IELTS, Mindset: Complex sentences

30th April 2020

The correct sequence of tenses for complex sentences

Today we’ll concentrate on building longer, more interesting sentences, altering sentence structure, and applying discourse markers and relative pronouns in order to be proficient in meeting the IELTS requirements.

Let’s kick off with some basic sentences, each containing one fact.

Park So Yeon ( 박소연) - MyDramaList

Park So-yeon is from South Korea. She performed under the name ‘Soyeon’. She was in the band T-ara from 2009 – 2017.

One possibility is to make a longer, main sentence (an independent clause) then break it up with some extra but not essential information (a dependent clause):

Park So-yeon, who performed under the stage name Soyeon, was a member of the South Korean group T-ara from 2009 until they broke up in 2017.

Here, I employed a relative pronoun (‘who’) to introduce the dependent clause, and altered the sentence slightly, adding some extra words.

Another, more advanced, option, which I recommend experimenting with as it will impress the examiner, is to start with a dependent clause. Allow me to demonstrate:

Performing under the name Soyeon, the South Korean singer Park So-yeon achieved fame as a member of the band T-ara, with whom she played from 2009 until 2017.

You will, no doubt, notice that the grammar may have to change, that is altering the verb form, by which I mean transforming the simple past into present continuous.

Now, you can guess what’s coming, it’s your turn to practise. I realise that not all of you are so enamoured of T-ara and South Korean women as I am, therefore, for that express purpose, I have selected three examples and you merely have to choose the person that most interests or appeals to you:

Daniel Craig thừa nhận sẽ thủ vai điệp viên 007 lần thứ năm - Phim ...

Daniel Craig is an actor. He is most famous for playing James Bond. His wife is Rachel Weisz. She is also an actor.

Thandie Newton Net Worth | Black actresses, Beautiful celebrities ...

Thandie Newton is an English actress. She has three children. She studied at Cambridge University. She was in Mission Impossible II with Tom Cruise.

Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen to visit US, angering Beijing - Nikkei Asian ...

Tsai Ing-wen is president of Taiwan. The official name of the country is the Republic of China. She has been president since 20th May 2016. She was the first woman to be president of ROC Taiwan.

Next stage is to introduce some information and then offer up an alternate view, that is to say, a critical response which can be achieved by the use of appropriate discourse markers.

Let’s focus on the most recent Noble prize laureate ( Literature):

Handke in 2006

Peter Handke is an Austrian writer. His first novel was published in 1966. The English title is ‘The Hornets’. Handke was critical of the Noble Prize. In 2014, he called for the award to be abolished. Many people were critical of Hendke winning because he had supported the Serbia cause in the breakup of Yugoslavia.

There is a lot of information here, some purely factual (dates, nationality) some regarding the reaction to the award.

The Austrian writer Peter Hendke, whose first novel ‘The Hornets’ was published in 1966, was awarded the Noble laureate in 2019 despite his previous comments calling for the abolition of the award. Furthermore, there was a lot of criticism surrounded the announcement due to Hendke’s support of the Serbians during the Yugoslavian war.

Alternately:

Although there was a lot of negative critical reaction, Peter Hendke, an Austrian writer whose first book was published in 1966, received the Noble Prize for Literature in 2019 in spite of the fact that he had previously called for the award to be abolished. The writer, whose first book was titled ‘The Hornets’, had additionally expressed views supportive of Serbia which caused a backlash once the winner of the award was announced.

Your Turn:

Either write about somebody famous, somebody you admire or write something about yourself, making sure to include something positive and negative.

Next time, we can work on introductions, how to respond to IELTS questions by leading into the answer as opposed to simply answering directly.

T-ARA Comeback Cancelled! - Soyeon And Boram Leave The Group But ...

Business English: Time management

29th April 2020

These Business English blogs are aimed at upper-intermediate level students, and will include everyday phrases, expressions and idioms relating to various aspects of conducting business and workplace conversations.

Note down any phrasal verbs or expressions that you don’t know. A great way to improve your English is to add such language elements to your everyday speech, rather than just using text-book, standard English.

Business meetings

Checklist for an Effective Sales Meeting | SCORE

One view about how to plan a meeting:

Are all meetings cost-effective ? As the seconds tick away, you’ll start to appreciate what a terrible waste of time – and money– most meetings are. 

