Teaching slang and idioms In these day and age when globalization

In these day and age when globalization is making the world a smaller place aided by modern tools of cutting edge technology that involve the internet, satellite TV, movies and multimedia, culture diffusion has become common place in many activities of life worldwide, especially in teaching-learning foreign languages. English slang and idioms fall within this frame as they are part of the cultural or temporary sub-cultural side of the English speaking society.

An idiom is a phrase that is understood by many people in a specific culture or subculture and has a meaning different from the one it appears to have. 'To bend over backwards' is an excellent example of this, it signifies 'to work really hard (to do/to get) something' in the Anglophone culture. The literal meaning, however, depicts the almost impossible physical act of bending over in the opposite direction. A learner of English will take the meaning the idiom appears to have (literal) while she/he is not familiar with the figurative signification. (www.learn4good.com/languages/evr_english_idioms.htm)

Teaching idioms requires adequate timing and methodology. Some teaching hints follow: (Phil Thomas, International TESOL congress held at Tacna Peru July 30th to August 2nd 1996)

Each idiom should be presented within the context of a short paragraph followed by five exercises ' A, B, C, D and E.

Exercise Adeals with the definition of the idiom.

Exercise B requires the student to apply the idiom to a given situation.

Exercise Cinvolves vocabulary development.

Exercise Ddeals with usage of the idiom by requiring the student to use it in rewriting a sentence.

Exercise E ' it is of the subjective type, it asks students to apply the idiom to their own experience.

An answer key should be provided to enable students to correct their own responses to the objective exercises (A through D). The teacher will have to correct the subjective exercise (E). Finally, a list of idioms can be given to the students together with their definitions so as the students organized in groups or pairs to prepare a presentation per week, in the meantime, the teacher can remind the students of one or two idioms per class to keep interest high and promote usage.

Here follows one example that can be presented as worksheet or aided by multimedia tools:


The end of the school year was almost here. Jackie had five exams to study for, and there were many things she did not know. Her friend, Tony, asked Jackie to go to a rodeo with her on Saturday, but Jackie decided not to go. Instead , she planned to hit the books so she would not fail the exams.


_______ 1. hit your books with a stick.

_______ 2. study hard.

_______ 3. read a little bit.

B. Would you hit the books when:

1. you were on summer vacation' YES NO

2. you needed to know more about science' YES NO

3. you had a hard test' YES NO

C. Vocabulary: What is a RODEO'


D. Rewrite the following sentence using the idiom, hit the books.

I want to get an A in my history class, so I think I had better study hard.



E. Do you ever HIT THE BOOKS'When'


The scheme lends itself for ESA methodology since the ENGAGE part is constituted by the presentation context and the accompanying picture. Sections A through C compose the STUDY phase and D and E make an excellent ACTIVATE stage.

Feedback can be facilitated with the answer key provided and teacher's correction of the subjective segment.