Speaking (Food, Cooking & Reading)



Idioms & Expressions:

free time/down time (nouns for leisure time)

How do you spend your free time?


zone out/space out (verbs meaning to relax with some media)

Tonight I’m going to space out with a movie.

time on my hands/time to kill (ways to refer to time that you have no idea what to do with)

I have two hours to kill before I have to go to work.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy (an expression that means working too much will make you unpleasant and uninteresting)


head in a book (an expression which refers to the act of constantly reading)


bookworm (someone who’s always reading a book)

She’s a real bookworm. You can always find her with her head in a book.

book smarts (knowledge or intelligence you acquire through reading and studying)

He’s got book smarts, but not much common sense.

I’m an open book (an expression which means someone is very forthcoming and willing to volunteer information)

Ask me anything; I’m an open book!

read between the lines (this expression means to find the subtext in what is being said by not taking something literally)

If you read between the lines, it’s clear that she doesn’t like you.

you can’t judge a book by its cover (an expression which means you can’t judge something by its outward appearance alone)


read him/her like a book (this means you are able to understand what someone is thinking just by looking at them)

He says he doesn’t like her but I know he really does – I can read him like a book.

content (noun, this refers to media that is shared or posted on the internet)

Many websites get a lot of views by sharing their content on Facebook.


easy read (noun, this is a book that is written as to be easily understood by anyone reading it)

The Harry Potter books are easy reads. Even little kids can understand them.


critical thinking skills (noun, this refers to the ability to understand and argue with the book or article that you’re reading)

People who read a lot tend to have better critical thinking skills.

attention span (noun, this refers to how long someone can stay focused on a certain task before getting distracted)

Many young people these days use their smartphones very often, and therefore have short attention spans.


home-cooked (an adjective that describes food cooked at home)

I miss my mother’s home-cooked meals.


staple (noun, this is a common food in a certain region’s diet)


cuisine (noun, this refers to all the foods that people in a certain country or region enjoy)

Beans are a staple of Mexican cuisine.


sweet tooth (noun, refers to a person’s preference for desserts and other sugary foods)

I have a sweet tooth and often opt for ice cream after dinner.


foodie (a person who loves eating and trying new meals)

Being a foodie, trying new dishes is my favorite part of traveling.


dish (noun, another word for a part of a meal. For example, a chicken dish is served as part of a larger meal)

Last night, I tried a new Turkish dish for dinner.

cultural export/import (nouns, a food item or other cultural trademark that is enjoyed by other countries)

Pizza is one of Italy’s most beloved cultural exports.


culinary (adjective used when discussing food or cooking)

He spent a few years studying culinary arts at his university.


appetizer (or “starter,” this is a small dish, such as a soup or salad, eaten before the main course)


main course/entrée (this is the centerpiece of the entire meal – for example, steak would be the main course of a meal)

For my appetizer, I had a Greek salad. And for my entrée, I had the roasted chicken.


Part I: Group Discussion

  1. When do you have free time?

I usually only have free time very late at night. I work late in the evenings, so I’m usually not free until 10:00 pm or so. That’s when I eat, read, write and socialize with the people I know here.

  1. Do you think it’s important to have leisure time?

Yes, it’s absolutely crucial. We have a saying in English: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” This means that if all you do is work, you have a higher chance of burning out and having a miserable life.

  1. Do your friends ever come to your home in their free time?

Not really. My home isn’t as nice as the place my friends live in, so I usually go to their places. Also, I like going to other people’s homes because I can leave whenever I want, as opposed to having to worry about kicking them out.

  1. Compare the way people in Vietnam relax today and the way they used to relax years ago.

I really can’t answer this question, but I would imagine that people have more time to relax now as opposed to years ago. I think older people tend to read and watch TV more, and younger people, since they’re more active, like to be out socializing and staying up late.


Part II: Individual Presentations:

Describe a book you want to read again. You should say:

what the book was about

why you read it

what you learned from this book

and explain why you would like to read it again.

  When I was traveling through Thailand a while ago I found a book in a hostel called The Lincoln Lawyer. It was a crime novel by Michael Connelly, who’s a famous American writer. They actually made a movie about this book in 2011, starring   Matthew McConaughey. The book is about a criminal defense lawyer who takes a case defending a client who he thinks is innocent, but actually turns out to be guilty. The central dilemma of the book involves the lawyer trying to figure out how to solve this problem, because he doesn’t want the criminal to go free (even though it’s his job to make sure he doesn’t go to prison). The book taught me a lot about suspense and writing a fast, fun story. I have only read it once but it was thrilling, and someday I’ll read it again.


Part III: Class Discussion

  1. Who likes to read more often, young people or old people?

I think that old people read more, but that’s only because they grew up with fewer entertainment options. Older people tend to read more books and newspapers, and they generally get entertainment from reading more than young people do.

  1. Who do some young people dislike reading books in recent years?

I think it’s a problem with attention span – but it’s hard to blame them. Kids grow up with a lot of options, whether its apps or video games. Books really are quite boring to them by comparison, I think.

  1. Are there many libraries in Vietnam?

I’m not Vietnamese and I don’t tend to be that observant – but I’m sure there must be at least a few libraries here and there in Vietnam.

  1. What kinds of books should children read?

I think kids should read anything they want. The fact that they’re reading is what’s important. I think any type of book that inspires someone and expands their influences is reading.


Part IV: Class Discussion


  1. Is food important to you? (Why)?

Of course – food is important to everyone so we can survive. Personally, I love to eat, though.


  1. What kinds of food do you particularly like?

Pizza is my favorite food. I also love eating Mexican food and Italian cuisine.


  1. Is there any food you don’t like? (Why)?

I hate spicy food. I can’t keep the food in my mouth, and so I don’t eat any food that’s even a little but spicy.


  1. What kinds of food are most popular in China?

I’m sure there are hundreds of dishes that are popular in China. This is because China is huge, and has many provinces, each with their own cuisine.


  1. Do you like cooking? (Why?/Why not?)

No. Cooking takes way too much time. To go shopping, then cook, then clean up after your meal takes three or four hours. I’d rather spend the time on something else.


  1. Who usually does the cooking in your home?

No one, since I never cook at home. The extent of my cooking is simply making some cereal in the morning.


Part V: Individual Presentations

Describe a party you would like to arrange for your friends or family .you should say:

 Who you would invite to the party

 When and where you would hold the party

 What you (or your guests ) would do at the party

And explain why you would hold this party


I think I’d just like to have a small movie watching party with some friends. I don’t like throwing huge parties, since they are too much to plan. I’d like to bring my friends over, order some pizza, and put a movie up on a projector screen in the living room. We’d just watch the movie, eat pizza and drink beer. Preferably it would be a movie we’d all seen before, so we could make fun of it while we watched it – that’s my favorite way to watch a movie.


Part VI: Class Discussion


What types of party do people have and why are parties important?

Parties can be big or small. They’re important for people to relax and celebrate something important, or to unwind after a long week.


Do people spend a lot of money these parties in your country?

Rich people do. I think it’s pretty obscene how big some of the parties people throw are. Rich people in Las Vegas and New York throw wild parties in nightclubs that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.


Why do you think some people like parties but others hate them?

Some people are introverted and don’t like to mingle. So it makes sense that they wouldn’t like to party. But other people love to go out and socialize – it’s quite fun.


Do you think parties will become more popular in the future?

No. I think they will continue to be just as popular and prevalent as they are now.