IELTS, Adult Speaking Class, Level 3. Warm up conversation starters

9th October 2020

Sometimes students arrive at class after a long day, bereft of energy and motivation. In such situations, it’s best to hit the ground running, get them talking and ready for a lesson. This needs to be done before they pull out their mobiles and start concentrating on their cyberlife … after which time, they are lost to reality.

adults-casual-cellphone-1413653 - Study Finds

Therefore, before they can hit that ‘Post’ button, pair them up and make them ask each other various questions, demanding that the answers be as complex as possible, incorporating big words (‘Low-Frequency Words’), discourse markers and relative pronouns, along with appropriate expressions.

Example: Where would you most like to visit ?

Bad answer: Nowhere. Bad answer: New York.

Better answer:

Introduce your answer THEN state the location THEN explain why.

Ah, that’s an interesting question because I really need a holiday. However travelling now is not a good idea because of the COVID 19 which is an extremely serious pandemic. So, I have to think about after, when it is safe to go on holiday.

I have always wanted to visit Singapore, because it looks so clean and modern and, not forgetting, so many shopping malls. I love shopping, it is my passion. I would buy so many things such as clothes, makeup and presents for my family.

IELTS students should be able to add a number of idiomatic language to really spice up their presentation. I would expect to hear:

cost(s) an arm and a leg / prices (can be \ are) sky high / mouth-watering / world famous / ubiquitous / pristine / that’s a bit of a sore point (because we CAN’T travel) / such a wide array / shop till (I \ you) drop / overwhelming / spoilt for choice / retail therapy

Cheap Shopping Place in Singapore - Buy Souvenirs in the Bugis Street Area
Remember … there are some affordable shopping areas in Singapore although they tend to be away from the city centre but well worth a visit.

NOW … your turn

Questionnaire / Discussion

What kind of music do you like ? (do you play or listen ?)

Can you name any plays by Shakespeare ? (if not what writer do you like ?)

What time do you usually get up ? (weekdays and weekends)

How do you relax ? (do you have time or do you study, have family, work overtime ?)

Can you play a musical instrument ? (would you like to ? Why ?)

What skill(s) would you like to acquire ? (be creative here – what stops you learning ?)

What is the best thing about Sai Gon ? (or YOUR city)

However, this is not a one-way street. The person asking is expected to make small talk, to elicit – to encourage – the speaker to open up and expand on their answers.

Use small talk phrases such as:

Really ? That’s interesting // Tell me more // Why do you say that ? // Oh, me too // What do (did) you like best // Where is that (exactly) ? // I’ve heard about that // I haven’t heard about that, can you explain // Why do you say that ? // Oh, I get it // I’m not sure I follow.

And if your partner is stonewalling you (not talking), here’s a great idiom:

IDIOM OF THE WEEK: Cat Got Your Tongue... - Cairns Language Centre |  Facebook

IELTS: The UK school system

17th September 2020

Farewell, Baxendale and his Bash St Kids - spiked
The Bash Street Kids … from ‘The Beano’ which is a famous comic from the UK, first issued in 1938.

Tonight we have a listening lesson which, although tremendously important, not to say imperative, can be somewhat tedious for the students.

One factor is the vocabulary. If students don’t know some of the words, they will not be able to answer some of the questions; that stands to reason.

that stands to reason = it is obvious, it is common sense, it can be understood. I live in Vietnam but only speak a little Vietnamese. It stands to reason that if I spoke Vietnamese, I would be more independent.

Therefore, allow me to explain a little about the UK educational system while, at the same time, pre-teaching some new vocabulary.

First up, we have Kindergarten or nursery:

How to Help Children Achieve Kindergarten Success - Education and Career  News

As you can see, the age for Kindergarten is 3 – 5. It can be free, or parents can choose to send their children to a private Kindergarten or nursery.

Maybe the word Kindergarten looks a little strange in an English lesson – quite right, it is, in fact, a borrowed word from German. If you have seen my other IELTS posts, you may have come across ‘prima donna‘, which is a borrowed word from Italian. If you can use borrowed words in your IELTS tests, it will surely impress the examiner.

Next, we have primary school for children of 5 to 11. When I was at school, it was broken down into Infants and Juniors. Infants school was two years, then we moved up into a new building, attending four years of Junior school. This was a mixed school by which I mean boys and girls were in the same class.

Woodside Primary Academy © Julian Osley cc-by-sa/2.0 :: Geograph Britain  and Ireland
Woodside Primary school in north-east London

Following on from Primary school we have, quite logically, Secondary school:

A typical class photo from the late 1970s. As you can clearly see, this is a single-sex school. Furthermore, the pupils had to wear school uniform of trousers, blazer and school tie.

Pupils spent three years here, from ages 11 – 14 at Junior High, after which they progressed to Senior High:

Walthamstow Memories - George Monoux Grammar School

Pupils have to attend school until they are 16; it is compulsory.

You must then do one of the following until you’re 18:

  • stay in full-time education, for example at a college
  • start an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training

Read more on: https://www.gov.uk/know-when-you-can-leave-school

What options are open to you after 16 ?

Pupils can either stay at school and enter the VI (Sixth) Form, or go to a Further Education College which differ in that they offer a much wider selection of options such as vocational courses which are more practical and can help students train for a specific job. VI Forms, on the other hand, are academic (theory), preparing students for university.

The VI Form is usually in the same building as the Senior High, so pupils are familiar with the teachers and students. Going to a new college, meeting new staff and students means that time is needed to settle in or settle down.

Qualifications are imperative these days, so many students want to go to University.

149 PhD, Research and Academic Positions at the University of Cambridge, UK  - Scholar Idea

Finally, we have Adult Education which, as the name implies, is for adults who wish to further their job prospects, or simply learn for their own pleasure. As many people are working, these type of education often takes place in the evening or at weekends.

New Vocabulary:

term – part of the teaching year for example First Term is from September to December

it’s a pity – it is sad or it is unfortunate

Fresher’s Week – a week for new students (Freshmen in USA) to get to know what their college has to offer, such as clubs and events.

GCSE exams – tremendously important exams taken at age 15 or 16. Good results mean the student can to VI Form or have to re-sit the exam.

tertiary – means the third – after Primary (first) & Secondary (second), tertiary refers to Higher Education, taken after the age of 18.

NVQ National Vocational Qualification – this is more practical as opposed to academic, designed to teach skills needed for a particular job:

Construction Industry NVQ Assessments Provider | Up Level Ltd
An NVQ card stating that the holder has passed exams to work in the construction industry

BA or BSc – (Bachelor of Art or Science) degrees in the arts or science. Usually attained after a three-year course. The next step is a MA (Master’s Degree) and then a PhD.

internship – gaining real-life experience by working for a company, often for low or even no pay.

Graduate Fair – a chance for students to think about what career to follow, or what company to join. They can speak to people who represent organisations:

A trip to the fair... Okay a graduate recruitment fair. - NAO trainee blog
Fairs - The University of Nottingham

IELTS: Speaking Test, Part 3: How to nail it.

12th September 2020

Ten don'ts for the IELTS speaking test | British Council
Having to think on your feet.

My classes at campus have practised (and practised; I make those guys put their noses to the grindstone) Parts I and II of the speaking test. To recap:

Part I: 4 – 5 minutes, warm up questions. Answer with two, three or four sentences, throwing in a few L-FW (big words), idioms as appropriate, and demonstrate you know how to form a complex sentence.

Part II: 1 minute to make notes, 2 minutes solo speaking. This is your chance to shine, show all you’ve learnt, and score points for vocabulary (including idiomatic language, low-frequency words, adverbs and adjectives), grammar including, as you know, complex sentences which will earn you a higher score as well as being much more interesting to listen to as opposed to short simple sentences. Fluency, so make use of those multi-purpose sentences such as, “Well, that’s an interesting question,” “It’s funny you ask me that question because I have just been thinking about …” etc. Lastly, and not to be underrated, pronunciation, intonation and stress.

Now, we come to Part III

psycho scream

Yes, I know, it can be a nightmare ! The questions are so complex, how could you possibly answer even in your native language ? Well, you can’t … no one can, especially not in a minute or so and under the pressure of a test.

