Pedal to the metal, let’s dive in and hit the ground running !
We are licensed to review the previous lesson, a potpourri of quick thinking (thinking on your feet), dropping idioms at the drop of a hat and sentence building by employing as many relative clauses as humanly possible … big time ! Not forgetting the grammar lesson, prepositions, directions and map-reading, differentiating between locating (finding) and labelling (writing on something). Now, without further ado …
What do you see in the picture ?
Let’s break it down into three sections: the man, the car, the location, then the spatial relation between all three. Piece of cake ? OK, breaks down like this:
The man: Daniel Craig (actor), James Bond (character), tall, blonde, handsome, strong, highly-skilled, well-off (quite rich), talented, licensed to kill, British … what other adjectives ?
The car: expensive, beautiful, full of gadgets, exclusive, cost an arm and a leg, astronomical, Aston Martin DB10, luxury …
The location: Rome … no help here ! What do you know about Rome ?
NOW … YOUR TURN
Make an IELTS-style sentence featuring relative clauses and prepositions of place. You have two minutes … go !
Thay Paul, can you give us some help, please ?
Oh, you know I will ! OK, how’s this: Daniel Craig, who’s a world-famous British actor, is playing James Bond, a fictional spy who has been in over twenty films. Mr Craig, who is very tall and attractive, is standing in front of an incredibly exclusive Aston Martin DB10, which is an iconic British car, whose price is astronomical. Behind we can see the breathtaking skyline of Rome, which is the capital of Italy, a country famous for style, elegance and luxury.
Teamwork – utilise the internet to gather information. Quite simply, I am at St Paul’s Cathedral and I want to get to Shakespeare’s Globe.
Create a jaw-droppingly brilliant IELTS response telling me about St Paul’s, the Globe and how I can get there on foot.
You have five minutes … go !
Bonus points: What symbols can you identify on the map ? What do they signify ?
Now, time for some retail therapy, and we’re going to take it up a notch.
You will enter at OLI and meet your friend outside of Top Brand. From there, you want to visit The National, then Viking. Afterwards, your friend wants to pop into Books before you meet another friend inside Nortex. Your taxi will pick you up at IDEA.
This time give me directions as well as using relative clauses to explain something about the shops in question … or as much information as you can provide.
Friday is Reunification Day in Viet Nam, so provides us with a topical subject for this week’s lessons.
First up, the relative clause game. To encourage students to speak more fluently, and to use complex sentences as a matter of course, a little speaking activity. I shall recite a short extract at various points, I shall stop and ask a student for extra information including the correct relative pronoun. Got it ?
Oh, you know I will ! Let’s invent an English friend, Mr John … use adjectives to describe his personality and appearance, nouns to tell about his occupation and see how far we get. Ready ? Let’s go !
Mr John, WHO is from London, is on holiday in Sai Gon, WHICH is the biggest city in Viet Nam. John, WHO loves history, wants to visit the War Museum WHICH is located in District 1 and is an extremely thought-provoking experience. John, WHO is an estate agent, is quiet and a little serious although he is extremely friendly. John, WHO is 32 and unmarried, wants to learn about the war WHICH ended in 1975.
NOW … YOUR TURN
Ms Kim, WHO ____________, works in Sai Gon, WHICH ______________________. Kim, WHO __________________, wants to visit Ben Thanh Market WHICH ______________________ additionally __________________. Kim, WHO _________________________, wants to buy a birthday present for her mother WHO ___________________.
Mr Peter, WHO loves ______________ , is killing two birds with one stone. He’s using his laptop WHICH _________________ to have a Zoom meeting with his business partner WHO _________________________ as well as drinking coffee at Mario’s WHICH ______________ . Because he lives in Italy, Peter WHO _____________________________ , speaks both English WHICH ________________________ and Italian because his wife WHO _________________________ was born in Rome WHICH ____________ .
Piece of cake, hey ? OK, on to this week’s exercises. We’ll continue with making a narrative.
I had a really bad day yesterday, Sunday. To help explain, here’s some extra vocabulary:
Vocabulary: cancellation / hyper-active / irritating / excruciating / connection / deafening / anti-smoking / culture shock / a real handful / “A plague on both your houses !”
Followed by a game. I shall show photos of five of my friends, along with some personality adjectives and occupations. The class simply have to guess my friends’ job and what kind of people they are … and justify their decisions.
IELTS students always need to concentrate on expanding their lexical resources. Having said that, I feel this class needs extra work on fluency and pronunciation. To that end, some exercises to assist:
Exercise 1: Just a minute. In pairs, one student has to speak for one minute without repetition, hesitation or deviation.
