Prompt: GIFTS

Everyone loves giving and receiving gifts. It’s one of those things that is common across all cultures. So here is my gift to you, I hope you enjoy these conversation questions about gifts!

  1. Have you ever received a strange gift? What was it?
  2. What is a creative gift you have given or received?
  3. Do you enjoy shopping for gifts? Why or why not?
  4. Do you prefer to receive money or a gift? Why?
  5. Is it really only the thought that counts??

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Useful expressions:

 

The words “gift” and “present” mean the same thing, but which one to use depends on the occasion. These are the most common collocations (word combinations) for each holiday:

  • a Christmas present
  • a Birthday present

Gift wrapping

The paper you use is called “wrapping paper”. You can “put a bow on it” or “tie a ribbon around it”. If something is too hard to wrap, you can put it in a “gift bag” instead. When you go to certain stores around the holiday season, the cashier may ask you, “Would you like this gift-wrapped?” Taking the gift out of its wrapping is called “unwrapping” it.

 

Giving and receiving gifts

Here’s an example of a conversation between two friends around Christmas time:

A: Hey, I got you a little something.

B: What? Oh! You didn’t have to do that! I’m so sorry, I didn’t get you anything.

A: Don’t worry, it’s nothing big. Go ahead and open it.

B: (unwraps the gift) Wow! A coffee grinder! It’s just what I wanted!

A: I remembered you saying that you wanted one of these.

B: That’s so thoughtful of you. Thank you so much.

 

Things to do with a gift

When someone gives you a really thoughtful and meaningful gift, you may “cherish” it for a long time. This means to keep it and treat it as something important.

 

A gift which is not very useful might sit around your home and “gather dust”. Or, if it’s something small, you might decide to “regift” it, which means to give it to someone else. Just make sure that the person who gave it to you doesn’t find out!

 

If someone gives you clothes which don’t fit or don’t match your style, you can “return” or “exchange” the gift. Returning it means that you get money back, and exchanging it means that you just get another item from the same store. Sometimes the gift-giver will include a “gift receipt” for this purpose. Since it’s rude to show someone the price of the gift you give them, a gift receipt allows someone to exchange the gift but doesn’t have a price listed on it.

Prompt: FAMILY

You can pick your friends but for better or for worse you can’t pick your family. Take a look at some questions about your family and families in society.

  1. Who in your family are you most like?
  2. Do you like going to family gatherings? Why or why not?
  3. How often do you see your parents? How about your extended family?
  4. What is the best and worst thing about your family or extended family?
  5. How important are strong family ties to you? Are strong family ties more or less important that close friendships?

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Expressions related to family

Your immediate family includes your mother, father, sister, sisters, brothers, husband, wife, and children. But you might have some questions when it comes to your extended family and some complicated family relations. Let’s look at how to describe those people.

GRANDPARENTS

As you know, your parents’ parents are your “grandparents”. English speakers use lots of different names for grandparents, but when they talk about them to other people, they usually just use the words “grandfather” and “grandmother”:

  • Hey, Nana. How are you?
  • I went to see my grandmother this weekend.

You can specify which grandparents you mean by saying whose “side” they are on:

  • My grandmother on my mom’s side lives in the US.

Your grandparents’ parents are your great-grandparents. You might also have great-uncles and great-aunts. These are your parents’ aunts and uncles. You can keep adding “great-” for each generation:

  • My great-great-great-grandfather fought in the Civil War.

AUNT/UNCLE & COUSINS

In English we usually call someone “aunt” and “uncle” whether they are related by blood or by marriage. In some families, kids also call their parents’ close friends “Aunt” or “Uncle”.

Your cousins are other people who you’re related to. When people talk about “cousins”, they usually mean first cousins. A first cousin is the child of your parents’ brothers or sisters. We also count other distant relatives as cousins. A second cousin is one of your parents’ cousins’ children. and a third cousin is one of your grandparents’ cousins’ children. You can even talk about a “second cousin once removed”, which is a complicated relationship that many English speakers have heard of, but only a few of us understand. Your brothers and sisters are also called your siblings. The son of one of your siblings is your nephew, and the daughter of one of your siblings is your niece.

IN-LAWS

Your husband or wife’s family are your in-laws. You call members of your spouse’s family “mother-in-law”, “brother-in-law”, and so on. But that usually stops with immediate family. For extended family, you need to explain the relationship more clearly:

  • My wife’s grandmother passed away last week.

You can also call your child’s wife or husband your “daughter-in-law” or “son-in-law”

Prompt: NEW YEAR

In today’s lesson, you will go over these questions. Use them as a guideline to your conversation, but you’re welcome to deviate if any other interesting topics come up. 

