ESL : Figurative Language

 

Figurative Language: Idioms

Standard:  Identify and interpret figurative language
Lesson Objective:  Students will identify and explain the meaning of common English idiomatic phrases

 

Introduction

Let’s get the ball rolling because we only have five minutes to cover to material set before us. Now, as the caption below the graphic on the sheet states, I need you to be all ears. In continuing our discussion on figurative language, we have come upon a particular type of figurative language called….called…well I can’t seem to rightly remember the name. Luckily I have a trick up my sleeve.

Show side that states “Trick” first, then flip around to the side that states “Hint: Idioms.”

Idioms, ah yes. Idioms are under the umbrella of figurative language. At this point please flip over your sheets, if you haven’t already done so and follow along as I read the definition for Idiom.

Idiom: An expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its constituent elements

Does that ring a bell? If not, here is the important phrase to remember: “meaning is not predictable.” Now, what does constituent elements mean part mean? All that means is that the words and ideas used in the idioms depart from traditional meaning, they are not literal and direct, as is true for all figurative language. Refer to the definition for clarification of the term if needed.

Now, in my introductory speech, I intertwined a few idioms. In fact, as native English speakers, we use idioms all the time without conscious knowledge of doing so, it is that much a natural element of conversational language. People who grow up speaking a particular language understand its idioms without thinking about them, but if you are learning a new language they might give you trouble. For example, if I say to a person who is just learning English, wow it is raining cats and dogs, the person might be looking up into the sky for the animals! Some idioms can be determined through context clues in reading or in conversations, but many are very difficult and must be memorized when learning the language.  Idioms, like all types of figurative language, help to make your oral and written language more interesting. In my introduction, I stated and performed them literally so they would stand out and look ridiculous. It is important remember that however bizarre an idioms may seem, it originates real-world circumstances, from highly specific events.

For example, you might have heard to the idioms ants in your pants. Now that tends to mean that an individual is moving around a lot, but that likely originated from a situation where someone indeed had ants in their pants and thus was frantically scurrying around to remove them.  With that said, let’s move onto the Exercises section of the worksheet.

Guided Practice

Follow along as I read the Directions:

Directions: Below are a series of sentences, each containing exactly one idiomatic phrase. For each sentence,underline the idiom.

Having that said, let’s move on to the sample.

Sample: Locating Joe at the crowded concert was like finding a needle in a haystack.

So, yes the one idiomatic phrase is needle in a haystack. Now why is that? Well, first lets reread the sentence.

Locating Joe at the crowded concert was like finding a needle in a haystack.

Now, in the sentence, all the verbiage, the words are used adhering to their traditional meanings, except for needle in a haystack; it is an oddity of the sentence. When trying to pick out idioms, go with your gut feeling – if it seems quirky and unusual when compared to the rest of the sentence, there’s a good chance it is an idiom, but always double-check. So, let’s look at the meaning of the sentence. Locating Joe at the crowded concert is being compared to a needle in a haystack. Now concerts tend to be rowdy social gathers full of people, so if you’re trying to locate one person, it sounds difficult. Now a needle is an extremely small object, a haystack is not, so finding a needle in a haystack would be quite a chore, like locating an individual at a concert. See why the idiom means and why it was likely used? Now for this assignment, I’m not asking you to know what the particular idiom means, but if possible, try to discern its purpose.

Independent Practice With Partners

Now, with your neighbor begin working on the questions, trying to identify the idiom and its meaning. (Walk around to check for understanding; make they work collaboratively with partner(s) and write down exactly the same answer).

Review/Conclusion

(Go over answers with students, checking again for understanding. Ask students to share what they think various idioms mean.)

Beyond The Classroom

Here’s your Homework: Write one to two sentences explaining, in your own words, what you think each idiom in Exercises 1 through 7 means. There are no right are wrong answers, but use the context clues of the sentence as a guide to understanding. All the idioms on the worksheet are used in the traditional sense. Feel free to use your own personal knowledge and outside sources to assist in your explanations.

Worksheet

                    youareallears

 

 

 

 

 

 

   WANT YOU TO BE ALL EARS!

Learning Your Lesson: Idioms

Key Terms

Figurative Language: Speech or writing that departs from the literal meaning in order to achieve a special effect or meaning

Idiom: An expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its constituent elements

Directions

Below are a series of sentences, each containing exactly one idiomatic phrase. For each sentence, underline the idiom.

Sample: Locating Joe at the crowded concert was like finding a needle in a haystack.

Exercises

1) No formal engagement was made; Rose said they’d play it by ear.

2) The driver jumped the gun and drove through the intersection before the light turned green.

3) With his confidence and wit, Jose had the interview in the bag.

4) The traveler decided to go with the flow rather than have a set itinerary.

5) As a rule of thumb, one should always tip the waiter.

6) Rebecca hit the books to prepare for the tort law exam.

7) Learning how to identify idioms is a piece of cake.

 

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