F is for Fake, D is for Distracted: ‘Distracted’ (James Devereaux, 2018, UK)

9th August 2020

The official trailer is on:

http://jamesdevereaux.com/video-on-demand/

where the film can also be bought or rented.

James Devereaux, actor, in Distracted

Watching ‘Distracted’, with its constant contrasts, gives one the sense of being a child in a cinematic sweet shop, real and surreal, a shop designed by M. C. Escher. The audience is enticed along a hall of mirrors, catching glimpses of Melville, Fellini, Tarantino. We are never quite sure what we see, what sleight of hand is at work, what card is being forced upon us. Unlike ‘Noirish Project,’ viewers are no longer along for the Odyssey, but are watching a detective film in which THEY are the detectives.

As we distill the black and white linguistics from the multi-hued para linguistics, questioning motivation, method and montage, we realise there is simply too much evidence, too many layers to analyse in detail. Therefore, what follows is merely a focus on selected aspects of the film; one could write a monogram on this film that rewards repeated viewings.

I shall give a brief plot outline before offering an objective, then a subjective interpretation, the latter being the movie memories the film evokes. Finally, I shall suggest one possible reading, knowing that it is merely one out of …who knows ? Surely, a different reading(s) from each viewer. D is for duality, the black and white of the film, the intertwining of black and white elements in the characters, their disappointments, disillusions, disgust, deceptions and D is for distraction but who is doing the distracting and whom is being distracted ?

Objective:

Plot & analysis

Notice how the back light shifts, left to right, from pure, innocent white to grainy, jaded grey. Mountjoy (left) meet Baker.

DI Baker is partnered with DC Mountjoy to investigate the murder of a young lady, Zoe. Baker is due to leave the police within days and appears disinterested, while Mountjoy is desperate for a quick resolution, to help save his failing marriage. The pair interview Zoe’s flatmate, then her aunt, learning of Zoe’s sexual proclivities, and of an ex-boyfriend, Tony.

Baker steals some underwear from Zoe’s house, and uses these to receive messages and clues about the case. Baker & Mountjoy arrest Tony and expose him to noise torture. During one session, Baker ‘hears’ a confession, yet it is absent when the recording is played back. Exhausted, and fearing for his sanity, Baker goes home, but is troubled by his ‘visions’. He receives another message and phones Mountjoy.

Baker leaves the job, and Mountjoy thanks him for solving the murder … Tony has confessed … and for giving him a good report. Baker becomes a private investigator, while Mountjoy’s success has come too late. His wife has left him.

The wrath of Baker, the “legendary,” inspector, contemptuous of his Captain, preparing to leave and damn the consequences, Achilles reborn. The obsequiousness of Mountjoy as blind as Achilles’ chronicler, stifled by protocol, obsessively following every rule yet unable to see reality. A detective of intuition, one of procedure, an allusion to Sherlock Holmes, 221B, an ironic play on happiness, both names comprising two syllables. Such is the world we have entered and we should be prepared for conflicts, contradictions and ambiguity, and not forgetting that every Achilles has a heel. What is Baker’s ?

“I’m bored,” Baker proclaims when asked why he is leaving, yet immediately undermines this assertion explaining that he really feels under-appreciated; he does the work, others take the credit. His ego demands recognition, thus his leaving will be an act of revenge.

During the investigation, Baker curtails a conversation with Mountjoy, stating, “I don’t want to talk about it,” before doing exactly that, “I had one of my visions, again.” The ‘vision’ or madness issue is central to our understanding of Baker as he questions, several times, his sanity before his junior partner, displaying a frailty, foregrounding a character fault. “I’m going out out my mind,” is repeated with minor variations, as Baker plays Catch 22 with himself, for Mountjoy’s benefit … just Mountjoys ?

Implication over literalness; we shall encounter more of this, further on, but first a short sketch of Mountjoy, a woefully uxorious pen-pusher who is continually projecting his anxieties onto his report grading. Mountjoy is only comfortable working within rules this does, after all, negate the need for thinking. His marriage is in serious trouble, his wife making (impossible ?) demands of him: a promotion, to loose weight. Their motivations for solving the crime ? Baker’s, to show how indispensable he is, Mountjoy’s, to have personal and professional security. How well they work together is demonstrated when they interview Catherine, Zoe’s flatmate.

The grieving friend, dressed in black but looking like a classic femme fatale or silent film vamp, seems “More than happy,” with the presence of the two men in her room. She refers to herself as a “Traditionalist,” with a certain amount of “Wildness,” a lady who, she carefully enunciates, does not “Sleep around,” (although no one inquired about her private life). She and Zoe were close, “As close as friends can be,” leaving us to infer whether that in- or excluded a sexual relationship. Her whole delivery infuses every comment with a palpable sexual charge, noticeably her insistence that she is “Happy to continue,” with the interview, an invitation that is repeated … and repeated.

Louise Torres-Ryan, John Giles, actor, Distracted

Catherine provokes Baker at one point, mentioning that Zoe adhered to the principle of ‘free love’. The Inspector visibly recoils in disgust and as this is filmed in Close-Up, we know it must be deeply significant. We’ve learnt a little about Zoe, maybe a lot about Baker.

At one point, Baker asks directions for Zoe’s room and, after taking some panties from a drawer and slipping them into his pocket, suggests the interview be terminated. Both Catherine and Mountjoy engage Baker in a polite passive-aggressive farce of staying or leaving, Mountjoy being oblivious to the undertone in Baker’s voice demonstrating how he needs things explained, needs to be told what to do. Did he once act impulsively ? Was Baker betrayed in love, and what are his intentions with the underwear ? We discover the answer to the last point shortly after … or, possibly uncover more questions.

Baker is at home when he suddenly gets pains in his head. We see a very short insert of a mouth, in colour, talking. Baker questions the voice, he cannot hear what it is saying. Then he knows what to do. He puts the panties, procured from Zoe’s house, on his head and is able to ‘hear’ the message … except, the message is from Catherine, not Zoe. We need to retrace our steps.

When Baker excuses himself, to go to Zoe’s room, we have a verbal visual cut that is, Baker asking for directions and then we see him in a room. We assume that it is Zoe’s room, but let’s break down the scene. Baker leaves but the camera stays in the main room, showing Catherine and Mountjoy talking, so some time passes before we see Baker, framed in a Dutch angle [1] entering a room.

Similar to ‘Noirish Project’, the majority of this film is shot with a static camera, therefore any deviation makes a statement: we are entering a different sphere (such as when the film suddenly turns colour and we see Catherine’s mouth). Then we have another effect: the camera fades to black, momentarily, and fades in with Baker standing at a chest of drawers. More time has passed. We presume it is Zoe’s room, but it may well be Catherine’s. No matter how close the flatmates were, it is more reasonable to suppose that the message would come from the owner of the clothes.

Baker’s legendary powers have been revealed. The agony it appears to cause him also gives him the insight to ask the right questions to unlock cases. Elementary ? far from it …

Baker

We have heard the message before, when Catherine was talking to Mountjoy. Baker wasn’t in the room but he may well have overheard the conversation while he was in one of the bedrooms. The audience already has this information. However, this ‘involuntary memory’ triggers another. He phones Mountjoy and mentions a diary he saw on Zoe’s bed. In the bedroom scene, we do see Baker look off-camera but, typically, we do not see the object of the gaze. If it were the diary, then he would have been in Zoe’s room and therefore the panties would logically be Zoe’s. The ‘vision messages’ are in fact nothing more mystical than recalled conversations from his subconscious.