The subjects are: Your favourite gift // your neighbourhood // what you like about your city // shopping // your family
Exercise 2: Newsreader. Read the following extracts with appropriate pronunciation, intonation and stress, not forgetting body language.
Some stories are sombre (sad, solemn), others convey information that is somewhat depressing or raise concern. However, we end with some lighter entertainment gossip and football transfer speculation.
LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II returned to royal duties just four days after the death of her husband, Prince Philip, with her first in-person event Tuesday.
The queen hosted a ceremony at Windsor Castle for William Peel, who retired after serving for 14 years as lord chamberlain, the most senior aide in the royal household.
A report by the World Travel and Tourism Council, or WTTC, has revealed the full extent of the damage done to the global travel industry in 2020 after business was devastated by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Globally, the sector’s income slumped by almost $4.5 trillion last year. In 2019, travel and tourism was linked to one in four of all new jobs created around the world. But in 2020, more than 62 million jobs were lost.
HCMC – The Ministry of Health has confirmed 16 new imported Covid-19 cases in Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Hanoi, Danang, Quang Nam and HCMC, taking the country’s tally to 2,733 as of tonight, April 14.
Five of the new cases were reported in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province. The patients, aged between 29 and 39, returned to Vietnam from Russia on Flight VN5062 on April 12. They were immediately transported to Ba Ria-Vung Tau for quarantine after arriving at the HCMC-based Tan Son Nhat International Airport. All of them are being treated at Long Dien District Medical Center.
Who is Hey Stephen by Taylor Swift about?
The song is about a crush Taylor had on Stephen Barker Liles, who’s in the band Love and Theft.
The two reportedly met in 2008 when his band was opening up for her on tour.
Speaking to Access Online, Taylor said: “The song is actually about a guy who I had a crush on and never told him.
“So I wrote everything that I was thinking down in the song instead of telling him.”
Manchester United are eager to re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Juventus – according to Sai Gon Post.
The Red Devils will consider an exchange deal that would see Paul Pogba return to Turin in order to bring Ronaldo back to Old Trafford this summer.
United are on course to receive a big payout for finishing in the Premier League’s top four again, and plan to put those funds towards the re-capture of a club legend.
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)
Due to the return of COVID to Sai Gon, schools and language centres have been closed down, and online classes have restarted.
A big shout out to the staff at my centre. Instead of taking things easy in the build up to Tet, and enjoying time with their family, they had to work all hours to prepare for the change to distance learning.
To make these lessons work, we need students, and their parents, to follow these simple rules:
Respect your teacher and your teacher will respect you
tôn trọng giáo viên của bạn
You HAVE TO turn on your camera. If your camera is not working, you HAVE TO inform the centre.
Answer your teacher when you are asked a question.
Please control your background noise. No music, computer games or talking. Try to find somewhere quiet for the class.
Let’s work together and make the best of this situation and hopefully, we can all meet at the school in the near future.
Tonight is a new class and experience has taught me to downplay expectations. It’s also quite a large class, about seventeen students, so I’m expecting the whole spectrum of attitudes: motivated, respectful, attentive, apathetic, disrespectful, antagonist. Be that as it may, let’s go in with a positive attitude (and see how long that lasts).
For a new group it’s best to avoid direct questions as students can be shy about speaking in front of the class. However, they DO need to speak, so I’ve prepared a basic questionnaire for them to ask each other. They will need to get up and walk around, asking three different people some basic questions. Naturally, the questions are secondary; getting the students used to communicating with each other in English is the point.
Also, I have to accept that students will be arriving 15, 20, 30 minutes, maybe even an hour late.
Judging the atmosphere in the room, I may actually start with some basic games, asking what they know about London or the UK. The students can be put into small groups to give them a safer speaking environment. If I feel it’s appropriate, I’ll show the ‘Kids Guide to London’ video on YouTube:
This may seem a little strange for an adult class, but it introduces natural speaking (how we link words together), new vocabulary and some fixed expressions. Also, an ‘adult’ class can mean students over the age of fourteen, and usually the classes are mostly comprised of students in their late teens … I’ll save my thoughts on those for another blog.
Tonight’s main focus is the third conditional
This is speaking from hindsight; We talk about something that happened to us in the past and how we would have changed it IF we had known some information.
A basic example: A visit a friend and it is her birthday, but I didn’t know. If I had known it was her birthday, I would have bought her a present.
Notice all the past tense verbs. Furthermore, would is commonly used in conditional sentences.
Now, this example is based on a true story that my history teacher told me back in London.
