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ESL Worksheets: Higher Education Idioms

Level: ESL High-Intermediate
Objective: practice higher education idioms
Read the following passage to the class:
In elementary school, Mina had a difficult time.  She had only been in Canada a short time when she entered school.  She was put in both regular and ESL classes and before long her marks started improving.  She went from getting Cs to getting Bs, then from getting Bs to As.  Now that she’s in high school, she’s an excellent student.  Her grades are fantastic.  She’s one of the best students in the class.

Clarify the meaning of the passage if needed.
Read the passage a second time.  This time add the following line to the end of the passage:
She always gets straight As!
Write the last line on the board.  Ask learners what this line means.  Learners will provide a definition that means that Mina consistently achieves high grades.  Point out to learners that “get straight As” is an idiom.  Ask learners if they knew the meaning of the idiom before today’s lesson, or if they were able to guess the meaning from the way it was used in the passage.  Point out to learners that it’s often possible to guess the meaning of an idiom because of the way it is used in a conversation or situation.
Pair Work: Have learners work in pairs.  Give each learner one copy of the worksheet.  Instruct learners to match the idiom found in the passages (1-10) to its definition.  They should be able to understand the idiom based on the context in which it is used in each passage.
Additional Work:  Have learners work in pairs and tell their partner about experiences from their own lives when they could appropriately use one or more of the higher education idioms.
ESL Worksheet: Higher Education Idioms
  • consistently achieves high grades
  • academically successful but not clever in the real world
  • course that does not require much work to pass
  • complete with a high grade
  • teacher’s favourite student
  • study intensely
  • stayed awake all night to study
  • remember perfectly
  • outside a university or college grounds
  • one week holiday in the middle of the term

1. Bob is a clever boy who does really well in school. His grades are always very high. He always gets straight As .

2. Naomi had to memorize the speech she wrote. She was entering a contest at her school. Students had to say their speeches without looking at their notes. She had to know it by heart .

3. Many students at university take the Children’s Literature course. They assume that it won’t be difficult because all the books on the required reading list are children’s books. They think it will be a bird course .

4. Susan lived in residence for two years. In her third year of university she decided that she’d like to try living off campus . She rented a place in the middle of town.

5. Peter didn’t study that much for the math test. He knew he would get a high mark because he knew the material really well. He was sure he would pass with flying colours .

6. Mrs. Fabio always gives Karen special tasks to do in the classroom. She likes Karen more than the other students. Everyone knows Karen is the teacher’s pet .

7. Ian is book smart . He’s a math genius, but he doesn’t know how to use a debit card or how to read his credit card statement.

8. Students get a break in the middle of their studies. Some use the time to study. A lot of students go away on holiday during reading week instead of studying.

9. Meg has done almost no work this term. She’s going to have to study really hard in the last few weeks of school if she wants to pass. She really has to hit the books .

10. George didn’t go to bed last night. He had to finish his science project and study for a math exam. He didn’t have time to sleep. He pulled an all nighter .

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ESL Worksheets Higher Education Idioms.pdf

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