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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

To Cater To

To Cater To

Example 1:

Tammy: I just love that new restaurant on 9th street! It has the most delicious sandwiches!

Selma: I know! I went there with some friends from school last week. The best thing about the restaurant is that it caters to vegetarians, so we tried a variety of different types of dishes. Restaurants in this area usually only carry a few common vegetarian dishes, but this
restaurant had so many!

Tammy: Yes, I really want to go back there.

Example 2:

Kitty: I absolutely loved staying at that hotel on the coast. When I was there, the hotel employees catered to my every need. All I needed to do was ask.

Jolene:That must have been expensive! Usually hotels that offer a lot of services charge much more.

Kitty: Actually, it was not too expensive. I guess that hotel caters to young couples looking for a romantic weekend. It worked with us because my husband and I are definitely going back.

Jolene: Wow, I’ll have to check it out the next time I go out of town for the weekend.

To cater to means to supply what is wanted or needed. In the first example, the restaurant supplies food for vegetarians. In the second example, the hotel supplies a lot of services for people staying there. This idiom can be found in the LSI textbook Reading Transitions. This book is used at LSI schools in the level 4 Reading/Vocabulary classes.
For more information, please visit:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

To Network

To network

Example 1:
Tim: Wait just a minute. I’d like to update my Facebook page and add some more information to my profile.

Selene: Wow, you really spend a lot of time on Facebook! I know it’s interesting to see what your friends are doing, but don’t you get bored after a while?

Tim: Well, I don’t just use Facebook to keep in touch with my friends. I also use the site to network for work contacts. I’d really like to get a new job. I’ve joined some new Facebook groups connected to my job.

Selene: Really? I’ve never thought of that and I’ve been on Facebook for about two years. I use it to see what my friends are doing.

Tim: Well, these days more professionals are using social networking sites to network with other people in fields related to their jobs.

Example 2:
Kitty: I’m trying to raise money for homeless people and I’ve started a volunteer group to collect donations and bring food to the homeless.

Jolene: Really? That’s a wonderful idea! You should make a Facebook page for your group so that you can network with your contacts and get more help for your group.

Kitty: You’re right! I didn’t think about that before, but I have a lot of Facebook friends, so networking for my volunteer group on Facebook might be just the thing we need to help our group grow.

To Network means to meet or come in contact with other people to share information, contacts or other help or to communicate with and within a group. In the first example, Tim is using Facebook to network for a job. In the second example, Kitty is networking with all her friends on Facebook for a volunteer group that helps the homeless.

This idiom can be found in the LSI textbook Speaking Transitions. This book is used at LSI schools in the level 4 Listening/Speaking classes. For more information, please visit:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Eye Candy

Example 1:
I love to go to Santa Monica on the weekends for many reasons. The first reason is shopping! The Promenade has the best shops. The second reason is food. Santa Monica has some of the best restaurants in Los Angeles. Finally, the third reason is the eye candy! There are always such great looking people walking around. Santa Monica is awesome!
Example 2:
I don't really like soccer but I will go to a soccer game any time I have a chance. It might seem strange, but have you ever noticed all the eye candy at soccer games? The players, the fans, it's great!
eye candy is a very informal way to refer to an attractive person or an attractive group of people.

It's a fun expression that can be used in many situations
I go to the beach for the eye candy.
Look at all the eye candy at this party.
Is there a lot of eye candy there?
This idiom comes from the LSI textbook Speaking Savvy. LSI teachers use this book to teach Level 5 Speaking/Listening. For more information please visit

to talk into

Example 1:
Marcy isn't coming with us to the Grand Canyon. She said that it was more important for her to stay in Los Angeles to work and study. I told her that it was going to be a really great experience and it might be her only chance to see if before she goes back to her country. Although I tried my best, I couldn't talk Marcy into going with us.

Example 2:

Hank: Hey, Frank! What are you going to do this weekend?

Frank: I don't have plans yet. Why? What are you going to do?

Hank: I have to move to my new apartment and I was hoping you could help me....

Frank: Oh.... that doesn't sound like fun.. I think I might be busy, actually. Yes, I have plans!

Hank: Come on, Frank! You are lying! If you help me, I will treat you to pizza and a movie after. And besides, Jena will be helping me, too..

Frank: Jena will be there?! OK, you talked me into it! See you on Saturday.

to talk into is a separable phrasal verb that is similar in meaning to the verb convince.

In the first example, one friend is trying to convince Marcy to join them on the trip, but at last, she couldn't convince her. She couldn't talk Marcy into going.

