Today is Hung King Festival, a free day in Viet Nam
“The holiday is dedicated to the memory of the Hung line of kings who ruled Vietnam as priestly kings for over 2,500 years up until around 250 B.C. These kings are counted as the nation’s ancient founders.” Read more on:
Elaborate (verb) … tell more, expand on your answer
Significant (adj) significance (noun) significantly (adv) … very important or different from the rest. Special, notable.
Simile … to compare something e.g. he drinks like a fish, she eats like a pig, our campus is like a bloody madhouse.
White collar job … professional, desk job or requires mental skills e.g. lawyer, doctor, office worker, teacher
Blue collar job … manual work, although these jobs can also need a professional qualification, and can be extremely well-paid.
Now, on with the show. Last night was based around the typical IELTS question, “Tell me about your family,” and its derivatives. I tell classes until I’m blue in the face, just saying, “I live with my mum, my dad and my sister,” is not a great IELTS answer, not to mention being tedious in the extreme.
The students mulled it over and came up with the reasonable response that there really was nothing else to say. Au contraire (on the contrary) there is so much to say, and every journey, as my Duchess knows, starts with a single step to wit, a great introduction.
The students, somewhat perplexed, offered:
Well, I don’t know how to give an interesting answer because I just live with my mum, dad and brother …
Even that would qualify as an introduction, but how about:
Allow me to introduce my family to you. Firstly there is …
Here’s where relative clauses really come into their own. Basically, every time you mention a subject, a noun, elaborate; tell the examiner more about said subject.
Oh, you know I will. Let’s start with the matriarch, Mommie dearest. You could say:
My mother has a heart of gold …
…then explain why
… she’s always thinking of other people before herself, as well aslistening to all my problems and trying to help me with everything.
On the other hand, your mother may want you to excel at everything …
Although I love her dearly, my mother is what they call a Tiger Mum by which I mean she always makes me study, do homework and learn piano. I really burn the candle at both ends and sometimes it can be too much for me.
Now, let’s turn to pater, Daddy;
My father, on the other hand, is firm but fair …
My father has a white collar job. He works long hours to provide for his family, he really has his nose to the grindstone …
He’s a little loud and on holidays, he loves singing karaoke with his friends, who are all blue collar workers, and hedrinks like a fish.
Now, a borrowed word to describe sister …
My sister, who is younger than me, is such a prima donna, always (doing what ?) …
My sister is so sweet, she’s like a little angel, and she loves playing with our puppywho is just six weeks old.
How about brother ?
My brother really looks out for me, giving me advice and guidance. I totally look up to him.
On the other hand …
My brother is an absolute slacker, lazy beyond belief. He never helps in the house, or cleans his room. He does his homework once in a blue moon, preferring to play stupid computer games instead.
How was that ? Happy now ?
Now … Your Turn
Last night you encountered these adjectives and occupations:
you get what you pay for (or you pay for what you get) – if you buy something cheap, you get bad quality
to romanticise – to make something ordinary more interesting
to fantasise (fantasize US English) – to wish for something great to happen
use your imagination / give your imagination free reign – it is OK to pretend, to make up a better story
I will give it my utmost consideration – I will think about it very, very carefully (and then say ‘no’).
firstly, secondly, additionally, another point is, on the other hand, however, finally, in conclusion, to sum up, all things considered – all ‘signpost language‘, to help organise your ideas.
Are you ready to rock ?
I’ll be burning the candle at both ends because my IELTS test is _______________ .
Remember, you don’t have to tell the absolute truth in your speaking test. It’s totally OK to ________________________________ .
I picked up this shirt at Saigon Centre and, yeah, it cost an arm and a leg, but just feel the quality … you ____________________________________ .
We booked a really reasonable room at the beach, but the water was cold, the sheets were stained and there were bugs everywhere. We totally _____________________________________ (use past tense).
Thay Paul, we have a new class of students. They are extremely lazy and unmotivated and only want to play with their phones. Would you like to teach them ? ________________________________________________ .
What did you do last weekend ? “I sleep.” Is that all ? Ah, c’mon, do better, ______________________________________ .
Quick – fire round
You planned a day out for my friend Ethan. Describe these photos using as many IELTS features as you can:
Areas to focus on: being confident about answering the Part II questions, so we shall work on fluency and developing the ability to speak for longer periods without hesitation.
Just a minute
Speak for one minute on:
Food in your country
What you do in your free time
Holidays in your country (e.g. Tet, Thanksgiving, Christmas etc)
Quán Lúa: Address: 537/3 Đường Nguyễn Duy Trinh, Phường Bình Trưng Tây, Quận 2, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh
I visited this restaurant back in December just before Christmas and, along with my trusty sidekick, sampled some of the fish dishes:
Prawns with onions and peanuts; the best dish.
Canh Chua Cá (Sour Fish Soup). I’m not such a fan of this Viet dish. It was average, nothing special.
Baked fish with sticky rice.
Gettin’ ready to tuck in …
The service was very friendly and, as you see, they didn’t object to my sidekick in the outside area. Cost was reasonable while I would rank the food thus: the prawns were delicious, the baked fish satisfactory and the rice well-flavoured. The soup looks colourful, it’s just not my cup of tea. To be fair, as I went early some of my first choices were not available. I really went as a break from home-cooking, and to support a local restaurant. I’ll leave the last word to my trusty sidekick:
Ensure students have learnt the Unit adjectives (as well as new vocabulary from class)
Give students confidence to build longer, more interesting sentences
Give students sense of security to speak in class
Stress the importance of practice and practice and practice
A Warm up game:
Split class into teams. Read out a sentence in the present tense. Students have to write using the past tense. Depending on class size, students can run to the board, or work in small groups on a board in which case, make sure the writers are changed each turn.
massive // discover (discovered) // breathtaking // even // skyscraper
Have students shout out the words as they hear them.
