How To Learn and Use Idioms In Your Language Study Routine

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You started to learn a language because you wanted to do something practical, talk to a specific person, travel, improve your career. But along the way, languages have this way of pulling you in. The one weird letter, the sounds you never thought you could make. The new friends you make. All of these become reasons why you fall in love with a language.

One more reason to fall in love with your language is often in the way it reveals a new world view. Maybe you're into German's descriptive words like Handschuhe ("hand shoes", meaning gloves). Or you're into the way Welsh borrows so much from English (I love gwaith brics - "work of bricks" to say brickwork). Or maybe you love the idioms!

In today's post, I'll to share a bunch of cool idioms that I recently received in my inbox, and how to use them to go a little deeper in your target language.

Make the most out of these different sayings for language learning by:

  • Practicing your pronunciation and sharing a recording of them on social media, or with your language tutor

Instagram stories are GREAT for this kind of interaction - you can post a video of just a few seconds sharing what you've learnt, and without pressure. To listen to a recording of the saying try typing it into YouTube (here's a smooth result for the Spanish idiom buscarle la quinta pata del gato, for example), or asking for help from a native speaker on Rhinospike.

  • Discussing them with a tutor or friend, and translating a saying from your native language

Where does that idiom come from? How do people use it? Is it still current? Use your idiom as a conversation starter and ask for more background and examples from your tutor. And while you're talking, think about what funny idioms and words you could share from your own native language? 

  • Printing out the illustration or pinning it to your language Pinterest board

In the Language Habit Toolkit, I wrote about the power of having your goals and your language love somewhere you can see it. Creating a mood board or a Pinterest language board will help you capture your own imagination and remember why you're on this journey.

  • Googling them (in speechmarks) so you can find some examples in a native language context

Google News is one of my favourite resources when I've just learnt a new expression, because it can find thousands of articles, interviews, and videos showing me exactly how to use it. From idioms like the ones above to grammar constructions, this is one free and useful resource for learning languages in use in just an instant.

Do You Have A Favourite?

Share your own favourite idioms and quirks about your target language in the comments!