Free Resources for Students and Teachers of English as a Foreign Language in China - by Paul Sparks

Read and write messages for me!

 About Me
 World News
 ICQ Chat
 Contact Me





Now Watch TV Online for free with my new site -

Click Here to return to the previous page


Paul Sparks, Online Business English Lesson Plans, Lesson Material and Ideas for Grade 1 English Conversation Lessons at Xiangtan Normal University...






Lesson Objectives
To make the students aware of Slang words and Idioms used in general everyday conversation in the English language. To increase students level of conversation and vocabulary.


What are Idioms and Slang Words?
Idioms are normally phrases which do not make much sense when looked at in normal English language, they are expressions which have no logical structure. For example the term "Red Herring", an idiom meaning "false trail", is used of something which is neither red nor a herring. Some more common Idioms are shown below:

He was "all ears" when his boss talked.
Answer: listening carefully 

He is a "chip off the old block".
Answer: like his father 

He is "thick in the head".
Answer: stupid 

They were "beat" after three days of hard work.
Answer: exhausted 

Jack was "hard up" to pay his rent.
Answer: had no money 

The storm left them "all in the same boat".
Answer: all in the same situation 

The house fire meant we had to "start from scratch".
Answer: the beginning

Slang words are phrases used to mean other things. For example "A Quid" means "1 pound" in English money. Another common slang word is "loo", which is slang for "toilet".

Many of the Idioms which are used refer to animals. (see next section after quiz questions below)


Idioms Quiz Questions
(Source of Quiz Questions:


Animal Related Quiz


1. When Richard said something about his brother's surprise birthday party, he "let the cat out of the bag."

  • Richard gave his brother a cat for his birthday.
  • Richard revealed a secret.
  • Richard's brother is celebrating his birthday.

2. Mr. Evans was "in the doghouse" with his wife because he spent all day Sunday watching football instead of helping her clean the house.

  •  Mr. Evans enjoys watching football.
  •  Mr. Evans is going to build a doghouse for his dog.
  •  Mrs. Evans is angry with her husband.

3. When George asked Karen how she knew that William was getting married, she said that she "heard it straight from the horse's mouth."

  •  William told Karen that he was getting married.
  •  Karen and William are getting married.
  •  George told Karen that he was getting married.

4. When I clean my house today, I can also rearrange the furniture. That way, I can "kill two birds with one stone."

  •  I have a lot of time to clean the house.
  •  I can do two things at the same time.
  •  I can rearrange the furniture after I clean the house.

5. David moved to the countryside because living in the city had become such a "rat race."

  •  David moved to the countryside because there were too many rats in the city.
  •  David was stressed out by the hectic pace of life in the city.
  •  David thought that the city was too dangerous.

6. Even though Mrs. Jensen is no "spring chicken," she still enjoys swimming and running every day.

  •  Mrs. Jensen is not young, but she enjoys exercising.
  •  Mrs. Jensen doesn't eat chicken.
  •  Mrs. Jensen is training for a marathon race.

"Face" Idioms Quiz


1. The news that he had been accepted by the University was "music to Mike's ears."

  •  Mike is going to study music at the university.
  •  Mike received some very good news.
  •  Mike enjoys listening to music.

2. Wayne doesn't know for sure what he's going to do tomorrow. He'll "play it by ear."

  •  Wayne will listen to his friend tomorrow.
  •  Wayne will make a definite plan for tomorrow.
  •  Wayne won't make a definite plan for tomorrow.

3. When Robert met his girlfriend after a long separation, he told her that she was a "sight for sore eyes."

  •  Robert told his girlfriend that he was happy to see her.
  •  Robert told his girlfriend that his eyes were sore.
  •  Robert told his girlfriend that she had pretty eyes.

4. Jack told his wife to "keep her eyes peeled" for a gas station because they were almost out of gas.

  •  Jack told his wife that they were out of gas.
  •  Jack told his wife to look at the gas station.
  •  Jack told his wife to look for a gas station.

