To prepare for the first idiom journal lesson, have students go online to look at some websites about idioms in English. There are some good lists at Wattpadd and English Daily. Ask the students to bring at least two new idioms to class. Make sure they learn not only the meaning of the idioms but their context and use as well. (This may require them to do a bit of online research). Students should be aware of if the idiom is usually spoken or written, if it is used formally or informally (or both), and who it might be used by (teenagers, professors, anyone, etc.).
Ask the students to bring a small notebook to the lesson, as they will begin their idiom journal in class.
In pairs or small groups, ask the students to tell each other about the idioms they learned. While they are doing this, put a grid up on the board. This will be the “skeleton" for the information about idioms they will record in their journals. It should look something like this:
- Who Uses It:
- Other Information (For example, is it slang? Impolite? Funny? Can the meaning change depending on the context?):
Ask the students to copy this grid in the first page of their journals. Have a few students share their idioms with the whole class. Fill in the grid on the board with the necessary information while the students write it in their journals. Have them fill in their journals with the idioms they just shared with each other in their groups or pairs.
For many students, the last section of this grid (“Other Information") will be the hardest to understand, so you might give some examples of idioms that can change depending on how or where they are said. For example, “Get out of here!" when shouted means “Leave this place immediately" and is quite rude, but “Get out of here!" said jokingly with smile means “What you’ve just said is surprising or unbelievable" and is used in informal conversations.
If you have extra time and reliable video equipment, prepare a recording of short clips from films or TV shows. Make sure your clips show a variety of contexts and that each one contains at least one idiom. For the first few clips, tell the students the idioms they should watch for. At the end of each clip, pause the video and ask them about the idiom. What do they think it means? Who said it? What was the context? Can they guess any other information about it? Afterwards, play a few clips and see if they can hear the idioms themselves. Some students may find this quite difficult, so you can help them out by playing the clips again and telling them what they are listening for. Put the idioms from the video clips on the board, and have the students fill in the grid in their journals in groups or small pairs.