One of the reasons that learning and becoming fluent in English can be difficult is that native speakers use a lot of idioms in their everyday speech. For students who like people to 'mean what they say', idioms are a significant problem because idioms do not mean what they say.
Read the three short stories below and consider the seven communication idioms highlighted in red.
My father was an art teacher and he had a poster in his classroom that said “Actions speak louder than words” because he did not like his students to be spending time talking when they should have been drawing or designing. However, at home, he was quite talkative, and when he was passionate about something, it was difficult to get a word in edgeways.
My boss approached me in the office yesterday and she asked if she could have a quick word. I was a bit worried because she doesn’t usually talk to me. Anyway, she took me into her office and she got straight to the point. She asked me if I knew what was wrong with my colleague, U Win Thaw. I told her I wasn’t sure, although I had heard on the grapevine that he was worried about his daughter who had just moved to Lashio.
I bumped into my friend the other day in Yangon and I asked him about the examination next month. After we had been talking for about five minutes, I realised we weren’t on the same wavelength. He was talking about the IELTS exam he is preparing for, while I was talking about the upcoming promotion exam! It was a good reminder to me that I need to think before I speak.
When you are ready, enter your details below, to match the seven idioms with their meanings.