15 Education or School Idioms Explained to English as a Second Language Learners
Idioms or idiomatic expressions have such deep meanings that they often cause confusion among learners of English as a Second Language or ESL.
They are used in almost all topics, including education and school.
Below are some of the most commonly used English idioms relating to learning, studying, and schooling that ESL learners ought to know.
1. Teach Someone a Lesson
If we teach someone a lesson, then we want to do something that will make that person realize his or her bad behavior and learn from it. Teaching someone a lesson is commonly seen as a punishment for misconduct.
The mother taught her son a lesson after he skipped classes. He was grounded for two months.
2. Show of Hands
A show of hands is a form of voting for something or someone by literally raising hands. It is usually done to know how people think and what they want.
After a show of hands, the class voted to go on a field trip to Southeast Asia.
3. School of Thought
A school of thought is a particular way of thinking, living, or acting. It can refer to a set of beliefs or actions.
One school of thought suggests that we teach kids a second language at an early age. Another school of thought says that we should teach kids a second language only after they have learned their native language.
4. School of Hard Knocks
A school of hard knocks is a way of learning valuable lessons in life through practical experience and not through the books.
She learned from the school of hard knocks that failures are not the end but rather a part of her journey to success.
5. Pass With Flying Colors
To pass with flying colors means to pass or complete something successfully, with high scores or with distinction.
She’s a self-taught genius. She passed the test with flying colors without much effort.
6. Make the Grade
If we want to make the grade, then we want to meet high expectations or become acceptable. By making the grade we are satisfying requirements and making ourselves, our actions, or output adequate.
The student had not made the grade. He had to rewrite his essay.
7. Learn by Heart and Learn by Rote
To learn something by heart means to understand something so well that we need not exert too much effort when thinking about it.
To learn something by rote means to memorize something so well but without thinking too much about its true meaning.
I had to study English grammar rules by heart because I wanted to write essays.
I had to learn the spellings of English words by rote because I did not want any misspellings in my essay.
8. Honor Roll
If we belong to the honor roll, then our names are included in a list of names of people with outstanding performance or achievements.
Her name was included in the honor roll. She’s one of the brightest kids in her class.
9. From the Old School
An idea is from the old school if it was popular and accepted in the past. Many of these ideas, however, are no longer popular in the present.
Their style is from the old school. Their teachers do all the talking and their students do all the listening.
10. Eager Beaver
Someone is an eager beaver if he or she is very passionate about his or her work. They work very hard and for long hours. They are also very enthusiastic about working.
The kid is an eager beaver. He comes in early and prepared for discussions.
11. Cover a Lot of Ground
When we try to cover a lot of ground, then we try to learn and discuss many topics.
The study group covered a lot of ground today.
Someone is a copycat if he or she copies or steals the work of other people.
She was called a copycat after she turned in an assignment that she copied from her seatmate.
A bookworm is somebody who loves reading books and spends a great deal of time reading.
Martha is a certified bookworm. She reads almost all day during weekends.
14. As Easy As ABC
Something is as easy as ABC if it is very simple and uncomplicated. It is absolutely easy to understand.
Answering his chemistry test is as easy as ABC for him.
15. A for Effort
We give A for effort to people who try to put in their best in a work, which may or may not necessarily be great, acceptable or successful.
The teacher gave the group A for effort. Honestly, the group’s work is just okay.
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