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Cambridge Exams Featured Idioms and expressions Learning Materials

Phrasal Verbs for Cambridge FCE and CAE Speaking Module

June 7, 2017

During the Cambridge CAE or FCE Speaking Module, examiners look for your ability to use advanced vocabulary, including phrasal verbs, as naturally as possible. Learn these phrasal verbs for the Cambridge FCE and CAE Speaking Module and your score will improve drastically!

Phrasal Verbs for Cambridge FCE and CAE

Before learning the phrasal verbs, you must know what the focus is for each of the parts of the Speaking Module. Once you understand the tasks, you can learn phrasal verbs which are directly related to the types of speech you will use in each section (such as language for talking about the future, comparing and contrasting, agreeing and disagreeing, etc.).

Note: The CAE and FCE Speaking Exams are very similar, but there are a few differences (these are noted below). You can use the same phrasal verbs for each exam, regardless of the differences in the test format.

Part 1

For Part 1 of both FCE and CAE, you may be asked about things like your home town, your interests, your studies, your career(s), etc. When speaking about yourself, try to use the following phrasal verbs.

Bring (someone) up

Definition: to look after a child until it is an adult. (Note: this is often used in the Passive Voice.)

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: You will probably be asked about your childhood and where you are from.

Example: I was brought up in a very large family: I have four brothers and sisters.

Get along with

Definition: to have a good relationship with someone.

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: You can use this phrasal verb to speak about the relationships you have with family, friends, roommates, classmates, etc.

Example: I get along very well with my roommates here in San Francisco, so my stay here has been very enjoyable.

Grow up

Definition: to become an adult.

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: You can apply this phrasal verb when talking about your childhood and early years.

Example: I grew up in a small town but for the last five years I’ve lived in Zurich.

Look forward to

Definition: to be excited for something in the future.

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: This is common phrasal verb to talk about exciting future plans.

Example: I am nervous for the Cambridge Exam, but I am also looking forward to using all of the things I’ve practiced and learned.

Take up

Definition: to begin a hobby or activity.

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: In Part 1, you are often asked about your hobbies.

Example: In my free time, I really enjoy photography. I took it up when I was travelling through Southeast Asia and I’ve enjoyed it ever since.

Give up

Definition: to quit doing something.

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: You might be asked to talk about your childhood or past; ‘give up” is often used to discuss activities you don’t do anymore.

Example: Well, in my free time I usually enjoy skiing, but I gave that up when I moved here since I am not so close to the mountains anymore.

Useful Phrasal Verbs for Cambridge FCE and CAE Speaking Module

Part 2

FCE: The interlocutor gives you TWO photographs and asks you to talk about them for 1 minute. The interlocutor then asks your partner a question about your photographs and your partner responds briefly (up to 30 seconds).

Then the interlocutor gives your partner two different photographs. Your partner talks about these photographs for 1 minute. This time the interlocutor asks you a question about your partner’s photographs and you respond briefly (up to 30 seconds).

CAE: The test is the same, but you are given THREE photos (not two) and you are asked to speak about two of them.

When speaking about the photos, you will use language of speculation. For speculation, the following phrasal verbs are useful.

End up

Definition: to finally be in a place or situation.

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: You have to speculate a lot when looking at these photos, so this phrasal verb is a great one to use when guessing how the person came to be in the situation in the photo (or what will happen to them after).

Example: The family in this photo looks very unhappy at her office job; perhaps she dreamed of a life working at something other than a desk job and she’s sad that she ended up in such a dull environment.

Make out

Definition: to be able to see something that’s not quite clear.

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: You might not be able to see the full details of the photo; this is a great phrasal verb to describe what you think you see.

Example: I can’t quite make it out but I think that the group is holding a trophy, so perhaps they’ve won a competition or game . . .

Make (something) up

Definition: to invent a story.

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: You are asked to speculate about the people in the photos and their lives, so this is a useful expression!

Example: I would guess that this person is very happy: she has her two beautiful children and a lovely house . . . perhaps she’s a stay-at-home-mom and is appreciative that she can spend time with her children . . . I’m making this all up, of course, but it’s what I would guess.

Useful Phrasal Verbs for Cambridge FCE and CAE Speaking Module

Part 3

FCE: (4 minutes) This part is divided into two parts and the interlocutor asks you and your partner to talk together in both. In the first part, you are given five written prompts and asked to discuss a question. For example, you might be asked to discuss things ways to improve the environment in your city.

