Adult Speaking Class, Level 3 / IELTS: English expressions

25th August 2020

A database of common UK & USA expressions, phrases and idioms for students who want to learn more, in order to increase their command of and respect for the English language. I have provided my IELTS students with half a dozen (a dozen = 12, therefore half a dozen = 6. Having said that, a ‘baker’s dozen’ = 13 … welcome to English !) idioms, but this blog is aimed at students who are willing to go above the barest minimum.

We kick off (start) with expressions and idioms, as they are tremendous fun, then move on to collocations. How words fit together is a powerful tool in learning English … huge chunks of texts suddenly group themselves into small word blocks, enabling you to predict what will be said (especially useful in listening exercises).

Finally, we wrap up with some negotiation phrases. In the next blog, I’ll give you a chance to use these in sentences, but for now, familiarise yourself with a handful of new expressions … it could be right up your street.

Alice Sara Ott - It was a very emotional and intimate... | Facebook
Alice Sara Ott – German-Japanese pianist. I recommended her to a musician friend and he said it was right up his street.

Expressions / idioms

Ring any bells ? // do you remember //

More or less // not exactly but approximately

Get the gist // do you understand the main point ?

Right up your street // this is something you will really like

Rabbiting on // UK slang, especially in London … talking too much

Piece of cake // no problem, very easy, sure

Tongue in cheek // not being serious about something

Tongue in Cheek: Idiom Meaning - English Expression Videos - YouTube
“I think Donald Trump is the greatest US President …” Do you think President Obama would say this and be serious ?

Keep your hand in // to practise something so you don’t forget how it’s done

Bucket down / raining cats and dogs // raining very heavily

Have a go / give it a bash / give it a shot // to try something

Call it a day // to stop work and go home early

Go ahead // sure, do it

Under one roof // everything in one place

Through thick and thin // together in good times and bad times.

Through Thick and Thin (2015)

To spill the beans // to tell a secret, or to share some private information

I should cocoa // UK slang, old-fashioned = I really don’t believe it or you

kick-off // A sports expression from football – means to start

tied up / snowed under / rushed off our feet / flat out / up to my eyes // very busy

daylight robbery // much too expensive, very over-priced.

on your bike // go away !

Norman Tebbit's dad getting on his bike, looking for work until he ...

to throw a wobbly // to become angry and shout and curse

Bang up to date // totally modern and new or completed all your work on schedule

otherwise engaged // busy – a polite way of saying ‘go away’

I know where you’re coming from // I understand what you are saying and how you think

to get hold of someone // try to make contact with someone by phone, in person, email etc

speak of the Devil // to talk about something and then they appear

to be into something // to really enjoy or like something or someone

to put something over someone / to pull the pull over someone’s eyes // try to trick or cheat someone

There’ll be Hell to pay // you will be in BIG trouble !

Hell breaks loose // people will be very angry and upset

I’ll give you a bell / a shout // I will call you on the phone

Knock off / to finish work

knock it off // stop doing that !

That’s proper loud // UK slang ‘proper’ meaning very – that’s very loud

Well chuffed // extremely happy

come again ? / You what ? // UK slang for say it again, please

What do you reckon ? // What do you think of something ?

Collocations

To run a business

To conduct / carry out a survey

Can I have a word with you / a quick word

Do you have minute ?

Voting with their feet

Can I put you on hold ? / to be put on hold / Hold the line

A victory for common sense

I’m none the wiser

On the button / on the money

get the hang of it

scraping the barrel

Scraping The Barrel Cartoons and Comics - funny pictures from ...

Negotiation Language

Negotiation Table Stock Photos And Images - 123RF

I fail to see the relevance

I don’t see how that applies

That’s as maybe

I don’t get/see your point / I think you are missing the point

I don’t see where you’re going with this

I beg to differ

I appreciate that

You raise an interesting point

Having said that

Interesting that you say that

I think / feel that

In my opinion

I take issue with that

I don’t know about that

IELTS / Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Going for a song !

21st August 2020

Some lessons can be rather hard-going, too much IELTS listening or speaking practice so, to mix things up, I use some little diversions to cleanse the palate.

