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

Adult Class, Level 3: Games without frontiers

27th November 2019 AEF 7A pp. 64 – 65

Tonight I’m covering a new class so I don’t know the ability of the class, their motivation, nor their willingness to talk English. There is a lot of book work but, to cover myself, I’ve prepared a list of activities to help get the students involved and producing English.

Hence, a compilation of adult activities:

First up – Family Fortunes

This seems to be a small class, maybe just seven students. Rather than ask them for introductions, we’ll jump straight into a game. Class divided into smaller groups and given a writing board and marker. I ask a question and then want four answers. Points for each answer that matches mine. Questions can include:

Not counting Sai Gon, I have been to four places in Viet Nam … which four ?

My four favourite things to eat in VN // Four things I LOVE about VN // Four things I HATE ! // Four instruments I can play (it’s a game, not the actual truth) // Four types of film that I like // Name four cities in Europe // Which four languages can I speak //

Moving on …

Mobile phone survey:

One of many online review posts

The students will be arranged in small groups. One member will be responsible for gathering the information, then reporting back to me.

Next up – a new persona.

Related image

Students are put into two or three groups, with each member given a card with some information about their new identity. They read the information to the group, who have to try to understand and write down details such as email addresses, phone numbers or Facebook accounts. Example:

Hello, my name is Tony

I’m 23 and I love shopping for shirts and ties.

I’m not into reading or books. I find them boring.

My mobile number is 0943 552 8207 

It’s highly probable the other students will need to hear some of the information again, so they can use the following:

I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your phone number (email address etc)

Could you repeat that, please ?

Could you spell that, please ?

Would you mind speaking slower, please.

Putting students into small groups helps to take the pressure off the students, as they speak to a limited number of classmates, not alone and in front of the whole class. this is highly effective in motivating shy and quiet class.

No rest for the wicked … Call My Bluff

Image result for call my bluff

Class divided into small teams. Each team reads out a low-frequency word, followed by three definitions (hopefully, they will be able to embellish and add some of their own ideas). The opposing team has to review the three definitions, maybe ask for examples in a sentence, and then decide which definition is correct. Example:

jeopardy

  1. In danger, in danger of losing or failing (noun)
  2. A small car used by the army (noun)
  3. A bird in Australia that can speak fluent English (noun)

contestants

  1. People who order food in a restaurant but run away without paying (noun)
  2. A large vehicle for carrying heavy things (noun)
  3. People who enter (take part in) a competition (noun)

Others words include: maximum // in the form of //reduce // actual // smart // except the last one // obnoxious // broadsheet // charismatic // convinced // stain

Just a Minute

Students are put in pairs. They have to speak for one minute on a subject without hesitating, repeating or deviating (speaking about a different subject). This will test the students’ ability to speak fluently, as well as giving opportunities for using discourse markers and new vocabulary learnt so far. Subject are deliberately open, for example:

food // travel // work or study // life in Sai Gon // their family // their house.

Viet Nam presentation – where should I go on holiday ?

Three teams, representing Ha Noi, Hue and Nha Trang. 

Image result for ha noi
Image result for hue postcard
Image result for nha trang postcard

This exercise encourages team work and, furthermore, allows the students to develop their intonation skills; they will have to sound excited and optimistic.

To assist, here are some words and phrases to embellish their speech:

cultural centre // historical importance // breathe-taking scenery // tranquil // relaxing // hustle and bustle // mouth-watering food // never to be forgotten //unforgettable // once in a lifetime experience.

To give some help, I can perform a quick example:

Image result for london postcard

COME TO LONDON, UK’s magnificent capital city and one of the world’s GREAT cities.

SEE such iconic, historical sights such as:

Buckingham Palace, home of our Queen, Tower Bridge over the Thames river.

Visit the world-famous British Museum to see the wonders of the world, or watch a football match at Wembley Stadium, in the country that invented the sport.

There is something for everyone:

Shops; you can buy everything here, to suit all budgets, from street markets to high-end department stores. To relax, London has so many tranquil parks, right in the centre of the city. Maybe see famous movie stars at one of London’s many, beautiful theatres, or dine out at restaurants cooking traditional British food or anything from anywhere.

London – one of the world’s GREAT cities

A holiday of a lifetime ! Book early !

Mr Paul tours – visit our website mrpaultours@ukonline.co.vn for more information

🙂

Special discount 10% for my students 

Desert Survival

Image result for the desert

A plane crashes in the desert. No one is hurt, but they cannot stay by the plane. They need to be rescued and to stay alive. The plane has a lot of items but they can only select FIVE:

first aid kit // matches // rope // knife // compass // cigarettes // blankets // barrel of water // flare gun // torch (flashlight) // magnifying glass // Beatles CD // dried food // make-up set // Angry Birds game // air rifle // sun cream (sun block) // English grammar book

Image result for flare gun
Image result for first aid kit
Image result for beatles CD

Factors to consider: food, drink, heat, cold, attracting attention, wildlife

Class put into teams and each team must choose their five items. After, they must compare their selection with the other team(s) and argue their reasons. Here we can practice negotiation language:

I see your point, however I disagree because …

That’s interesting, however …

I respectfully disagree

I’m not sure about that

I don’t feel that is entirely right …

Class interact and practice agreeing, disagreeing and making convincing arguments.

Friends

Here I show five pictures of men or women. Students, just by appearance, have to guess the personality and occupation of my friends.

Image result for business man headshot
Image result for DJheadshot
Image result for angry bouncer
Related image
Image result for crazy man

This is a good way to teach new adjectives and jobs … and, in case you’re wondering, their jobs are: unemployed (looking for a job so is sending out CVs) // DJ // Actor // self-employed plumber and … doctor (photo taken on holiday).