Speaking (Various Topics)


Idioms & Expressions:


work/life balance (or school/life balance) (nouns that refer to the parts of your life taken up by work and life)

My job keeps me too busy to maintain a work/life balance.


the bane of my existence (something in your life that greatly stresses or challenges you)

Calculus is a very hard subject for me. It’s the bane of my existence.


burning the midnight oil (to stay up late working on something)

I have an exam tomorrow morning so I’m going to be burning the midnight oil tonight.


up to your eyeballs in _____ (an expression that means someone is dealing with a lot of something; generally a negative connotation)

I am up to my eyeballs in homework tonight.


spot/haunt (these are nouns used to describe a location you like to eat or drink at)

This library is my favorite spot – I love to come here and spend a few hours reading a book.


health nut (a noun used for a person who doesn’t like junk food and prefers to eat natural food instead

I used to be overweight, but now I’m a health nut and I haven’t had fast food in months.


eat out/go out (verb phrases that refer to eating at a restaurant)

We went out to a restaurant for my grandfather’s birthday last night.


the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree (an expression that means children are very similar to their parents)

He is just like his father! I guess the apple doesn’t far from the tree.


BFFs (an acronym for “best friends forever”)


social butterfly (noun, someone who like to socialize with everyone)

She is a social butterfly and talks to everyone.


crew/squad (a very casual term for your social group)

I’m fortunate enough to have found a good crew of friends.


loner/lone wolf (both are terms for people who like to alone (introverts)

He’s sort of a loner. I always see him by himself.


keep it in the family (an expression that means to keep information confidential)

Please don’t tell anyone about this – keep it in the family.


black sheep (a member of the family who is unlike the rest of their family)

My son is very different from me. He’s the black sheep of the family.


like family to me (an expression that means that a friend is so close you, you treat them like a member of your family)

The person I trust the most is my best friend. He’s like family to me.


burning bridges (to burn a bridge means to ruin a friendship or connection)

He burned too many bridges, now he has no more friends.


keep at arm’s length (a verb that means to keep your distance from someone and not get to know them very well)

I tend to be cautious, and keep people I don’t know at arm’s length.


know him/her inside and out (to know everything about someone)

My parents know me inside and out, so it’s hard for me to lie to them.


Part I: Group Discussion

  1. Are you a student right now? What are you studying?

No, right now I’m a worker. But in school I studied Screenwriting, which was a program offered by my school’s film department.


  1. What do you like about school? What do you dislike?

I like that I didn’t need to work much and that I was expected to just get good grades. But I often found school quite boring, and wished I were doing something more interesting than sitting in a classroom.


  1. What is your favorite subject at school?

I loved learning about history. History gives you greater context for understanding your world and the people in it. I’ve always loved it.

Part II: Individual Presentations

Describe your favorite restaurant. You should say:

Where the restaurant is

What type of food it serves

How often you go there

Why you like this restaurant so much.

This is not about a restaurant, but about a café I liked going to. When I was in South Korea, there a little café on my street called “The Gallery.” A young Korean man owned the place and he was always really kind to me. He’d give me free refills on my coffee, and every so often he’d bring me out a free plate of cookies or even a slice of pizza. It made for a really nice, pleasant atmosphere, and I went there almost every day. I appreciated it so much that I started leaving a little money on my table as a tip for him each day. In Korea, tipping is not customary, but I decided that it was worth it for me to leave him a little money in exchange for his accommodation.


Describe one of your good friends. You should say:

Where you met this friend

What this person does

What things you do together

Why you particularly like this person.

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: Pair Interviews

  1. Should we ban fast food in Vietnam so that people become healthier? Why or why not?
  2. Would you be happy if you didn’t have to work at all, and you had free time all day? Why or why now?

Part IV: Class Discussion

  1. Do you prefer spending your time with your family or with your friends?

I think that young adults (most of them, anyway) tend to value friends more than family, since they have been with their families for so long, now they want to spend more of their free time with their friends. For me, I spent most of my teens and early twenties with my friends, but now that I’m older I place a higher value on my family, especially as many of them are getting older.

  1. What are some advantages and disadvantages of living with friends?

Living with friends can be pretty cool because you always have someone to talk to and there tends to be less drama. I actually can’t think of many disadvantages of living with your friends.


  1. What are some things that can end a friendship?

I think persistent dishonesty or a breach of trust would end a friendship. That, or spending a long time apart from each other.