In the 2nd example, Hank convinces Frank to help him move by offering dinner and a movie, as well as a chance to spend time with Jena. Frank initially says no, but changes his mind after Hank gives him more information.

This idiom comes from the LSI textbook Speaking Transitions. LSI teachers use this book to teach Level 4 Speaking/Listening. For more information please visit

Thursday, December 8, 2011

to get a chance

Context #1:

Akiko: Guess what! Next week I'm going to go to my first American Baseball game.

Shuhei: Really? That's great!

Akiko: Yeah! I hope I get a chance to see someone hit a homerun!

Context #2:

Shane: Last Saturday I went to my 20-year high school reunion.

Tony: Wow! Did you have a good time?

Shane: I had a great time! I got a chance to hang out with a lot of my old friends.

Meaning: to get a chance is an American idiom that means you have a special opportunity to experience something. This idiom is followed by infinitive verbs, as you can see in the examples above. It is also commonly used with the definite article "the" instead of "a." You can say, "I hope I get the chance to... + verb."

This idiom is taken from the LSI textbook "Speaking Savvy." LSI teachers use this book to teach the Level 5 Speaking class. For more information please visit

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

To Keep One's Cool

Context #1:
Jane: I heard you and your boyfriend got into an argument after class yesterday.
Cindy: Yeah... he was really upset and he started yelling at me.
Jane: Did you yell back at him?
Cindy: No, I just kept my cool. Later he felt bad and apologized to me. I'm glad I didn't lose my temper too.

Context #2:
Tom: In California some people are crazy drivers! People cut me off all the time.
Sam: Yeah, me too! One time I got mad and honked my horn at the guy who cut me off. What do you do when people cut you off?
Tom: I keep my cool. I don't honk my horn or give them a dirty look. I try to remain calm.

Meaning: to keep one's cool is an American idiom that means to remain calm and to not lose your temper or get angry. This idiom comes from the LSI textbook Speaking Savvy. LSI teachers use this book to teach Level 5 Speaking/Listening. For more information please visit

Thursday, December 1, 2011

To Get Back to Someone

Read the following letter and guess the meaning of the idiom in bold:

Dear Gloria,

I am writing to thank you for the wedding invitation!
I am so happy for you and Paul... I feel honored that you invited me to this special day in your lives, even though we have only known each other for 2 months.
I really want to attend it, but because the wedding will be in Australia I am not sure I can afford it. I will take a look at my finances and get back to you.

Thank you, again!


Meaning: To Get Back to Someone means to phone, write, or speak to someone at a later time because you were busy or could not answer a question earlier.

This idiom was taken from our LSI book Speaking Savvy

To Be Crazy About Something or Someone

To Be Crazy About

Read the following e-mail and try to guess the meaning of the idiom in bold:

Dear Susan,

How have you been? I hope all is well.
Ever since we broke up I have been feeling really sad.
I know we had our bad moments and that I cheated on you, but please forgive me!
I am crazy about you. I can't live without you...
Please call me.


RE: Dear Susan

Dear Jim The Cheater,

If you were crazy about me, you would not have cheated on me.
Don't ever contact me again.


Meaning: To be crazy about someone or something means to really, really like someone or something a lot!

This idiom was taken from our LSI book Seaking Savvy. For more information please visit:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Soak up the rays

Idiom:  to Soak up the rays.
This phrase acts like a verb.  What’s the meaning of “soak up”? - It means to “take in”, “absorb”, like a sponge. Rays? Rays are narrow beams of light, usually rays of the sun.
So, “to soak up the rays” means “to tan”!
Example: Our sunny season is over but there's still time to jump on a plane and soak up some rays on one of the beaches in Hawaii.
This idiom is from LSI's book " Speaking Transitions". For more information, please visit

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Golden Opportunity

Idiom: Golden Opportunity, noun phrase.

Example #1:  John really likes Anna. Unfortunately, they are in different levels. John is a very shy guy and it’s difficult for him to start a conversation with her.  Last weekend, John’s classmate, Kim, had a party at his house. Kim knows both John and Anna, that’s why they were both invited to the party. John had a golden opportunity to introduce himself to Anna and let her know of his existence. He didn’t miss his chance and now they are a couple!

Meaning: Golden opportunity means a perfect chance to do something that will benefit you. The party where John could be in the same room as Anna was a great chance for him to become friends with her.

Example #2:  Marry is a big boss at a very big and successful company. She has been working like a horse, day and night.  There is so much work that Marry hasn’t had a vacation in the past 3 years! One winter there was flu virus that was spreading fast all around the company. More and more people were getting sick every day. The management of the company decided to let all their workers stay home on a paid vacation for 3 days to recover and avoid getting sick. It was a golden opportunity for Marry to forget about her work and just relax.

