Idioms & Phrases: How Can I Learn & Use Them?

Do I have to learn all the idioms?

“And here I thought Past Perfect was tough to learn...It was before I tried using various phrases and idioms…” And we feel for you. Trying to find out what idioms mean is difficult, and so is knowing how often to use phrasal verbs and deciding which the most important phrasal verbs are. 

Sometimes, you really do need to find the best English language school in California and start taking lessons. However, at other times, all you need is some clarification, and we can provide that, no problem. 

Do I have to learn all the idioms?

No, you do not have to learn all the idioms. There are so many of them that it would be nearly impossible to learn them all. 

That being said, you’re probably wondering if not all, then how many should you learn? Well, it’s kind of individual, not like there’s a set number of idioms to know proscribed by the University of California Department of Linguistics

Our advice is to learn the ones that you can use in everyday conversation. Don’t try to learn some idioms and expressions only because they sound cool if you’re going to be without a situation to use them in. 

That means you can freely stay far away from “to go pear-shaped”, and embrace the “pieces of cake” and the “cold shoulders”. Idioms are supposed to be useful besides sounding good, and you should guide yourself by that rule. 

How can I learn idioms and phrases in English?

When it comes to learning some idioms and phrases in the English language, we advise a simple, yet effective three-pronged approach everyone can employ on a daily basis:

  1. Hear it - First, you need to hear or read a new expression or come into contact with it in any other way. In order to spice your vocabulary up with idioms and phrases, you first have to constantly be on the prowl for them.
  2. Write it - Next up is writing the new phrases or idioms down, lest you forget them. Yes, it’s a bit old school, a bit last century, but some classics are here to stay, and this is one of them. If you write it down, it’s not going anywhere, which can’t be said for our fickle memories. 
  3. Use it - Finally, you have to use an expression in order for it to become part of your everyday vocabulary. If it remains a bunch of letters on a piece of paper, it’s of no use to anyone, least of all you. So, try using it, either in writing or when speaking to a mate, and you will remember it, don’t worry!

How do you memorize idioms and phrases easily?

Even though it would seem that some phrases and idioms are quite tricky to memorize, it doesn’t always have to be so. There are some tricks that can help you learn them quickly and easily and here are the best of them:

  • Context, not just meaning - When you see an idiom or a phrase, don’t just try to remember the meaning, but rather pay attention to the context too. This helps understand the idiom better and remember it more easily.
  • A diary of idioms - It sounds like too much work, we know, but in order to keep track of all your idioms you need to create a list of them, or, even better, a diary. You can even sort them by the situation in which you would use them, which makes the entire process more fun and worthwhile. 
  • Bit by bit - When it comes to idioms and phrases, never try to learn many of them at once. It just won’t work, and you’ll quickly forget them all. Learn a couple at a time, and only go on to new ones once you’re certain you’ve memorized the previous ones. 
  • Visualize them - When learning idioms, trying to visualize their meanings and connecting those mental images to their meaning can go a long way in helping you learn them quickly. 
  • Explore the history - Finally, you can try exploring how an expression came to be. This is fun, involves doing a bit of light detective work and, once you find out about the origin of an expression, chances are you won’t forget it. 

“What is the best English language school to attend in California for learning idioms?”

If you’d still like to get some help with learning idioms, phrases, and expressions, we’d like to point you in the right direction - toward College of English Language. We’re a language school that takes pride in its staff, facilities, and curriculum, and, with our help, you’ll learn idioms in a jiffy. If you’re looking to go out to Point Loma to take a break from all the cramming, why not stop by our school on the way there and see how we can help you? We’re waiting!