Describe these pictures, using adjectives and your 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.
Signpost expressions: used to help tell a story or a narrative. They allow the listener to help organise the information.
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 ? Maybe street coffee ?
Pat Well, I’m exhausted. I need a damn fine cup of coffee and a big piece of pie.
Sam There’s a Highlands over the road, or we can go to Coffee Bean or Milano.
Pat I’d prefer Tran Nguyen but it costs an arm and a leg. Highlands is also incredibly expensive.
Sam But great quality and superb cakes. Come on, I’m starving, I need coffee now !
Pat OK, hold your horses hahaha. After we can meet up with Thay Paul.
Sam Sounds good. Now … shall we have chocolate cake or fruit cake … ?
costs an arm and a leg = very expensive
hold your horses = please be patient and wait
Inside HighlandsCoffee Shop
Sam Hi, I’ll have a large cappuccino, please. What do you fancy ?
Pat Tough decision. I’m going for the cheesecake and a slice of blueberry pie.
Sam Oh, me too. Big slice, no, only joking, I have to watch my weight.
Pat I think you look great. Lets also get some chocolate cake and we can share.
Sam Brilliant. Oh, did I show you my recent photos ? Here, on my phone.
Pat Let me see … oh, so funny. Who’s that ? The man next to Niall ?
Sam That’s Jimmy, he’s in Niall’s band. He plays drums and drinks like a fish !
Pat And that’s you, a selfie. You look adorable. Butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth !
drinks like a fish = drinks a lot of alcohol
Butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth ! = looks very sweet and nice … but can be very naughty
“Wow … that’s so strong, but it’s got a ball of coconut ice-cream in the middle … whoah !”
And the young lady who I believe is Korean adds:
“I wanna try … This is the coffee king … ahhhhhhhh !”
The young travellers give their views on the environment and cleanliness of District 1 which is the city centre [UK] or downtown area [USA].
To what extent do you agree with them ?
What do Vietnamese students think of the Vlogger’s appraisal of Sai Gon ?
Let’s move on and talk about traffic which is quite a serious issue in Vietnam. Firstly, attending driving school … what can go wrong ? A clip from the world-famous motoring show from the BBC, ‘Top Gear.’
After Brasil, Vietnam is the world’s biggest exporter of coffee, and coffee shops are ubiquitous. There are high-end chain stores, with near London prices, down to street coffee which, being honest, is probably more ‘street’ than ‘coffee’.
Here are a few recent caffeine-driven excursions:
OK, this first one is no longer in operation. Can’t think why. Branding is important, even in a Socialist country. This joint is located at the base of an apartment complex in District 2. The lady that stays there is, I believe, an artist and is extremely friendly, not ‘grumpy’ in the least.
Now, staying in District 2, just a short ride away, is this library cafe:
It looks like it’s based in an old house, with large plants and dusty old books on even dustier shelves.
The coffee, however, was a disappointment, probably due to my ordering the wrong drink. I wanted a hot latte and got an ice version. Perfect for the heat, but not what I was expecting. Oh well, never mind.
Still in District 2, ‘Ventura Coffee’ was near my old apartment by the port of Cat Lai. This was a great place, and had live football and a beautiful dog:
Damn fine cappuccino, too.
Here are a couple of signs on the wall:
Back to my new manor (are in which I live). ‘Coffee Time’ on Nguyen Duy Trinh. Fine coffees and juices. Nice decoration, and outside seating. Free Wifi, naturally. We had a hot latte and an ice coffee. The cappuccino is also recommended.
And of course, all this coffee makes a guy hungry. Back at my new apartment, we have a restaurant where they catered to my no-meat diet. Delicious crab-noodle soup. Around 40 000 VND (about £1.35) and worth every penny. Extra chilli sauce !
Here’s a chance to explain what you’re doing now, then to say what you want to do in the future:
NOW // DISCOURSE MARKER // FUTURE
Currently // however // I plan to
At the moment // although // I would love to
Right now // though // I have my heart set on
Currently I am studying however I plan to work in business.
Now that was a very basic response, no way adequate for an IELTS class, so how to extend it, using L-FWs and idioms.
REMEMBER: always be thinking of a suitable idiom. The subject is study, so we have:
burning the candle at both ends // put my nose to the grindstone // pass with flying colours
So, let’s rock ‘n’ roll !
Currently I am studying at ABC University, which is in District 7, putting my nose to the grindstone in order to pass with flying colours. However I plan to find a job in the business field such as banking or investment in order to buy a modern house as well as supporting my family, who have supported me through my studies.
