Idioms ESL Games, Activities and Worksheets

Hang in there!

ESL Idioms Board Game - Vocabulary: Gap-fill - Group Work - Intermediate (B1) - 25 minutes

In this free idioms board game, students practice common idioms by using them to complete sentences. Players take it in turns to roll the dice and move their counter along the board. When a player lands on a letter square, the student to their right picks up the sheet and reads the gap-fill sentence that corresponds to the letter and the number they rolled to reach it, using the word BLANK for the missing idiom in the sentence. The player listens to the sentence and then uses one of the idioms shown in the idiom bank on the game board to complete the sentence. If the player answers correctly, they move forward one space. If they answer incorrectly, they move back one space. The first player to reach the finish is the winner.
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Well-known English Idioms

ESL Idioms Worksheet - Vocabulary Exercises: Matching, Guessing, Sentence Completion, Gap-fill, Short Answers - Speaking Activity: Asking and Answering Questions - Pair Work - Intermediate (B1) - 30 minutes

In this useful idioms worksheet, students learn and practice 12 idioms commonly used in the English language. To begin, students match sentence halves together that contain well-known English idioms. Next, students guess the meanings of the idioms from the sentences in the first exercise and match them with their correct definitions. After that, students complete sentences with the idioms. In the last exercise, students complete questions with the words shown and write answers in the spaces provided. Students then ask and answer the questions with a partner.
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Baseball Idioms

ESL Sports Idioms Activity - Vocabulary: Matching, Writing Sentences - Pair Work - Upper-intermediate (B2) - 25 minutes

In this insightful sport idioms activity, students learn and practice common baseball idioms that are commonly used in everyday life, especially in business settings. In pairs, students take it in turns to read the numbered sentences on their worksheet to their partner who matches the idiom used in each sentence to its correct meaning below the picture on their worksheet. Their partner then writes the corresponding sentence number next to the meaning. Afterwards, students work with their partner and write five new sentences each for the idioms shown on their worksheets. When the students have finished, they read their ten sentences to the class and feedback is given.
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Idiomatic Feelings

ESL Idiom Games - Vocabulary Exercises: Gap-fill, Betting, Matching, Forming Sentences, Guessing - Upper-intermediate (B2) - 35 minutes

In these two fun idiom games, students play a betting game where they complete sentences with idioms associated with feelings. Students then create sentences of their own with the idioms which they use in a guessing game. To begin, students complete each sentence with one of the idiomatic expressions of feeling shown. Students then bet between one to five points depending on how confident they are with each answer, five being very certain and one being not at all certain. If students guessed the correct idiom, they write the number of points they bet in the 'win' column. If not, they write the number in the 'lose' column. The student with the most points at the end wins. Students then move on to match definitions with the idioms. After that, students choose five idioms and write sentence beginnings that match the idioms to make complete sentences, e.g. Beginning: The film was so scary I... Idiom: was shaking like a leaf. Finally, in pairs, students take it in turns to read each sentence beginning to their partner who tries to guess the idiom that completes the sentence.
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Idioms Bluff

ESL Idioms Game - Writing and Vocabulary: Writing Definitions, Guessing - Pair Work - Upper-intermediate (B2) - 25 minutes

In this imaginative idioms game, students create false definitions for idioms and then play a game where they guess which definition for an idiom is correct. In teams, students begin by creating a second false definition for each idiom on their worksheet. The idiom and correct answer are shown in bold. Teams then take it in turns to read their idioms and three definitions to another team who guesses which definition is correct. If they successfully guess the correct definition, the other team puts a tick next to the idiom. The game continues until all the idioms and definitions have been read out and guessed. The team with the most correct guesses wins the game.
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Tall Stories

ESL Idioms Game - Vocabulary Exercises: Matching - Speaking: Making Notes, Telling Stories, Asking and Answering Questions, Freer Practice, Guessing - Group Work - Upper-intermediate (B2) - 45 minutes

In this free idioms game, students use time idioms to tell stories to their classmates who guess whether they are true or not. Students begin by matching sentence halves together to reveal time idioms used in context. Next, students match the time idioms to their definitions. After that, students choose a topic from their worksheet and come up with a story related to the topic. The story can be true or a lie. Once the students have chosen their topic, they circle 'True' or 'Lie' and make notes about their story. Students then take it in turns to briefly tell their story to their group members who guess whether it is true or not. Students must use the idiom shown in bold in their story. Afterwards, group members ask questions to help them determine if the story is true or a lie. Each group member then guesses if the story is true or false and the correct answer is revealed. Storytellers score one point for each student they fooled. Students play several rounds using the topics on their worksheet. The student with the most points at the end of the game wins.
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Time Idioms

ESL Time Idioms Activity - Vocabulary: Sentence Completion, Matching - Pair Work - Upper-intermediate (B2) - 45 minutes

In this productive time idioms activity, students complete and match sentences that contain idioms using the word time. In pairs, students complete sentences that contain time idioms. Students then cut the parts they wrote into cards, shuffle them, and swap them with another pair. Next, pairs look at their new cards and match them together to make meaningful sentences about the idioms. The pairs who wrote the sentences then check that the cards have been matched correctly. Afterwards, there is a class feedback session. Pairs read each sentence in turn and students are given the meaning of the time idiom. The class then decides on the best sentence that expresses each time idiom.
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Rise to the Occasion

ESL Idioms Game - Vocabulary: Writing Short Answers, Guessing - Group Work - Advanced (C1) - 40 minutes

Here is a creative idioms game to help students practice the meaning of various idioms. A player from each team goes to the front of the class and sits facing their team. Everyone in the class then answers the first item on their worksheet, i.e. 'something that is a dime a dozen'. The two players at the front then read out or show their answers followed by the team members. Teams score one point for each answer that matches their player's answer. The players then swap with someone from their team and so on. This process is repeated until the worksheet is complete. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
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