My teacher was a somewhat dishevelled gentleman in his mid-30s. Let’s call him Mr Bowditch:
Mr Bowditch lived in a bedsit, which is basically renting one room in a large house and sharing the kitchen and bathroom with other tenants. His room was not particularly comfortable:
One night, Mr Bowditch was in his room and began to feel a little hungry. He wanted some chocolate so decided to go to the off-license and buy some sweets (an off-licence is a shop that sells basic food and sweets but also alcohol and cigarettes. It used to be open until 11.00pm when most shops would close around 6.00 pm). He decided to buy, among other items, some ‘Fry’s Turkish Delight’ a sort of jelly covered in chocolate:
OK, so far so good. However, Mr Bowditch lived in a rather bad part of London, it wasn’t always safe to walk alone at night. Unfortunately, on the way home, Mr Bowditch meet the following young men:
They called out to Mr Bowditch and stopped him walking. They demanded:
Mr Bowditch had none, as he had just spent his money on sweets (candy). They didn’t believe him and began to search him. He showed them:
That was all he had … a few pounds, about 100 000 VND. The men became very angry and aggressive. Suddenly, they heard a police car siren. The men tried to drag Mr Bowditch into the tunnel, away from the road but he is very tall and stopped them. As the police car got closer, the men ran away. Mr Bowditch has never eaten ‘Fry’s Turkish Delight’ again.
There are several instances of the third conditional in the above story.
If Mr Bowditch had bought sweets on his way home, he wouldn’t have gone out later and been mugged (mugged means being robbed, often with violence or the threat of violence).
If Mr Bowditch had gone to a different shop, he wouldn’t have meet the muggers.
If the police car hadn’t been passing, Mr Bowditch might have been seriously hurt.
If Mr Bowditch hadn’t been so tall, he would have been dragged into the tunnel and maybe beaten or worse.
The structure is the first clause starts with ‘If’ then using a comma before completing the sentence. The first verb can be positive or negative (in the examples, I use ‘had’ and ‘hadn’t’).
We use this to talk about things that DIDN’T happen.
At level 3, the books can be very text-heavy, and reading can be boring for students. As mentioned, I don’t know the ability and level of the students. One method is to have the students read just one paragraph and underline how many words they don’t know. If the amount is very high, then I know the level is too high … and I’m in trouble. I’ll have to improvise a lesson.
If (yes, let’s use conditionals) the reading poses no problems, I could have the students working in pairs. One student reads a paragraph and then tells their partner the main information. This is then reversed.
If the students want to learn, and come with energy and motivation, it should be a great lesson. However … this is not always the case … will time fly or will it drag ?
I’m now taking my second IELTS class, and the great thing is that I’ve already made lesson plans. Additionally, my class is much smaller – seven students as opposed to 17 – and they seem slightly more motivated and animated.
But there is still room for improvement … and I’m referring here to myself, as a teacher. My centre tries to promote as much student talking-time as possible, ideally aiming for as high as 80% student conversation … ideally. In reality, the teacher has to face a number of obstacles. I’ll save those for another, more general blog, as I want to dedicate this post to extra work, and tips to get the students talking.
First up, I need to make the students take notes (Vietnamese are not in the habit of doing this, as my centre manager explained). Instead, they will often just take a photo of the board. Secondly, once the student has sat down, they generally will not move until it is time to leave … three hours later.
I will now insist that they take out and use notebooks, the rationale being that the active process of writing will help them remember the words or phrases much better than taking a photo (which they may never look at) or relying on their memory.
Likewise, I will strongly recommend that instead of sitting and talking with the same person all class, they get up and move around, practice with different people (“But teacher, I am tired, I am lazy,” – I have actually heard these from people half my age ).
Now, without further ado, some extra work.
In Lesson Two, I started off with some compound nouns, based upon shopping. This was a way to introduce new vocabulary as well as filling time while late students arrive.
My manager suggested that this could be developed into a speaking exercise. For example, using the compound nouns ‘bulk shopping’, ‘window shopping’, ‘binge shopping’, ‘impulse shopping’ and ‘dumpster diving’, make a presentation with questions:
Have you ever made an impulse purchase ?
How often do you go window shopping ?
Do you ever buy in bulk ?
Is dumpster diving popular in Viet Nam ?
Then, what are the pros and cons of:
Basically, get the students speaking as much as possible. To help them develop longer, more complex sentences, I’ve given them sheets of discourse markers, and each week we focus on one type and select three words. For example, last week was ‘addition’; instead of saying ‘and’, they could use ‘additionally’, ‘furthermore’, or ‘moreover.’
This gets practiced when they have to link two basic sentences:
I like coffee. I like tea.
They could be linked by a simple ‘and’, but try using new discourse markers.
Sentences can be built up by using adjectives, adverbs, discourse markers, and by the use of clauses. This will entail relative pronouns … but that is for another lesson. The students have two months and hopefully they will see improvements after every lesson.