Saturday, 29 November 2014

The puzzling world of idioms - Part 4 - C1+

Are you a little bit crazy? 

I mean in a good way... 

Some idioms can be used to describe someone acting crazy or that they could be simply bonkers! You can act crazy, which is of course temporary, but you could also be a crazy person. On one hand, being a crazy person is not necessarily a bad thing, there are people out there who like to have a good time and are fun to be around.  On the other hand we do have expressions which indicate that a person's behaviour is crazy in a bad way.

Here are some examples you could use...

'to lose the plot' - if you have 'lost the plot', you can no longer act normally.  This idiom has a serious side to it, we can use it to describe our brief moments of madness.
"Oh my! For a minute there I thought I had 'lost the plot' completely!"

'off your trolley' - Mostly used in jest. "Your cousin has completely gone off his trolley."

'basket case' - Mostly used in jest, but I have heard it used as an insult. "I want nothing to do with that man, he's a complete and utter 'basket case'!"

'screw loose' - Now this is quite a comical one, as you can imagine the human head as something mechanical, and one of the screws has come loose, meaning that the rest probably cannot operate normally with out it! "Are you sure you don't have a 'screw loose'?"

'taken leave of one's senses' - This is a more polite way of saying that the guys is clearly nuts!  "Have you taken leave of your senses? How on earth are you going to climb Mount Everest with one hand?"


plot; (noun) the main events of a play, novel or film or similar work, devised and presented by the writer.

jest; (noun) a thing said  or done for amusement, a joke.

Some practice

Why don't you try using these expressions this week? 

Think of a person you would like to use these expressions with. Has someone been acting a little crazy this week?

Why not look for some more crazy idioms you like and write them in the comments section.

Would you like to improve your listening and speaking skills in English? If so, I am offering online classes... Why don't you try a class? The first one is free! Please contact Lisa

Saturday, 22 November 2014

The puzzling world of idioms - Part 3. B2 +

Some more idioms and expressions which use food, but don't refer to food...


What are chips, exactly? Well, a chip can be an electronic chip which contains information, for example; My cat has had a chip inserted recently by the vet. Chips, can also be potato chips, or french fries (as the Americans like to call them). Wood chips are chips small bits of wood, especially ones that flake off when you cut into them.

A chip on your shoulder: Someone who has a bad attitude and is usually offended easily. Example; "I wouldn't ask Sandra to help out, she's got a real chip on her shoulder about about the whole event!"

As cheap as chips: Potato chips are usually cheap, except if you order them from an extremely classy restaurant! So, we use chips to refer to something cheap. Example; "The concert tickets were only two 'quid' each. That's as cheap as chips!"

Chip in: This means to contribute something, whether its money or some other kind of help. Example "We're thinking of getting a smart phone for John, would you mind chipping in 10 'quid'?"

A chip off the old block: To take after some one, but this refers more to boys who look like or act like their fathers.  Example "Michael is the 'spitting image' of his farther - That's true, he's a chip off the old block."


Classy; (adj) elegant, stylish.

quid;(noun) slang for pound sterling, referring to money.

spitting image; (noun) likeness, a double, a look alike.

Student exercises:

Why don't you look for some other expressions, that contain the word chip?

If you would like to practise using these idioms, why don't you think of some more example?

Write a letter to a friend, and use all four idioms in the letter.

Would you like to improve your listening and speaking skills in English? If so, I am offering online classes... Why don't you try a class? The first one is free! Please contact Lisa

Saturday, 15 November 2014

The puzzling world of idioms and Expressions - Part 2 - B2 +

Food, we love it... For most of us it's a huge part of our everyday lives.  How many of you plan your meals at the beginning of the week, so that there's a delicious meal to look forward to everyday? I certainly do!

Here are some expressions that we like to use when talking about food...

Fill your boots

I love this expression because you can almost imagine literally filling your boots with your favourite stew...

It really means to have as much of something as you want, to do something to the full.  You can use this expression of many other things too, not just food.

Fran and Paul are at a buffet, Fran can't believe how much food there is!

Fran: "I'm so hungry shall we tuck in?"
Paul: "Go on Fran, fill your boots!"

Here are some expression that mention food, but they don't refer to it...

A piece of cake:  (Easy)  This report was a piece of cake!

Spill the beans: (Tell a secret)  I'll tried not to spill the beans, but I couldn't help it! Sorry.

Small potatoes: (unimportant) We don't need to worry about those people, they are small potatoes.

Sugar coat it: Gloss over bad information.  Please tell me the whole truth and don't sugar coat it.

