The DIESOL podcast
Brent Warner 0:06
Developing Innovation in English as a Second or Other Language.
Ixchell Reyes 0:11
Episode 82: Are Idioms Appropriate?
Brent Warner 0:29
Welcome to DIESOL, this is episode 82. We are your hosts. I’m Brent Warner.
Ixchell Reyes 0:34
And I’m Ixchell Reyes. And I’m still in Taiwan.
Brent Warner 0:37
We missed the last episode!
Ixchell Reyes 0:40
We did it because it was spring break. Yeah. Did you have a good spring break?
Brent Warner 0:44
This is I think the first time we’ve we’ve skipped an episode before, for like, you know, for when we put in little notes on it and did it once or twice I think like during Black Lives Matter, and the few things like that. I don’t think we’ve ever properly just like skipped an episode fully. Right? Not, not quite that way. So that’s the first time. Let’s not make a habit of it.
Ixchell Reyes 1:06
I know. You all missed us, didn’t you?
Brent Warner 1:08
Yeah, we’re regular like bran. (laughter)
Ixchell Reyes 1:14
We are back back.
Brent Warner 1:15
We’re here. How’s Taiwan?
Ixchell Reyes 1:20
Taiwan is getting more humid by the minute. I can say that I have now unlocked a Secret achievement. And that is coexisting with scooters on the road.
Brent Warner 1:35
Ixchell Reyes 1:36
I no longer because I have the drive. I drive the drive here. And I no longer get panic attacks whenever I get to an intersection. Now they’re sort of just there. And I’m Zen with the scooters.
Brent Warner 1:49
That is an achievement. You know, I’ve got I’ve got my scooter and I’m always worried.
Ixchell Reyes 1:56
I just I don’t I don’t know. I mean, yeah, there’s a little bit more available here for scooters I would worry about about you in the states. Anyway, what about you?
Brent Warner 2:08
Well, yeah, for sure. In Taiwan it’s common. There’s like tons of scooters. Right. So it’s like, it’s kind of like it’s Yeah, so
Ixchell Reyes 2:12
It’s common. Yeah. It’s it’s yes, yeah, they have their own lane and everything. But you’re getting ready to do something bold.
Brent Warner 2:19
Oh, yeah. I’m, I’m, I’m starting my packing, I’m getting ready to move to Japan. So I’m moving to Japan. Last time, you were the one recording from Japan. And you’ll be back in the States. And I’ll be in Japan, I don’t know how long you’ll be in the States for but for a little bit.
Ixchell Reyes 2:38
The tables have turned? Yes.
Brent Warner 2:41
So I’m prepping my move for my sabbatical project. And so that’ll be good. And then a couple other things. We mentioned it last time too. But, you know, we launched the site, AIinESL.com. And the response has been pretty good. I’ve been having some fun writing some of the articles and getting a couple other people to maybe potentially share we have one one guest posts already on there. And so So yeah, if you’re interested in that conversation, because we don’t want to make every DIESOL episode about AI. But I I am very forward on pushing and kind of exploring all that stuff. And so so that’s kind of our little Can we call it a side project? Can we we call it an offering a DIESOL offer?
Ixchell Reyes 3:28
It’s their project. Yeah. Sister sister project a brother, a sibling of DIESOL.
Brent Warner 3:33
There we go some something along those lines. So AI in esl.com. And maybe we should have kept the E S OL because DIESOL is D. Anyways, there it is. AI and esl.com if you’re interested. But today, we’re talking about we’re going we’re going we’re going old school, we’re talking talking idioms. Are you ready for the are you ready to get into a fight? Ixchell? I’m ready. Your Are you roaring like a rear in like a bowl? Are you chomping at the bit?
Ixchell Reyes 4:08
It’s go time it’s go time.
Brent Warner 4:16
All right. So Ixchell… idioms you brought up this topic. We’ll get a little bit into some of the research on a ton of it. We’re going to talk a little bit about it. But let’s start with why you wanted to kind of jump in and kind of ask this question of why are our idioms appropriate to teach?
