Jean and Matt’s English Class 12: Apartments and the President

Ninmen Hao,

in today’s class, we are going to talk about housing here in Tianjin as well as the language they use to describe housing in America.

In Part One, we will use some of the exercises from the Face2Face pre-intermediate and intermediate books. The exercises will allow us to discuss housing in Tianjin,  a houseboat in France, and American terms for housing.

In Part Two we will read an article called “Trump Family Values” from the South China Morning Post. We will read it in parts, and pause to discuss each section and some of the words and phrase used.

Part One

Let’s do this exercise adapted from the one called ‘Home Sweet Home” in the Face2Face pre-intermediate book (exercise 8a, page 60).

tianjin xinhe housing

Vocabulary: describing your home

Working in your small groups, discuss these questions (I will come around to discuss with you).

  1. Do you live in a high-rise or low-rise building?
  2. Which floor is your apartment on? 
  3. Is your building old or new? 
  4. Does your apartment have a balcony? 
  5. Do the apartment buildings in your complex have gardens to walk around?
  6. Do you live on a busy or quiet road/
  7. Is your apartment close to or a long way from the subway?
  8. Is your apartment close to or a long way from a park or gardens?
  9. Are there many places to do your food shopping near your apartment? Which shops or markets can you use?
  10. How would you describe the area your apartment is in?
  11. Do you like living there/ Why? Why not?

OK, let’s share your views about your home and its area in a class discussion.

housebaot seine

Now let’s do the following reading, and then the comprehension quiz ( the reading is from Face2Face pre-intermediate book (page 61)

Bridget: I live on a houseboat on the river Seine with my husband, Alain, and our daughter, Isabel. I met Alain eight years ago when I was on holiday here in Paris — I’m from Ireland originally, you see. We’ve been married for six years and I’ve lived here since our wedding day. the boat has got everything we want — a kitchen, a big living room, two bedrooms, a bathroom, central heating and a small garden. Alain’s lived on this boat since 1995 — he never wants to live anywhere else and neither do I. The best thing about our home is that it moves. We can leave tomorrow and go anywhere we want. 


  1. How did Bridget and Alain meet?
  2. Where is Bridget from?
  3. When did they begin to live on the houseboat?
  4. Where is the river Seine?
  5. Why do they like living there?
  6. Would you like to live on a houseboat on the Seine? What about a houseboat on the Hai He?

american house


Now let’s do an exercise adapted from the one in the intermediate Face2Face, from chapter 5, Home truths (page 36)


Let’s review the words to see if there are any we don’t understand. Then, let’s do work together to answer the following question:

In the table of American housing terms above, which words or phrases are a) types of homes, b) locations or c) parts of a home?

Now, work in your small groups to answer the following:

What are the five most important things to look for in a new home? Use the words/phrases from the table above as well as your own ideas (it might be good to write your answers in a list).

Let’s share our small group lists with the class and see if we can come up with an agreed final list.

Part Two: “Trump Family Values”

An article by Donald Kirk 18 Nov 2017



Americans like to believe their experiment in democracy is a global trend-setter. If there’s one particular sin they love to point out, it’s that of nepotism. Look at all these terrible dictators appointing their relatives to high positions, they say with righteous indignation. Why can’t they be more like us – democratic, fair-minded, egalitarian, fair and just?

No powerful global leader, however, is guiltier of the sin of nepotism than Donald Trump. He seems to think his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, qualifies as a top adviser on just about everything. Kushner sits in on sessions involving domestic and foreign policy, [and] has a “secret” security clearance …

Kushner owes his high-level connection to his marriage to Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, creator of a brand of women’s high fashion. She too qualifies, in her father’s opinion, as a senior … adviser – …. Neither she, nor her father, nor her husband see any conflict of interest inherent in her firm’s relying on ill-paid workers in …(China, Bangladesh, etc) to produce the clothing that her company purveys, while Daddy promotes “Made in America Week” – urging manufacturers to make their products on US soil. 

Pause for Reflection: Let’s review the words or phrases that may be unfamiliar, then we can read the next section

jtjrThen there’s Donald Jr, in the headlines, … for his secret talks with some Russian lawyer who was supposed to provide dirt on Hillary Clinton long before last November’s presidential election.

Those are just the most obvious examples of beneficiaries of the Trump family nepotism.

The … reports have had a terrible effect on Trump’s presidency. Not only is he immensely unpopular, he is also unable to ram through important legislation on which he campaigned and has staked his presidency. Some of this legislation – such as his attempt to replace Obamacare with Trumpcare, a national health insurance scheme that would leave more Americans without access to proper care – is terrible. Perhaps it’s just as well he’s not able to do what he wants.

Bid to replace Obamacare collapses, dealing heavy blow to Trump

Pause for Reflection: Let’s review the words or phrases that may be unfamiliar from this second section, then we can read the last section below

There may, however, be an upside to the drip-drip of scandals pertaining to the nepotism of Donald Trump. That is, at least the domestic media is on the case.

The US networks have been reporting .. on revelations of who was in the room with Donald Jr when he met the lawyer from Moscow. The New York Times, besides having revealed the meeting in the first place, floods its editorial and op-ed pages with commentaries attacking Trump. The Washington Post is competing with the Times for who can say the most, who can reveal the worst, who can come up with new ways to undermine the president.

Can one imagine such unremitting attacks on the leaders of other countries mired in nepotism with overtones of corruption? Could it be that the US is still setting an example for the freedom of the press? Or is the nepotism of the Trump administration a huge weight on the democratic process?


Pause for Reflection: Let’s review the words or phrases that may be unfamiliar from this last section, then we can have a discussion.

Some of the questions we might consider are:

  1. What kind of a President is Donald Trump? How would you describe his presidency and leadership?
  2. What problems does nepotism cause for America?
  3. What does the “Made in America” campaign do and why is it a problem for Trump.
  4. Why do you think Americans elected Trump President? What kinds of Americans voted for Trump?
  5. Does America’s free press help the situation? What about social media?
  6. What kind of people is the President opposed to?











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