I’ve always looked for ways to incorporate new target language sayings and idiomatic expressions in class. They feel more fun than the higher function phrases we use more regularly and students love the reaction they get from using them with native speakers. Plus, according to ACTFL performance descriptors, the ability to recognize and use some idiomatic expressions is a sign of an Intermediate language learner. (Advanced learners need them too, and they would be able to handle even less common expressions.) So, when I’m considering a new phrase… I like to look to current culture to find out what’s trending in music or social media or any other relevant source. Here are three I’ve seen a lot of lately that you may want to use right away in class!
1.) Ponte las pilas. (Get to work./Get it together.)
I’ve never taught a single class period when I didn’t need to encourage a slow-moving kid (or seven) to get busy! In fact, I seem to do that with my own kids pretty regularly, too. Now you can take what could be a frustrating moment and use it to instill the value of hard work with a great target language expression! Ethan… Ponte las pilas!
2.) Mejor solo que mal acompañado. (Better to be alone than in bad company.)
Maybe there’s a student dealing with a bad breakup or maybe you have an odd number for the partner activity you planned (haha)… there are lots of great reasons to use this phrase! Plus, it’s always good to remind students that they don’t have to follow the crowd.
3.) Es pan comido. (It’s a piece of cake.)
Eating bread IS a piece of cake for me so this one makes sense! I can see kids using this every time they answer a question correctly… Pfff… pan comido, Señora!
Looking for a way to teach more TL expressions? Check out Kara’s PHRASE of the WEEK post for more info!
What other sayings and idiomatic expressions do you like to teach students? What else is trending? It’s awesome to learn from each other, isn’t it? Please share YOUR example below!
P.S. Another one I’ve seen more of lately is “Zapatero a sus zapatos” (Stick to what you know best) especially after a political rant. Do you all hear this much? Do “young” people use it too?
These phrases are perfect to use as passwords (idea from Bryce Hedstrom) for students to enter the class. I was in need of some new ones. Thanks for sharing!
Passwords! I forgot about that idea! Thanks for the reminder!
Hey Megan, How funny that “pan comido” is in this post. I JUST explained that expression to a few of my classes yesterday. Hope all is well.
Great minds think alike! Jaja! Probably because we’re both so young!
Good to see you on this blog post. Love any posts from Kara and Megan! Always brings a little something fresh to the classroom.
Hi Shannon! Thanks for your kind words – oh, and isn’t Dan the best?
“Zapatero a tus zapatos” has been used in my circle as a way to say “stay in your lane” or “minding your own business.” There’s a band from Puerto Rico that uses the phrase at 4:53 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3xjxhjzsnY). It’s a phrase that children generally wouldn’t use, however it’s still a common phrase.
Ay, perdón “zapatero a sus zapatos” es la expresión que se usa
SUS – exacto!
Here are some German idioms for “get to work”:
Komm mal in die Hufe!
Komm mal in die Puschen!
Nun mach mal zu!
Nun aber mal los!
Yay, Inga! Thanks for sharing!
Like Kelly Ochoa above, I love using these phrases, especially the shorter ones, as the “frase secreta.” Others I’ve used are ¡órale!, super guay, and ¡padrísimo! Students love them!
If students love it — it’s a win! Thanks for sharing some examples!
I have been watching a lot of Spanish shows on Netflix and have heard “vamos al grano” for “let’s cut to the chase, get to the point.”
I love it! Although, I’m sure my students would have used that against me at times. 🙂
A lo hecho, pecho. What’s done is done.
Hola Megan. Acabo de mirar su video de la curiosidad en la clase y me he disfrutado mucho. Las formas que has usado que me parecen como paginas de un cuaderno – donde puedo encontrarlas? Seran graphic organizers muy utiles pero al mismo tiempo bonitos.
¡Gracias, Rebecca! (Bonito es importante, también 😍) We make all of them to support lessons for each unit theme. We have them all available for downloads on Adiostextbook.com if you’re interested in more resources. Check out the FREE unit and get lessons, graphic organizers, video ideas and more here: