Topics and vocabulary    


Conversational topics

(general guide to an oral exam at intermediate level)


The following list is to give you ideas and some vocabulary which may be useful at an oral language exam.


Personal introduction

personal particulars, ID (identity card), passport, driving licence

how you prove your identity (when do you need to prove it?)

permanent address, temporary address, marital status

personal code number (cp. human rights in data procession)

what to do when losing your ID (authority, form, revenue stamp)

education, studies, degrees


The family

relatives, relations; getting along with the members of the family; the ideal family image; describe somebody from your family (look + character & behaviour)


Look, appearance, character

figure, face, hair, eyes, (eye)brows, (eye)lashes, complexion, nose, mouth, etc.

behaviour, manner, temper


Picture description

in the middle/centre/foreground/background, on the left/right (hand side), to the left/right of ... , at the top/bottom, in the top/bottom left/right hand side corner, in front of, behind, beside, between,;


Special family occasions

birthdays, name days, anniversaries, funerals (?), Christmas, Easter

wedding, mother's day, family gathering, garden party, family festival;



"friends should be few and good" - do you agree?

"a friend in need is a friend indeed" - what's your opinion?

describe and characterize one of your friends

have you got your best friend? why is he/she different from others?

your favourite kinds of pastime with friends

can a close relative or member of the family be your friend?

friends at school/work and out of school/work - what's the difference?

friendship with your teacher(s)/boss(es)? - agree or disagree

friends in different periods of life

the question of loneliness


Daily routine (+housework)

day's programme, daily habits, evening occupations, regular activities,

studying hours, housework, odd jobs around the hiouse


Description of your home

describe the house/flat where you live - do you like it?

(dis)advantages of living in a flat or in a house

describe the people living there

facilities, comfort

+kinds of flats/houses, housing shortage


Home life (+housework)

family life at home - different members of the family sharing rooms or living separately/on their own - life in a students' hostel, digs/lodgings, bedsitter;

house rule, common room, dormitory, landlady, landlord;

daily routine at home, housework, quarrels in a family

staying at home or going out?


The neighbourhood, your village or town

describe the area where you live - do you like it?

(dis)advantages of living in a village or in a large city

describe the people living there

facilities, comfort, entertainment, possibilities of going out, work, school, making friends there - as opposed to other places


Traffic, public transport

giving directions, using a town map;

means of transport, kinds of tickets, fares; driving a car; the Highway Code

environmental pollution


Weather and seasons; climate

what's the weather like today? what's the forecast for tomorrow?

what's the outlook for the next few weeks?

compare weather in Britain and in your country; why the English always speak about weather; give examples for different kinds of weather/climate all around the Earth; the connection between weather and agriculture

weather/seasons and sports;

what's your favourite season? why? what do you do then?



connection between weather and clothing;

everyday clothing (school/work/home) vs clothes for special occasions;

difference between men's and women's clothes;

describe a special set of clothes (worker/sportsman/infant/etc.);

what clothes do you like wearing? why?



what's the connection between man and nature?

the peace of nature vs life in a busy town;

quiet and pleasant places in nature;

the (wild) world of animals and plants;

describe your favourite plants and animals and their life;

different living creatures: mammals, birds, reptiles, insects;

beasts/birds of prey, apes, fish, trees, bushes, flowers;

describe an animal and a plant, tell about its environment;



do people need going out?

what do we look for in nature?

observing plants and animals (cp. 'Nature')

describe a place where you like to go

what do you take going on an excursion?


Environmental protection

the green movement, pollution, industry, chemicals, traffic, smog;

the role of trees and other plants in nature, the disappearing rain forest; why do people cut down trees?

how green are you? how do you protect nature?


School life

the school you go to; why you chose this school; school atmosphere, friends, teachers, headmaster (appearance, character, their influence on you), the image of an ideal techer/student; school programmes, excursion, camps, parties; helping one another vs n

not caring for other people, indifference; school life vs holidays


Class, subjects

describe the classroom and the school building and its environment; speak about your classmates and teachers (characters and relations); subjects you study + what you learn, like, dislike;

your way of learning as compared with others'


Studying, extra lessons

how much/when/where you study; your success in studying; schoolwork, homework, extra work, evening classes, holiday courses; studying methods and tricks; taking exams, writing essays;

is studying fun for you?


