Speaking (School / Architecture / News)


Idioms & Expressions:


heyday (a time period that you look back on fondly

Back in my heyday, we were high school classmates.


rose-colored lenses (to look back on something fondly means to view it through “rose-colored lenses”)

I look back at my school days with rose-colored lenses.


dropout (noun; someone who left school before graduation)

Mark Zuckerberg is a college dropout who founded Facebook.


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

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


eyesore (noun; an ugly building or landmark)

The old power plant in my city is an eyesore.


commercial / residential (adjectives; describe types of property)

This is a commercial area with a lot of malls.


landmark (noun; a recognizable building or structure that identifies the area it is in)

The Capitol Building is one of Washington D.C.’s landmarks.


spot (noun; a location you like to eat, drink, or spend time at)

Tonight I’ll take you to one my favorite pizza spots.


air (verb; this means “to broadcast”)         


network (noun; a company that creates TV shows)

The show airs at 9:30 p.m.

The TV network decides what shows they will air and what shows they won’t.


in the news / in the papers (expression that means to be talked about by the media)

Due to his scandal, the senator has been in the news lately.


make the news / make headlines

Christiano Ronaldo made headlines when he won his 5th Champions League tournament.


keep up on / stay up on the news (verbs; mean to follow the news and current events consistently)

I keep up on the news by reading the paper every morning.


Part I: Group Discussion

School Days

  1. Tell me something about your life in secondary school.

I went to a public high school, which was where most students went. I was nervous when I started, but I found my groove and started to enjoy myself as time went on. Most kids in my community went to my high school, so I really felt at home no matter where I was – in school or hanging out around town.


  1. Which subject did you find most difficult in school, and why?

The subject I did the worst in was calculus, absolutely. I was never the best student in math classes, but in the past, I could sort of figure out most of the subjects (algebra, trigonometry, etc) and how to solve my problems with them. But calculus is such an abstract subject, that I could never really figure it out.


  1. Do you ever need to use that subject now, in your daily life? Is yes, then how?

Of course not! I think there are maybe a hundred people in the world who actually need to use calculus. One of the most ridiculous things about school, I thought, was how much useless information we were required to learn.


  1. What did you enjoy about being a school student?

I liked having a lot of freedom but not a lot of responsibility. That’s one of the best things about being young. When I was older, I had a car and I could drive around town with my friends. I enjoyed being in a small town, being relatively free, and not having any responsibilities except bringing home decent grades.



  1. Are there any famous buildings in your hometown?

My hometown doesn’t necessarily have any famous buildings, but it does have a few landmarks that are well-known in the area where I grew up. For example, on the beach in my hometown there’s a statue that was built during World War II. It’s of a woman looking out at the sea and waiting for her husband, fighting in the war, to come home.


  1. In what type of building do most people in your hometown live?

Most people in my hometown live in basic two-story homes. Most houses look the same in my area, actually. There are also a few apartment complexes in my hometown as well, and also some condos on the beach, but those aren’t really as popular for residents to live in.


  1. Should buildings be attractive to look at? Why or why not?

It depends on the building’s purpose. If a building is simply serving a purpose, like for meeting or for storage, then it doesn’t need to be that pretty. But if the architect has been asked to make a statement, or to add value to an area by designing a pretty building, then it absolutely makes sense to build at attractive building.


  1. Describe the most unusual building you have ever seen.

In Shenzhen, China, near Yantian beach, there’s a crazy building that is very long and disjointed. It looks like a skyscraper that’s been laid down on its side, and it has sideways windows as well. But of course, I expected to see weird buildings in China, so I didn’t really find it that remarkable.


Part II: Individual Presentations

Describe an interesting story you heard or read about in the news. You should say:

When you heard or read about the story

What the story was about

Why the story was in the news

And explain why you thought the story was interesting

I was in Hong Kong this weekend and read the newspaper while I was waiting for my flight. There was a story in the “Life” section called “Discomfort Zones.” The article was about the public architectural features that make it impossible for homeless people to lie down and sleep at night in Hong Kong. These features include spikes on the ground, metal armrests on benches, and boulders placed under bridges. The story was in the news because Hong Kong has a great amount of income inequality and a high homeless population, and homeless people are a common sight. I thought the story was interesting because I think it’s very sad – homelessness is something that can happen to almost anyone, and it’s concerning to see these people treated in such a cold and callous manner by officials whose only interest is keeping the homeless out of sight.

Part III: Class Discussion

Reading Newspapers

  1. When do people like to read the newspaper?

I think only a small percentage of people read the newspaper nowadays. Most people tend to get their news from TV or online. Most of my news comes from social media, actually. The first time I hear a piece of news is usually on the Facebook feed. But usually – people read the newspaper when they’re waiting in an office, on a plane, or in a public place.


  1. How important is it for people to have a choice of newspaper?

Broadly speaking, any given country should have a good selection of news sources. This is because it’s crucial for citizens to have a good array of news sources. It’s almost impossible to have a truly impartial point of view on any given subject, so the people should be able to compare and contrast different points of view whenever possible.


  1. What does a “good” newspaper contain?

I think a good newspaper should contain fair, objective reporting on a variety of topics. A newspaper should also contain editorials from people who write into the paper. And it should also have basic information for people who want to know about local festivals, transport, and things like that.

The Future of Newspapers

  1. Why do some people choose to read news online rather than in a newspaper?

I think the answer is that most people choose to read news online. Going online is so convenient, and picking up and unfolding a newspaper is too much of a chore. In modern times, online and TV media is king, and print is dying very quickly.


  1. How is internet news different from the news you read in a newspaper?

I don’t think it is, actually. News is news, and the news you read online will more or less be the same article you’d get in a newspaper. I think that news will get less and less complex as time wears on, though. For instance, the average article on TIME.com is pretty short now. I think within a few years, it’ll be rare to see an article longer than a tweet.


  1. Will internet news ever replace newspapers? Why or why not?

Absolutely. Print, as I said, is outdated and obsolete. Newspapers are already sort of a novelty way to get news. Internet news is already the most-sought medium of information, and soon we’ll have a generation of people who will never have read a newspaper.