Learning Idioms: Have The Upper Hand With These 3 Tips

Hello! It has been quite a while since I last wrote a blog post. I hope you are getting into the swing of things as term 3 progresses. In this post, I am going to expand on a topic that I have touched on before. 

Previously, I wrote about how one of the questions in the Vocabulary MCQ section of Paper 2 tests your knowledge of common English idioms, and how you go about answering such a question. In this follow-up post, I am going to recommend to you the S.A.T. (Super.Awesome.Terrific) way to conquer these common idioms.

Learning Idioms

1. Sort idioms according to types

There are so many idioms out there but do not despair. The most effective way to learn them is to get organised! 

Categorise them according to topic or theme, for instance, some idioms can be sorted according to colour (e.g. a bolt from the blue, to have a green thumb, the silver screen) while others focus on animals (e.g. an eager beaver, a bull in a china shop, a fish out of water). Arranging the idioms in this manner makes it less of an uphill battle for you to learn them. 

For ideas on the different categories, the three websites listed below can be a good place to start:

2. Add pictures or your own illustrations

You may or may not be a visual learner but I always find it easier to remember when there is a picture to go along with the words, especially when learning new vocabulary. It does not matter if you are not Picasso or Van Gogh and cannot draw to save your life (like me); a simple illustration will do! What matters is that the drawing makes sense to you, and helps you to remember the idiom and what it means.

Check out this website (https://www.myenglishteacher.eu/blog/) which has some really lovely illustrations that accompany the idioms. Here’s an example:

3. Trawl through past year papers and compile a list of idioms

Other than websites and books on idioms, another treasure trove of information is the past year papers. Look at the example below:

Pei Hwa P6 Prelim Paper 2016 Idioms example

From a question like the one shown above, there are four idioms for you to look at. It will be good for you to jot down the idiom and its meaning in a notebook, especially if it is an idiom you have never heard of before. Before you know it, you would have created your own list of idioms.

I hope the three tips I have suggested will help you in your quest to learn and remember idioms. Like I have mentioned before, the best way to internalise new vocabulary is to use it, either in your speech or writing. As such, don’t just limit the idioms you have learnt for the Vocabulary MCQ section. You should actively use them in your compositions as well as in your oral interactions. Used appropriately, they will definitely help to add colour to your work.

Till we meet again, go forth and have fun with idioms!

About the Author: Nora is an English Teacher at Lil' but Mighty. She is committed to providing students with a dynamic and nurturing environment in which they can grow and develop. One of her greatest strengths as an educator is instilling a love for the English Language in her students.