Just Start! Teacher Notes

Lesson 1a: Yes/No Questions (1)
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Student Preparation Overview
Prepare Feedback Train

In this lesson, students encountered a few natural and meaningful ways to provide alternative expressions to simple "Yes" or "No" responses in the first part of the speaking test.

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Overview 4

Every lesson in this course follows the same format. At first the students watch and listen to a person who grew up speaking English as a first language and do a gap fill exercise. This is followed by a short explanation or commentary based on the speaker's response. The explanation video is supported by some extra notes.

Review and Extra Notes from Lesson
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Description 5

The extra notes contain a hint about how the students can further prepare for their live class. As a result, an excess of examples or a set of verbose explanations is counter-productive as they distract the student from the objective of the lesson: to prepare for class.

Extra Notes

Notice how the speaker used a different vocabulary item instead of a simple Yes.

For example:
A: Do you enjoy playing sports?
B: Absolutely !

Prepare for class:

Do you enjoy cooking?
Do you like driving?
Do you enjoy reading?

*Your teacher might ask you these questions in class. Prepare your answer beforehand.

Extra Notes

Many students give the answer Of course! A more friendly way is to answer:

For sure yeah!

For example:
A: Do you enjoy going to the beach?
B: For sure yeah!

Prepare for class:

Do you like travelling?
Do you like watching TV?
Do you like visiting amusement parks?

*Your teacher might ask you these questions in class. Prepare your answer beforehand.

Extra Notes

When you are really sure that you want to answer Yes and you want to show the interviewer how sure you are, you can answer with:

Without a doubt yes

For example:
A: Do you like soccer?
B: Without a doubt yes!

Prepare for class:

Write down some yes/no questions that you could answer with this vocabulary phrase.

*Your teacher might ask your classmates to ask you these questions in class so you can practice. Prepare your answer beforehand.

Rep #1: Yes/No Questions
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A: Do you enjoy going to the beach?
B: _____________
A: Why not?
B: I think I would have to say the reason is that I...well I really don't like sand very much.

Choose the most appropriate expression from the list below.
A. Absolutely!
B. For sure yeah!
C. No I can't say that I do.
Principle 6

Language acquisition is aided when receptive activities (as in a multiple choice question type) that have a focus on meaning, form or pronunciation (or a combination of one or more) precede productive activities (such as the task students see at the checkpoint).

Exercise 7

Work through Lesson 1a: Yes/No Questions (1) and Lesson 1b: Yes/No Questions (2) by yourself. Read the explanations under the student task and form an expectation about some of the questions they might have during the first stage of your live class.

Checkpoint #2: Yes/No Questions
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Do you enjoy cooking? [Why/Why not?]
Do you like driving? [Why/Why not?]
Do you enjoy reading? [Why/Why not?]
Do you like travelling? [Why/Why not?]
Do you like watching TV? [Why/Why not?]
Do you like visiting amusement parks? [Why/Why not?]

Your teacher may select a checkpoint for you to work through at the beginning of your live class during the preparation feedback stage.

The teacher is well prepared for her class as she has looked at Darby Laai's feedback page.

Both teacher and student expect to ask and answer questions at the preparation feedback stage.

The teacher tries to draw out more context, which is expected because the question that Darby Laai asks will have no one correct answer. Darby Laai needs to focus on the meaning.

The teacher's intention is to make Darby Laai think about the contextual meaning rather than just accept a simple surface explanation. Darby Laai should listen.

Darby Laai does well to keep his mouth shut and not share his comment because Miss De Strauogh is going to get mad and when that happens, she talks to everyone else except Darby Laai for months on end.

[Miss De Strauogh enters the cafe exactly on time and has a seat with her shoulders square and back perfectly straight in front of Darby Laai. She places her tablet computer, super healthy fruit juice and notepad on the coffee table in nothing less than circumspect fashion]