So why does Baker take the underwear ? Is this the Achilles heel, a fetish that stops him from looking at Zoe’s diary, a valuable piece of evidence ? A shop designed by M.C. Escher, indeed. Where is this taking us ? Clearly, as with all great mysteries, we are not going to find out in the first act. What will we encounter along the next hall of mirrors ?

Nadine Hanwell in Distracted
Zoe’s aunt, a provider of donuts, brownies and Battenberg cake.

Subjective:

Czech New Wave & David Lynch

Cineastes are very generous people, enthusiastically sharing new films, and when they become directors, they love to put film references, blatantly or subtly, in their movies. In ‘Distracted’, I noticed several such references, but two seemed to permeate the film: the work of the Czech New Wave, and that of David Lynch [2].

I detect an old Eastern Bloc atmosphere, not throughout the entire film, but certainly in the police station scenes. The rooms are bare, only the most basic furnishings, pipes are exposed and the telephone, rotary dial (as shown in the first still) doesn’t work. Later we will see recordings made on a reel-to-reel, while Baker’s small sports car looks magnificently retro.

The station is predominately white, the darker secrets of the interrogations rooms, the criticisms of the broken system, the shortages and shortcoming whitewashed over. Just look at how shocked Mountjoy is when he hears Baker speak the unspeakable.

Alfie Black, James Devereaux, actor, Distracted
White walls, radiator pipes, plastic chairs …
and the results of cacophony.

Baker knows he will not raise above the rank of DI. Maybe his results are applauded but not his methods. Maybe he is simply not a party member, and he has to take orders from those who are loyal to the State, regardless of ability. Totalitarian states are not known for being meritocracies.

Czechoslovakian filmmakers infused their art with the national characteristics of humour and irreverence, shifting from realism to surrealism, splicing in (seemingly) unrelated images, and mocking the oppression that governed, then dictated their lives. Baker’s “Captain” represents the hierarchy, the government, the system.

Although the Captain is not shown, I imagine him as a character from Miloš Forman’s ‘The Fireman’s Ball’ (1967), bungling and awkward, comically incompetent. However, two other films could help us decode more about the sidekick Mountjoy.

The sudden insertion of colour shots, the striking Close-Ups of Catherine’s mouth, and the contrasting colours of the heretofore unmentioned Battenberg cake remind me of the wildly surreal ‘Daisies’ (1966) by Věry Chytilové while the seemless moves from reality into dream, inner thought or allegory make me think of ‘The Cremator’ (1969) by Juraj Herz. The film uses techniques from these two film to ingeniously relate Mountjoy’s backstory … and tell us more about Baker.

Mountjoy’s backstory

I will define surrealism, for this essay, as the incongruous combination of two everyday items, here, a walk in the woods, and a man selling cakes from a makeshift stall. Mountjoy shows us, symbolically, why his marriage is failing. He is enticed, siren like, to the cake seller, and easily persuaded, so easily tempted to partake of this ‘forbidden fruit.’ His wife has imposed a diet on him but, as the seller points out, “Your wife isn’t here, now.” Having no money, Mountjoy immediately barters his watch, a “Solid gold,” watch, a wedding present, for some transitory sensual pleasure. The symbolism is obvious; Mountjoy had an affair, which his wife discovered.

“What have I done ?” Mountjoy cries, as the cake-seller runs away with the watch, “It was a mistake, just a silly mistake,” but one that can’t be undone. A marriage destroyed, ironically, by a piece of Battenberg, a cake invented, amidst Victorian values (and hypocrisy), to celebrate a wedding [3]. In this sequence, DI Baker helps Mountjoy, returning the watch to him, which could be read as Baker saving Mountjoy’s marriage. At any rate, we are not yet finished with our cake-seller; he shall return.

A final nod to the Czech New Wave is the Cacophony Room, a special area of the police station where Tony is taken and exposed to noise to ‘encourage’ him to be more open about Zoe’s murder. The scene reinforces the earlier similarities to a non-democratic society as Tony has no lawyer, and the police seems to operate without rules or supervision. Reel-to-reel recordings are easy to erase. Furthermore, despite the scene showing a suspect being coerced into confessing, even tortured, pleading “No more cacophony !” the scene is more comic than shocking, especially when the film is speeded up and we see Tony rolling along the floor, covering his ears. Another example of Czech black humour. Now, let’s use the cacophony to lead into a director famous for his innovative use of sound in film, David Lynch [4]

Each man delights in the work that suits him best

The links to ‘Twin Peaks’ are immediately apparent; the murder of a young lady, off-screen, and the subsequent investigation, a diary, a map to a secret place in the country. We encounter a range of idiosyncratic characters, each one appearing to have an interesting story, or two, of their own. As has been frequently mentioned on Twin Peaks posts, we don’t care about Laura Palmer, we only care about who killed her. In ‘Distracted’, we don’t even really care who killed Zoe. Our attention is on Baker and his methodology and, to a lesser extent, Mountjoy’s domestic soap opera.

Additionally we have the main detective receiving messages in dreams or visions while, similar to many Lynch productions, there is an element of surrealism, of ambiguity, of uncertainty. Viewing ‘Mulholland Drive’ (2001), a second time is different to the first due to the information we later have, think we have, might possibly have. Our third has the same effect on our second … and so on [5].

Having said that, the experimental side of ‘Distracted’ is much more restrained. As with the Czech similarities they merely reflect my own feelings and tastes. Allow me one final comparison.

For me, the main Lynchian touch is the use of sound, although with a dramatic difference. Noise, effects, a non-musical soundtrack helped define ‘Eraserhead’ (1977). Conversely, both ‘Distracted’ & ‘Noirish Project’ are notable for their total absence of music, just minimal ambient diagetic sounds so the use of sound, of experimental noise as a torture, is especially germane.

Finally, and again, this is my impression, the cake-seller is not unlike a character from ‘Twin Peaks’, is not physically dissimilar to the Fireman, as like him, he holds clues for the audience … vital clues, so now it’s time for me to deliver my verdict.

Where to Eat the Best Battenberg Cake in Europe? | TasteAtlas

Conclusion

I do not believe that Baker has occult powers, or can receive messages. I base this on the fact that what we hear is merely a repetition of Catherine’s dialogue with Mountjoy. However, Baker does appear to hear something. Let’s go back to our cake-seller. The two meet in the country and have a little banter. Maybe the seller doesn’t just retail but also makes the cakes, he is, in fact … a baker. We have Baker talking to a baker, ergo a man talking to himself.

Baker’s weakness, his Achilles’ heel, is his mental illness. He is leaving the job for this reason, despite the blasting and bombardiering. He mentions this throughout the film, and we can see his ‘trance-like’ states as physical representation of this. Yet, doesn’t Baker mention his disability too often ? In a film so complex, isn’t this answer just a little too convenient ? Our work is not yet complete. Back to our notebooks.

Baker has ‘incidents’. They must be genuine because there is no one else in the room, no one watching, no one that is … except us. All the time, it is the audience that has been distracted. We have been lead up and down this Escher-like narrative, listening to voices that aren’t really there (hence the telephone that rings but has no one respond when picked up). Watching a full-grown man with panties on his head dance around, reciting nonsensical words is, at the very least, liable to attract our attention … to distract us, but distract us from what … the truth ? Baker’s success is down to his method, not his madness. He gets confessions by coercion.

