Friday, 27 May 2011

The Idiom Dictionary Project

Idioms are the bane of my students' existence, or at least that's what they like to tell me! There are SO many of these in the English language, so how do you help students learn them?

This was the question that lead to the creation of the Idiom Dictionary Project. FYI, my students are all in their 20s. We repeat this project each week with new idioms.

Materials and Equipment:
1. A selection of idioms that your students have been studying (12 works well for my class size of 12 students)
2. Two video cameras (we have 4GB Flip cameras)
3. Approximately 30-40 minutes of time to explain the project and have your students plan and record.

The Process
1. On the board I write Start the Camera, Say the idiom, Show what it means (no definitions please), Say the idiom again and then Stop the camera.
2. I explain how they will work in pairs and each pair will choose two idioms (no groups can choose the same one so it's first come, first served - they have to write their choices on the board and if someone beats them to it, they must choose a different idiom).
3. I demo an example for them or show them a couple of examples from previous students and then
4. Split the class into 2 groups of six, give each group one camera and send the groups to 2 different places to get to work.
5. The students get so creative! I float back and forth to help and give error correction if needed, but otherwise I leave them alone. They tell me they like it that way :-). Even though they are working in pairs, they are always willing to help each other with their role plays, offer suggestions to each other and do the recordings.

The Sharing
1. Since each group did not see what the other had created, we go to our lounge space after everyone is finished and hook the cameras up to the big TV to share the videos - this is so much fun and the students really enjoy seeing each others' work.
2. I also upload these to our class YouTube channel ( where we can use them as a week 4 review tool before their final exam.

If you get a chance to try this with your students, drop us a link - we'd love to see what you've created!