[Today, I will not explain every new phrase – look them up yourselves, write them down and USE them and USE them and USE them !]

Therefore, here’s a little activity I used last week. It’s a hit song from the early 1980s, in fact, it was massive ! The song is an example of Synth pop which is pop music played, or predominantly played, on keyboards or synthesisers. Synth pop, which dominated the charts during my teen years, was not really my cup of tea, I was more into jangly guitar bands such as The Beatles, The Byrds and, in the 1980s, we had The Smiths.

Having said that, I really liked this hit by the band Human League who came from Sheffield which is in the north of England. The single was tremendously successful, staying at number 1 for five weeks in the UK as well as reaching the top of the US charts although for just three weeks which is still an amazing achievement.

Without further ado, the activity: What is happening in this video. Secondly, what is the story – can you understand what the man says and then, can you understand the woman’s reply ?

Try answering these questions:

What job did the woman have ?

How long did it take for the women to become a big star ?

Is the man leaving the woman ?

Does the woman still love the man ?

What does the woman want to do ?

And now, the full lyrics:

You were workin’ as a waitress in a cocktail bar
When I met you
I picked you out, I shook you up and turned you around
Turned you into someone new
Now five years later on, you’ve got the world at your feet
Success has been so easy for you
But don’t forget, it’s me who put you where you are now
And I can put you back down too

Don’t, don’t you want me?
You know I can’t believe it when I hear that you won’t see me
Don’t, don’t you want me?
You know I don’t believe you when you say that you don’t need me
It’s much too late to find
You think you’ve changed your mind
You’d better change it back or we will both be sorry

Don’t you want me, baby?
Don’t you want me? Oh
Don’t you want me, baby?
Don’t you want me? Oh

I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar
That much is true
But even then, I knew I’d find a much better place
Either with or without you
The five years we have had have been such good times
I still love you
But now, I think it’s time I live my life on my own
I guess it’s just what I must do

Don’t, don’t you want me?
You know I can’t believe it when I hear that you won’t see me
Don’t, don’t you want me?
You know I don’t believe you when you say that you don’t need me
It’s much too late to find
You think you’ve changed your mind
You’d better change it back or we will both be sorry

Don’t you want me, baby?
Don’t you want me? Oh
Don’t you want me, baby?
Don’t you want me? Oh

Don’t you want me, baby?
Don’t you want me? Oh
Don’t you want me, baby?
Don’t you want me? Oh
Don’t you want me, baby?
Don’t you want me? Oh
Don’t you want me, baby?
Don’t you want me? Oh
Don’t you want me, baby?
Don’t you want me? Oh
Don’t you want me, baby?
Don’t you want me? Oh
Don’t you want me, baby?

Songwriters: John William Callis / Philip Oakey / Adrian Philip Wright The Sound of the Crowd lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Domino Publishing Company

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. THIS BLOG ISN’T MONETISED IN ANY WAY. THE VIDEO AND LYRICS ARE TAKEN FROM THE INTERNET. NO COPYRIGHT VIOLATION IS INTENDED, AND I WILL REMOVE THE BLOG UPON REQUEST WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

THANK YOU TO THE SONGWRITERS, THE BAND AND THE PUBLISHERS

iTalk Lesson Structure: What to expect

7th August 2020

For my iTalk customers, there have been some changes to the lesson structures.

The lessons will focus on vocabulary and pronunciation. We want you to sound like a native-speaker and that means hard work.

From now, the lesson will be arranged as follows:

A quick warm up to practise recent phrases or vocabulary, and to pass the time until all the students arrive.

This will be a chance for you to do some extended talking to develop sentence-building skills, incorporate idioms, expressions and prepare yourself for a speaking lesson.

The main lesson will be the handout ONLY.

Firstly you will learn new vocabulary and practice:

pronunciation, stress and intonation

Next there is usually some listening so you can hear native speakers use these words. The recording will be played two or three times for you to hear and copy.

Next up is the main language of this lesson. You will repeat these expressions several times and test each other. During this time, the teacher will listen and give guidance.

The idea is for you to sound like a native-speaker. You will ONLY achieve that by practice and practice.

