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Monday 8:15 class

English conversation for advanced students

We'll have in person lessons Mondays at 8:15. Here is our topic for our next class and a brief reminder of some of the things we learned.

4 December - we'll work with Destination (see notes from 20 November for homework)

27 November - Time for another TED Talk. This time it's about how to have better conversations. Click here to watch radio presenter Celeste Headlee's presentation.

Here are some of the words and expressions that cropped up in today's class:

  • pay attention to

  • be close to someone (not near)

  • genuine

  • urgent

  • I don't have the need to do it (or I don't need to do it)

  • deteriorated/ worsened

  • headphones (not earplugs)

20 November - Review of units 5 & 6 in Destination (pages 40-41). For homework I'd like you to finish page 41 and do page 44.

Today we spent a lot of time practicing word transformation and talked about words such as inexplicable, introductory, impossibly and discovery. Can you remember any of the tips I gave you?

In terms of pronunciation, we practiced myths, pyramids, physics and Egypt.

13 November - This time we'll read about Britney Spears. There are two articles to read - both are fairly short but with some tricky vocabulary. If you prefer to just read one article, that is completely fine as the content is quite similar. The first article is a review of her recently published memoir, the second article is an opinion piece by Emma Brockes.

6 November - Destination again. Try to finish up to page 38 before the lesson.

Vocabulary we learned included appointing a person (to a senior role), modest, niece, antibiotics, is also known as and don't blow your own trumpet.

30 October - I'd like you to read about misophonia! It's a new word for me - I'd never heard of it until I read the article. I think you will understand the gist of the piece but there are some quite unusual expressions (in this vein) and lots of advanced vocabulary - apoplexy, respite and debilitating. Good luck with it!

Words we learned included snort & sniff, grinding teeth, the difference between embarrassed and ashamed and the volume (how loud something is). In terms of pronunciation, I'd like you to practice the following words - bear (not beer), anxiety, phenomenon and vein.

23 October - we'll continue with Destination - try to do pages 35 and 36 before the lesson.

Again - lots of good questions in the lesson, including the difference between an engine and a motor. We talked about spelling (little, bitter, batted, hated and liked) and paying attention to the little words - reasons for/ causes of.

Please finish page 38 in Destination for homework.

No lessons on 9 and 16 October - autumn holidays.

2 October - we'll do another conversation class this week. I've chosen an article from The Guardian's 'A New Start after 60' series. This one is about a former IT worker who now makes flutes. One reason I chose it is for a spot of revision as it contains the word 'bar' in the same context as last week's Eurostar article. Here's the link where you can find it.

We discussed lots of great words today including drawbacks, setbacks, taken aback (surprised), trade unions, rehearsal, retirement at 65 (not with 65), starting out, (sometimes a sentence just needs an extra word) aptitude (or the lack of it), resurrect and resuscitate - which can both be translated as 'wieder beleben' but are used in quite different ways in English.

25 September - We'll talk about the Eurostar and Brexit. Read this article before the lesson.

This turned out to be a really good lesson - lots of interesting questions. The article was difficult because of the many long sentences, the slightly advanced language (all but... , bar + noun) and the false friends (eventually). We learned the difference between a watchdog and a guard dog, discovered that brakes can be applied, found out that Swansea is in Wales and that a Labour peer is a person in the House of Lords representing the Labour Party. Next week, I'll give you an easier article to read.

18 September - There were some great questions in today's lesson. We talked about the following:

  • by or until (can you send me the report by Friday)

  • will not or won't

  • probably will or will probably?

  • he will have got the letter by now

  • sentences with while

  • present simple for timetables

  • ferries set sail even though they don't have any sails whatsoever (it's also fine to say depart if you prefer that)

  • coach holidays (tip google the phrase 'coach trip' and look at the pictures)

  • a coach is an 'it', not a 'he' (cars and ships can be referred to as 'she' but that's another story)

11 September - no lesson

4 September - Homework from 28 August is to do pages 32 & 33 in Destination. I'd also like you to read this article about getting front row seats at a concert. As you're reading pay attention to the word or words used to describe the people at the concert (are they visitors, the audience, the crowd, concert-goers or fans?)