So what can you do? 

Firstly, make sure everyone arrives on time. No excuses. If five people at a meeting are sitting around waiting for a sixth person to turn up, just think how much money you are throwing away.

Secondly, get most of the work done before the meeting: send round detailed agendas, telling them what they need to do to prepare for the meeting. That means the meeting itself can focus on problem-solving and decision-making rather than wasting time explaining.

Thirdly, stick to the agenda. Don’t let anyone hijack the meeting by chatting about something irrelevant. Don’t let them take over yours. 

Fourthly, set a time limit and stick to it. There’s nothing worse than a meeting that goes round and round in circles with no decisions ever being finalised. A time limit can be a great way to focus everyone’s minds on the purpose of the meeting and the need to achieve something concrete … and then to go back to work and start implementing the decisions. 

Of course small talk has its place, but that place is not a meeting. 

This is one point of view – do you agree with it ? 

To what extent does small talk have a place in meetings ? 

Talk about your experiences. Does it vary from person to person and culture to culture ?

Boardroom Meeting Successful Asian Chinese Business People - Stock ...

This is a contrary (opposite) opinion; how do you evaluate this viewpoint ?

If you’re serious about making your meetings more effective, you need to give the participants plenty of time to ask questions, take the conversation in new directions, say things which may or may not be relevant, and above all, get to know each other. Of course, you need to make sure things don’t get out of control, but that means finding a sensible balance between small talk and getting down to business. 

A company which does not tolerate small talk may get things done more quickly, but that doesn’t mean it’ll do things the best way, making full use of the skills and ideas of its employees … and it may well find that it loses its best employees and its customers just as quickly. 

Which view do you agree with, and can you explain your reasons. Alternately, you may wish to select elements from both examples and make your own plan.

Asking about current projects: 

Complete using present continuous (verb + ing)

  1. What ___ you ___ ( work) on at the moment ?  // What are you working on at the moment ?
  2. How ___ it ___ (go) with your new assistant ? 
  3. ___ you ___ (make) any progress with your big project ? 

Asking about recent events: (use past tense)

  1. How ___ your presentation ___ (go) last week? 
  2. How ___ (be) your business trip ? When ___ you ___ (get) back? 

Asking about news: (uses past perfect)

  1. ___ you ___ (hear) back from that potential big customer yet? 
  2. What ___ you ___ (be) up to in your department? 

Asking about plans and predictions : future tense

  1. When do you think they ___ finally ___ (sign) the contract? 
  2. ___ you ___ (go) to the conference this weekend? 

Now match the questions with some answers from below. Try to practise with a friend or colleague

a) A little, but it’s very slow. We’re still tied up with the financing side of things, so it doesn’t feel like we’re getting anywhere. 

b) Absolutely! I’m giving a presentation! I’m really nervous about it, actually.

c) Ah, nothing, really. Nothing ever changes! Busy as usual. 

d) It was useful, but really exhausting. I just got back on Tuesday, so I’m still trying to get back on top of my inbox. But I’m glad I went. I made a few potentially useful contacts. 

e) Next week, hopefully, but they’re still not happy with our service charges, so it might still all fall through. 

f) Not bad, actually. He’s on a steep learning curve, but he’s trying hard, and he’s got a lot of potential. 

g) Really well. We had a good turn-out, and some people said nice things about it. Whether anyone actually buys the product as a result is another question!

h) We’re about to start working on the new marketing plan. It’s not due to be launched for another two months, but it takes a really long time to get ready.

i) We’ve been really busy preparing for next week’s quality inspection. We’re nearly ready, but there are still a few big jobs to finish. 

j) Yes, they emailed us this morning with an order for 500 units, so it looks like it’s all going ahead. Very exciting. 

Lastly, the final point on our agenda – what do you think of this list ?

It indicates what British people say and what they REALLY mean.