Miss De Strauogh: Hi there Darby Laai. Let's go through some of the checkpoints that you have selected before coming here. How are you by the way?
Darby Laai: Doing alright. You are right on time as usual.
Miss De Strauogh: I see from your feedback page that you would like to ask some questions about Checkpoint #2, which is related to yes or no questions. What do you want to ask?
Darby Laai: Right so I was wondering about some different ways that I have heard to express yes. When is it ok to use "of course" as an answer? I mean when can I use it and sound natural? Because it seems to me that everyone just uses it all the time.
Miss De Strauogh: Where did you hear it the last time?
Darby Laai: I guess it would have been at a restaurant.
Miss De Strauogh: And who said it?
Darby Laai: The waitress.
Miss De Strauogh: You mean the server, don't you?
Darby Laai: Aren't they the same?
Miss De Strauogh: Let's try it again ok?. What was the situation in which you heard "of course"?
Darby Laai: Well the lady who brought our food and our bill came by our table after we paid...and we weren't ready to leave yet so we asked her for a glass of water and she said "Of course". I mean she could have said "Certainly" or something different.
Miss De Strauogh: Silly Darby Laai. What exactly was your question to her? Was it like "Hey sweetheart get me a glass of water will you?" or something like that?
Darby Laai: I don't...uh no. It was more like "Would you kindly bring us a final glass of water while we finish up our discussion?"
Miss De Strauogh: Do you think she would have used the same response to the other question?
Darby Laai: No I think she would have smacked me if I had asked her the other way.
Miss De Strauogh: Ok, let's think about it. Do you think she was in a rush to get away from the table? Like was she at the end of her shift?
Darby Laai: Not at all.
Miss De Strauogh: And was the restaurant busy?
Darby Laai: Bare as bones.
Miss De Strauogh: Now think more about the situation. Had you already paid up the bill?
Darby Laai: In fact I asked her while she was dropping off our change.
Miss De Strauogh: And did you feel comfortable asking her? I mean you just paid up right? You didn't feel like you were being rushed to leave?
Darby Laai: Well a little now that you mention it. Like I was almost asking permission to stay and take up a table while not paying for anything.
Miss De Strauogh: Ahhh...so she replied the way that she did. Now think about during the meal. Did you at any time during the meal order anything?
Darby Laai: We did.
Miss De Strauogh: And how did you order?
Darby Laai: Well, she responded with "Certainly" and "Sure" and "Absolutely".
Miss De Strauogh: Did you ask her in the same way as you did after you paid the bill?
Darby Laai: Well...no I suppose I didn't come to think of it.
Miss De Strauogh: Was it more expected of her to bring you a glass of water? I mean you were drinking water and eating right?
Darby Laai: Right. Yeah I suppose we had expected that.
Miss De Strauogh: Ok, so now you have two experiences that you can put together and form a meaning in your mind.
Darby Laai: Sorry can I just write this down?
Miss De Strauogh: Of course.

[Darby Laai looks down and realizes that Miss De Strauogh is looking all around the coffee shop at all of the other people watching her teach and silently revel in this seemingly brief moment of triumph. He knows better than to write anything down and let her correct him in public]

Darby Laai: I think I am good. I do have one comment though.
Miss De Strauogh: Let's discuss it later.

[Darby Laai simply nods]

Terminology 7

The student feedback page is simply their results page. In other words, when a student completes and submits a lesson, their answers are collected and organized on this page.

Format 8

The notes on the left hand side of the interaction between the student and teacher are intended to provide both teacher and student with a starting point for developing an expectation of some of the things that might happen during the first stage of the live class.

Attention 9

The teacher in the class has identified that the student has a question related to Checkpoint #2. She found this information on the student feedback page. At the end of every module, students fill out and submit a form containing a prioritized list of reps, checkpoints and assessments they would like to use during the class.

I have found that this is a good starting point for many classes. Especially if it is the first class with your student.

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Assessment #3: Yes/No Questions (2)
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Format 10

The penultimate preparation task for students is to select an assessment task that they would prefer to practice with during the training session. The task display is introduced by a short message to students. The purpose of this message is threefold: 1) to make a concrete link between the contents of the lesson and that of the assessement 2) to encourage the student to think forward to the training session 3) to identify types of behavior and habits which do not promote the primary function of the training session

Maintain your focus (Message to students)
In this lesson, you watched parts of three interviews with sample questions from Part 1 of the speaking module. Did you notice that the extra notes after each short interview contained a guide for how to further prepare for your training session?

There are 6 sets of assessment tasks below. Choose one that you like and read the extra notes carefully in preparation for your training session. Your teacher may or may not select this task, but if he or she does, you will be ready. Remember, it is better to be prepared for an opportunity that doesn't happen than to be unprepared for one that arises.

It is important for you as a student to maintain your focus during the training session. In my experience, many students do not progress because they get distracted by thoughts and ideas which are not related to the task. Focus on the objective of each assessment task (to receive green flag feedback from your teacher), and you will be on your way to success.

Format 11

The assessment tasks reflect the genre of the IELTS speaking module. In Part 1, the interviewer asks a set of questions related to the candidate's personal information and knowledge. As this is the first live class, it is helpful to start with tasks which develop language skills in Part 1.

Please note that at least one of the questions in each task appeared in both the extra notes and at the checkpoint. The objective for students is to speak with the intention of receiving feedback from you based on the training session feedback comments at the end of the lesson.

