Idiom Week 2021 runs from January 24-30. It’s a great chance to have multicultural and language learning fun and learn a new idiom each day of the week! Here are some of our favorite ways to “have a ball” during Idiom Week. Share your favorite idioms from any language on social media and be sure to use hashtag #IdiomsRock. And check out our previous post for a more in-depth look at idioms.
What is an Idiom, Exactly?
An idiom is a phrase that says one thing but means something different. Idioms can be a quick way of saying something complicated.
It’s important to learn idioms because they’re a vital part of every language. Every language has thousands (maybe even tens of thousands) of idioms, so a lot of casual conversation can happen using idioms.
Without lessons in local idioms, communicating effectively is more difficult. This is true for students learning a second language, as well as adult English learners, and students with special needs.
Plus, learning idioms is one of the most interesting parts of learning a new language!
Fun and Easy Idiom Week Activities
Whether your class is learning virtually or in-person, there are many ways for students to have fun with idioms! Here are three ideas to get your started:
(1) Idiom Theme Days
Each day of Idiom Week, choose a theme and ask students to report back with their favorite idiom to share with the class. For example, if the theme is Animal Idioms, students might share “get my ducks in a row,” or “at a snail’s pace.”
Better yet, encourage students from multicultural households to ask their parents for idioms in the home language and their translations. Did you know that in French, a sad person would “have the cockroach”?
Other great idiom theme ideas for Idiom Week are food, colors, and nature.
(2) Guess the Idiom
Post an idiom, and ask students to guess its meaning. For younger kids, they can be commonplace idioms like “over the moon.” For older students, find more challenging idioms by selecting idioms from bygone eras. For example, an outdated idiom like “happy cabbage” is sure to stump your class.
Add a fun twist by having students draw out their favorite idioms, or act them out for each other through charades.
(3) Multicultural Idiom Match
Add multicultural learning to Idiom Week by highlighting that idioms exist in every culture around the world, and that idioms are a window into the history and heritage of those cultures.
Find idioms in other languages online and analyze them with your students. First, break the idioms down by translating the words directly and look at how their meanings are not immediately obvious. Then, ask students to guess the true meaning behind each idiom. Lastly, discuss what each idiom might tell us about each culture. Does it tell us something about their history or about what’s important in their daily lives?
Another fun activity is to compare similar idioms that occur in different languages.
Idiom Week Resources and Books
Language Lizard Idiom Books (available in paperback and eBook) are a great resource for teachers in virtual, in-person, or blended classrooms, as well as homeschooling families. Idiom Books come with a variety of FREE activities to share with students and families.
Free Multicultural Lesson Plans and Activities
Many of the fun activities included allow students to practice idioms while learning about other cultures. Just a few examples:
- Hindu Holi Festival: fill-in-the-blank short story using color idioms
- Guess the National Animal Activity
- Multicultural Street Foods Activity
Resources to Learn About Idioms In-Depth
You’ll also find links to learn the in-depth history and background information about all the idioms featured in the books. Many of the illustrations show characters and settings from around the world, providing many opportunities to teach children about other cultures and communities!
Free Bonus: Idiom Week Word Searches
To help jump-start your Idiom Week fun, check out our FREE Idiom Word Searches!
Have you studied idioms with your students? Share your experience below, or tell us about how #IdiomsRock on social media.
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