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May 01, 2006

Tips & Tricks - Teaching Idioms

Hello Teachers,

Grammar, as you know, can be tricky to teach. As for teaching idioms, I have used two approaches. One way is to introduce idioms that are familiar to us. A few of these might be:

  • up and running

  • beat around the bush

  • beats me

  • bent out of shape

  • call it a day
  • You can see lots more of these at: http://www.eslcafe.com/idioms.

    Another approach that seems to work better and is generally more fun (but also more difficult since you have to improvise – plus you probably won’t know all of them) is to have your students bring idioms that they hear in songs or movies . . .

    . . . To put it mildly, this can be very random, plus sometimes students mishear phrases or lyrics. Here are some notorious examples of misheard lyrics

    Original lyrics from the song "Dust In the Wind" by the band Kansas:

    Dust In the Wind All we are is dust in the wind.

    Misheard as:

    Ducks In the wind All we are is ducks in the wind.


    The Bee Gees's "How Deep Is Your Love?" The real lyrics were:

    Then you come to me on a summer breeze

    Misheard as:

    Then you come to me on a submarine

    You find more of these at: http://kissthisguy.com.

    This may end up being yet another exercise that reveals how little you know about your own culture.

    Would love to hear how you've approached the task of teaching idioms (and dealing with misheard words in English) in your classes. Please feel free to share them with our friendly community in the comment box below.


    May 2006 Guest-Writer for ESLemployment

    Looking for more articles that discuss tips & tricks for the ESL classroom? Click HERE!

    About the author of this entry:
    Morf currently lives in Tacoma, Washington. He has taught for about 20 years, in every unlikely situation from state prisons, Native American Tribal colleges, his local rescue mission, and community colleges as well as for online courses at the university level. He has also taught for both children's language camps and at universities in China. He has a Master's degree (in teaching English) from the University of Washington in Seattle and is looking forward to a return to teaching and living in Asia in some capacity in the very near future. His favorite things are interesting foods, wacky music, swimming, riding his bike and afternoon naps.

    Posted by ESL Lesson Plan at May 1, 2006 02:28 AM

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