Aiton English

Learning Languages for Life

Theme = Protests (France)

Below are two texts, one of them written, the other a video:

Text 1

The gapfill (20 gaps) below is from an الجزيرة Al-Jazeera article Fill in the gaps with your linguistic choice range, then click on the link to see the author’s linguistic choice and finish reading the article.

Why are the ‘yellow vests’ protesting in France?

The wave of protests 1)______ through France is not a rejection of green policies. It’s a 2)_____ against the 1 percent.

 For the past three weeks, France has been experiencing one of the most significant socialmobilisations in its recent history, which laid bare the country’ssocial 3)____, anti-elite sentiment,growing inequalities and thirst for social justice.

It all started on November 17 when tens of thousands of people 4)____ to the streets across the country to protest against rising fuel prices. 

The protesters, dubbed “Les gilets jaunes” (the yellow vests) after the high-visibility jackets they adopted as a symbol of their complaint, blocked roundabouts, burned effigies and clashed with the police. They were angry about the almost 20 percent increase in the price of diesel since the start of the year, as well as the planned fuel tax 5)____ President Emmanuel Macron had recently announced.

While Macron said the tax was necessary to “protect the environment” and “combat climate change”, protesters claimed the decision was yet another sign that the “arrogant” and “privileged” president is out of touch with regular folk 6)_______ to make 7)____ meet.

The intensity of the protests quickly forced the government to make a U-turn and first suspend and later permanently shelve its plans for fuel tax increases. However, the protest movement was not only about fuel prices. It 8)_________ wider anger and frustration against the political establishment in general and President Macron in particular. As a result, the government’s decision to abandon fuel tax hikes 9)______ to calm tensions.

The “yellow vests” want further concessions from the government. Their demands include a redistribution of wealth as well as the increase of salaries, pensions, social security payments and the minimum wage. Some say they will not 10)_________ for anything less than the president’s resignation. 

So how did day-to-day frustrations about fuel prices and “green taxes” transform into a nation-wide protest movement attracting hundreds of thousands of people in a matter of weeks?

It all comes down to Macron’s apparent failure to connect with the people, understand their concerns and steer France away from destructive neoliberal policies.

 Misleading the electorate

40-year-old Macron was elected last year on pledges to change the face of French politics, create more jobs and improve lives. 

On the eve of the 2017 presidential election, French voters were tired of career politicians. They wanted a different kind of leader, someone who can understand their 11)_______ social and economic concerns and deliver real, practical solutions.

For the past four decades, French people have been worried about the 12)_____ of social protections in their country. Since Francois Mitterrand’s socialist government controversially decided to 13)________ austerity policies in 1983, successive governments have taken slow but consistent steps to dismantle the French welfare state.

All this gradually accentuated the economic concerns of the French middle and working classes and led them to be more and more suspicious of all mainstream politicians on the right and the left. They came to believe that the political elite protects the interests of the wealthy and does not care about the 14)________ of ordinary citizens.

Successfully diagnosing the public’s frustration with the political class, Macron worked hard to differentiate himself from the establishment in Paris and act as the representative of a “new world order” throughout his election campaign.

He had the youth, the energy, the positive message. He was the leader of a brand-new political party, 15)__________ neither with the right nor the left. He appeared to be carrying no political baggage. Many viewed him as a possible savior and did not hesitate to give him their vote.

Moreover, he was 16)_______ against National Front leader Marine Le Pen. This also made him look like a “progressive saviour”. A significant portion of the French electorate was ready to vote for any moderate candidate who could stop the far right from taking power. So, they voted for Macron, even though many of them did not support his agenda completely or have faith in his ability to respond to their concerns.

As a result, Macron was elected by a 17)______. However, it didn’t take long for his supporters to realise that his “reformist”, “new world” image was nothing more than an illusion.

Macron’s failure to 18)_______ about change should not have surprised anyone. Even though he seemed “young and new”, he was part of the establishment.

