I've been trying to teach idioms.
I have two groups of students who will do exams at the end of May and I tell them it's a good idea to earn extra 'Brownie Points' by including an appropriate idiom or two - if they can. And with the emphasis on 'appropriate!
Have you ever looked at how many idioms there are in English? There are SO many! I have realised that since I've been living in Spain, I use a lot less than I did when I lived in the UK. Automatically, I try to adjust my English when speaking with non-native speakers. Idioms are so difficult - we take them for granted and bandy them about willy-nilly. I won't go on....but I could go from here to kingdom come.
One of my students missed the class where I explained that most idioms are spoken rather than written. She's such a good student too and very thorough. She is very organised and likes to take things in the right order. This could have been a part of the problem.
Her written work, which we reviewed the following week was on the topic of famous people, past or present and I'd asked the group to write someone they admired.
Anabel chose Jesus Christ - perhaps this was another part of the problem - but she also chose to use the idiom that was at the top of the list we had been looking at.
She began well saying that he was a very famous person and that she admired him very much. She went on to say that he had been born in a small village in Israel. No problems here.
Her next phrase was also absolutely fine for B2 English - she said that his mother, Maria, had "not been impregnated by any man". I suppose that at the time, her choice of idiom at the end of the sentence would also have been quite appropriate....however, I can't imagine the face of an examiner when they read '...and this was a hot potato between believers and non-believers'.
The corners of my mouth are twitching again when I think of this phrase - it will stay with me forever. In the classroom, when Anabel read it out, I confess to snorting. It wasn't very polite or professional, but then the giggles really overtook me and I had to hide behind the whiteboard as tears rolled down my face. Anabel took it all in excellent humour but vowed she wasn't going to risk an idiom in her exam at the end of this month.
And she said I could share her little 'faux pas' on my blog. Hope it has made you smile too.