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Nature and Environment

Describe one activity stopped by the weather.
You should say:

  • When and where it happened
  • Who was involved
  • What the activity was
  • And what you did after the activity was stopped.

Model Answer

Anyone who is a big fan of tennis definitely knows the name of tennis legend Novak Djokovic. And today I’m going to tell you about the story of how I skipped school to watch the big game that didn’t happen between Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem at the 2017 Roland Garros.

You know, I’ve been fascinated by the wonderful world of tennis since I first discovered the sport. My dad and I would always just sit around like a pair of couch potatoes whenever a big tennis competition was on. Novak has long been my hero on the court while my father has always been a big fan of Roger Federer. I always love watching a tennis match with my favourite player, whether he wins or loses, and I still love him either way because that’s just the way things go sometimes. I still admire his sportsmanship and talent and the way he elegantly yet powerfully moves on the court.

On this particular day though of the quarterfinals Novak had to defeat Thiem to go through to the semi-final and I was so excited to watch this game because Novak had previously lost the Roland Garros cup before two years in a row. Unfortunately, I had an unavoidable mid-term test that day which meant it was impossible for me to watch the game live. But after wrestling with my conscience, I decided to tell a lie to my dad so that I could stay at home to watch the match. However, the weather in Paris that day turned out to be so terrible that the game was cancelled.

I felt so guilty when I found out that the game was cancelled, and I got into big trouble by my dad for not showing up to take the mid-term test at school.

Vocabulary Highlights

  • a big fan of – really like something
  • legend – somebody who is famous or admired, a hero
  • skipped school – didn’t go to school
  • the big game – a sporting match that is important or will be watched by many people
  • couch potatoes – someone who watches a lot of television and does very little exercise
  • just the way things go – the way something happens
  • sportsmanship – the quality of showing fairness and respect while playing sport
  • talent – a natural or good ability to do something
  • elegantly – done gracefully or beautifully
  • defeat – to beat or win against
  • unavoidable – cannot be stopped
  • live – shown or broadcast as it is happening
  • wrestling with my conscience – struggling to make a decision because you know you are or might be doing something wrong
  • showing up – going or being somewhere

Describe a type of weather you like.
You should say:

  • what kind of weather it is
  • when this weather usually occurs
  • what you usually do during this weather
  • And explain why you like this type of weather.

Model Answer

I was born in Hanoi and have been living here for pretty much my whole life. Hanoi is known for all kinds of things, from street food to crazy rush hour traffic. And the city is also unique when it comes to how fickle the weather is. In the summer, the mornings can be so scorching hot that you won’t want to leave your house or office, and then all of a sudden it’ll be raining cats and dogs in the afternoon. Perhaps for someone who has spent more than 20 years living here, I somehow know the best time of year to go out and enjoy a picnic or go on a bicycle tour with your friends: and that’s late autumn.

The weather during the last two weeks of October is just ideal for all kinds of activities. I mean, who doesn’t love looking at a pure blue sky? Or who doesn’t love having a change of scenery after a torturously hot Summer, instead, having a good time with your family in a gentle breeze? And people always say that during this time of year, Hanoi is the most beautiful.

This is also when I like to spend some quality time with my mum and dad and other people around me. We usually invite some neighbours around and have a barbecue out in the open. My dad has a very old cassette player, that he seems to be very proud of, maybe because no one in the neighbourhood has this kind of thing anymore, and he always brings it out during the barbecue and listens to some sport news with his friends while enjoying a few beers. Other people usually turn on some music and sing along. It’s just like a feast of a small Viking clan, and it is so fun to be a part of.

Living in a city where the weather can be so harsh and pretty much unpredictable all year round, I think having 2 weeks or so of perfect weather where I can have a truly joyous occasion with my family and neighbours isn’t so bad.

Vocabulary Highlights

  • rush hour traffic – when traffic is the busiest
  • unique – one of a kind
  • fickle – changing suddenly or often
  • scorching hot – very hot
  • raining cats and dogs (idiom) – raining heavily
  • ideal – perfect
  • pure blue sky – a very blue sky without a cloud
  • a change of scenery – to go somewhere different after being in one place for a long time
  • torturously hot – extremely hot
  • a gentle breeze – a light wind
  • quality time – time that you spend with someone to improve your relationship
  • out in the open – outdoors eg. in a park
  • enjoying a few beers – drinking some beer with friends
  • so harsh – unkind or not nice
  • a truly joyous occasion – a very happy occasion

Describe a time when you saw an interesting animal.
You should say:

  • What animal it was
  • When and Where you saw it
  • And explain how you feel about this animal.