The coda ? Mountjoy receives his watch back from Baker in the country, but this has a different symbolism. Mountjoy is now taking the baton from Baker, he will become disillusioned and cynical, as indicated by our last scene of him … drinking Bells whisky, the same brand Baker drank when they first met.

As for Baker, he moves from catching criminals to catching cheating spouses being too free with their love. A bit of revenge on cheating wives ? He seems a man in pain, so maybe that explains his methods of extracting confessions. But, it’s not really him, and it is certainly not helping, so that is his real reason for leaving. Now, he is free, no tie and no ties. He can choose his working hours, and methods and no one can tell him what to do. He has his book, the sun is shining and he is free. At last, he is free.

The illogical logic of M.C. Escher

MC Escher: An enigma behind an illusion - BBC Culture

[1] The Dutch angle is usually credited to Dziga Vertov’s 1929 ‘Man With A Movie Camera’, but have a look at Teinosuke Kinugasa’s 1926 ‘A Page of Madness’, a silent that, like Murnau’s 1924 ‘The Last Laugh’ does away with inter-titles. All three are amazing films, maybe a subject for a future blog.

A Page Of Madness 1926 狂った一頁 Directed by Teinosuke Kinugasa ...
‘A Page of Madness’ (Dir: Kinugasa, Japan, 1926)

[2] There are even some connections between the two, as Lynch likes experimenting with film, and many Czechoslovakian films were abstract, surreal and experimental. Lynch has also worked with the City of Prague Orchestra, while in ‘Twin Peaks: The Return’, a poster of Franz Kafka prominently hangs in Gordon Cole’s (played by Lynch) office. I don’t attach any significance to these, it just an interesting coincidence for cine buffs.

David Lynch recording soundtrack music in Prague

[3] The cake, from 1884, is generally thought to have been invented for the wedding of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Victoria and Prince Louis of Battenberg, though not all historians agree.

[4] James and I share similar tastes in cinema, but occasionally we diverge, and I believe this is such an example. I’m a Lynch fan (with reservations, naturally), but I’m pretty damn sure James is not so impressed by him.

[5] By the same token, watching ‘Distracted’ affected my view on ‘Noirish Project’. It will be very interesting to see the final film in the “triptych.”

IELTS, Theme: Shopping

5th August 2020

A compilation of shopping activities to promote longer sentences, idiomatic language and fluency.

Exercise 1: compound nouns

Exercise 2: devil’s advocate

Exercise 3: role-play

Exercise 4: coffee in Saigon

Exercise 1: compound nouns to do with shopping

window shopping

binge shopping

bulk shopping

impulse shopping

dumpster diving

Match the compound noun with the photos:

Did the lady go out to buy this top or did she decide only when she was in the store ?

Vocabulary:

Prices are sky-high / It cost an arm and a leg /

marked down / on sale / discount / what a bargain !

I couldn’t resist it / I simply had to have it / retail therapy

Make sentences using some of the above language.

Talk about shops in your city:

Do people go dumpster diving ? Why or why not ?

Have you ever used retail therapy (buying something to make you feel happy) ?

Have you ever gone out to buy just one thing and come back with many items !

Does your husband/ wife / partner like shopping ?

Exercise 2: Devil’s advocate.

This is to develop argument skills, how to politely disagree with someone.

Example: one student wants to buy a beautiful, luxurious Rolex watch. It really is an outstanding timepiece:

Image result for Rolex

Without doubt, this is a luxury item. The pros

It is gorgeous and so elegant. I will feel so special wearing it. People will admire and look up to me. They will think I am wealthy and have a great career. I will attract many cute women (or handsome men). I may feel superior to other people who only have cheap watches or nasty fake knock-offs.

Now play Devil’s advocate. Say what are the cons of owning such an item.

Firstly, agree with the first student – it is without question a luxury item. Having said that …

It will attract attention … but maybe from thieves or pickpockets. It is a lot of money, maybe an obscene amount of money when so many people are poor. Can you justify owning such a materialistic item ? Will it make you arrogant ? Will you think you are better than other people BECAUSE of a thing ? Finally … what does it DO ? Fundamentally, it tells the time. My fake Rolex will tell the same time … but it cost $20 NOT $ 5 000 !

Now students’ turn. Similar concept but this time, the latest iPhone:

Image result for iphone 11

The iphone 11 (woooooowwwwwwww !)

One student wants to buy it, the other must give reasons why it is not such a good idea.

Useful phrases: 

a waste of money / not necessary // a fashion accessory // you can’t afford it //

How to Hire and Keep Quality Retail Staff - SBIA

Exercise 3 Role play game:

Three students will act out working in a department store, a shop with a sale on, and a street market. Other students have a set budget (say £100) and have to buy three items.

They can practice with the following language:

How much is this, please ? // Could you bring the price down for cash ? // Do you take plastic (credit cards) ? // If I smile, can you take off 10% ?

Wow, that’s a bargain ! // Sorry, that’s too much // Is that your best price ?

I’ll take it ! // Wrap it up ! // Let me think about it and come back // Sorry, that’s too much.

The items can be T-shirts, pens, bags, shoes, watches etc and the teacher can print out photos and hand them out.

Image result for van heusen shirts store
A department store selling expensive designer shirts
Image result for clothes on sale
Image result for london street market
London street market.

Exercise 4: Coffee in Sai Gon

Describe this picture; use adjectives and opinions.

Highlands Coffee has great coffee, air-con and free wifi. Having said that, the service is a little slow, there are no waiters and the cost is unbelievably expensive !

Vietnam is famous for coffee; coffee shops are ubiquitous. In fact, there are so many, it’s hard to see (difficult to understand) how they stay in business let alone turn a profit.

Be that as it may, let’s use this as a learning opportunity. To practice making longer sentences, and as a warm up exercise, the students can ask each other, “Where do you go for coffee ?”

Tips:

Don’t answer the question directly and immediately; Begin with a short introduction:

Sai Gon has so many coffee shops, some are cheap while others can be quite expensive although they have a wide range of delicious coffee. Personally, I like going to …

Then

Explain:

  1. How MUCH do you like it (adverbs) ?
  2. What kind of coffee (adjectives) ?
  3. What do you think about this ? (opinions)
  4. WHY do you like it (give reasons)
  5. Interesting words, phrases, idioms

Personally, I like Happy Coffee which is an independent shop where I live. I enjoy going there so much because the owner is very friendly and tries to speak English with me. There isn’t a lot of choice, so I order cappuccino with hot, fresh milk. In my opinion, it is good value and tastes delicious. What I like about the shop is the free wifi, the comfortable chairs and the atmosphere. Furthermore, it is usually very quiet and it therefore a good place to read. I love to put my feet up, kick back and sip my damn fine coffee.

QI: Quite interesting

27th July 2020

QI – Interesting facts

Surprised Shocked Excited Asian Woman Face Isolated On White ...

1 Under extreme high pressure, diamonds can be made from peanut butter.

2 Women buy 80% of everything that is for sale.

3 In ancient Greek the word “idiot” meant anyone who wasn’t a politician.

4 Just like humans, British cows moo in regional accents.

5 Until 1913, children in America could legally be sent by parcel post.

Sending Children by Parcel Post

6 Americans eat 10 billion doughnuts every year.

I'll Bring the Coffee and the Donuts' | by Lillian Brown ...