Take a look at this example:

Does the media have a positive or negative effect on the music people in your country buy ?

What a question ! You may be tempted to say, “I haven’t the foggiest idea,” “I haven’t a clue,” or “I have absolutely no idea, next question, please.”

i have no idea what you are talking about - LDS S.M.I.L.E.

The secret is to take power back – make yourself comfortable with the question … and here’s how:

Firstly, we need a great introduction. Some examples are:

Well, that’s a very complicated question …

What a hard question, I may have to think about this …

I’m not sure I know how to answer that because I don’t have enough information, however …

The secret is to take this general question and make it personal, so you can speak about what YOU know, as well as using IELTS language.

Show that you understand the question by defining ‘media’.

I usually get my information from the internet, although I know some people use TV, radio or newspapers.

For me, the internet is great for learning about new singers or groups with sites such as YouTube or Spotify as opposed to newspapers where I can only read about music.

The media is tremendously important for musicians. They are able to upload videos to YouTube, have a Facebook page or a Twitter account. Fans can know when they have a new song or go on tour.

This time, instead of using expressions such as in my opinion, you can use:

in my experience

allow me to tell you what I do

I can’t speak about other people, but I

EXAMPLE:

Well, that’s a very complicated question but I will endeavor to answer. I usually get my information from the internet, although I know some people use TV, radio or newspapers. Usually, I join a Facebook page of a band I like, or follow them on Instagram. Naturally, I look at YouTube which is great because it suggests other music I may like. Therefore, I am able to hear new artists. I’m not sure how much this affects how other people buy music. In my experience, I will buy music if I really like it, for example, downloading a song on iTunes. I can just buy the songs I like, so it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

This time we can use examples:

I’m not sure I know how to answer that because I don’t have enough information, however I can think of one example. I remember when Taylor Swift won an award for best video but Kanye West stopped her speech. This made a lot of people think very badly about him, so maybe they stopped buying his music.

Why Taylor Swift and Kanye West hate each other

I’m not sure I know how to answer that, but let me try. The media is tremendously important for musicians. They are able to upload videos to YouTube, have a Facebook page or a Twitter account. Fans can know when they have a new song or go on tour. I can’t speak about other people, but I rarely buy music anyway, just once in a blue moon.

Hyomin (T-ara) bất ngờ có mặt tại Nha Trang | Văn hóa | Thanh Niên

What a hard question, I may have to think about this … oh, I know, fans can follow their favourite singers on social media, such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. I usually get my information from the internet. I would be over the moon if a music star replied to my comment. On the other hand, if they don’t answer, some people may stop liking them.

The Shins - Simple Song (Live On Letterman) - YouTube

Well, that’s certainly a hard question. I really don’t know what other people in Vietnam do, but allow me to tell you what I do. I like to listen to English songs, to help me improve my language skills. My friends and I tell each other about English or American bands and we look up the words … the lyrics … to help us. I can give you an example. My teacher played a song in class by a band called The Shins, who are from USA. I quite liked the song although most of the words are very difficult to understand. I know one of my friends bought the last CD because he liked it so much.

US singer Kacey Musgraves slammed for sexualising Vietnamese ao dai by  wearing only top half of outfit | South China Morning Post

That’s a very complicated question. However, I can think of one singer who upset many people in Vietnam and Vietnamese people in USA. Do you know Kacey Musgraves ? She sings country music, which is not really my cup of tea, but that is not why she is famous. She wore an ao dai on stage, but only the top part … she didn’t wear the trousers. Many people thought this was so disrespectful. For me, I don’t think I would buy her records after this, even if I did like them.

IELTS: Last chance saloon

8th September 2020

Scotties Last chance saloon" - Trang chủ | Facebook

One of my classes have their speaking test next week therefore, this is their last chance to practise, to demonstrate they know what they need to do to pass with flying colours.

Some tips to assist

An introduction:

That’s a very interesting question

Well, there is so much to say about that subject, where shall I start ?

It’s funny you put that question to me because earlier today I was just thinking about …

Well, that’s a great question

As a young Vietnamese (add your own nationality), I …

Opinion questions:

If you have a question with the following wording:

“What do you think ?”

