The teaching of idioms and slang is a subject that is left unexplored in many english
courses and it is definitely something that only the more advanced students would be able to accurately understand.1 It is not an easy subject for students or teacher
s, but is still very important in order to become a fluent english
As native english
speakers we here these idioms and slangs every day and think nothing of them because we have come to understand them though our overall knowledge and understanding of the language. “Batter up” is a baseball reference but is often used to tell someone “it's your turn” or “you are on deck” means that you will be next so get ready. When we hear these phrases we move into actions but someone who is unfamiliar with the english
language might take the phrase literally or assume that the speaker cannot possibly be speaking to them because they are obviously not standing on a deck.
We as teacher
s do a great disservice to our students if we do not at least touch on this topic and point our students in the right direction to finding more information. With the large number of books, articles, and websites focused on this difficult area of study we should take the time to wade through some of them and be ready to offer
our recommendations if nothing more. While this is a help to students it would leave them short and it's a good idea to give them at least one or two lessons on slang and idioms.
There are several ways to give students some basic knowledge and practice in this area. One way is to create worksheets of most the most common slang and idioms that they will encounter and focus a lesson on the worksheets. Another way is to play the “Slang and Idiom game” – the students are given a certain number of points and they bet points on each question. If they answer correctly they gain that number of points, if they guess incorrectly they will lose that number of points. The questions
center around slang – the students choose the meaning from multiple choice, and idioms – students are given the idiom in a sentence and they have to explain the meaning of the idiom. At the end of the game the team with the most points wins. The teacher
can also give more explanation to the different terms throughout the game if the students seem to be having trouble. Regardless of how you choose to introduce the topic it is also a good idea to introduce new terms throughout the duration of the class so that by the end students are familiar with a fair number of idioms and slangs.2 The game method makes the lesson more interesting and helps the students be more engaged in the lesson. There are also a great number of idioms in television shows, movies, books, songs, and magazines, which allow the students to hear them in context but without further explanation it will still be difficult for students to understand.
Overall this is a topic the presents difficulties to both teacher
s and students alike, it can be discouraging and daunting, but there are resources readily available to make this an easy achievable lesson. If we are take the time to plan for the lesson and allow appropriate amounts of time and materials for our students, they can come away from class feeling confident in their ability to understand the complexities of slang and idioms rather than being intimidated by them.