British business language translation - Tom McCallum - Medium

Adult Class, Level 3: Generally speaking …

28th APRIL 2020

This is a review blog, a chance to take stock of recently acquired language, and to practise using it. First, a shout out to some of my students … I have a young lady who looks remarkably like the magnificent French actress, and a personal favourite, Ms Julie Delpy:

Julie Delpy - From Baby to 47 Year Old - YouTube

My lovely student is very interested in learning British culture, notably the art of drinking tea:

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As opposed to the rather uncouth, uncultivated drinking habits of Vietnamese men:

Ugly Delicious' Season 2 Review: David Chang Grows Up and Gets ...

Is this true of ALL Vietnamese men … of course not, hell no !

I also have another lovely young lady, but sometimes she can look a little scary, like the ghost from the Japanese film, ‘The Ring’:

The Murdered Japanese Girl That Inspired "The Ring," One Of The ...

This is a very strange film so all Japanese films are weird. Is that a fair statement ? No way, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Ahhhh, so unfair, my student is so lovely, in fact, ALL Vietnamese women are sweet, gentle, caring and so demure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WS41_-Xjclk

OK, so maybe not ALL Vietnamese women are little princesses !

Our last lesson was based on stereotypes – and a link to a previous blog can be found here:https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2019/08/16/adult-class-level-3-class-1-stereotypes/

From the book, we came across:

Generally speaking // in general // tend to // usually

Adverbs of probability:

definitely // probably // possibly // unlikely // definitely not !

Adverbs of time:

always // frequently // usually // sometimes // occasionally // rarely // never

From the blog, we studied agreeing:

To what extent do you agree ?

I agree / I agree 100% / I agree to an extent / There may be some truth there /

I disagree / I totally disagree / That is very unfair / That is offensive /

That’s just a stereotype / I know for a fact that isn’t true !

Now combine to form some stunning, well-constructed responses.

Example: Apple computers never break

Generally speaking, I would tend to agree as I have had a Mac Book for several years without any serious problems, whereas with my Windows laptop, I frequently have issues such as waiting for updates or very slow downloads.

Exercise – How do you react to these contentions:

Men should earn more money than women for the same job.

Everything from Korea is top quality.

All tourists from USA are obese and unhealthy.

All British people are exceptionally polite, helpful and utterly charming.

You will ONLY get a good job IF you speak English.

All Vietnamese students are lazy, disrespectful and only want to sleep.

JokyLand.com | SLEEPING STUDENTS
A typical Vietnamese student … to what extent do you agree ?

And finally, Thay Paul is always friendly, kind and helpful with Vietnamese students.

IELTS: Writing practice. Yoga, health & well-being

25th April 2020

Asian girl does yoga on gym carpet. lotus pose. | Premium Photo

I know that yoga and exercise are popular activities among my students, so let’s use this topic for some sentence building.

IELTS candidates will be expected to speak for two minutes on a given subject, then engage in a dialogue with the examiner.

The candidate will feel more confident with an arsenal of phrases, expressions, idioms, discourse markers, and an impressive array of ‘low-frequency vocabulary‘ (big words).

The candidate, additionally, has to employ complex sentences and well-structured responses in order to boost their score.

As with music, practice is the key:

High Quality Stock Photos of "monk tai chi"

I set a test for one of my IELTS students, Ms Nguyen. As a warm up, I asked her to tell me about a place she wanted to visit, so this was similar to an IELTS speaking test, Part 1. Following that, I asked her to prepare a Part 2-style answer about a hobby which prompted her to relate her experiences regarding yoga.

To start, we went over some phrases and sentence structure. Ms Nguyen was recovering from a slight injury: how could she phrase this …

I’m not in any pain, but I’m only about 70% recovered.

I’m not in any pain, although I’m only about 70% recovered.

Although I’m not in any pain, I’m only about 70% recovered.

Although I’m only about 70% recovered, I’m not in any pain.

Here, we replaced ‘but’ with ‘although’, and then altered the word order.

Which sentence do you prefer ?

Exercise: Rearrange this basic sentence (sample answers at end of blog)

I’ve been to South Korea but I haven’t been to Japan

Part 1 exercise: tell me about a place you’d like to visit.

{Low-frequency words & expressions: extraordinary, outstanding nature, notwithstanding}

Japan:

16 Japan experiences every traveler should enjoy | CNN Travel

I like the culture, by which I mean sophisticated cuisine, outstanding nature and kind-hearted people. Good points notwithstanding, I am not so enamoured on the working culture which seems to be highly stressful especially compared to the norm in Vietnam.

