“Beat around the bush”

It means to speak indirectly, to delay the main point.

It can be a great idiom to use when you are describing yourself or others who have been reluctant to get to the main point or be specific about something.

To help you, below are some examples of using this idiom.

“I don’t beat around the bush if something annoys me, I will tell you.”

“He beat around the bush forever until he finally said he wanted to break up with her.”

Here is a video conversation with my friend and actor Denise Jones. She talks about how people from Newfoundland never beat around the bush if something is on their mind! But first, we start with “gonna”…

“Bite the bullet”

It means to endure a difficult period of time or situation with a strength of will. 

It can be a good idiom to use in place of words like, “endure”.

To help you, below are some examples of using this idiom.

“If I had to move for my job, I would bite the bullet and hope that it turned out for the better.”

“Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and get the job done!”

Here is a video conversation with my friend and writer, Eric Drysdale. We catch up after a very long time (we went to high school together). We talk about the difficulty making a decision to move to another city for a job.

“Spill the beans”

It is common to hear English native speakers use this idiom.

Have you come across it before?

It means to reveal secret information unintentionally.

It can be a great idiom to use when you are warning others not to reveal sensitive information.

To help you, below are some examples of using this idiom.

“We want the birthday party to be a surprise, so don’t spill the beans!”

Like a lot of idioms, there are varying etymologies. Some say this idiom is of Greek origin. People would use beans to vote – some beans were white, some black, some red, and so on. They were put in jars and counted. If someone accidentally tipped over a jar, they had “spilled the beans” and revealed the vote early.

Here is a conversation with my friend Berend McKenzie. He is a writer, director, and actor from Edmonton, AB. In this video we catch up, discuss video chatting, and Berend uses our idiom of the day!

“Get the ball rolling” and “On the same page”

The first idiom “to get the ball rolling” means to start, to take action on something.

The etymology of this idiom is said to come from sports, namely croquet, where the ball is literally rolled to start a game. 

The second idiom “on the same page” means to have the same knowledge about something and to be in agreement with someone about something.

The etymology of this phrase seems to come from two sources, music and the business sector. In music, choral singers needed to be in sync and therefore on the same page in order for their singing sound cohesive. In business, all members at a meeting had to be reading from a single copy of meeting notes to ensure everyone understood what was being discussed.

These are great idioms to use in the office.

To help you, below are some examples of using these idioms.

“Ok, let’s get the ball rolling and start the meeting.” or “We need to get the ball rolling before lunch time.” 

“Before we start the meeting, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about the format.” or “It doesn’t seem like they were on the same page about the flight schedules.”

In this week’s video, I get the ball rolling with my friend and colleague, Paul Duke, and we talk about the challenge of scheduling in different time zones. Paul is an English language coach and teacher. His website is: http://www.teacherpaul.ca where you can see his extensive library of video lessons for students and teachers!

“Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it”

Do you find it hard to to keep your global team focused on tasks using English?

Don’t worry! You’re not alone.

Sometimes it is a simple matter of finding the right words or expression to keep your team aligned.

The idiom “let’s cross that bridge when we come to it” means to deal with a problem AFTER the current task has been completed.

Watch the video below to learn how you can use this idiom to help you.

“A Piece of Cake”

It means to accomplish something surprisingly fast, or to do something that is really easy. 

To help you, below are some examples of using these idioms.

“Getting through traffic today was a piece of cake, no congestion at all!”

“I’m glad I studied for the exam because it ended up being a piece of cake.”

“She thought learning sharing idioms would be a piece of cake but it was more complex than she anticipated.”

The etymology of this idiom will surprise people, as will future idioms that we learn about during this series. Some origin stories are uncomfortable, however, it is important to discover where our words come from and how language evolves over time because it provides a portal into the past and allows us to reflect on how our vocabulary influences, or has influenced, our social constructs. “A piece of cake” is said to come from the southern United States and has its roots in phrases that emerged from “a cake walk” which was a competitive dance performed by slaves and judged by plantation owners. More information can be found here: 


In this week’s video, Lori Triolo and I chat about what our students have taught us about teaching and the surprises that students receive when they work hard for results.