Finally, the remainder of the lesson is for YOU to practice using the language, in various scenarios. I recommend changing speaking partners. Practice means repeating and improving.

Practice does NOT MEAN saying the text once, as quickly as possible, then declaring, “Teacher, finished !”

The teacher is here to help YOU learn.

We are not here to entertain you.

I will not tolerate any sarcasm, rudeness, insults or disrespect.

In the event that I have been insulted or disrespected, I shall end the lesson and you can answer for your actions to the management

I do not plan these lessons – it is just my job to deliver them and help your pronunciation

YOU chose the lesson … if you are bored, that is not my problem. This is a language school not an entertainment centre.

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Small talk, and talking about music

31st July 2020

What is Small Talk? (with pictures)

Small talk

Basic friendly conversations used with work colleagues, people we don’t know very well or people we have just met.

Did you see the news on TV last night ?

How long have you worked here ?

The traffic was so bad this morning.

The weather is very cool for this time of year.

Echo questions 

A continuation of small talk, we use these to show interest in what someone has just said to us. Here, John speaks to his Vietnamese co-worker Ms Tuyen:

John: I can speak German.

Ms Tuyen: Can you ? (What other languages can you speak ?)

John: Ms Nguyen went to Thailand.

Ms Tuyen: Did she ? (Did she go on holiday or for work ?)

Now … your turn. Add the echo question, then try to ask a follow-up question.

He likes K-pop

We are going to the pagoda later.

Ms Thinh has a new job.

T-ara và những lần đến Việt Nam đầy ấn tượng - tintuckpop.net
Thay Paul loves T-ara. Does he ?

Keep conversations going:

Talk about: 

house prices in your city / favourite hobby / your hometown / 

why you have OR don’t have a pet / an interesting program you saw recently

What you want to do in the future.

Small talk language:

I see  / Do you really think so ? 

That’s a good point /  I hadn’t thought of that 

Oh, that’s interesting / May I just add something ?  /

Oh, where is that exactly ? / Yeah, right ! / Sure / OK 

Try some scenarios:

Directions to the city centre (or choose a location in your city).

One student is a tourist, the other is a local 

Ask for help. Other must offer as much help; how to get there, the best way, the price, the dangers.

Body language – distance, expression, intonation, eye contact etc

Also back channeling (expressions such as “Oh, right,” “OK, yeah,” “Really, that’s great.”

Music – What do you like ?

I love it / adore it / enjoy it / I hate it / I can’t stand it 

I’m really into … / I’m keen on //

I’m not into … / I’m not keen on

I quite like / I don’t mind

makes me want to dance // Oh, turn it off !

Vocabulary:

catchy / cheerful / lively / melodic / melancholy (sad music)/ moving / repetitive rhythmic / tuneless / unusual

World Music:

3 clips – which do you like – discuss and answer in full sentences uses opinion expressions:

Denis Aziz ‘A la li la

Rudolpho ‘La Colegiala 

Sainkho Namtchylak

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Street crime.

23rd July 2020

Have you witnessed any crimes ? Have you been a victim of crime ?

What crimes are there in your city ?

What can you do to protect yourself ?

Listening exercise:

Listen to non-native speakers talk about crime-prevention in a big city.

listen for: 

snatch and grab // petty theft // tip // during // dynamic // pay attention

What should you do with your bag ?

What shouldn’t you do with your phone ?

Vocabulary:

procedure // happened // suddenly // officially  // relatively // contents // grabbed

I was walking with a friend along Pham Ngu Lao, around 4 in the morning. The street was ………….quiet, just some tourists and a little traffic. 

I was wearing a small bag, strung across my shoulder. A security guard was behind me, talking to a person in a car. …….., a motorbike came towards me on the pavement. He stopped, …………..my bag strap, then drove away.

Naturally, I shouted but it was too late; he was gone. My friend was worried but I told her it was OK, nobody was hurt. The ………of the bag were really worthless: pens, some medicine, a book, but also my designer glasses.

The security guard was comical in his incompetence. He shook his head, mouth open wide, and said, “It all ………. so quickly, there was nothing I could do.” 

