Sunday, 29 January 2012

Sour Grapes and Wet Blankets

27 October 2011

  • To say that someone's attitude is "sour grapes" means that they are making complaints or accusations because they are jealous.
  • A person who is a wet blanket is so boring or unenthusiastic that they prevent other people from enjoying themselves. "Come on! Don't be such a wet blanket!"

Teaching idioms and slang is quite a subjective topic. I believe that it is an integral part of teaching EFL. I agree with the school of thought that says that slang and idioms are an every day part of our language and it is important that foreign students are aware of the most common forms they are likely to encounter, the appropriate use of these language forms and what is considered to be taboo in polite society. 

An important matter to consider is that although students can find endless reference books on almost every other form of the English Language, slang and idioms are not considered part of the syllabus and paid no or very little attention.

If we do not teach idioms how is a student ever going to cope with phrases such as - To bury the hatchet, to be in the same boat and to kick the bucket, and to go straight over my head? If you do not know what they mean there is no formula to work out their translation, the words bear no resemblance to what we are saying.

The International TEFL Corporation

In this lesson our learners focused on idiomatic phrases and the use of slang expressions. Our learners often comment on how English can be difficult to understand because of such cryptic language and requested that we have some focus on this in lessons. I can not express how nice it is to have such eager learners and a free-hand in providing what our  students want and need - a truly client-led provision.

The learners focused and discussed between themselves the possible meanings of idioms/slang provided on a worksheet. Their ideas were fed back to the class and we discussed and noted the meanings of the phrases, students were keen to use examples in their own sentences, often with much laughter. Once we'd covered the list a slideshow was shown and students guessed which idiomatic phrases were connected to each image, this helped to further internalise the subject. This provided excellent conversational input and the activity went on for some time with learners often leading the discussion.

The students were then encouraged to write sentences using their own ideas, myself and Stuart circulated and helped the students with the task. The students then fed back their sentences to the class and as always peer correction from the group helped further understanding of usage and pronunciation.

Now, a few weeks on we are hearing our learners eagerly using some of the phrases with much satisfaction and effectiveness - 'all talk and no trousers' seems to be a favourite.

Idioms relating to Personality - Slideshow

English Idioms Relating to Personality Worksheet

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