28 August - hopefully you should have finished up to page 27 in Destination. In the lesson we will talk about any questions you have. Try to learn some of the new vocabulary from 21 August (see below).

21 August - it's the start of term. I'd like you to read this article on good posture and back pain. Before reading the article I'd like you to write a few sentences on what you know about the topic. Then read the article and compare with your ideas.

Vocabulary from today's lesson included - arduous, the in-laws, activate your core, chair, stool, I ask myself, an initiation of sorts and question (v).

10 July - it's the final week of term! We'll play some games.

3 July - in today's lesson we talked about verbs followed by 'ing forms such as enjoy, avoid, recommend, suggest and imagine. I suggested that you write up your notes at the end of each lesson as this will help you to identify the important things you have learned.

Preparation - we'll be working with Destination. Try to finish up to page 27 before the lesson.

26 June - I'd like you to read this article about letter writing before the lesson. We talked about vicious circles, so much information, being close to someone (rather than near) and the importance of commas. Vocabulary included suffocate, account (story) obligated or obliged. Pronunciation - devastating, bowel, 2010 and promise.

19 June - no lesson this week

12 June - We looked at pages 22 - 23 in Destination. Even though this is B2 level the grammar is very complex at times. Don't worry if you don't understand it all. Homework - Destination pages 23 - 27.

5 Jun - Quite a long yet interesting article about how a round the world trip nearly ruined someone's life. We learned vocabulary about courage (muster, pluck up), the word 'beyond', and I provided a few pronunciation tips - claustrophobia, Suzanne and traumatised.

29 May - No lesson - Pfingsten

22 May - grammar - used to and be used to. Vocabulary included opposition and opponents, bring forward (vorverschieben) and taking to something like a duck to water.

  • I used to live in England. (used to )

  • I didn't use to like tomatoes. (used to )

  • I am not used to driving on the right. (be used to + 'ing)

  • I've got used to driving on the right. (get used to + 'ing)

For the next lesson with Destination do page 22 F,G and H.

15 May - We talked about fashion for the over fifties. Vocab included suit (Anzug) and wearing clothes that suit you. Other words and expressions were bold and baggy, too loud, too much and 'mutton dressed as lamb'. I learned the German 'sie trägt kurze Haar' meaning 'she has short hair'. It's a good reminder that languages conceptualise things differently. I also learned anstössig - which can mean offensive, indecent, scandalous or lewd; perhaps my suggestion that it means 'inappropriate' wasn't quite strong enough.

Next week we'll do pages 28-29 in Destination B2.

8 May - Destination pages 216 - 217. We talked about words ending in -ance and -ence, the difference between unmotivated and demotivated, the tricky expression 'for want of' and hanging out with your friends. Which other words or expressions can you remember?

For next week please listen to this weekend podcast from The Guardian. It's over 30 minutes in total but we'll just be talking about the final part of it (from 21.21 minutes). It's about fashion for the over fifties. Alternatively, you can read the article here.

19 April - Wednesday this week, instead of Monday. It's the last day of term so we'll play games.

10 April - no lesson. Don't worry though, you can still do some reading. Click here for some ideas.

3 April - Destination unit 26. Lots of vocab today - switch off, unwind, relax, bone idle, lazy, apart from, in favour of and much more.

27 March - time for some art. Read this intriguing article about the current exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. The vocabulary we discussed included reprieve (not reprise), keen for, facade, to invest time and energy, indebted and eingebildet!

20 March - Destination unit 26.

13 March - let's talk about giving feedback. Read this short article about this topic. In the lesson we discussed vocabulary about comedy (offensive, appropriate, rude) various idioms (don't point the finger, put your hands up, below the belt) and considered the best pieces of advice we have received. (Not advices!)

6 March - We'll start on unit 26 Destination. Homework is to do page 210. We talked about the difference between yawn and yearn, leave it (not 'let it') and practised indirect speech.

29 Feb - conversation time. Can you choose a topic from the Wednesday class. Homework from 6 February is to finish unit 25 in Destination. In the lesson we practised verbs + 'ing verbs, words such as imagine, deny, recommend and suggest and I reminded you that you'd better is short for you had better. Enjoy the holidays!

You opted for the topic about the collapse of furniture retailer, Made.