I should, …….. , have reported it to the police, that was the ……….. but people told me the thief would never be found. What I learnt from this unfortunate experience was to be very careful and never walk around with valuables.

Could you be a good witness ?

Tell me about the first criminal – height, weight, hair, features …

What was the second man wearing ?

Who stole the motorbike ?

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: New Slang (when you notice the stripes). Idioms & expressions

15th July 2020

I recreated the shirt from the New Slang music video : TheShins
The US band The Shins with their song ‘New Slang’

Notes, new idioms & slang

Why the long face ? Someone looks miserable or unhappy.

She can talk the hind legs off a donkey ! Talking non-stop !

The tip of the iceberg.

The Unusual Meaning and Origin of the Idiom 'Tip of the Iceberg ...

Piece of cake No problem, easy, no trouble

Same thing, day in, day out everyday is exactly the same, very boring.

On the lookout looking for something

Cooking the books cheating with the company accounts. Writing false information.

Insurance Company Broker Caught Cooking the Books - Workers ...
Pros and Cons of Utlizing a Traditional Grading Scale

A bright spark someone who is very clever

You’re pulling my leg ! joking but pretending to be serious.

The boot’s on the other foot the situation has changed.

You can’t miss it you will certainly recognise it when you see it, when you are there.

Big time ! (US modern popular culture) Absolutely, totally, very, very much

Brass monkeys it’s extremely, painfully cold

Once in a blue moon something that happens extremely rarely

Bob’s your uncle there you are ! No problem, all fixed ! (UK slang)

Now … your turn

Practice using these saying in everyday conversations … answers, as per usual, at the end of the blog.

10 Surprising Facts about Japanese Schools. Daily life as a ...

1) I love the beach. but I rarely go, just ……………………………….

2) If you’re late for class again, the teacher will be furious …….

3) You look so sad ……………………… ?

4) I’m freezing ! It’s ……………………. in here

5) Seriously ? You can marry three wives in UK ? No, you’re ……..

6) Oh, my job is so tedious, …………………………

7) She wouldn’t shut up ! She ….

8) It’s no problem; I’ll clean your laptop, remove the virsus and Trojans and ………

9) I used to earn more than my wife but she got a big promotion, so now …………. She earns more than me !

10) I need a new pair of shoes. I’m ………………… for some high quality Italian leather.

11) The accountant was sacked. He was ……… but that was not all ! That’s just the …………………… He was also stealing computers and selling them.

12) This lesson was a ………………… for me because I’m such a ……………….

13) I didn’t use ‘you can’t miss it.’ Write your own sentence.

Top 6 Most Difficult Courses To Study in Nigeria

Answers

1) once in a blue moon

2) big time

3) why the long face ?

4) brass monkeys

5) pulling my leg

6) Same thing, day in, day out

7) can/could talk the hind legs off a donkey.

8) Bob’s your uncle

9) the boot’s on the other foot.

10) on the lookout

11) cooking the books / tip of the iceberg

12) piece of cake / bright spark

Well, if you’re such a bright spark, write you own sentences and test your partner.

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: What are they like, what do they do ?

21st June 2020

FRIENDS

Don’t judge a book by its cover

A chance to review recent adjectives, and to practise constructing longer, more detailed sentences. There are some repeated words and phrases along with some new ones.

Look at my friends – tell me what you think about them ?

What kind of people are they ? What jobs do they have ? Why do you think so ?

Personality adjectives

postive

kind / sweet / generous / nice / reliable / hard-working / friendly / dependable / life and soul (of the party) / compassionate / a good sport / trustworthy / honest / solid as a rock

friendly black guy on Twitter: "@kaceyiguess my nigga"
The Friendly Man - FILM REVIEW
Wauconda men charged with 'friendly fire' shooting of teenager
The Coach & Horses | London Evening Standard

negative

arrogant / unkind / nasty / mean (1 nasty, 2 not generous) / unfriendly / unreliable / aloof / pompous / bossy ( tell people what to do) / awkward / /difficult / hard to please / thick as a brick (very stupid) / obsequious / lazy /a screw loose (little crazy)

