July 20


Let’s Learn Collocations to Talk About Challenges and Ambitions

Good day everyone and welcome to Prepare to Pass Your Cambridge Exam by Cambridge Exam Coach, the podcast where you can listen to tips and advice for passing the Cambridge exams at the same time as improving your English.

I’m Kristian, your host, today it’s Friday 23 July 2021, and in this episode we’re going to be discussing collocations that we can use to talk about challenges and ambitions, in our Cambridge exam and in our life.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy this episode of the podcast. Let’s start the jingle.

Hello dear dear listeners, how are you doing? I hope you’re doing great and that you’re looking forward to listening to this episode of the podcast. First I’d like to welcome Liza Bedrik on the podcast, hello Liza, how is it going today?

Before we start, here are some tips for you to get the most out of this episode: It’s a good idea to check out the notes of this episode on cambridgeexamcoach.com. Also, it’s a good idea to write down the collocations on your phone or even better, in your vocabulary notebook. This will definitely help you to memorize all the expressions you are about to learn to talk about challenges and ambitions.

Exercise 1

So, let’s do the first exercise of today. Liza, can you name the 5 nouns we can use to fill the gaps?

Challenge; success; motivation; ambition; failure

a The film Star Wars was an overnight _____________ .
b I have a burning _____________ to travel to Australia.
c When pupils tire of studying, a system of rewards can help increase student _____________.
d Sadly, my attempts to learn Japanese met with complete _____________.
e The government faces the formidable _____________ of reducing unemployment.

a success (Note: an overnight success is one that is sudden and unexpected.)
b ambition
c motivation
d failure
e challenge

In the above exercise, the adjectives often go together with the nouns (overnight success). Now, to memorize these collocations better, it’s good to personalise them. So let’ make up a new sentence for each noun, using the collocates in bold. Liza, maybe you can give the readers one example?

Exercise 2

In sentence ‘E’ in exercise 1, the verb face collocates with challenge. Which of the five nouns do each of the following pairs of verbs collocate with?

Challenge; success; motivation; ambition; failure

fulfil realize a/an _____________
end in result in _____________
achieve enjoy _____________
improve lack _____________
take up rise to a/an _____________

fulfil/realize an ambition
end in/result in failure
achieve/enjoy success
improve/lack motivation
take up/rise to a challenge

Liza and Kristian use the verb-noun collocations from exercise 3 to make two example sentences (about themselves) and share these with the listeners.


Two examples


I want to realise my ambition to make two podcasts episodes per week.
Do you want to take the C2 exam with me in December 2021? Yes, great idea! I’ll take up that challenge.

OVER TO YOU: Study the collocations in this episode, then write down 10 personalised examples to make them your own.

TOP TIP: You could reuse the same activity a few days later again to make this collocations fully active in your brain.

Liza, is there anything else you want to mention?

Take care of yourself and each other. Bye bye!

About the author 


Kristian is from The Netherlands, but he lives in Prague, Czechia. He is a CELTA qualified teacher who passed the Cambridge C2 Proficiency exam with grade A. When he's not working, he likes to chill out with music, podcasts or an audiobook.


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