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Speech and Language in the Classroom

The Blog

Friday, 20 June 2014

Elephant in the room!

Here at Speech Link we have been busy writing articles for the next issue of our magazine which will come out in September/October (hence the lack of blogpost last week!)

Today I wanted to write a bit about idioms, phrases that we use in our daily language so much that we might not even realise we are using them! Yet they can easily confuse pupils, and it’s not hard to see why!

Many children, especially those with language difficulties, such as difficulty understanding key language concepts, multiple meaning words, or social use of language, will struggle to follow what we mean when we use idioms.

What is an idiom?

“An idiom is a combination of words that have a figurative meaning owing to its common usage. An idiom's figurative meaning is separate from the literal meaning.” (Wikipedia) Idioms are also referred to as ‘figurative language’.


Two heads are better than one -- Zip your lip -- All ears -- Couch potato -- Sleep like a log -- A little bird told me -- Wake up and smell the coffee -- A close call -- Spill the beans

What idioms do you find yourself using a lot?

Tips for the classroom

> Be aware – we can use many idioms without even realising! For example, throw it in the corner, off you go, grab a chair, up the wall, keeping an eye on you, give me a hand….. we just know what we mean!

> Explain as you go along

> Pupils may need extra help to work them out, we mustn’t assume they have been grasped through hearing them alone

> Discuss times when idioms might be used, and how they can be used

Using a resource like the one in Junior Language Link, you can talk around the phrase, looking at all the possible meanings, and help the pupil decide the true meaning.

Here’s some idioms related to the human body! (found on pinterest, but ref at bottom of pic)

Youtube is a great source of funny videos for introducing and discussing idioms in the classroom!

Sarah Wall, Speech & Language Therapist @ Speech Link

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