This is partly an answer to DIM's blog where she said she had taught some idioms to her group, who then came back with some completely different ones. My feeling is that students using English at B2 level are never going to know all the idioms they need and the idioms are constantly changing. So the solution is to teach culturally appropriate ways of finding out what the idioms mean, without looking stupid. In other words, ask the right cultural questions. For example, what is wrong with this conversation? Abdul: I've got these new computer codes. Can you help me? George: Dunno, mate. All Greek to me. Abdul: I'm sorry. I don't understand this expression. Can you explain it, please? George: Oh God! It's all Greek to me. It means I don't understand it either. What's the matter with you? Can't you speak English? Clearly, the register is all wrong. Abdul is being quite formal, whereas George is being very colloquial. George gets the hump (gets angry) at being questioned in this way. If Abdul had appeared more relaxed, the conversation would have flowed much more easily. If Abdul had a few colloquial phrases he could use to defuse his embarrassment at not understanding while being able to get clarification, George's attitude might be more relaxed and his reaction would be more polite. So here is the lesson plan. ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS PREPARATION Make a list of 10 colloquialisms and google their meanings. Prepare three or four ways of asking for clarification in a colloquial manner, such as: * Come again? * Sorry, I didn't get that. * Sorry. That's a new one on me. *Excuse me. I didn't catch that. IN CLASS 1 Preteach the clarfication expressions and questions. 2 Tell the class you will speak for one minute. If they don't understand something you say, they should interrupt, using one of these expressions. 3 Speak on a topic and every ten seconds or so, introduce one of the idioms. Do not pause. See if the class interrrupts you. 4 When they do interrupt you, using an appropriate expression, explain the idiom, using the definition you have googled and carry on. 5 Repeat the exercise until the students have got used to using the expressions. 6 Point out that native speakers are generally happy to accept interruption for clarification and do not see it as loss of face. Explain also the British maximum of communication 'Keep it light. Keep it tight .' (Don't be too serious. Don't go on too long.) And remember what I said about native speakers aiding communication. If you notice yourself using an idiom with non-native speakers, just add a phrase of explanation in language they will understand. You will gain a more sympathetic listener if you do so. Another CULTURAL LESSON PLAN TOMORROW.