NOW … YOUR TURN
Make IELTS sentences from these details:
saving up money
working with a charity
Choose the one you that appeals most to you.
To assist : At the moment, I am working for an animal charity because I detest the horrific treatment of animals althoughI would love other people to share my views
Explaining your answers – give examples and reasons
Some people are cruel to animals: explain – give an example (s) and then your reasons. You will have to use Part III styles introductions because the subject is so broad and general.
Complex sentences, which you will need to get a respectable IELTS score, are actually quite simple to form as they merely require two or more pieces of information in one sentence.
Ms Jane is from Seattle which is the biggest city in Washington state, USA.
We know where Jane is from as well as something about the city of Seattle. Now, we can add more information by saying something about Jane, such as her profession.
Ms Jane, who is a medical students, is from Seattle which is the biggest city in Washington state, USA.
Do you know this actor ?
Mr Bean, who is played by the actor Rowan Atkinson, is extremely popular and tremendously successful, being shown all over the world, not forgetting his appearance at the London Olympics in 2012.
This example has been extended by adding more adverbs and adjectives. We know the actor’s name, how popular he is, as well as learning that he was part of the UK Olympics and when that was.
DON’Tanswer immediately but introduce the answer by repeating or rephrasing the question:
That’s a very interesting question
Well, there is so much to say about that subject, where shall I start ?
It’s funny you put that question to me because earlier today I was just thinking about …
One of my students mentioned that she was saving up for a pair of Converse trainers:
It’s funny you put that question to me because earlier today I was just thinking about what I would buy if I had the money.
I have my heart set on buying a pair of Converse, which is an American company with a star logo, who make very fashionable footwear.
To make the sentence more interesting, as well as complex, I simply stated the country, the logo and what they produce … piece of cake, hey ?
OK, your turn … write a complex sentence about these products. Additionally, practice writing different types of introductions:
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.
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 ?
A compilation of various restaurants and coffee houses. First up, seafood in District 2.
Vietnamese from costal areas dislike seafood in Ho Chi Minh, as it can never be as fresh and certainly not as cheap as their home town. Having said that, I really enjoyed the Hải Sản (seafood) at Phố Ốc (271 Đường Nguyễn Duy Trinh, Phường Bình Trưng Tây, Quận 2, Hồ Chí Minh).
Clams in lemongrass (and heavy on the chilli) with Vietnamese sea snails. The leaves are slightly bitter, in contrast to the sweet, tangy sauce. Washed down with Tiger Beer (Singapore).
Even closer to home, a small restaurant specialising in just a few dishes, O Hai Quan.
Bún riêu cua
Rice vermicelli soup with tofu, tomato and crab. The purple sauce in the small dish is the extremely pungent shrimp paste (mắm tôm). Prices from 35 000 to 40 000 VND (£1.14 – £1.30 / $1.50 – $1.71).
Party time – the Vietnamese love a party, love eating and making noise … a LOT of noise (I can vouch for that – I often suffer dreadful drunken deafening wedding party karaoke – but that is for another blog) and I was invited to a house-warming shindig over in the north-western suburbs. There was food, there was beer and yes, there was karaoke.
Late night drinking means early morning coffee. Back to District 2, and a chain called Ding Tea.
Hazelnut Coffee was 46 000 VND, Passion Fruit Milk Tea 39 000 VND. Total 85 000 (£2.77 $3.64)
Was actually heading for Highlands Coffee when I saw this new store. Probably would have paid about 70 000 VND just for one coffee there (but it IS good). Based in the Cantavil Shopping Mall complex.
I used to work in District 10 and live in District 3. At weekends I had a three-hour lunch break, so I would go home, rest and change clothes, but for lunch, I’d stop off here:
This is a very popular diner, and easy for non-Vietnamese speakers – just point and take a seat. They also sell vegetarian food. This spread, including two fish dishes, a vegetarian pancake-type dish, soup, rice and side salads was around 140 000 VND (£4.55 $6). Service is quick, and the customers always seem slightly bemused by a westerner tucking in and enjoying the grub.
So, it’s Saturday, had three classes, starting around 7.00 am. It’s now 6.30 pm and I’ve just finished a noisy, very active class of 7 & 8 year olds. I need food, I need coffee. Fortunately, my centre is based on a busy street (Phố Ốc is to the left, tonight I turned right) with coffee shops and restaurants all over. A quick stroll and I found:
Laha Coffee at 169 Nguyễn Duy Trinh. Very small, just three or four tables (mainly a take-away joint) but great ambience AND great coffee. This was just 25 000 VND (£0.94 $1.24).
The food, and more coffee, I’ll save for the next blog … now it’s time to eat !