Although I really like Japan, I am currently undecided as to whether to study there or not. On the plus side, the subject, sustainability, fits in with their life ethos. Additionally, the fee is lower for international students and, furthermore we will be supported by extra classes. Despite these benefits, I have some serious concerns over issues such as sexism as well as the constant pressure which leads to a high rate of suicide.

POINTS TO CONSIDER:

Do you see how Ms Nguyen gave three examples in her opening sentence, and used the adjective + noun structure (‘outstanding nature’ etc).

Use of adverbs (‘highly’, ‘currently’).

Low-frequency words (‘enamoured of’, ‘sophisticated’, ‘notwithstanding’).

Discourse markers (‘despite’, ‘although’, ‘additionally’).

Moreover, see how Ms Nguyen utilises complex sentences. Keep these in mind as you read her second exercise:

Part 2 exercise: tell me about a hobby or activity you enjoy.

{I gave Ms Nguyen some time to prepare, and allowed her to use a thesaurus to look up better words. Having said that, there are still some little grammar mistakes; can you spot any ? Don’t worry, a few mistakes are to be expected.}

Yoga

Sống tích cực mùa Covid- 19: Sao Việt tập gym, yoga, chăm sóc da ...

Every yoga student has individual needs and abilities therefore the instructor will suggest a method suitable to our needs and requirements. This including advise to prevent us from harming ourselves or pushing our bodies too far.

To be specific, on Tuesday we shall concentrate on stretching our shoulders, neck and spine . We shall do this by adopting positions designed to facilitate this objective. Initially, I felt some soreness because it was an unnatural position. However, there are various levels and when one has mastered the first, they can progress, move on to the next.

If I have a great, productive class, I feel relaxed, calm and refreshed. Some people may overemphasis the benefits of yoga but for me, it isn’t that complicated. I find it a pleasing way to release stress from work and to keep myself active.

Otherwise, I tend to just stay at home socialising with my family, then watching my favourite documentary shows.

Yoga, despite being seen as a very restful and gentle past time, can actually be very dangerous including concussions, injuries and broken bones. Having said that, I know my limits and keep within those parameters.

In conclusion, yoga is my favourite activity as it not only helps my body to reduce stress and keep healthy, but also it is a fun way to occupy my free time and bond socially with my colleagues.

SAMPLE ANSWERS:

Although I’ve been to South Korea, I’ve yet to visit Japan.

I, so far, haven’t been to Japan, although I once travelled to South Korea.

I visited South Korea although I haven’t been to Japan.

Ms Nguyen’s mistake: in the first paragraph, she uses include in the continuous form, not the present simple (“This including advise,” instead of ‘this includes advise.’)

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Cultural differences

24th April 2020

IELTS Examination Jakarta

This blog is aimed at IELTS level students, or anyone who wants to learn how to speak or write in longer sentences.

This involves the use of complex sentences and discourse markers. Furthermore, a wide vocabulary is necessary to prevent repetition and to maintain interest as well as, of equal importantance, to make you feel that you are able to express what you really want to say.

One must not forget that when speaking, intonation, stress and body language will all help to make you sound more like a native-speaker.

To recap, a complex sentence uses different clauses (part of a whole sentence) to make a longer, more interesting sentence.

(I will write a blog just about complex sentences, with examples and exercises, in the near future)

Example: Thay Paul plays guitar. Thay Paul is from London. London is the capital of the UK

Thay Paul, who plays guitar, is from London which is the capital of the UK.

The bold text is the main clause, the plain text is a supporting clause. Which and Who are relative pronouns (Paul = who, & which links London to “capital of the UK”). Therefore, we have three pieces of information in one complex sentence.

Discourse markers link ideas together. Look out for ‘although’, ‘therefore’, ‘furthermore’ which should all be part of your everyday vocabulary.

For vocabulary, you can look at your work; could you replace a basic word with a better one ? Make use of a thesaurus, and note down any new words you encounter.

Now, moving on, today’s theme is cultural differences. This doesn’t have to mean travelling to a different country or continent, but even in the same country. For example, one of my neighbours told me about a business trip she took. Ms Phuong is from south Vietnam, but she had to travel to Ha Noi in the north. This is her account of the journey:

BIS Hanoi Students Ambassadors Raise Focus on Sustainable Issues ...