You can use opinion phrases. We do not want facts, but want to hear if you are able to understand what is required by the question, and if you are able to articulate your thoughts.

In my opinion // From my perspective //personally // In my view / For me // From my point of view

Finally, there will probably be a chance to demonstrate your knowledge of adjectives and adverbs.

You may encounter a question such as:

What qualities are needed to be a good police officer ?

Pin on IU

You could start with listing adjectives:

patient / firm / authoritative / determined / brave / energetic / level-headed / down-to-earth / strong / fit / healthy / imposing / honest / loyal / civic-minded / caring / hard-working /

Next step, add an adverb:

very / extremely / amazingly / unbelievably / quite / rather / undeniably / remarkably / totally / absolutely /

Combine into a complex sentence with discourse markers and relative pronouns and clauses. If possible, paraphrase key words (here I substitute ‘attributes’ for ‘qualities’).

EXAMPLE

A police officer, in my opinion, needs to have many attributes such as being extremely brave and caring although they will also need to be totally healthy as well as being strong and undeniably energetic. Working for the police, which can be a very dangerous job, is not my cup of tea. Having said that, I really admire the honesty and loyalty of these amazing people.

Now … your turn

What qualities are needed to be a … ?

Sports person / Film star / Doctor / Musician / Mother

park, captain of manutd!! | Manchester united, Manchester united players, Manchester  united football club
Crouching Tiger star to wed after drone proposal in China - BBC News
African Doctor Looking to the Camera with Team of Cowoker by sergii_kozii  on Envato Elements
Faces of Classical Music: Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.3 in C  minor – Alice Sara Ott, L'Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Mikko  Franck (HD 1080p)
ᐈ Mothers pic stock images, Royalty Free indian mother photos | download on  Depositphotos®

IELTS: complex sentences

7th September 2020

Last week, I asked a typical warm up question, “What did you do today ?”

Quarantine Memes - MemeZila.com

Remember, when we ask questions we are just giving you a chance to show off and practice your English, so be creative. However, even if you can’t think on your feet, you can make even the most prosaic day more interesting. Allow me to demonstrate:

Today I met my friend and we went to see a movie. After that we had coffee and had some street food.

Asian Girl Shows Emotions During Stock Footage Video (100% Royalty-free)  12386756 | Shutterstock

OK, we can easily make that more appropriate for IELTS.

Firstly, an introduction. Then … details, tell me about the film, about your friend, about the coffee shop and about the food … there is SO MUCH to talk about. Write a longer answer, I’ll give you three minutes.

EXAMPLE

I didn’t go to school (work) today so I had some free time

I met my friend Nancy who I have known for over five years

I had a date with my friend who is from USA

We were at the mall and decided to take in a movie

We were in the mood for a film

We had our heart set on seeing ‘Parasite’ which is Korean film that has won many awards

After, we needed some coffee so we headed for the nearest coffee shop, which was Highlands Coffee. The prices are sky-high however the coffee is delicious. Additionally, there is free Wi-fi.

Later on, we grabbed some coffee at one of the ubiquitous coffee shops. I had a large cappuccino which cost an arm and a leg, however it really woke me up.

It was late, so we felt quite hungry. There is a lot of affordable and delicious street food. I had some chicken and rice and my friend, who is vegetarian, had rice, eggs and salad.

After the movie, we were hungry but the food at the mall is not very exciting and the prices are sky-high, so we went for some street food which is ubiquitous in this city.

Now … you turn

What will you do on your next free day ?

Remember … this is future tense and you can express the uncertainty in your answer.

Target language:

I’d love to … / I’m planning to / I have my heart set on … /

I’m not absolutely sure yet, but I plan to … / I wish that I could …

I’ll probably … / I keep telling myself that I will finally …

Use at least one of the above expressions.

Use relative pronouns to give more information.

See if you can add an idiom (or two).

EXAMPLE

Vietnamese fast food

I really need a free day because I’ve been burning the candle at both ends this week.

I’m not absolutely sure yet, but I plan to meet up with some friends and just hang out. We have all been so busy, we haven’t seen each other for ages. (for a long time).

