If you’ve already learnt the Free-Time Activities idioms and if you’ve practised answering as many questions as possible related to this field, then it’s time for more idioms. Although travel and holidays also mean ways of spending your free time,  the purpose of this new list of idioms  is to help students activate the necessary vocabulary before and during the exam with very little or no effort at all. The list also helps English teachers that prepare students for exams such as FCE, CAE, CPE or IELTS to create different games that  could be used as warm-up activities.

Questions that students could answer using these idioms:

  • Have you travelled recently? Where did you go and why?
  • What kind of holiday do you like? Why?
  • How do you usually travel to your holiday destinations and why?
  • What is your favourite way of travelling and why?
  • Where would you like to go for your next holiday?
  • Where do you usually go on summer/winter holidays?

Click here to download:

Idioms for Speaking and Informal Writing – Travel and Holidays


Idioms for Speaking and Informal Writing 1: Free-Time Activities



Speaking Part 1 – FCE, CAE, IELTS. Most common topics – Free-Time Activities (sports, hobbies, friendship, music, films, parties), Home Life, Family, Travel and Holidays, Ambitions and Future Plans (school, job, business, future career), Health (food and diet, exercise), Likes and Dislikes,  Fashion, Clothes and Appearance…these are the most common topics and there’s a wide variety of questions related to them that you could be asked in any of these exams.

Idioms do make the difference between natives and non-natives and it’s sometimes not that easy to use them naturally when your mother tongue is not English. Still, using them a lot in your speaking preparation sessions before the exam (and in a quite controlled way, you’ll see what I mean) would actually help you reactivate them on the exam day and use them…naturally.

All you have to do is have your lists of idioms in front of you when you answer different questions on the same topic and try to include them in your speech, even if that means adapting the answer so that you could use as many idioms as possible (this is the controlled way and it may seem awkward to you, at least for a while.But, keep in mind-you won’t have these idioms in front of your eyes on the big day so, obviously, you won’t be using as many as on those practice days, just those that you will activate naturally as part of your response to the question).

So, if the topic is Travel, there could be questions related to your past, future and ideal trips, journeys and holidays, the way you like to travel, accommodation, places you go to, means of transport…Since there’s a list for that, feel free to use it.

Now, talking about writing, all the topics I’ve mentioned above could be met in an informal letter (FCE, CAE), an article (FCE) or a Review (FCE, CAE). Again, idioms will improve the quality of your informal language.

You can improve your English with more items of idiomatic language, so download, print and use this list of Idioms for Speaking and Informal Writing – Free-Time Activities

 Well, this just another resource  designed to boost your confidence so that you could say Yes To Exams! 


Descriptive vocabulary-places


A list of vocabulary and idioms that can be used by FCE, CAE, CPE or IELTS students in the following exam papers and tasks:

•FCE: Speaking, Writing – Article, Review, Informal Letter

•CAE: Speaking, Writing – Review, Informal Letter

•CPE: Speaking, Writing – Article, Review, Informal Letter

•IELTS: Speaking





Idioms – the coolest English refreshment

easy peasyWhere could you use idioms in exams and why?


*Writing: FCE/CAE/CPE, in the case of informal letters (they rock!!!), in reviews and in some articles and essays ,depending on the topic and level of informality of the idiom. Because some idioms seem more neutral than others. And other idioms may sound really offensive and superficial if used in academic writing.

Here’s a list of idioms you could practise using on a daily basis, until you learn them and are able to fit them almost everywhere (provided they match the content and register, of course):

  1. SECOND TO NONE=better than anyone/anything else
  2. WET BLANKET=pessimist
  3. BURN THE CANDLE AT BOTH ENDS=exhaust yourself by doing too much
  4. SILVER SURFER=an elderly person who uses the internet
  5. TO COME UP SMELLING OF ROSES=emerge from a situation with your reputation undamaged
  6. EASY PEASY LEMON SQUEEZY=very easy indeed
  7. BRAIN DRAIN=loss of talented people by a country that does not offer many opportunities
  9. HAVE A SPUTNIK MOMENT=realize that you are challenged and have to redouble efforts
  10. WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE TOUGH GET GOING=when faced with a difficulty/danger, strong people take action.

Example of a neutral idiom that could be used in may types of contexts:

A THORNY ISSUE (meaning a difficult/unpleasant situation)

Example of  very informal idioms that look extremely offensive and unsuitable in a formal context:

BEGGARS CAN’T BE CHOOSERS (you should not reject an offer if it’s the only one you’ve got)

DEAD MAN WALKING (somebody who will inevitably be in great trouble/lose their job/position)

VERTICALLY CHALLENGED (a very short person)



So, if you’re A TOUGH COOKIE, learn as many idioms as you can and insert them in your discourse, you will STAND HEAD AND SHOULDERS ABOVE the other candidates.

For a useful list of idioms, contact me and I will send it via email. Using idioms will become EASY PEASY LEMON SQUEEZY.