Meaning : The three days  off that Marry got unexpectedly was a great time for her to just relax. She took advantage of this great chance. There word “golden” doesn’t mean that’s something is made of gold. It means something is very valuable.
This idiom is from LSI's book "Speaking Savvy," which is used in the class. For more information, please visit

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

To Take Lightly

Idiom: to take lightly; used as a verb

First example: Monica told Jeff he needed to complete his work by the end of the day. Important clients were coming in the morning, and they wanted to see the finished product. Unfortunately, Jeff took Monica’s directions lightly. He spent most of his day talking to co-workers and didn’t finish his work. The next morning, when the clients came and found the product unfinished, they were angry. As a result, Jeff was fired.

Meaning: “To take lightly” is the opposite of “to consider seriously.” Monica told Jeff specific instructions, and gave him a good reason for why he needed to finish his work. However, Jeff did not pay attention to how important it was for him to complete his work. If Jeff had not taken her instructions lightly, he would have finished his work on time.

Here is another example.

Second example:

Lisa: Hi Barry, I have a problem I’d like to discuss with you.
Barry: Sure, go ahead and tell me.
Lisa: Well, I’m a little embarrassed because it seems like a silly issue.
Barry: Don’t be embarrassed. I never take your problems lightly. I know you only talk to me about serious issues.
Lisa: Thanks, Barry. Okay, this is what I’m worried about…

Meaning: In this situation, Lisa is a little embarrassed to share her problem. She is afraid that Barry won’t think it’s a serious issue. But Barry tells her that he never takes Lisa’s problems lightly. He understands that Lisa’s problem is an important concern. This gives Lisa confidence to tell Barry what is bothering her.

This idiom is from LSI's book "Reading Horizons," which is used in the level 6 Reading classes. For more information, please visit

The Honeymoon Is Over

Idiom: The honeymoon (be) over; used as an expression

First example: The people of the nation had a lot of hope when the new president started his term. Everyone praised him and constantly said what a great job he would do leading the country. Now, six months later, the honeymoon is definitely over. People are complaining that the president has not helped increase employment, or reduce taxes and crime. His job has become much more difficult.

Meaning: “The honeymoon is over” originally referred to marriage, when the vacation time right after the wedding was completed. In this case, it refers to the easy time the president had right after he started his term. During the “honeymoon” period, people treated him well and said good things about him. Now that the honeymoon is over, people do not treat him as well, and they offer a lot of complaints about what the president is doing. The president now realizes how hard his job is.

Here is another example.

Second example: Linda moved to Paraguay for a year after she graduated from her university. She wanted to work there while improving her Spanish. For the first few months, everything was great. Linda was excited to meet new people, try new foods, and learn more Spanish. But then the honeymoon was over. Linda realized that she missed her friends and family from home, she didn’t like all the new foods she was eating, and it was difficult to communicate clearly in Spanish. The magical feeling she had when she first came to Paraguay was gone.

Meaning: In this situation, Linda was originally excited to be in a different country, doing new things and speaking another language. Everything seemed magical and exciting. However, after a few months, this magical feeling ended and Linda realized how difficult life could be living abroad. The honeymoon was over, and she discovered that life does not stay magical forever.

This idiom is from LSI's book "Reading Horizons," which is used in the level 6 Reading classes. For more information, please visit

Thursday, November 10, 2011

black and blue

Example 1:

James: Oh my goodness, Lacy! What happened to your face? Your eye is black and blue! are you ok?
Lacy: Hi, James. Yes, I'm fine. I hurt myself yesterday at the park. I was roller skating and I fell over a stick. Can you believe it!?
James: Wow, you're a really good skater, too. I hope it gets better soon. It looks bad!

Example 2:

Joe: I have a date tomorrow night after my big fight. I hope I win because I don't want my face to be all black and blue for my date!
Pam: Well, Joe. You are a boxer. Being bruised is a normal part of your life! Besides, if she really cares about you, your face won't matter!

to be black and blue means to be bruised.
A bruise is a dark mark that appears under your skin when you get hit or have an injury.

In the first example, Lacy's eye is black and blue because she had an accident while roller skating and hit her face. So now, her eye is bruised. She has a bruise around her eye.

In the second example, Joe is a boxer. Many fighters experience injuries and their faces or bodies are often black and blue. Joe has a date and hopes his face won't be bruised for his date.

