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Contributor: Eva Lamb

Language of text: German
Type of text: Other
Author or source: Idiomatic
Intended age of students: Key Stage 4
Source reference: Can be found in dictionaries, anthologies, on the web etc
Helpful are the following websites:
last accessed on today, 8th June 2014

See Worksheet / Cuecards “Redewendungen”

Attached files:
• Worksheet / Cuecards with examples of idioms with visual illustration and some of them with text providing written explanation - in word format
• Powerpoint presentation as a starter activity (English idioms translated literally)

File nameFile typeSize
EL Idioms Worksheet Cuecards Redewendungen.docxNo description1.26 MBInfo
EL Starter - literally translated idioms.pptxNo description923.37 kBInfo

I start off with raising awareness of what idioms are and how they cannot be translated literally – starter activity is a story where English idioms are translated literally
I like students to play with the language and work things out for themselves: they are provided with a list of idioms and their visual representation (on cuecards) ; they match phrase with picture and try and work out what the idiom means and how it might have come about.

Lesson Plan:

Put up a text containing English idioms, directly translated into German, e.g.
Ich habe durch den Weinstock gehört, dass mein Freund Klaus sich wieder in den Fuss geschossen hat.
Letzten Montag, als es Katzen und Hunde geregnet hat, hat die Schule gewedelt.
Er hat gar nichts gemacht, nur so die Zeit getötet. So eine richtige Sofakartoffel!
Dann ist seine Mutter nach Hause gekommen: eine Stunde früher als normal! Die Katze war aus der Tasche! Er war mit der Hose runter gefangen! Er war jetzt in einer Essiggurke!
Klaus wollte nicht die Hand beissen, die ihn füttert, und er hat daher den Stier bei den Hörnern genommen und die Wahrheit gesagt.
Zuerst hat die Mutter das Dach geschlagen: sie hat ihn fast lebend gegessen!
Jetzt hat Klaus Hausarrest bis die Kühe nach Hause kommen.

Students – in pairs, groups – try to work out what is going on.
Whole class activity discussion:
Use the powerpoint presentation with pictures to illustrate how the story would sound to a non-English speaker if the idioms were translated literally.

Independent work:
Give students a list of German idioms, visual illustrations and verbal explanations and ask them to match up to match up the phrases and the pictures.
Think (on your own) – Pair (with a partner) – Share (with another pair); students work out, discuss and agree on the task.
See attached worksheet (which should be cut up, for students to match visuals and phrases).
Extension Activities:
1. Students guess how the idioms came about. What could be the reason for this saying?
They could be provided with written explanations for the first few (see third column of the worksheet) – as comprehension texts.
2. Students write stories using the idioms (like in the starter activity but this time with real German idioms rather than English ones translated literally into German
3. Set up space in the classroom for the idiom of the week/month: „Redewendung des Monats“; students gain points every time they use it appropriately during lesson time (arising more or less spontaneously out of the normal business of the classroom). Could be set up as a competition with students winning prizes.
4. Use this website for presentation of further idioms:
It lets you search for particular idioms and then presents animated illustrations to visualise the saying. Some are really funny!
5. Use videos for illustration and presentation of further idioms
Series of videos produced by a group of rather whacky young German lads:
Embedded in a soap:

To raise awareness of the nature and use of idioms
To start developing a more advanced, idiomatic vocabulary
To develop and promote the joy of playing with language
Intercultural Awareness: how language is linked to culture

Students remember and actively use at least a couple of idioms
They are aware that idioms can not be translated literally

Topics or themes:
This is a first lesson to raise awareness of the idiomatic use of language. After this, idioms can be introduced as part of every topic – depending on the individual words in the idiom – and pinned up on the idiom space on the classroom display wall
e.g when teaching parts of the body:
• ein Auge zudrücken
• jemandem den Kopf waschen
• kalte Füße bekommen
• jemandem auf den Zahn fühlen etc.


Use of visuals to support memorisation
Compare and contrast home language and target language
Cooperating with peers: guess/speculate, hypothesise, validate assumptions

How much time required:
Approx. 1 hour Extension activities could be used over many more lessons in future weeks, years even

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