Monday, March 16, 2015

Let's get started! English Idiom fun - "Straight from the Horses Mouth!"

Magical, Mysterious Idioms!

Idioms - those charming expressions that don’t make any sense to those who are learning English as a second or a foreign language! It's a struggle to decode these phrases - they just don’t translate well!  And it's super-hard to guess the idiom meaning from the meaning of an individual word...


 "Straight from the horse's mouth." - So, what does that mean?

Real-Life Idiom Stories - Straight From YOU!

I am an ESL teacher and also the mother of an ESL student adopted from Colombia over 10 years ago. So, I “eat, sleep and breathe” ESL, 24/7! It can takes a long time for a second language/foreign language student to become English proficient. Even after a decade,  many gaps still remain in AJ's English vocabulary,  especially in his understanding of idiomatic expressions. With AJ's permission, I'll be sharing some of his interesting "Idiom Adventures." 

Where's the fun? One ESL Student's Take on Jokes and Idioms 

Here is what AJ said about the challenge of learning idioms - and the isolation he feels when he “misses" the "punch line” of a joke: “Some jokes I call ‘old people’s jokes” and stories ‘old-fashioned tales’ because I don’t get them. It’s no fun hearing jokes or sayings I don’t understand. When I do get it, it feels good to laugh!”

ESL Students love learning idioms!

A Chinese English Language Learner at a local elementary school told his ESL teacher that learning idioms "is my favorite thing to do.” Second or foreign language learners welcome idiom breaks from the routine of ESL/EFL lessons and academic classwork. Idioms are fun, colorful, cryptic phrases that, when imagined, make you scratch your head and smile at the same time!

Helping each other to understand idioms...

Shall we "give it a go"?


Learning idioms is like learning a secret code. Let's Decode!

Teachers, do you catch yourself using idioms? With all of our other responsibilities, most of us give minor attention to teaching idioms.

  • We easily forget how often we use idioms in our daily communications and forget to ask their ESL students, "Do you understand this phrase?” and offer to explain it if they don’t get it. 
  • I hope this blog will be a forum to promote idiom awareness. It's just second nature - how often do we catch ourselves using phrases with double-entendres or phrases that “go over the student’s heads.”  (How many idioms have I used just in the introduction to this blog?) 


ESL/EFL students, how often do you encounter idioms in your reading – in textbooks, novels, poetry, magazines and comics? How many times every day do you hear phrases you don’t understand – at school, at home, at the movies, on TV

  • How does this impact how you relate to kids at school? With your teachers? 
  • How does this lack of understanding what other people say make you feel? 

Here's a quote from an English Language Learner who knows how you might feel:
As a student I could talk. I could express my ideas and opinions. When I came to this country I became mute.”   - Second Year ESL student
 Ready to have some FUN with our English? 


 ESL/EFL students and teachers, you are living this Idiom Adventure. Please share your stories and let’s have a few laughs as we learn!


I can’t wait to hear about your Idiom Adventures!


  1. My friend, Gaby from Ecuador, told me that a friend spoke to her about a dog that was "house broken!" Gaby thought the person meant that part of the house the wall...was broken and couldn't figure out how the dog had done it!

  2. Not sure if it's my iPad but my cursor and letters got frozen and I had to re type my idiom post 3 times. Let me know if anyone else has that problem using the iPad. Thanks!

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