To my IELTS students: An open blog.

14th January 2021

International Students Should Switch Off Phone During Classroom -  FreeEducator.com

I met an old class on Tuesday for a speaking test, and one of the students asked me why I stopped taking that class. I thought the reasons were pretty obvious, however if you really need me to explain, how about these:

I was absolutely sick of one of the students sitting directly in front of me, ignoring everything I said because she (yes, you all know who she is) was too busy on her phone, even bringing in a power-bank to make sure she had enough battery for three hours.

‘Student’ Care have mentioned this to her, and once even sent a representative to the class to tell her to stop. It had NO EFFECT; she continued using the phone each and every lesson.

I stopped calling on her to answer in class, as I only ever saw the top of her head. No doubt someone had posted a picture of a coffee or a cat to which she absolutely had to react, immediately, or risk losing a ‘friend’ that she probably hasn’t even met.

During the test I asked her to explain the centre rules, which she totally agreed with … in theory. I followed this with asking why she broke the rules. She replied that she, “Was bored.” She claimed that she was unaware that such behaviour was disrespectful.

Furthermore, I realised that with one exception, nobody was learning anything more; the class seemed happy at their level, and were not making any effort to expand their knowledge. Every lesson I stressed the importance of pronunciation features. I didn’t detect even 1% improvement, nor even the desire to improve.

Well, how did that work out for you in the speaking test ? Not so great, hey ?

Finally, I set a ‘test’ in my last two classes with you. Remember ? I gave you speaking practice then, instead of walking up and down monitoring your activity, I treated you like responsible adults. Instead of working, out came the mobile phones and English was replaced by the less than euphonic sound of the Vietnamese language.

Previously, I had given students one-to-one help. Instead of being thanked for this individual guidance, I was greeted with, “Me, again ? I spoke to you last week.”

I hope that answers your question.

Moving onwards or downwards, my Wednesday class. Talk about laid-back, I need to check if they still have a pulse.

Bored Of Education: Students' Feelings Towards High School Mostly Negative,  Study Finds

I’ve dispensed with social pleasantries such as, “How are you ?” as I was receiving answers such as, “I’m tired,” or “I’m exhausted.” Just what a teacher wants to hear before a three-hour class.

DRINK SOME GODDAMN COFFEE

Wake Up Lizard King" iPad Case & Skin by NoAvgPxlPusher | Redbubble

I made it perfectly clear, in the first lesson, that I am NOT here to entertain you. YOU are here to pass IELTS, which is a hard subject and requires active participation on your part. This means SPEAKING.

If your teacher asks you a question, damn well answer

Answer loudly and clearly, not just mumble begrudgingly. I told you last night, I am here to help you, I am not the enemy. If you refuse to speak or practice you are only hurting your own prospects.

At least last night, one of the ‘students’ admitted that she lacked energy or enthusiasm but, the punchline … she wants to be an English teacher.

65+ Are You Serious Memes That You Can Relate To - GEEKS ON COFFEE

Now we come to tonight’s class, which contains three young men.

Your behaviour over the last weeks has been unacceptable. This is a Cambridge IELTS class, not a Beer Club, certainly not a Kid’s class.

So, here are the rules:

NO SHOUTING IN THE CLASSROOM

SPEAK ENGLISH

NO CALLING OUT STUPID ANSWERS

LEARN THE NEW VOCABULARY – YOU WILL NEED IT TO PASS

NO FIGHTING IN THE CLASS – YES, I ACTUALLY HAVE TO WRITE THIS

Not too much to ask or to expect.

If you do not comply, I will stop the lesson and refuse to teach your sorry asses

I will not let you schmucks ruin an otherwise lovely class

Click THANKS! I dare you! I double dare you... | Hi-Def Ninja - Pop Culture  - Movie Collectible Community
“My way or the highway.”

Young Learners, Level 5: Superlatives and superheroes

9th December 2020

Everybody Up, Unit 4, Lesson 3

Comparative Superhero Game - English ESL Worksheets for distance learning  and physical classrooms

Warm up game: forming questions

Put class into small groups. Each group, from a keyword, has to form a question asking a superlative.