Education, school types

créche, nursery school, kindergarten, elementary/primary school, secondary school,

university faculties, departments, degree, postgraduation;

connection between education and finding a job


Career, working

your plans for the future, career ideas; can work be one's hobby?

act out a job interview; write your CV (curriculum vitae);

describe a worker or employee and his/her work and life;

occupation, job, profession,

different kinds of jobs and places of work with their advantages/disadvantages;


Food & Meals

different meals, different habits; laying the table; table manners;

special/occasional meals; your favourite food & how you make it;

cuisine in different countries; give a recipe; kitchen devices; different ways of cooking; shopping for food



indoor/outdoor sports & games

water sports, track and field events, technical sports

what's your favourite sport/game? why?

what sports do they do at the Olympic Games?

describe the rules of a game;

do sports, play games, training, coach, stadium, Olympic Games

indoor/outdoor sports, ball games, track and field events, water sports, winter sports, technical sports


Illnesses, accidents

illnesses and their symptoms; hospital, doctor's surgery; dentist

act out a dialogue at the doctor's/chemist's;

National Health Service, social insurance, sick leave, first aid, G.P. (general practitioner)


Healthy life

stress, tension, breathe fresh air, do exercises, sport, physical education, drug addiction, alcoholism, smoking, AIDS, balance of work and rest, healthy food;

natural therapeutics, preventive medicine



favourite pastime; connection between character and hobby;

men's/women's typical hobbies; do-it-yourself movement; clubs;

individual vs group activities; funny or strange hobbies;

are there people without hobbies?; do hobbies cause any damage


Books, newspapers, magazines

your favourite writer and his works; different styles in literature;

going to libraries; subscription to papers;

the role of the press in people's lives;

fiction vs non-fiction:

newspaper headlines, popular daily papers and magazines in Britain, quality papers


Films, videos, television, radio

going to the cinema; the usual cinema show in your country/Britain;

kinds of films; different TV and radio channels; cinema or TV??, (dis)advantages;

the influence of radio and TV on people's lives; borrowing videos;

buying or copying videos? - the question of copyright;

your favourite film star/actor/actress/director;



is music art or just entertainment? what makes a piece of music good?

the relation between dance and music; music as a background activity;

different styles and branches; musicians, composers, orchestras;

musical instruments and the way you play/tune them; reading notes;

classical vs pop/rock music;


Theatre, concerts

theatre vs cinema, the atmosphere of the theatre, theatre/play description, stage management,

different kinds of drama, playwrights, genres;

Shakespeare and the English theatre


Going out

staying at home or going out? - argue for and against;

where you or other people usually go in your/their free time;

different kinds of entertainment out of home;

museums, exhibitions, cinemas, theatres, concerts, ballet, variety shows, clubs, zoo, leisure centre, amusement parks/centres, sports events, puppet shows, children's programmes, parties;

argument between children and parents about staying out late



the difference between weekend and weekday activities;

having a rest or going out? - housework or family programmes?

relaxation vs useful kinds of pastime; extra work at weekends;

a typical weekend in England and in your country


Shops and things to buy

different kinds of shops; home delivery; off-season sales; bargaining;

small shop or supermarket/department store? - argue for or against;

act out a situation in a shop


Eating out

argue for or against eating in a restaurant, pub, café, snack bar;

takeaway food: comfort at reasonable price; the (dis)advantage of fast food places and self-service; describe your favourite place to eat;

act out a situation in a restaurant; table manners; laying the table;


Various services (bank, post office, repair shop, etc)

act out situations in a bank, post office, laundrette, etc.

make a telephone call, post a letter; different kinds of mail;

the English Post Office;

the importance of having a bank account (if any)



summer/winter holidays; frequented holiday places and activities;

preparation for a trip, cost estimate, decide on the route, decide what to take, pack;

passport, visa, (foreign) currency, travel insurance;

your favourite places/preferences



why do people visit places of interest? what are they interested in?

