How to Teach Idioms

How to Teach Idioms

Do you even remember what an idiom is? Surely you could recognize them, and understand their meaning when used in a conversation, but would you know the proper name for this commonly used literary device? 

An idiom is a group of words used together to express an entirely different meaning than that of the actual words. An example of an idiom would be “it’s raining cats and dogs.” 

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What is an Idiom?

Before you can teach anything to anyone you yourself must have a sound understanding of the concept. So whether you are a mom homeschooling your children or a teacher that needs to brush up on some literary concepts, make sure that you know the ins and outs of idioms before attempting to teach them. 

Teaching idioms is a lot of fun because idioms are a play on words that can be fun to experiment with and learn. Because of this play on words, students have a difficult time understanding the meaning of idioms and using them correctly. Knowing that the more descriptive instruction you can give the better chance the students have of understanding. 

Why do we use Idioms?

Idioms give depth to writing and conversation. Some idioms are pretty silly, and can also add an element of humor to an otherwise boring conversation. 

Idioms are kind of like an inside joke for speakers of a specific language. Every language has a type of idiom, but unless you are very familiar with and immersed in the culture of that language it is impossible to understand the context by the mere words in the phrase. 

There is certainly a time and place when idioms should and should not be used. Idioms are a great way to explain a complex idea in a more simplified way that someone could relate to. When well understood, idioms are an easy way to make your point clear. 

Idiom Activities

Having a fun way to teach and practice idioms will create strong pathways in the brain which are important since idioms have to be memorized and cannot be learned the way we learn other things. 

The following link gives you five ideas for fun idiom activities. A few of the idiom activities mentioned in the link include matching and creating your own idioms. Matching activity is a great way to initially learn some commonly used idioms. It is best in this case to match the idiom word for word with its meaning. Once a solid understanding has been formed, that could be a time to introduce pictures. Using pictures at first may seem like a good idea, but could be confusing.

Once students or children have spent an entire unit on learning idioms they will probably be anxious to create their own and see if they can get it to catch on. Who knows, maybe one of their creations will become the next best idiom.  

Fun With Idioms

Idioms by their nature are fun, so teaching and learning them should be fun too. Whether you are teaching a group of students, homeschooling your kids, or just need to brush up on your idiom knowledge, the idiom activities mentioned above are a great way to increase knowledge on the subject.