6 Websites for Learning English Idioms

When you ask university-level English language learners how they would like to improve their English, many of them say they want to use more idiomatic expressions. Unfortunately, teachers seem to rarely have time to explicitly teach idioms in class. Luckily, there are various online resources that learners can use to enlarge their repertoire of idiomatic expressions. And certainly, some of these resources can be used in the classroom as well. Here are six websites for learning idioms.

1. The Phrase Finder

This website has a large number of American idiomatic expressions not only with their meanings but also with their origins. So, if your students are interested in the etymology of idiomatic expressions, this website would be a great resource to use.

2. Vocabulary.co.il: Idioms and Slang

Activities offered on this website can be used as an assessment tool after particular idioms have been taught. Students can use these activities for their independent learning of idioms as well.

3. The Free Dictionary: Idioms and Phrases

If you need to know the meaning of an idiom, this online idiom dictionary is the right place to go. The list is compiled from the Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms and the Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Each idiom comes with its meaning(s) and examples of sentences. For most idioms, this website also offers examples from periodical archives.

4. Open English World

This website would be great for someone who likes to learn random vocabulary on a consistent basis. Each week, the website offers a new idiom with its meaning and a short dialogue in which the idiom is used. The dialogues also come with audio-versions (which, of course, can be used in a classroom activity).

5. The Idiom Connection

This website has a list of idioms organized both alphabetically and thematically. Some of the themes include: food, money, clothes, body, business, and medicine. This thematic organization allows the teacher to quickly find interesting idioms for a particular topic. If learners would like to acquire the most common idioms, the list of 100 most frequently used English idioms would certainly be a helpful resource for them. For assessment purposes, the teacher can use quizzes (multiple-choice items) provided on the website.

6. Learn English Today

This resource is very similar to the previous one; it has a list of idioms organized in alphabetical order and thematically. However, the website does not offer assessment quizzes.

What online resources do you use to help students learn idioms?

About Elena Shvidko

Elena Shvidko
Elena Shvidko is an assistant professor at Utah State University. She received her doctorate in second language studies from Purdue University and her master’s degree in TESOL from Brigham Young University. Her work appears in TESOL Journal, System, Journal on Response to Writing, TESOL interest section newsletters, and TESOL's New Ways series. Her research interests include second language writing, multimodal interaction, interpersonal aspects of language teaching, and teacher professional development.
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7 Responses to 6 Websites for Learning English Idioms

  1. stanfordenglish says:

    Thank you for posting such a great information! English is must in today’s world and it will make a remarkable change in your career. The list of websites that you have mentioned is simply great! Keep updating with more such posts!

  2. Boris says:

    Thank you Elena! I think idioms are very interesting. This language academy also how idioms with funny pictures. http://the-language-corner.com/news/

  3. Melissa Waynie says:

    This 6 websites for learning english edioms is totally helpful and absolutely great Elena! Most of us now searching for some tips on english learning edioms and it is all here. How I wish more searcher and people read this kind of blog. Do you really have a basic learning strategies on this? Thanks

  4. ebosas says:

    There is nothing like a real book to learn English expressions. I would suggest audiobooks with text. That way you can always track what you are listening to.

    Check out Sherlock Holmes stories, such as Silver Blaze: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XkNKUucEBM

    Or, for more elementary level, Grimms’ Fairy Tales, Jorinda and Jorindel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tn9D-Fk6HkI

  5. Alexandra Lowe Alexandra Lowe says:

    The “English in a Minute” feature of Voice of America’s ESL website offers a series of fun, short (1-minute) videos that teach a wide variety of commonly idioms, http://learningenglish.voanews.com/media/all/english-in-a-minute/latest.html?z=3619 I introduce it to my students each semester and show them how to teach themselves as many idioms as they want: “under the weather”, “know the ropes”, “face the music”, “elephant in the room”, “pain in the neck”, etc. The videos really help students remember the meaning of the expressions.

  6. Paul Swarn says:

    I just checked out your website and looks great. I like the idea of encouraging students to learn vocabulary outside the class, I think this is essential for boosting their language abilities. Keep up the good work.

  7. Hello Elena, all,

    Thank you for sharing this list.

    There are many sites sharing explanations of idioms (usually, googling a particular idiom, along with the acronym ESL provides a few useful choices to compare).

    On the Learn English With a WorldWide Perspective (LEWWWP) site, learners not only learn what an idiom means, but have the chance to share cultural perspectives and understandings, to practice using the idioms in different contexts.

    Using an idiom (speaking or writing) is not always that easy!

    On LEWWWP we have an idioms group where many idioms are shared, explained, used in practice sentences and contexts.

    Disclaimer: I am the founder, community manager, and lead facilitator for LEWWWP. It is free to join, and one must sign up / register in order to post a reply, but it is free to visit and learn from without registering. I hope you’ll find it a useful resource.

    ~ Holly