For us- teachers- they are a piece of cake but for our students they might be…

When I am teaching Idioms and Phrasal Verbs, I always hear things like,

‘..But teacher, they are difficult to remember..’

‘I understand it here but forget it the next day..’

‘Oh, this is boring!’

…… It goes on and on like this.

Meanings that Idioms & Phrasal Verbs have can cause serious misunderstandings and confusion. My students were right. They were not easy to remember, and maybe we shouldn’t also forget the differences we have between English ones and Turkish ones. That is also an another challenge for them which makes things a little bit more complicated.

So I had to find a way to teach them in a different and enjoyable way so that they wouldn’t hate the Idioms & Phrasal Verbs sessions we have during the lessons and they would become more competent learners.

So here in this post I will share what we have been doing with my adult learners while learning Idioms & Phrasal Verbs.


We used it for online brainstorming. They chosed an Idiom they liked and shared it with the others. You can do this after teaching some Idioms and can ask your students to find some more or related ones. Or you can do it before the lesson asking them to find Idioms or Phrasal Verbs you want to work on. If you have connection in the class, you can use your students assignments as a source. They love it!

A simple example


At the beginning of the term I encouraged my students to do writing practices via blogs. They have their personal blogs only for writing assignments. I asked them to search for English Idioms and put their favorites on their blogs. Here is an example..


If your students don’t have their own blogs, you can do it on FB as well. Easy.

Using Videos

This is also a very good one! You can either choose a conversational video or do it with songs.

Lately I really like watching and taking Jason R Levin’s videos to my classroom. Go to youtube and write Fluency MC. I like his teaching style a lot. Check out this video.

Showing Pictures

In our course book, we have the Idioms & Phrasal Verbs sections which are quite dull with the definitions and fill in the blanks exercises. To make it more memorable and at the same time more enjoyable, I show them pictures like below.. They read it and try to guess what it means.

Drawing Pictures

I assign my students with an Idiom or phrasal verb I want to work on or the ones in the book, they draw it and the others have to guess which Idiom or phrasal verbs it is. (I didn’t take any picture of this activity so I’ll use one I found online)

Follow Your Nose

Drama & Role Plays

If you have actors and actresses in your class, you can also do some drama or role playing in your lessons. They pick an Idiom or a phrasal verb from the book and act it to the other groups. And the other groups have to guess what it is.. We LOVE this one. It’s fun and it gives them a chance to practice their writing and speaking skills as well. The groups watch the performance, guess the right Idiom or phrasal verb and additionally make peer-correction. Here are some examples. 1st one is Break up, 2nd is Bring up. What about the 3rd one. Any ideas? 🙂

I am sure you have your own tricks to teach Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. I would be very happy to find them out!

♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

Before you go, check out these websites. Shelly Terrell shared them in a webinar. Really cool ones!

Idioms by kids  This site has over 1000 pictures of  Idioms.  They do not illustrate what an idiom means, but show the literal meaning.  Some of these idioms are defined and can be found here. These pictures were drawn by children who did not know what the idioms meant and drew pictures of the actual real meaning.  When you draw the literal meaning the results are often funny.

Learn English Today

An Idiom a day A Daily Updated Dictionary of English Idioms.

English Idioms

The Idiom Jungle

Self-Study Idiom Quizzes

The Idiom Connection