As you may know, I’m a vegetarian. However, all my friends love fast food especially burgers and fries. We often go to Lotteria which, I believe, started in Japan, and now they are ubiquitous in Sai Gon and easily seen with their bright red stores and big white ‘L’ logo. Despite not eating meat, I can order a fish burger but, in my opinion, the food is not exactly mouth-watering and the service can be rather slow.

Afterwards, I’ll probably go home as I have my heart set on playing a new computer game that my friend, Tony, lent me. Tony, who is actually from Ha Noi, is a real computer geek, he loves gaming, maybe too much. As for me, I get a little bored after an hour so then it’s time to put my nose to the grindstone and hit the books (study) again. “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” That quote, from the Greek philosopher Aristotle, inspires me to work harder, even if sometimes the work is quite tedious.

53 Three Happy Chinese Students Having Fun Hong Kong China Stock Photos,  Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock
Enjoy your free day

For my students with a speaking test soon … Best of British !

Unusual London Buildings. What do you think they are ?

6th September 2020

A lesson for all ages and all levels, just adapt to suit your students’ ability. First, show the photos and try to elicit what the buildings are for, or their original function.

For Speaking Level 3 or IELTS-standard students, they can explain their reasons and use target language, adjectives, adverbs and LFW (low-frequency words). Furthermore, it shows students a different aspect of London (it’s not just Big Ben, London Eye and Tower Bridge).

Now, without further ado, the photos:

 

Tate Modern

Was built 1947 – 1963 to be used as a power station (designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott who also designed Battersea Power Station and the iconic red phone boxes).

Gallery opened in 2000 by the Queen

Shows British and international art

One of the largest museums in the world

in 2018, there were 5.8 million visitors

Globe Theatre

Was built 1599, burnt down 1613.

Rebuilt and opened in 1997

Has plays by Shakespeare, as well as modern plays.

Has 857 seats and 700 standing spaces. People who stand are known as ‘groundlings.’

“To be or not to be,” is from Hamlet.

Police Station

Was built in the 1920s

Only big enough for two people

Has a telephone inside

Made from an old lamppost

Now used for storing brooms

Lloyd’s Building

Completed in 1986

Architect was Richard Rogers

Lloyds are a world famous insurance company.

The lifts are on the outside to make more space inside.

It is 95.1 m tall or 312 ft.

New Zealand House

The building was opened by the Queen in 1963

It is the only tall building in the area.

The House has 18 floors.

However … there is something very special for Vietnamese … can you see the blue circle ?

There used to be the Carlton Hotel here, but is was destroyed in World War II

Ho Chi Minh worked in the kitchen at the hotel

Carlton Hotel, London - Wikipedia
The old Carlton Hotel where Ho Chi Minh once worked

Activities

Young Learners

Stick fact sheets around the classroom. Students, in groups, have to collect information about basic facts such as when the building was opened, and an interesting fact, then present to the class.

Adult Speaking Classes

Elicit uses of bulidings, then ask them if there are any similar buildings in their city. What interesting buildings would they show tourists ? A student has to describe one of the buildings and the other have to guess which one.

IELTS

Students are assigned a building and they have to make a presentation of up to two-minutes in length (to practise for the speaking test). They may be allowed to use the internet for additional information but they are NOT allowed to merely read verbatim from Wikipedia !

As this is an IELTS exercise, we are looking for;

Good, strong introduction

Creative use of adverbs + adjectives

Low-frequency words

Opinion phrases

Idiomatic language

Anecdote or a personal review, giving reasons for their thoughts

Target Language:

Quite unusual / eye-catching / remarkable / innovative / quintessentially British / controversial / brilliant /

It’s not to my particular taste / / I have my heart set on visiting / a unique experience (now add an adverb) / a truly unique experience / a magnet for tourists /

17 Signs That You Probably Need A Break From London - Secret London

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3 / IELTS. Using idioms should be right up your street.

26th August 2020

Yesterday I blogged a database of idioms, collocations and negotiation language. That is just the tip of the iceberg. If you have looked at English-language study books, you will, no doubt, have seen several dictionaries solely devoted to idioms; we use them so often, and there are so many.