I asked Ms Phuong to tell me what happened.

What to do in Hanoi for 5 days – Hanoi guide for first-time ...
Hanoi old quarter

Last week I went to Hanoi and it was partly business, partly pleasure.

I wanted her to elaborate:

I went to Hanoi, last week, and it was partly business, partly pleasure. Although my expectations were low it turned out to be a greatly rewarding experience.

That was a great introduction, please continue:

I have mixed feelings

I was curious, so I allowed Ms Phuong ten minutes to gather her thoughts, write notes, then tell me:

I have a love-hate relationship, as I believe many south Vietnamese do, with Hanoi. On one hand, I really enjoy the cuisine, the flowers and the colonial architecture. Good points notwithstanding, I have one serious issue with the city and that is the work culture.

Being born in the south, I am used to long working hours, up to ten hours a day and, if need be, working on Saturday mornings. Southern workers tend to be highly focused on work and are always seeking ways to improve their performance. In contrast, workers based in the north seem to lack such a strong work ethic. The working day is limited (is capped) to eight-hours a day and, in my experience, this is a common practice. Furthermore, staff frequently go out for refreshment or leave early.

I noticed this while I was living in Hanoi, and when I return to the city on business. Fortunately, my staff comply with a strict office working policy; I encounter this issue when dealing with suppliers. I have to waste time waiting which makes me feel frustrated as there is nothing I can do to expedite matters.

NOW – what did you make of Ms Phuong’s answer ? I’m speaking in terms of the English, not necessarily the point she makes about Ha Noi.

(make of = think about).

How many complex sentences did you notice ? How about discourse markers ? Were there any words you didn’t know ?

Ho Chi Minh City - Wikitravel
Work meetings are more about therapy than productivity, study ...

Oh, no … we are not finished, not by a long chalk (not by a long way). Now it’s your turn. Write a short piece based on cultural differences or, if you prefer, write a rebuttal to Ms Phuong’s experience.

Guidance:

A short introduction

First point with reasons to support your view.

A contrary (opposite) view.

Short conclusion.

For those studying for IELTS, read it to yourself, and use a stopwatch … can you speak for two minutes ?

Say “Good bye” với 10 cách thú vị và ý nghĩa - EIV Education

IELTS: Vocabulary activities

24 April 2020

Quiz Night – Call My Bluff

BBC Two - Call My Bluff

This is based on an old British TV show. A team (ideally of three) will be given a word – in the first example, it will be ‘jeopardy’. Each member reads out a definition; depending on the ability of the students, they may be able to embellish, and use intonation to add colour to their presentations. They may also use examples such as ‘Jeopardy, if you have seen a Vietnam war film, you will remember seeing a small, open-top green car. They were used all over Vietnam. These are called, jeopardies. One day, I hope to drive a jeopardy.’

The teacher can adapt this principle to review recent vocabulary.

Team A

Jeopardy

1 In danger, danger of losing or failing

2 A small car used by the army

3 A bird in Australia that can speak fluent English

Contestants

1 People who order food in a restaurant but run away without paying

2 Large vehicles for carrying heavy goods 

3 People who enter a competition, or take part.

Maximum

1 A lady with more than six children

2 The most amount of something

3 A type of sports outfit used in cycling

In the form of

1 Looking like something, in the shape of something

2 Something made of glass or metal

3 Paperwork needed to get a US visa

Team B

Reduce

1 To do something again

2 To make less of something

3 To use glass, plastic, paper again and again

Actual

1 Real, a fact

2 A person who works in theatre or cinema

3 A person who works with a company’s money and finances

Smart

1 A painting of a happy person

2 Very clever or intelligent

3 A small cake made in the UK

except the last one

1 Only the last one

2 Everyone but not the last one

3 To have to start a game over again

Internet Survey

This activity is designed to get the students talking to each other, and encouraging them to elicit more information from their classmates. 

7 tips to prepare Students & Graduates for an online video ...

The questions could be copied onto a sheet, printed out then distributed to the class, so they can walk around and talk to as many people as feasible.

Before the activity, board some key phrases to help:

What did you buy online, which website did you use, how long did it take to arrive ?

Were you happy with the purchase ? Why or why not ?

What websites would you recommend for university work or borrowing books ?

Can you trust Wikipedia …?

Question // Name // Answer

How often do you go online ?
Do you use the internet for work and/or study ? How ?
What social media sites do you use regularly ? How often ?
Have you ever bought or sold anything online ?
What is good about the internet ? What is the worst ?

Desert survival

Lost in the Desert | From the sand dunes of Mui Ne, Vietnam ...

I learnt this at International House, London, as part of the CELTA course, and I use it frequently.

The concept is to introduce phrases and expressions by which students can exchange opinions. Students are placed in small groups and have to decide upon five items. After, they must discuss with other groups their choices. If there are any differences in opinion, the teams must negotiate until the whole class agrees on five items.

First, go through the items, then drill the negotiation phrases.

You need to select five items below to help you survive in the desert.

Factors to consider:

food, drink, heat, cold, injuries, attracting attention, wildlife

First aid kit // matches // rope // knife // compass 

cigarettes // blankets // barrel of water

flare gun // torch

magnifying glass // Beatles CD // make-up set // dried food 

English grammar study book

Angry Birds game // air rifle // sun block

Negotiation language

I see your point but … that’s interesting, however …

I’m not sure about that //  I can’t go along with that 

I don’t feel that is entirely right // I fail to see the merits of …

I respectfully disagree // I find your contention somewhat flawed

Your case (argument) is not without value, but …

Have you fully considered the implications of your decision ?

Taiwan: Listening special

12th April 2020

Hong Kong Journalists Under Pressure Over Taiwan WHO Reporting

Taiwan has featured in many online news clips recently. Here are some which caught my eye (made me notice) and which, furthermore, will be useful for students to practice listening to ‘real-world’ English speaking; the rhythms, stresses and intonations of everyday speech.

As with other blogs, I will drop in certain phrases or expressions, which I will highlight. In addition, there will be a lot of new vocabulary in the listening clips. Watch them in short sections, writing down any new words or phrases.

Feel free to ask me to explain anything you can’t understand

Additionally, I’d like to share a blog from my online friend, Silk Chatters, who is based in the USA, and writes extremely interesting articles. One such article, a blog which caught my eye, is about being critical when listening to news reports. Silk ends her blog with:

Question what you read and hear, and avoid a steady diet of one type of information, it’s as bad for the mind as eating only one type of food is for the body.

Here is the link to Silk’s blog: https://silkcordsblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/02/this-is-why-you-should-avoid-conspiracy-theories/

I know she will be delighted if you read and ‘like’ her blog.

In the UK, we pride ourselves on having a free press – newspapers, TV and other media are able to write what they want without fear of persecution (there are exceptions, naturally, but that is outside the scope of this blog).

However, newspaper readers generally know the political views of the paper they’re reading. In the USA I believe I’m right in saying that many TV news stations report the news according to their political opinions … or of those who own the station. For example, Fox News is seen as Republican (right-wing), while CNN is viewed as Democrat (left-wing).

Readers in the USA, please correct me if I am mistaken.

Therefore, when you see or read news, remember to ask questions and try to check the facts for yourself. A sophisticated readership will necessitate more sophisticated journalism … ideally … and what can be more ideal than the search for truth ?

Flag of the Republic of China - Wikipedia

The Corona Virus, COVID 19, continues to spread, and there are opposing theories as to its origins. The consensus is that it started in Wuhan Province, Mainland China. Taiwan, which is so close, has relatively few cases (at time of writing, 388 cases with 6 deaths compared to the official figures for China 82, 052 and 3, 339).

Relations between China and Taiwan are contentious (if you don’t know the history, the internet will help to fill you in – give you information)

Taiwan, whose capital is Taipei, “Shall be a democratic republic of the people, to be governed by the people and for the people.” Tsai Ing-wen is the President, and she features in our first clip: A YouTuber called Potter King met Tsai Ing-wen, and angered China by addressing her as ‘President’.

LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNrOxobXNx4

The President is shown here in a BBC interview, discusses relations between China and Taiwan:

China warned to show respect: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZcG9jy0TWQ

We now move on to a video clip that went viral. Dr Bruce Aylward was asked about Taiwan being admitted to the WHO (World Health Organisation). This is what happened:

Senior WHO dodges question: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlCYFh8U2xM&t=24s

The British newspaper ‘The Guardian’ covered the story here: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/30/senior-who-adviser-appears-to-dodge-question-on-taiwans-covid-19-response

‘The Guardian’ is seen as a liberal, left-leaning paper, and is probably more for the educated reader than mass circulation. As such, the language will be challenging but rewarding for English-language students.

In the interests of fairness, I will show the WHO reaction to the above interview, which was somewhat awkward or embarrassing, to say the least.

WHO response: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFRHB-wP9SU&t=13s

Finally, the most important part: what do you think ?

Where do you get your information ?

Can you trust your sources ?

Can you think of any reasons why news may be altered, slanted, taken out of context or in any way distorted ?

IELTS (Mindset): Why do you like the film ?

6th April 2020

A typical IELTS question could be:

Talk about a film you like. Why do you like it, and what is the story ?

The 15 Most Moving Film Endings in Cinema History | Taste Of ...
Cinema Paradiso 1988 Italy

This blog will serve as a model to IELTS students to help with their speaking and writing skills.

IELTS has lots of ‘open’ questions, to enable the student to speak freely on subjects about which they feel comfortable.

In my last online lesson, I mentioned a film that I though a student would like, as she had chosen to speak about Scarlett Johannsson.

Loạt vai diễn làm nên tên tuổi Scarlett Johansson - VnExpress Giải Trí

The film in question is ‘Lost In Translation‘. Here is a little piece about the film.

Lost in Translation (2003)
An iconic shot from the opening of the film

NOTE:

Short introduction – do not answer the question immediately

Organised structure – one point per paragraph

A change of attitude – a critical view

Short conclusion

LOOK OUR FOR

Low-frequency words

Complex sentences – combining two or more bits of information in the same sentence.

Discourse markers – words to link ideas together

Adverbs and less common adjectives

So, without further ado, the question:

Talk about a film you like. Why do you like it, and what is the story ?

Lost In Translation - Tiếng thở dài của những tâm hồn lạc lối

INTRODUCTION – talk about cinema or films in general DON’T immediately talk about your favourite film.

Watching films and going to the cinema is one of my passions, so choosing just one film is going to be terribly difficult, not to say impossible. However, if I have to select one film, it would be ‘Lost in Translation’, with Scarlett Johannsson.

First paragraph. Information about the film and the main charcters.

The film, directed by Sophia Coppola, daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, was made in 2003, and takes place in Tokyo. A young, newly-married girl, named Charlotte, is alone in her hotel because her husband is constantly out working. Staying at the same hotel is a middle-aged, world-weary American actor, Bob Harris, in Japan to make a commercial for Japanese whiskey.

Second paragraph. The plot – what happens … and why.

Both characters appear to be suffering from culture shock and seem afraid to leave the security of the hotel. For example, despite seeming to be impressed by all the neon and energy of the city, Bob spends his night in the hotel bar with other tourists, while Charlotte reads and listens to music in her room.

Third paragraph. Develop the plot.

They meet in the hotel where age difference notwithstanding, they seem to get on extremely well, extremely quickly. Furthermore, they give each other energy and courage to venture outside. We learn that Bob is less than happy in his current life, while it becomes apparent that Charlotte is doubting her own marriage. At one point it look like they will get together. However, Bob decides to go back to the USA, leaving Charlotte, but not before they share an embrace on the street, in which Bob whispers something in her ear. We, that is the audience, do not get to hear what he said; we have to speculate.

Fourth paragraph: Something negative for balance.

Some people could be irritated that the final words are a mystery, other could be severely disappointed by this love story that never quite happens. The two protagonists return to their lives which will, possible, be unfulfilling. This negativity is like a black cloud on an otherwise bright, sunny day.

Conclusion: A short summary.

‘Lost in Translation’ is described as a romantic-comedy-drama. The characters are totally believable and likeable, while, technically, the cinematography is stunning. Furthermore, in my view, it is a charming, heart-warming, and life-affirming movie.