Go bananas: To go crazy. Make sure you tidy your room, your mum is gonna go bananas when she sees this mess!

Do you know any other expression related to food?
Why don't you share your favourites with us?
Could you share some expression with us in your language?


tuck in; (phrasal verb) eat heartily, devour, consume, to gobble up.

gloss over; (phrasal verb) to cover up something.

Would you like to improve your listening and speaking skills in English? If so, I am offering online classes... Why don't you try a class? The first one is free! Please contact Lisa

Thursday, 13 November 2014

The new wine tasting and language exchange experience...

Chato Grato and ifriendly present .... 

The very first bilingual wine tasting experience in Castilla La Mancha, Spain.

Wine tasting, catas de vino, are very popular. We love wine and La Mancha produces tonnes of the stuff and it's rather good too!

A wine tasting course or session with us, will give you the chance to learn how to really enjoy wine.  Before I learnt about wine tasting, I would order a glass with no idea what I was about to drink! One wine tasting session will change the way you drink wine forever.... Life is too short to drink bad wine! (There are no bad wines, but there will be wines you might not enjoy as much.)

Why bilingual? Well, ifriendly started out as a language exchange programme, to give everyone the opportunity to improve their language skills, whilst meeting new people in a social setting.  Thanks to Eddie, that group is still going strong in Brighton, England.

Now we would like to take it to the next level...

We would like to have an evening with you, where we will present 3 different wines in both Spanish and English languages.  This could appeal to both English and Spanish speakers alike... Would you like a chance to practise your English/ Spanish in a relaxed and social environment? And after a couple of glasses, I can guarantee that your language skills will improve and your confidence in a foreign language will grow.

ifriendly will be teaming up with Chatograto to give you the best experience possible... Here is Chatograto's goal...

CHATOGRATO is a project developed by and for aggrandising the figure of wine. We will try to reflect in it all the passion we have for this liquid art.
In order to help in spreading the culture of wine, oil, cheese and other delicacies of the area, and in order to bring it closer to the general public through our sommelier José Carlos Rodríguez, and the experience of other professionals, we have designed a range of courses and activities to help you to enjoy wine and many other artisan food in all its grandeur. (taken from

We hope that you will join us!

*Our first event will be held on the 19th of December, in Ciudad Real, Spain. Location TBC.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Idioms which express love... B2+ (upper-intermediate)

Love idioms...  

When talking about love, we like to express our feelings... Love idioms can help us to express ourselves more!  Here are three very common love idioms...

Absence makes the heart grow fonder...

Have you ever been in a long distance relationship? Do you pine after that person whenever they are not around? It's natural to miss the person we love if they are with us, but absence for a large amount of time makes you think about them more, thus making your heart grow fonder.


Jane: "I haven't seen Alex for two months! I can't bare it any longer, I have to see him now!"

Mary: "awww...that's because, absence makes the heart grow fonder."

Lovey dovey

*Some sources state that this is an idiom, but it could also be defined as slang.

This idiom is used for couples who show everyone how much they are in love, usually by public displays of attention, kissing in public, etc.

Micheal: "Shaun and Irene are so lovey dovey all the time, I can't even talk to Shaun about football any more!"

Love is blind

This is a very common expression, we all can't help falling in love/ lust. But when the feeling disappears abruptly we all blame it on the fact that we were blinded by love!

Monica: "I can't believe I fell for that guy!  He's such an idiot!"

Paula: "What can I tell you... Love is blind!"


pine after; phrasal verb meaning to long for a person or to grieve for someone or something.

thus; (adverb), as a result or consequence of this.

What do these idioms mean in your language?

Please share your favourite love idioms...

Would you like to improve your listening and speaking skills in English? If so, I am offering online classes... Why don't you try a class? The first one is free! Please contact Lisa

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The puzzling world of idioms.... B2 +

 The puzzling world of idioms...

Idioms, they can be entertaining, but why do we use them? Well, personally I love to use idioms... They make conversations more captivating, compelling, alluring and even amusing! All  languages have their own idioms... but most are lost in translation.  The best way to learn idioms, I find, is to learn about their origin.  But never translate them... they will not make sense in your own language! (but they will make for a good chuckle!)

Nothing to lose...

A person will take a risk knowing that they won't lose anything, or someone convinces them to invest in a product on the promise that they have 'nothing to lose'.

Literally speaking, we all do have something to lose! We could lose our lives... but it's a figure of speech.

"I know that you have fallen out with him many times, but why don't you just apologise? Come on! What have you got to lose?"

To jump on the bandwagon...