He had served as the minister of the economy, industry and digital affairs from 2014 to 2016 under Francois Hollande – he was in charge of implementing the former president’s 19)_______ Labour Law reform, which caused 20)_______ protests across the country. Before that he was a Rothschild investment banker.

Text 2

The article has what could be described as a left-wing view. The video content might be described as right-wing. Watch the video twice. The first time see which ideas in the video are the same as in the article and which are different. The second time: make a note of linguistic choice.

“the straw that broke the camel’s__”


Speaking GRammar: “Wish + II” to show you’re sad about the present

Do the interactive speaking video below. When the video pauses, choose the correct answer:


IELTS Writing part 2 help (general and academic)

IELTS writing part 2 is an essay, the difference between academic and general is the questions in academic are  “more difficult”. But it is a small difference. There are 5 or so main type of essays. In order to learn how to get an IELTS  7/8/9 in the writing, I recommend you

a – read the PDFs linked below

b – watch videos by me on my youtube channel


Once you have read the PDFs and watched the video you will know about

  • the types of essays and the differences
  • the structure expected
  • the four criteria the examiner uses to give you a mark
  • how to avoid typical mistakes (in grammar, vocab, orgnaisation and answering the question)
  • how to maximise your mark


A – ESSAY TYPES ( you can read in any order, but I recommend following the order given)

firstly read about … topic sentences

then the types…

Advantages and Disadvantages

Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?

Discuss both sides and give your opinion

Two Questions Essay

To what extent do you agree?

B – Watch the videos here (in any order)



Soft skills (intermediate business)


For each of the following soft skills decide

a – why it is important

b – if you are happy with your level

c – if you need to improve it. If you choose ‘c’ think about how you can improve it


communication / teamwork / adaptability / problem solving / critical observation / conflict resolution / leadership





read the article below and see if you agree with “why you need it” / ” why employers look for it” / “how to gain it”

(adapted from

What are soft skills?

Some examples of soft skills include analytical thinking, verbal and written communication, and leadership.

Research from the Society for Human Resource Management found that employers actually care more about soft skills than they do technical abilities like reading comprehension and mathematics.

“Soft skills are key to building relationships, gaining visibility, and creating more opportunities for advancement,” says Kathy Robinson, founder of Boston career-coaching firm TurningPoint.


Soft skills for your career

1. Communication

Why you need it: Both written and verbal communication skills  improve your chances of building relationships with co-workers.

Why employers look for it: Workers are more productive when they know how to communicate with their peers, says Robinson.

How to gain it: One way to improve your communication and presentation skills is to join Toastmasters, a national organization that offers public speaking workshops.

2. Teamwork

Why you need it:  Success is the result of many people working toward a common goal.

Why employers look for it: Employers look to team players to help build a friendly office culture, which helps retain employees and, in turn attracts top talent.

How to gain it: Lend a hand when you see a co-worker in need. (“Hey, I know you have a lot on your plate. How can I help?”)

3. Adaptability

Why you need it: Things don’t always go as planned.  “Successful leaders are the ones who know how to be flexible when problems arise,” says Robinson.

Why employers look for it: “The speed of change in any given workplace is so rapid,” says Joel Garfinkle, executive coach and author of Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level. Consequently, employers need workers who can adapt well.

How to gain it: Push yourself to be an early adopter of change. “For example, adapting to technology is crucial for people to be seen as someone who  meets new challenges,” says Garfinkle.  Offer to teach your co-workers what you learn.

4. Problem solving

Why you need it: When something goes wrong, you can either complain or take action.

Why employers look for it: Companies rely on problem solvers to deal with unexpected challenges.

How to gain it: “Always approach your boss with a solution, not a problem,” says Robinson.

5. Critical observation

Why you need it: Data doesn’t mean much if you don’t know how to interpret it.  Being a critical observer can help make you a better worker all around.

Why employers look for it: Companies need critical thinkers—people who bring a fresh perspective and offer intuitive solutions and ideas to help the company be better than the competition or improve internal processes.

