Dionne Douglas

CELPIP and Idioms - Boost Your Score

Jun 09, 2023

Why are Idioms Important for CELPIP?

Idioms are an important aspect of language proficiency, therefore, having a knowledge of idioms and being able to use them appropriately is relevant to language proficiency rating on the CELPIP (and IELTS) test. If you take a look at the CELPIP descriptors chart published by CELPIP.ca (download your copy at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/teacherdionne/e/142713), you'll notice that a score of level 7 and higher indicates that the test-taker was able to use idioms. For that reason, to prepare for the CELPIP test and boost your score, I strongly recommend that you study and familiarize yourself with common idiomatic expressions used in English.

Remember, when studying idioms you must ensure that you fully understand their meanings, the contexts they're used in, and which situations are appropriate to use them in. You can learn and practice idioms with materials that are designed to give you a full understanding of their meanings and how to use them. I have a collection of free idiom materials available at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/teacherdionne/extras. After learning some idioms, practice using them with sample CELPIP speaking task questions to help you commit them to memory and to become more comfortable with idiomatic expressions. By doing that, you can improve your overall English language proficiency and boost your score.

Keep in mind that while using idioms can be very valuable in language testing, it's important to not rely on them too heavily because overusing them and inappropriately using them may also carry some risks. Be sure to become familiar with ALL of the areas (content/coherence, vocabulary, listenability, and task fulfillment) that you'll be rated on. You'll see them on CELPIP descriptors chart. You should also get to know what you are expected to do to attain the level-score that you want to achieve.

Good luck and happy studying!


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P.S. See below for a few reasons why idioms are important in language testing:

  1. Fluency and Naturalness: Idioms are truly a part of everyday language, and using them appropriately showcases your fluency and ability to naturally use a language. Incorporating idioms into your speaking demonstrates a level of mastery and proficiency that goes beyond basic vocabulary and grammar skills. Language tests like CELPIP and IELTS assess your ability to communicate effectively and authentically, and require the use of idioms play to achieve higher scores.

  2. Cultural Understanding: Idioms are often deeply rooted in the culture and history of a language understanding and using them demonstrates cultural awareness and a deeper understanding of the language beyond only understanding literal meanings. Language proficiency tests like the CELPIP test and IELTS do not only assess language skills but also the ability to navigate through and comprehend the cultural context of English.

  3. Contextual Understanding: Idioms add imagination, color, and richness to communication. They convey meanings that may not be obvious from their words and their literal definitions. Using idioms on language tests shows that you can understand and interpret the bigger meaning of language, not just the basic meaning of words. It shows the difference between understanding figurative meanings and plain literal meanings.
    Literal meaning example: A piece of cake means an actual piece of a cake.
    Figurative meaning example: A piece of cake means easy.

  4. Reading and Listening Comprehension: Idioms are commonly used in written texts, conversations, and other forms of communication. Being able to understand idiomatic expressions when reading a passage or completing listening comprehension exercises is essential for comprehension.

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