Speaking (Emotions & Media)


Idioms & Expressions:

down in the dumps, in a funk (both expressions to explain that you’re in a depression or a bad mood)

My girlfriend dumped me, so I’m down in the dumps these days.


cry your eyes out (an expression that means to cry a lot)

I cried my eyes out when my dog died.


shoulder to cry on (expression that describes a loyal friend)

My best friend has always been a shoulder to cry on.


on cloud nine (prepositional phrase describing a happy person)

I’m on cloud nine these days because summer vacation is coming soon.


grinning from ear to ear (another expression that refers to a state of being very happy)

After my date last night, I was grinning ear to ear.


happiness is…. (insert a noun into the blank to say what makes you happy)

Happiness is a quiet night with a cold beer.


work/life balance (a noun that refers to the parts of your life taken up my work and life)

My job keeps me too busy to maintain a work/life balance.


on the breadline, in the poorhouse (both prepositional phrases that refer to being broke or poor)

I lost my job, and now I’m on the breadline!


extended/immediate family (labels that explain how close certain family members are)

I get along better with my extended family than my immediate family!


“how’s the family?” (an expression used during small talk to ask how someone’s family is doing)


black sheep (noun, refers to a family member who is very different from everyone else in the family)

My sister is the black sheep of the family; she’s very unlike the rest of us.

Part I: Group Discussion

  1. What do you often do when you feel sad? And with whom?

There are few things I try when I’m sad. I usually exercise, and then I spend some time doing something relaxing, like reading or writing. If that doesn’t work, I might call my family or a friend and ask how they’re doing. And if all those things don’t work, I might take a nap or try doing something new. Some of my best adventures (such as moving to China) came from times when I agree to do something different because I was “in a funk,” as they say.


  1. Why do some people prefer staying with friends but some others prefer to stay alone?

I think this is because everyone is different. Everyone has different personalities and emotional needs. So, while some people need to go hang out with other people when they’re feeling down, others just want to be alone so they can think things over.

  1. Do you often give and receive gifts? And on what occasions?

It might sound cruel, but I almost never give gifts. This is because I live too far away from my family to meet up and give them gifts for their birthdays and Christmas. And when I meet up with friends abroad for their birthdays, it’s usually a pretty casual event that doesn’t require bringing a gift.

  1. What are the things that people buy as gifts to give to others?

This is a hugely general question because you can give literally anything as a gift! In my opinion, “shelf gifts,” are the best because they are the most thoughtful. These are gifts that are not necessarily useful in your everyday life, but reflect a lot of thought and consideration. For example, if someone gave me a movie poster that I really liked, I’d decorate my house with it.


Part II: Individual Presentations

Describe a recent event that made you feel happy. You should say:

What the event was

            Where it happened

            Who was with you

            And explain why this event was so enjoyable.

Recently, I traveled south of Hanoi and did a homestay in a small village near a waterfall. It was last weekend and we traveled as a group of eight. We drove all the way there on our motorbikes, which was a pretty crazy experience. For me, driving the motorbike was the most exhilarating things I’ve done in a long time. We were riding at about 75 km/h, which was pretty fast, and going along the highway and through some small mountain towns. There was one scary moment that came when I almost hit a tour bus – it ran a red light and almost hit me! It was an adrenaline rush. But other than that, it was a gorgeous day, and I really enjoyed driving as fast as I could in the sunshine (both on the way there and the way back!)


Part III: Class Discussion

  • How (or why) do people become happy?

I think happiness comes from sustained contentment. When your needs are met and you have good emotional connect with other people, then I think you can be happy. Happiness also comes from reacting well to hardships that life throws at you, and also from loving and enjoying being yourself.

  • What are some of the various sources of people’s happiness?

Aside from what I’ve already mentioned, I think that having a passion in life goes a long way toward making you happy. For example, I really enjoy writing, and if I don’t have a chance to write every day, then I get a little irritable. Expressing yourself can be very fulfilling, and I think people’s lives can improve if they figure out how they can do that.

  • How important do you think money is in our lives?

Money is crucial because it allows you to be comfortable, and it prevents misery. Many people say “money isn’t everything,” and I do agree – but you have to remember that life can get very hard if you don’t have money. My favorite rapper, Kanye West, said “having money ain’t everything, not having it is,” and I agree.

  • Does money have any effect on a person’s relationships with others?

I think it does have an effect, in that when you are perceived to have a lot of money, then people want to be friends with you. This is because they want to use you as a connection, or maybe as a stepping stone to other people. Money attracts people, some of whom just want to have a good time, and others who may want to use you. But it’s not all bad – I think that if you have some extra money then it helps if you want to entertain your friends.

  • Which do you think gives people more happiness, money or good relationships with others?

I think that good relationships give the most happiness, absolutely. When I think back to my past, the happiest times I’ve were when I was laughing with my friends about something while we were hanging out. You can’t really buy that with money, so I’m going to say that it’s the people in your life who will make you happiest.

  • Do you think a person’s work can affect their happiness?

If a person’s career isn’t something they enjoy (or even tolerate) at all, then I think they’ll be extremely unhappy. This is because when you’re unfulfilled, and spending time and energy on being unfulfilled, you’re going to be unhappy. Conversely, if you enjoy your work, then I think you’re going to be satisfied most of the time.

  • What kind of work do you think makes people feel happy?

Only jobs that aren’t too taxing (energy-wise) that also help people feel fulfilled. Beyond that, I think that helping other people can be a career path that’s rewarding as well. Working to better other people’s lives is something that makes everyone happy, even the person doing the work!

Part IV: Pair Interviews

Tell me about your family.

Where do they live?

What do you like doing when you are with your family?

There are six people in my immediate family. But since we have all gotten older, we have spread out through the world. For example, my dad lives in Colorado, my sister lives in California, and my mom lives in my home state, New Hampshire, still. When we get together, we eat a meal and reminisce about how things were in the past.

What sorts of things do you do to keep healthy?

What other sorts of things are popular in your country to keep healthy?

What sorts of exercise do you not like doing?


To stay fit, I go to the gym about four times a week. This is very popular in America. On days that I don’t go to the gym, I usually do some sprints. I like most kinds of exercise. I don’t really like doing yoga or pilates, but those are very good for you, and I should probably take them up.


Part V: Individual Presentations

Describe your favourite film or television program. You should say:

            when you watch it             

who is in it

            what happens in it               

and explain why you particularly like it

My favorite movie is “Casino Royale,” starring Daniel Craig as James Bond. I love this movie because it tells a very simple story of how he became a secret agent. The action scenes are incredible and the editing and cinematography are very well done. I think I’ve seen it about twelve times. The love story in the movie is heartfelt as well. I didn’t like the other movies Craig has done as Bond, but this one is great.

Part VI: Class Discussion

Why do you think television has become so popular over the last 50 years?

TV is popular because there is a wide variety of shows to choose from – there is something for everyone. And you can play the TV in the background, while you do other things.


Do you think that there is still a future for radio with television being so popular?

Yes – because people need something to do while they’re sitting in their cars. That’s where radio comes in.


Which is better for presenting the news: television or radio? (Why?)

TV most likely, because on TV you can use maps and graphics to illustrate things more effectively.