After 2 minutes, the interlocutor will give you one more minute to make a decision together which is related to what you have been discussing.

CAE: You and your partner are given written prompts. You must speak together for about 2 minutes (3 minutes for groups of three) about these prompts. After the discussion time, the examiner will ask you another question which requires you to make a decision. You have 1 minute to talk together and make the decision (2 minutes for groups of three).

 

Part 4

In Part 4, you and your partner will answer follow-up questions related to the topic of Part 3. These phrasal verbs are useful when conversing.

Bring (something) up

Definition: to start a conversation about something.

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: This is a great phrasal verb to use when responding to a comment that your partner made (or a question that the interlocutor brought up). It shows interaction with what another person has said, which is something they look for in this section of the exam.

Example: You brought up ______; I agree that . . .

Come up with

Definition: to suggest or think of an idea or plan.

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: “Come up with” allows you to present an idea or respond to a question or statement.

Example: What other ideas can we come up with?

Cut (someone) off

Definition: to interrupt someone.

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: If you accidentally cut your partner off when he or she is speaking, this is an excellent phrasal verb to use.

Example: Sorry, I didn’t mean to cut you off: what were you saying?

Follow up

Definition: a further action connected to something that happened before.

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: Following up on something your partner said is a great way to return to something you discussed previously (and add further commentary).

Example: Just to follow up on what you said earlier, I think . . .

Get back to

Definition: to return to something.

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: “Get back to” is useful when trying to return to a conversation you had previously: it’s very helpful when the conversation seems to have gotten off track and you’d like to refocus.

Example: Getting back to what we were saying earlier about . . .

Go ahead

Definition: to start to do something.

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: You know that awkward moment when you and your partner both hesitate and each wants to speak? Use go ahead to give your partner the green light!

Example: You can go ahead and start if you’d like . . .

Warm up to

Definition: to begin liking something.

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: When you’re not certain about an idea, but then decide this is a good idea, you can use this phrasal verb.

Example: I’m warming up to the idea that . . .

Work something out

Definition: to agree to something after a discussion.

Why this is a useful phrasal verb: You and your partner must agree to something in Part 3: use this phrasal verb to announce to the interlocutor that you’ve come to an agreement.

Example: I think we’ve worked it out. We have agreed that . . .

Did you know that CISL is an official Cambridge Testing Centre? CISL CAE and FCE students have the advantage of taking their exam at CISL, which makes them much more comfortable! Hear from our students why our small class sizes and intensive, speaking-based curriculum are excellent for improving your Cambridge score.

 

 

 

 

 

California Life Dining Featured Idioms and expressions San Diego

SD Beach Barbecue Guide + BBQ Idioms

May 7, 2017

San Diego is famous for its beaches, but few students take advantage of the many facilities the beaches offer! Did you know that you can have a barbecue on many of San Diego’s beaches? Some even have barbecue pits for you to use. Check out our SD beach barbecue guide before organizing a trip with your CISL friends. Cheers!

SD Beach Barbecue Guide

Choose a beach

Which beach will you choose to BBQ? Coronado? La Jolla? Read our Guide to San Diego’s Beaches for an idea of the facilities each beach has (and to learn the personality of each beach). Make sure that you research the beach’s facilities and hours before planning your trip: the San Diego City website lists all of the offerings for each beach, including if it’s accessible by public transport, if there are public restrooms, and if barbecues and fires are allowed.

Grab some friends

Who is coming with you? Make sure you plan in advance so that you know how much food you will need! When planning how to arrive, consider all of your public transportation options: read our Public Transportation in San Diego article for useful information.

Buy the supplies

What will you need to buy for the perfect barbecue? For a BBQ, you are going to need the following:

  • Coals
  • A lighter (to set fire to the coals)
  • Utensils for grilling (thongs and spatula)
  • Plates, napkins, cups, forks, knives, etc.
  • Food! Sausages? Burgers?
  • Condiments (ketchup, mustard, etc.)
  • Drinks
  • A cooler to keep the drinks cold

Be sure to research if the beach has picnic benches; if not, grab a blanket to sit on while you eat!

Plan the rest of the day 

What will you do afterwards? Maybe play some beach volleyball? Perhaps you’ll go swimming? Check out our article for some Beach Activity ideas (and vocabulary). Make sure you come prepared . . . and don’t forget the sunscreen!