7 A group of kittens is called “a kindle”.

8 Albert Einstein claimed that his second best idea was to boil his eggs in his soup, thereby saving on washing up.

The Fascinating Eating Habits of Notable Geniuses - What Did ...

9 Science students who wear white lab coats perform better in tests.

10 Hewlett Packard printer ink is 20 times more expensive than 2003 Dom Perignon

Which is cheaper - the most exclusive champagne in the world... or ...

For the teacher:

Silent letters in words such as “knife” and “psychic” are called aphthongs.

Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: Adverbs and expressions

26th June 2020

Using adverbs of frequency

always / frequently / often / sometimes / occasionally / never

100 % / 85 – 90 % / 75 % / 30 – 50 % /15 – 20% / 0

How often do you:

Study English ? // Visit family ? // Eat western food ? // Drink beer at work ?

Learning to Read English
Japanese Family Vocabulary - My Family flashcards on Tinycards

Khmer Country Food: TURKISH Doner Kebab Street Food, in Phnom Penh ...

Beer before work: Why is it so normal in Germany to drink alcohol ...

Expressions

Nanci Griffith - Once In A Very Blue Moon (1984, Vinyl) | Discogs

Nanci Griffith ‘Once in a Very Blue Moon’ record

Once in a blue moon = very occasionally, almost never

Not as much as I’d like to

Not as much as I used to 

From time to time / now and then = occasionally 

Asking questions:

How often do you … ?

Do you often … ?

How often do you use Grabbike ?

I sometimes use Grabbike OR I use Grabbike sometimes 

I + adverb + verb + noun OR I + verb + noun + adverb

Grabbike ? I use Grabbike once in a blue moon (almost never)

Tell me why you don’t use Grab:

I have my own motorbike

My wife takes me to work

I don’t trust them

I catch a bus

Cute drivers wish visitors 'don't judge low stars' for money to study

Visit family ?

I visit family once in a blue moon, because my hometown is very far away.

How often do you go dancing ?

I never go dancing because …

Study English ?

Eat western food ?

Drink beer at work ?

Do you often eat junk food ?

Become angry ?

Loose money ?

Twin Peaks - Coop's HELLO-O-O compilation - YouTube

New vocabulary:

exhausted = very tired

delighted = very happy

overwhelmed = too much of something (I was overwhelmed by the amount of work)

hazard / hazardous = danger/ dangerous

tickled pink = very happy (idiom) I’m tickled pink

fit as a fiddle = healthy

good to go ! = ready and wanting to do something.

Paris love-locks

http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/english/features/witn/ep-150603

Paris Has a 'Love Lock' Problem | Smart News | Smithsonian Magazine

Padlocks – a sign of everlasting love

Finally – describe these street scenes:

Moscow Winter Festivals and Activities

Moscow – it’s winter and it’s snowing heavily. It must be night time because the streetlights are on. There is nobody on the street, it is deserted (empty).

London Bus and London Eye

London, on the other hand, is in summer or maybe / possibly spring. The blue sky without a cloud looks very beautiful. There is also a famous red bus, a double-decker. We can also see the London Eye.

What Happens to Hong Kong Now? - The New York Times
Hong Kong
Hyderabad (Pakistan) - City in Pakistan - Thousand Wonders
Hyderabad, Pakistan

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:

Johnny Rotten on Museum of Arts and Design's Punk Exhibit ...

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 !

Adult Speaking Class, level 2

20th December 2019

More advanced speaking and writing exercises.

Contents

Christmas (in UK and Germany) / food expressions and dialogue

Cinema (grammar: must or have to)

Coffee in Sai Gon

Collocations (put, get)

Directions, giving and asking

Elvis

Expressions and practice

Holidays

Karaoke (noise pollution)

Listening Practice: 5 weird things Vietnamese do // making a video

McDonalds

Music and vocabulary (Paul McCartney / Talking Heads)

Poland: salt mine, speaking practice, beer guide, travel guide.

Shopping (buying presents, Black Friday)

Vocabulary review

Christmas

Describe these German Christmas pictures

Image result for german christmas market"
Image result for german christmas"
Image result for germans celebrating christmas santa lucia"

At Christmas we have decorations, Christmas cards and an excessive amount of food !

We have a Christmas tree. The tree is decorated with fairy lights and bells and also there are presents on the floor around the tree. In the west, at the top of the tree, traditionally there is an angel.

How many free days do you have or do you have to work ?

Christmas Dinner – British traditons

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzSGEeaYvJc

What do you think of the food ? Listen out for adjectives and adverbs.

Image result for traditonal uk christmas dinner"
Image result for traditonal uk christmas pudding"

Food expressions and dialogue

It’s not to my taste = I don’t like it

It’s a little spicy for my palate

I find it somewhat bland

I’ll try anything once

I like my meat rare / medium / well done

I’m vegetarian / vegan

Speaking practice:

Mick Fancy eating out at lunch ? (Fancy – do you like / want to)

Jack Great idea. What do you have in mind ? (What is your idea / plan ?)

Mick Wanna try that new Indian place ? 10% off promotion this week.

Jack Sounds cool but I’m not into Indian food. Too spicy for my palate. (don’t like)

Mick I could go for some Korean. Sink my teeth into some juicy rare steak !

Jack I prefer my meat well done. Get a side order of kimchi too.

Mick I’ll pass; it’s not to my taste. Too much garlic.

Cinema Choice

Vocabulary

I prefer /choice \ choose /my taste / not my taste / trailer / concession stand /

all-star cast / director / film studio / controversial / family film / book online

What’s on at the cinema ? What’s playing this week ? Not my cup of tea.

What types of film can you name ?

Horror Stories // about people’s lives and emotions

Biopic //Space films, or films set inthe future

Romance Films // about fighting and soldiers

Comedy // Loud, exciting films with explosions and fast cars

Western // Stories about real famous people

Sci-fi // True stories with real people, not actors

Drama // Stories about police or spies or crime

Animation (Anime) // Scary films about ghosts or monsters

Musical // A film about cowboys, set in USA

Documentary //A cartoon, illustrated film

War // Love stories

Thriller // Funny films

Action // Stories with singing and dancing

Look at a cinema listing. Discuss what is on this week, what is playing.

Which films (if any) appeal to you ?

Grammar Note:

must or have to / don’t have to or mustn’t ?

have to = other people tell you // must = your decision

don’t have to = not necessary // mustn’t = is forbidden

You have to have a degree in order to be an engineer

I must stop eating at Lotteria !

You don’t have to bring any beer to the party.

You mustn’t run a red light or use your mobile phone on your motorbike.

Exercises:

The new James Bond film may be sold out. We ______ buy tickets NOW !

I hate comedies ! Do I _____ go ?

You _______ eat too much popcorn; it’s bad for you.

You ________to be over 18 to see this film

You don’t ____ bring your passport to get intoa cinema in Viet Nam.

Coffee in Sai Gon

Describe this picture; use adjectives and opinions.

Highlands Coffee has great coffee, air-con and free wifi. Having said that, the service is a little slow, there are no waiters and the cost is unbelievably expensive !

Vietnam is famous for coffee; coffee shops are ubiquitous. In fact, there are so many, it’s hard to see (difficult to understand) how they stay in business let alone turn a profit.

Be that as it may, let’s use this as a learning opportunity. To practice making longer sentences, and as a warm up exercise, the students can ask each other, “Where do you go for coffee ?”

