Your students probably find it hard to remember new vocabulary. At school they were usually asked to learn lists of new expressions by heart and usually forgot them all after an exam.

Here is an example of how to learn vocabulary putting it in context or in a story. Try it out with your students! I am sure they will like it!


Time, they say, is money. Time is of the essence. No doubt, there is something to it. We all repeat it time and again, from time immemorial. There was a time when people were not pressed for time. They had time to spare and enjoyed time out. Now, many of us have to work against time. Our bosses tell us to do things in no time. We do overtime all the time. They say we have to work unsocial hours to keep up with the times. And times, they say, are hard. We may tell them that we will do all in good time because nine times out of ten haste makes waste. We may tell them “one thing at a time”, but instead of listening to us, they will give us a hard time. We may even be asked to take the minutes of an important meeting and if we refuse saying that we have no time, we will hear time after time one short sentence: “Make time!” The pressure is unbearable. We do not while away time and we never do things to kill time. We do not want to be behind the times and we try not to do things at the eleventh hour. We try to save time on every possible occasion. Does it mean we have a good time? Far from it. We become angry and, in time, we may commit a crime. But this will not solve our time problem because in prison we will have to do time.

Here is a list of time-related idioms and expressions used in the text:

time is of the essence   

time and again

from time immemorial

there was a time

to be pressed for time

to have time to spare

time out

to work against time 

to do things in no time

to do overtime

to keep up with the times

all in good time

nine times out of ten

haste makes waste

one thing at a time

to give somebody a hard time

to take the minutes

time after time

to make time

to be behind the times

at the eleventh hour

to have a good time

in time

to do time


Some conversation questions to practice the target language:

  1. Does your company keep up with the times?
  2. Do you tend to do things at the eleventh hour or do you always finish your projects in time?
  3. Are you often asked to do overtime?
  4. Do you have a lot of time to spare?
  5. Are you a multi-tasker or do you prefer to do one thing at a time?
  6. Did you have a good time last weekend?
  7. Do you have a lot of deadlines to meet and feel pressed for time at the moment?
  8. Nine times out of ten, Italians arrive late at meetings. Do you agree?