Speaking (Writing & Festivals)


Idioms & Expressions:

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

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


burn the midnight oil (verb phrase; 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.


a way with words (an expression that refers to a person who is very skilled at writing)

I like reading his articles. He really has a way with words.


chicken scratch (noun; this is very bad handwriting)

I can’t read his notes. His chicken scratch is illegible.

shindig (noun; a casual word for a party)

We’re having a little shindig this Saturday at 8:00, if you would like to come.


a hell of a time (an expression that explains that everyone had a great time at a party or event) My birthday bash was awesome. Everyone showed up and had a hell of a time.

birthday bash (noun; this is another word for a birthday party)

My birthday bash was great. We all had an awesome time.

milestone (noun; a word used to mark an important event or an important amount of time)

She recently marked the milestone of her 30th birthday.

Part I: Group Discussion

  1. What different types of writing do you do, for example letters, emails, reports or essays?

I enjoy writing – but only what I want to write. A journal or a travelogue, for example. I do have to write a few reports and emails for my work, which can get boring.

  1. Do you prefer writing with a pen or using a computer? Why?

I like both. When I’m brainstorming, I like to write with a pen. But when I’m actually writing something that I want to share with people, I write on a computer. This is mostly because my handwriting is bad, actually.

  1. Do you write more now or less than you did a few years ago? Why?

Actually, this hasn’t really changed. I write about the same amount that I used to – partially because I have to do it for my job, and partially because I enjoy writing so much.

  1. Do you like to write stories or poems? Why/why not?

I like to write stories quite a bit. I think they’re a fun way to express yourself. However, I don’t write poems. I’m not good at that style of writing.

Part II: Individual Presentations

Describe a special event (e.g. a festival, carnival or other celebration) that takes place in your country. You should say:

  • When the event takes place
  • Why it takes place
  • What people do
  • and explain why the event is special.

The Fourth of July is a big deal in the US – since it’s our Independence Day celebration. If the day is during the week, then most people get the day off from work. It’s usually celebrated by getting together with your family and friends and having a barbecue with burgers and hot dogs in someone’s backyard. The event is special because it’s a good remembrance of the founding of our country. Also, it’s really nice to have some time off from work.

Part III: Class Discussion

  1. What sort of occasions do families and friends like to celebrate?

Besides the typical holidays, people celebrate graduations, birthdays, wedding anniversaries and important milestones such as getting into university.

  1. How important are celebrations in people’s lives? (Why/Why not?)

They’re pretty important because noteworthy events deserve to be marked and celebrated, and they also give you a nice break from your daily routine.

  1. Should people have time off work for important celebrations? (Why/Why not?)

I definitely think so. However, many people still have to work on these important days such as July 4th and Memorial Day – since many stores stay open throughout the holidays. So it’s a luxury to have time off for these days.

  1. Why do many people enjoy participating in national celebrations?

Well – it’s fun to have a party. Also, if you’re patriotic, then these events are even more important for you.

  1. Have national celebrations become more or less important over time? (Why?)

I don’t really think so. At least in my memory, all of these holidays have always been just as important as they have always been before.

  1. What sort of things do you think countries will celebrate in the future?

I don’t think celebrations will necessarily change. I can’t think of any celebrations that would need to be added to the calendar – we already have quite a few.