USING IDIOMS IN AN ENGLISH LANGUAGE CLASS VOLUME 2

Report
AITA TAIGER
TALLINN UNIVERSITY LANGUAGE CENTRE
2012
CONTENTS
 1. INTRODUCTION
 2. THEORY: WHAT ARE IDIOMS?
TYPES OF IDIOMS
REGISTER
HISTORY OF SOME IDIOMS
3. PRACTICE: IDIOMS CONNECTED WITH FOOD
AND EATING
PRACTICAL EXERCISES FOR USING
IDIOMS IN CLASS
INTRODUCTION
 ENGLISH AS SPOKEN BY NATIVE SPEAKERS IS
RICH IN METAPHORS, CULTURAL REFERENCES,
PHRASAL VERBS AND IDIOMS THAT CAN BE
QUITE CONFUSING TO FOREIGNERS.
 A former British Prime Minister once caused panic among
interpreters when he referred to a “STICKY WICKET”
at an international meeting.
 At another diplomatic session, an interpreter bewildered
the participants when he rendered “OUT OF SIGHT,
OUT OF MIND” as “blind and mad”.
 So, even if understanding idioms is not as vitally
important in the classroom context as it is in
conference interpreting, wouldn`t it be good to know
what your native speaker colleague means when he
says, “ ARE YOU TRYING TO PULL THE
WOOL OVER MY EYES?” or “IT`S LIKE PIE
IN THE SKY” ?
 Teaching and learning idioms may prove to be
inspiring, challenging and funny for the teachers and
students alike. And in FL teaching it definitely is one
way of expanding the students`vocabulary.
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TO BE ON A STICKY WICKET
OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND
TO PULL THE WOOL OVER SB`S EYES
PIE IN THE SKY
 TO BE IN A DIFFICULT OR EMBARRASSING SITUATION
 WHEN YOU DON`T SEE IT, YOU DON`T THINK ABOUT IT
 TO TRY TO TRICK OR CHEAT SOMEONE BY GIVING
THEM THE WRONG INFORMATION
 SOMETHING YOU HOPE TO BE ACHIEVED BUT IS
UNLIKELY TO BE
WHAT ARE IDIOMS?
Idioms are fixed expresssions which
you learn and understand as units
rather than as individual words, as the
meaning of an idiom is often difficult
to guess from the meaning of each
individual word.
THE MEANING OF IDIOMS
 Occasionally the meaning of an idiom is fairly obvious:
HAVING EYES BIGGER THAN YOUR STOMACH,
 EATING LIKE A HORSE or DRINKING LIKE A FISH
clearly suggest over-ambition or exaggeration when
helping yourself to food or drink.
However, if you say “ I PUT MY FOOT IN IT THE OTHER
DAY WHEN I ASKED JANE IF SHE WAS GOING TO
MARRY PETER”, it is difficult to know exactly what the
sentence means.
 (To say something accidentally which upsets or embarrasses
someone)
TYPES OF IDIOMS
Idioms can be grouped in a variety of ways:
• By meaning: (e.g. Idioms describing people`s character etc.)You are a pain in the neck.
• By verb or other key word: (e.g. Idioms with make)- Most
politicians are on the make.
• By grammar/ structure: e.g. verb+ object- Don`t poke your
nose into my affairs!; prepositional phrase- It happened in the
blink of an eye. ; simile- After a holiday in Italy, Tom was as
brown as a berry.; binomials- It`s good to leave the hustle and
bustle of the city at the weekend.; trinomials- She tried to stay
cool, calm and collected.; whole clause or sentence- Please join
us. The more, the merrier.
• Some idioms are euphemisms ( avoiding words which may
offend sb or be unpleasant)- I`m just going to powder my nose.
REGISTER
 Idioms can often be rather informal and include a
personal comment on the situation.
 They are sometimes humorous or ironic. So, use them
carefully.
 Some of them, for instance ``It`s raining cats and
dogs``can be a bit dated and very rarely used by
British people.
 In a formal situation with a person you don`t know,
don`t say, ‘’ How do you do, Mrs Smith. Do take the
weight off your feet.’’ Instead say, ‘’Do sit down.’’ or
“Please have a seat.”
HISTORY OF SOME IDIOMS
WHICH IDIOM DOES THIS
PICTURE REMIND YOU OF?
IDIOMS CONNECTED WITH
FOOD AND EATING
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the apple of sb`s eye
eat humble pie
spill the beans
go pear-shaped
butter sb up
on the breadline
stew in one`s own juice
eat like a horse
make a meal of it
have a finger in every pie
dog`s breakfast
out of the frying pan and into the fire
cream of the crop
sb`s bread and butter
full of beans
have egg on sb`s face
be cheesed off
eat like a bird
like hot cakes
sugar the pill
bear fruit
take the biscuit
in a nutshell
the icing on the cake
IDIOMS IN SENTENCES
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After the evidence was presented the thief had to eat humble pie.
He is always asked to comment when the economy goes pear-shaped.
I think he`s trying to butter me up to get what he wants.
As people have lost their jobs, many families are still on the breadline.
Yes, I was wrong but don`t make such a meal of it.
If you want to know what`s going on, ask Dave. He has a finger in every pie.
I`m sorry but this essay of yours is a dog`s breakfast.
All the people here are great specialists. You`ve just met the cream of the
crop!
Tourism is the island`s bread and butter.
He had egg on his face after he had presented the wrong figures at the sales
meeting.
She looked really cheesed off when the meeting finally ended.
The tickets are selling like hot cakes.
When it comes to irresponsibility, he really takes the biscuit.
EXERCISES FOR YOUNG
LEARNERS
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I
MATCH THE IDIOMS IN THE TWO COLUMS:
1. as red as a
a. cucumber
2. as brown as a
b. beetroot
3. as cool as a
c. berry
II
COMPLETE THE SIMILES:
1. as red as a
.........................................................
2. as brown as a
.........................................................
3. as cool as a
.........................................................
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III EXPLAIN THE MEANING OF THE IDIOMS:
Peter eats like a horse.
She eats like a bird, that`s why she`s so thin.
Don`t put all your eggs in one basket!
It`s a piece of cake!
I had to eat my words.
It`s a hard nut to crack.
Katy spilled the beans and told us about the surprise party.
Don`t worry, they won`t bite your head off.
It`s just a storm in a teacup.
Horror films are not really my cup of tea.
IV
WRITE A STORY USING AS MANY IDIOMS AS YOU CAN
V
ARE THERE ANY EQUIVALENTS IN YOUR MOTHER
TONGUE?
HANDOUTS
 Food idioms and eating idioms: exercises from various
sources
 Miscellaneous: suggested activities for working with
idioms and exercises from the resource book How
Idoms Work by Yvonne Clarke
IDIOMS OF DECEIPT
 http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/la
nguage/theteacher/2011/12/111230_teacher_new_year.s
html
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THANK YOU!

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