This idiom is usually used as an adjective, so don't forget the be verb!
This idiom comes from the LSI textbook "Speaking Savvy." This book is used by LSI teachers in our Level 5 Speaking classes. For more information, please visit

Monday, November 7, 2011

to blow off

Example 1:
Last week, I was buying a birthday gift for my roommate when I saw my grammar teacher Nancy at Del Amo Mall. I waved to Nancy to say hello. She just looked right at me and walked away! I was so shocked by her rude behavior!
On Monday, I asked her why she blew me off at the mall. I was relieved when she told me that she was going to pick up her new glasses and couldn't see anything until she got them. She just didn't recognize me! I'm happy to know that she didn't blow me off on purpose.

Example 2:
Jake: Hey, Tim! Are you going to Mark's party on Thursday?
Tim: I really want to, but we have tests on Friday morning. I need to study!
Jake: Oh! Don't worry about the tests! You'll be fine.
Tim: Besides, I have plans to study with Sheila.
Jake: You guys should blow off the study session and come to the party!

The idiom to blow off means to ignore something or someone in an obvious way.

In the first example, the student is shocked because her grammar teacher blew her off at the mall- she saw her and ignored her very obviously. Actually, her teacher did not blow her off / ignore her, she just couldn't see anything without her new glasses.

In the second example, Jake wants Tim to blow off his study session to attend a party. If he blows off studying, then he is ignoring his plan to study to go to the party.

This idiom comes from the LSI textbook "Spekaing Savvy." This book is used by LSI teachers in our Level 5 Speaking classes. For more information, please visit

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

to total (one's car)

Idiom: to total (one's car)

Context #1:

Jay: Hey Sarah, I heard that you got into an accident on the freeway yesterday. Are you ok?

Sarah: Yeah... I'm OK, but my car isn't!

Jay: How bad is the damage? Can it be fixed?

Sarah: No way! I completely totalled my car. I'm going to have to buy a new one.

Jay: Wow! I'm really sorry to hear that. You're lucky you didn't get hurt.

Context #2:

Tom: The traffic on the 5 freeway was really bad this morning.

Joe: I know. I saw on the news that there was a bad accident. Some guy on a motorcyle lost control and hit the center divider. He was rushed to the hospital and his bike was totalled.

Meaning: the idiom "to total" is used for cars, motorcyles, and bicycles. It can be used in both the active (context #1) and passive forms (context #2). You can use this idiom in a situation where a car or bike is totally damaged. The vehicle can no longer be used. It is so damaged that it cannot be fixed. Basically, you have to get a new one.

This idiom comes from the LSI textbook "Spekaing Savvy." This book is used by LSI teachers in our Level 5 Speaking classes. For more information, please visit

By Ty Mussack

Thursday, October 27, 2011

To Make Someone’s Skin Crawl

To Make Someone’s Skin Crawl

Read the following e-mail and try to guess the meaning of the idiom in bold:

Dear Michelle,

Are you going to the Halloween party tomorrow?
I am so excited about it! I don’t know what I will be, though! I have not found a costume yet! I want to wear something that will make people really, really scared!
I want to make their skin crawl! Could you give me any suggestions?

Thank you so much! I hope to see you there!!


What do you think "To Make Someone’s Skin Crawl" means?

Meaning: This idiom means to disturb or bother; to frighten or disgust.

This idiom was found in the LSI book Speaking Savvy.

What are you going to be for Halloween?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

To Give Someone the Green Light

To Give Someone the Green Light

Read the following dialogue and try to guess the meaning of the idiom “to give someone the green light”

“Hey, Maria! How have you been?”
“Great! I haven’t seen you in a while! Have you bought that house yet?”
“Unfortunately, even after having saved all these years, I still don’t have enough money for it”
“Why don’t you try and get a loan?”
“ I’ve tried that, but the bank has not given me the green light! The manager said my credit is not good…”
“I am sorry to hear that.”

What do you think To Give Someone the Green Light means?

a. To take something from someone
b. To give someone permission to do something
c. To expect someone to do something
d. To drive by the green light

Meaning: To Give Someone the Green Light means to give someone permission to do something. In the dialogue above, the bank has not given Maria permission to loan money from them because her credit is bad.

You can find this idiom in the LSI book Speaking Savvy!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

to fit in with

to fit in with
"to fit in with" means to be accepted by a group of people because you are similar to them. 

Example 1: 

      - Joanne: Hey Alex! How are you? I heard you are now working at a different company. How is it going?

      -  Alex: Hey Joanne. It's going great! I love my new position. It's just what I wanted! 
      -  Joanne: Great! But you know, to really enjoy your job it's important to have good relationship with people who work with you! And now you are in this new office with a bunch of people you have never met before. Is it difficult for you? 
       - Alex: No, not at all! I fitted in with my new colleagues right away! They treat like a friend, with respect!