#3i. Cooking (Part 1)

  • Do you like cooking? [Why/Why not?]
  • How often do you cook? [Why/Why not?]
  • How important is it for a person to learn how to cook? [Why?]
  • Do you ever cook for other people? [Why/Why not?]
Extra Notes (Assessment #3i. Cooking)
Yellow Flag
English Teacher: Do you like cooking?
Darby Laai: I do.
English Teacher: Why?
Darby Laai: I think I would have to say the reason is that I find it relaxing.
English Teacher: How often do you cook?
Darby Laai: Hmmm...let's see...I suppose about 4 or 5 times a week.
English Teacher: Why?
Darby Laai: I guess it's because I just don't have time to cook more than that. You see I often cook a big meal and then have the leftovers the next day.
English Teacher: How important is it for a person to learn how to cook?
Darby Laai: Extremely important. Especially vegetarian food.
English Teacher: Oh? Why?
Darby Laai: I think I would have to say that it is because eating out can be really expensive. Especially for these fancy vegetarian girls these days...And there comes a time when everybody is short of money...kind of like all my artist friends...so cooking is a good skill to have.
English Teacher: Uh huh...Ah hem...Well then ok...Do you ever cook for other people?
Darby Laai: From time to time yeah.
English Teacher: Why?
Darby Laai: I suppose it's because it's just fun to have people over and enjoy a meal together. Ummm...are there any other ways to say "have people over"? I heard it on TV and I was wondering about that.
English Teacher: Good question....but better to write that down and prepare that question for either the beginning of the live class or for after the training session.
Darby Laai: Ummm...ok. Fair enough I'll do that.
English Teacher: Let's move on to the feedback comment...You used an alternative expression for the yes/no question, which was natural and meaningful. Put more stress on the word "do" in your first answer.

Yellow Flag
Asking questions about different ways to say things during assessment task takes away from your focus on the feedback comment. If you know that you want to say it during the task, prepare beforehand.

Notes 12

There are a million different ways to get a student to become aware of something. I have chosen to isolate an example of a habit or form of behavior that seems to hinder many from maintaining focus. The reasoning is that if we can show a student our opinions about what we expect and don't expect from them before we meet them, it can only improve the overall result of the live class.

#3ii. Driving (Part 1)

  • Is driving a car popular in your country? [Why/Why not?]
  • Do you like driving? [Why/Why not?]
  • When was the last time you drove a car? [Why?]
  • Do you prefer driving or being a passenger in the car? [Why?]
Extra Notes (Assessment #3ii. Driving)
Red Flag
English Teacher: Is driving a car popular in your country?
Darby Laai: It certainly is in some parts...however many people in Vancouver prefer to walk, ride their bicycle or take the bus. Oh, is it ok to answer a question like this?
English Teacher: Just stay focused on the task and we will discuss it later. Why?
Darby Laai: You sound like the Straw Lady.
English Teacher: Who?
Darby Laai: Nevermind... I think it is due to the fact that everything is close by in the downtown area, so you don't really need a car you see.
English Teacher: Do you like driving a car?
Darby Laai: Oh let's see....ummm...Absolutely.
English Teacher: Why?
Darby Laai: I think I would have to say the reason is that I really like the car that I drive. I drive a Ferrari you see.
English Teacher: But you drive a...ok...I see. Well then. When was the last time you drove a car?
Darby Laai: I think it must have been last week.
English Teacher: Why?
Darby Laai: Well...I guess it's because I needed to take a trip out to West Vancouver, which is across the bridge and too far to take the bus and too expensive to take a taxi.
English Teacher: Do you prefer driving or being a passenger in the car?
Darby Laai: I like both actually...but if I had to choose one I think I would have to say driving.
English Teacher: Why?
Darby Laai: It's just that I don't like it when other people tell me what to do or where to go when they have no idea what they are talking about.
English Teacher: Thank you. You used a good expression (Absolutely) to answer the yes/no question. It was meaningful. However, focus on fluency here. For example, when you say "Ummm...let's see" before "Absolutely", it sounds unnatural. However, I really liked how you answered the first question with "It certainly is in some parts." Hold on to that and see if you can use it in another task later on in this training session or later on in the course.

Red Flag
Asking your teacher if it ok to use a certain expression in the middle of an assessment task diverts your focus from the feedback comment. If you know you want to use it during the task, ask your teacher about it during the preparation feedback stage of the live class.

