Speaking (Neighborhoods, Walking & Friends)


Idiom & Expressions:

fair-weather friend (a friend who is only comes around when they want something)

He’s a fair weather friend – he’s only there when he wants something.


good fences make good neighbors (an expression that means the less contact you have with a neighbor, the less likely you are to have problems with them)

next-door neighbor (someone who lives directly next to you)

They are my next-door neighbors.


somewhere in the neighborhood of ____ (an expression used to express approximate numbers or figures)

We hope to raise somewhere in the neighborhood of $6,000 for the project.


walk it off (this expression means to take a short walk after you’ve been hurt in order to feel better)

If you get hit during the game, walk it off.


walking on air (a verb, used to express that you are extremely happy about something)

I got engaged this weekend! I’m walking on air.


walk/walk free (either of these verbs used in this context means to be acquitted (to be judged not guilty) of a crime)

Despite some damning evidence at her trial, she was not convicted and she walked free.


walk away unharmed/unscathed (this expression means that someone leaves a situation without any significant injury. Can also say “escape unscathed”)

He walked away from the car crash unscathed.


like family (a way to describe that someone is so close to you, you treat them like part of your family)

know her inside and out (this expression means you know absolutely everything about a person)

My best friend is like family to me. I know her inside and out.


friends in high places (this is a phrase you can use describe friends of yours who are powerful or influential)

I heard he knows the mayor. He has friends in high places.


Part I: Group Discussion


Describe the neighborhood where you live.

What do you like about living there?

What do you dislike about your neighborhood?

What kind of neighborhood would you like to live in?

Currently, I live in Tay Ho on a quiet street near Au Co. It’s a neighbourhood of very tall houses where families live, as well as a few apartment buildings. I like my neighbourhood because it’s close to all the venues that my friends and I love to visit – for example, our favorite restaurants and bars are about a two-minute drive by bike. The thing I don’t like about my neighbourhood is that most things tend to close very early (but that’s common all over Hanoi). So if you need something at midnight, your only choice is heading over to the Circle K convenience store. But I don’t have too much to complain about; I like living there. I just wish that my house had an elevator inside it, since I live up on the 5th floor!


Do you like walking? Why or why not?

Are there places you can walk near your house?

Do people in your country like walking? Why or why not?

What other kinds of exercise do you enjoy?

I do enjoy walking, and it’s a very healthy activity. However, I don’t have much of a chance to walk these days. This is mostly because of my busy schedule. But sometimes I do take a walk on West Lake, since it’s very close to my house. I do this whenever I need to clear my head and think about things. I see a lot of elderly people out walking, no matter what country I’m in. I think this is because as you get older and your body starts breaking down, walking becomes one of the only things you’re able to keep doing. But since I’m still relatively young, I enjoy doing a lot of different exercises, like lifting weights, running, and biking.

Part II: Group Discussion (Cont’d)

Describe a friend who is important to you. You should say:

The name of your friend

When and where you met this friend

What kinds of things you and this friend like to do together and explain why this friend is important to you

One of my best friends is a guy named Steve. I met him when I was in middle school, when we were both about 12 years old. I was new to my school, and he was one of the first people I met there. We began hanging out that summer, and ended up working at the same place. After work, we’d play some video games (Halo on XBOX was popular at that time) and we’d just make fun of things and each other. We met 16 years ago, and we’re still pretty close. I hang out with him whenever I’m back at home, and this spring he actually came to come visit me in Vietnam. While he was here, we checked out all the major tourist attractions together, and also made a trip up to Sa Pa. It’s good to have friends for a long time, because you get to know each other so well, and always know exactly what to say to make the other person laugh.

Part III: Class Discussion

Generally, friendships are important to people?

Friendships are crucial for people. There’s been a few scientific studies that have shown that humans who are lonely tend to die sooner. Social interaction is crucial for well-being, and if you don’t have good friends, that can actually be bad for you.

Do people spend more time with friends or with relatives?

I think it’s different for everyone, but the people I know here in Vietnam always hang out with their friends instead of relatives. Obviously, this is because we’re thousands of miles from home, but I think it’s also a Western thing. Asian people I know tend to spend more time with their families, but with Western people, it’s the opposite.

How can friends help each other?

I can’t think of anything that friends can’t help each other with! That’s one of the greatest perks of having good friends, is that when you’re in trouble or you need assistance, they can be there for you. It can be anything, whether you need help moving, or if you just need some advice.

How do our friendships change as we grow older?

I think your group of friends gets smaller, but also you get much closer to the people you know. Having a large social circle is a thing that typically only happens with young people. When you get older and have less energy, you tend to only devote the energy to the most important friendships.