Step 2: Teach Lesson
Explain to the student that over time people have come to use many phrases that do not match the usual use of the individual words
that are in it. When you hear give me a hand, you know the speaker wants some help, not a real hand. When people say you
should hold your tongue, they don’t mean you should grab your tongue with your fingers! They mean you should not say
Give me a hand and hold your tongue are examples of idioms.
Point out that some idioms are used only in one area of the country. Others are adages, proverbs, wise old sayings that have been
passed down through generations. Still others are slang, or expressions that are used by people of a certain group. Slang
expressions often pop up quickly and may go out of use quickly, too. They are phrases that may only be familiar to teenagers or to
people who share a common interest such as a sport, hobby, or occupation.
Explain that many idioms are used often and are familiar to most of us, but unfamiliar idioms may make it hard to understand
something we hear or read. When a phrase does not seem to make sense, try to figure it out just as you would an unfamiliar
word: Think about its context in the sentence or paragraph.
Ask yourself, “What is the situation? Could the picture created by the idiom be a comparison to some other situation?”
Write the following sentence on a board or piece of paper: Jacob hit the nail on the head when he said the twins were just being
noisy to get attention. Read the sentence aloud.
Would it make sense to think that Jacob is using a hammer and nail in this sentence? (no) Picture someone hitting a nail on
the head with a hammer. They must take aim and get the swing just right. How could that compare to what Jacob says
about the twins? (He is getting the reason just right.)
To hit the nail on the head is an idiom that means to say something that is exactly right. It can mean to come up with the
right answer or to point out something true.