Tips:

Don’t answer the question directly and immediately; Begin with a short introduction:

Sai Gon has so many coffee shops, some are cheap while others can be quite expensive although they have a wide range of delicious coffee. Personally, I like going to …

Then

Explain:

  1. How MUCH do you like it (adverbs) ?
  2. What kind of coffee (adjectives) ?
  3. What do you think about this ? (opinions)
  4. WHY do you like it (give reasons)
  5. Interesting words, phrases, idioms

Personally, I like Tap Coffee which is an independent shop where I live. I enjoy going there so much because the owner is very friendly and tries to speak English with me. There isn’t a lot of choice, so I order cappuccino with hot, fresh milk. In my opinion, it is good value and tastes delicious. What I like about the shop is the free wifi, the comfortable chairs and the atmosphere. Furthermore, it is usually very quiet and it therefore a good place to read. I love to put my feet up, kick back and sip my damn fine coffee.

Before the exercise, elicit and board as many relevant words and phrases as required. The students have a discourse marker list, so I could insist that they use certain words (moreover, therefore, consequently etc). Additionally, I’ll need to explain vernacular phrases such as ‘kick back’ and ‘put my feet up’.

IF a student doesn’t like coffee, then they can say where they go and what they drink. IF they don’t go anywhere or like anything (yes, I have had that in a class), then they can explain WHY NOT!

Key vocabulary: ambience // aroma //atmosphere

Grammar Note:

In a list of three, use one comma and a linking word (and):

The service is a little slow, there are no waiters and the cost is unbelievably expensive !

In a list of two, just use a linking word (and): 

Mega Mart has amazing choice and is good value for money.

How to make Vietnamese coffee

Tell me: what do I need ? What type of coffee is best ? Where can I buy it ?

New verbs: pour / stir / fill up / 

Make a long, fluent presentation. Useful words or expressions:

Firstly / afterwards / and then / following that /

don’t forget to … / you can always ….

lastly / finally / at the very end …

In your experience, what coffee is best ? Trang Nguyen, Highlands or Milano ?

Watch the happy couple. What are they planning to do ?(0 – 0.43) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvMxbRCBalk&list=PLA1EC9692E5B92C14

How does Pumpkin (man) say why not ?

What happens if you ‘stick up’ (rob) a gas (petrol) station ?

Are restaurants expecting to be robbed ? How does Pumpkin describe them ?

Collocations

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

Get

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

back to work ! / with the program (US) / some fresh air

His Thai girlfriend left him months ago. He needs to get ……….

Directions

Giving and asking how to go somewhere.

Useful vocabulary

turn left / turn right / go straight / go as far as / opposite /walk past

take the first left / take the second right / cross the street / go over the road

take a taxi / jump on a bus / order Grabbike / it’s about a 15-minute walk

Example: How do I get from LVT Park to the Post Office ?

Walk along Hai Ba Thang and cross over Dien Bien Phu. Keep walking straight and walk past the church. It is the huge yellow building. You can’t miss it.

How do I get from Ben Thanh Market to the Opera House ?

How do I get from Reunification Palace to the History Museum ?

I’m at the zoo and I need to go to work at HSL. What should I do ?

Where is the best place to get a coffee around here ? How do I get there ?

Elvis

Image result for elvis"

Elvis (0 – 1:54) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsqwT3oX0rI

What do you know about Elvis ?

  • Elvis was born in Tupelo, Mississippi in 1935

Elvis has sold over one billion records worldwide.

Elvis has had over 150 different albums and singles certified gold, platinum and multi-platinum.

Elvis starred in 31 feature films and two concert documentaries.

Elvis Presley is called the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Elvis’ first gold record was for “Heartbreak Hotel” and was received in 1956.

  • Elvis passed away in 1977 at Graceland in Memphis.

Expressions

New expressions:

a bright spark – someone who is very clever

cooking the books – Writing wrong information in the company accounts

on the lookout – looking for something

same thing, day in, day out – everyday is exactly the same, very boring.

Ken I’ve also been on the lookout for a new job. My job is so tedious !

Chin Mine too. Same thing, day in, day out. But … it’s a job. Oh, Tom was fired.

Ken No ! Why ? I’ve known him for a long time. He’s a bright spark.

Chin He was cooking the books.

Ken You’re pulling my leg !

Chin Yes ! Actually, he went to Boston. He’s going to study at Harvard.

Ken I’ve been to Harvard.

Chin Sure, but to visit, not to study hahahahaah.

Holidays

Choose a holiday – which do you prefer and why ?

I would choose / select ….. because …..

peace and quiet / hustle and bustle / get away from the city / fresh air 

lots of culture / lots places to visit / culture shock / activity holiday

What is good about these places ? What could be a drawback ? (bad, negative)

Karaoke (noise pollution)

Karaoke outside is a form (kind) of noise pollution https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1-W7gz6Znk

blaring = very loud: the music was blaring out, all night. The police siren was blaring.

Listening Practice:

5 Weird Things Vietnamese People Do

weird = unusual / strange

Listening practise: Vietnamese culture(0.23 – end) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBAi_b__l_c

Do you agree with the video ? To what extent ?

BONUS: can you spot any English mistakes ?

I agree totally / I agree to an extent / I disagree / I disagree strongly

She makes a good point / She misses the point

She is spot on / She is way off 

In my experience …

Exercises:

EXAMPLE: People in Ha Noi are very unfriendly

Give your opinion and then qualify it with the reason(s). 

I agree to an extent. People are generally friendlier in Sai Gon but there are many nice people in Ha Noi too.

Vietnam is a great place to live // Karaoke is lots of fun for everyone

Being an engineer is a dream come true // Learning English is such fun

Everyone in Viet Nam really wants to live in USA

Listening Practice: making a video (0.13 – 1.17) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTwIOZD877A

Listen out (phrasal verb) for these words / phrases:

therefore / out and about / footage (what has been filmed) / basically / you see obviously / annoyed.

Listen out for changes in intonation (stressing words in a sentence)

What did he film ?

Why couldn’t he use the footage ?

What did he leave at home ?

McDonalds

McDonald’s is a fast food company that was founded in 1940 as a restaurant operated by Richard and Maurice McDonald, in California, United States.

The first time a McDonald’s franchise used the Golden Arches logo was in 1953 at a location in Phoenix, Arizona.

McDonald’s is the world’s largest restaurant chain by revenue, serving over 69 million customers daily in over 100 countries across approximately 36,900 outlets as of 2016.

Although McDonald’s is known for its hamburgers, they also sell cheeseburgers, chicken products, french fries,breakfast items, soft drinks, milkshakes, wraps, and desserts. 

In response to changing consumer tastes and a negative backlash because of the unhealthiness of their food,the company has added to its menu salads, fish, smoothies, and fruit.

According to a BBC report published in 2012, McDonald’s is the world’s second largest private employer with 1.5 million (behind Walmart with 1.9 million employees).

People who buys things are called customers or …

A big company has many shops. Each one is called a …

When people react against something it is called a …

A symbol for a company is known as a …

When you say something that you heard from somewhere else, you use the phrase …

Which word means when a company or institute began or was established ?

Listening and speaking practice: Ordering fast food.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nk4GGIx-5tI

What would you choose for a McDonald’s breakfast ?

How would you order it ?

Is junk food healthy ? What do you think ? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRZe7AhO_i8

McD Good morning, may I help you ?

Jeff Yes, I’d like a/the ………

McD Sure. That comes with black coffee, is that OK ?

Jeff Can I have beer instead ? No, I’m pulling your leg (I’m joking)

McD Milk and sugar ?

