Posted in Conversation Classes, Vocabulary Classes

Politics: Idioms and Discussion

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This is a lesson plan for adult higher-level students (high B2+) in which students learn some political idioms and put them into practice in a discussion. Download the hand out and key below:

Politics student handout

Note: I found most of the political idioms on the site below, but designed the matching task, sentence matching activity and discussion myself:

http://www.learnenglish.de/vocabulary/electionidioms.html

Politics – Idioms and Discussion

Match the idioms to their definitions:

the hand-out has pretty pictures but they didn’t come out here 🙁

1.       A two/three/four-horse race 2.       A political football 3.       Hot air
4.       Toe the party line

 

5.       A political hot potato 6.       A hung parliament
7.       Press the flesh

 

8.       Get on/off your soapbox 9.       Throw in the towel
10.   Bent/crooked 11.   Live/be in an ivory tower

 

12.   Have the common touch

 

a.       Be corrupt

b.      When there’s no clear winner in an election

c.       Empty words

d.      To speak passionately about something you believe in

e.      A problem that doesn’t get solved because of political reasons

f.        To give up

g.       A competition/election only a few people can win

h.      To shake hands with the public

i.         To be able to relate to the public

j.        To be detached from reality

k.       A potentially controversial  topic

l.         Conform to and express the same views as the leaders of your party.

 

Put the expressions in the sentences:

  1. After the speeches the politicians went into the crowd to __________________ with members of the public.
  2. What the chancellor said about trickle-down economics is a load of ________________, I don’t believe it for a second.
  3. The problem with most politicians is that they __________________________ and have no idea how their policies affect people.
  4. I reckon half the politicians in this country are _____________________, you just have to follow the money.
  5. The opposition have decided to __________________________ and accept that they lost the election.
  6. Normally, if a cabinet minister doesn’t ________________________ they’ll soon be out of a job.
  7. Early polls suggest the result will be a _____________________ with no clear winner.
  8. It looks like the election will be a ___________________ between Labour and the Conservatives.
  9. Prison reform has been a ______________________ for years because prisoners don’t vote!
  10. The subject of MPs’ expenses is a ______________________, nobody wants to touch it but I’m sure it’s going to blow up soon.
  11. The new leader of the Liberals _______________________, you can see it in the way he talks to his constituents.
  12. ______________________ Tony, you’re always banging on about conspiracy theories but we’ve heard it all before.

Discussion

  1. How much of a politician’s time should they spend on local issues relevant to their constituency?
  2. How much of a politician’s time should they spend on national issues?
  3. Should all politicians have to toe the party line? When should they be allowed to speak out against their leader/policy in their party?
  4. If a politician doesn’t toe the party line, what should the leader do?
  5. Which politicians are always spouting hot air? Can you trust anything a politician says? Are there any politicians in your country that you believe in?
  6. Who should get the first opportunity to form a government in a hung parliament, the party that got the most votes? Or the party most likely to be able to form a stable coalition?
  7. What have been the biggest political hot potatoes in your country in the last few years?
  8. Are there any issues that are treated like political footballs in your country?
  9. What do you think when you see a politician pressing the flesh? Why do you think they do it? Have you ever pressed the flesh with a politician?
  10. What do you get on your soap box about?
  11. Which politicians in your country have the common touch? And which don’t?
  12. Are elections in your country normally a two-horse race?
  13. If you could change one thing about the political system in your country, what would it be?
  14. How much do politicians earn in your country? Is it enough? Why do people get into politics?

Key

Definition match

  1. G
  2. E
  3. C
  4. L (l)
  5. K
  6. B
  7. H
  8. D
  9. F
  10. A
  11. J
  12. I (i)

Sentence match

  1. Press the flesh
  2. Hot air
  3. Live/are in an ivory tower
  4. Crooked/bent
  5. Throw in the towel
  6. Toe the party line
  7. Hung parliament
  8. Two-horse race
  9. Political football
  10. Political hot potato
  11. Has the common touch
  12. Get off your soap box – used to tell someone to stop talking about something

Follow up

Students could write a CAE/CPE style report on the state of politics in their country, the report could then suggest ways in which politicians could get young people to take and interest in politics.

Posted in Conversation Classes, Vocabulary Classes

Music Idioms and Conversation Topic

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This is a conversation and vocabulary lesson plan for advanced students based around the topic of music. Students talk about their tastes in music and learn some music based idioms. Download the plan below:

Music LP

Music

Intro

  1. What is music to you?
  2. Define “good” music.
  3. What music do you listen to when you’re stressed/angry/happy/sad?
  4. Are you a musician? Can you sing?
  5. What’s more important to you, a good melody or good lyrics?

