Thursday, April 8, 2010


Teaching idioms to non-native English speakers is really funny.

I tutor a kid named David and he's really smart! And when I say smart, I mean smart! His English is almost perfect, and most of the time tutoring means we sit and talk about The Church, international politics, Korean history and about other awesome, non-typical ESL conversation tutoring topics. He's only 16.

Anyway. This week, after the first hour of discussing church discipline (crazy right!), I switched topics and asked him if there were any English words he wanted to know. He said "Yes, slang!"

Awesome. Smart... but a teenage boy nonetheless.

Without any preparation I threw a couple off the top of my head with the promise of a formal lesson to come. My initial sayings of choice...
  • "scoush"- a little bit
  • "negatory"- nope
  • "boat load"- a lot (which led to explaining literal/literally, because a literal boat load full of homework is a pretty funny image)

Then I prepared a formal lesson on idioms. Accompanied with chocolate chip cookies of course.
We learned:
  • "In a pickle." (Again a literal expression would be hilarious! Hence the picture.)
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" (Complete with voice intonations.)
  • "Can I give you a hand?" ("Sure, which one would you like? Right or left?")
  • "I'm gonna give him a piece of my mind." (Again, not literal. And not often used, but necessary.)
  • "Game on! (Which I over heard him use in the staff room. Awesome.)
  • "It ain't over till the fat lady sings!" (By far my favorite.)
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. This came after my class of middle school boys where I played "Can/Can't" Battleship. Teach them English and let 12 year old boys blow up ships... done and done.

The life of a camp counselor gone English teacher.


  1. Man that sounds awesome! We're going to be teaching some English here, you'll have to give me some tips! :-)

  2. haha funny! love it sis!