Jeff Oh, yeah, bring it on ! (let’s do it !)

McD Would you like to supersize your breakfast ? Extra fries and super large coffee ?

Jeff Just for an extra 10 000 VND ? Sounds a bargain ! Supersize me !

McD OK, here you are. Enjoy your meal !

Jeff WAIT ! …. this is a damn fine cup of coffee !

Listening Practice: http://www.videosinlevels.com/breakfast-recommendation/

How does the man like eggs ? // What kind of omelets are there ?

What is wrong with a large lunch ? //Why is fruit good ?

Do you know what you want to get ?

Music

Learn vocabulary and listening practice

Listen to Paul McCartney‘s ‘Another Day’. Paul McCartney used to bein the Beatles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vH6v9JS26xc

Every day, what does the girl in the song do ? Does the song mean her life is exciting or tedious ?

What do you think of this video ? (Talking Heads ‘Once In A Lifetime’): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IsSpAOD6K8

The man is: funny / amusing / weird / strange / entertaining / has a screw loose

His dancing is: highly unusual / very comical / somewhat crazy / charming

Poland:

Salt Mine near Krakow, Poland

14 miles from Krakow in South Poland is this deep salt mine. Everything here has been hand-carved from blocks of salt. The mine has nine levels with over 300km of tunnels. Part of the mine is open to visitors. There are 22 galleries from 64 metres to 135 metres underground. Guided tours take about two hours.

There is a chapel here measuring 54 m by 18m and 12 m high. It took two men over thirty years to build. 

There is also an underground lake, and musicians playing brass instruments.

Pope John Paul and Bill Clinton are some of the famous visitors.

New vocabulary

ordinary

valuable

UNESCO

consists

unique

majestic

encounter

Speaking Practice: Three friends are planning where to go on holiday.

Pete Any suggestions ? I’d really like to go to Norway. They have some great sights.

Burt Yeah, I agree, but the weather could be an issue. I hate the cold.

Doug The scenery is amazing, true. However, it’s gonna be incredibly expensive.

Pete I found a tour; it consists of flights, hotels, boat trips and sightseeing.

Burt I’ve heard Norway is terribly expensive. If we go to Europe, I’d prefer Poland.

Doug Sounds good. Great architecture, lots to see and do, and brilliant beer.

Pete Perfect. Let me look up some info on Google … look at this !

Burt That’s so majestic. I’d say we forget Norway and head for Poland

Doug I’d love to see the salt mine, amazingly unique. It’s a UNESCO sight. 

Image result for Krakow"
Krakow, Poland

Speaking Practice: Three friends are discussing their holiday.

Doug This bed and breakfast has a good reputation, as well as being central.

Pete Good point. We don’t want to be in the suburbs, waste time, travelling.

Burt Yeah, keep it simple: good location, good price. Shall we book ?

Doug Go for it ! Wait … damn internet, so slow. Oh, we’ve encountered a glitch.

Pete It’s taking it’s time ! Look, we’re connected. Better be quick.

Burt OK, let me see … three beds for five nights. Arrival date … enter … done !

Doug Poland, here we come ! This is no ordinary trip. Look at these churches

Pete Absolutely majestic ! Maybe we’ll keep going back, every year.

Burt Well, I’d also love to visit Austria, Prague, Barcelona … everywhere !

Image result for krakpw hotels"

Speaking Practice: Three friends are in Krakow.

Doug Man, this place is really buzzing. What shall we do now ? 

Burt We could head towards the Palace, maybe grab some food on the way.

Pete Yeah, I’m up for that. Could use some coffee, as well. Either of you peckish ?

Doug Sure, I’m always hungry. Do you fancy going on the booze cruise ? 

Burt How much is it gonna cost ? 

Pete Surprisingly cheap. But I’m not sure, It’s not really my cup of tea.

Doug Fair enough. Maybe we’ll just chill out later in the old quarter. A beer or two.

Burt Or twenty. We should get a move on;the Palace closes at five.

Pete Take it easy. Let’s hit the Palace tomorrow early. It’s now beer o’clock !

Image result for Polish beer"
Polish beers

It’s beer o’clock ! What does our friend think of this Polish beer ?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUjQhsbAi6k

New vocabulary: infamous / indication / originally / generic /bouquet / aroma /synthetic

Instead of saying ‘ let’s smell it’, he says ……..

What does he say before he drinks ?

Just by watching his expression, can you tell if he likes it ?

How does he describe the taste ?

Speaking Practice: Three friends have their last night in Krakow.

Burt Three beers, please. Not Lech ! What a fantastic trip, don’t you think ?

Doug Absolutely, the best. It’s beena blast from beginning to end. Here’s the beer.

Pete Ready ? Twoje zdrowie ! Polish is easy. Easier than English, hands down.

Burt Are you serious ? I can’t pronounce anything. Anyway, ‘cheers’.

Doug What were your personal highlights ? I loved the big square. Always buzzing.

Pete The castle was majestic but I was overwhelmed by the crowds. And .. the beer !

Burt The Gothic altarpiece was incredible and, of course, the salt mine.

Doug Truly unforgettable. The city has a marvellous atmosphere, friendly and mysterious

Pete So where to next year ? Or maybe we don’t go home, we go to Prague instead ?

Listening and new vocabulary (0 – 3.15) and food (4.00 – 5.33) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hivlYF-4Mk8

Do you think they planned their trip well ? If not, why not ?

story of (my / your / our) life / lives / our mood / for starters / hop aboard

simmer down / booze cruise / place was buzzing

Did you notice any superlatives ? (the highest, smallest, most fascinating etc)

What do you think about Krakow ? How does it compare with HCMC ?

Polish food and drink.Would you like to try any of these ?

Were there any expressions you heard ? 

Shopping:

Vocabulary:

range of choice / quality / cost / location / crowded

store layout (what does it look like ? Is it easy to find things ?)

staff helpfulness / average (normal), put themselves out (very helpful) surly (unhappy)

value for money (good quality at a good price)/ on offer / sale /over-priced / bargains

Vocabulary for malls:

lift / elevator/ display /salesperson / free parking /restroom / lost property /receipt

credit cards / take away / fitting room / returns policy / shoplifting /Black Friday

Speaking practice:

When was the last time you went to a mall ? Why did you go ? What did you buy ?

Did you buy more than you intended ? Was it a pleasant experience ? Which do you like and would you recommend them to a friend … why ?

Where would you go to buy these shirts or T-shirts ? How much would you expect to pay ? Can you haggle (argue over the price ?) or are they fixed price ? How would you rate the quality ?

You want to buy a present for your: father / your teacher 🙂 / your young brother / a new friend from a different country. Which would you buy ?


What was the last thing you bought ? Was it for yourself, or a present ?

Don’t you love a bargain ? When is the best time to buy at discounted prices ?

In the UK, after Christmas we have the sales – many items are MUCH cheaper. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSKrVh-3U3E

Black Friday: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlPVAUulKZE

What do you think about these scenes ?

Are they dignified / horrific / shameful / appalling / materialism gone mad ?

Dialogue:

Ben Did you pick up anything on Black Friday

James Yeah, one or two things. I got a cool new shirt and shoes, half price.

Ben Sounds a bargin ! I was after a big screen TV but the store was crowded

James Tell me about it ! It was crazy. Apparently, it was the busiest day ever.

