Idioms are phrases whose meaning is not obvious just by looking at the individual words.
They have developed over time, and that is why they may not make much sense to you. Idioms in English are usually based on analogies and metaphors.
They are used so frequently in everyday English, it is almost impossible for you to understand the context if you don’t know them. If you want to learn more than a penny for your thoughts.
1. What is an idiom?
To describe an idiom, start by explaining the word idiom. This is confusing for ESL students. For example, a person with debris on the shoulder has nothing to do with french fries, wood chips, or damage to the scapula.
2. The context is king
Use idioms in context whenever you describe them, as individual words in a language do not provide clues about their meaning. Example: He always had a tip on his shoulder because his education was inferior to anyone else around him. The sentence gives students a clue to discover the meaning of the idiom. Another example: Daniel was hospitalized for two years before finally kicking the bucket. It was reassuring for his children to attend his funeral, as the children finally learned that his father was not suffering.
3. Get a good dictionary
When it comes to learning idioms, a basic dictionary would be useless as it only explains the literal meaning of each word. This is useless when it comes to idioms.
A good dictionary has the origin of language and helps explain how it came to acquire idiomatic meaning. For example, the expression “apple in my eyes” originally meant the opening in the centre of the eye, which meant “loved and appreciated more than anything else.” Knowing the roots of a language, so to speak, can help some students learn a language more easily. The central opening is very valuable, and you are grateful to be able to see it. Book lovers are interested in the origin, although researchers can get stuck in ambiguous literary references when discussing the first recorded case of a language. You can learn idioms on SpellQuiz.com this is a great platform of learning English.
4. Teach idioms in the game to make it easier for students to remember.
Explain the six idioms in context, either through poetry or novel examples or by explaining them yourself. For each idiom, draw an object that represents you on the board. For example, the eyes of “Apple in your eyes” or the question mark of “Suspicious Thomas”. After explaining the six idioms, play one of them in class and let them say the language you are playing. If you are shy and can’t act, choose a student who is struggling to act.
In another lesson, take six more idioms and teach them using mimicry. Enter the language in context as before. Create a sign or gesture for each. Use the idiom again in situations where the entire class is making clear gestures. If you say the idiom without any context, the student will continue with the relevant gesture. Jump back and forth in a specific order of six new idioms, go faster and faster, and repeat the idioms you see students having problems with more often. Repeat is the mother of skill.
Check out the idioms covered in the previous lesson by drawing or acting on the pictures you used before moving on to another topic or game.
Create fun conversations with all the idioms! You have worked on this in small groups or pairs, drawing a line in the conversation and acting for the class. Of course, you need to give some examples in advance.
Play Call My Bluff using idioms (taken with permission for ESL classroom activities for teens and adults)
Categories: Writing, Reading: From simple definitions of vocabulary to enriching your knowledge of English through idioms, metaphors and proverbs.
Level: Beginner to advanced
Group size: any class size
Preparation: Students prepare the task definition.
5. Vocabulary version
Students prepare three definitions of words to look up in the dictionary. Two are true, and one is false. The class listens to the definition and determines which is correct. After hearing the three definitions, stand at your desk and ask them to read the definitions again. Now sit down if you think the definition is wrong and stand up if you think it’s correct. This makes it easy to see who did it right and instruct students to give points if it is right.
Conclusion: Learning English idioms will help you fit in most situations, whether at a basketball game, having a beer, studying, or going on a romantic date.
The key to understanding idioms in English is never to see them in their literal sense — it just won’t make sense. Instead, you have to learn them in context so that you can understand their true meaning.