How to gain it: To be a critical observer, you need to be able to analyze information and put it to use. For example, does your boss actually read the weekly sales reports? What was her reaction to bad news in the staff meeting? What’s the best time of day to approach your manager with a question?

6. Conflict resolution

Why you need it: “Any time you put more than one person into an organization, there is going to be conflict,” says Robinson. “It’s human nature.” Therefore, being able to resolve issues with co-workers will help you maintain relationships with peers and work more effectively.

Why employers want it: Being able to constructively solve disagreements with people shows leadership potential. Someone like this helps to promote a healthy, collaborative workplace.

How to gain it: The best way to resolve disagreements between co-workers is to address issues directly but diplomatically. So, when trying to solve a conflict, let both sides give their opinion and then work together to find a solution.

7. Leadership

Why you need it: Having confidence and a clear vision can help influence your co-workers. Displaying such leadership skills can lead to more opportunities for promotions.

Why employers want it: Bosses and managers are always looking for employees with leadership potential.

How to gain it:  Leadership means inspiring and helping others reach their full potential. One way to do that is to become the internship supervisor, which gives you the opportunity to manage people, learn how to motivate a team, and take on more responsibility.





Think about these questions:

Do you have charm? How important is it? How can you develop it?

then watch the video




Pre-watching questions:

Why is communication so important?

Do you communicate well with people?

Do people listen to what you say?

How important are words and actions ?

Now watch the video:



IELTS Essay – 2 questions – Rubbish

You can learn how to get a 7,8,9 in an IELTS two question essay by going through the steps below. Before doing them, I would advise you read the pdf on how to answer an IELTS two questions essay here.

STEP 1 – analyse the IELTS Two Questions essay task yourself and answer the questions:

What is the general topic? What are the specific details / parts of the topic and two questions? What is your answer?

Nowadays we are producing more and more rubbish. Why do you think this is happening?  What can governments do to help reduce the amount of rubbish?

(sent by a student, source unknown, perhaps Cambridge IELTS Practice Tests)

2 – watch the video where an IELTS examiner examines it

3 – plan the ideas  and paragraph structure and / or write your answer.

4 – watch the video analysis of an example answer


5 – read through the checklist below

IELTS two questions essay – Rubbish – checklist

6 – use the checklist for your writing (if you did it)

7 – watch a full analysis of another IELTS two questions essay here


TEOFL Speaking 1 / 2: Give advice

TOEFL Advice question:

Listen to the video and pay attention to structures that give advice:

Read below the basic structure and the actual phrases used in the video

step one: use an advice structure

the first thing I would recommend my friend do in order to shed some kilos  would be to___

step two: support with an  imaginary situation

were he or she to start walking on a regular basis

step 3: “prove” with the positive / negative result

they would be able to become trimmer.

step 4: give second piece of advice

The second piece of advice I would give would be to (implement a balanced diet and stick to it)

Step 5: support second piece of advice by… giving details (more advice)

They would need to (cut down on carbs, sugar and fatty foods


Step 6: summarize

A combination of these two would most likely be successful


Here is an example on how to use the above structures with your own ideas:  First think of 2 key points:

My 2 key points on losing weight:

a have a balanced diet – if yes = you lose weight quickly and feel great

b – do exercise anywhere

Put the ideas into the structures from above:


1 –  the first thing I would recommend my friend do in order to shed some kilos  would be to have a balanced diet

2 – Were he or she to eat well,

3 –  they would be able to  lose weight quickly and feel great

4 – The second piece of advice I would give would be to do exercise anywhere

5 – DIFFERENT: When people exercise, they complete their healthy lifestyle, thereby making it easy to lose weight. –

6 – A combination of these two would most likely be successful


Let’s use the structures for a different topic

My 2 ideas on how to study well.

my two points:

a – read books:  if read  = gain more knowledge and good theory

b – practice more: when people do more practice = they grasp what they do

1 –  the first thing I would recommend my friend do in order to  study well.would be to read books

2 – Were he or she to hit the books,

3 –  they would be able to gain more knowledge and good theory

4 – The second piece of advice I would give would be to practice more

5 -when people do more practice they grasp what they do , thereby achieving better results.