Ben I’m not surprised. That’s why I detest shopping; no where to park …

James People screaming and pushing, can’t even get in the lift …

Ben When you do find something, you have to queue for ages.

James I wanted to pay by credit card but the salesperson was really surly.

Ben Must have been rushed off her feet (very busy).

James She could have been more pleasant. Could have smiled once !

Ben What did she look like ?

James You decide … I tried out my new phone camera:

Image result for angry asian lady"

Vocabulary review

essential /useful / luxury / arrogant / dependable /witty 

A degree in engineering is …….. to work as an engineer.

Tom is so funny, always telling jokes. He is so ……

Ronaldo is a great player but some people think he can be very …….

A Rolls-Royce car is certainly a ………. item

Japanese appliances are known for being very ……….

There are many ……. websites to help you learn English

Exercise 2

ordinary / valuable / consists /unique /majestic /encounter

(sentimental / sentimental value)

You should go to Hoi An; it is a ……… town.

Don’t leave anything …. in your car or hotel room.

I had a terrible … with the new boss

The palace in Krakow is absolutely ……..

So far, it’s been an ……. day.

The course …. of three parts: speaking, writing and listening.

Exercise 3

I feel under the weather because of the air pollution as well as lack of sleep, which makes my body weaker.

You work every day – it’s no wonder you are ill !

shocked / delighted / lonely /frustrated /overwhelmed /surprised / confused/ relieved

snowed under / swamped = too much work

I was delighted when I received your wedding invitation.

Karen was so …….. when Roger popped the question.

Mr Jones was very ……. by the instruction book.

I was …….. at the price ! 

She was so ……. when she found her phone.

I was so ……. at waiting for Grabbike that I cancelled and got a taxi instead.

All the new information completely ……….. the new worker on his first day.

If you travel alone, it can be very ……..

Young Learners, Level 4: Final activity sheet.

4th December for 7th December 2019 E Up 4 pp. 80 – 81

This is my final lesson with this relatively ‘easy’ class. There are only 13 students, and the class is well-behaved compared to many others. Today, there is a final checkup and a creative project. To keep the festivities going, I’m going to prepare an activity list, covering various subject. These can be done in small teams, maybe pairs or threes.

  1. Name three things we can have for lunch

2. What did this man eat and drink ?

Image result for man eating curry and tea

I need the whole sentence using the past tense for ‘eat’ & ‘drink’ and a linking word.

3. Make a sentence: Jane – models 😡 cloths 😀

Jane likes to design clothes but she doesn’t like to make models

Peter – songs 😡 movies 😀 // Tina – pictures 😡 stories 😀

4. Draw a picture of Dali !

Image result for Dali

5. Tell me four types of art.

6. What are you going to do this afternoon ?

7. Tell me three things we can make.

8. What does Teacher Paul like ? Two thing …

9. Someone who plays guitar is a … // someone who tells the news is a …

10. This is my friend Mark:

He works in films and in plays. What is his job ?

11. Where does he live ?

Image result for Venice

12. How does Mark go home ?

13. If I go to Nha Trang, what do I need to take with me ? Three things …

14. Space – What is the biggest planet ? // What is the sun ? // Can we hear in space ?

15. Watch Mr Mark. What did he eat for breakfast ? What words did Mr Mark use ? Can you smile like him ?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crPVJ3CXs1g&list=PL97HViQblvdEM3zsauRxnIg1baFTNmsDM&index=20&t=165s

Image result for mark wiens face

Finally … who can say:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxwcQ1dapw8&list=PL97HViQblvdEM3zsauRxnIg1baFTNmsDM&index=26&t=0s

IELTS 5 – 6.5: “I don’t like cricket …”

2nd September for Wednesday 4th September. Listening pp. 20 – 21

Tonight’s focus is on listening, which is perhaps the hardest part of learning English. I often mention the disparity between reading a text and actually hearing said text spoken, with contractions, glottal stops, chunking not to mention accents and accelerated articulation.

Last week, the class were surprisingly lively, and seemed to enjoy some role-playing activities, to practise speaking. I warned them that a listening lesson was coming up, and they were stoical about it, one student even saying that they understand, and it’s not my fault. I have to follow the syllabus, my hands are tied … but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun !

Warm Up: As students are arriving, I’ll start by relating a simple anecdote. The students then have to repeat the important information. The second time, I’ll include more information, and more the third time … and so on. For example:

On Monday, I watched a Korean film called ‘… ing’, which was made in 2003. It’s a romantic drama and is a real tearjerker.

Yesterday, I woke up at 5.50, drank two cups of damn fine coffee, and checked my emails, posted a blog and caught up with friends on Facebook.

Speaking of Facebook, one of my favourite films is ‘The Social Network’ about how the company was founded. It was made in 2010 and based on a book that was published in 2009. I really love this scene in the film which features a song called ‘Dreadlock Holiday’ by the band 10cc (can watch up to 0:45).

Image result for social network caribbean night

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tVYr-a33Bw

BONUS POINTS … at the beginning of the scene, some young Jewish men are speaking about why Jewish guys like Asian girls … what, according to the character Eduardo, is the reason (This is one of my favourite all-time cinema quotes) ?

As with all tonight’s real-life clips, we’ll see if any of the students can repeat the quote, aiming for pronunciation, chunking and a natural rhythm.

Speaking of, apropos of ‘Dreadlock Holiday’, can the students understand the first verse and chorus ? This link has the lyrics, so I can turn off the projector and just have them listen, then listen again with the words.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q659IaXrS3Y

Next up, a version of Chinese Whispers (which is probably a politically incorrect name now). Be that as it may, (and no offence whatsoever to our northern neighbours) the game works like this (assuming that most of the students have arrived, the Vietnamese not being the most punctual of people, and that’s not racist, it’s a fact – they even have a name for it, which translates as ‘rubber-band time’):

Class in two teams. I take the first person of each team outside and give them a separate sentence. They must go back to the class, tell their neighbour and see if the final person is able to repeat the line. Can be repeated depending on class reaction.

A good activity to encourage inter-student communication is to put the class into two or three groups. Each group is handed a paper with some information. One person has to read aloud without showing the paper, and the others have to see how much they can understand. The speaker may be asked to repeat, so it’s also a good way to introduce phrases. A typical card may be:

I’m looking to speak with Ms Nguyen // I’m in the office from 11.00 – 15.00 // I want to discuss the new school building // I work for Vietnam News // Call me on 032 734 9201.

Useful Expressions:

Could you repeat that, please ?

I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your number.

Would you be so kind as to leave your name ?

Let me make a note. Hold the line.

Is there a message I can take ?

[With a small group, this could be done one student at a time, but may be intimidating for some students.]

And then, it’s time to hit the books – it’s high time we hit the books.

End game: To continue the listening, but bringing it alive, I’ll show a couple of evergreen clips. One is from ‘Twin Peaks’, a cult TV show from the 1990s. The main character, like the writer of this blog, loves coffee. The students have to copy the body language and say:

“Wait a minute, wait a minute …. this is, excuse me, a damn fine cup of coffee.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxwcQ1dapw8

Finally, the late, great, Peter O’Toole on the David Letterman chat show. The host is a fast-talking American, the actor, an Irish-born, incredibly charismatic, flamboyant old-time movie star. He is asked to tell an anecdote, and rather than a pedestrian, “Let me see,” he delivers, with perfect timing:

“Oh, I think I can shuffle through my memory.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Fl3bOeXvyI&list=PL97HViQblvdEM3zsauRxnIg1baFTNmsDM&index=25&t=51s

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Listening Tips: I have a plethora of clips and exercises on a previous blog: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2019/01/23/listening-skills-tips-and-links/

Adult Class, level 3 (class 2): expanding vocabulary.