Music Idioms – match the idioms (1-12) to the definitions (a-m)

  1. There’s no point denying it or putting it off it’s time to face the music and admit you did it.
  2. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet but I think I dealt with that situation rather well.
  3. For our honeymoon we went on a whistle stop tour of 5 European capital cities.
  4. Paul is like a broken record, he’s always banging on about vegan food.
  5. Change the record Janet, we’ve heard it all before!
  6. The lyrics in the second verse really struck a chord with me when I was a teenager.
  7. She’s the one who calls the tune/shots in that office.
  8. My granddad is amazing, 90 years old and still fit as a fiddle.
  9. When they told me the school would have to close early it was music to my ears.
  10. I’m fed up of playing second fiddle to that moron, he messes everything up.
  11. The article’s ok, a bit boring though, why don’t you jazz it up with some raunchy photos?
  12. My students are the worst, I’ve been drumming it into their heads that they have exams today but they still all looked surprised when I told them.
a.       To be in perfect health

b.      To teach someone something repeatedly

c.       To boast/praise yourself

d.      Make something more colourful/interesting

e.      To make the decisions

f.        Someone who keeps saying the same thing over and over

g.       Exactly what one wants to hear

h.      Accept the negative consequences of your actions

i.         Constantly talking about something

j.        To be moved/remind of something when hearing something

k.       Visit the key things in a places very quickly

l.         Talk about something else, we’ve heard this before

m.    Take a subordinate role to someone else

Discussion:

  1. Who do you have to play second fiddle to?
  2. What is music to your ears?
  3. Who calls the tune/shots in your house/workplace/relationship?
  4. How can you be sure that you’re fit as a fiddle when you reach old age?
  5. How do you jazz up your meals?
  6. Did any particular songs/books/poems strike a chord with you when you were growing up?
  7. Are you like a broken record? If so, what are you always banging on about?
  8. What’s the best way to face the music?
  9. Are you known to blow your own trumpet?
  10. What’s the best way to drum something into someone’s head?

Key – Music Idioms

  1. H
  2. C
  3. K
  4. F+i
  5. L
  6. J
  7. E
  8. A
  9. G
  10. M
  11. D
  12. B
Posted in Vocabulary Classes

Food Idioms

This is an activity to teach some common idioms and expressions related to food.

You will need the handout below, which contains photos of various food items.

food idioms pics

You will also need this quizlet set:

http://quizlet.com/72332476/food-idioms-2-flash-cards/

  • Divide the class into pairs or teams of 3.
  • Give each team a set of the 10 food pictures.
  • Project the quizlet set onto the board.
  • Give students a few seconds to decide which food item completes the expression, then countdown from 3 to 0 on zero all the groups hold up the card they think completes the sentence (this way they can’t copy each other) award 1 point to each team that guesses correctly.
  • Award extra points for teams that can correctly define the expression.
  • Winning team is the one with the most points.
  • Then challenge students to write a story containing as many of the idioms as possible in 5 minutes.

Expressions:

A piece of cake – very easy

A couch potato – a lazy person who watches too much tv

The apple never falls far from the tree – like father/mother like son/daughter

To bring home the bacon – support a family financially

….is not my cup of tea – not my thing/something I like

Salt of the Earth – a genuine, charitable, down-to-earth person

As cool as a cucumber – very calm and relaxed

Spill the beans – reveal a secret/sensitive information

There’s no point crying over spilt milk – a problem has happened and there’s nothing you can do, so don’t worry

To butter somebody up – to compliment/treat someone nicely in order to get something

Posted in Recommended Websites, Video Classes, Vocabulary Classes

Idiom Video Clips

I just came across this amazing set of short video clips which illustrate English idioms literally. Show the first, acted out section students have to guess the idiom, then they have to deduce the meaning.

Update: Pearson have moved their content but you can now find the videos on youtube:

Here’s a little gap fill and conversation exercise I’ve made for the first 6 idioms:

Expressions

Posted in Conversation Classes, Vocabulary Classes

Family Expressions Conversation Class

Family clip art

This is a short activity in which students learn some expressions about family and use them in a short discussion.

Have students try to complete the expresions below in pairs.

Complete the expressions:

  1. A family t_______
  2. B______ is thicker than w________
  3. L______ father l_______ son
  4. To take a_______ somebody (to inherit characteristics from a parent)
  5. Like two p_____ in a p______ (very similar)
  6. Like c_______ and c_______ (very different)
  7. Go to a family g_____ – t________ / g_________
  8. A father f__________

Key:

  1. tree
  2. blood, water
  3. like, like
  4. after
  5. peas, pod
  6. chalk, cheese
  7. get-together / gathering
  8. figure

Go through the expressions as a class, then but students in small groups to discuss the following discussion questions:

Discussion questions:

  1. Does your family have a family tree? Have you ever looked at it? Do you know your family’s origins? Do you have any famous ancestors?
  2. Do you agree that blood is thicker than water? How important is family to you? How important is family in your country? Do you think it’s more important than in other countries?
  3. Who do you take after? Your mother or father? In appearance? Personality? Are there any specific hereditary characteristics in your family?
  4. Do you have any family members or friends who are like two peas in a pod? Or any who are like chalk and cheese?
  5. How often do you go to family get-togethers / gatherings? When was the last time? Do you enjoy them? Do you have any annoying relatives?
  6. How important is it for a child to have a father figure? Or a mother figure? How do you think a lack of either can affect children?