Using Vine for Lesson on Idioms

A Quick and Easy Lesson on Idioms 

Begin the lesson by sharing the following fantastic images (all credit to Christine Kawasaki-Chan @ Dribbble, found via Laughing Squid).  Do you know these similes? Had you heard of them before? Do the visualisations make them easier to understand? etc etc…

photo courtesy of Warm Squid



Then explain that the purpose of the lesson is to visualise an idiom – to bring it to life in order to make it easier to remember…

“It’s not my cup of tea!”

Is it clear what the expression means from the video?

Now it’s the students turn…Obviously, how you set up the next part of the lesson is entirely up to you. You could either check students understand the meaning of all of the idioms, just those they have chosen or get them to find out the meaning themselves. Hand out the list of idioms, when they have chosen you could cross them off from a central list on the board to avoid repetition.

Vine is a really simple app to use – you record by touching the screen. You only have 6 seconds but you can use as many shots as you need (or can fit into 6 seconds!).

Here are some idioms that i thought would be manageable within the restrictions of a classroom/school setting.  But please drop me a comment if you can think of any more.

  • To have a chip on your shoulder
  • A piece of cake
  • (that cost) an arm and a leg
  • To get a taste of your own medicine
  • (no use) crying over spilt milk
  • Have your cake and eat it
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
  • drink like a fish
  • the icing on the cake
  • It takes two to tango
  • Kick the bucket
  • Sit on the fence
  • Over my dead body
  • To pull someone’s leg
  • The ball’s in your court

I can’t wait to see how they interpret this task!
Show me your versions @Directors_chair and let’s make a Gallery of Vine Idioms!!

Also if you have any other ideas of how to integrate Vine Videos into the ESL classroom, please share.
Thanks for reading


9 responses to “Using Vine for Lesson on Idioms

  1. Great ideas for how to teach idioms!

  2. hi
    interesting use of images and video :), it is questionable whether those images, as amusing as they are, will make those expressions easier to understand.

    Grant (2003) has a useful distinction between core idioms and figurative expressions; core idioms are less frequent but more difficult for learners to understand, e.g. hot under the collar (figurative) is easier to work out than piece of cake (core idiom)

    her list of core idioms can be found in the appendices here

    in that paper she also gives some useful advice about teaching idioms in chapter 5


  3. Hi,
    I agree with you that the pictures don’t help to convey the meaning of the idioms, i guess the intended purpose is more for wall-art. But they work well as a lead in to the lesson. Hopefully the students will pick up on this too and in their Vine videos be able to act out both the literal (someone kicking a bucket) and the figurative (someone dying).
    Thanks for the link. I will definitely take a look at the paper and see how the advice could complement a follow-up lesson.
    Thanks again

  4. How about “put a lid on it”? 🙂

  5. Here’s a link to some more (body) idioms that maybe helpful for this lesson

  6. Another useful link to alternative or additional starter prompts. Illustrations of couch potato, sour grapes etc…

  7. You can see some examples of my students’ vines in an updated post

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