#3iii. Reading (Part 1)

  • Do you like reading? [Why/Why not?]
  • What kind of books did you read when you were younger? [Why?]
  • How often do you read books nowadays? [Why?]
  • Do you think reading a good for learning a language? [Why/Why not?]
Extra Notes (Assessment #3iii. Reading)
Yellow Flag
English Teacher: Do you like reading?
Darby Laai: Without a doubt, yes. Excuse me teacher, how do I pronounce "doubt"?
English Teacher: I think it was understandable. Let's practice it after the training session. Why?
Darby Laai: Ummm...because I have a great thirst for knowledge and I think that there is a great deal of knowledge hidden in books.
English Teacher: What kind of books did you read when you were younger?
Darby Laai: All kinds of books. Mystery novels, spy novels, books about sports, books about travelling, books about science. I was and I am still eclectic when it comes to books.
English Teacher: Why?
Darby Laai: I'm not sure. I think it is due to the fact that my father was an educated man and could speak several languages...And in addition to that, he encouraged me to go to the library and read whenever I had time.
English Teacher: How often do you read books nowadays?
Darby Laai: I read every day.
English Teacher: Why?
Darby Laai: I think I would have to say the reason is that I don't have cable TV at home...so there is nothing else to do but read. Well I guess you could be like some of my friends and have 357 channels on all the time and still feel the need to PVR something. You know what I'm saying?
English Teacher: Uh huh...Ah hem...ok then..Well...reading is a good habit to have.
Darby Laai: I think so!
English Teacher: Do you think reading is good for learning a language?
Darby Laai: It's good as long as you read something that you are interested in. What I mean to say is that if you read something like the newspaper in English or in another language and you don't usually read the newspaper in your own language...well, it can be boring. And when it is boring, it is not easy to learn vocabulary or grammar from it.
English Teacher: Thank you. You used an alternative for yes/no that was natural and meaningful. So it means that you did pronounce "doubt" the way that you were supposed to. But let me make a note and we'll practice it after the training session. Can you think of a different way to say "because"?

Yellow Flag
Asking your teacher to help with pronunciation during the task can divert your focus from the feedback comment. Use the time at the beginning of the live class to do this.

#3iv. Travelling (Part 1)

  • Do you like travelling? [Why/Why not?]
  • When was the last time you went travelling? [Where?]
  • Is it common for young people to travel in your country?
  • Do you prefer travelling alone or with a friend? [Why?]
Extra Notes (Assessment #3iv. Travelling)
Red Flag
English Teacher: Do you like travelling?
Darby Laai: For sure yeah.
English Teacher: Why?
Darby Laai: I think it is due to the fact that I have adventure in my blood. Can you understand this? Did I use the expression correctly?
English Teacher: Let's write it down and discuss it after the task.
Darby Laai: Ok thank you.
English Teacher: When was the last time you went travelling?
Darby Laai: Hmmm...let me see. I think it had to have been about 3 years ago.
English Teacher: Why?
Darby Laai: Why? Well, I suppose it is because I had to go and visit someone in another country. But that was a long time ago you see.
English Teacher: I see. Is it common for young people to travel in your country?
Darby Laai: Well, I am not so young anymore...but yeah I would say so.
English Teacher: Why?
Darby Laai: I think it is due to the fact that the parents of many young people recognize that life experience is really important for the development of their children...so they encourage young people to go travelling before getting a job or entering university. That's what I think anyway.
English Teacher: Ok...last question in this task. Do you prefer travelling alone or with a friend?
Darby Laai: Alone.
English Teacher: Why?
Darby Laai: I suppose it's because I just don't have that many friends who are not married with kids anymore. They are all finished. In fact, I don't even get to see them anymore nevermind go travelling with them. Besides, it's just more fun when you are on your own. There is nobody there to tell you what to do. Except for...anyway forget about it.
English Teacher: Umm...ok...Uh huh...Ah hem...Thank you. You used an alternative expression for the yes/no question that was natural and meaningful. In fact, you used one that I really liked. You said "yeah I would say so". This sounded natural in your answer.

Red Flag
Asking your teacher if it ok to use a certain expression in the middle of an assessment task diverts your focus from the feedback comment. If you know you want to use it during the task, ask your teacher about it during the preparation feedback stage of the live class.