describe a typical place for tourism and a typical tourist;

arrange a tour at a tourist office (cp. 'Holidays' & 'Travelling')



means of transport and their (dis)advantages in travelling;

where and how you last travelled;

accommodation, hotel, camp site, guest house;

passport, visa, insurance; customs control/declaration;

tourist office, travel agency, book a trip, package tours;

route, places of interest, holiday areas;

situations at the airport/railway station/port; rent a car

(cp. 'Holidays' & 'Tourism')



arrange your accommodation in a hotel; the importance of facilities and comfort;

hotel vs camp site or private accommodation; hotel categories, famous hotel chains;

act out a situation with a hotel guest complaining to the manager


Visiting your country

geography and history;

guide a tourist in your country, speak about sights and places of interest;

customs and traditions, folk art, music


Culture and civilization

culture: (1) refined understanding of art, literature, etc.; (2) state of intellectual development of a society; (3) particular form of intellectual expression e.g. in art or literature; (4) customs, arts, social institutions, etc. of a particular group o

of people; civilization: (1) becoming or making sy civilized; (2) (esp) advanced state of human development; culture and way of life of a people, nation or period regarded as a stage in the development of organized society

your idea of culture and civilisation; the way you understand art and literature, your favourite style(s); your understanding of history and society; being a member of society: role and responsibility; social behaviour; human rights and possibilities; cri

ime and punishment; stages in man's history and society; the future of mankind


Travelling in Britain or any English speaking country

the United Kingdom/USA: different countries/states and capital cities; parts of England/USA;

British customs, English vs Scottish/American manners;

places of interest in London/New York or any other city


The English language

the importance of learning languages;

why you like/dislike learning languages;

why you chose the English language; your results and experiences so far;

how/when/where you study (speaking, reading, listening, writing); your idea of the best way of studying a language and practising communication; other languages that you have learned;

British vs American English;

differences between English and your language



Sample questions

Choose a question at random and talk about the topic:


1 About yourself

    Who are you and where do you come from?

    (your family connections and close relations)


2 Family life

    Happy together...

    (holidays and occasions with the family)


3 A day's programme

    The best day in my life

    (why was a certain day better than your ordinary days?)


4 The place where you live

    My house is my castle

    (describe your room and the house)


5 Fares, please!

    How do you come to school?

    (means of transport and how to use them; driving)


6 Nice day, sunshine

    Which is your favourite season?

    (weather forecast, British climate vs your climate)


7 Village or town?

    Are you satisfied with your present environment?

    (pollution against nature, the green movement)


8 Studies at school

    Why I (don't) like maths...

    (your favourite and disliked subjects)


9 Jobs & professions

    What occupation would you choose as a career?

    (act out a job interview)


10 Different sports and games

    Why I (don't) want to win the Olympics...

    (give reasons why you like/dislike certain sports))


11 Food & meals

Cooking or eating out?

    (your favourite/disliked food and meals; table manners)


12 At the doctor's

    I wish I were never ill...

    (talking to your doctor; hospital treatment)


13 Reading

    What do you usually read and when?

    (newspapers, literature, your favourite writer)


14 Cinema, theatre

    Isn't a live performance better than watching TV?

    (argue for or against television)


15 At a concert

    The band was terrific...

    (your favourite kind of music as opposed to other styles)


16 Shopping

    Department store or fashion shop?

    (argue for or against different kinds of shops)


17 Restaurant

    The soup is too cold...

    (act out a situation in a fine restaurant)


18 Telephone, post office

    Are you on the phone?

    (argue for or against phoning vs sending letters)


19 Holiday making

    It's not easy to make a good trip...

    (packing, hotel reservation, camping, etc.)


20 Guiding a tourist

    What should a foreigner know about your country?

    (sights, places of interest, geography, history, etc.)


21 Travelling abroad

    Do I need a visa?

    (necessary documents and arrangements, customs, etc.)


22 Studying languages

    Why do you study English?

    (English vs other languages; English culture)

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Topics and vocabulary