75 / $96 for three nights. The rooms are fine for a single budget traveller and come with a fridge, large TV, safe and hair-dryer. The room also takes the three-pin UK plug.

On the downside, the walls are very thin (I can hear the chap in the next room talking and whooping and now he apparently has the hiccups). There is liquid soap, but this is not so good for hair, so bring your own shampoo, comb, also a toothbrush and paste. Being Bangkok, and near a night-time bar area, people come and go at all hours (this is a hotel, after all) and last night, there were doors banging until sunrise.

Room cleaning consists of changing the towels and supplying plenty of bathroom paper. Sheets not changed, but maybe if you ask nicely …

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3. Theme: Causing offence.

3rd February 2020

Hailing a taxi in New York, USA

Image result for hailing a taxi new york

This is the normal procedure (way / method) to hail a taxi in NYC. However, this would not be acceptable in Bangkok.

Hailing a taxi in Bangkok

Image result for hailing a taxi bangkok

Notice how the hand points down. In Thailand, people beckon (call) a dog with their hands up, so a taxi driver would think this was very impolite and rude. The driver would be offended; the hand signal would cause offence.

Cultural differences are one way of inadvertently causing offence. However, some people can say, write or do things that upset other people:

Image result for Trump offensive tweets

The 45th President is famous for his somewhat un-presidential tweets. He is referring here to the North Korean Leader, Kim Jong-il:

Image result for president trump kim jong un

However, in the interests of fairness, North Korean leaders have made comments that could be offensive to the USA. The former leader, Kim Jong-un:

Image result for kim jong il quotes on america

And sometimes, within the same country, people can disagree with each. This is all part of a free society. The problem arises when people stop arguing the facts or beliefs, but start to attack people for their looks, religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation. Some times, people can go too far in what they say:

Image result for offensive Morrissey quotes on china

This is the singer, and animal-rights supporter, Morrissey. He is talking about the treatment of animals in China, which he feels is intolerable. He can object. However, in this quote, he insults the entire country as seeming to be “a subspecies,” that is, not quite human. He makes his point, but do people understand his message, or get offended by his words ?

Vocabulary and expressions

Image result for brexit clashes

Collocation – to cause an offence

respect / disrespect (noun) – respectful / disrespectful (adjectives)

insult / offence (n) / / to offend (v) // offensive (adj)

doubt – when you are not sure about something but don’t think it will happen  (will England win the World Cup again ? I doubt it !)

swoop – to grab something quickly – a bird swoops down and grabs the bread.

Expression – to give someone the benefit of the doubt

Expression– in one swoop – something happening very quickly

Expression – to cut ties – to stop having contact with someone.

Practice:

I think Mr Smith took my iPhone but I didn’t see him. Therefore, I have to give him _____________

His comments were ________ to women.

John was talking to Jenny but Peter _____ in and took her away.

I had to __________________ with my colleague after he posted some racist tweets online.

Japanese students are famous for being so _____________ to their teachers. On the other hand, in Viet Nam, some students talk during class which is very ____________________ .

In Asia, it is the custom to show ________________ to old people.

Conversation practice

Time to use these new English words, speaking to each other.

Ask each other questions. Ask for more details (probe) Give full reasons. 

Make people explain their answers.

Use opinion expressions.

Which of these would cause offence ?

A supervisor calls you an idiot – but you know it’s a joke.

A supervisor calls you an idiot – but is serious.

Image result for boss insults staff

Your neighbour has a loud party but doesn’t invite you.

You are riding your bike and a taxi honks for no reason.

A foreigner says that your local food is terrible.

Image result for i hate your food

A Chinese says that one day Viet Nam will be part of China again.

A restaurant manager shouts at you to leave as soon as you finish your food.

You buy your girlfriend a present … and she says it’s too cheap !

Image result for gf hates present