30th August for 5th September 2019. AEF listening and grammar review.

Last week saw a lot of new vocabulary and some opportunities to practise using then in sentences. Now we need to reinforce these words, make them a part of their everyday lexicon.

From the warm up exercise, we used:

charismatic / contestants / convinced / empty-handed / entrepreneur / I’m out / in return / intimidating / represent / stain

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From ‘The Social Network’.

From watching the Vietnamese beer review, we learnt more expressions:

Let’s dive in = let’s go, let’s start !

more than likely = everyday expression meaning very possible

whatsoever – used to strengthen a sentence (“The beer has no taste whatsoever.”)

head = the white foam on top of a beer

aroma – the smell, usually for wine or coffee

Quick warm up game: use those words in a sentence. Try to use extended sentences including clauses.

For example: As it’s the rainy season, it will more than likely rain tomorrow.

Now for a relative pronoun and supporting clause:

The young blonde entrepreneur, who was convinced his idea was genius, left the meeting empty-handed.

Students can work together to come up with three sentences including one with a supporting clause.

Quick grammar review – there were some concerns about using past simple and present continuous n the same sentence:

Were you wearing the new tie when you met the manager ?

Here, everything is in the past tense (were / met) BUT we use the continuous ‘wearing’ because we were doing something at that time. Furthermore, we only use one past tense verb (here ‘were’ serves as the first past tense verb).

Try these:

Did you go (swim) this morning ?

We ate pancakes and John was (talk) all the time

I saw a film and my girlfriend went (shop)

When did you start (learn) Mandarin ?

Then we covered some personality adjectives in an activity but time was against us, and we’ll carry on at the start of this lesson. I have five friends and the students have to guess their personality and occupation. Naturally, they don’t know them, so they have to use phrases such as:

In my opinion / for me / I feel that / he appears to be / I get the impression that he … / he looks like

Mark
David
Gavin
Richard
Simon

Personality adjectives: Positive – mature / reliable / dependable / confident / life and soul (of the party) / generous

Negative – over -confident (hubris) / aloof / arrogant / mean (nasty or not generous) / awkward / bossy.

Occupations: estate agent

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consultant (here the lady, who is of Asian origin, is a recruitment consultant).

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plumber

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therapist

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bouncer

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Speaking practice. The handout is dialogue used in a coffee shop, which means I get to use one of my favourite clips, from ‘Twin Peaks’ :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxwcQ1dapw8

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Agent Cooper in ‘Twin Peaks’.

To, to set the scene, maybe we need some background ambience. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOdLmxy06H0

Here’s a great chance to use words such as ‘aroma’, atmosphere’, ‘crowded’, ‘comfortable’, ‘free wifi’, and then types of coffee

And them onto today’s set lesson. If time allows, we can use some left-over activities from last week, namely the desert survivial:

Two teams, both have a number of items to help them survive in the desert after a plane crash. From the list of 18, they have to choose just 5. They must learn and practice negotiation language such as:

I see your point

I respectfully disagree

That’s an interesting choice, however …

You’re argument is not without value, having said that …

Activity – small talk. A list of general topics and the students have to try to keep the conversation going as long as possible. As with all speaking exercises, give examples or models first:

What do you do ? // I’m a student . // Really ? Where do you study ? What do you study ? How do you find you class ? What do you like best about your university ? What are the biggest challenges ?

To break up the speaking, we can use so real life listening. One popular clip is the foodie Mark Wiens eating eggs in HCM City: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crPVJ3CXs1g&list=PL97HViQblvdEM3zsauRxnIg1baFTNmsDM&index=20&t=1s

Or how to stay safe in HCM – advise from locals (in English but with accents and some grammatical errors) 

Image result for petty crime in hcm
Back of the bike tours – advise for travellers in Viet Nam

And that more than likely, should be enough work in spades !

IELTS: sentence building

22nd July 2019

Here are some tips to help you expand your sentences, as well as incorporating language use that IELTS examiners will expect. Also bear in mind that the way you speak, the para-linguistics, is equally important.

Sentence building – becoming fluent and coherent

Use

  • adverbs
  • adjectives
  • opinions phrases
  • linking words and discourse markers
  • new vocabulary

EXAMPLE: I like coffee

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

Ask

  1. how MUCH do you like it (adverbs) ?
  2. What kind of coffee (adjectives) ?
  3. What do you think about this ? (opinions)
  4. WHY do you like it (give reasons)
  5. interesting words, phrases, idioms

Example

I enjoy coffee (a little / incredibly) because it helps bring people together as well as making our minds become quite active and somewhat excited. Coffee, from my point of view, is essentially useful if we use it in moderation. On the other hand, coffee can be a dreadful waste of money not to mention having a detrimental effect on our health such as insomnia. Despite the negative aspects, coffee makes me feel over the moon!

EXERCISE: Where do you drink coffee ?

Plan –

Introduction: one complex sentence.

Where do you go ? Do you go to many different types ? What do you usually order ?

Why do you go there ? What are the good points ? How often do you visit ? With whom do you go ? How long do you spend there ?

Compare the store with another (price, choice, comfort, amenities).

Are there any negative aspects ? Price, location, crowds, parking etc.

Conclusion: one sentence summary of what you have said.

IF you don’t drink coffee, then you can explain why not, and where you like to go to hang out with friends. Even if you never go out, you can talk about that as it will afford you the opportunity to give reasons and build more complex sentences.

Highlands Coffee, a popular chain in Vietnam.

Practice adjectives by describing this photo.

Increase your word power

Match the basic words with others of similar meaning

For example boring = tedious

interesting attain on time fascinating

forgetful miserable live (I live in) jovial

smart (clever) exhausted

unhappy punctual

happy feasible

possible reside

tired intelligent

get (a qualification) environment

place absent-minded

Interviews

What is your favourite beer ?

Image result for czech beer"

Well, I like many beers but my favourite is Czech beer. For example, Pilsner, Budweiser or Staropramen. I think the taste is very good as well as being excellent quality. 

Along with Czech beer, I also really like Mexican beer such as Corona or Desperado. 

Having said that, these beers can be expensive so sometimes I just drink Vietnamese beer, maybe Saigon Red or 333 because they are much cheaper.

1 Answer the question in a proper sentence

2 Give examples

3 Give reasons

4 What else ?

5 An opposite conjunction (but, however, having said that, on the other hand)

6 What instead ?

Remember to use adverbs and adjectives to make your speech more interesting

Well, I like many beers but my favourite is Czech beer. 

For example, Pilsner, Budweiser or Staropramen. 

I think the taste is very good as well as being excellent quality. 

Along with Czech beer, I also really like Mexican beer such as Corona or Desperado. 

Having said that, these beers can be expensive 

so sometimes I just drink Vietnamese beer, maybe Saigon Red or 333 because they are much cheaper.

Ask each other some of the following questions:

The interviewer must keep asking questions until the speaker has nothing more to say.

Interviewer can ask, ‘Why do you say that?’, ‘What other reasons?’ ‘Why else ?’

Do you think sports are good ?

What do you like about working for your company ? / Attending your school ?

Do you spend, save or invest your money ?

What films do you like best ? Do you go to the cinema or watch at home ?