These are the key phrases necessary for the advanced (C1) exam when you wish to speak about language learning. The best way to learn them is to put them into practical examples that you can use in various contexts.

For example: GET ACROSS – communicate information. What I want to get across is… I sometimes find it difficult to get my point across when…


  1. Get one´s point/ideas across – communicate (sth) to (sb)

It can be quite difficult to get your point across when speaking a foreign language.

  1. Brush up on – improve at something when you need practice

I had better brush up on my German before the business trip to Neuenrade.

  1. Be rusty – be out of practice

The problem is that I am really rusty and it is taking quite a long time to improve my fluency.

  1. Have a good/bad grasp of – have an understanding of/know how + inf

I have quite a good grasp of German, but I ought to practise every day.

  1. Take in – internalize/assimilate something

Do you find it difficult to take in new vocabulary? Why don´t you try to put them into practical examples?

  1. Struggle + infinitive = find something difficult + infinitive

I struggle to understand you when you speak French as you speak really quickly.

  1. Pay attention to – focus on (sth)

In your shoes, I would pay attention to my pronunciation in order to perfect it.

  1. Be worth + gerund – be a good use of one´s time

Is it worth learning Italian in this day and age?

  1. Deal/cope with – handle/have everything under control

It can be a tough task to deal with exam pressure.

  1. Get used to + gerund – develop as a habit

I am getting used to the use of separable phrasal verbs.

  1. Monitor one´s own performance – keep track of

If I were you, I would monitor your student´s progress a little more and ensure that they are advancing.

  1. Encourage (sb) + infinitive – motivate (sb) + infinitive

I encourage everyone I meet to learn a foreign language as it opens your mind.

  1. Dedicate time + gerund – get one´s teeth into (sth)

If I could, I would dedicate all of my time to learning a language

  1. Pick up – learn little by little

When I was in Tokyo last year, I picked up quite a lot of Japanese.

  1. Be fluent in – be able to speak a language well

How many languages are you fluent in?

  1. Master a language – perfect a language

Mastering a language can be one of the most fulfilling achievements in your life.

  1. Knuckle down – start working a lot

It is well worth knuckling down as soon as possible.

  1. Figure out – work out/solve

I can´t figure out the meaning of this phrase

  1. Cram (v) – revise for an exam at the last minute

I am sleepy because I was cramming all night for today´s test

  1. Puzzle out – to solve a confusing situation

I am just trying to puzzle out what you meant by “fluent”.

  1. Stick to (sth) – follow

Is it essential to stick to a strict routine?




To practise these phrases  in context, use these questions about the uniqueness of language HERE or B2 level questions HERE

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