Example 2:
- Christine didn't fit in with the people at my party at all!I shouldn't have invited her. My guests were all business professionals and she showed up in a mini skirt talking about her crazy trip to Amsterdam!

Meaning 1

     Alex feels good at his new job because he and his coworkers are probably similar in some ways: their passion to the job, life styles etc... He feels like he is one of them! 
Meaning for Example 2

Christine is very different from the people she met at the party. She looks different and they probably have different  interests, that's why she doesn't "fit in" with the business people she met there.
This idiom is from LSI's book "Reading Savvy," which is used in the Level 6 Reading classes. For more information, please visit

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Under the weather

Idiom: to be/feel under the weather
First Example:
Alan: Oh man! It’s midnight and I have to drive 100 miles to my house! I shouldn’t have drunk so much! I am not feeling good!!!
Jeremy: Alan, you shouldn’t drive. You can spend a night at my house. Many fatal accidents are caused by drivers who are under the weather.
Meaning: This idiom is use to explain a feeling of sickness, sadness, lack of energy or hangover. From the example, we see that Alan is not feeling good. He might have headache, feel nauseous or have hammering sound in his ears. It’s all caused by drinking too much.

Second Example:
Teacher: Ayaka, why are you so late today and why didn’t you do your homework?
Ayaka: Tim, I am feeling a bit under the weather today. I could not concentrate on my homework and I overslept this morning.
Teacher: Yeah, you don’t look good. You should go home and take care of yourself.  
Ayaka, the student, could not do her homework and had a hard time waking up in the morning because she was not feeling good. When the teacher said “ you don’t look good”, he meant that she looked sick, not that she didn't look pretty.
This idiom is from LSI's book "Speaking Savvy," which is used in the Level 5 Speaking classes. For more information, please visit

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

to get in(to) shape

Idiom: to get in(to) shape; used as a verb

First Example:

Commercial: Are you ready to wear your bathing suit this Summer? Or did you gain too much weight over the holidays? Come on down to Fitness Center and get into shape. If you sign up now, you'll get two free training sessions to help you get in shape!

Meaning: "Get in(to) shape" means to improve one's health, usually by exercising (but could also include dieting). The example above is what you might hear from a radio/television commercial for a gym membership. Normally, this idiom uses the preposition "into." However, due to the related idiom "in shape," which is used to describe a person who is in excellent physical condition, some people use "get in shape" instead. This idiom is sometimes separated after "into," usually to add an adjective for emphasis. Look at the following example.

Second Example:

Jerry: Thanks for coming to the gym with me Jean.

Jean: No problem. It'll be fun. Wow, that guy is really in shape!

Jerry: I know! I wonder what he did to get into such great shape.

Jean: Let's ask! Excuse me, sir. What's your secret?

Robby: What do you mean?

Jean: How did you get in such amazing shape?

Robby: Hard work and diet. I can show you if you like. I'm a trainer here at the gym, so you'd have to pay for the lessons.

Here, Jerry and Jean admire Robby, who is in good shape. Notice that both "get into" and "get in" are used interchangeably with "shape" and that both examples use adjectives to explain just how good of shape Robby is in.

This idiom is from LSI's book "Reading Connections," which is used in the Level 3 Reading classes. For more information, please visit

Significant other

Idiom: significant other; used as a noun.

First Example:

Christina: Bryan, I just got a wedding invitation from my friend, Ryan. Would you like to go with me?

Bryan: Sure, but can you bring a guest?

Christina: Hmm. Well, it says the only guests allowed are children and significant others.

Bryan: Then I don't think I should go. Roommates don't count as "significant others."

Meaning: "Significant other" is used as a vague term for another person's partner in a romantic relationship. It is often used formally in things like invitations, when it's possible the person could have a husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend. In the above example, Bryan says he can't go because "significant other" means more than a friend or roommate. However, "significant other" can also be used informally, either because a person wants to keep his/her private life secret, or in a question to find out a person's relationship status and/or sexual orientation.

Second Example:

Laurie's Boss: Who was that on the phone?

Laurie: My significant other - I need to pick up some eggs on the way home.

Here, Laurie is avoiding telling her boss what her relationship is exactly to the person who called her, so she just said it was her "significant other."

Third Example:

Laurie's Boss: Why do you always use "significant other?" Why don't you just say "boyfriend" or "husband"?

Laurie: Because "Susan" is actually my girlfriend, but I didn't want my sexuality to make you uncomfortable.

Laurie's Boss: Oh, of course it doesn't make me uncomfortable! Actually I should have guessed. My little brother used to use "significant other" all the time for his boyfriend, Christopher.

