Cat got your tongue ? Time to talk idioms

6th June 2020

We had a number of blogs devoted to idioms, so now it’s time to practice using them as part of your everyday English. Not only will IELTS students earn points, but every student will feel closer to English, and sound more like a REAL native-speaker. You can only learn so much from text books …

So, without further ado, a range of dialogues for you to practice:

Dialogue 1

Hello, how’s it going ?

Great, thanks. What have you been up to ?

Oh, same old, same old. Nothing new. Are you busy ?

A little.

Do you want a hand ? (Dya wanna hand)

That would be wonderful. Can you take over for a moment ?

Absolutely !

I’ll be right back. I need to print out some documents.

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Dialogue 2

What shall I get on with ?

I just need you to finish off the progress reports.

Oh, piece of cake ! (pieceacake)

You’re an angel.

I know…hahaha.

Colleagues at office on coffee break | Free Photo

Dialogue 3

Hello, do you have a minute ?

Sure, what do you need ?

Could we have a little chat ?

OK, let’s go to my office. Have a seat. Now, what’s on your mind?

I’d like an increase in our budget. We desperately need a new photocopier.

Unfortunately, those things cost an arm and a leg. What is the exact price ?

I’ll find out and get back to you. We may have some money in our budget.

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Dialogue 4

How’s the new girl ? Are you showing her the ropes?

She seems to be OK but I still need to keep an eye on her. Are we having a meeting later ?

No, it’s been called off.

Ok, back to work. I need to finish off some expense sheets. 

Yes, time is money.

See you later.

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Dialogue 5

What were you doing last night ? I tried to call.

I was watching TV. Was it important ?

We were having a party. I wanted you to come.

Your parties are such fun ! What did you do ?

We were all looking online for bargains. Anna bought some great shoes.

She’s always talking about buying shoes.

I was looking at the clothes from London. So stylish.

The friendship chat

Dialogue 6

Did you see the email from the Manager ?

Oh, that old windbag ! He was talking so much.

Yes, even his emails go on forever hahahah.

Did you bring your raincoat ? It was raining all night.

I know – it was raining cats and dogs.

They were thinking about calling off the meeting because of the rain.

Yes, maybe the traffic will be chockablock.

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Dialogue 7

Oh, do you know how to use this Zoom program ?

Yes, it’s very easy. It’s a piece of cake! Have you met Jane’s new boyfriend ?

He seems a real loser. As far as I’m concerned, she can do much better.

What does he do ?

Nothing, the work-shy layabout. I believe he wants her money.

In my experience, guys without jobs are hopeless. A waste of space !

How did she meet him ? She’s such a workaholic ! At the gym ?

Well, not at the gym, he’s no hunk ! It’s obvious to me it won’t last.

I’m convinced it’ll soon be over. She needs a good solid as a rock guy.

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Idioms Part 3: All above board, nothing under the table.

4th June 2020

Time to put your money where your mouth is !

We’ve had two previous posts chockablock with idioms. Now, when push comes to shove, can you use them in your everyday English. Remember, those studying for IELTS will get extra points by demonstrating a knowledge of idiomatic language … so pull your finger out and put your nose to the grindstone.

This is an extended dialogue sequence. Practice the idioms and intonation and stress. You may wish to try short sections first, before attempting the whole exercise.

Hello, how’s your day been ?

Oh, so-so. And you ? Did you finish off the reports ?

Yes, more or less. 

You better make sure they’re finished. You know what the Director’s like.

I know. If things aren’t done, all hell breaks loose !

Better keep on his good side. What else do you need to do ?

File some invoices, send off some emails and I need to get hold of Anna in HR.

I think she’s off sick today. 

That’s a pity. Did you finish the wages ?

Yes, piece of cake ! Now I’m going through all the bank statements for the last quarter.

Not cooking the books I hope. Are we still going out tonight ?

Oh, sorry, I can’t know. Something’s come up.

What ? I thought you wanted to see the film. Johnny Depp’s in it.

I know, but I have to work late. Why don’t you ask the Director ? He’s really into cinema.

I don’t think so !

Why not ? He’s such a charming man.

Well, I beg to differ. He’s an old windbag and he drinks like a fish !

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Talk, talk, talk … what an old windbag !

Adult Class, Level 2: Dialogue practice.

4th June 2020

ปักพินในบอร์ด Stock photos ☆

A sample of different speaking situations to help you practice:

Past simple

Idioms

Picture description

Going to a bank

Coffee shops

Talking about your children

Easter in UK

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Simple Past

To kick off, two friends, Kim & Lyn are catching up, asking what they have done recently.

Kim Good evening, how are you ?

Lyn Very well, thank you. Long time no see.

Kim Yes, I’ve been out and about.

Lyn Really ? What did you do ?

Kim Well, I found a great restaurant in District 1. I went there with Peter and Jenny. We tried food from England. 

Lyn Yes, I heard about it. I got an email from Mary. What did you eat ?

Kim We ate roast beef and potatoes, and drank lots of hot, sweet tea.

Lyn Wonderful! Did you try the beer ?

Kim You know beer’s not my cup of tea !

Lyn How about Peter ?

Kim Oh, my goodness, he drank so much. He nearly fell over. What he didn’t drink, Jenny finished off.

Lyn I didn’t know she drank.

Kim She drinks like a fish. I spoke to Mary as well. She went to Thailand and brought back some gifts. The children loved them.

Lyn She is very sweet. I began to write her an email but then Peter phoned me. Would you like some tea ?

Kim Oh, now you are like an Englishperson.

Lyn Certainly !

Idiom: bear with me = wait a little time / a few minutes / a moment

Describe what you see in this photo. Use as many adjectives as you can.

I notice a lack of adjectives and adverbs in my students’ speech; they are able to complete abstract exercises, but I want to hear them incorporate what they’ve learnt into everyday talk, a natural feature. Therefore, the best way is practice … and practice.

Tell me what you see in the above photo. Adjectives can apply to what YOU think of the ladies (beautiful, gorgeous, plain, ugly), their age, origin, size, hair, clothes. However, I want to hear sentences.

Example: The gorgeous young Asian lady with the long black hair, is wearing a cute floral dress

(floral = flower pattern)

Now, verbs … describe their actions

Subject first; do NOT start with ‘She,’ or ‘They.’

Where are they ? What are they doing ? What have they been doing ?

How are they dressed ? How do they look (emotions)

What do you think they are talking about ?

Conversation practice Bank

Two friends are in a coffee shop

Cath This is a great cup of coffee ! Ok, what shall we do next ?

Di I have to run to the bank. I need to deposit some money.

Cath Good idea, I want to use an ATM. I also need to buy some dollars.

Di You can check the exchange rate at my bank. It’s not far, we can walk.

Cath Oh, I love your earrings. They are so cute. Mine are so ordinary !

Di No, yours are sweet. Mine look valuable but they are fake.

Cath Really ? They look amazing. A very unique design.

Di So kind. OK, have you finished your coffee ?

Cath Bear with me … oh, no … it’s started raining cats and dogs !

How many adjectives can you see ?

Speaking practice:

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Pam Your daughter is gorgeous. Like an angel. She looks like you.

Uma Yes, but she takes after her father. She is very grumpy when she’s tired or hungry.

Pam My son is usually very good, he sleeps like a log, but now he’s teething.

Uma Ahhh, poor little thing but it will pass. Does he still keep you up at night ?

Pam Well, a little but not too much. I give up reading or watching films.

Uma I get it ! We have a reading group. Sounds good ?

Pam Hmmm … let me think about it and get back to you. OK, I must run … bye.

Speaking practice:

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Bea What a day ! It was non-stop. No time to think. I need some coffee

Lyn Here you are. Tell me all about it, from start to finish.

Bea Firstly, I overslept, so I had to jump in the shower and skip breakfast. I was grumpy.

Lyn You ? No, you are always so sweet. Nearly always haha.

Bea Then I nearly got into an accident with some stupid Grabbike man.

Lyn Oh, some are so nice but others are total idiots !

Bea Exactly. Afterwards, my computer crashed at work and my boss yelled at me

Lyn What a terrible day. Now you need some coffee and a big piece of pie.

Speaking practice:

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Nina Have you seen this western tradition ? They give chocolate eggs at Easter.

Eva Are you serious ? I adore chocolate. Who gives them ?

Nina Well, parents give to children, husbands give to wives, boyfriends to girlfriends.

Eva I haven’t seen them. Can you tell me about them ?

Nina Sure, it’s a large piece of chocolate shaped like an egg.

Eva I like the sound of that. A giant chocolate egg, sounds like heaven.

Nina That’s only part of it. Inside the egg, there are more chocolates.

Eva Ok, next year I am going to England. I will eat like a pig. A chocolate pig !

Easter in uk

Everyday idioms, everyday

3rd June 2020

Test your idioms, expressions, phrasal verbs and creative writing

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The hustle and bustle of everyday life, seen in this photo of Liverpool Street Station in London. People coming and going, jumping on trains, rushing to work, running around like headless chickens.

An everyday scene, with everyday expressions. This article is for you to test your knowledge of idioms, after reading the previous two blogs.

Without further ado …

Don’t just stand there ! Let’s get down to some work

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Chop chop, jump to it

Write short sentences, or dialogues, using the following idioms and expressions.

what have you been getting up to ? // raining cats and dogs

chockablock // hold your horses // under the weather // chop chop // vicious circle

// can you follow me ? // a screw loose // not my cup of tea // kick the bucket //

cut and dry // turn over a new leaf // pull your socks up //

as much use as a chocolate teapot // let’s call it a day

You may not know some of the above, so just ask your teacher, or do an online search

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Next up, using phrasal verbs

Write sentences using as many of these phrasal verbs as you can:

Phrasal verbs with ‘get’:

get back to studying / get on with work / get down to some work/ I get it ! (idiom) // get on with people /get on in life / get ahead in business /

Phrasal verbs with ‘make’:

make a decision / make your mind up / make a career move / a make-over /  make an effort / make or break time / what do you make of it ?

Creative Writing

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Scenario One: Two people meet on their first day at an English centre

Scenario Two: A manager has a meeting with a staff member who is always late

ONE

Introduce yourself // Where do they live // Why are they here ? //

What do they like ? // Compare music and films // What they plan to do //

Agree to be friends and study together

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TWO

Quick hello // Reason why staff was late today //

Manager is unhappy – wants change // Manager suggests less wages //

Must renegotiate new contract // Staff has problems at work //

Staff apologies, promises to be better

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You can decide what the characters are like – are they:

friendly, shy, out-going, arrogant, funny, dependable, reliable, moody … ?

This will affect HOW they speak – their stress & intonation and body language.

You can decide what the locations are like – are they:

small and intimate / large and impersonal / pleasant environments / dirty … ?

GOOD LUCK !