How to teach English idioms effectively?

How to Teach English Idioms Effectively: An In-depth Guide for Success in Composition and Comprehension

Here are 10 common idioms, along with their meanings, and suggestions on how to teach them effectively.

  1. Idiom: Break a leg
    • Meaning: Good luck
    • Teaching Method: Discuss this idiom when a student has an upcoming event. Encourage them to use it in their conversation or written well-wishes to others.
  2. Idiom: A piece of cake
    • Meaning: Something very easy
    • Teaching Method: Introduce this idiom after a simple task. Ask students to write a sentence using the idiom to describe the task.
  3. Idiom: Spill the beans
    • Meaning: Reveal a secret
    • Teaching Method: Use this idiom in a storytelling session. Incorporate a character that spills the beans, and later discuss the idiom’s meaning with the students.
  4. Idiom: The ball is in your court
    • Meaning: It’s your decision or responsibility to do something now
    • Teaching Method: During a debate or decision-making activity, use this idiom to signal the next person’s turn.
  5. Idiom: Bite the bullet
    • Meaning: Face a difficult or unpleasant situation courageously
    • Teaching Method: Discuss this idiom in the context of a story or real-life scenario where someone had to face a tough situation.
  6. Idiom: Raining cats and dogs
    • Meaning: Raining heavily
    • Teaching Method: Teach this idiom on a rainy day. Ask students to write a short paragraph describing the day, using the idiom.
  7. Idiom: Beat around the bush
    • Meaning: Avoid talking about the main issue
    • Teaching Method: Create a dialogue where one character beats around the bush. Discuss the idiom’s meaning and ask students to identify when the idiom was used.
  8. Idiom: A penny for your thoughts
    • Meaning: Asking someone to share their thoughts
    • Teaching Method: Use this idiom in class discussions. Encourage students to use it when they want to know their peers’ thoughts.
  9. Idiom: Hit the nail on the head
    • Meaning: Do or say something exactly right
    • Teaching Method: Introduce this idiom when a student gives a perfect answer. Encourage its use during revision sessions.
  10. Idiom: Take it with a grain of salt
    • Meaning: Don’t take something too seriously
    • Teaching Method: Use this idiom when discussing rumors or unverified news. This could be a good opportunity to teach about critical thinking too.

Remember, the key to teaching idioms is to introduce them in relatable and contextual situations so that students can understand their usage better.


English idioms can be a fascinating yet challenging part of the language, especially for learners. This comprehensive guide provides strategies to help educators and parents teach English idioms more effectively. Moreover, it delves into methods to excel in the Composition section, and navigate the Comprehension section’s long structured questions skillfully. Together, these strategies aim to bolster overall English proficiency.

Quick Summary for Parents:

  • Teach idioms in context
  • Make learning engaging through games and activities
  • Use frequent practice and revision
  • Guide students through the Composition process
  • Practice comprehension skills with a variety of text types
  • Encourage reading for pleasure to improve overall language skills
Make learning engaging through games and activitiesIdiom Charades: Divide students into teams. One person from each team comes forward, picks an idiom, and acts it out. The team that guesses the idiom correctly gets a point.

Idiom Pictionary: Similar to Charades, but here students draw the idiom instead of acting it out.
Use frequent practice and revisionIdiom of the Day: Introduce an idiom daily and encourage students to use it in conversations and writings throughout the day.

Idiom Journal: Have students maintain an idiom journal where they note down new idioms, their meanings, and examples. Review these journals periodically.
Guide students through the Composition processStep-by-Step Guidance: Break down the composition process into planning, drafting, and revising. Work with students on each step.

Peer Review: After writing a composition, students swap their work and provide feedback to each other. This encourages peer learning and reinforces the composition process.
Practice comprehension skills with a variety of text typesComprehension Worksheets: Use a variety of texts – stories, news articles, essays, reports, etc., to create comprehension worksheets.

Discussion Groups: After reading a text, students engage in a discussion, answering questions and sharing their understanding of the text.
Encourage reading for pleasure to improve overall language skillsBook Club: Start a book club where students choose a book to read and discuss.

Reading Challenge: Set up a challenge where students read a set number of books in a specified time. The focus is not competition but exploration and enjoyment of various genres and authors.

Part I: Teaching English Idioms in Context

Why Idioms are Crucial

Idioms are an essential part of any language, providing color and expressiveness. They can, however, pose challenges for learners due to their non-literal nature. This makes teaching idioms effectively crucial for English proficiency.

Strategies for Teaching Idioms

  1. Teach in Context: Isolate idioms in a sentence can be confusing. Always teach idioms within the broader context of a conversation or text to provide learners a practical understanding of its usage.
  2. Make it Engaging: Use engaging resources like illustrated idioms books or websites. Games such as ‘Idiom Charades’ or ‘Idiom Pictionary’ can make learning idioms fun and memorable.
  3. Frequent Practice and Revision: Encourage students to use idioms in their written and spoken English. Regular revisions are vital to ensuring idioms become a part of their active vocabulary.

Part II: Excelling in the Composition Section

Understanding the Composition Task

Compositions allow students to showcase their creativity, grammar, vocabulary, and idiom usage. Understanding the question prompt and planning the composition are critical first steps.

Strategies for Success in Composition

  1. Detailed Planning: Teach students to brainstorm ideas, craft an engaging storyline, and develop well-rounded characters. Adequate planning reduces the likelihood of going off-topic.
  2. Use of Idioms and Rich Vocabulary: Encourage students to use idioms appropriately in their compositions. A well-placed idiom can enhance the appeal and expressiveness of the narrative.
  3. Revision and Feedback: Regular practice followed by constructive feedback is instrumental in improving composition skills.

Part III: Navigating Long Structured Comprehension Questions

Understanding Comprehension Tasks

Comprehension tasks test a student’s ability to understand, infer, and analyze a given text. Long structured questions often require more in-depth analysis and well-thought-out responses.

Strategies for Comprehension Success

  1. Active Reading: Teach students to read actively by underlining keywords, noting down main ideas, and summarizing paragraphs.
  2. Answer Planning: Encourage students to plan their answers. They should identify the question’s demands, locate relevant information in the text, and organize their thoughts before writing.
  3. Practice with Variety: Expose students to different text types (narrative, expository, descriptive, argumentative) to build versatility.

Some other awesome websites:

Conclusion: Improving Overall English Proficiency

Enhancing overall English proficiency is a gradual process that goes beyond classroom teaching. Encourage reading for pleasure. Reading widely expands vocabulary, improves grammar, and exposes learners to idioms in various contexts. Ultimately, the key to improving English lies in consistent practice, constructive feedback, and a genuine love for the language. Teaching English idioms effectively, along with composition and comprehension skills, equips students with a robust toolkit to excel in English. The journey may be challenging, but with the right strategies, the results can be profoundly rewarding.

Click here to enrol at

%d bloggers like this: