5 Advanced Idioms for IELTS Speaking

Using advanced idioms in the IELTS Speaking test can help you demonstrate a strong command of the English language.

In this lesson, I’ll introduce you to 5 advanced idioms that can elevate your performance in the IELTS Speaking test. Additionally, I’ll answer some common questions students have about idioms.

Here are five advanced idioms along with their meanings that you can use to impress the examiners:

To fall on deaf ears

Meaning: When something you say is ignored or not acknowledged.

Sarah asked her kids to stop playing and focus on their homework. However, her request seemed to fall on deaf ears as they kept playing on their phones.

Usage Tip: Use this idiom when talking about advice, suggestions, or warnings that were ignored.
To Fall on Deaf Ears

To twist your arm

Meaning: To persuade someone to do something they’re hesitant about.

I wasn’t keen on attending the party, but John twisted my arm and I agreed to go.

Usage Tip: This idiom is often used when someone convinces or persuades you to change your mind.

To put your cards on the table

Meaning: To be transparent about your feelings or intentions.

During the meeting, the manager encouraged everyone to put their cards on the table and share their genuine opinions about the project.

Usage Tip: This idiom is often used when revealing something significant or confidential.

To be part and parcel

Meaning: Something essential or integral to another thing.

Studying is part and parcel of being a student. You can’t escape it if you aim for high grades.

Usage Tip: Use this idiom when emphasising that one thing is a necessary component of another.
To be Part and Parcel

To be on the same page

Meaning: To agree or think similarly about something.

Before initiating the project, the team met to ensure everyone was on the same page regarding the objectives.

Usage Tip: This idiom is typically used when emphasising agreement or shared understanding among a group.

Common questions about idioms in IELTS

1. What is an idiom? Are phrasal verbs the same?

Idioms are short expressions with figurative meanings that differ from their literal interpretations. For instance, “it’s not my cup of tea” means you don’t like something. Some phrasal verbs can be idioms, but not all of them. The following are idiomatic phrasal verbs,
  • He passed away last week = he died last week
  • Let’s put off the meeting = let’s delay the meeting

The following are just literal

  • Can you take out the rubbish?
  • Please put away your toys now.

2. Why are idioms important?

Idioms are prevalent in spoken conversations. They add colour to language, make conversations engaging, and help in understanding various contexts, especially in movies and news broadcasts. I also think they can be so much fun. At the same time, they are tricky to use, so it’s essential to hear them multiple times before incorporating them into your speech.

Word Colours

3. How should I learn idioms?

While many resources group idioms by topic, the idioms given are actually often not useful to talk about that topic. For instance, try searching for idioms about food and you will find idioms like the following:

  • Like two peas in a pod = to be very similar
  • It’s a piece of cake = to be easy

These aren’t directly about food and don’t help you talk about food.

A much more useful idiom to talk about food might be

  • To wolf something down = to eat something quickly

So, if I want to talk about food and let’s say my eating habits, I could say,

In the morning I am often in a rush, so I wolf down my breakfast and then head off for work.

4. Which idioms should I learn for IELTS?

Choose idioms that are commonly used in spoken English. Avoid old-fashioned or moralistic proverbs as they might sound unnatural. Remember, while there are differences between British and American idioms, many are universally understood due to global media influence.

5. How to use idioms without sounding rehearsed

While using idioms can enhance your speech, it’s essential they fit the context. Examiners appreciate idioms that seem improvised and contextually appropriate. Always ask yourself if the idiom belongs in the sentence or if you’re forcing it.

Make idioms fit the context

Conclusion and final advice

To confidently use idiomatic expressions, you must familiarise yourself with their context. Listen to them in videos, podcasts, and read transcripts. The more you expose yourself to idioms in natural settings, the better you’ll become at using them.

Lastly, for those interested in diving deeper into idioms, stay tuned for details about my upcoming IDIOMS e-book and course!

Enjoy your learning and best of luck with your IELTS Speaking test!

download ebook


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *