ESL Writing Activities

Guess the Idioms


Perhaps more of a "thinking" activity than an actual writing activity, depending on how you play it. First, write an idiom on the board (the idioms below are fairly simple examples that tend to work well). On a piece of paper, have each student write what they think the idiom means.  Have them write a) the literal meaning of the idiom, and b) the broader meaning of the idiom, or what it actually means when we say it. 


After you review their (inevitably interesting!) guesses, explain what the idiom means. Then, have each student write a short dialogue using the idiom (you may have to write a short sample dialogue on the board to get them going...).


Here are some good examples:

All that glitters isn't gold

Waste not want not

A penny saved is a penny earned

Every cloud has a silver lining

Two heads are better than one

Beggars can't be choosers

The early bird gets the worm

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink

Children are best seen and not heard

Let sleeping dogs lie

Absence makes the heart grow fonder


You can also do this activity as a warm-up before teaching the idioms in our idiom worksheets.

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