Theory and Practice in Language Studies, Vol 2, No 2 (2012), 272-281, Feb 2012

The Effect of Three Techniques for Teaching English Idioms to Iranian TEFL Undergraduates

Zahra Fotovatnia, Ghazal Khaki


The present study investigated the effect of using picture, Persian translation equivalent (L1), and English definition (L2) on the learning of 20 decomposable and nondecomposable idioms by 68 Iranian TEFL undergraduates. The focus was on learning both meaning as well as form of the idioms. The idioms were given to the participants to translate into Persian three weeks before the experiment to ensure the participants’ unfamiliarity of the idioms. The idioms that were known even by one student were crossed out. Each group of the participants received the instruction in 3 sessions (about 7 idioms each session), and reviewed them in the fourth. The participants received 2 recognition tests (one on form and the other on meaning of the L2 idioms) in the form of multiple-choice in the fifth session, and the same recognition as well as 2 production tests in the form of fill-in-the-blanks 3 weeks later (first on form and then on meaning). The delayed posttests were given in 2 consecutive sessions: first, the production and then the recognition. The findings showed that the picture group outperformed the other groups in all situations. However, a significant outperformance of L1 group over L2 group was observed for decomposable idioms in the first posttest regarding form. The results suggest the pedagogical value of pictures for the teaching of meaning and form of decomposable idioms


type of instruction; L1 translation; L2 definition; idioms; recognition test; production test


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