ESL / EFL Teaching Tip: An idea to Teach and Practice Idioms


This is Megan, a teacher here at Rennert International, sharing a fun and inductive way to present and practice idioms.


Megan: Hi, my name is Megan and I am a teacher here at Rennert International. I am going to give you a teacher’s tip about how to bring or incorporate idiomatic expressions or phrases into your vocabulary or your themed topic with your class. I teach an Intermediate level so this is going to work for a more of an Intermediate to a higher level, but you can be flexible with it for lower levels as well. This can work for so many things. This week I am doing weather so I taught them about 10 idiomatic expressions about weather—it’s raining cats and dogs; someone’s got their head in the clouds; fair weather friend—examples. I write these things on the board and I have the students with either groups or a partner try to figure out what the words mean themselves first, what the expressions mean. A lot of times they guess about 30-50% of them with their partner, so it’s really nice and then they can teach each other. What they don’t understand or they don’t get themselves, I then teach to them. That’s the first phase of teaching the idiomatic expressions.

Secondly, then after we talk about them a little bit—if they understand them, if they are similar to things in their own language—I then take it to the next step. We practice saying it—the pronunciation. Next step, we then go into writing dialogues. They are not just writing dialogues for the sake of writing dialogues. They are going to actually act this out with their group in front of the rest of the class. If there are 10, I will say ‘Choose 4 or choose 5 of these. Any 5—you choose. And you have to make a dialog where these can be used slightly naturally or as natural as you think you can make them in your dialog.’ Then, when they are done they memorize them. They can bring the sheet along for a kind of comfort zone like a safety net, but I don’t let them read off it. What I have them do is they act it out in a natural way and then the other classmates have to try to guess, not write down but guess, what 5 or 4 idioms that the other group chose. It’s really fun and it gets really amusing, entertaining…everyone laughs. It’s always a good way to teach this kind of stuff. So, hopefully you can do the same.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Reblogged this on So, You Think You Can Teach ESL? and commented:
    Here’s an interesting video to watch with some good tips!

    1. Autumn says:

      Thanks so much for sharing :).

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