Idioms: Description, Comprehension, Acquisition, and Pedagogy, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover


Description, Comprehension, Acquisition, and Pedagogy, 1st Edition

By Dilin Liu


208 pages

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pub: 2007-12-10
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This comprehensive, up-to-date, and accessible text on idiom use, learning, and teaching approaches the topic with a balance of sound theory and extensive research in cognitive linguistics, psycholinguistics, corpus linguistics, and sociolinguistics combined with informed teaching practices. Idioms is organized into three parts:

  • Part I includes discussion of idiom definition, classification, usage patterns, and functions.
  • Part II investigates the process involved in the comprehension of idioms and the factors that influence individuals’ understanding and use of idioms in both L1 and L2.
  • Part III explores idiom acquisition and the teaching and learning of idioms, focusing especially on the strategies and techniques used to help students learn idioms.

To assist the reader in grasping the key issues, study questions are provided at the end of each chapter. The text also includes a glossary of special terms and an annotated list of selective idiom reference books and student textbooks.

Idioms is designed to serve either as a textbook for ESL/applied linguistics teacher education courses or as a reference book. No matter how the book is used, it will equip ESL/applied linguistics students and professionals with a solid understanding of various issues related to idioms and the learning of them.


"Overall, the book is an excellent reference for pre- and in-service language teachers, as well as those interested in the basics of idioms and language teaching. The accessible language, the quick summary and discussion questions that follow each chapter, the glossary, and the annotated list of selective idiom references make this book especially attractive for graduate courses in applied linguistics and related fields."--Teachers College Record

"The book draws on a lot of research, is friendly to the reader, and will be of good value to teachers." --Paul Nation, Victoria University of Wellington, Australia

Table of Contents

Selected Contents:

Table of Contents


Part I: Idiom Description: Definition and Use:

Chapter 1. . . Idiom Definition and Classification


Defining idioms: Diverse views

A perspective from language learners

Classification of idioms

Phrasal verbs: A unique group of idioms


Chapter 2. . . Idiom Use: Function, Variation, Frequency, Register


The idiom principle




Culture and idiom use


Part II: Idiom Comprehension

Chapter 3. . . L1 Idiom Comprehension


Five major processing models

The disassociation of semantic and syntactic processing

The idiom key hypothesis


Chapter 4. . . L2 Idiom Comprehension


Major strategies used

Unique Processing model


Chapter 5. . . Factors that Affect Idiom Comprehension


Factors on the part of idioms and their use

Factors on the part of language users

Factors affecting L2 idiom comprehension only


Part III: Idiom Acquisition and Pedagogy

Chapter 6. . . Idiom Acquisition and Its importance in language development


Skills and knowledge needed for idiom acquisition

The role of rote learning

The effect of different types of idioms and sequence of idiom acquisition

The importance of idioms in language development


Chapter 7. . . Selection and Organization of Idioms for instruction


Selection criteria and useful selection practices

Types of information needed

Idiom organization

Passive vs. active idioms


Chapter 8. . . Idiom Pedagogy: Macro strategies and General approaches


Raising students’ sensitivity to and interest in idioms

Incorporating idiom teaching into the entire curriculum

Advancing a heuristic approach with discovery learning activities and

adequate contextual information

Promoting "conceptual motivation analysis" and L2 cultural knowledge

Employing a variety of activities to deal with different types of idioms and

accommodate diverse learners

Using direct study as a supplement to contextualized learning

Enhancing idiom retention with effective mnemonic strategies

Training and boosting learning strategy use

Conducting unplanned idiom teaching

Overcoming avoidance error and welcoming creative idiom use

Pros and cons of proactive vs. retroactive approach


Chapter 9. . . Idiom Pedagogy: Micro strategies and Techniques


Noticing and identifying idioms

Understanding idioms and developing interpretation strategies

Analyzing idioms for connotation, register and other in-depth understanding

Retrieving and using idioms for comprehension

Retrieving, generating, and using idioms for production

Using effective mnemonic techniques for retention

Explaining idioms to help students notice and understand them

Using idiom dictionaries


Chapter 10. . .Error treatment and assessment in idiom instruction

Errors and their treatment



About the Series

ESL & Applied Linguistics Professional Series

This series provides essential texts on teaching English as a second language and applied linguistics. It includes authored and edited volumes to be used as primary or supplementary texts in graduate-level and teacher training courses to enhance students’ and practicing teachers’ professional qualifications and knowledge. Each text is designed to promote the current and growing body of knowledge in applied linguistics and second language teaching, including advances in teacher education and the study of language.

Specifically, the series includes, but is not limited to, current uses of applied linguistics research in teaching a variety of second language skills, such as reading, writing, speaking and listening; materials and curriculum design; literacy; English for academic purposes; and research methods.

The texts also deal with broad domains of professional preparation related to socio-cultural perspectives and current issues/topics in teaching and learning a second language.

Books in the series benefit not only students, but experienced teachers, curriculum developers, teacher trainers, program administrators, and other second and foreign language professionals seeking to advance and update their knowledge and expertise.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General