Speaking (Teaching & 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.


you can’t teach an old dog new tricks (an expression that means it’s very hard to change other people’s habits)

They don’t understand how to write code for this program. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.


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

My uncle is an experience 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 subject(s) are you studying?

I’m currently studying a little French and Vietnamese. I like studying languages because they stretch your brain and make you use it in a lot of different ways. I think the cognitive benefits alone make studying a language worth it.

Why did you choose this/these subject(s)?

I choose to study languages because they help your brain worth better and faster. I also like to study history, but I do that on a much more informal basis. I simply read about any subject that I’m interested in.

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 plan to do when you finish studying?

Well, as I said, I think studying is a lifelong journey. I think that if you stop using your brain, then that’s the beginning of the end for you.

Is there anything else you would like to study in the future?

There’s so much I don’t know. But I’d like to keep studying history and languages for as long as I’m capable of doing so.

Part II: Group Discussion (Cont’d)

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.


Additional Questions

Do you think anyone can be a good teacher with practice?

I think so. If you do anything enough, you’ll start to become skilled at it. You just have to put in the hours in the classroom and see what’s working and what’s not. I’m not saying that you’ll become a master teacher, but you can definitely become competent.

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.

Would you like to be a teacher? Why /why not?

I already am a teacher, so I think the answer is pretty clear. I enjoy it most of the time, because I like talking and working with the students. But there’s still days when you don’t feel like going to work. Still, I’d rather do this job than I would almost anything else.

Part III: Class Discussion

Do you think the majority of teachers are good at their job?

No, but I would say a majority of them are competent. In America, there are many measures in place to evaluate teachers and their productivity, and to ensure that they do a good job if they want to stay employed.

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.

What can be done to improve the quality of teaching in schools?

Improvements should be made at the institutional level. What I mean by this is that teachers should be trained better while they’re still earning their credentials. Methodology must be modified before they start teaching, so that they have the right tools to teach before they even step into a classroom.

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.

What do you think can be done to improve discipline in schools?

This is a hard one. I think it starts at home. You have to remind parents that it’s important for them to tell their kids to respect teachers. If this isn’t done, then at school, kids will act like spoiled princes and princesses.

What would you do to improve the education system if you were the Minister for Education?

I would encourage more creative thinking. I think using your brain in unconventional ways is a great way for you to grow and find out what you’re capable of.