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Game: Alphabet Quiz CPE Idioms Version


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This is a new version of my Alphabet Quiz game designed for very high levels (high C1) in which students have to guess different idioms which begin with each letter of the alphabet. Credit to my colleague Peter Rassa for the idea. The game is similar to the gameshow “Pasaparabla” on Spanish television. You will need the lesson plan with the question sheet:

Alphabet Quiz CPE Idioms Version


Write the alphabet on the board, if you’re feeling really creative you can do it in a circle as shown in the picture above. Quickly recap the letters that often cause your students problems. It varies from place to place but in Spain they struggle with J, G, E, I, Q, W, and Y.

Quickly recap the letters that often cause your students problems. It varies from place to place but in Spain they struggle with J, G, E, I, Q, W, and Y.

Write all your students’ names on the board in a list.

Choose a player to go first, explain to them that you are going to ask them a question, the answer to the question begins with the letter A. They have two options: they can attempt to answer the question or they can say “pass”. If they choose to answer and they get it right, they get 1 point but if they get it wrong they lose 1 point. If they choose to pass, then it is the next student’s turn but the next student is asked the “B” question. You continue like this through the list of questions, every time a question is answered correctly you cross that letter out from the list on the board. When you reach the end of the list (the “Z” question) you then return to the top of the list and work your way through any questions which were not answered the first time around.

NOTE: It is important that students don’t shout out the answers to the questions if it’s not their turn as that question could be revisited later.

The winner is the student with the most points when all the questions have been answered or at the end of a set time limit.


  1. A person’s weak spot. Achilles heel.
  2. A person who is bad and makes other bad. Bad Apple
  3. A relaxed, quiet time immediately before period of violent activity or argument .Calm before the storm.
  4. If you are overcharged or underpaid, open, unfair and hard to prevent. Rip-off has a similar meaning. daylight robbery.
  5. If someone has egg on their face, they are made to look foolish or embarrassed.
  6. If you have to face the music, you have to accept the negative consequences of something you have done wrong.
  7. If you get something off your chest, you confess to something that has been troubling you.
  8. If someone is happy-go-lucky, they don’t worry or plan and accept things as they happen.
  9. This expression is used to refer to something good that happens on top of an already good thing or situation. Icing on the cake
  10. If people are joined at the hip, they are very closely connected and think the same way.
  11. When someone kicks the bucket, they die.
  12. The last straw is the final problem that makes someone lose their temper or the problem that finally brought about the collapse of something. It comes from an Arabic story, where a camel was loaded with straw until a single straw placed on the rest of the load broke its back.
  13. If you make a killing, you do something that makes you a lot of money.
  14. If two competitors or candidates, etc, are neck and neck, then they are very close and neither is clearly winning.
  15. If you’re on a roll, you’re moving from success to success.
  16. If you go out for a night out with lots of fun and drinking, you paint the town red.
  17. If someone’s as quiet as a mouse, they make absolutely no noise.
  18. Someone who starts life very poor and becomes rich goes from rags to riches.
  19. When all the best people, things or ideas and so on are used up and people try to make do with what they have left, they are scraping the barrel.
  20. If you take a leaf out of someone’s book, you copy something they do because it will help you.
  21. If you are feeling a bit ill, sad or lack energy, you are under the weather.
  22. A vicious circle is a sequence of events that make each other worse- someone drinks because they are unhappy at work, then loses their job… ‘Vicious cycle’ is also used.
  23. If something belongs to the past and isn’t important or troubling any more, it is water under the bridge.
  24. If something is x-rated, it is not suitable for children.
  25. This idiom means that if you do something for me, I’ll return the favour. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.
  26. This is used to tell someone to be quiet. Zip it.
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