  1. What did you do on New Year’s Day?
  2. How do you normally celebrate New Year’s Day? Do you (or your family) have a unique way of celebrating it?
  3. What are you looking forward to this year? If you aren’t looking forward to this year, why aren’t you?

Useful expressions: Here are some sample answers with useful expressions. Read the sentences out loud and go over the meaning with your tutor.

The entire family get together at my grandpa’s place and we have the traditional ceremony to pay respect to our ancestors in the morning of the New Year’s Day.

  • Get together: gather or assemble socially or to cooperate
  • Someone’s place: someone’s home
  • Pay respect to someone: to ​honor someone after ​their ​death, usually by going to the person’s ​funeral

We always share a large meal family-style, with grandma’s signature dumplings. Traditional Korean glutinous rice cake is one of my all-time-favorite holiday dishes.

  • Family style: designating a style of preparation or serving of food in which diners help themselves from plates of food that have been put on the table
  • Someone’s signature dish: a recipe that identifies an individual chef
  • Glutinous (or sticky) rice: 주로 동남아에서 먹는 음식을 가르키나 약식도 이렇게 부를 수 있을 듯
  • All-time-favorite: favorite of all choices, during all times
  • Holiday dish: special dish prepared for holidays such as turkey and cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving in the US and Yule log for Christmas

Instead of the Chinese red envelopes, Koreans get freshly minted money from their parents and grand parents as well as pep talks to wish a good year.

  • (Chinese) red envelope: a monetary gift which is given during holidays or special occasions such as weddings
  • Freshly minted money: 새돈
  • Pep talk: a talk intended to make someone feel more courageous or enthusiastic

Prompt: PLANS

In today’s lesson, you will go over these questions. Use them as a guideline to your conversation, but you’re welcome to deviate if any other interesting topics come up. 

Plan concept

  1. What are you planning to do tomorrow? What about next week?
  2. Do you usually follow through on your plans? Are you flexible about making plans?
  3. Antoine de Saint-Exupery expressed this idea: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Do you agree? What are the differences between goals, plans, and wishes?
  • to follow through (verb): to complete an action or process; to fulfill a promise or commitment
  • flexible (adj.): willing to change or to try different things
  • goal (noun): something that you are trying to do or achieve
  • plan (noun): a set of actions that have been thought of as a way to do or achieve something
  • wish (noun): a desire for something to happen or be done

Useful expressionsHere are some sample answers with useful expressions. Read the sentences out loud and go over the meaning with your tutor. Then try to make sentences using each expression.

Tomorrow, I’m planning to learn more about my new job so that I can catch up on the knowledge I am missing. Next week, I hope to view some apartments so that I can move into a new place three weeks from now.

  • to catch up (verb):  to acquire the latest information
  • [time] from now: [time] after this moment e.g. Three weeks from now = In three weeks. If today is Feb. 1, then three weeks from now is February 22. In 3 weeks, it will be February 22.

I do my best to follow through on plans. I don’t like to confirm a plan unless I am sure that I can come. I think it is better to avoid overcommitting, or saying “yes” to too many things! I am flexible about making plans, up to a point. I understand when my friends’ have to change a meeting, but I prefer to get a heads up as soon as possible when things change.

  • to do my best (verb): to do something as well, skillfully, or accurately as one can
  • to confirm (verb):  to tell someone that something has definitely happened or is going to happen
  • to overcommit (verb): to agree to do too many things
  • up to a point: used to indicate that a statement is partly but not completely true
  • heads up (noun): a warning that something may or may not happen

I do agree with this statement. For example, one of my immediate goals is to find a new apartment. If I didn’t develop a smart plan to research and view my options, I would never actually find a new place! I could dream about my new apartment and my new bed and  my new neighborhood, but I have to put in some effort to make that dream a reality!

  • immediate (adj.): important right now
  • to develop (verb): to create something over a period of time
  • to put in some effort (verb): to seriously attempt to do something

What is your morning routine?

What is your morning routine?

  • Describe your morning routine in detail.
  • Do you think it’s important to eat breakfast? If so, what kind of foods?
  • How often are you late to work/school in the morning?
  • Is there anything you should add to your morning routine?
  • Is your morning routine as efficient as it could be?

Expressions to Practice:

  • get out of bed
  • go for a run
  • take a shower
  • eat breakfast
  • commute to work

Talk about a person in your life who has inspired you.

Talk about a person in your life who has inspired you.

  • Describe the person and explain why you found him/her inspirational.
  • How has this person helped change your life?
  • What characteristic traits make this person so special?
  • Does having role models help you become a better person?

Expressions to Practice:

  • role model
  • source of inspiration
  • something to aspire to
  • look up to
  • become a better person