There are so many idioms, phrases and expressions out there that I decided to explore and explain a few more. I find that the essence of learning a language lies not only in improving your vocabulary or your ability to string sentences together, but also very much in your ability to express yourself successfully. As you hear and start to understand these sayings you will most likely find one or two that may become your favourite. And you will start using them to express yourself, which is a wonderful step in becoming a proficient English speaker.

On you first day at Oxford English Academy, did your teacher perhaps mention something about ‘breaking the ice’? And as much as you looked you did not see any ice cubes to break? To break the ice in fact means to make people who have not met before feel more relaxed with each other. Hence you may even do some ice-breakers, which are activities to make people interact and open up to each other.

Not feeling well? Someone may suggest that you look as sick as a dog. What? You look like a dog? This phrase means you look like you are feeling very sick. The origin of the phrase comes from the early 1700s when it was common to call someone who was undesirable and ill-looking ‘a dirty dog’. Another way to say that you are not feeling well would be to say you are ‘under the weather’. The origin of this saying goes back to people falling sick while on board a ship due to the rough weather conditions on the oceans.

Strangely enough if you want to wish someone good luck or wish that they succeed in something it is quite common to say: “Break a leg!” As odd as it may sounds it does in fact mean that someone is wishing you well. The origin of the phrase is one that is unclear, as it was first heard in British Theatre Circles in in the early 1920s.

And last but not least you may have noticed the idiom in the title of the blog, which is ‘a piece of cake’. Now you may ask what cake has to do with learning. It doesn’t but simply means that something is easy to do or accomplish. The origin of the phrase goes back to at least the 1930s and the term was recorded officially for the first time by the American poet Ogden Nash.

Learning English or any new language is a never ending, enriching and wonderful journey. Perhaps you can choose your favourite saying, memorise it and practise using it for a week when the situation arises. Soon it will become second nature and you will most certainly find yourself impressing your fellow students.

 

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