6 Feb - Destination - we'll continue with unit 25 reporting. Can you revise some of the words that we discussed in last week's lesson such as values, seriousness, voluntary work, gravitas, sweeping generalisations, naive, surveillance, composure and nurture. Can you remember any others? PS a piece of feedback that I forgot to mention was to say 'Lily' or 'the other speaker' rather than 'the Lily'.

30 January - usual time of 8:15am. Can you watch this video featuring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin discussing female friendship. In the lesson we can practice some reported speech! She said that... She suggested... Remember to write sentences including the words recommend, suggest, avoid, imagine and mind as homework from 23 January.

23 January - we'll meet at 3.15pm and will work from Destination. Please look at pages 200 - 201 before the lesson. Try to write a list of some ending in 'el or 'le in English. Which list is longer?

16 January - no lesson

9 January - back to conversation again. This time the benefits of walking in the rain and walking backwards. Read the article here. Vocabulary we discussed in the lesson included germs, ions, walking barefoot, broken glass,

19 December - the final lesson this term - let's play some games.

12 December - Destination, unit 24. This week we learned 3 different ways to pronounce recount and did some word transformation with the word 'appreciate'. What else can you remember.

5 December - Can you read this article about Terrence Higgins, the first named person to die of an AIDS-related illness in the UK

7 November - This time we'll talk films. Please read this review of a film I'd like to watch.

31 October - Destination - try to finish unit 23 for homework. We'll make a start with unit 24 in the lesson.

24 October - We'll talk about men's groups after reading this article.

3 October - Destination. Homework is to spend at least 20 minutes sitting and letting your mind wander. Also, think about the words we discussed in today's lesson (26 September) such as sew, breath, contemplate, pigeon and crochet. Check Skell for usage of self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence. You can also check for the same words spelled without the hyphen.

You might also want to read some of my recent blog posts about grammar, learning tips, useful resources and more.

Do you want to choose the topic we talk about next? As usual, you can find your own articles or videos to discuss. Alternatively you can choose one of the articles I've found by looking at the list of possible topics here or here.

Homework and previous topics

26 September - A scientific study about the benefits of sitting still. Here it is.

19 September - Destination unit 23 Verbal complements. I'll also be testing you on some of the recent vocabulary and some of the things we discussed in class ( he wanted us to... rather than he wanted that, watching a series rather than looking a serie.)

5 September - This week's topic is something simple and relevant for all of us about raising teens. Here it is.

29 August - Destination

22 August - Let's start with this fascinating article by photographer Daniel Meadows about a picture he took in Salford in the 1970s. Although I tell people that I used to live in Manchester, technically I lived in the bordering city of Salford. I'll be able to tell you more about Salford in the lesson, including how to pronounce it!

11 July - read an English language book over the summer holidays. Try to do a bit of work in Destination - up to page 185.

4 July - It's the final conversation class of the semester so we'll play games! This time we'll meet on a Wednesday 6th at 2pm.

27 June - another interesting lesson and it's great to see how much progress we are making with Destination. Try to finish unit 22 over the summer holidays.

20 June - we had a great lesson today with unit 21 in Destination. Try to finish the unit before next week's lesson. Here's a quick summary of just some of the things we talked about:

  • what the letter s can signify

  • the difference between few and a few

  • Irregular plurals such as sheep, fruit, fish and deer

  • uncountable words such as furniture and countable examples such as chair, table and wardrobe

13 June - continue reading articles in The Guardian. Maybe you could read another one by Peter White, such as this one about a Christmas that he can remember. Learn some of the vocabulary we discussed in conversation class such as the idiom, the sky to fall in, and words such as rigour, rigorous, furthest, bloke and climax. We also talked about the pronunciation of Worcestershire Sauce so that is something for you to practice at home.

30 May - Let's talk about the dangers of being on the Scottish mountains. Read this article before class.

23 May - Destination page 172 and 173. At our next grammar lesson (13 June) we'll look at pages 168-169. In answer to one of the queries in today's lesson, we use the word 'approval' in relation to new medicines in the UK.

16 May - Let's look at an article about a current social issue, fuel poverty. Read this article before the lesson. For homework continue working on mindmaps to help you learn vocabulary. You can also write 10 sentences using the new vocabulary you've learned.

