Speaking (Toys, Family & Experience)


Idioms & Expressions:

toying with (an expression that means that to “manipulate” someone)

Your boss is toying with you by offering you a raise, but then never actually giving it to you.


spoiled brat (a noun for a kid who is accustomed to getting what they want and is therefore very rude)

She is a bit of a spoiled brat and will not hesitate to shout at you.


sheltered child (a child who is protected from the outside world by their parents and is not permitted to do many things)

He is a little shy because growing up, he was a sheltered child.


helicopter parents (noun that refers to parents who watch their kids very closely)

You can see the helicopter parents with their kids on the playground.


mentor (both a noun and a verb. For example a mentor mentors someone)

My uncle is my mentor and he’s helping me become a better person.


hope for the best and prepare for the worst (this expression means you should hope for good things to happen but also be ready for the bad things as well)


do without (a phrase that means to find a way to achieve a task without something)

I forgot my computer, so I had to do without it at work today.


don’t leave home without it (ways to describe an item that is important that you take with you everywhere)

My bag has everything I need and I don’t leave home without it.


binge/binge watch (verb, this means to watch many episodes of a certain TV show in a single day)

I’ve been binge watching The Simpsons all week.


glued to the TV (a phrase that means you’re unable to stop watching TV)

The new reality shows are so good that I’ve been glued to the TV all weekend.


experience is the best teacher (a common expression that means doing something is the best way to learn it)


Part I: Group Discussion

  1. What was your favorite toy to play with when you were a child?

For my sixth birthday, I got a Batman action figure. I really liked playing with it because it had clip-on armor that you could remove in order to make him look like Bruce Wayne, who is Batman’s secret identity.

  1. Should parents buy many toys for their children?

I think kids should receive toys, but not too many. If a kid receives too many toys, or is told “yes” too often, I think he will turn into a spoiled brat and be unpleasant to be around.

  1. What are the benefits of children playing with toys?

Playing with toys, or playing video games, stimulates the imagination. Also, kids playing together when they’re young will give them greater social skills later in life.

  1. What are the disadvantages of children playing with toys?

I can’t think of too many reasons for kids to not play with toys. I think imagination and creativity are hugely important things, and children should feel free and light and happy when they’re young.

Part II: Individual Presentations

Describe a family member who has had important influence on you. You should say:

          who the person is

          how long you have known him /her

          what qualities this person has

and explain why this person has had such an influence on you.


My grandfather is the person who’s taught me a good deal about life. I think he’s taught me a lot more that he realizes.


He has mostly led by example. He’s responsible and good with money. And he’s also a US Air Force veteran (he was a high-ranking officer) so he’s a natural leader. He’s shown me how to be mature, respectful, and to fulfill my obligations.


When I was a kid, I would spend time at my grandparent’s house, since they lived not too far away from my home. My grandfather would take me on canoe trips on a river nearby. We didn’t talk much on our trips, but I would watch him while he organized our events and conducted his business, and then I tried to copy him.


My parents are pretty lazy people, so I picked up a lot of bad habits from them. Their home was usually messy, and they put off key responsibilities for long stretches of time. My grandfather taught me to handle my business in a timely manner, and make sure that I did a thorough and complete job of every task before me.


Part III: Class Discussion

  1. Who are more important to you, friends or family?

Well right now my friends are pretty much my family. This is because I’m in Vietnam and my family is back in America. Since I don’t have face to face contact with my loved ones, my friends have become the new people that are most important to me.

  1. What kinds of family activities are popular in Vietnam?

Families here probably have the same activities that people do anywhere. I see families here going out to eat, taking walks, or playing in parks together.

  1. What are good ways to get along well with family members?

I think quality time is the most important thing when it comes to family relationships. Knowing how to resolve conflicts is healthy as well, since sooner or later you will have a disagreement with your family members.

  1. What do you usually do with your family during national holidays and festivals?

I don’t live at home anymore, but we’d just hang out, eat a meal, and watch a movie together. Again, just being present with your family is important on special days.

  1. What are some of the pros and cons of three generations living together?

In my opinion, that would be pretty great, since I’ve always admired and respected my grandparents and wanted to spend time with them. But I can see how some people would dislike that, and come to resent how cramped the house might be.

  1. Whose responsibility do you think it should be (or is) to (financially) look after old people – the government’s responsibility or the family’s?

I think it should be the responsibility of both parties. The government should help support the elderly in case they need assistance (which they likely will) but families should be there to pick up the rest of the slack, since caring for old people requires a lot of money.

Part IV: Pair Interviews

Bringing Things With You

  1. What do you bring with you when you go out?

I always have a messenger bag with me. Inside it are my laptop, my papers for work, a spare battery for my cell phone and a charger for my computer. I also carry some extra socks for me in case I get wet while driving to work in the rain.

  1. Do you ever forget to bring things?

I think everyone forgets something at home every once in a while. What you have to do is just turn around and go back home and get whatever it is, or just do without it during the day if you can.

  1. Will you bring different things in the daytime or at night?

During the day I have my bag with me, but at night I’m usually out socializing, so I don’t carry a bag or anything with me. At night I usually just carry my phone and some cash with me.


  1. Did you often watch television when you were a child?

I didn’t, because my parents were very conservative and wouldn’t let us watch TV, so I had to watch TV at my grandparent’s house (which was not very often).

  1. Do you often watch TV these days?

No, I don’t think I’ve watched TV for a few months now. I don’t have a TV and I don’t know how to stream or download shows onto my laptop.

  1. What kinds of TV programmes do you like the most?

I don’t have a particular genre that I particularly enjoy, but a few shows I’ve liked in recent years have been Breaking Bad, Dexter, and The Office. One of those shows is a comedy and the other two are really dark thrillers.

Part V: Individual Presentations

Describe a time you had a good experience in the countryside. You should say

          where it was

          when it was

          what you did

and explain why you liked the experience

When I was growing up, I would go canoeing often with my grandparents. We would go to a place called the Lamprey River, which is near my grandparent’s home in New Hampshire. We’d paddle the canoes up the river and stop at a dock, and go swimming there while we had a picnic. We did this three or four times a summer. I loved doing it because I loved spending time with my grandfather and learning from him. It was good exercise, too. Then we would head back into town and have some pizza at a local restaurant. I think those days are over, because I’ve been out of the country for so long and my grandparents are getting old – but I’ll always miss them.

Part VI: Class Discussion

  1. Is experience important?

It depends on what you want to do. Obviously some activities require special skills, but others simply require enthusiasm and the willingness to dive in and learn new things.

  1. What can you learn from experienced people?

You can learn from their mistakes and hopefully avoid making the same ones yourself. Experienced people have a lot of interesting stories as well, so they can be entertaining to hang out with.

  1. How do you gain experience in life?

You simply have to begin trying new things and be willing to make mistakes – and not be afraid to fail. I think one of the most important things in life is to try new things.

  1. Do you like to talk to inexperienced or experienced people?

I don’t think it matters, really. Some people are amusing to hang out with, no matter what kind of experiences they’ve had. But I think experience generally makes people less boring, since they have more to talk about.