Speaking (Weather & Gifts)


Idioms & Expressions:


dog days of summer (the last part of summer, usually in August, when the weather is very hot)

I didn’t go out and do anything during the dog days of summer.


raining cats and dogs (an expression that refers to heavy rain)

You shouldn’t drive right now because it’s raining cats and dogs.


as right as rain (an expression that means someone is doing fine, or a situation is going very well)

It was a difficult semester at school, but now the term is over and everything is right as rain.


break the ice (a verb phrase that refers to the act of getting comfortable with a stranger)

The students were very shy and so it took a little bit of time to get to know them.


a breeze (a noun that means that something went very easily)

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


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

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


fair-weather friend (a noun that refers to a friend who is only friendly to you when they need or want something)

I have one friend who is only nice to me whenever he wants to borrow money.


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!


when it rains it pours (an expression that refers to the tendency of certain things happening all at the same time)

Last week I received no job offers, but this week I’ve had four. When it rains it pours.


don’t look a gift horse in the mouth (expression that means you shouldn’t inspect a gift too closely, or else you will appear ungrateful)


I got you a little something, it’s nothing big (both phrases you can use when you give someone a gift)

I got you a little something for your birthday. I hope you like it.


regifting (this term means to give someone a gift that someone else gave you)

This Christmas, I regifted a book my brother gave to me to my best friend.


just what I’ve always wanted (expression you can say to someone who has given you a gift)

My parents surprised me with a video camera for my birthday. It was just what I’ve always wanted.


Part I: Group Discussion


Do you prefer sunny days or cloudy days?

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.
Do you like going outside on sunny days?

Not really. When it’s sunny, I like to be inside a café or something, maybe reading or hanging out with people. As I said, I like cloudy weather better.

Would you like to go, as a tourist, to a place that has little sunshine?

Absolutely. I’d love to go to Scotland or another place that is famous for its “bad” or rainy weather. My idea of a perfect day is sitting down inside somewhere while it rains outside.


Do you usually carry a bag when you go out?

I always have a bag with me. When I go out, I carry a bag with me that has my computer, my phone, headphones, a book, and some socks in case it rains (which it often does in Vietnam) and I need to change.

Do you have different bags for different occasions or different purposes?

I think everyone does. I take a backpack to the gym, a messenger bag when I’m out driving during the day, and a large backpack when I’m going traveling.


Part II: Individual Presentations


Describe a gift that you gave someone recently. You should say

  • what the gift was
  • who you gave it to
  • whether this person liked the gift or not

And explain why you gave that gift


I gave a gift or some cookies to a co-worker recently. She is someone who I help make videos with. She gave me some valuable information regarding a book that I was writing, and in order to show my appreciation, I bought her a package of cookies and gave them to her. She really loved them – at first I thought that she was just being nice, and she didn’t think that the gift was all that remarkable, but then later she actually posted a photo to Facebook of the cookies, along with a bunch of smiley faces. So, I guess the gift worked out pretty well!


Part III: Class Discussion


Do you prefer giving gifts to receiving gifts?

I think I enjoy both things equally – as long as the gift is a perfect fit. If someone gives me a gift that is something I really wanted, or something that I think I could find a use for, then I’m excited. I get similarly excited when I give someone a gift that I know they will really love.

Who usually gives you gifts?

No one, really! My family lives in America, and so I never see them to celebrate Christmas or birthdays. And among my social circle, people usually don’t give gifts for holidays. I think it’s been a few years since I got a gift.

In your country when do people usually give gifts? 

Christmas is obviously the biggest gift-giving holiday of the year, but giving presents for birthdays is obviously common as well.

Do you think gift-giving customs are different now than they were in the past? How?

I’m not sure about this. I think for the past century, it’s been relatively constant. But in the past, when most people were poorer, I don’t think gifts were given very commonly.

Should parents give gifts to their children as a reward?

Yes I do, but only sometimes. I think if you give children gifts too often, then they will become spoiled. So gifts should be occasional rewards for doing well in school or for helping out around the house.