TEACHING IDIOMATIC SPEECH AT FOREIGN LANGUAGE CLASSES

N. Poliakova, N. Skitina, V. Shabanova

Moscow Region State University (RUSSIAN FEDERATION)
Learning and mastering idiomatic expressions is one of the key objectives in the process of foreign language teaching at the advanced level. Teaching idiomatic expressions is significant and necessary considering that these units contain marks of cultural and historical development of a nation and are characteristic to all languages.

Native speakers use a great number of idiomatic expressions in their speech while those who study foreign language struggle with understanding the meaning of such word combinations and therefore reproduce complex statements instead of set expressions that are often met in native speakers' speech.

When a French would say: «il y a un mot en plus dans la liste», non-native speaker would say: «il y a un ajout d’un mot». Be sure, that an American or British would understand word for word translation of the Russian saying as “cat in a bag”, though its actual meaning is rendered by the English saying “to buy a pig in a poke”. Russian expression “have butterflies” is used to describe a state of falling in love, while in English this expression is used to express anxiety, fear.

Being a part of common language, idioms are met in all spheres of everyday life (newspaper, advertisements, magazines, songs, films, Internet). They are an essential feature of efficient communication with the use of foreign language, particularly on the advanced level. Ability to understand and adequately use idiomatic expressions in speech is an indicator of high level in foreign language proficiency.

The word “idiom” comes from Greek «idίōma» that means “peculiarity, singularity”.

Idiomatic expressions are a kind of locution used as a unity which meaning can’t be derived just from the meaning of its constituent parts.

Teaching idiomatic expressions is recommended by Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). Some of set expressions (for example French «en avoir plein le dos») are taught already on A level. However, greater amount of set expressions is introduced to students on B and C levels. We are referring here to learning more complicated units such as «se mettre martel en tête» in French, that means “to think about something ceaselessly, worry about something.

Learning idioms in the context rather than isolated seems to be most reasonable. It gives foreign language students an opportunity not only to understand the meaning of an idiomatic expression but also to see real life situations when native speakers use them.

It is most essential to demonstrate students the use of idioms in everyday oral activity. It will allow them to use those expressions autonomously while speaking. A teacher can specially select articles, texts, videos, a great number of other modern resources to achieve this objective. It will not only contribute to better mastering of the material but also will help to create a foreign language communication environment in class. It will have a positive effect on teaching process and motivation development to study foreign language in general.