Ixchell Reyes 4:34
Yeah, well, part of it is my my sister and I and I talked about it before in several episodes just a little bit more in talking about the difference in the way we learn language but my sister speaks in idiomatic language. A large percentage of the time when I’m listening to her my teacher brain or my I don’t know my judgy English teacher brain is pointing out every Nabil. Yes. said and I’m thinking, why did you say that? That’s not clear? What if I were a language learner? I wouldn’t understand. And in my mind, I’m translating it to clear terms. And I think it comes from being obsessed with writing clearly. When I was in college, I was just so focused on making sure I didn’t use cliches and making sure I wasn’t using idiomatic language. And so it’s just interesting for me because, right as a language learner, my sister is a language learner. And how is it that she has taken all of this and now that’s part of her lexicon? And that’s just who she is. So and of course, being language teachers, you and I will never escape the one student who will misuse an idiom in our conversation, but they’ll probably because they will use it. And so I think that’s where my interest came from. Yeah,
Brent Warner 5:53
yeah. So we’ll we’ll dig into kind of the classroom setting. But we’ll let’s talk just a little bit about the little bit about the background of ATMs and kind of understanding a bit about them. We grabbed a couple of research points. And again, this is kind of, it’s a little bit piecemeal, because we’re talking about different parts here. But just to kind of share some thoughts on idioms first, I did find this this article from Rosa Alina vago Marina, and it’s called representing and processing idioms. And actually, I kind of started looking at it. I’m like, oh, we can’t really use this for the whole episode, because it’s really about how the brain understands idioms. And it’s getting into it. But I just thought it would be interesting to bring up and share a little bit. And so I’ll share just a part of this, a segment from the article and she said, for many years, the standard way of looking at idioms has been to consider them words, as lexical items, which are listed and retrieved as chunks from the lexicon. According to this view, there’s no need to worry about ATMs no need for a complex theory of how to communicate with them. The motivations for claiming this are based on the belief that the meaning of an ATM is in no way recovered from the meaning of its individual constituents. And the idioms behave as syntactic as well as semantic units. That is, there is nothing in the meaning of quote the and kick and bucket that tells us that kick the bucket means die. And furthermore, there’s no way once we are familiar with the idiom, to break up its meaning into individual constituents of the string. So basically, what she’s saying inside of here is there, there hasn’t been a traditional way of thinking that you’re saying, hey, if I say kick the bucket, I can only understand that alone as death if I learned that separately. And then if we change that around, then there’s no there’s no understanding of it. But that was actually it turned out like later on in the article, she she kind of got into it a bit and talked about how that’s not really accurate, right? That’s not really a proper way to think about it. Because there are lots of idiomatic expressions that we might say in different ways. And maybe we wouldn’t understand maybe we wouldn’t normally say them. But if we heard someone say it, we would understand it. So. So the examples that she gave me, Ixchell you and I were joking pre show a little bit different versions of this. So it’s like to spill the beans, right? Is an idiom that mean, which, by the way, I don’t use it very often. So it will go to your point later, but, but this is an example of spill the beans, beans to like, let out a secret, right. But she gave some different versions of that said, the beans were finally spilled. Or
Ixchell Reyes 8:42
I didn’t spill a single bean.
Brent Warner 8:44
Don’t look at me, I didn’t still spill a single bean or something like that. Right? And it’s like, yeah, we probably been say those things. But like, we would still kind of understand them, even though it’s not spill the beans or you know, you know, we might even be able to say something like, oh, you know, he gave up on life that bucket kicker or something like that, right. And that wouldn’t really be normal. But we could kind of understand it with poetic license, right?
Ixchell Reyes 9:14
Bucket kicker. sounds hilarious.
Brent Warner 9:19
I’m just making it up. But like, but you get what I’m saying? Right? Which is like you could still follow along with it. And so, so her argument here is that, you know, the idioms, there’s an argument that like oh, idioms are you just have to learn that phrase, and it’s alone and totally isolated. And she’s saying, Well, no, not really, it’s like, there can be different setups and the way that the words are strung together, could still possibly be understood. So she kind of spreads out from that. I don’t know if you found anything that you thought was interesting in in some of the articles that we were exploring here.
Ixchell Reyes 9:50
Another interesting quote is by de Caro, in the article, the advantages and importance of learning and using idioms in English and the quote is some idioms of the worldwide English have first been seen in the works of writers like Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott Lewis Carroll or even in the paperbacks of contemporary novelists. An example of Shakespearean quotation can be found in the following sentence as a social worker, you certainly see the seamy side of life. Biblical references are also the source of many idioms, sports terms, technical terms, legal terms, military slang, and even nautical expressions have found their way to the everyday use of English language. And I can attest to that because I’ve I’ve had to explain to this to students oftentimes, hey, where did why did we start saying, hit the head? Or go to the restroom? Do you know that one brand? Hit the head?
Brent Warner 10:49
Isn’t the head like in the Navy? Is that like the the?
