using idoms in, but not limited to, conversational English

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NearThere

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Back in high school, a rival in learning was a brilliant idoms user. Since our English teacher was some type of a idom fanatic, she scored points easily with him and effortlessly became a teacher's pet. She would throw in every 3 or 4 sentences an idom during a conversational practice and I could never keep up. The teacher would give a none-discriptive situation and the students were to use adverb, adjectives, idoms or whatever to enhance the situation. For instant: It rained last night..... She would say "It rained cats and dogs last night...." while I was tempted to just say "It rained like heck last night......."

My quetion to the teachers teaching foreign students or native speakers, how much emphasis do you put on idoms? Do they add to or take away from a writing/speech?
 

Anglika

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Personally not that much. They can add to the flavour and richness of speech and writing, but I would not feel it necessary to require someone learning the language to use them all the time.
 

Horsa

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I teach them but usually tell students not to overuse them and not to use them at all if they are not 100% of either the meaning or of theier acceptability in the given context. Students often sound very self conscious when using thev and this can strain the listener.

Students seem to enjoy learning them so I make a point of dropping in a few here and there. As far as I am concerned anything they are genuinely interested in is motivational and so worth doing.
 

riverkid

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I agree, Horsa.

I found that students who "paper learned" idioms often used them in inappropriate situations/contexts.

Idioms are especially tough to learn without context so when there's a moment where they can be used in context, that's the secret to learning them. Isn't that just the way that we learn/learned them?
 

blouen

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For me as a learner, I earnestly desire to learn as much idioms as I can. They make our conversations more lively and natural. It makes me sound fluent and smart too,:-D. They are quite difficult to use in some sentences though. Therefore, we really need intensive work to use them 100% right.
 

riverkid

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For me as a learner, I earnestly desire to learn as much idioms as I can. They make our conversations more lively and natural. It makes me sound fluent and smart too,:-D. They are quite difficult to use in some sentences though. Therefore, we really need intensive work to use them 100% right.

You ain't just whistlin' Dixie, Blouen.
 

blouen

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However hard they are, learning idioms is not out of the question.:cool:
 

NearThere

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Thanks to riverkid, horsa, and angelika. I wish you're there to tell that teacher! I had always felt the excessive use of idoms could be an distraction to the text, but who was I to tell him, I was just a student. It's more important to stay on his good side.:roll:

As for Blouen, my pal. I knew you'd be one who's able to learn English in bigger scope than I am. We would have be hard-core rivals in school, I think I would have hated your guts!:lol:
 

riverkid

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Thanks to riverkid, horsa, and angelika. I wish you're there to tell that teacher! I had always felt the excessive use of idoms could be an distraction to the text, but who was I to tell him, I was just a student. It's more important to stay on his good side.:roll:

Some teachers sometimes tend to lord their knowledge over students, often because they are not all that confident in their own abilities. Keep students on the defensive and they won't question the master.

Teaching a language is a difficult thing to do and especially if it's not your native language, but, as a teacher, if you try to remember that getting the language across to students in the easiest and best way takes some time and effort but that's what you're paid for.

Sometimes, it being your native language doesn't even help for I've seen many "young" native teachers freeze up when asked questions about their language, and I remember when I did too.

Like anything, there are drifters, people who are there just for the paycheck. I pity them for their time in class must often be a miserable time. The rewards of actually helping students and the satisfaction that comes with actually figuring out language problems on your own, something any ENL can do, makes the other route the way to go.

Maybe we teachers and ESL/student teachers should/could mark their idiom uses [underlined] as a way to help those who might not recognize that idioms are frozen formulas and might miss what is a complete phrase.
 

NearThere

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To Riverkid: whatever you said in the post brought some kind of emotion in me (one that gives you teary eyes?!). I don't know, I'm a little moody today.

Thank you.
 

blouen

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Very true, Rk. Teaching isn't just about showing that you know a lot about something. It's about sharing what you know and helping others to improve.

You should have been my teacher in high school. I would have learned better English.
 
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