ESL Idiomatic Expressions Activities

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

Your ESL students may have already picked up a few idiomatic expressions just from interacting with you in the class. To help ESL students begin using idiomatic expressions, this lesson offers a few activities you can use in class.

Use Idiomatic Expressions Yourself

If your ESL students have a fair level of listening skills, they may have already picked up some idiomatic expressions from your use in class. Precisely for this reason, the best way to introduce idiomatic expressions in the ESL class is for you first to use them casually.

For example, when you describe a homework assignment, you can encourage students by saying: ''As you can see, the homework is not difficult. Piece of cake!'' This way, when you're ready to give your students some specific activities to practice idiomatic expressions, you can remind students of the expression ''piece of cake''.

Also, by using idiomatic expressions yourself, your students will understand that using them is part of fluency. Point this out and your students will want to learn to use idiomatic expressions to sound more fluent themselves. Also, tell students that idiomatic expressions are very common, so they are important to understand for everyday conversations.

Now, let's look at some idiomatic expression activities to use in your ESL classroom.

Idiomatic Expression of the Week

Once you familiarize your students with idiomatic expressions and their use, you can simply introduce one idiomatic expression per week. For example, you tell your students the idiomatic expression of the week: ''It drives me up the wall! '' Give students a context that clearly lets them see the meaning. The best context is a short dialogue like this:

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