Ixchell Reyes 10:53
Oh, apparently, I’m the only one who didn’t know this. But we had to Yeah, that’s exactly correct.
Brent Warner 11:02
Point. I mean, the point give me a gold star,
Ixchell Reyes 11:05
you get a point because this was an older idiom. So you just dated yourself?
Brent Warner 11:11
Like, like, What do you mean by that?
Ixchell Reyes 11:16
No, no, I didn’t say that.
Brent Warner 11:17
How dare you offend any listeners?
Ixchell Reyes 11:25
Yeah, so So again, this is a conversation that we’ve been having.
Brent Warner 11:30
Yeah, for sure. So there’s lots of different lots of different things to kind of consider in terms of idioms. You know, where they came from, how, you know, they’re, they’re different parts. And so we’re gonna get into this on the in the second half, we’re just keeping the background, just a little understanding of ATMs. To start with here. We’ll jump over and kind of get into the conversation that you wanted to have, which is essentially that you want to ban ATMs, right? That’s what I’m taking your extreme view, I’m taking your your view to the extreme, but we’ll we’ll get into it. So let’s, let’s jump over.
Ixchell Reyes 12:11
So how necessary and useful are idioms for language learners? Yeah, I think it’s my opinion, is there confuses the emergent learners? And it? I mean, you have to have a level of sophistication to be in your language use in order to be able to use them? Yeah, I suppose you would be able to understand some of them. But it might be even more confusing, because they also have constructions that emerging learners aren’t used to.
Brent Warner 12:43
Yeah, yeah. So I do understand what you’re saying here. So. So your perspective, you know, is kind of coming from the like, hey, I want to be clear in my communication, we want to make sure and then idioms are by default, unclear because they don’t mean either
Ixchell Reyes 13:00
abstract often, or there’s two meanings, the literal and the abstract, figurative.
Brent Warner 13:05
Right? Right. Right. So I’m gonna argue against that. Number one, students love idioms. Like students love idiom classes, we have idiom classes at our school, and they always fill up popular, they’re super popular, students want to go into them. You know, I haven’t taught that class at our school for if I ever have I’ve taught, I’ve taught EDM classes in the past, right? And like, they feel kind of easy, because they’re just like, hey, let’s look at this term. And let’s, let’s learn how to you know, like, it’s, it’s kind of just like vocabulary. I mean, sorry, I don’t, I’m not trying to minimize the teaching experience. But you know what I mean? Like, like, where your students like it, because for a couple of reasons. Number one, it can be fun, and it can be kind of lighter, but also, the reason that I like idioms. And I think we’re gonna have to, you know, we’re gonna have to balance this conversation out a little bit. But idioms give a good insight into the thinking of the speakers of whatever language you’re studying. Right? And so how do these people think about the world? How do these people understand interactions? What are ways that they kind of view things through different prisms or perspectives? And that to me, is like when I was studying Japanese, that was really valuable like to go Oh, okay. Like that’s kind of like, you kind of just get little little hints of the personality or the the style of, of approaching the world behind idioms and that’s why I think that they’re really important from my perspective. Regardless, like i Yes, I do understand that some of them are unclear or people like stop using them. And it’s very hard to know if Hey, is this a is this a common idiom is used all the time? Maybe here in California, people use some of the one that are very different than they might use, you know, in the south or, you know, in the Pacific, in the Pacific Northwest or, you know, wherever else it is right. So sometimes it can be ugly. Yeah. So, so that’s kind of why I think that they’re valuable. But I understand that they’re a little bit hard to parse out properly.
