IELTS Speaking Practice: Manufacturing in Vietnam.

30th July 2019

Tonight is a special speaking lesson, a preparation for the real test which this class will take at the beginning of September. Incidentally, last night I adjudicated a speaking test and was somewhat distressed by the lack of:

adjectives (even when the task was to describe something)


low-frequency vocabulary

complex sentences

stress and intonation


So, to warm up, I will put the class into small groups and give them various words on strips of paper, words we have covered in the classes: adjectives, adverbs, discourse markers, compound nouns.

a major challenge / ubiquitous / punctual / binge shopping / significantly / bizarre /

remarkably / one the other hand / consequently / therefore / in my opinion / all’s well that ends well.

how do I say that in English ? / sky-high / traditional / developing /

The students have a set time to speak on a basic subject (shopping, music, internet etc) employing as many words as possible.


who For people: This is the man who sold me the fake Rolex ! 

which For things: We tried fish and chips which is delicious.

where For places: Let’s go to the shop where we saw the great bargains.

Whose Possessive: That’s the singer whose record we heard last night.

The car, whose driver was young, won the race.


We arrived at a nice beach ______ we could swim and lie in the sun.

A man ______ mobile phone was ringing did not know what to do.

The patient, ______ had a serious disease, was taken to hospital immediately.

Smithsfield is a small village ______ people live a quiet life.

A boy ____ sister is in my class, was in the bank at that time.

I know a person ____ can speak seven languages.

We visited the church _____ is in the middle of the square.

It is a protected area of land _____ you can see a lot of interesting wildlife.

This dress is made of silk _____ is a very expensive and delicate material.

A police officer, _____ car was parked at the next corner, stopped and arrested them.


Tonight’s discussion focuses on manufacturing, so first I have to pre-teach some new vocabulary, as well as encouraging the students to think in long, complex sentences employing relative pronouns and discourse markers where appropriate.

The United Kingdom had a great empire in the nineteenth century undoubtably due to the fact that the UK was the first industrial nation.

Factory workers in the UK during the industrial heyday

This had a profound, significant effect on the country as its economy turned from agricultural to industry. The UK could import raw materials from its overseas colonies and, by the use of new machinery, produce consumer goods incomparably quicker and cheaper than by old traditional methods.

However, despite the wealth generated by this revolution, it caused many social evils:

Industrial pollution, which is still a global problem today, especially in developing countries, was prevalent and ubiquitous. The poet William Blake referred to the “dark satanic mills,” which blighted the lush English countryside. Social reformers and political philosophers commented on the disparity between the wealthy factory owners and the appalling working conditions of the operators, which often included young children, as well as a dreadful number of accidents and deaths due to the lack of safety laws. Furthermore, some people say that commercialism is a bad thing, such as seeing things simply in terms of making money, for example, selling toys based on ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Avengers’ films, or turning areas of natural beauty into golf courses, hotels and resorts, not to mention replacing old family shops by the massive super and mega-marts run by giant corporations.

de Loutherbourg, Philip James; Coalbrookdale by Night; Science Museum;

Gradually, workers conditions improved in developing countries, but at a cost. Rising labour (labor in US English) prices made the giant multi-national companies look abroad for cheaper workers, overheads and tax fees. Today, many companies have factories in south east Asia and China.

These have been criticised as being sweatshops, where workers are forced to do 12-hour shifts, often without adequate breaks, in addition to being paid a pittance in comparison to western workers. Many consumer goods are manufactured in south east Asia, including some high-end items such as designer clothing, furthermore, it is estimated that half the world’s iPhones are made in China.

As an outsider, but with an interest in the culture and history of Vietnam, I am aware of the sensitivity regarding Viet-Sino (Chinese) relations. In terms of size and population, China dwarfs Vietnam, yet despite the massive workforce in the larger country, some developed countries are investing heavily in Vietnam. Here’s a good news link from a USA business news station (with English subtitles).

This should be adequate to give the students a grasp of the vocabulary and some collocations needed to speak confidently about basic manufacturing although we have yet to delve deeper into Vietnam’s own economy and manufacturing traditions. The following is from WIKIPEDIA:

Although the industrial sector contributed 40.1% of GDP in 2004, it employed only 12.9% of the workforce. In 2000, 22.4% of industrial production was attributable to non-state activities. From 1994 to 2004, the industrial sector grew at an average annual rate of 10.3%. Manufacturing contributed 20.3% of GDP in 2004, while employing 10.2% of the workforce. From 1994 to 2004, manufacturing GDP grew at an average annual rate of 11.2%. The top manufacturing sectors — electronics, food processing, cigarettes and tobacco, textiles, chemicals, and footwear goods — experienced rapid growth. Benefits from its proximity to China with lower labor cost, Vietnam is becoming a new manufacturing hub in Asia, especially for Korean and Japanese firms. For instance, Samsung produces about 40% of its phones in Vietnam.

And now the students can take over. What can they tell me about traditional manufacturing ? How do they contribute to the local and national economy ? For example, on holiday in Phan Thiet (a seaside town a few hours train ride from Sai Gon), the only Vietnamese I saw were in the service industry (hotel staff, cleaners, restaurant workers, shop staff, tour operators etc). How do Vietnamese feel about this ? The cost of a hotel room may be more than they earn in a week or even a month. On the other hand, the tourism creates jobs and enable locals to make a living.

Obviously, this is an English class, though we have touched on economics, social philosophy, international relations and even poetry. The objective is to prepare the students for a future test where they may well have to speak about their country’s economy. I hope this will provide them with a basic grounding in vocabulary and some critical thinking, and mostly, being able to express their ideas.

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