We use idioms in various everyday situations. Literature is riddled with these flowery phrases to elevate prose and poetry. They are so common that we have become unaware that we are using them like idioms are naturally flowing in our speech.
Idioms, sometimes, are easy to understand and make practical sense such as carrot top and cool as a cucumber. Meanwhile, some idioms have interesting origins like the three food idioms below.
Bring home the bacon – to earn money
Example: The parents must bring home the bacon.
This phrase has a funny origin dated back in 1104 in Great Dunmow, Essex that sounded more like a folktale. A local couple impressed the church in their little town with their love and devotion that they were given a slab of bacon. This started the ritual of the church to award couples bacon if they can prove that they are loyal to each other for a year. Since then, couples have been trying to bring home the bacon.
Cry over spilled milk – get upset over something that has happened and cannot be changed
Example: The vase is broken and it cannot be fixed. Don’t cry over spilled milk!
The origin of this idiom is not exactly known, but common belief said that it originated from the days when people offer food and drink to fairies to which they strongly believed. Fairies love milk and when people spill milk, it is nothing to worry about and is considered as an extra offering to the fairies.
Spill the beans – To reveal secret information often ruining a surprise or plan
Example: Jenny spilled the beans about Kerry’s plans.
This phrase originated from ancient Greece where people cast votes using white or black beans in a jar. A white bean means positive vote or “yes” and a black bean means negative vote or “no”. If someone spilled the beans, the result of the voting will be revealed even before the official count.
When you are not a native English speaker, learning the global language can be a daunting task. However, increased immersion will make you learn the language quickly.
Watch or listen to English television shows for at least 30 minutes per day.
Watching or listening to television everyday is a great way to be exposed to the English language. Acclimate yourself to the pronunciation and accent.
Translate a news article everyday.
There are two ways to do this. First, go to a news website in your language and try to translate a news article. Second, you can use Google Translate. Since the translation is not perfect, edit the translated article to minimize the grammar errors.
Keep a journal.
To practice your grammar and writing skills, keep a daily journal recounting the events that happened during the day. Simple sentences are fine as it will be just at the start. Writing a log everyday will become a habit and will improve your skills.
Read materials you like in English on a regular basis.
Let’s admit it! Reading is a boring activity for some people. Thus, it is important to find reading materials that you like. Seeing the written word and constantly exposing yourself to it is the easiest way to learn If you like reading magazines, read English magazines.
Learn technological terms and how to use them in a sentence by reading manuals of gadgets or appliances. Manuals are often in different languages. You can compare the directions written in your native language and the one in English.
Watch English movies with subtitles or vice versa.
Watch English movies with subtitles to learn expressions and how they are used in situations.
Listen to audiobooks or songs while driving.
Activities like cleaning, cooking, and driving should not be passive activities. Make them more productive by playing audiobooks and songs in English to practice your skills.
Which English learning tips have helped you improve your English most?
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5 tips on improving your English speaking skills:
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes–your goal is to deliver a message, not perfect grammar and vocabulary;
Be proud and happy when people understand what you’re saying and when you’re able to carry on a perfect conversation;
Practise, practise, practise. Only practice makes perfect–constantly look for opportunities to do so;
Listen: the more you hear, the easier it will be for you to use new key expressions and words in an English conversation;
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