Ixchell Reyes 15:21
I guess, some of my, of course, my experience shapes the opinion I have. And that’s partly because of two things. Number one, of course, I’m a language learner, but I loved English. And I loved anytime there was an idiom, oftentimes, I could assimilate it to something in Spanish, because I would translate it in my head. And I would say, like, oh, that’s kind of like when we say, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But then there would be idioms that made no sense, because when you translate it, I couldn’t understand. And so I would say, Okay, I don’t know what that means. But then I would guess from the context, but it never really became part of my lexicon, or my part of the personality that I have in my writing voice, you know, we always have a writer’s voice. And so I was kind of a stickler with myself about being clear. And so then, of course, as I’m getting older, and when I became a teacher, I noticed that on orientation week, when all the international students come in to take their TOEFL test, or whatever they’re taking, and getting their schedules, so many times they were, that would see my colleagues get into some kind of misunderstanding with the student and the poor student is sitting there. Anxious, because they don’t understand it’s their first week, and they’re trying to figure out, they want to make sure they pay their tuition, they want to make sure they’re in the right class, they have the right book, but then the instructor is using idioms. And I remember always feeling so bad for the students and knowing no, you just have to say this, and this and this. And so inevitably, what happened in my at the beginning of my teaching career is the students would come to me and say, the teacher told me this. I said, Oh, this is what they mean. And I would explain it in very simple, concrete terms. And I had no and then I just made it a point, especially with a lower level students not to use idioms. And if I were to use an idiom, I would always say, since I don’t use them, I would say, you might hear some people say, blah, blah, blah. And this is what it means. You can use it, you can try it. But I don’t use it. And I will tell them, I said if you feel comfortable, you can try it. And so that’s kind of where my relationship with it. Yes, I think it’s it’s a relationship I have with idioms
Brent Warner 17:39
like a personal trauma issue, around a around idioms. So. But I do understand what you’re saying, right? Because, because a lot of times I’ve had students that are, you know, very into studying idioms, and they’re like, they like the graph, grab onto it, like, that’s the thing that I want to learn, because that’s gonna like, they feel like that’s going to help them boost their language skills a lot more than they really do. Right. I think I’ve told this story before, but I love it till the end. So the, when I was in Japan, I was ran, I had a firt Well, first, we have to go all the way back to college. So in San Diego, I knew this, this Japanese guy, he was he was a college student exchange student. And we were pretty good friends, we hung out sometimes. And then he left and we kind of lost track. And then I went back to Japan. And, and randomly he drove by the school that I was teaching at during a recess when I happened to be outside. And he drove by and saw me and like he kind of freaked out. And so he jumped out of the car and I had gone back inside by the time he got out. And so he passed a note to another teacher, like through the fence. And the note was something along the lines of, you know, Brent out of the blue, I saw you when I was driving by and I’m tickled pink to, to you know, to see you and let you know, here’s my number, please call me right, something like that. And so I’m sitting there going he’s really trying to get these these idioms in and kind of overdoing it a little bit. But, you know, he was trying and that was, you know, connected to his interest in those things. But it was kind of like a, okay, when you overuse them or when you when you you get the like you mentioned before you get these kinds of structures that are maybe beyond your regular grammatical ability, but they’re tied into the, they’re tied into the idiom. So you get the prepositions and in, you know, kind of more sophisticated forms, things like that. And so, so that can be a little bit of a place where, as a native English speaker, not as a teacher, but just as, as a native English speaker. Like I’m kind of imagining that I’m interacting with this person and they’re kind of you know, they’re developing English and then all the sudden is like really gorgeous phrases are clear, you know, like, like these abstract terms perfectly put together come in, then it can be a little, it’s not wrong, but it’s just kind of like it throws you off somehow like when when you know someone is still developing and then then something comes out really well, right? It’s the same thing as like, when we get magical papers that are, like suddenly perfect, right? And it’s like, what happened? Where did that one come from? Right. And so I can definitely see where there’s a little bit of a balance here to figure out
Ixchell Reyes 20:36
so. And I’ve had the opposite, not, I guess a similar effect. But even with that with the more skilled students, let’s say, I’ve had interactions, for example, is particularly overseas, where I’ve got someone I’ve met someone who maybe is translate, not a translate, say they use their language skills to translate or to help people around us that don’t speak the language. And they’re able to communicate. But then they also use so many idioms packed into something because they want to build rapport with that person. But rather than allowing that to help build depth, like a friendship or a relationship, it actually seems phony. And and I know that the person is probably trying to say, Hey, I understand these these phrases that help you to recognize that I know I’m that I can be in your in group. And I don’t have a particular example. But I can think of several where I thought oh my gosh, they they’re trying to use they’re using them all appropriately. But an actual native speaker would not use so many within their speech, or especially if you’re trying to make someone feel welcome or at ease or trying to build a relation, like a connection.
Brent Warner 21:53
That’s, that’s super interesting, because I could I could see where that is like. So So their goal, the way that they’re doing it in their intention is kind of working against them in the sense of what they’re actually their end goal is, you know, to make friends or to, I liked that point about being part of the in group, right, because language, idiomatic expressions are a big part of of being an in group, right. And so students that kind of recognize that might try to use that as a as a way in to say like, Hey, I can make friends.