“Down the Rabbit Hole”

The idiom, “down the rabbit hole” is widely used and means to pursue something which leads to other questions or problems or actions. It conveys the sense that someone spends some time doing something without a clear goal. We tend to use this idiom when we talk about using the internet. We may have clear goals at the outset of our pursuit but quickly become distracted by other things we find online and end up “down a rabbit hole”.

To help you, below are some examples of using these idioms.

“Once I started researching online, I ended up down a rabbit hole of information!”

“The website was a rabbit hole of pages and links.”

The etymology of this idiom comes from Lewis Carol’s story, Alice in Wonderland, where Alice literally falls down the hole of the White Rabbit and encounters a place full of strange and wondrous things. 

Here is an interesting resource: https://lnkd.in/gG5m6W9q

In this week’s video, Catherine Lough Haggquist and I chat about our experiences as entrepreneurs navigating the internet to help us build our businesses. 

CHALLENGE: Catherine uses two synonyms that tie in with “down the rabbit hole”. Can you name them?

“Learn the Ropes”

In today’s video, we kick off the new year with the idiom “learn the ropes”! This idiom is widely used and means to learn how to do something, or to acquire special skills. 

An apropos phrase for a new beginning, I hope we will all have an opportunity to learn new ropes for opportunities in 2022. Here, I talk to Ben Immanuel about learning the ropes in the play we did together and about how continual learning is a good thing!

The etymology of this idiom is widely believed to have come from naval vocabulary where ships were rigged with ropes by shipmates who had to know how to tie them efficiently to hoist the sails. 

And, here are some sentences to help you:

“You can learn the ropes of any skill as long as you have the patience to practice.”

“Often we spend most of our time just learning the ropes!”


When it comes to learning a language, finding your voice can be challenging. It’s as if you dropped your voice behind somewhere and are picking up pieces of it again, here and there, and using it tentatively for fear of dropping it again and making a mess of things! We are used to speaking our native language with such ease; thoughts are made and words fly with such fluidity and speed – it’s our super human power! And so, your voice, which is so very personal, is compromised. Insecurity about this new and strange language working through you, intensifies. It is possible to discover a new facet of your voice, however, by thinking a little differently about speaking than you do about writing, listening, and reading.

Among the many other signals we give using our bodies, the voice is essential to making sense of all the thoughts and feelings we want to express. Your voice comes from your mind and body, where thinking, breathing, and moving are all working simultaneously to communicate your message. Speaking is an action that requires you to move your mouth in new ways that your body is not accustomed to. It helps, therefore, to think of speaking as a physical exercise – in contrast to writing, listening, and reading – where your attention to movement and breath is important and holds the key to not only improved articulation but also finding confidence in speaking your new language. 

Breathing, stretching, and vocal exercises may seem unusual for an English class but they are as important as a the pen to writing or the page to reading. Clear and confident speaking can be achieved by paying attention to the source of your voice first and moving forward from there.


Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by our desire to improve. The overwhelming feeling comes from, I suspect, the speed that we expect the improvement to occur. Our patience tends to run out if results are not realized quickly. The other thing we tend to do is take on an excessive amount of “improvement” that we cannot sustain over the long run. Learning a language takes time. You would be surprised how small, incremental habits can accumulate and effect the improvement you desire faster than trying to take on a lot, failing, and trying again resulting in a never-ending, disheartening, loop. Habits helps us to create patterns that become a part of you. Think of habit as a verb – how will you habit today? Here are some suggestions to get you started!

1.  Take a picture every day – show it to your teacher, ask about words to describe it . Who knows where this one habit could lead! A book? A comic? A short film? Accumulating a diary of pictures and sentences over time may result in something fantastic that you can share and use to teach others. When you teach, you learn!

2. Learn one new word every day

3. Learn a synonym of a word you know every day

4. Write a sentence every morning and ask your teacher to check it

5. Breathe! Take 1 minute a day to stop and notice your breath – breath is life

6. Tongue twister mornings. Say a tongue twister to get your mouth “Englishing” before class (how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood!)

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh shows us an example of how small strokes, compounded and arranged, can create something astoundingly beautiful.

The book Atomic Habits by James Clear is a great resource for you to use for helpful advice on how you can create the change you want, sustainably.