This is a fun idiom to use, a bandwagon, is a wagon used to transport musicians.  If you jump on the band wagon you are joining in with the fun! You can use this expression if you want to join any group of people doing an activity or behaving in a certain way.

"Everyone is signing up to go skiing.... I think I'll jump on the bandwagon and sign up too!"

Do you have similar idioms in your language?
Why don't you tell us about them?


captivating; (adj) capable of attracting and holding interest; charming.

compelling; (adj) evoking interest, attention, or admiration in a powerfully irresistible way.

alluring; (adj) powerfully and mysteriously attractive or fascinating, seductive.

chuckle (noun) a quiet or suppressed laugh.

Would you like to improve your English? Are you taking an exam or does your job require you to speak English? I offer classes online, using Skype. Live and face to face. For more information contact Lisa. Email

About Me

My photo


If you have read my blog and want to know more about me ... please read on!

Where are you from?

The short answer would be the south of England, but this is not strictly true.  I was born in Bahrain, and I've lived in Spain, Scotland and England.  When I worked for First Choice (Tour operator), I was sent to work in Almeria, Tenerife, Malaga, Corfu and Bulgaria! Then I moved to Brighton. I had a great time there and met some amazing people (you know who you are)! From there I moved to Alicante to become a teacher.  I got a better teaching position in Toledo with Cambridge English plus, there I spent my days correcting exams, teaching kids and Adults... and now I am residing in Ciudad Real with my life partner.

Why did you become an English teacher?

I've always liked the idea of teaching, but I figured it was a good idea to get some life experience before trying to teach. So, that's what I did! I have worked in tourism, insurance, marketing, health and safety, bars and restaurants! Work experience gives you heaps of anecdotes and stories to teach your students about real life!

Why did you decide to become self-employed?

Well, it was an easy decision, I wanted the freedom and flexibility to teach English through numerous activities, cooking, wine tasting, playing games, etc.  When you work in a school/academy/college you teach the same thing day in day out, students get bored of sitting down at a desk with a book open in front of them, having done this during school hours as well. Through experience I've learnt that it's easier to learn a language when you actually live it! Kids in Spain learn grammar at school, they know how the language works, but they don't get the opportunity to speak.

Why online classes?

I wanted to be able to teach other nationalities and maybe provide a service to people who can't leave their house, or live out in a small village where they don't have access to a language school. Teaching online is intense, it doesn't suit everyone, but the students I have are happy with the classes.

Are online classes better than in person?

If there is a good internet connection, and the student is keen to learn online, then it can be good, but I wouldn't say it was better than in person. Learning online is intense, you have to constantly pay attention, your teacher is able to provide you with visual aids, class notes, etc. You save money on petrol and you save time! When technology improves, it will be possible to join a group, which should be cheaper for you and give you the opportunity to meet other students from around the world!

How do you fill your time?

Well, I keep a blog for my students, the number of readers are increasing everyday, which is encouraging. I won't talk about politics, religion or any subject which may offend any nationality. It's purpose is to give students something to read, which may interest them. Helping them to learn new vocabulary and expressions. I also teach at a nursery in the mornings, and one evening a week I teach children and their parents together! This gives parents the opportunity to learn with their children, making it easier to practise at home. English can become part of your everyday lives!

My teenage group are new, and I love teaching them!

iFriendly Summer project:

Every year I look into summer camps and the options I have to teach during our long hot summers... I have to say there is quite a wide variety of summer camps here in Spain, United Kingdom and Ireland.  I have worked for the Junta de Andalucia and Combination Languages in the U.K.

I love Castilla La Mancha and I would rather stay and teach closer to home... I think I have found what I am looking for.  A stunning little village not 50 minutes from my City... Saceruela.

This year I intend to set up a summer camp for kids, aged 10 -16 from the local schools and academies. In 2016 / 17 I intend to attract students from the U.K and Ireland, those who want to learn Spanish, so that we can teach both languages together.  This will enable iFriendly to provide activities for both nationalities and give everyone the chance to learn from each other. A similar set up to my 'Invasion Friendly' project in Brighton, where Spanish speakers and English speakers got together every week to learn from each other in a social environment. This will also be available for adult learners, but on weekends throughout the year.

Invasion Friendly "To promote cultural integration and change. Give the word invasion new meaning. A safe way for travellers to learn languages."

Check out this stunning village

I teach English through wine tasting events in Ciudad Real, at Taberna Vinalia Check out our events on Facebook.

From April 2014 to December 2014, I worked on a Tourism project in Toledo, due to the long commute I no longer teach the course.

And last but not least, I teach English online!

For Skype English classes Contact Lisa Jane by email