For my IELTS students, I have repeatedly taught half a dozen (six) in order for the students to incorporate them into their natural speech … without idiomatic language, you will not break past the 5 score (taken along with grammar, vocabulary and intonation, naturally).

Therefore, for Top Cat students, or anyone looking to learn some more, this blog is for you.

cats top cat | Cartoon cartoon, Desenhos animados antigos ...

Expressions or 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

Rabbit, 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

Now … how you use them:

Student A: Hello, we met last year at Julie’s party.

Student B: Sorry, that doesn’t ring any bells (I don’t remember).

DO I KNOW YOU? NOPE. DOESN'T RING ANY BELLS - no memory gandalf ...

Student A: Are you ready to go ?

Student B: Go where ?

Student C: Cake, food, drink, singing, dancing … ring any bells ?

Student D: Oh, Tony’s birthday party. Sorry, I forgot.

Student A: Are you ready for the test ?

Student B: Yes, more or less.

Student C: I’ll wait for you.

Student D: I won’t be long, I’m more or less finished.

Student A: Do you have to read all the document ?

Student B: No, just to get the gist.

Summarizing and Note Taking

Student A: You should listen to this CD, it’s right up your street.

Alice Sara Ott - Nightfall - Amazon.com Music
Alice Sara Ott | News | Reizvolle Schattenspiele - Auf dem Album ...

Student B: Oh, French piano music, I love it. That’s right up my street.

Student A: What did your girlfriend want ?

Student B: She was rabbiting on about something to do with her clothes, I wasn’t really listening.

Teacher A: Hey ! Miss Mary … stop talking. You’re a little rabbit !

Why People Say Rabbit Rabbit on the First Day of the Month

Student A: Can you drive me home ?

Student B: Sure, piece of cake.

Pink Beer Print Hawaiian Shirt – Hawaiian Shirts Online
John’s new business shirt

Student A: Have you seen John’s new shirt ? It’s so elegant.

Student B: Are you serious ? It’s terrible.

Student A: I know ! I was being tongue in cheek.

Tongue In Cheek: "Tongue In Cheek" Meaning With Useful Examples ...

Now … your turn.

Add the correct idiom [answers at end of blog]

1) Shall we see the new action film ? It sounds ______________

2) Are you still talking ? You are such a __________

3) She said I was the best student but I think she was being ___

4) You said you would bring something … cheese, tomato, garlic bread ____________ ?

5) The IELTS speaking test was a ________ after reading Thay Paul’s blogs (I hope).

6) Student A: Did you understand the project ? Did you ________ of the idea ?

Student B: Well, ______________ but not every single detail.

7 Interesting things you probably didn't know about Shu Qi of A ...
This film, starring Shu Qi looks right up my street.
  1. Right up your street 2. rabbit 3. tongue in cheek 4. ring any bells 5. piece of cake 6. get the gist / more or less.

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: writing & speaking practice

19th August 2020

Replace the standard English words with idioms, expressions and low-frequency words

How English testing is failing Chinese students by driving numbers ...
Hello to my Chinese students

Speaking topic:

What do you do in your free time ?

[Suggested answers after photos]

I study at school many days. I study in morning and I study at night. When I have free time I like to meet friends and have coffee. I go to see movie but not very much.

Sometimes me and my friends go swimming. It is cheap. And I very like to read manga comics because I feel funny. Nothing more.

Foreign Education, Visas, Immigration & IELTS Coaching - Rao ...
Hello to my Indian students

Well, That’s an interesting question because I actually spend most of my time at school or studying. Most days I’m burning the candle at both ends. Having said that, when I do get free time, which is once in a blue moon, I love to just hang out with my friends, maybe go to coffee shops which are ubiquitous in my city. Although I enjoy movies, I rarely go nowadays.

Occasionally my friends and I go swimming because we don’t need much equipment and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Additionally, I really enjoy reading Manga comics, which are from Japan and are extremely popular, I believe, all over the world.

Canadians anticipate rise in demand from Mexico - Languages Canada
Hola to my Mexican students

Speaking topic:

What food is popular in your country ?