BBQ Idioms in English 

When we think of barbecues, we think of burgers, fire (and smoke), and good times! These idioms are related to the foods and items you might have at a beach BBQ.

After meat, mustard

Definition: a phrase emphasizing that something has come too late to be useful (like mustard after meat has already been eaten).

To be in a pickle

Definition: experiencing a difficult situation.

Can’t cut the mustard

Definition: not satisfactory or right for the situation

To go up in flames

Definition 1: burn up completely.
Definition 2: [for value or investment] to be lost suddenly and totally.

To grill someone (about something)

Definition: to question or interrogate someone intensely and relentlessly (about something).

Holy smoke!

Definition: what a surprise!

To rake someone over the coals

Definition: to scold someone.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire

Definition: a saying meaning “there’s always some reason for a rumor.”

 

California Life CISL San Diego Featured Idioms and expressions San Diego San Diego Travel Tips

English Expressions with “Warm” + San Diego’s (Very Warm!) Yearly Weather Averages

April 18, 2017

San Diego is warm nearly all year, but as the temperatures increase, we are reminded just how perfect the SD weather is! This month we are looking at some expressions with “warm” to celebrate the coming of summer. We are also looking at San Diego’s yearly weather temperature averages to show SD’s ideal weather.

Expressions with “Warm”

English Expressions with Warm

Housewarming (party)

Definition: a party to celebrate when someone moves into a new apartment or house.

Example: Are you going to Sarah’s housewarming party? She just moved to a new place in Little Italy!

We can also use housewarming + gift/present to talk about the present we give someone at a housewarming party.

Example: I bought her a new cheese plate as a housewarming gift.

Warm body

Definition: any person; someone needed to be present in order to be counted.

Example: The movie director needed a few warm bodies for the scene, so he asked the people at the beach if they wanted to be in the movie.

Warm the bench/bench warmer

Definition: to be a part of the team but not play.

Example: He warmed the bench for most of the game.

We also can the person who warms the bench a “bench warmer.”

Example: I played baseball when I was young, but I was not very good. In fact, I was a bench warmer most of the time.

Warm regards

Definition: a polite way to end an email or letter.

Example: Warm regards, Sarah

For examples of ways to begin emails or letters, check out our article on Beginning an Email in English.

Warm up to (someone/something)

Definition: to begin liking someone or something when you didn’t at first.

Example: He’s warming up to the idea of getting a dog.

Warm welcome

Definition: greeting someone; being very happy to see him or her.

Example: What a warm welcome from my host family! They had a big BBQ for me and I got to meet all of my neighbors.

English Expressions with Warm

San Diego’s (Very Warm!) Yearly Weather Averages

How good is the weather in SD? It’s pretty amazing! Holiday Weather provides excellent statistics on the yearly temperature averages for San Diego. Let’s take a look at the temps on land and in the water.

While the rest of the Northern Hemisphere is freezing in the winter, San Diego is enjoying not only warm temperatures, but many sunny days; it’s not uncommon for people to be at the beach several weekends during January and February!

San Diego's (Very Warm!) Yearly Weather Averages

In this chart, we can see the average high and low temperatures. San Diego stays consistently warm in the winter months, so although you need a jacket at night, it doesn’t have to be a huge parka!

San Diego's (Very Warm!) Yearly Weather Averages

The Pacific Ocean gets significantly warmer in the summer months, but with a wet suit, San Diego’s surfers are in the water all year.

San Diego's (Very Warm!) Yearly Weather Averages

To see more statistics about the San Diego weather, check out Holiday-Weather.com.

Business English Featured Idioms and expressions

English Business Idioms with Animals

March 8, 2017
English-Business-Idioms-Animals

The famous “Charging Bull” statue, located in the Financial District of Manhattan, has become a symbol of Wall Street. It’s also a symbol of one of the most common English business idioms with animals!

Animals probably do not belong in the workplace . . . but why are there so many English business idioms with animals? It seems as if animals are the perfect way to express some of the situations and experiences in business. Want to learn about English business idioms with animals? Keep reading! How many of these can YOU use in your workplace, or in the CISL Business English classroom?

English business idioms with animals

Bear market

English business idioms with animals

In a bear market, investors sell portions of their investments in companies.