#3v. Television (Part 1)

  • Is watching television popular among young people in your country? [Why/Why not?]
  • Do you like watching television? [Why/Why not?]
  • Do you like to watch television commercials? [Why/Why not?]
  • What kind of televisions shows do you like/dislike? [Why?]
Extra Notes (Assessment #3v. Television)
Green Flag
English Teacher: Is watching television popular among young people in your country?
Darby Laai: Enormously popular.
English Teacher: Why?
Darby Laai: I have no idea! I suppose it is because every family in my country seems to have more than one TV, so kids grow up with it.
English Teacher: Do you like watching television?
Darby Laai: No I don't.
English Teacher: Why not?
Darby Laai: Because I don't have cable at home.
English Teacher: Do you like to watch television commercials?
Darby Laai: I do actually.
English Teacher: Why?
Darby Laai: A couple of reasons. First, I have a lot of friends who are in the advertising business. They like to talk about different sales techniques and I like to listen. As a result, television commercials provide me with a conversation topic. And in addition to that, television commercials are becoming really advanced because of the technology. There are some really cool computer graphics that you can see on them these days.
English Teacher: What kind of television shows do you dislike?
Darby Laai: I really don't like watching TV shows about training dogs. Not because they are not interesting or contain useful information. I just find the people on them really...well it's kind of like they speak to people who don't have dogs with a certain benevolent condescension.
English Teacher: Umm...ok...Here is your feedback comment: If you only use simple responses to yes/no questions, you will lose the opportunity to show a range of vocabulary to the interviewer. Let's have a look at my notes here...when I asked you whether or not you watch television, you said "No I don't. Would you like to try that part of the task again?
Darby Laai: Sure.
English Teacher: What do you plan to use this time?
Darby Laai: Ask me the question and please give me some feedback afterwards if that is ok?
English Teacher: Ok...do you like watching television?
Darby Laai: I don't unfortunately.
English Teacher: That sounds like a better alternative. Make sure you place the main stress on "don't".

Green Flag
Answering all questions as they come to you without interrupting helps you maintain focus on the feedback comment. It also helps your teacher pay attention to your assessment feedback and provide further help after the task.

#3vi. Amusement Parks (Part 1)

  • Do you like visiting amusement parks? [Why/Why not?]
  • What do you like/dislike about amusement parks? [Why?]
  • Are amusement parks popular in your country? [Why/Why not?]
  • When was the last time you went to an amusement park? [Why?]
Extra Notes (Assessment #3vi. Amusement Parks)
Green Flag
English Teacher: Do you like visiting amusement parks?
Darby Laai: Not as much as I used to.
English Teacher: Why not?
Darby Laai: I suppose the reason is that...well, there is just one major amusement park in Vancouver and it has become really really expensive. I just can't afford to go on the rides anymore!
English Teacher: What do you dislike about amusement parks?
Darby Laai: I don't really like the crowds.
English Teacher: Why not?
Darby Laai: I'm not sure. I guess I just feel annoyed in large crowds where I can't move freely about.
English Teacher: Are amusement parks popular in your country?
Darby Laai: For sure yeah.
English Teacher: Why?
Darby Laai: I guess I would have to say the reason is that children like to go on rides and eat candy and win prizes playing games and parents have to find something to do to entertain them...so there are a lot of families that go to amusement parks.
English Teacher: When was the last time you went to an amusement park?
Darby Laai: I think it must have been about 7 years ago.
English Teacher: Why?
Darby Laai: The reason is simple. I got suckered into spending money on a girl.
English Teacher: Ummm...well then...ok thank you. Earlier in the task, you used an alternative for yes/no that was natural and meaningful. I thought your answer to the first question..."Not as much as I used to" was really good. How often did you go in the past?
Darby Laai: About twice a summer when I was a kid.
English Teacher: And nowadays?
Darby Laai: I didn't go at all last summer.
English Teacher: Right. So you said "Not as much as I used to". The meaning is accurate.

Green Flag
Answering all questions as they come to you without going off topic helps you maintain focus on the feedback comment. It also helps your teacher keep appropriate time.

Training Session Feedback Comments
Prepare Feedback Train
Format 13

Training session feedback comments are presented at the end of each lesson. These are the product of the teacher's opinion. The validity of a training session depends on how these are designed and sequenced. Students are encouraged to go for green flags. This gives them not only a definite goal to shoot for, but it also facilitates the formation a plan to put into action prior to attending the live class.

Green Flag

You used an alternative expression to "Yes" or "No" that was natural and meaningful.

Yellow Flag

You used alternative expressions for "Yes" and "No", but you might consider focusing on picking the right expression to match your meaning before moving forward.

Red Flag

If you only use simple responses to yes/no questions, you will lose the opportunity to show a range of vocabulary to the interviewer.

Live Class 14

The live class model presented on this course follows the A Mark 30 Live class model. It is simple 3 stage model with enough structure built in to give students and teachers an expectation of what will happen during class. I have found that this knowledge of shared expectation greatly reduces anxiety and gives assurance that the given course of action will yield favorable results.

If you choose to use a different format for your live class, it is important to let your student know in order to help them prepare more effectively before meeting you for class.

A Mark 30 Live Class

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