Many ESL learners have questions about idioms and find them to be confusing. Here is some information you can share with your student to help them understand English language idioms. Thanks to Allison Caulfied for sharing this.
Idioms - are so much a part of our American culture that most native speakers do not even know when we place them in our verbal discussions. If you look up idiom in the dictionary it is an accepted manner of speaking a phrase that often does not connect with the literal meaning of the words in the phrase. It also can be thought of as 'slang."
Some common idioms include:
The apple does not fall far from the tree....
We are not talking about an apple, we are talking about a person's traits or habits being close or like their relative or friend.
Example: My son eats like a linebacker, and if you met my husband you would know that apple does not fall far from the tree.
Get up on the wrong side of the bed
We are not talking about a bed, but a person's "grumpy" mood.
Example: Johnny complained all morning about his cold coffee, he must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed.
Have a cow...
Not a cow, if refers to having a fit of emotion or temper.
Oh for heavens sake stop having a cow every time I serve peas for dinner!
Taking candy from a baby
Used to convey when it is easy to rip someone off or pull something off on someone.
Selling insurance to Wally was like taking candy from a baby. He never even looked at the contract.
Here are some other common and fun idioms to discuss with your ESL learners:
Go over like a lead balloon ..
Costs an arm and a leg.
Put a cork in it
Its not over till the fat lady sings
We can sit here till the cows come home
I heard it from the horses mouth
In the doghouse
Let sleeping dogs lie
Like a chicken with his head cut off.
Not playing with a full deck
Rome was not built in a day
Tie the knot
Wear your heart on your sleeve
There are literally hundreds of idioms woven into our language, with more added every year. We use them all the time without even realizing or thinking about it.
There are several websites that explore this subject. One is even interactive and allows the student to take quizzes on idioms and other language usage. I encourage you to use these sites, and the internet to "open up a whole new world" for your students.
Check out these sites:
http://esl.about.com/od/engilshvocabulary/a/idiom_resource.htm this site allows interaction if you tab around the site