Definition: a market in which share prices* are falling, encouraging selling

Example: They are predicting a bear market the end of this year.

*shares are the pieces of a company that are owned by the public. When people buy and sell on the stock market, they are buying and selling “shares.” 

Bull market

English business idioms with animals

A bull market is great for companies, whose stock prices often rise considerably. 

Definition: a market in which share prices are rising, encouraging buying

Example: Because of the bull market this month, we invested heavily in three new technology companies.

Cash cow

English business idioms with animals

The cash cow is different for each company or business. In Hollywood, for example, Adam Sandler comedies and Jennifer Aniston romantic comedies are cash cows (despite critics always saying the movies are terrible)!

Definition: someone or something that makes a lot of money for a business, organization, etc.

Example: She owns a yoga studio, but her real cash cow is the studio’s cafe, which earns most of the profits.

Eager beaver

English business idioms with animals

“Hard work gets you more work” is a common expression. Is it a good thing to be an eager beaver? What do you think?

Definition: a person who is extremely zealous about performing duties and volunteering for more

Example: He was an eager beaver when we first hired him, but lately he’s been much less productive.

Fat cats

English business idioms with animals

Now that’s a fat cat!

Definition 1:  a wealthy contributor to a political campaign fund

Example: The politician invited all of the fat cats to his fundraiser in the hopes that they would contribute to his future campaign.

Definition 2:  a wealthy and privileged person

Example: All of the fat cats from Wall Street live in this neighborhood.

Lame duck

English business idioms with animals

“OK . . . which of you is the lame one?”

Definition: one that is weak or that falls behind in ability or achievement; an ailing company (used more commonly in British English)

Examples:

Note: a “lame duck” is also used in politics to refer to the last few months of a President’s term before the new President takes over.

Lion’s share

English business idioms with animals

The lion’s share comes from Aesop’s fables. Do you know one of the many versions of this story?

Definition: the largest portion of something

Example: We take the lion’s share of the profits and invest them back into the company.

Example: We made a huge sale today! I gave the lion’s share of the credit to my business partner because she did most of the work.

Monkey business

English business idioms with animals

“No monkey business, you guys!”

Definition 1: playful tricks or jokes

Example: No monkey business while the boss is gone!

Definition 2: illegal or improper activity or behavior

Example: They looked at the company’s portfolio, and it seems as if there is some monkey business happening in accounting.

Top dog

English business idioms with animals

He think he’s top dog . . . but maybe the cat disagrees!

Definition: a person, group, or thing in a position of authority especially through victory in a hard-fought competition

Example: My second interview with the company is tomorrow, and it’s with the top dog. I’m nervous!

All photos from Pixabay except “Charging Bull,” which is from Flickr.

California Life Featured Idioms and expressions San Diego San Diego Neighborhoods San Diego Travel Tips Suggested student activities

SD Gaslamp + “nightlife” idioms

October 23, 2016

Sure, San Diego is all about beaches and beautiful weather, but did you know that Downtown San Diego is home to a beautiful, historic, and exciting area called the Gaslamp Quarter?

SD’s Gaslamp Quarter, called “The Historic Heart of San Diego,” is located just a few streets from CISL San Diego. The streets are lined with historic buildings hosting some of the best restaurants and shopping in SD. When combined with Petco Park, Gaslamp is one of the coolest and most interesting areas in SD!

gaslamp2

San Diego Gaslamp Highlights

Here are some of the few things to see and do when visiting the Gaslamp

Gaslamp.SanDiego.SD.Downtown

“Nightlife” idioms

Before going out in the Gaslamp, make sure you know these idioms about partying and nightlife.

Paint the town red

Definition: go out and enjoy oneself flamboyantly.

Example: We are going to paint the town red for your birthday!

Let loose

Definition: relaxed and party without inhibitions/be yourself.

Example: She’s always so stressed. She needs to let loose a little!

Go out on the town

Definition: an evening where you go out to various restaurants, bars, etc. with friends.

Example: Did you guys go out on the town last night?

Out.Disco.Bar.Club.Nightlife.Fun

Have a night out on the town

Definition: the same as above

Example: Let’s have a fun night out on the town. I need to let loose!

Let one’s hair down

Definition: to behave in an uninhibited or relaxed manner.

Example: After all this studying, we need to let our hair down and go dancing.