Introduction:

This is an activity to introduce and practise animal idioms. Students first answer a few questions, complete the idioms with the missing animals, match them to their definitions and answer some questions using the target language. 

To my mum and Nero

Teacher tip/ reflection:

I would suggest getting some images of animals for this class especially of a moth, a weasel and a herring as those three were problematic in the groups I’ve done the activity with. At the beginning you can ask students to quickly match the images to the names of the animals. It seems like a simple task, but it engages students more than a mere list of words, and we can often forget how powerful images can be. I know that I often forget 🙂 and could definitely do with using more visuals in my own classes. The images can then be used throughout the activity to give students clues as they go through the tasks. I strongly resist the urge to feed my students the answers and usually come up with a series of clues to gently 😉 GUIDE them towards the answers instead. It’s more empowering, they are more engaged, proactive and take responsibility for their own learning and it also helps them create new associations. I also often ask other students to give clues to their classmates after I’ve checked they completed the tasks correctly of course.

Here are some examples of clues I’ve given my students for the following idioms in today’s activity:

  1. Till the cows come home: Asturiana, Pascual (two major dairy brands in Spain, where the majority of my students are from. If not, Milka should do the trick 😉
  2. The lion’s share: A famous Broadway musical, Hakuna Matata, the king of the jungle
  3. Black sheep: Wales is famous for them; we make hats and scarves out of their beautiful warm wool
  4. A sitting duck: Donald, a famous story in which this animal turns into a beautiful swan

Reinforce the clues with the images if necessary and have fun;)

Level: B2

Time: 60 minutes

Objectives:

  1. To increase familiarity and correct use of animal idioms.
  2. To match the idioms to their definitions.
  3. To answer questions containing the target language in pairs.

Materials:

Procedure:

  1. Hand out copies of What a zoo sequel Worksheet or display it on the screen.
  2. Tell students to, in pairs, answer questions in Exercise 1.
  3. Next ask students to complete the idioms with the missing animals. Check if they know the meaning of moth, weasel and herring.
  4. Check together as a class. I always ask EVERYONE to compare FIRST rather than list the right answers. At this stage people are unsure and doubtful but there is usually someone in the classroom who is able to peer correct. It makes students so much more confident when you show them they can do it without your help but you are always present to provide the support and guidance if they are at a loss.
  5. Ask the students to match the idioms to their definitions. Students first work in pairs to encourage cooperation and show them how much they can learn from each other and that the teacher is NOT the only source of knowledge in the classroom. 
  6. Check together as a class.
  7. When the students have finished, ask them to look at the questions in Exercise 3 and first try to complete the sentences with the missing words. The first letters have been provided to make this memory workout slightly less daunting. You can turn this task into a mini competition to add some excitement.
  8. When they have finished, ask them to compare with their partner and then check together as a class.
  9. Students now answer the questions in pairs or small groups using the animal idioms as often as possible.

Fast finishers:

  1. Ask students to draw four expressions they have learnt in class in their notebooks.

Related posts:

What a zoo

MEOW!

Cats & Dogs

Cat got your tongue? Speak up

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