Speaking (School & Travel)


 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.


travel light (verb, this means to travel somewhere and only take a few things with you)

Make sure you travel light – pack everything in your carry-on bag for the plane.


hit the road (verb, this means to begin a journey)

Let’s hit the road and head out of the city for the weekend.


off the beaten track (an adjective that describes a place that is remote or hard to reach)


in the middle of nowhere (prepositional phrase with the same meaning as “off the beaten track”)

We found a village in the middle of nowhere! We had to hike in the mountains for two days to find it.


Part I: Class Discussion

Your school days

  1. What do you remember about your first school, when you were a child?

My first school was a private Christian academy that I began attending when I was about four years old. I remember the teacher didn’t like me because I was always noisy and I liked to make fun of the other students. And since it was a Christian school, we had to memorize a lot of Bible verses, which I found very hard.

  1. In what ways has your life at school changed as you become older?

School is always a little difficult, but as you grow older it becomes difficult in different ways. For example, when you’re a kid, your biggest challenge is sitting still. When you get older, you have to worry about completing homework and passing tests.

  1. What was your favorite subject? Why?

I always liked history. Personally, I find it fascinating, and I’ve always been good at memorizing dates and figures. I’ve never been amazing at the subject – and my grades have been average – but I still always looked forward to history class more than most others.

Going abroad

  1. What experience do you have of travelling to other countries?

I have been to ten countries, and have now lived in four, counting Vietnam. The other countries I have lived in have been China, South Korea, and the USA. I have spent the lion’s share of my time in Asia, having been to Vietnam, South Korea, China, the Philippines, Thailand, Japan, and South Korea. I’ve also been to England and Mexico.

  1. Which country would you especially like to visit? Why?

Right now, that would probably be South Africa. I’ve never been to Africa, and that continent is next on my list. I have several friends from there who I met while I was living in South Korea, and so I can stay with them while I explore the country.

  1. What are the best ways to get to know a country?

The only way to get to know a place is to spend time there. You can watch TV or look at a map, but the best you can get from doing these things is gaining book knowledge of the place. You need to actually go there and interact with the people to know how it smells, what the vibe is like, and how the natives act.

Part II: Individual Presentations

Describe a place that has a special meaning to you. You should say:

  • What kind of place it is and where is it

-The Starbucks in Hanoi is a place I love to spend time at. It’s near Hoan Kiem Lake. It’s just a regular Starbucks, really. But that’s why I like to go there. I am a big fan of cafes because I can enjoy my favorite drink while getting some work done.

  • What it looks like

-It’s bright and spacious. There are white tiled floors and brown wooden tables and chairs. It seems pretty modern, actually. I think it was built within the last few years, so that makes sense!

  • What sounds you associate with it

-When I go there I hear people chatting in all different languages. English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese. I also hear the AC pumping cold air, and the coffee maker hissing. It all adds up to a special ambience.

  • And explain why you particularly like the place

-I go there because I like having fresh-brewed coffee that reminds me of the coffee I can get at home. It’s usually pretty loud, but I’m able to focus and get some reading or writing done (as long as I have my headphones).

Part III: Class Discussion

Leaving the family home

  1. Why do many people leave home when they are still quite young?

I think people leave because they are tired of the familiar. They want to get out and have adventures, and are eager to have stories and experiences to share with people. Usually, people leave when they can – which is somewhere around 17 or 18. They may think they are grown up at this point, but they’re still just babies, I think!

  1. What personal qualities do you feel are required for a young person to live on their own?

I think you need a great deal of resilience and resourcefulness, and you can’t really be naïve. You also have to be able to create a smart schedule and adhere to it. Living on your own is a big step, and it requires a lot of maturity.

  1. What are advantages and disadvantages of young people leaving home?

I think there are many advantages – many more advantages than disadvantages. Once you leave the nest, you have to figure things out for yourself. This leads to you acquiring invaluable skills that will help you out for the rest of your life. The only serious disadvantage I can think of is that you will probably have to spend a lot of time apart from your family, which can be hard at times, especially as your relatives grow older.

  1. Do you think the young seriously suffer loneliness when living far away from home?

Some people do and some people don’t. It depends on the person. Personally, I got a little lonely – but I never got homesick. I think loneliness can affect you wherever you are, but you can always find a way to deal with it. It just takes a little effort.

  1. How do young people cope with loneliness?

They cope with it the same way that anyone else does – they seek out connection. Now, it’s pretty easy to connect with people, since we all have the internet. But relying on online interaction is not the best remedy for loneliness. You need to actually spend time in person with other people. I think young people don’t do this much, though.