In my country are many foods, yes, we have pho, banh mi and Banh xeo. Yes. If you come to my country, you should have pho. Yes. Pho is noodles and soup and beef and vegetables. Yes. Also in my country we have banh mi. Do you know banh mi ? Banh mi is, banh mi is bread, yes, with many delicious things. It is cheap. Banh mi is sold on the street. And banh xeo I very like.

Vietnam's toughest exam - Chao Hanoi
IELTS students studying to go to New Zealand

Thank you for the question, because I can introduce you to some mouth-watering dishes from Vietnam. Allow me to mention just two which, in my opinion, are the most popular.

Firstly, we have pho, our national dish. Pho is noodle soup with different types of meat, with the addition of fresh herbs and vegetables. Don’t worry, you can find pho everywhere, it is ubiquitous.

Secondly, and great for a quick snack or food on the move, is banh mi which is … what’s the word ? Sandwich ? Yes, it is like a sandwich, filled with grilled meat, herbs and vegetables. The best thing is the price, which is really affordable. Again, you can pick these up anywhere in Sai Gon and it won’t cost an arm and a leg.

Speaking topic:

What country would you like to visit ?

Mô hình thi IELTS dành cho du học sinh New Zealand

The country I would like to visit is USA. I want to study in a big city in USA. I have family in USA. I will to stay with family. But I need the good mark in IELTS. I must work more harder. My family live in a big city. They say it is very cold and it is raining many days. In USA I will eat many fast food and I want to be in movies.

IELTS in the USA

It’s funny you put that question to me because just today I was thinking about where I want to study. I have my heart set on studying in the USA as I have some family in Seattle, which is a large city in Washington state. However, to follow my dream, I need a high score in IELTS, so I need to put my nose to the grindstone. May I tell you about Seattle, where I plan to stay ? Unlike Sai Gon, it can be very cold, and it frequently rains cats and dogs, although we also have a rainy season here in Vietnam. Once in the States, I will eat fast food which is mouth-watering. Having said that, I know it is unhealthy, but still delicious. Maybe I will be a movie star ? In USA, anything is possible.

IELTS: Speaking Practice

10th August 2020

To pass IELTS with flying colours you need to use low-frequency words, idiomatic language, discourse markers AND speak with natural intonation, stress and rhythm.

This means PRACTICE, PRACTICE & PRACTICE

TwoSet Violin Perfects Their Practice

So, without further ado, complete these idioms:

Once in _______________

Put (my, your etc) _______________     to the ______________

Burn (ing) __________________   at ______________

It’s raining _____________________

It costs ___________________________

Piece ________________

Now use them in a sentence:

A 4star hotel in Singapore _______________________ (very expensive)

Wear boots and a coat; it’s been ____________________ (very bad weather)

He parties all day and night! He can’t ________________ forever. (doing something for too many hours)

She is not academic, she’ll read a book ______________ (hardly ever).

If you are serious about IELTS, you’ll need to _____________________ (start working much harder).

Now – give me an adverb and a low-frequency word

EXAMPLE:

Teaching unmotivated students is terribly tedious.

Lazy Student Quotes, Quotations & Sayings 2020

Thai food is ______________ _______________

(very tasty)

After failing her test, she was _________ _________

(very sad)

Marvel films are _____________ _______________

(very popular)

My poor old grandma is getting ___________ _______

(very forgetful)

Practice saying these for correct intonation

Swami Vivekananda quote: Everything is easy when you are busy. But ...

Speaking Practice – use discourse markers to extend your speaking and to link ideas.

Try to use: although / consequently / therefore

Describe something you own which is very important to you. 

You should say: 

where you got it from

how long you have had it

what you use it for

explain why it is important to you. 

  • You will have to talk about the topic for 1 to 2 minutes. 
  • You have one minute to think about what you’re going to say. 
  • You can make some notes to help you if you wish. 

Rounding off questions 

  • Is it valuable in terms of money? 
  • Would it be easy to replace? 

This could be a physical object, a memento with sentimental value, or an abstract noun such as health, happiness etc.

Small talk …. Try to talk for as long as possible – then change subjects:

your home town / your favourite holiday / family / favourite hobby / a great place to visit in your city / some terrible things about your city /