For example, keyword ‘old‘: Who is the oldest ? Keywords: strong // fast // young // tall //

Amazing Spider-Man on Twitter: "Is anyone thinking logically anymore ? If  The #Venom Spin-Off Universe was going to be a part of the Marvel Cinematic  Universe Than Why Title that separate Universe "

Who is the strongest ? Who is the fastest ? Who is the youngest ? Who is the tallest ?

Next up as fast as Flash, with writing boards, students have to write the comparison.

For example: easy = easier

cheap // comfortable // interesting

NOW – what about the opposites ? What is the opposite of ‘easy’ and then the comparative form ?

Repeat with cheap // comfortable // interesting

You want to sit and read a comic book … but which chair ?

Chairs You Wouldn't Want to Sit On – BE OPEN BLOG

Make a sentence with:

comfortable / more comfortable / most comfortable

How about uncomfortable ?

Uncomfortable Chair | 3D Warehouse
Think wooden chairs are uncomfortable? These 5 seats prove otherwise | The  Peak Singapore - Your Guide to The Finer Things in Life
Uncomfortable Chair Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

How about cheap ? How about expensive ? Tell me about the comic books, Superman, The Joker and Yona.

Superman #5 PR 0.5 1940
21, 862 800 VND
Akatsuki no Yona Vol.33 Yona of the Dawn /Japanese Manga Book  Comic  Japan NEW
226 050 VND
THE JOKER 7        LUTHOR - HIGH GRADE!      LOW PRICE!
959 300 VND

Think about a NEW superhero … maybe a Captain Vietnam ?

Think about what powers your hero has and we can work on this next week

DC Multiverse

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Grammar Review

20th May 2020

I usually start a class with a review or warm up exercise, so here’s a selection of short activities.

English School EC London - English Courses for all Ages

Subject:

Adverbs (frequency & probability)

For / since / ago / already

Past Perfect & Past Perfect Continuous

Phrasal verbs

Re-writing sentences

Quick-fire corrections

Verbs into nouns

Vocabulary booster

Adverbs

Notice how a native speaker will alter the sound of the adverb, from a high ‘always’ to a deep ‘never’.

Encourage the construction of sentences with this exercise

always

usually / often

sometimes

rarely

never

Subject + adverb + verb + object …. when ?

I always drink coffee … in the morning

I usually read books … after work

I sometimes go swimming … in the afternoon

I rarely study Vietnamese … ever

I never play music … late at night (OK, maybe sometimes)

NOW … Your turn

Have students work in pairs, making their own sentences. Weaker students can copy the examples, but stronger ones are expected to introduce different vocabulary.

Listen out for the final -s sound, notably in sometimes

Similarly, introduce adverbs of probability

definitely

probably

possibly

unlikely

definitely not !

It will definitely rain soon

He will probably be late tonight

I will possibly go shopping after class

It’s unlikely that he will play for Barcelona, ever OR He is unlikely to play for Barcelona, ever.

I will never go back to that terrible restaurant.

Past perfect simple

Past <____X________X__________Present_________>Future

Something happened before another action BOTH in the past

Sub + had + past participle : I had seen the film before I read the book

She had finished the test before I was even half way through it !

Had you visited the museum before Jane arrived ?

BUT there is a time gap

past perfect continuous

something was happening when another thing started

Sub + had + been + verbing // I had been playing games when he called

How do you Find the Best Video Games for your Child to Play
I was playing games AND THEN the phone rang.

You had been laughing until she stopped you.

No laughing matter: Critics and audiences debate whether Joker and ...

Had you been waiting long when she emailed you ?

Waiting for an Email from Recruiters? Read This | Blog | TalentWorld

NOW … Your turn

Write sentences using the past perfect continuous for these photos:

Kids crash their parent's teleconference call - YouTube

Man on Skype … then his daughter walks in

SEAGULL ATTACK: Fury as angry seagull targets man because he's ...

Just looking at the church … then a bird attacked

for / since / ago / already

I have lived in HCM … 4 years // She has been here … 2014

We came here 7 hours … // They have … seen the film

Students – make four sentences, using the four words

Quick fire corrections

Maths is / are very exciting and beautiful. History is / are fascinating

There is not many / much space in my car. Mr James has much / many fb friends

Can you buy a few / some milk  and a few / some oranges ?

