Understanding difficult idioms (for learners)
What do you do when somebody uses a strange idiom during a conversation?
As someone who lives in different country with a different language, I just smile and try to guess the meaning from context.
As a teacher I recommend this method.
For example when people are discussing having to do a lot of overtime in order to meet a deadline you obviously understand that the new idiom refers to a long night of hard work so you can understand the phrase: 'I`m going to have to BURN THE MIDNIGHT OIL tonight!'
But what do you understand when somebody says,'Spill the beans!'?
'My brother spilled the beans and now I'm getting a divorce!' WHAT!? Where is the connection?
Was his brother a really untidy person and the beans were The Last Straw?
And what is the last straw anyway?
And of course while your mind is trying to make sense of this, the conversation has moved onto a different topic and you feel lost.
To spill the beans means to reveal secret information by accident or indiscreetly.
e.g My brother was telling his friend about the big poker game where I lost all of the family money and my wife heard him. Now she wants a divorce.
Or you could spill the beans about a surprise birthday party and now everyone knows.
The last straw means that you have had enough of some kind of behaviour or situation and can't tolerate any more.
It comes from the expression about a donkey carrying a heavy load of straw and what happens if you overload the animal.
'It was the last straw that broke the donkey's back' or simpl it was just too much!
Please contact me if you like to do a free(almost) lesson where we can chat and (maybe) spill the beans about your learning objectives!