9 May - we looked at Destination Unit 20 - Power and social issues. For homework, do a mind map of the vocabulary we discussed in the lesson.

2 May - looking forward to seeing you all again. This time I'd like you to watch a short TED Talk about the human voice presented by Julian Treasure. It's entitled 'How to Speak so that People want to Listen'. Click here to watch it.

4 April - this time it's a suggestion from Ruth, an interesting article about our sensory relationship to food, or lack of it. The article is very long but there is no need to read all of it.

23 March - slight change in the schedule and we'll meet on Wednesday next week. Time for a language lesson. I'd like you to read this article in The Guardian from a subeditor about grammar and some common mistakes that journalists make when writing. More interesting than the article are the comments that follow it. They should keep you busy for quite a while.

28 February - over the Christmas and new year period there were many articles in The Guardian about big changes that writers had made in their lives. One of the articles I enjoyed reading the most was this one, written by a journalist who had spent a lot of his life in prison. He talked about why he didn't mind being in prison much of the time and also about the reason that he changed his mind. It's quite an intriguing read with sophisticated vocabulary. I think it will make a good topic for discussion.

31 January - What a great lesson we had today, I learned such a lot about English and German and as usual, you asked me some really interesting questions. I've added some of the vocabulary that we discussed to our Google doc so that you can print it out, put it on your fridge and learn it. Next week we'll continue with Destination and we'll be back to conversation at the end of the month. For the next conversation class, I'd like you to do some listening. Please listen to a recent episode from Desert Island Discs, a popular radio show where guests are hypothetically cast away to a desert island and have to choose the music that they would take with them. As well as explaining their choices, they also reminisce about their lives. It's a good opportunity to listen to spoken English. Pay attention to how often the castaway, Richard Osman, uses the word 'would' when talking about his childhood. See if you can also notice the difference in the regional accent of the presenter, Lauren Laverne, and her guest. By the way, both Lauren and Richard speaks rather quickly. If it is too fast for you, try playing it back at a speed of 0.8. Also, it's about 30 minutes long but you don't need to listen to it all.

10 January - let's discuss the topic of money and kids. Read this article from The Guardian and think about your experiences with money as you were growing up.

3 January - health and science this week! We'll be talking about wine, coffee and chocolate and whether they are healthy or not. Please read this article from The Guardian before the lesson.

13 December - well done to you all for today's lesson. It was really good to see the progress that you are all making! Next week it is the final lesson before Christmas so that means it's a games morning. We'll play word games to help you improve your English. Have a great week!

29 November - this week we're going to talk about how to practice effectively. Watch the following TEDEd talk before the lesson.

15 November - time for something easier than last time. I'd like you to read this article about making your home more beautiful. Some of the author's tips are quite practical, others probably less so but overall I enjoyed reading the article and it has inspired me to buy some more pictures and hang them lower on the walls! I hope you enjoy it too!

1 November - at the last lesson we were talking about the times when people came up with their best ideas. Is it when they are young and unconstrained by convention or when they are older and wiser? That reminded me of this fairly long interview with clinical psychologist, Richard Bentall. Please read it before the lesson, paying attention to the medical terminology used.

4 October - a slightly funny article this time, or at least I thought so. Read up about the plans to change an iconic image and how the original designer reacts. Pay attention to the language he uses and consider whether he prepared his comments in advance.

20 September - a spot of revision. We did this topic last semester but I'd like to do it again as we have a new student. Let's talk about small talk, answering emails, dealing with phone calls and similar. Watch this video from the British Council before the lesson - it's at a fairly basic level but should give you some ideas about how you can keep a conversation going. If we get through the topic quickly, we can move on to some grammar. with the Destination book.

6 September - time for something musical! Read this obituary of The Rolling Stones' drummer, Charlie Watts. We'll talk about rock and roll, jazz, working with Mick Jagger and much more.

Monday 23rd August - let's start by talking about the Olympics. Watch this video about high jumper, Dick Fosbury who used his engineering know-how to develop a revolutionary and successful approach to the high jump. We'll talk about sport, the Olympics and the benefits of doing things differently.

To check what we read last semester, click here.

Kreis 6 English offers conversation classes for intermediate and advanced students in Zurich and online.

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