), there is far more to their use than simple memorization. Instead, as English moves into a lingua franca situation in global economics and politics, students of English need to understand idioms in order to respond and understand context as well as fact. Not doing so reduces ESL speakers to a reduced form of English and a larger scenario of uncomfortability within community, school, and therefore, culture (O'Keeffe, McCarthy and Carter, 90-8).
Lesson Ideas- Teaching idioms can be difficult and challenging simply because they must be memorized within a new cultural setting. Depending on the level of the student, it may be necessary to provide more or less explanation about the why. In other cases, simple memorization is really the only way to increase the use; making it a game; showing how used in prose, and practicing in writing and speaking will often help. However, it is wise to limit idiomatic lessons to under ten (10) idioms at a time, and to concentrate on those in most frequent usage (e.g. His dog is about 8 years old (about meaning approximately); it's all over -- we can go home now (meaning completed): You'd better brush up on your math skills (meaning study again, or finally learn something correctly). Some techniques that have been successful are listed below.
Introduce 3-5 for younger and 5-8 for older, idioms at a time using the tollowing format (Swick):
Example: Idiom "to see eye-to-eye"
Meaning: To agree on something
Usage: Usually as a verb phrase
Model: We can sign the contract now. We see eye-to-eye.
Cue: Two friends are arguing.
Response: Students make up sentences from cue.
Original sentence: Students find new sentence to use.
Use a variety of written exercises to support and buttress new idioms. It is helpful if student keep an Idiom Dictionary of their own in a notebook, or flashcards in which they can alphabetize by beginning word in an idiom.
Review the idiomatic meaning of "about, the complete the sentences with an infinitive phrase that makes sense.
Example: He was about to leave for school:
My mother was about ____ twenty-two when I was born.
Let me know when the doctor is about ____ to begin, to leave, to operate, etc.
Write X number of sentences using the idiom "about."
As students become more advanced you can vary the complexity of the grammar when dealing with idioms.
Using the sentence below, write 4 questions with the interrogatives given. "One of the friends probably won't feel like going fishing tomorrow." (Pre teach -- the phrase "to feel like" has nothing to do with feeling, but rather used as "to wish" and usually followed by a gerund (walking, taking, arguing, etc.)
WHERE -- Where will one of the friends probably not feel like going tomorrow?
WHEN -- When will one of the friends probably not like going fishing?
HOW MANY -- How many friends will probably not feel like going fishing tomorrow?
WHY -- Why will one of the friends probably not feel like going fishing tomorrow?
Rewrite the sentences below in the TENSES given. Note that in this case, the example sentence is in the passive voice. (Pre-Teach: "To fire" has nothing to do with the element of fire; it refers to someone being discharged or losing their job.) "John is fired by the owner himself." Or "The owner himself fired John."
PAST -- was fired
PRESENT PERFECT -- has been fired
PAST PERFECT -- had been fired
FUTURE -- will be fired
FUTURE PERFECT -- will have been fired
Match game. List idioms and then definitions, make a game of timing who can find the most first, etc.
a. To put up with
b. red tape
c. right away
d. To know the ropes
e. To run out of
f. from scratch, etc.
From the very start or beginning
____ 2. To be properly trained
____ 3. To have to endure….. etc.
Bogards and Laufer-Dvorkin. Vocabulary in a Second Language. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins, 2004.
Cacciari and Levorato. "How Children Understand Idioms in Discourse." Journal of Child Language 16.1 (1989): 387-405.
Evans and Pourcel. New Directions in Cognitive Linguistics. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamin, 2009.
Francis, E. A Year in the Life of an ESL Student. Victoria, BC: Trafford Publications, 2008.
Gibbs, R.W. "Skating on Thin Ice: Literal Meaning and Understanding Idioms in Conversations.." Discource Processes 9.1 (1986): 17-30.
Harley, T. The Pscyhology of Language: From Data to Theory. East Sussex, UK: Pscyhology Press, 2001.
Martin, G. "As Easy as Pie." Feburary 2010. The Phrase Finder. November 2010 .
Nippold and Martin. "Idiom Interpretation in Isolation vs. Context." Journal of Speech and Hearing Research 32.2 (1989): 59-66.
O'Keeffe, McCarthy and Carter. From Corpus to Classroom: Laguage Use and Laguage Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
Putz, Ptz and Sicola. Cognitive Processing in Second Language Acquisition. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamin, 2010.…