Speaking (Learning)


Idioms & Expressions:

brainstorm (verb that means to think of many ideas as possible)

Let’s brainstorm a new name for our band.


pass with flying colors (to get a very high mark or score on a test)

He passed the test with flying colors.


drawing a blank (to be unable to remember a piece of information)

I’m trying to think of the answer, but I’m drawing a blank right now.


dropout (noun, someone who left school before graduation)

Mark Zuckerberg is a college dropout who founded Facebook.


skip class/cut class (to not attend school, or to not attend a certain class)

Do you want to skip class and see a movie tomorrow?


teacher’s pet (a noun that refers to an overly-enthusiastic student who annoys the others in the class)

She’s the teacher’s pet and frequently annoys the other students.


class clown (a noun that refers to a students who is always trying to make everyone in the class laugh)

The class clown might be a little noisy, but we all think he’s funny.


tricks of the trade (a noun that refers to the knowledge required to do a certain job)

My uncle is an experienced teacher and he taught me the tricks of the trade.


if you don’t use it, you lose it (this expression refers to not using a muscle or skill for a long time, and then losing competency with it)


Part I: Group Discussion


Are you a full-time or part-time student?

Right now, I’m a teacher and not a student. But I would say that I’m a student in the sense that I’m always trying to learn something new. I think that learning is a lifelong journey, and you should always be challenging yourself.

What don’t/didn’t you like about your high school time?

I didn’t really like being forced to take unnecessary subjects. Many subjects are compulsory, and they’re sort of a waste of time – especially if you already know what you’ll be studying in university. For example, I took calculus, but I never used that information again in my life.

Which topic/subject do you find the most difficult/interesting?

In school, I hated math with a passion. I read that some people’s brains simply aren’t very well-attuned to studying math, and I feel like I’m one of those people who just can’t get it, and the concepts behind it.

What do you prefer, studying alone or with a group?

I definitely prefer studying alone. With a group, I might tend to get distracted in pointless conversations that have nothing to do with what I’m trying to learn.

Can you describe your primary school?

I went to a private Christian school, which was a pretty small place where all twelve grades learned together in the same building. It has been so long since I’ve been there that all my visual memories of the place have faded, actually.


Part II: Individual Presentations

Describe a teacher who you really did not like. You should say:

  • who the teacher was
  • what kind of person they were
  • what their lessons were like

and explain why you didn’t like them.

My third-grade teacher was named Mrs. Marshall. She taught us every subject possible. She was a Christian lady who could be a little strict and stern. Her lessons were decent, and we all learned a lot, but she didn’t have any patience for any student who couldn’t keep up, or who had a lot of questions. I was also sort of a troublemaker and a class clown, and she didn’t like that at all. She always put me in time-out or she’d make me go to after school detention. I think she was within her right to do this (now that I look back), but when I was a kid, I hated that she always punished me.

Part III: Class Discussion

What qualities do you think a good teacher should have?

I think a teacher should be patient, understanding, open, and friendly. They should also be able to adapt to the classroom situation and the student’s needs, and improvise and adjust a lesson plan on the fly, if need be.

How has education in your country changed in the past 30 years?

I think it hasn’t changed too much. There have been some advances in classroom technology, such as with the use of Powerpoint presentations and computers, but besides that, learning methods generally remain the same.

Do you think the ways children study and learn will be different in the next 50 years?

I think that in the future, we won’t have school anymore – we will be able to learn by downloading information directly into our heads via the internet. We will see unfathomable advances in technology.

Teachers often complain about being overworked. Do you agree?

I think if you work in a public school, then you’re in danger of this. In American schools, teachers work a full day, and then have to attend meetings and grade homework and exams. It seems like an exhausting life.

Should teachers be allowed to hit students who misbehave very badly?

I think so, but just a little tap on the shoulder or back of the head. In America, you can’t do this (it’s viewed as assault) and that’s created a generation of entitled brats, I think.