Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Idioms with animals for ESL


I love idioms and I really enjoy teaching them in my ESL classes. A lot of the students have similar idioms in their own languages, but I still get a kick out of some of the surprising reactions I get with some of the idioms I teach. I mentioned in an earlier post that an idiom has to be learned as an entire phrase rather than the meaning of each individual word. Why not start an idiom notebook and impress your friends with your mastery of the English language!

Here are some idioms that use animals. These are all pretty popular idioms, see if you can make a sentence with some of the idioms.

" A little bird told me." - Use this if you don't want to mention who it was that told you something.

"Ants in your pants." - To be restless, excitable, unable to sit still.

"Bear market." - A bear market describes a period when investors are pessimistic and expect financial losses so are focused more on selling their stocks, rather than buying stocks. You have probably heard this idiom a lot on the news recently in relationship to the current world economic woes.

"Beating a dead horse" - If someone is trying to convince people to do or feel something without any hope of succeeding, that is called beating a dead horse. This is used when someone is trying to raise interest in an issue that no-one supports anymore. In the UK this idiom is "flogging a dead horse." A dead horse is dead and no amount of beating or flogging will make it do any more work!

"Bee in your bonnet" - If you have a bee in your bonnet , you are very excited about some idea. You are very focused on this idea , and all your energy is directed at it.

"Bigger fish to fry" - If you have bigger fish to fry, you aren't concerned with the affairs or people in front of you, you have more important thins and people to deal with.

"Bird's eye view" - an excellent vantage point. The best view possible.

"Bright eyed and bushy tailed" - ready for the day, wide awake, presentable looking and ready to greet the day!

"Blind as a bat" - very poor eyesight.

"Cat nap" - a short sleep during the day.

"Cunning as a fox" - sly and untrustworthy person.

"An elephant never forgets" - An elephant has a really great memory! We use this to describe a person's great memory too.


"Free as a bird" - to be free to do what one pleases.

"Let sleeping dogs lie" - This means that they a person should not disturb a situation as it would result in trouble or complications.

For more idioms click here.

I am a qualified ESL tutor, please contact me if you need help with the English language.