Speaking (Various Topics)


Idioms & Expressions:


neighbor on (verb; means one place is right next to another place)

My house neighbors on the corner store.

next-door neighbor (noun; the person who lives directly next to you)

That man is my next-door neighbor.

somewhere in the neighborhood of _____ (this expression is used to give an approximate number)

They are trying to raise somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 million for the project.

hustle and bustle (noun; describes the energy and movement in a city)

I’m glad I moved to the countryside – I don’t really miss the hustle and bustle of the city.


county girl / city girl (noun; this is used to describe someone from the country or the city. For example, if you are from the countryside or rural area, you are a “country girl.” We say “country boy” and “city boy” as well).

I was born and raised in Boston. I’m a city boy.


good look (noun; refers to clothing or a hairstyle that makes you look attractive)

That dress is a good look on you. You should wear it more often.


in style / out of style (phrases that state whether certain clothing is fashionable or not)

Cargo pants have gone out of style.


fashion sense (noun; if you have good fashion sense, then you always dress very well)

She always looks really good. She has great fashion sense.


go dark (verb; this means to purposefully get out of contact)

I’m going dark this weekend, so if you have a question, just wait until Monday.


with the click / touch of a button (a phrase that describes a technological process that’s performed very easily)

Many people prefer online shopping because they can order things with the click of a button.


dog days of summer (noun; refers to the hottest part of the summer)

The dog days of summer tend to be in August.


a rainy day (noun; refers to a time of need or trouble)

Since I’ve started working, I’ve been able to save some money for a rainy day.


rain cats and dogs (verb; to be raining very hard)

It was raining cats and dogs all week.


a breeze (noun; refers to something that went very easily)

I had been worried about the math test, but it turned out to be a breeze.


rained in / snowed in (verbs; they mean that you are stuck somewhere due to rain or snow)

Sorry I can’t come over tonight; I am snowed in.


come rain or shine (an expression used to describe the certainty of something happening)

Come rain or shine, I will be there at your wedding!


Part I: Group Discussion


Describe the neighborhood where you live.

What do you like about living there?

What do you dislike about your neighborhood?

Do you like living in the city or the countryside?

It’s a neighborhood of very tall houses where families live, as well as a few apartment buildings. But I don’t have too much to complain about; I like living there. I just wish that my house had an elevator inside it, since I live up on the 5th floor. The thing I don’t like about my neighborhood is that they are often doing road work, so the alleys can get clogged and hard to drive through. But still, I think I’m a city boy. I don’t like living out in the peace and quiet – I’d rather have the hustle and bustle.


Do you like walking? Why or why not?

Are there places you can walk near your house?

Do people in your country like walking? Why or why not?

What other kinds of exercise do you enjoy?

I do enjoy walking, and it’s a very healthy activity. However, I don’t have much of a chance to walk these days. This is mostly because of my busy schedule. But sometimes I do take a walk on West Lake, since it’s very close to my house. I do this whenever I need to clear my head and think about things. I see a lot of elderly people out walking, no matter what country I’m in. I think this is because as you get older and your body starts breaking down, walking becomes one of the only things you’re able to keep doing. But since I’m still relatively young, I enjoy doing a lot of different exercises, like lifting weights, running, and biking.


Do you care about fashion?

Not about current fashion, but I care about looking decent and presentable. I won’t buy something just because everyone else is wearing it, though.


Do you prefer to wear casual or formal clothes?

I like to dress formally. I like wearing suits and ties. However, that’s not practical all the time. Sometimes you have to dress down and wear shorts and a T-shirt in hot weather.

Where do you usually purchase your clothes?

I either go to a tailor or go to the mall. I have to look hard to find things that fit me though, since I’m really tall. I recently had to fly to Bangkok just to buy shoes that fit my big feet.


Have you ever bought clothes online?

Only a few times. I don’t like doing it because I’m impatient, and I’m worried that clothes won’t fit me and I’ll just have to return them.


The Internet

How often do you use the Internet?

Well, like most people, I use the internet every day. I think without it, doing my work would be very difficult.


Do you use it more for work or in your free time?

I use the internet more during my free time. I think everyone does – we are online all the time. But I still have to use it for work as well, to send important emails and things like that.


What are your favorite websites?

I like to go by Reddit.com. It’s basically a giant message board where people post things and discuss literally every topic you can possibly think of. Most people post as anonymous users, under a username that they choose themselves.


Do you think you use the Internet too much?

No. I use it far less than most people I know. I often leave my phone at home when I go out, so I won’t waste my time by going online.


Part II: Individual Presentations


Describe a friend who is important to you. You should say:


The name of your friend

When and where you met this friend

What kinds of things you and this friend like to do together

and explain why this friend is important to you


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: Class Discussion




How is the weather today?

Hot and it feels like it could rain. Just like every day in Vietnam in the summer.


Describe the weather in your country.

America is so huge that we have every type of weather. You can burn to death in the deserts of Texas, or freeze to death in the forests of Alaska! I’m from the northeast, which tends to be pretty cold.

What is your favorite kind of weather?

I prefer cloudy days. I’m not sure why this is, but I’ve never really liked sunny days. I think it’s because I hate hot weather, and when it’s sunny, it’s also usually hot.

Is there any type of weather you really don’t like?

I hate hot weather. It makes me want to die. Cold weather is so much better, since you can wear clothes in order to be more comfortable in it.




Do you play any sports?

No I like to go to the gym and lift weights. After I’m done with that, I practice boxing and then go running. Beyond, that I don’t really play sports.


Do you watch sports on TV?

I prefer to watch sports. I like to watch the professional athletes, because they’re good at their sport at a level that I can’t really even comprehend. I don’t really enjoy playing sports because I’m not very good at them! I used to play tennis a lot, but I wasn’t good enough to play on a team. I also used to run cross-country, which I was decent at, but again, not good enough to really run for a serious team. I do like watching NFL football on TV, whenever I have the chance.


What is the most popular sport in your country?

Football (American football – not soccer) is the most popular, and I’d say basketball is a close second.


Do you like watching or taking part in sports?

I’d rather watch professional sports on TV. But I do like to play tennis, so if I have to chance to play then I will do that.