IELTS Speaking: less common and idiomatic vocabulary

In the speaking band descriptors (band 7), it mentions in the Lexical Resource section that you should "use some less common and idiomatic vocabulary and shows some awareness of style and collocation, with some inappropriate choices." Here are some less common and idiomatic vocabularies that have been used frequently in our daily life.

1. knee-high to a grasshopper
very small or short. (Usually used to describe children. *Typically: be ~; since someone was ~.)
E.g.      I've known you since you were knee-high to a grasshopper.
           My, how you've grown! The last time I saw you, you were knee-high to a grasshopper!

2. neck of the woods (informal)
area of the country
E.g.      I'm surprised to see you in this neck of the woods. What brings you here?
           There's no scenery like this in your neck of the woods, is there?

your neck of the woods
the area you come from or where you now live
E.g.      If you're in our neck of the woods, we hope you'll come to see us.
Usage notes: often used in the form this neck of the woods.
E.g.      It was a pretty small farm for this neck of the woods.

3. Not the sharpest tool in the shed / not the brightest bulb in the chandelier
A gentle way to say that someone is just unintelligent
E.g.      Danny failed his third test this week.
            Well, he's not the sharpest tool in the shed, you know.

4. rough around the edges (comparative rougher around the edges, superlative roughest around the edges)
in need of refinement; unsophisticated
E.g.      His writing is appealing, but a bit rough around the edges.

5. act your age, not your shoe size
Stop behaving immaturely. Said to adults who are acting like overgrown children and to school-age children who are acting like overgrown toddlers
E.g.      It's time for you to get serious and stop being silly. Grow up, pal! Act your age, not your shoe size!

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IELTS Writing Task2: planning and paragraphing

Here's a question that my students looked at recently.

Nowadays many people think that sports stars are earning too much money. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

Here is my plan for this essay:

  1. Introduction: introduce the topic of high pay for athletes, and make it clear that you totally agree that they deserve the high salary.
  2. First reason: those sports persons may suffer from depression, fatigue and injury; hence they need these much money for recovery or treatment.
  3. Second reason: athletes have a shorter career span; thus they need more money or saving for their retirement.
  4. Third reason: those sports stars bring enormous financial benefits to the society; therefore, it is fair for them to receive higher pay.
  5. Conclusion: repeat your opinion that sports stars deserve high pay.

Pay attention that I put each idea in a separated paragraph in the body part. I recommend all candidates put your ideas in separated paragraph. As in the band 7 marking guide, it mentions that "presents a clear central topic within each paragraph". You can develop as many paragraphs as you want to, and it wouldn't affect your score and the examiners do not care how many paragraphs you write.

Here are two more detailed paragraphs of my first and second reason mentioned above.

Often, it is through depression, fatigue and injury where athletes, entertainers and celebrities see themselves forking out large amounts of money for therapy and rehabilitation. Their contributions should not be overlooked and extensive efforts cannot be replaced which further strengthens and warrants the need for high incomes.

Careers spans for sportspersons are usually short and limited due to the challenging environmental landscape such as demand and completion. For instance seldom do we see the same dash men cementing their presence in the top charts, all the more reason for financial security which would otherwise offset a challenging retirement period.

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Daily English: Common Expressions in English

Here are some English expressions that many English speakers use them every day.

  1. twenty-four seven (any minute of any day | anytime)
  • You can access my blog site 24/7
  1. get the ball rolling (to start something)
  • Let's get the ball rolling. (Let's start now)
  1. take it easy (relax)
  • I don't have any plan this weekend, and I think I'll take it easy.
  1. sleep on it (take some time to think about decision)
  • I'll get back to you tomorrow, and I have to sleep on it.
  1. I'm broke. (I have no money)
  2. The meeting is at 7 o'clock sharp! (‘sharp’ here means exactly, don't be late. Be on time)
  3. like the back of my hand (very familiar)
  • I know this city like the back of my hand. | He knows the city like the back of his hand.
  1. give me a hand. (help someone)
  • Would you give me hand? (Would you help me?)
  1. in / for ages (for a very long time)
  • I haven't seen him in ages.
  1. sick and tired (I don't like | I hate)
  • I'm sick and tired of doing homework.

5 common phrasal verbs for English learners in your speaking

5 common phrasal verbs for English learners in your speaking

  1. Look forward to (excited about something in the future)
  • I'm looking forward to my vacation.
  • I'm looking forward to seeing my brother this weekend.
  1. Get along with (have a good relationship)
  • I don't get along with my brother.
  1. Put up with (to tolerate – something that you may not like, but you have to do or deal with)
  • She puts up with the metro/subway every day.
  1. Give up something (stop doing/quit something)
  • He wants to give up smoking.
  1. Put off (postpone/push back in time)
  • Don't put off clearing your room.

Daily English: Common English Expressions About ‘Money’

Here are some common English Expressions that native speakers like to use in their daily coversations when they talk about 'money'.

  1. loaded – have a lot of money
  • My uncle is loaded, so he always buys us awesome presents.
  1. make a killing – to make a lot of money
  • My sister made a killing working in the oil industry.
  1. make ends meet – to earn and spend equal amounts of money. (Usually in reference to a meager living with little if any money after basic expenses.) | to have enough money to pay for your basic expenses
  • I lost my job and I am having a hard time making ends meet.
  • My wages were so low that I had to take a second job just to make ends meet.
  1. hand to mouth – with barely enough money for immediate needs
  • Since I lost my job I’ve had to live hand to mouth.
  1. to pay an arm or leg to someone - something is very expensive
  • My new car cost me an arm and a leg but I love it.

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