Rewriting sentences

Tony started in 2010. will By 2025, Tony will have been working here for 15 years.

Pam went to Japan and is returning in June. the It’s the second time that Pam’s been to Japan

I woke at 10am and have worked all day. will

By 6 pm, I …………………. for 8 hours

Julie has never seen Star Wars before.   the

It’s ………………… she’s seen Star Wars

Verbs into nouns

Assist / reside / help / inspire / exhaust / attract / repute / inhabit / enthusiastic 

One verb doesn’t change its form

Phrasal Verbs

Call in sick   //  call off // call back //   call out // calm down // take under consideration //     bottle up

Live up to //  look down on //  move out // move on up //   settle in // settle down // settle up //  start off

Students – use as many of these phrasal verbs as you can.

Alternately, hold a contest. Put class into teams. Give them a minute or two to do the activity.

Vocabulary booster

Students confused over Japanese school banning ponytails for ...
Is she about to fly soon ?

Anxiety   // eagerness  // enthusiasm // fear  // joy // optimism

The students are sure they will pass. There is a lot of …………

Flying can cause ……….

Horror films use people’s love of …..  to entertain

Can you remember the ……………… we had for collecting comics ?

Character or personality ?

Are they real people or characters in a film or book ?

Brad Pitt / Iron Man / Hamlet / Donald Trump / Ronaldo / James Bond

What Happens When an Assignment Is Unclear? | The Teaching Professor

Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: Collocations

17th January 2020

Collocations

Image result for joker put on a happy face

Many people ask how to progress from intermediate level to becoming fluent in English. One way is to learn collocations – these are groups of words that usually go together to make a new meaning – and so much of everyday English is made up of collocations, idioms, slang, colloquialisms etc.

Collocations – ‘make’

In the above paragraph I used ‘made up’. This is a good example.

‘Made up’ came means invented (we make up a story to tell children) & it can mean containing (my fb group is made up from people from all over the world). We can use it in the past tense or present – ‘made’ or ‘make’.

You probably know some phrasal verbs; If two people argue then become friends again, they make up. When a woman puts on lipstick, she is using makeup.

Here are some common collocations with ‘make’:

Make up your mind (decide about something).

Make dinner / make a sandwich.

Make time (find some spare time to do something).

Make it through the night (be able to do something after some bad news OR keep working for a very long time).

Make it through a long book (finish it, read it to the end).

Image result for reading Infinite Jest

Try these exercise … use make / made / make up / made up.

‘Infinite Jest’ is a very long book but I ……. my way through it.

I forgot my homework, so I had to ………. a story to tell my teacher.

When you come home, can you …… dinner for the children.

My teeth hurt; can you …… an appointment at the dentist for ?

The architect Gaudi never used to …… his buildings with straight lines. 

Should I wear the black or green tie ? I can’t …… my mind.

This is so confusing ! I don’t know what to ……. of it.

Your room is so messy – can’t you even ….. your bed ?

You kids ….. me crazy !

I ………. a pig’s ear of the whole business (past tense – to do something completely wrong).

I did OK in the test, but ……. some silly mistakes.

He drank several coffees to help him …… it through the night shift.

Put

the cat out/ the fire out / on your red shoes /on a happy face

it in your own words / up or shut up ! / it away / it another way

Image result for put it in your own words

Get

well soon / over it ! / on with it / away with murder / on the bus /

stuffed ! (impolite) / with the program (US) / some fresh air

Make

a career move / your move / a pig’s ear of something /a wish /

up for lost time / the best of something / fun of someone

Image result for made a pig's ear

Do

the right thing / away with that old technology / your best /

a funny walk / the dishes / your hair

Bring

it on ! / it to me / “my bow of burning gold” (poem) / about change

it up at the next meeting / a smile to my face / up children well

Image result for bring it on

Take

turns speaking / it up with the manager / up my trousers a little /

a good look at yourself / a hike ! / medicine / a deep breathe

Image result for take a break

What do these collocations suggest ?

Widely available // routine check-up

disperse the crowd // boost employment 

catch up with the news / / catch up with friends

Find longer definitions for these collocations.

