And we’ve finally reached the final installment of the series. Upon completing Intermediate 2 (I2), students are given a certificate, that can help them in certain sectors to get jobs, promotions or raises, so for many students, this is the goal level. A student who completes this level should have very little trouble communicating in English and if they were to move to a country where English is the dominate language, they could likely become fluent in after a year or two immersed in the culture.
After the typical formalities of getting to know the class and testing each of their skills, I dive into a review of present perfect simple and present perfect continuous. Since students have likely seen this before it goes quickly, and I tend to do a lot of speaking practice in the first week, making sure students aren’t just good on paper, but can actually use the language.
Here we dive into verb patterns, when we use verbs like want, it is followed by an infinitive (to v1 for Turkish learners). Verbs such as finish are followed by a gerund (verb-ing). Many verbs can use both patterns with a similar meaning. “I like swimming”; is hardly different from, “I like to swim”. But sometimes the meaning changes, either dramatically or subtly. For example. There is a difference between “I stopped smoking” and “I stopped to smoke”. The first speaks of quitting something, while the second states the purpose of stopping.
We also get into other patterns that are not so common, for example, let, make and help not using to, but using the infinitive. “She made me stay.” As opposed to force and allow. “She forced me to stay.” Small changes, subtle differences. That’s what makes I2 such a good course and such a difficult one.
Here we cover some rather important topics, past criticism and speculation along with the third conditional (unreal past). This involves a lot of “He should/shouldn’t have …” As well as, “If he hadn’t done this, this wouldn’t have happened.” The materials we use actually have some hilarious stories about criminals who do stupid things and get caught. Students then have to make up sentences using one of the previously mentioned grammar structures. They tend to get a kick out of such things.
Here’s a mixture of the dull, yet necessary: articles. Most students have no problem distinguishing between when to use a/an or the. The problem is when do we use the and when do we use no article. This is difficult simply because there are no real rules, only patterns. For example, we use the when referring to a newspaper: the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Paynesville Press. We use no article when referring to a magazine: Vogue, Time, Think Geek. Why? You tell me. We also use the when referring to a sea, but not to a lake: “The Black Sea” but “Lake Superior”. But perhaps worst of all is that we say: the University of North Carolina, but we say: Duke University. Rather silly, don’t you think?
Next comes present speculation. “He might be at home.” Or “You must be joking.” One of the teachers at our school has a game for this called “Where’s Robin?” in which the class is given a plethora of clues as to where Robin is not and they have to figure out where he is. Good stuff.
At the end of the fifth week and beginning of the sixth, we teach reported speech, a topic that so many students have learned wrongly in schools. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase, “He said me…” So yeah, reported speech is essentially the gossip tense of English. A previous conversation in which a person says, “I’m thinking of buying a car.” is reported to another person as: “He told me that he was thinking of buying a car.” We change the tense and use phrases like “He said…” “He told me…” etc. It’s one of those topics that most students will know the grammar for, but they cannot put it into practice.
After that, review and exam. I’m currently teaching two of these courses and have actually only taught it once before. My highest exam score was a 91, by a girl who was born in Oklahoma and lived there until early childhood before her family returned to Turkey.
Our school also offers four higher course levels, (Upper-Intermediate 1 +2, Advanced 1 + 2). We’ve never been asked to teach these courses, which is absolutely fine with me. They end up covering topics that I would not know how to explain to a native speaker, much less a student, such as clefting, defined vs. non-defined relative clauses, future perfect continuous and many others I’m not even aware of.