Here, Laurie used "significant other" to hide the fact that she is a lesbian.

This idiom is from LSI's book "Reading Horizons," which is used in the Level 6 Reading classes. For more information, please visit

Thursday, October 6, 2011

To Drag One's Feet

To Drag One’s Feet

Example 1:
Tim: My first class is at 7:00 AM in the morning and it is so hard to get up.

Selene: I know what you mean. I had a really early class last semester. My roommate and I would just drag our feet to class every Monday and Wednesday. It was so hard to be on time!

Example 2:
Kitty: You really have to go to this new Yoga class I’ve been taking for the past two weeks. I feel amazing!
Jolene: Really? I’ve been wanting to take a Yoga class, but I just never seem to find the time to get started.
Kitty: Don’t drag your feet! If you take this class, your life is going to change. You’ll feel so much better!

To drag one’s feet means to do something slowly or to delay something. Usually, a person would drag his feet when it comes to doing something he doesn’t want to do like going to work early or taking an exercise class.

This idiom can be found in the LSI textbook Speaking Savvy. This book is used at LSI schools in the level 5 Listening/Speaking classes. For more information, please visit:

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

To Pick Out

To Pick Out

Example 1:

Terry: I finally saved up enough money to buy a new car! I just don’t know which car to pick out.

Sandy: Oh, I know which one you should pick. That little red Fiat over there is adorable!

Terry: Great idea! Thanks for the advice.

Example 2:

Kitty: Have you seen the new uniforms they picked out for school this year!

Jolene: Yes! They are horrible. Those strips look ridiculous with plaid.

Kitty: I don’t know what they were thinking. They must have been drunk when they picked out those colors!


Pick out means to choose or select something. However, people will commonly use just “pick” without “out” as in the first example when Sandy says “I know which one you should pick.” In this case, she could also say “I know which one you should pick out.”

This idiom can be found in the LSI textbook Speaking Transitions. This book is used at LSI schools in the level 4 Listening/Speaking classes. For more information, please visit:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

To Be Blown Away

Example 1:
Terry: I just got back from vacation and I had a wonderful time!

Sandy: Oh, really? Where did you go?

Terry: I went to Montego Bay in Jamaica. It was absolutely amazing! There was so much to do and the beautiful sunsets on the beach just blew me away! I really didn’t want to come back to work!

Sandy: Wow! That sounds great. I bet it was hard to come back home!

Example 2:
Ken: I just watched a news report last night on how poverty is so widespread in countries around the world. What is even worse is that people in those countries have a difficult time doing anything about their lives. Also, it is very hard to get clean food, water, and medical supplies to the ones who need them.

Joe: It blows me away how difficult life can be for so many people around the world. We should feel lucky to live in a place where we don’t have to worry about getting clean food and water every day.

The expression to be blown away is used to express surprise or shock at something that has happened. It can be used in both negative and positive situations.

In the first example, Terry just came back from an amazing vacation. The beauty of the place he visited surprised him in a very positive way.

In the second example, Ken and Joe are talking about poverty in the world and how hard it is for some people to survive. Joe is shocked in a negative way about this fact.

This idiom can be found in the LSI textbook Speaking Transitions. This book is used at LSI schools in the level 4 Listening/Speaking classes. For more information, please visit:

It Beats Me!

Example 1:
Tina: Where is Tom? He said he would be here an hour ago!

Kerri: Yes, we made these plans last week and confirmed everything last night!

Tina: He only lives 5 minutes from here. Where could he be?

Kerri: It beats me! He really has no excuse for being late!

Example 2:
Ken: I just heard about a guy who survived five weeks in the middle of the ocean in a small lifeboat. He only had a small amount of food and water. Also, there was a big storm while he was on the lifeboat. How could he still be alive?

Joe: It beats me how he survived in such a dangerous environment! What an amazing story!

The expression it beats me is used when a person does not know the answer to a question. It is also something a person says when he cannot understand something.

In the first example, two women are waiting for Tom. They arranged this meeting far ahead of time and even confirmed it with Tom the night before. Also, Tom lives very close to the meeting place, so he really has no excuse for being late. Kerri does not know why he is late and cannot even imagine an excuse.

In the second example, a man survived at sea for five days in a lifeboat without a lot of food and water. It’s an unbelievable story and Joe cannot understand or figure out how the man could survive when many people would die in the same situation.

