Idioms are expressions that have one meaning through usage, and a different meaning when you look at the individual words. The individual words don’t usually help you make sense of the idiom; you just have to know what they mean when used together in that particular way. It would be helpful to have your students do some online practice with idioms to give them exposure to common idioms and what they mean. Here are a couple examples, along with their meanings.
In the dark- The actual meaning for this phrase would be that there is no light where you are, but the meaning of the idiom is that you don’t know what’s really going on. They didn’t want her to know, so they kept her in the dark about it.
Inside joke- These words don’t make much sense together, but the meaning of this idiom is that it is a joke that only certain people will understand; maybe those inside the circle of friends. It was only funny to them because of what happened on the bus, so they told him it was an inside joke.
Because idioms do not make sense when taken literally, ELL students may struggle to understand them. Idioms are an important vocabulary topic to teach ELL students because they need direct instruction and repeated practice to master them.
Students with learning disorders such as autism may also struggle with idioms, as they may find it challenging to interpret language in a non-literal way. Learn more about teaching students with autism and Autism Awareness Day here.
Idioms are fun to read, but they’re even more fun to use in your writing. They liven up your writing and give it more of a personal voice. Try some online games to learn and practice all the great idioms for elementary students, as well as adults!
Here are a few more you can use: catch you later, say the word, hit the roof, a piece of cake.