Ixchell Reyes 22:27
It’s like a little, little, a little white flag saying, Hey, my friend, you can talk to me, I can understand I understand your pop culture references. I understand this. But it’s like what my institution we call the students who you’ll talk to them and, and we call them a Netflix, Netflix, the Netflix students are the street students, because they have this, they understand the pop culture references, and they can fool you. But as soon as you start to talk, try to see get any abstract language, they just only no idiomatic stuff that they learned from YouTube influencers or Netflix. And it’s like, oh, there’s no direction, there’s actually no depth beyond that.
Brent Warner 23:12
Okay, so yeah, it works. Yeah. So. So if you’re thinking about this, right, because there also needs to be a, there needs to be a transition into using those things smoothly, right? So you can’t just say, Hey, don’t use them until you’re totally comfortable. Like, that’s not really how we teach, right? I assume that that’s not how you teach is like, let’s experiment with it. We’re gonna make mistakes inside of here, right? And then later, it will, hopefully balance out and become more natural. I’m not sure though, if teachers are talking about this part, right, like don’t overuse, you know, I haven’t had this conversation with other people. So I’m not totally sure. But like, Don’t overuse idioms. Right? Don’t, you know, be careful, like, pay attention, I don’t even know how to tell a student to pay attention to whether or not this is considered common or modern, or, or fading, you know?
Ixchell Reyes 24:05
Now, that’s a really good point, because what I’ve started to do, because, again, just because I don’t use idioms myself, doesn’t mean I get to rob the students have experience with language, they should be the ones choosing, and ultimately, they should be the ones experiencing with the language, I never really feel truly comfortable. When I’m using idioms. And again, I just think, of course, I’m sure that that somehow snuck into my lexicon, but I just generally don’t. And one of the things I’ve started doing, just to be more understanding of, and more inclusive of different ages, different geographical areas is I’ll tell students, when we’re teaching something, and then like content, whatever the content is that topic, I’ll say, there are a few idioms that usually may show up in this context. Here’s one, but the younger generation now is maybe using this one. And I use, I don’t use any of these, or this is the one that I’m comfortable with. And my mom or the old, an older generation might say something like this, and I understand what they say, but I wouldn’t use it. And so I start to give them the comparison of generations so that they understand too. And it happened recently, where we were talking about idiomatic ways of saying that something is great. And of course, you know, like, that’s cool. That’s awesome. That’s rad. That’s dope. That sick. That slit. So now you’ve got a whole span of generations, but I’ll have I cannot have a 35 year old saying, Wow, that’s lit.
Brent Warner 25:47
On fleek. Does that even silhouette?
Ixchell Reyes 25:50
Oh, my gosh, I
Brent Warner 25:51
forgot that one. Yeah, well, because there is a point here to where you’re talking about, like what is like, what is properly idiomatic versus what is like, trending slang, right? And so some of these things are gonna you’re gonna have to balance these things out to right in the conversations.
Ixchell Reyes 26:08
Well, well, we talked about spilling the beans, right? And because of the spilling the beans letting a secret out. Nowadays, because social media has taken influence on on our intake of entertainment, and now you have spilled the tea. And that’s what people say, spill the tea means lead out to see like Who spilled the tea? Give me the tea. Yeah, it so again, it is changing. And that’s now I was looking for I had my students actually look it up to see when it entered the dictionary. And it was like two years ago. And it’s about the time when it was the pandemic and most of us were at home. So you we were taking more of our, our material from online sources, like our reading and our intake. And so there was more usage of that. And now that used to be slang, but now it’s coming. Like I almost see it as a replate a generational replacement for spilled the beans. Yeah. And so I think that that’s another thing like, many of our idioms may have come from slang or slogans that they there’s they just became sayings and we understand them. And of course, those are maybe from social media. But do we have the ones that are field specific fields specific or? There’s there’s a lot of military idioms, as that quote, said, and the I guess my point here is using language that even native speakers don’t relate to. And there was a conversation online teachers, just not language teachers, but just a regular class where the students asked a teacher, why they always said, they were sounding like a broken record. And the students didn’t understand what a record was. And now we joke about it. But it’s really become like, we’re in an age where students didn’t live through 911. They didn’t live through not having a cell phone, they don’t really know what a phone with buttons is. Or things that are corded, so So yeah, so what what is it for that student? What does it mean? What have what use is that?