This idiom can be found in the LSI textbook Speaking Savvy. This book is used at LSI schools in the level 5 Listening/Speaking classes. For more information, please visit:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

to make a fool of

To make a fool of someone means to do something to make another person or yourself look stupid/ foolish. It means to make another person or yourself feel embarrassed.
Example 1:
-        -  What happened at Julie’s birthday party last night?
-        -  Oh, you should have seen it! Daniel drank so much that he could not keep his balance at one point and fell in the pool! He always makes a fool of himself just after having a few shots of vodka.  
Meaning: Daniel made himself look foolish falling in the pool drunk. People laughed at him, and that made him feel embarrassed.
Example 2:
-          - Christine, I need your advice. My relationship with Bob is going south. We don’t spend much time together anymore. On the weekends, he says he is always busy or too tired to see me.
-          - Anna, he is simply making a fool out of you. He has another girlfriend! He is dating two girls at the same time! My advice- dump him!
     This idiom can be found in the LSI textbook Speaking Savvy. This book is used at LSI schools in the level 4 Listening/Speaking classes. For more information, please visit:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

face to face

“face to face”
Meaning 1:  within each other's presence. A face-to-face meeting, conversation etc is one where you are with another person and talking to them.
Example: She met with the boss face to face.
Meaning 2: directly facing or opposite one another. If two people are standing face to face, they are very close and are looking at each other
Example: They set face to face at the table to have their final conversation.
Meaning 3: in an open, personal meeting or confrontation. If you come face to face with something difficult, you experience it and have to deal with it.
Example:Mark is not afraid of many things. He is a very brave man. Once, when he traveled to Hawaii,he came face to face with his greatest fear: a shark attack.  
This idiom can be found in the LSI textbook Speaking Transitions. This book is used at LSI schools in the level 4 Listening/Speaking classes. For more information, please visit:

Friday, September 9, 2011

to chalk it up to

Example 1:
Linda has been very irritable lately. She's not as friendly as she used to be and she doesn't always respond to questions in a polite way. Her rude behavior has made her co-workers uncomfortable, but they know she is having a hard time in her personal life because of her divorce. We know she's really a good person and this behavior isn't normal; we just chalk it up to stress.

Example 2:
Nathan always knows what to do in any situation. In an emergency, he is calm helps others. In the office, he is a master at solving problems. At a party, he's the one getting people talking and dancing. He just always knows what to do! When I asked him for his secret, he just says, "Chalk it up to experience."
The expression chalk it up to something is used to explain the cause of a result. The something is the cause.

In the first example, Linda is rude and not behaving like herself. Her coworkers know that she has a lot of stress in her life, so her bad behavior is caused by the stress.

In the second example, Nathan knows everything about everything! All of his knowledge is caused by his life experience.

This idiom can be found in the LSI textbook Speaking Transitions. This book is used at LSI schools in the level 4 Listening/Speaking classes. For more information, please visit:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

to mouth off

Example 1:
Billy was having dinner with his family last night. Billy's mother asked him if he could clear the table and wash the dishes because she needed to help his younger sister with her homework.

Billy replied, "Why don't you do it yourself?" with an angry tone. Billy's mother was furious because Billy had been mouthing off to her like this a lot recently.

Billy's best friend has a birthday party planned for Saturday. Billy is not allowed to go to the party because he mouthed off to his mother after dinner last night.

Example 2:

Sarah is very passionate about politics and likes to talk about it at her office. Politics can be a sensitive subject, but Sarah doesn't care if her opinions offend or hurt anyone. She mouths off about whatever she wants without respect for others. It is not surprising that Sarah is not very popular in the office.

to mouth off means to speak rudely and angrily to someone in authority. It can also mean to speak angrily or complain about something without thinking about your words and if they are offensive to those around you.

mouth off to someone - Billy mouthed off to his mother
mouth off about something - Sarah mouths off about politics

In example 1, Billy mouths off to his mother and she punishes him for it. In this context, to mouth off is used to show that Billy is speaking rudely and angrily to someone in authority who deserves respect.

In example 2, Sarah is described as a person who complains and talks angrily or negatively about things without thinking about the people around her.

This idiom can be found in the LSI textbook Speaking Transitions. This book is used at LSI schools in the level 4 Listening/Speaking classes. For more information, please visit:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

to keep one's fingers crossed

Context #1:
Jane: Tomorrow I'm going to go to the DMV to take my driving test... again! I've already failed twice!
Cindy: Good luck! I hope you pass. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.
Context #2:
Paul: Hey John, you had a job interview last week, right? Have you heard back from them yet?
John: No, I haven't heard back from them yet. The interview went really well though. I really want that job. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
Meaning: to keep your fingers crossed is used in different situations where you are wishing someone luck. This can be used when you are wishing good luck for yourself or for someone else. Don't forget that this idiom uses the plural "fingers," not the singluar "finger."
This idiom can be found in the LSI textbook Speaking Savvy. This book is used at LSI schools to teach Level 5 Speaking. For more information, please visit:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

