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Teaching Idioms to ESL Students: Tips and Free Printable Worksheet for English Teachers

Updated: May 8, 2023

As English teachers, we are faced with the challenge of not only teaching our students the basics of grammar and vocabulary but also introducing them to the nuances of the English language, such as idioms. Idioms are expressions that don't always make sense when translated literally, but are commonly used in everyday English conversations. Teaching idioms can be a fun and engaging way to help students expand their language proficiency and improve their understanding of English culture.

I know it's hard to find quality ESL worksheets that don't cost you and arm and a leg, so I have created a FREE printable for download to help you teach your next class!

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But first, here are some tips for teaching idioms to ESL students:

1. Start with the basics: It's important to introduce idioms gradually, starting with the most commonly used ones. Teach idioms that are related to topics students are familiar with, such as family, weather, or sports. This will help them to understand and remember the idioms more easily.

2. Provide context: When introducing idioms, provide examples of how they are used in context. Use visuals, such as pictures or videos, to help students understand the meaning of the idiom.

3. Have them practice, practice, practice: Have students practice using idioms in a variety of ways, such as in conversations, writing exercises, or games. This will help them to remember the idioms and become more confident in using them.

4. Make it fun: Incorporate idioms into games, quizzes, or role-playing activities. This will help to make the learning experience more engaging and enjoyable for students.

5. Make use of YouTube: Yes, using YouTube videos to supplement the teaching of idioms can be an effective way to help ESL students learn and understand idiomatic expressions in English. Many YouTube channels and videos, like mine (Bri's Practical English), offer engaging and entertaining content that can help to reinforce the meaning and usage of idioms in a fun and interactive way.

Why teach idioms?

Teaching idioms is important because they are an essential part of the English language and are commonly used in everyday conversations. Knowing idioms will help students to better understand and participate in English conversations, as well as improve their reading comprehension skills. Idioms also provide insight into the culture and history of English-speaking countries.

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As promised, I have created a free printable worksheet for ESL teachers to use when teaching idioms. This worksheet includes ten commonly used idioms and their meanings, as well as practice exercises for students. You can download it for free here:

ESL Resource
Download PDF • 71KB


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