lesson 2

Breath Idioms and a Swimming Coach


Have you ever done anything that made it difficult for you to breathe?


The new swimming coach is a breath of fresh air for our swimming team. Our previous coach had suddenly quit and we needed a new coach quickly. Therefore, when the new coach arrived everybody on our team could relax and breathe easily again. The first practice was difficult. It lasted for three hours. We did not have time to breathe during that time. It seemed that I was out of breath from the beginning of the practice until the end. It was difficult to figure out what the coach was doing and many people felt that he was going overboard with the training. However, we were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt while he showed us his coaching style. When the practice ended, I was finally able to catch my breath and start to breathe normally again.

Reading Questions

Answer the following questions. The answers can easily be found in the reading above.

1. Who is a breath of fresh air for the swimming team?

2. Who could breathe easily again?

3. When did they hardly have time to breathe?

4. When was the swimmer out of breath?

5. What was difficult to figure out?

6. Did they think that the coach was going overboard with the training?

7. When were they willing to give the coach the benefit of the doubt?

8. When did the swimmer catch his breath?

Making Connections and Idiom Meanings

Some of the idioms have another meaning or are connected to another meaning. Use this information to help you choose the correct meaning for each of the following idioms:

1. Our new sales manager is a breath of fresh air.
a)   a person with many new ideas
b)   a person with nothing new to say

2. To breathe easily means to breathe in a normal way. Sometimes, you can breathe easily again after having much stress or after being very busy with something. What does to breathe easily again mean in the following sentence?

The girl could breathe easily again when she finished her essay.
a)   relax
b)   not relax

3. I do not have time to breathe at the moment.
a)   am very busy
b)   have much time

4. To be out of something means to no longer have any of something. What does to be out of breath mean in the following sentence?

The man was out of breath after climbing up the stairs.
a)   calm and relaxed
b)   breathing very hard

5. It was difficult to figure out what the man was trying to say.
a)   understand
b)   believe

6. My aunt always goes overboard with her preparations for a birthday party.
a)   does too little
b)   does too much

7. The policeman gave the boy the benefit of the doubt when the boy told him his story.
a)   did not believe the boy
b)   believed the boy

8. I was tired from running so I stopped in order to catch my breath.
a)   stop breathing normally
b)   begin to breathe normally again

Your score is: ___  out of 8

Match the Sentences

Choose the best answer for each sentence:

1. I was breathing rapidly after walking up the stairs.
a)   I needed to catch my breath.
b)   I was calm and relaxed.

2. The teacher’s instructions are always very complicated.
a)   They are always easy to understand.
b)   I can never figure them out.

3. We were very busy all morning.
a)   We did not want to go overboard with anything.
b)   We did not have time to breathe.

4. The girl spent too much money on new clothes.
a)   She went overboard with her spending.
b)   She gave me the benefit of the doubt.

5. I have finally finished the big project that I was doing.
a)   I feel like a breath of fresh air.
b)   I can now breathe easily again.

6. I ran from the train station to my school.
a)   I am out of breath now.
b)   I hardly have time to breathe now.

7. I like the new girl who joined our class yesterday.
a)  She does not have time to breathe.
b)  She is a breath of fresh air.

8. Nobody believes that the boy stole the computer.
a)  Everybody is able to breathe easily again.
b)  Everybody is giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Your score is: ___  out of 8

Grammar Focus

Choose the word or expression that makes each of the following sentences correct:

1. The new teacher is __________________ and has many good ideas.
a)   a breathe of fresh air
b)   breathing fresh air
c)   a breath of fresh air

2. I began to __________________________ when I finished my exam.
a)   breath easily again
b)   stop breathing
c)   breathe easily again

3. The man was busy all morning and he did _______________________ during that time.
a)   not take a breath
b)   not have time to breathe
c)   not have time for a breath

4. I was _________________ after running from the station.
a)   out in breath
b)   out of breath
c)   out to breath

5. The woman always has difficulty trying to ________________ her monthly food costs.
a)   figure out
b)   figure up
c)   figure it out

6. My aunt always __________________ when she has a family dinner.
a)   do overboard
b)   go overboard
c)   goes overboard

7. The student said that he did not break the computer. I decided to _______________________.
a)  give him the benefit of the doubt
b)  give him the benefit of a doubt
c)  give him the benefit of some doubt

8. The young woman stopped at the bus stop to ________________________.
a)  catch her breath
b)  catch up with her breath
c)  catch up on her breath

Your score is: ___  out of 8

Discussion Questions

Answer the following questions using the idioms from this section:

1. What has been a breath of fresh air in your life recently?

2. Did you ever have a coach who was a breath of fresh air for your team?

3. Do you usually breathe easily again after you finish a big exam?

4. Have you been in a stressful situation recently but now you can breathe easily again?

5. Have you hardly had time to breathe recently for any reason?

6. Do you know anyone who is so busy that they hardly have time to breathe?

7. When was the last time that you were out of breath?

8. Do you know anyone who gets out of breath easily?

9. Did you have any teachers who you could not figure out what they wanted to say?

10. Do you have any friends who are difficult to figure out sometimes?

11. Do you usually go overboard when you prepare for a holiday?

12. Do you know anyone who goes overboard when they have a birthday party?

13. Do you usually give people the benefit of the doubt when they do something wrong?

14. Have you been given the benefit of the doubt for anything recently?

15. Do you stop and catch your breath often during a race?

16. Have you had to catch your breath for any reason recently?

Role Play

Student A: You are a football player at a football practice. The coach is very strict. You are out of breath. You are having a conversation with the coach and complaining that he is making you train too hard.

Student B: You are the coach and you are explaining to the player why you think that he or she should train hard.

lesson 2