Lead Through Mutual Commitment, Not Compliance | ChangingWinds

 

Scatterbrain Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock
Arpit Garg's Weblog: July 2015
Angry black lady pointing finger Stock Photos - Page 1 : Masterfile

neutral

shy / ambitious / willful / unadventurous / spontaneous / emotional / talkative / exuberant / passionate / firm but fair (expression) / confident /

Ambitious asian businessman | Premium Photo
Boram T-ara Perú Queen's - Home | Facebook

Jobs

white collar: doctor, accountant, teacher, lawyer, professional / office worker

blue collar: chef, factory worker, mechanic, shop workers, fix machines etc

arts: artist, actor/tress, painter, musicians, DJs, poets, writers

Occupations: Which types of work are these ?

estate agent / consultant / plumber /PR (Public Relations) / HR / volunteer / unemployed / therapist / bouncer / shoe-shine boy / market trader / dog-walker

stockbroker / interior decorator / gambler / self-employed psychic / barista / road sweeper / security guard / pollster / politician / postal delivery worker

Barista là gì? Lương Barista bao nhiêu trong năm 2020
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Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Character development.

18th June 2020

Now it’s time to put the work of previous lesson together in order to come up with more rounded character descriptions.

You can tell me what people are wearing by using adjectives (what we think of the clothes, the size, colour, pattern, material, country of origin).

Additionally, you should have enough vocabulary to tell me what a person looks like (length, type and colour of hair), height, age, what they look like.

Furthermore, I expect you to remember some personality adjectives.

If we put all these together, we have some very detailed descriptions, as well as having the opportunity to use relative pronouns (who, where, which, whose) in order to develop sentence-building which is absolutely essential for IELTS students.

And so, without further ado:


Describing people

What do they look like ? What are they wearing ? What kind of person are they ?

As always, I’ll give you an example of what I want, then it’s your turn:

Billy Office manager 32

Works staff very hard. Never gives pay rises

Buys clothes and electronics. Never gives to charity

Becomes angry after beer. Member of a gym.

Not many close friends. Does not like kids

Billy, who is 32 and an office manager, is a very strict boss. He is very serious and also very mean because he doesn’t give his staff more money. Furthermore, he never gives money to charity so he is selfish.

Although he is only 32, he is almost bald. However, he has a neat beard and moustache. He has brown eyes, and he doesn’t like to smile. Billy stands with his arms across his chest, so he doesn’t look very happy.

He wears a bright and expensive cotton shirt with a white collar, but with red, white and blue stripes. Furthermore, he wears an extremely expensive watch.

In his free time, Billy goes to the gym, and also likes to drink beer. However, after too many beers, he can become aggressive. He is a loner, not having many close friends. He spends his money on himself, buying clothes and gadgets. He has no plans for a family as he doesn’t like children.

NOW … YOUR TURN:

Tell me about Ji-yeon and Kofi

Ji-yeon singer 24. Kind to her musicians. Shares money with band. Gives money to family. Performs free shows. Just drinks 1 beer. Uses Instagram & Twitter. Wants 2 children

Kofi civil engineer 37. Very professional. Buys his team lunch. Helps his brother study. Gives money to UNICEF.

Likes to dance and sing. Meets friends weekly.

Goes jogging and diets. Loves swimming. Loves all children.

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Dialogue practice

14th June 2020

An extended scenario that can be used for three speakers, or two, whatever the class needs. Here, a student goes to an expensive private language centre to enquire about course requirement and prices.

The English for Secondary School Preparation course is ideal for ...

You will notice a lot of idiomatic speech as well as expressions. These are designed to show you how to use them in everyday conversation … have fun !

Nottingham Language Centre | Nottingham Trent University

Dialogue Practice

A student comes to the office to get some information about courses

Objective: practice expressions and pronunciation of contractions.

Student Good evening, I’m looking for an English course

PEC 1 You’ve come to the right place !

PEC 2 How may we assist ? What exactly are you looking for ?

Student Well, I’d like to improve my pronunciation, as well as my grammar.

PEC 1 Seems to me that you are already quite good at English.

Student You’ re most kind, but one can always better oneself.