1) Who discovered the cave ? 2) What kind of forest is in the cave ? 3) How long is it ? 4) How long would it take to walk ? 5) A skyscraper of how many stories (floors) could fit inside ? 6) How old is the cave ?
1) a farmer 2) a rainforest 3) over 5 kms 4) a week 5) 40 stories (floors) 6) 2- 5 million years old
A compilation of videos about Viet Nam for use in class. Some clips are made by westerners, other by Vietnamese speaking English. The clips can be used for listening practice, learning vocabulary, pronunciation, or just to learn more about the country.
I agree totally // I agree to an extent // I’m not sure I totally agree // That has not been my experience // She is spot on ! // She is over-simplifying // There’s an element of truth in what she says // She’s talking nonsense !
Last week, I showed my class how to speak, and think, in longer sentences. I chose a basic question as an example:
Where do you want to visit in Vietnam ?
I showed them a plan:
Introduction / First good point / second good point / something bad / conclusion.
I choose Hoi An
Introduction: DON’T answer immediately but introduce the answer by repeating or rephrasing the question:
Vietnam has many beautiful places but my choice would be Hoi An.
First Good Point:
Firstly, Hoi An is a historical city with a wonderful Japanese bridge and lovely old shops. At night, the shops use romantic lanterns.
Second Good Point:
Hoi An is close to Da Nang, so I can fly there easily and quickly. There are many things to see and do in the local area.
Now, something negative
However, Hoi An is very small and can be extremely crowded in summer. Maybe it will be difficult to find a hotel or a table at a good restaurant.
In my opinion, Hoi An is a very special place to visitbecause it is a town of Vietnamese culture.
How to build sentences:
Use adjectives to describe nouns (beautiful, historic, romantic)
adverbs to describe adjectives and verbs – give more information (very, easily)
opinion phrases (in my opinion)
linking words to connect positive to positive or positive to negative – discourse markers (however)
reasons why an action is being done (because)
Now – your turn: Where do you want to visit ? This can be in Vietnam or anywhere.
I like coffee
I like coffee so much because it tastes great and makes me wake up although too much will stop me from sleeping at night but, in my opinion, the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.
I teach a brother and sister; the sister is a bit of a handful always chatting or texting during class. In complete contrast, the brother is a really good student as well as being a young gentleman. I feel he is an ideal student.
Now – your turn. Try these:
Living in Sai Gon or in your city
Working and studying.
Sentence building – becoming fluent and coherent
EXAMPLE: I like coffee
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
I really enjoy hot milky coffee because it helps bring people together as well as making our minds become quite active and somewhat excited. Coffee, in 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 as well as having a detrimental effect on our health. Despite the negative aspects, coffee makes me feel over the moon!
Here’s another request blog; a friend, Pete (who has featured in some of my lessons) is planning a party this Friday. His daughter, who is turning 18, has requested some Vietnamese food.
However, Pete lives in the UK, which is still under lockdown (quarantine), so many restaurants are closed. Furthermore, he lives in the middle of the country, so had no access to really fresh sea food (the Vietnamese only say sea food is fresh IF it was swimming in the sea just ten minutes before).
Additionally, Pete won’t be able to get his hands on some vegetables or ingredients so we’ll have to take that into account. Having said that, here are some tips for making Vietnamese food in a western kitchen.
Banh xeo is like a pancake filled with beansprouts, shrimps, salad, grilled meat …
Grilled pork is ubiquitous – a street food stable served with rice and pickled vegetables.
Fried spring or summer rolls – can be a bit fiddly (difficult) to make, and require special material. Probably available in Asian supermarkets, but hard to get in small towns (or just order online like everyone else in 2020). Contains salad leaves and shrimp and vegetables).
Pho (pronounced ‘far’) is THE traditional food of Vietnam, and is normally eaten for breakfast. It’s basically noodle soup with meat of your choice. Shrimps (prawns) or just vegetables could be substituted. Another ubiquitous dish.
And now, without further ado … how to cook Vietnamese:
First, one of the UK’s most loved, and sadly missed chefs, Keith Floyd. Keith came to Vietnam as part of an east Asian cooking show. In Sai Gon, he made this dish, beef cooked in sweet and spicy stock: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fO6cSQ8Vly8
The scene starts at 06.39
But, I hear you protest, how can a westerner make authentic Vietnamese food ?
For fans of the fowl, connoisseurs of the chicken, I haven’t forgotten you. Here’s an interesting recipe, lemongrass chicken (lemongrass, which is ten-a-penny in Vietnam, that is, very cheap, can be so expensive in the UK. I once saw 5 lemongrass on sale for £1, that’s over 30 000 VND): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJtMlTnqyw0
Top Gear is a famous British show about cars, motoring, driving and crashing !
Here is an opportunity to hear British English being spoken at a natural pace, and to learn new expressions and colloquialisms (everyday spoken words, not usually found in student text books).
Top Gear Vietnam
The chaps arrive in Vietnam are are given a challenge … to buy a car for 15 million Dong. That sounds a lot of money, but it is nowhere near enough to buy a car, not even an old, second-hand one. Instead they decide they can only afford motorbikes.