Back in summer, our front desk team at EC Boston made a couple of posts about idioms and phrases. Today, Michael is posting about some idioms that he has heard students using in his class so far in September. Michael teaches the Advanced (C1) class, so many of his students have been practicing these for a while now! The class spends most of their time and effort developing their ability to engage with ‘Complex Language to Express Complex Thought’, and this idea is practiced across the reading, listening, reading, and speaking skills. Sometimes, it’s appropriate for students to speak or write with a formal tone. However, sometimes students have to be informal, or colloquial, and this is when all of our idioms, slang terms, and interesting phrases come into play. So here are a few phrases that Michael was very impressed to overhear his students using recently:
‘The funny thing is…’
Deeply engaged in the narrative tenses while telling a story yesterday’s lunch, Tomoya was able not only to fluently use this idiom, but also to switch very subtly to the present tense ‘is’, which just helped to bring his story to life. Sometimes we focus on speaking concisely and accurately, but Tomoya was able to really engage and entertain with his story – this is how he does it!
‘Check it out…’
This one seems simple, but actually it can be really helpful in terms of tone. Basically, it means the same as ‘look at this’, but in the context of a conversation, it’s very soft and friendly. So, while you’re directly telling somebody what to do, the friendly nature of the idiom means that this could never be rude. Pretty useful! Felipe used this last week, and now everyone is at it!
‘Better late than never…’
This one was a joke which one student, who shall remain nameless, said to me when they handed in their homework late. How could I be angry?
‘I’m just playing devil’s advocate!’
A wonderful moment came when we were in a debate about the death penalty. The group which agreed with the death penalty was planning their argument, and when Nawaf presented a possible counterargument to his group, they misinterpreted. They thought he was just arguing against them. ‘I’m just playing devil’s advocate!’, he said. And this made it clear to the group that he was just showing them the other side to be helpful.
Think these sound good? So do we. Come and learn English abroad in Boston!