Adequate supplies to meet demand

Revised edition

Major turning point

Set realistic aims

Cause insurmountable difficulties 

1) Enough things so that everyone that wants one can have one

2) Know what you want to do but it must not be too much for you to be able to do it.

3) Make problems which people will not be able to solve or cause problems that people are not able to work properly.

4) A very important moment when things changed completely

5) A new book, similar to the old one but with more up-to-date information, or mistakes have been corrected.

Speaking practice

Boss Jim, can I see you for a minute ? It’s about your punctuality.

Jim Sorry, Boss, I’ll make up the lost time after work.

Boss Damn right you will. Now, what was this email about ? I couldn’t make sense of it.

Jim I made a few mistakes because I rushed. I wanted to make sure you read it.

Boss You made a right pig’s ear of it ! Anyway, have you made your mind up yet ?

Jim About the new job ? Well, the other company made me a fantastic offer.

Boss I’m not giving you a raise; I’m not made of money ! Money doesn’t grow on trees.

Jim I’ll make my decision later and let you know.

Boss If you leave here, you’ll be making a big mistake, Buster !

Image result for make up your mind

Young Teens: course review.

27th February 2019

This is my final class with this group as they have tests next week, conducted by the Vietnamese staff. Therefore it is a review lesson, going over recently-acquired words and practising listening skills.

It threatens to be quite passive (although this class is anything but passive) so I need to start with some energetic team games, focussing especially on speaking.

To begin, a STB game based on the previous unit (‘Special Places’). I’ll show various pictures of world landmarks and ask about them, for example where is this:

Bonus points for naming the mythological creature, and for asking the riddle with which it is associated. Other sites include the Taj Mahal, the Parthenon, a lighthouse, and the recently-discovered Hang Soon Dong cave here in Vietnam.

Here we can review UNESCO and world heritage sites. Vietnam currently has eight sites on the UNESCO list – how many can the students name ? https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/vn

Next a ‘run ‘n’ write’ activity. I’ll board an incorrect sentence and the students must correct. I need about seven sentences to give everyone a chance to take part:

What London like

was the weather what like

We goes on a boot trap (in past tense)

It weres (ADVERB) interesting

£75 is ext … exp …

You should criss the rood careful

Dali were a really famous lawyer.

As a bonus, can they draw a Dali-esque clock ?

Next we can have small group work. I shall show various photos and they have to write a short piece using as many adjectives and adverbs as possible:

really / quite / very / not very /

expensive / popular / delicious / boring / exciting / scary

carefully / easily / quickly / noisily

psycho / palace / famous for / in common / gadget.

As usual, it helps to give a model to serve as an example. I shall use this photo:

‘Live and Let Die’ (1973)
James Bond escapes from some extremely scary alligators.

In this picture, the British spy James Bond is surrounded by some very scary alligators who are extremely hungry. He tries using his magnet gadget on his watch but it doesn’t work. Bond is famous for escaping from very dangerous situations. Quickly, he runs across the water stepping on the backs of the creatures. Bond films are incredibly popular because they are amazingly exciting. Do you find them interesting or boring ?

Now for the students:

Typical Vietnamese food
The magnificent Heath Ledger as the Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’ 2009.
London’s Buckingham Palace, hone to the Queen.
Dali and friends.

To end the activity section, an opinion poll. This makes the students get up and ask classmates for their views, so listening and speaking skills are utilised – and no teacher-talking-time !

This survey will be based on Special Places. The students are offered a choice of four locations: The Pyramids of Giza, the Parthenon in Athens, The Taj Mahal in India and Buckingham Palace in England.

Which site do you want to visit most ?

Why ?

What is the weather like there (use adverbs) ?

What can you do there ?

What could be a problem ?

After this, it’s time for the book work and assigned lesson plan. As mentioned, there is a lot of listening and video watching, so that should occupy most of the remaining time.

To finish we need a high-energy game. ‘Family Fortunes’ is good as it makes the students work together, and can be a test of general knowledge. I could ask: name four countries in Europe, four typical dishes from USA, four famous singers etc.

A list of class games can be found in a previous post: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2018/12/17/note-explanations/

If the energy is just not there, I can always play a YouTube clip of funny animals, or a song (in English) that has been requested.

Let the students leave smiling … but also prepared for next week’s tests.