6 – A combination of these two would most likely be successful


Alternative structures for other topics

Giving advice

the first thing I would recommend my friend do in order to  __ would be to

The second piece of advice I would give would be to

I would, without hesitation, advise my friend to

If I were them, I would (probably, definitely) …

The first thing he or she should do is…


Supporting structures

a – imagining or giving  a situation + result

Were he or she to…. they would (probably, most likely, inevitably, likely)

If he or she + II  … they would (probably, most likely, inevitably, likely)

If he or she  + 1 …. they will

Should he or she + BV…. they will

When people …. ., they typically / inevitably / almost always….

b – Giving an example

for example

for instance

one example that illustrates this is…

A case in point is

c – giving a reason

The main reason for this is

This is mainly because

This can be put down to the fact that

This can be attributed to the fact that

d – clarifying

What I mean by this is

What I am saying is that

What I would like to say here is that


***  show how  (after something else:

, thereby + ing

, in such a way + ing



IELTS speaking test: practice format / compare

You are going to practice answering questions in an IELTS speaking test, then compare your answers with another student.

a – Record yourself answering the questions below

b – Compare your recorded answer to the answer given by a 7 level student here

Part 1 – (for students)

Do you work or are you a student?

What subject are you studying?

Why did you choose this subject?

What do you hope to do when you finish your studies?

Let’s talk about weekends?

What do you usually do at the weekend?

What do you think you’ll do next weekend?

Do you enjoy your weekends more now than when you were a child?

How important is it for you to relax at the weekend?

Let’s talk about music

What sort of music do you like listening to?

Has the kind of music you like changed over the years?

Do you prefer listening to live music or recorded music?

Do you think listening to music helps you study?

Part 2

Describe a special gift or present you gave to someone

  • Who was the gift or present for?
  • Why did you decide to get this gift / present?
  • How did the person react to the gift / present?

And what do they think about it now?

——————————————————– (question to break off part 2 and go into part 3…)

Do you enjoy getting gifts?

Part 3

On what occasions do family members give gifts to each other in your country?

Do people tend to spend a lot of money on gifts?

What type of gifts to children give to adults?

At what age do children start to choose gifts for their parents?

How important is giving gifts within families?

What sort of aid do countries give to other countries?

What motivates one government to give aid to another one?

Tennis: Nadal Interview

Complete the gaps, then watch the video and check your answers

1 – Who is the most fun tennis player on this _____?

2 – If you __ played in any era that had gone by, who would be your dream _____doubles partner?

3 – Where is (cool) place you’ve played a game of tennis?

4- Desdcribe ________ in one word.

5 – What is the craziest thing a fan has _____ said or done for you?

6 – What is the first big thing you bought ______ with your tennis earnings?

7 – A non-tennis sports star you _____.

8 – What’s Rafa’s ____ food in the world?

9 – When was the first day you knew that’s it “you are _____ to be a tennis player”?

10 – What makes you so special to keep so hum___?



Tennis – Superlatives

Change the below to superlatives then watch the video and answer the questions for the different players

1 – Who’s (tough) player you have played in your career?

2 – What’s the food you miss ____ when you’re on the road?

– Vienna Sausages

– Vienna snichtzel

– Vienna cheese

3 – Who is your favourite team?

4 – Who has the best forehand in the game?

5 – Who has the best backhand in the game?

6 – Who’s (loud) player?

7- Who is (funny) player?

8 – Who is (good) dressed player?

9 – Who’s got (tough) serve?

10 – Who’s got (good) volley?

11 – What’s your favourite movie?

12 – If you were going to have an actor play you in a movie who would it be?

13 – Who is (tough) player you have faced in your career?


IELTS Writing Task 2: Advantages Outweigh Disadvantages

Click on the link below to download the Advantages OUTWEIGH Disadvantages PDF

IELTS essay advantages outweigh disadvantages

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