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Contact Lisa Dyson 


Demystifying English Idioms: Helping Teachers Help Students Learn Idioms


Patrick T. Randolph and Paul McPherron


Wednesday, 3 June 2015
10:30 am–12:00 pm ET
(To find the program start time in your local area, click here.)


Cost: Free for members; US$45 for nonmembers
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Registration Deadline: 31 May 2015
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Who Should Attend?

ESL/EFL teachers, curriculum developers, and program administrators from around the world. Content will focus on idiom instruction at the secondary, university, and adult levels, but the activities and content presented are easily adaptable for teaching younger learners.

More About This Seminar

Idioms and idiomatic language are some of the most interesting and creative vocabulary terms to learn in any language. At the same time, idioms stubbornly resist easy classification and are some of the most difficult vocabulary terms to teach.

Drawing on our own experiences as English language teachers in a variety of settings, this presentation will summarize current research and offer “best practices” for helping you and your students find effective ways to address idioms in your classrooms. You will view a variety of examples of fun and effective activities as well as participate in an open discussion on teaching idioms.
This virtual seminar is based on the presenters’ book on teaching and learning idioms, Cat Got Your Tongue?: Recent Research and Classroom Practices for Teaching Idioms to English Learners Around the World, published by TESOL Press in 2014.

What Will I Learn?

You will
  • connect various definitions of idioms to classroom practices and materials, in particular how research into idioms is interpreted in textbooks and by classroom teachers.
  • gain a broad understanding of key linguistic and pedagogical research studies on the teaching and learning of idioms.
  • view examples of effective classroom lessons for teaching idioms and develop their ideas and activities for their classrooms.
  • critique idiom learning textbooks and classroom practices from around the world.
  • develop your own activities and materials for teaching idioms in your own classrooms.

About the Presenters

Paul McPherron is an assistant professor of English at Hunter College of the City University of New York, where he directs the undergraduate ESL program and teaches linguistics and ESL courses. He has taught English language learners for more than 15 years in a variety of programs in Romania, China, and the United States. His research projects include examinations of identity, globalization, and language teaching methods in China and the United States. His recent interest in teaching and learning idioms came out of his teaching a graduate-level summer course at Stanford University titled “Vocabulary and Idioms” and his frustration with questions from students such as “How can a fat chance and a slim chance be the same?”

Patrick T. Randolph has taught English language learners for 20 years, specializing in vocabulary pedagogy, creative and academic writing, speech, and debate. His research interests include applying findings in neuroscience to the English language classroom. Patrick lives with his soul-inspiring wife, Gamze; his cheerfully trilingual daughter, Aylene; and comical-cat, Gable, in the upper Midwest. In addition to Cat Got Your Tongue?, cowritten with Paul McPherron, Patrick has also published two bestselling collections of poetry: Father’s Philosophy and Empty Shoes.