Cambridge English

PEC 2 We’ve an interesting class starting soon … it’s upper-intermediate.

Student Yes, I’d prefer to hit the ground running. When does it start ?

PEC 1 Hold on, let me check …..

telephone rings 

PEC 2 Hello, PEC … oh, hold the line please, she’s busy. OK, she’ll call back soon.

PEC 1 There’s a class commencing the day after tomorrow .

Kings College – Chào mừng bạn đến với English Language Centre – Du ...

Student Or maybe a private lesson ?

PEC 2 I can check … bear with me … yes, with teacher John. He’s passionate about teaching.

Student Sounds good. May I ask the fee ?

PEC 2 Certainly ….  she writes the price down on paper and hands it to the student.

Student Blimey ! I’ll have to think it over and get back to you. I must work now.

Student leaves.

PEC 1 Think he’ll come back ?

PEC 2 Over my dead body !

Hands up if you like this blog:

Trung tâm ngoại ngữ VAE - Việt Nam Advanced Education - Giới thiệu ...

Adult Speaking Class, level 3: Short scenarios

10th June 2020

Some more dialogue scenes to practise using grammar, phrasal verbs, idioms and expressions

To practise question words and the past tense.

what / where /why / when / who / which / how

Dialogue: Catching up

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Jane & Tina are catching up

Jane What did you do last night ? Who did you meet ?

Tina I went out with friends. We saw a movie. How about you ?

Jane I just stayed at home and did chores. Which cinema did you go to ?

Tina At Diamond Plaza. We bought popcorn which we ate before the film began.

Jane You must have been very hungry ! Was the film good ?

Tina Yeah, really exciting. The tickets were incredibly cheap too.

Jane How much were they ?

Tina Only 333 000 VND (three hundred and thirty-three thousand Dong).

Let's go to the cinema | ESOL Nexus

Jane is intrigued and curious about the price

Jane Why so cheap ?

Tina Because my husband won a competition.

Jane Which competition ? Where was it ?

Tina An online one. Do you want to drink coffee tonight ?

Jane Of course ! When ? What time do you knock off work ?

Tina About 10 … we have been very busy, lots of work.

Jane Me too. I worked until midnight last week. I was exhausted.

Tina I saw you. You looked terrible !

Jane Thank you ! 

Knock off = phrasal verb to finish work

Linking words: and / as well as / also / along with

Meeting the new boss

5 ways to win the confidence of the new boss - The Economic Times

Sid What are your plans for this afternoon ?

Viv Well, I need to buy some coffee as well as some milk. How about you ?

Sid Oh, I’ve got to have a meeting with the new director. He seems very strict.

Viv Yeah, I get the impression that he is very serious. However, he is friendly.

Sid Right, he could be an improvement. Having said that, he could be worse.

Viv He seems professional, very neat and tidy. Always a plain white shirt.

Sid Remember the old boss ? Such gaudy ties ! For me, that was unprofessional.

Viv Anyway, is there a convenience store nearby ?

Sid Naturally. Take the second left, then cross over. Can’t miss it.

Viv Brilliant ! You’re an angel.

Dialogue: Talking about Germany

Present perfect, past continuous and questions. Listen for adverbs

Ask Asian Girls: Do Asian Women like Black men? - YouTube

Mary Have you been to Germany ?

Amy No, not yet. Have you ?

Mary Yes, twice. I have (I’ve) visited Berlin and Munich.

Amy Which did you like best ?

Mary Well, Munich is very clean, elegant and stylish, but quite expensive.

Amy And Berlin, the capital ?

Mary I was working there for six months. It was really cool.

How to Solo Travel Berlin like a Boss! - Girl With The Passport

They continue after eating a big piece of pie.

Amy Sounds like you had lots of fun !

Mary Oh, yes ! The food was cheap and the people were incredibly friendly.

Amy How about the weather ? I have heard it can be cold.

Mary It was terrible ! Every day it rained cats and dogs.

Amy You must have been so glad to get back to Vietnam. (glad = happy)

Mary Yes, but I miss the German trains and buses; they were so reliable.

HD wallpaper: people, woman, girl, train, berlin, blonde, commute ...