Teaching English idioms – Dr TEFL Guides

Teaching English idioms
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Teaching English idioms with EBC’s Dr TEFL

Hi everyone! Dr TEFL here with some great ideas for teaching English idioms.

Before we get started, I hope you are all keeping well and that we all get our COVID vaccination very soon.

Many of you may not have as many face-to-face classes as you had before but do not worry, there is plenty of online TEFL and TESOL work.

Today’s EFL teaching is challenging, to say the least. We need to have plenty of exciting material to motivate and engage our online students. EBC contacted me for material to publish in their blogs. Each week, I will share the material you can use in your classes.

learning English idioms

Getting ready to teach

I trust that you or the school you work for have done some student-level testing. It would be best if you understood your students’ needs so you can adapt my material productively and engagingly. Are you teaching your first class, or are you relatively new to the English teaching profession? If you are, an excellent tip is to ask the school if someone already assessed your students. If not, you should evaluate them.

Here is the essential information you should know about your students:

  1. age
  2. job title or work experience
  3. experience in using English
  4. the reason for attending classes and
  5. personal goals from the course.

 

With this information, you can adapt the material I share effectively.

OK,  here we go! Let’s get started.

Each week, I will publish a blog with useful material. The material will be level-based. You choose the material you think is appropriate to your class level. If you use my material wisely, you don’t need to do too much planning on your own. However, at the end of the day, despite the best material, if you don’t deliver the class well, it will not be successful.

Use the skills you learned on your TEFL course, and you will give engaging, motivating and productive lessons. Remember STT and TTT? Remember to keep the right balance.

teaching English idioms

Exercise for learning English idioms

 English level: C1 – C2 (CEFR scale)

Objective

Make your students familiar with some idioms used quite a lot in everyday speech.

Introduction

Native speakers often use these idioms in everyday speech, not only in informal speech and contexts. Your students may be from several countries. Some English idioms are quite similar in different languages, and they might easily recognise them.

Start with a fun exercise. Ask your students to interpret the idioms literally. When they finish, explain their actual meaning and use. For example, pulling your leg does not mean grabbing someone’s leg and pulling it, it means to tease or joke with someone, sometimes by trying to convince them of something untrue.

Activity 1: Reading

Give your students this list of idioms, and make them try and work out the literal meaning.

  • pulling your leg
  • play it by ear
  • one of those days
  • pigged out
  • get a move on
  • short fuse
  • in the dog house
  • Keep your eyes peeled
  • vegged out
  • I heard it straight from the horse’s mouth
  • my two cents’ worth
  • spring chicken
  • killing two birds with one stone
  • rat race
  • Chin up
  • don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
  • let the cat out of the bag
  • Beats me
learning English idiomatic expressions

Activity 2: Fill in the gaps to check their understanding

When you have explained the idioms’ meaning and use, tell your students to complete the gapped sentences shown below. They must put each idiom from the list into the matching gapped sentence.

  1. Well, if you want _________________, I’d advise him to finish what he started, before moving on to the next project.
  2. He’s only teasing. He’s _________________.
  3. He has a really _________________. He gets angry so quickly.
  4. When someone gives you something for free, _________________.
  5. We’d better _________________, or we’ll be late.
  6. _________________, I don’t know.
  7. _________________, things can only get better.
  8. She really _________________. She ate the whole cake in ten minutes.
  9. He drives three hours each way to work and doesn’t leave work until 8 pm. He has joined the _________________.
  10. Don’t _________________. It’s a surprise.
  11. _________________. He told me himself.
  12. She’s no _________________. She must be at least 70 years old.
  13. _________________. You almost hit that cyclist!
  14. He didn’t come home or call. He’ll be _________________ for a long time.
  15. We just laid on the couch all weekend and _________________.
  16. If you accomplish two things with one action, you are _________________.
  17. Why don’t we _________________? I can’t make any concrete plans right now.
  18. It’s been _________________. I was late, it rained, my checking account is overdrawn, and now I have to work overtime.

Answer key

  1. Well, if you want my two cents’ worth, I’d advise him to finish what he started, before moving on to the next project.
  2. He’s only teasing. He’s pulling your leg.
  3. He has a really short fuse. He gets angry so quickly.
  4. When someone gives you something for free, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
  5. We’d better get a move on, or we’ll be late.
  6. Beats me, I don’t know.
  7. Chin up, things can only get better.
  8. She really pigged out. She ate the whole cake in ten minutes.
  9. He drives three hours each way to work and doesn’t leave work until 8 pm. He has joined the rat race.
  10. Don’t let the cat out of the bag. It’s a surprise.
  11. I heard it straight from the horse’s mouth. He told me himself.
  12. She’s no spring chicken. She must be at least 70 years old.
  13. Keep your eyes peeled! You almost hit that cyclist!
  14. He didn’t come home or call. He’ll be in the dog house for a long time.
  15. We just laid on the couch all weekend and vegged out.
  16. If you accomplish two things with one action, you are killing two birds with one stone.
  17. Why don’t we play it by ear? I can’t make any concrete plans right now.
  18. It’s been one of those days. I was late, it rained, my checking account is overdrawn, and now I have to work overtime.
understanding English idioms

Was your class a success?

If all has gone well, your students should be happy they learned new ways of using English that help them in everyday speech.

Now get them to try out what they learned. Manage a round-the-class exercise where each student must say at least one sentence using the one or more of the idioms.

When everyone has finished speaking, you can all kick back and relax.

contact EBC Trinity CertTESOL

If you are not yet a TEFL trained English teacher and would like to learn more about EBC’s Trinity College CertTESOL course, please follow the links shown below to contact us.

The Trinity College CertTESOL is one of the two best accredited and internationally accepted TEFL certificates.

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