5. The Japanese and American negotiators had been meeting for ten hours, but they still couldn't "see eye-to-eye" on many important issues.

  •  The negotiators couldn't agree.
  •  The negotiators couldn't see clearly.
  •  The negotiators couldn't look at each other.

6. The way that Cindy was fired from her job "left a bad taste in her mouth."

  •  Cindy ate some strange food. 
  •  Cindy was fired because she said something rude.
  •  Cindy had some bad feelings about being fired.

Australian Slang Quiz

1. "Dunny" means __________.

  •  a toilet
  •  a house
  •  a teacher

2. Your "mate" is your __________.

  •  wife
  •  shoe
  •  friend

3. A "sheila " is a __________.

  •  friend
  •  woman
  •  beer

4. The remote country area of Australia is called the __________. 

  •  pub
  •  outback
  •  city

5. A common Australian greeting is __________.

  •  honk
  •  meow
  •  g'day 

6. "Fair dinkum" means that Dave is __________. 

  •  a very crazy teacher
  •  telling the truth 
  •  tired, hungry, and drunk

7. "Chook" means __________.

  •  chicken
  •  beef
  •  pork

American / British Vocabulary Quiz 1

1. A "puppy" is a small _____. 

  •  fish
  •  paper
  •  dog

2. A "hamburger" is made from _____ .

  •  pork
  •  beef
  •  vegetables

3. Starting "on time" means beginning _____ .

  •  at the scheduled time
  •  at the scheduled time or later
  •  at the scheduled time or earlier

4. "You don't have to do it" means _____.

  •  "It isn't necessary to do it." 
  •  "You mustn't do it." 
  •  "It isn't a good idea to do it."

5. How come?" and "What for?" both mean _____ .

  •  "In what way?"
  •  "Really?"
  •  "Why?"

6. If someone says "Cool it!," he/she wants you to:

  •  freeze something
  •  calm down
  •  go away

7. A "whatchamacallit" is something that you:

  •  use for communicating
  •  think isn't true
  •  can't remember / don't know the name of

8. "To veg [vedge] out" means to:

  •  relax
  •  become very confused 
  •  get really angry

American / British Vocabulary Quiz 2

1. "He hardly worked" means that he worked _______.

  •  very much
  •  very long
  •  very little

2. I'd better "get a move on" means I need to _______.

  •  dress
  •  hurry up
  •  decide what to do

3. Getting somewhere "in time" means arriving there _______.

  •  earlier than expected
  •  just a little bit late
  •  before it's too late

4. A "ewe" is a female _______.

  •  deer
  •  horse
  •  sheep

5. If I give you "my two cents' worth," I give you _______.

  •  a very small amount of money
  •  my opinion
  •  something you can't use

6. If someone says "Hold it!," he/she wants you to _______.

  •  stop what you're doing
  •  pick something up
  •  work harder or move faster

7. When the response to a question is "Beats me," the person responding means that he/she _______.

  •  doesn't know the answer
  •  thinks the question is stupid
  •  wants you to ask the question again

8. "I really pigged out" means that I _______.

  •  behaved very badly
  •  wasn't neat or organized
  •  ate too much

Additional Information

Website Links

  • - This page is useful in searching origins of idioms.
  • - What are some food idioms you recognize and what do they mean?
  • - This site lists many idioms, their meanings, and their origins.
  • - How has the meaning of various idioms changed over the years?
  • - A learning center activity in which students practice working with idioms.
  • - This page is geared toward English as a Second Language (ESL).
  • - This page provides a simple definition of idioms and gives several common examples with the corresponding meanings.
  • - Are you ready to test your knowledge of the etymology of some idioms? This is a fun game to test your knowledge of word origins.
  • - This is an excellent site for kids. It lists idioms alphabetically, randomly, and gives definitions.
  • - This is a fun site that that offers a clear definition of etymology with easy to understand examples.
  • - This site gives definitions, context, and etymology of some idioms.
  • - This page provides an enjoyable test of your knowledge of idioms.

Click Here to Return to Top of Page