Brent Warner 28:24
Yeah, that’s interesting. So
Ixchell Reyes 28:25
that, that just start sparked the conversation, teachers started sharing their experiences with Generation Z, and then that I felt so validated. And I was like, yes, you understand. So then I took that conversation over to Facebook. And I had several colleagues, Eric Roth was one of them. Nina Ito, a couple of my colleagues, Ashley, and a couple of other people were giving their experiences on just their interaction with idioms and and some were very positive. And some are like, Yes, I understand. It’s very confusing or very frustrating when someone’s speaking, it’s like you’re having to figure out a puzzle. And so again, but But I think what came out of that, ultimately, is that and I think Eric Roth put it really nicely. I think, Steve, Mike McIsaac also mentioned that oftentimes, you know, idioms could be exclusionary or inclusionary it shows a shared experience, it shows history, your knowledge, and they actually add to the beauty and diversity of English which is what are of any language really, which is what we you know, we argue with like, No, why should we be grammar sticklers? There’s a beauty of language and when things shift that’s it’s alive. And so I think that my views my my extreme views on banning idioms have kicked the bucket Are you that awkward? Is it?
Brent Warner 30:03
Yeah, I mean, have you? Have you stopped? Have you stopped throwing chalk at the students who use idioms?
Ixchell Reyes 30:13
Oh, I’m totally fine. They use idioms but all the time. Hey, a better idea here. Let me give you two more. And then you decide I and again, what with a student where I haven’t stopped throwing chalk is my poor sister. And every time she leaves a video message, I stopped the video and I sent it you know that the ATM you just used came from this blah, blah, blah, and how did you know? How did you know? Now she’s she’s she’s traumatized because I used to correct her pronunciation when we were little. This is sort of the sort of topic
Brent Warner 30:50
clearly. But this is kind of interesting, though. Because I was, as you’re talking about all these things, I was thinking of like, you know, when I was growing up, and maybe I didn’t understand idiomatic expressions that my mom said, because they were from her generation, you know. But I also think that there’s value in understanding those things and saying, like, Hey, this is an old idiom, and like, it’s fun. And it’s interesting, in the same way that I was talking about, like, you know, in my studies of Japanese, like, you can also get a feeling of how previous not previous, my mom’s still here. But like, people with different experience, right? So, so like that thing, and then you can kind of get insights into the ways that those people see the world to now you do have to have a pretty, you know, sophisticated grasp on the language to really pull that out. But like, I’ve had ones where, you know, my my mom, even still, there was recently there was one that she came up with, and it was like, something about, like dancing with clay feet or something like that. And I’m like, I don’t know that expression at all. And my mom was shocked dancing with two left feet, not dancing with two left feet. It was something about like a clay feet something I’m sorry, I didn’t look it up before it just kind of came up at the moment. But, but it was something along those lines. And I was and we had an interesting conversation about it. I’d never heard it before. And she’s and but she was shocked because it felt like to her it was so engrained it just came out of her mouth naturally, right. Like, she didn’t think about it. She just kind of said it as something else. And I’m like, What do you mean by that, but I like those moments too, because you get to talk you get to share kind of understand a little bit more. Obviously, I forgot who it was, oh, sorry, mom. But but you know, in those moments, you get to share a little bit and you get to see what what’s going on. So I think that there is another level of value. I am interested. You know, I don’t want to get to like social justice, you know, form formed here, but there are parts of these that are very, you know, patriarchal
Ixchell Reyes 32:57
reflect, yeah, and they reflect that the society of that time, and I think, yep, that’s how I was gonna add something, something to that. That was gonna say, so you’re talking about sharing these moments with your mom and of course my mom communicates usually mostly in Spanish, we she speaks English and everything. But there’s there are certain idioms she uses in Spanish that will trigger memories of times in Mexico with my grandma. And then my sister and I will mimic the way my idiomatic language my grandmother used and it’s so endearing but some of those things you would never ever say. Because we just don’t trade food anymore. We don’t or for example, there’s a couple where my sister and I was like, Why does my not my mom? I mean, why do people in Spanish say this all the time? It sounds so bad and and like you said, it reflects the society they grew up in and what they were taught and it I’ve had to tell a couple of my my answer we don’t say that anymore. Here’s a better at something you can say instead and it’s like and they didn’t realize it it’s just you know, some of them could have racial undertone. Some of them I haven’t heard anything blatantly racist, but still, it’s not
Brent Warner 34:12
Yeah, no, they can they can be like, Oh, are you there, but we don’t know that there’s, you know, rights issues inside of there. So sometimes that’ll come up and I’ll be like, Oh my god, I had no idea that expression came from this or something like that, too. So yeah, yeah, absolutely. It’s tricky, right? Because I think all parts are interesting, obviously, as as linguists we’re interested, right to know, to know what things mean and how they connect with ideas, but I I do understand and I think that these days, because of social media and acceleration, right? There’s there’s a lot more a faster push for change to get rid of ones that are, you know, maybe harmful or maybe you know, make make people upset or something like that. But also, you know, I have a Little, a slightly conservative take on it fineness. Yeah, well, it’s just that like, all language communicates something right. And so there are ways, you know, like, they’re interesting to see not not to say that I’m supporting, you know, anything racist or sexist or whatever else it is. But it is interesting to see like, Okay, this is a way that this group of people communicates these ideas, communicate, right? Because because then it also, like I said, it helps you maybe see ways that they want to view the world or the ways that they will maybe want to talk to you about things can can open that up. Now, again, when we’re coming back to our language learners, that is very complicated, because it starts getting into very, very fine nuances. So I think you might have an argument for holding off on idioms until intermediate or above. Right?
Ixchell Reyes 35:59
Right. And I think that’s what the books that are written for. for language learners, that are idiom books, they’re usually you know, separated by topic or by category. And I think that that makes it a little bit more comprehensible for them and but you are required a certain level of of English competency or language competency in order to be able to play with the language because what use is it learning it but you can’t play with it and try it out for yourself and then decide. And I think that that’s, that’s where I do agree, I think that my, my, my bone to pick with people, sorry, to think of it as my bone to pick with people.
Brent Warner 36:48
If anyone listening can can’t tell us the exact number of ATMs that we’ve used in this episode, whether we are aware of it or unaware you’re gonna get a free sticker sent through the mail. Ours through every every word we said, oh my gosh, so
Ixchell Reyes 37:05
just a bit with the Lord just with the lower level students being aware that they’re, they’re learning survival English. So as soon as you give them something incomprehensible, they panic and then they see it as I’m not performing my I’m not My English isn’t good enough my comp. And it might be that know that you’re the person talking is just using very difficult language. So it’s the same as if a student is using the word love versus a synonym of love. And that synonym is outdated and I can think of one at the moment, but like, run versus walk versus jog versus stroll versus Yeah.
Brent Warner 37:45
Well, it’s like, yeah, like saying, like, someone’s the cat’s pajamas, you know, and it’s like, it’s like, I
Ixchell Reyes 37:50
don’t even know what cats but and I recently learned the bee’s knees, but I don’t even know
Brent Warner 37:55
when to say meaning. The Bee’s Knees means the cow jammas it means you like you really? You really you like them you think they’re great? Why?
Ixchell Reyes 38:04
But why cat and pajamas?
Brent Warner 38:08
The Cat in pajamas is wonderful, but why
Ixchell Reyes 38:11
what’s the association? So you know the idiom you know the meaning but you don’t know why. We’ll see
Brent Warner 38:17
the history of it is always interesting to try and look back and go see what the what the history can be. Right? Yeah, but there’s definitely tons of them that we don’t know why we say them. Right. So yeah, I think that that’s going to be our idioms appropriate maybe the answer is not so much for emerging learners but more so for intermediate upper intermediate maybe even kind of intermediate and above
Ixchell Reyes 38:46
where it’s fun and not frustrating, right? Or it’s more fun that rather than frustrating,
Brent Warner 38:51
okay, so in all of this I did look it up feet of clay. It means a fundamental flaw or weakness in a person otherwise revered. So oh, so maybe your feet of clay criticizing or your your feet of clay is that you don’t like idioms otherwise you’re revered
Ixchell Reyes 39:17
and your sister dancing
Brent Warner 39:19
I guess there wasn’t dancing and dancing wasn’t a part of it. No. I wasn’t dancing in front of my mom and she’s like you’ve got feet of clay like your dad Oh no, no.
Ixchell Reyes 39:29
Oh my gosh.
Brent Warner 39:31
i The conversation was something different and then she she brought up the idiom your feet of clay but now I don’t remember the full context of it. I just remember the okay it was clay feet to his feet of clay but yeah, there we go. So everybody walk away with that one please teach it to your students and see if they naturally in their their language
Ixchell Reyes 39:56
All right, it is time for our fun find and today I have something that I found in Taiwan, but it’s actually from Spain. And this is the suave Vina lip balm. They’re little tubs of lip balm. It’s about $3. But it’s all made with essential oils. And there’s no, like, there’s not a lot of the chemical stuff. So you just put it on doesn’t feel greasy the next morning, it has absorbed into your skin, and it just feels soft. So if you’ve got chapped lips, which I’ve had a bad case of recently, so IV, not lip balm from Spain.
Brent Warner 40:35
All right, nice. So Monday, is a game. It’s called Panda Panda. Have you heard of this?
Ixchell Reyes 40:44
camdo I’ve heard a panda,
Brent Warner 40:46
not panda. Panda.
Ixchell Reyes 40:48
Tell us about panto.
Brent Warner 40:49
So this is a card game. And you know, I was actually looking for this like, for for class, you know, like a game that we can play with my students and things like that. But it’s also a family and fun games. So basically, what it does is it’s a trivia game, that how well do the people that you’re playing the game with how well did those people know you? Right? And so, you know, that’s like, it asked questions. And most of them are kind of like, yes, no questions, you know, but there might be a few other some variations, but you can play with it. So as I as I was getting into it, there’s like, lots of different language, right. So. So it said, you know, the questions might be things like, Do I prefer boxers are brief, or do I partake? Though, I’m looking at the examples that are on the thing, right? Do I trust doctors? Do I prefer mayonnaise or millet Miracle Whip, right? And so it’s kind of this question of like, how well do you know this person, and then you play the game, whatever the rules are. But the cool thing is, like, these questions are an opportunity to like, get to know people better to write. So if you’re working with a class, and you can, I like these games, these card games that have like big stacks of cards, because you can give different groups, little sections of cards, and then play with them. Yeah. And then I thought that this one, you know, maybe the students don’t know each other well enough to answer some of these questions. And I pulled out all the underwear questions. For my own class.
Ixchell Reyes 42:11
Of course you did. When it’s not death, it’s underwear. Yeah.
Brent Warner 42:14
So I, those ones are not going to be you know, involved in there. But like, but they are kind of, you know, you can give guesses about them. And then the people can tell you if you’re right or wrong and like, and you know, then there’s lots of opportunities to build language around these types of card games. So this one is called panco, P A, N D O. There’s also a kid’s version of it. So the there’s there’s not safe for work. But there’s also a kid’s version. So it’s like depending on the level that you’re wanting to work with. And the diversity. Yeah, so. So Pendo is the game. And you can check it out. We have a link in the show notes for that as well. Cool.
Ixchell Reyes 42:56
As always, thanks for listening to the show. If you’re giving us a shout out anyway, tell us on social media. Give us your best DM me or your least favorite DM.
Brent Warner 43:09
If you can review the show, I’d like to hear with idioms. Oh.
Ixchell Reyes 43:14
Oh, wow. Good, creative challenge for you.
Brent Warner 43:19
Somehow you could lead I mean, you could review it on social media. You can review it in the reviews, places, whatever. But yeah, share what’s your favorite ad and that’s what I want to know. I bet you I bet you people out there have some really good ones too, because you know what I was thinking. I’ve always been jealous of the idiomatic language of like the deep south like that, you know, there’s like there’s all these cool terms in there. And I wish I could use those more naturally, like, as part of my lexicon I always thought that but they’re not. But but they are cool. There are some interesting ones. Which is to say that we’re on Patreon we’re on Tobias coffee. If you want to support the show in any way, please do you can go leave us reviews. That is one of the best ways for us that we appreciate. You can find the show notes for this show. Share the show. Sure. Sure. Sure.
Ixchell Reyes 44:07
Wish. DIESOL.org/ 82
Brent Warner 44:11
Thank you for taking over DIESOL.org/ 82 and you can listen to us at voice Ed Canada. That’s vo ice d.ca We’re on the Twitter’s and some other places, many other places but not not exactly active everywhere. So shows at @DIESOLpod I am at @BrentGWarner
Ixchell Reyes 44:32
and I’m Ixchell at @Ixy_Pixy, that’s I X Y underscore p i x y
Brent Warner 44:39
in Burmese, thank you is Kyay Zuu Par so Kyay Zuu Par for tuning in to the DIESOL podcast. Ixchell stop laughing at my terrible Burmese.
Ixchell Reyes 44:54
Nobody’s laughing (laughter)
Brent Warner 44:57
You are covering your mouth and barely containing it (laughter) [music outro]
I dropped the ball on that one.
How necessary or useful are idioms for language learners? Can idioms be more of a roadblock at different language proficiency levels? Join Brent and Ixchell in a conversation about how to strike a balance in teaching and exploring language through idioms.
- The Advantages and Importance of Learning and Using Idioms in English (DeCaro 2009)
- Representing and processing idioms (Vega-Moreno, R.)