Idiom in U – Upper Hand

Hello dear students! We are getting close to the end of this series with only 5 more weeks left.

And today we have a look at the letter U with Upper Hand.

What it means:

If you have the upper hand, you have the advantage.

How to use it:

  • One of the most common situations when this idiom is used is during a sporting even. If a team or player is in a winning position, they have the upper hand.
  • If a business has an advantage over another business, they also have the upper hand.

Other interesting idioms:

U-turn – It is when somebody changes their opinion on an issue radically, especially when they have promised not to do so.

Ugly duckling – An ugly duckling is a someone shows little promise, but who develops later into a real talent or beauty.

Under fire – If someone is being attacked and cricitised heavily, they are under fire.

Up for grabs – If something is up for grabs, it is available and whoever is first or is successful will get it.


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Idiom in R – Red Carpet


And here is the last post of the year.  Next one in 2018!

What it means:

If you give someone the red-carpet treatment, you give them a special welcome to show that they are important. You can roll out the red carpet too.

How to use it:

  • You might be invited somewhere and they treat you well.
  • Companies otfen give the red-carpet treatment to important clients

Other interesting idioms:

Rack your brain – If you rack your brain, you think very hard when trying to remember something or think hard to solve a problem, findf and answer and so on (‘Rack your brains’ is an alternative.)

Raise eyebrows – If something raises eyebrows, it shocks or surprises people.

Read between the lines – If you read between the lines, you find the real message in what you’re reading or hearing, a meaning that is not available from a literal interpretation of the words.

Recharge your batteries – If you recharge your batteries, you do something to regain your energy after working hard for a long time.

Red tape – This is a negative term for the official paperwork and bureaucracy that we have to deal with.

Keep on learning!



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Expression – Take a Shortcut


What it means:

It is an easier, quicker or shorter way to go somewhere or do something.

How to use it:

It is more often used to get somewhere a quicker way. e.g. Take the shortcut on the right, it is much quicker than the main road.

To take the easy way out is also a similar expression to take a shortcut, meaning an easier way to do something.


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Expression – Treat Yourself


What it means:

It is to spend money on something that makes you happy at that moment. It could be a piece of cake after a long day at work, or even an item of clothing that you buy yourself for your birthay.

When to treat yourself:

As often as possible of course!


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Idiom in I – Icing on the Cake


This is a cute little idiom that has a similar meaning to the “cherry on the cake”.

What it means:

The icing on the cake refers to that little extra that makes the whole thing even better than it already was.

When to use it:

I sometimes use it to encourage my students during the speaking for example. Imagine Fulanito did a little presentation and there were very few mistakes. I could say “well done, almost no mistakes, and the icing on the cake…you used connectors!”.

Other interesting idioms in I:

In a flash – very quickly, immediately

In cahoots – This means that you are in an alliance or partnership…but that you probably are up to no good!

In the red – when your bank account is empty or under 0…like at the end of every month for example.

Find the Thief

In the academy where I work, TEFL International Seville, we do  lot of conversation classes. One day, I ended up having a last minute conversation class and had no time to prepare materials for it. So here is what I came up with.

LogoMakr (17)

What you need:

A minimum of 6 students. That’s it!

How to play:

Put your students in pairs. Give them a situation. Here is mine:

“A crime was committed yesterday, here at TEFL. Tomorrow’s exam was stolen…and we know it’s one of you! This outrageous crime was committed between 8 and 11 PM. We also know that you were together (I show the students in each pair that they were together). You now have 5 minutes to discuss your alibi. After, we will proceed to interrogations.”

After 5 minutes (give your students more time if you judge it necessary), I ask for a team to volunteer first. Ask one of the 2 to sit on a chair in front of the students and the other to stand outside of the classroom for 2 minutes. The person on the “hot seat” will have to answer any question the rest of the students might have about the alibi. I suggest you make it a rule that every student has to ask a question to the person on the “hot seat”. Then tell the student out side to swap paces with his partner. Question him too. That’s when the alibi usually stop matching.

Once the pair this pair is done, repeat everything with the next pair. When everybody has been on the hot seat, start a vote. I have students explain their choice that way it is even more communicative.

Adults really like this activity because it is very communicative, there is a lot of debating but it is fun. It’s also very flexible and can be played at basic and advanced levels (playing with the time, the number and type of questions asked…).

Hope you enjoy it…and your students too!