IELTS 4 – 5 (Mindset). Implementing precautions

25th March 2020

Life goes on as normal … or does it, indeed can it, should it ? The Scottish MP and First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, addressed the issue in a recent press conference. In her view, we all have to change our lifestyles and accept that there is a pandemic sweeping the globe.

Image result for nicola sturgeon

The measures, including closing down restaurants and cinemas, are intended to stop the spread of Covid 19. The virus can easily spread in big cities such as New York, Tokyo and London.

Different countries have imposed different restrictions, and I’d like to focus on Vietnam where, as of 14.00 today, the 25th March, there are 134 reported cases but no fatalities. We shall examine what steps the Vietnamese government has taken, after a quick revision.

Remember, IELTS students have to be able to use these low-frequency words in order to pass the exam.

isolate // implement // significant // rely //

precautions // quarantine // regulations

Students are given three minutes to write three sentences using three of these words.

Now, once these words roll off the tongues of the students, we can move on; actions taken by the Vietnamese authorities.

Image result for vietnam coronavirus

Latest Updates from the Vietnam- Briefing.com website

What do you think about these measures ?

To what extent do you agree with them and why ?

As a resident of Sai Gon, do these measures make you feel more secure, or more scared ?

  • As of March 25, Vietnam’s Ministry of Health confirmed a total of 134 cases of COVID-19. The latest cases were all linked to international flights. 19 cases were announced on March 22 itself – the biggest single day total.
  • Ho Chi Minh City authorities have ordered the closure of all restaurants (with a capacity of 30 people or more), gyms, beauty salons, barbershops from March 24 to March 31.
  • Vietnam has stopped exporting rice from March 24 to ensure national food security.
  • All international airlines have been asked to stop transporting overseas Vietnamese to Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City from March 25 to March 31 to prevent overcrowding at quarantine facilities.
  • Vietnam has suspended the entry of all foreigners from March 22 to limit the spread of COVID-19. The measure will not apply to diplomats and officials as per Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. The Prime Minister also ordered the suspension of all international flights, though it’s unclear exactly when this will take effect.
  • The Health Ministry has advised all arrivals from March 1 to self-isolate at home if they have not been quarantined in a centralized zone in the past 14 days.
  • Vietnam and Cambodia have closed their borders from March 20 to further prevent the spread of the epidemic. The measures do not apply to official and diplomatic passports. 
  • The Vietnamese government is expected to unveil a credit package of US$10.8 billion and a fiscal package of US$1.3 billion in March for businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Read more here: https://www.vietnam-briefing.com/news/vietnam-business-operations-and-the-coronavirus-updates.html/

Image result for vietnam coronavirus

The government also made an educational video. You can watch it here: https://observers.france24.com/en/20200306-government-clip-inspires-coronavirus-safety-dance-challenge-vietnam

Image result for vietnam coronavirus

Adult Speaking Class, level 2. Describing clothes.

19th March 2020

Describing clothes

Patterns

a plain T-shirt

a striped dress
a striped shirt
a checked jacket / coat
a flowery skirt
a spotted tie
baggy trousers
tight jeans
high-heeled shoes
lace blouse
designer sneakers
tracksuit

Material

leather // lace // fur // cotton // silk // nylon // denim // wool // velvet // polyester // plastic

Vocabulary:

awful // beautiful // cool // cute // designer // elegant // gaudy // old-fashioned // scruffy // smart // glamorous

Find examples of these styles. What do you think of these clothes ?

Adjectives: when we use more than one before a noun, they are in this order:

opinion / size / age / colour / origin / pattern / material + noun

EXAMPLES:

Image result for blue japanese silk dress

a great long new blue Japanese plain silk dress

Image result for plastic flower shoes

some stupid big old multi-coloured American flowery plastic shoes

Put these in the correct order:

leather / at / miniskirt / Look / fabulous / that

Look at that fabulous leather miniskirt.

wearing / an / blouse / elegant / white / She’s / lacy

shoes / high-heeled / bought / ridiculous / She

tight / socks / I hate / nylon

skirt / wearing / velvet / a / She’s / spotty

stripy / green / like / your / tracksuit / I / baggy

Discussion: What clothes do you like wearing. Where do you wear them ? Why do you like them ?