Model Answer

Well, I’m going to talk about an occasion on which I got to see a group of small monkeys. As we all know, monkeys are one of the funniest animals in nature. They are full of curiosity, adventure and mischief, and have great intelligence. They often live in the jungle, mostly in tropical rain forests, and jump from tree to tree to seek out food and play. The diet of a monkey includes nuts, berries, fruits, anything that smells good, and not to mention, bananas, which is always at the top of their list.

Anyway, back to the main point, the first time I saw a ‘real’ monkey was a long time ago, when I was in secondary school. My friends and I travelled to a mountain located somewhere on the outskirts of Hanoi, and when we were climbing the mountain, suddenly a group of small monkeys appeared in the middle of the road ahead in the distance. They were jumping up and down from trees before they approached us. Then the monkeys stared at me and my friends as though they wanted to communicate and ask for food, so I decided to give them some of our snacks. They were really cute creatures, you know, their hands are like a mini version of ours, which makes them look like little kids.

However, although I’m quite into monkeys, I have to admit that they are unexpectedly sneaky. In some tourist attractions around Vietnam, you can easily spot a troop of monkeys stealing food from street vendors, and other unsuspecting tourists. Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do but watch them run off into the jungle
with our food as they are way faster and smarter than you may think.

Anyway, the trip was truly a once-in-a-life-time experience for me as I got to touch and feed wild monkeys. Seeing them first hand also made me realize that they share more common features with humans than I’d previously thought, which really evoked my curiosity about the theory of how people evolved from apes over millions of years.

Vocabulary Highlights

  • curiosity – a strong interest in something
  • mischief – behaviour that is slightly bad or causes trouble but not intended to cause harm
  • seek out – to find
  • outskirts – on the edge of a town or city
  • approached – to come near or closer
  • sneaky – to be secretive or dishonest
  • troop – a group of
  • street vendors – someone who sells something on the street eg. food, drinks or clothes
  • unsuspecting – not aware of any danger or harm
  • once-in-a-life-time – a unique or very special opportunity
  • first hand – personal experience
  • evoked – brought into your mind

Describe an environment law.
You should say:

  • what it is
  • how you first learned about it
  • who benefits from it
  • And explain how you feel about this law.

Model Answer

I would like to talk about a policy which the government put in place a long time ago, and I believe that has had a tremendously positive effect on the daily life of Vietnamese people.

I don’t remember the exact official title of the regulation, but generally, it states that people must separate their household waste into three groups: organic, inorganic and recyclable materials, each of which has been assigned a different coloured bin. To effectively make this rule work, the government has had to install thousands of different coloured bins throughout the city’s public areas.

In the past, waste disposal was such a daunting task for the local government to deal with because most people had very little environmental awareness, and they often just mixed their trash into one giant mess, dumping it into rivers, on the streets or in any public place they felt like. This became quite an alarming situation in Vietnam for a number of years and had an extremely detrimental impact on the environment,
and not to mention the mess it was creating in many urban areas.

So, by introducing this new law and by effectively campaigning it, a clear shift has occurred in people’s daily lives, as now there is an effective and practical solution to get rid of everyday waste, and people’s awareness around this issue has now significantly increased over the years. I’m really quite happy with how this law has helped to solve the waste problem in my country, rather than only the ineffective talk about the problem that was happening beforehand.

Vocabulary Highlights

  • tremendously – extremely or very much
  • regulation – an official law or rule
  • household waste – garbage from your house eg. food scraps, plastic packaging, boxes etc
  • organic – something natural, not with any chemicals
  • waste disposal – throwing away garbage
  • daunting task – a task that makes you feel slightly worried or frightened about doing it
  • environmental awareness – to think about or know about environmental problems
  • alarming situation – a serious problem
  • detrimental impact – a negative or damaging effect
  • not to mention – used when you want to emphasise something you are about to say
  • effectively campaigning – to successfully
  • a clear shift – an obvious change
  • get rid of – to be free of something
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