Weren’t you always awestruck after listening to the conversation of native English speakers? Haven’t they sounded to be very silly and funny, most of the times? Haven’t you always wanted to speak like the native English speakers? How do you think, their conversation sounds to be so interesting? What do you think fascinates us the most in their language communication?

Well, it is the usage of idioms that has always stood out in the language. Idioms are some common expressions whose meaning cannot be taken just in its literal sense. Idioms are often considered to be idiotic. Both the words, idiom and idiot are originated from the same root word: “idios” which, in the ancient Greek language means “of one’s own’ or “private”. Just as the meaning suggests, idioms are also private expressions, which are understandable and communicable, only if you already know them. Hence, learning every idiom by its meaning and then using it in the communication is the only way of getting familiarized with Idioms.

Learning a language is not just restricted to Grammar and Vocabulary. There is more than Grammar and Vocabulary to it. That is ‘Culture’. Idioms of each language are closely related to its own cultural background. They are a big part of the cultural heritage a language has.

The Advanced Spoken English Program with two young and enthusiastic engineering professionals began at our training centre by such cultural enlightenment, which opened new rooms of opportunities for learning the language by adopting the usage of idioms in a new and fun way. Examples such as it is raining cats and dogs, you are sitting like a couch potato, Rome was not built in a day, etc. were enjoyed in the regular sessions.

Idioms are a special mode of expression that is used in all the languages. They are a colourful and fascinating aspect of English language. The confident and correct usage of Idioms will rapidly increase the language skills of the learner. It is the stepping stone to natural communication and therefore increased knowledge and usage of idioms will lead to increased fluency in English communication and enrichment of our conversational abilities.

In spite of the increased awareness of the importance of idioms in our language, idioms have always remained to be an obstacle to the language learners.

Top 3 reasons why Idioms are found as obstacles by English learners:

Difficulty of understanding and using

The lack of understanding of idioms right from the school level not only thwarts the learners’ communicative ability, but also adversely affects their academic progress. There is a common assumption that the more words you know, the larger your vocabulary knowledge. However, this will not be necessarily effective in the process of language learning. Language has to be learnt in phrases or short sentences, to begin with. For example, when a baby starts learning English, we should hold up a picture of a ‘balloon’ and have them memorize the word ‘balloon’. We should address to them in sentences like, “Do you want a balloon?” or “This is a balloon”, “This balloon is red”. Similarly, language learners need to start learning idioms as phrases, within a context, and not just words.
Another obstacle faced by non-native speakers is that they are less exposed to enough native English speakers. Also, less reading of English texts, stories, literature, or news doesn’t allow you to come across idioms more frequently.

Inter-relationship between Language and Culture

Idioms carry the history, heritage, culture and customs of its native users along with them. Hence, there is an immediate and important requirement of cultural education in language learning in light of the fact that learners run over significant hardship in communicating and conveying the exact meaning to the fluent and native speakers because of not understanding their way of life.

Methods of teaching idioms

The conventional method encourages teaching idioms in only its particular frame of reference. The conceptual method proposes that idioms should taught after getting sufficient learning of the terms. Without an absolute frame of reference, numerous obstacles would be created in learning and understanding idioms. An additional issue with idioms could be because we are mainly concerned about the literal language. Hence, idioms cause serious troubles as they don’t mean anything literally by themselves but they can be used in a sentence to mean something indirectly. To use the idioms in the language to mean something indirectly, we need to understand them within the context.

Siddesh Moundekar is an engineering student from Jondhale college of Engineering, who is about to complete his Advanced Course of Spoken English Program with us. His timely and appropriate usage of idioms in the speaking activities conducted at the centre has helped him greatly to change the tone of his language and get him used to the native way of speaking English.

The importance of idioms cannot be neglected. Idioms are used frequently by native English speakers. Learning idioms helps non-native speakers, like us to become more fluent and sound more native-like.

Nirmiti Academy specialises in such learning initiatives that can be customised and conducted for Corporates or Individuals in form of Soft Skills, Personality Development, Spoken English and Corporate trainings to bring sustainable Change in personal and professional lives.

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