to have something in common

Idiom: to have something in common
Context #1:
Joe: Guess what! I found out that Cindy and I both love Jazz music. Plus, she loves to play soccer just like I do.
Fred: Wow! You guys have a lot in common.
Joe: Yeah. I wonder if we like any other of the same things.
Context #2:
Mario: So how come you broke up with your girlfriend?
Tim: Well, she was really nice, and pretty too. But I found out that we had almost nothing in common. We like different kinds of music, different kinds of movies, different kinds of food. We had nothing to really talk about. I love sports but she hates them.
Mario: Yeah.. it would be really hard to date someone who had so many differences.
Meaning: to have something in common means that two people share the same background, hobbies, likes, or experiences.
This idiom was taken from the LSI textbook Speaking Transitions which is used to teach Level 4 Speaking at LSI schools. For more information please visit:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

To work on


Read the following dialogue and guess the meaning of the idiom in bold:

Susan: "Hi,Sofia! How was your trip to Italy?"
Sofia: "It was really nice! I was there for 20 days!"
Susan: "Did Alfonso go with you?"
Sofia: "Yes, he did! If he weren't there, I don't know what I would have done..."
Susan: "Why?"
Sofia: "He is fluent in Italian."
Susan: "Didn't you study Italian for a long time?"
Sofia: "Yes, I did. Unfortunately, I don't practice it as much and it is really hard for me to communicate now. I really have to work on my Italian..."
Susan: "You should! Alfonso seems to really like you and if things work out well, you might be marrying and Italian!"
Sofia: " No!! We are just friends!"
Susan: "that's not what he told me..."

What do you think TO WORK ON means?

a. To stop doing something
b. To improve on something
c. To teach something
d. All of the above

The answer is B.

MEANING: To work on something means to improve, to become better at something!

This idiom was taken from our book SPEAKING TRANSITIONS!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Behind Someone’s Back

Behind Someone’s Back

Read the following sentences and guess the meaning of the idiom in bold:

Mary got mad at Tom because he was talking about her behind her back.

Jose asked his Dad if he could borrow the car but he said “no”. After that, Jose went behind his Dad’s back and asked his Mom if he could borrow the car. That was not appropriated!

What do you think “behind someone’s back” means?

a. in front of someone
b. without someone knowing
c. behind a car
d. all of the above

The answer is “b”.

Meaning: behind someone’s back means to do something secretly, without other people knowing.

This idiom was taken from our LSI book Speaking Savvy!

For more information about Language Systems International (LSI) please go to

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Example 1
Sarah: Hey Bella, do you want to go to Starbucks after school?
Bella: I'd really like to  but I want to save money for a new dress for the school dance so I need to cut
corners. Lets get something to drink at my house instead.
Sarah: Okay. Sounds good.
Example 2
Susan: ( To co-worker ) Christine is a great friend but she's difficult to work with, because she always tries to cut corners to get things done quickly. Sometimes I have to go back and redo her work to make sure its acceptable to the boss.
Maria: That's terrible! You should tell her not to do that again.
Meaning: "To cut corners" can be used in a couple of different situations. In the first example, a person can cut corners in order to save money or to economize. In the second example,
"cutting corners" involves completing a task quickly while eliminating a few of the steps in the process. Cutting corners can be a positive or negative action depending on the situation.

cut corners: this idiom can be found in LSI 's Level 4 Reading Horizons book

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

To see ( someone's ) point

First example
Judy:  Hey Megan, I heard that you are selling your car, I have a friend who might be    interested.
Megan: That's great. Tell her to give me a call.
Judy: How much are you selling it for? I think she can pay about $ 3000
Megan: I'm selling it for $3500 and I really can't accept any less. It's a fairly new car and in great condition and I paid three times the price for it.
Judy: Ok. I see your point. I'll tell her to give you a call.
Second example
Sarah: Mom, I really don't want to play soccer this season.
Sarah's Mom : But honey, you're such a great player and your team won first place last season.
Sarah: I know, but I've been thinking of taking a yoga class and getting more involved in a club at school. I wish you'd see my point ( of view )
Sarah's Mom: Why don't you think about it for a few more days and we can talk about it later?
Meaning: To "see someone's point" means that you understand their reason for having a certain opinion, or for feeling a certain way. When you say " I see your point ," you are telling
them their idea is reasonable and understandable. This can be a useful phrase when you have a small difference of opinion and you want the other person to feel understood.
This idiom can be found in LSI 's Level 4 Speaking Transitions book.