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:
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 !
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:
… 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.
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:
Somewhere for a snack
An interesting building or location
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.
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 !
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
Expressions and practice
Karaoke (noise pollution)
Listening Practice: 5 weird things Vietnamese do // making a video
Music and vocabulary (Paul McCartney / Talking Heads)
Poland: salt mine, speaking practice, beer guide, travel guide.
Shopping (buying presents, Black Friday)
Describe these German Christmas pictures
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 ?
What do you think of the food ? Listen out for adjectives and adverbs.
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
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.
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 ?
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.
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 ?”
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 …
How MUCH do you like it (adverbs) ?
What kind of coffee (adjectives) ?
What do you think about this ? (opinions)
WHY do you like it (give reasons)
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
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 ?
The man is: funny / amusing / weird / strange / entertaining / has a screw loose
His dancing is: highly unusual / very comical / somewhat crazy / charming
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.
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.
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 !
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 !
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.
Name three things we can have for lunch
2. What did this man eat and drink ?
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 !
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 ?
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 ?
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).
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.
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.
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.”
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:
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).
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 …
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
consultant (here the lady, who is of Asian origin, is a recruitment consultant).
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’ :
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 ?
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.
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 ?
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.
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
get (a qualification) environment
What is your favourite 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 ?