Idioms are phrases that mean something different from the separate meanings of their words. For example, “beat a dead horse” is an idiom because it means something other than the literal meanings of its words.
This is also true for English speakers learning another language. Even native English speakers struggle to remember idiomatic expressions regularly. These phrases can often seem confusing or nonsensical, but once you understand them, they make perfect sense and become second nature. However, idioms can be tricky for students because they aren’t literal and require learners to think about what they mean to understand them correctly.
What Is The Purpose Of Teaching Idioms?
When you teach idioms to your students, you are helping them learn and understand the culture of your language. A large portion of everyday speech is made up of idioms, meaning that learning them is essential to fully immersing yourself in the language and culture. Furthermore, when you understand the idioms in a language, it is much easier to understand the rest of the language. Learning idiomatic expressions also helps your students sound more like native speakers when they speak.
These expressions are so frequently used in natural conversation that a student who doesn’t know them will sound like a beginner. If your students understand idioms, they will be better able to converse with native speakers because their speech will sound more natural.
So why should you teach idioms to your students?
If you want to communicate with your students and colleagues effectively, you need to know what the idioms in your language mean. If you don’t understand these expressions, you will sound like a beginner when you speak, and your listeners won’t be able to understand you as well. For example, in English, we say that “the road to success is paved with failures”. If a student who doesn’t know this idiom tries to translate this sentence into their language, they will likely get it wrong.
However, if your students know the meaning of this idiom, they will be able to translate this sentence correctly and sound much more like a native speaker.
Which idioms are most important for your students to know?
While many idioms are to be learned, some are more common and useful than others. It’s important to teach your students the most common and useful idiomatic expressions as soon as possible. Idioms such as “take a rain check”, “go bananas”, “piece of cake”, and “beat a dead horse” are some of the most important idioms to know.
If your students know these expressions, they will be able to understand other people’s speech and respond to them in a way that sounds more natural. When students know these expressions, they can communicate with others more easily, have more interesting conversations, and feel more confident speaking a new language.
When Should Idioms Be Taught?
Idioms are best taught when your students already have a primary language understanding. Ideally, they should have a good grasp of grammar and pronunciation. Your students might already be familiar with some of these expressions in their language and might not be willing to learn something they already know. Therefore, it’s best to introduce idioms when your students have enough of a base in the language to understand and use them correctly.
How To Teach Idioms To Beginners?
Before you begin teaching idiomatic expressions to your students, you should have some good strategies to make the process easier. First, you should list the most common and useful idiomatic expressions. This can help you organize and prioritize the idioms you want to teach your students. Next, you should try to create exciting and engaging ways to teach your students the meaning of each idiom. You can do this by using visual aids, summarizing each idiom in a sentence, and comparing and contrasting each idiom with another.
You should also try to make remembering these expressions as fun as possible. Students are more likely to retain information when they are enjoying the process of learning it. When teaching idioms to beginners, it’s essential to keep them engaged and interested in the language to continue progressing.
Games to help your students learn idioms
Many games can help your students learn and remember idiomatic expressions. It’s important to choose games that will grab your students’ attention and make learning more fun. i-e “barking up the wrong tree” is a game in which the students create their sentences by choosing words from a bowl that have different meanings than their standard definitions. You could also play “What Does That Mean?” in which students are given a sentence with an idiom and asked to guess what it means. You could also play “True or False?”, in which students are given a statement with an idiom and asked whether it is true or false.
Activities to help your students learn idioms
If your students prefer to be more hands-on when they learn, there are plenty of activities they can do to help them remember idiomatic expressions. Let’s take a look at a few. Drawing – You can assign each of your students an idiom, and they can draw pictures to represent the meaning of their idiom. Word searches – You can make word searches that include idiomatic expressions and definitions so your students can test their knowledge. Sticky notes – You can write each idiom on a sticky note and post them around your classroom. Mixed media – You can use various media, such as videos, images, and newspapers, to create presentations about idioms and their meanings.
Learning idiomatic expressions can be challenging, but there are many benefits to doing so. When you understand the most common and useful idiomatic expressions, you can communicate with others more effectively. To make the process easier for your students, you should create a list of the essential idioms and organize them by category. You should also try to create fun and engaging ways to teach your students the meaning of each idiom.
You can do this by using visual aids, summarizing each idiom in a sentence, and comparing and contrasting each idiom with another. When teaching idioms to beginners, it’s essential to keep them engaged and interested in the language to continue progressing.