Love Idioms for ESL Students

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As an ESL tutor, I’ve always had fun teaching idioms, especially idioms concerning love and relationships. For my students, all Japanese women, these are hot topics.  When they aren’t agonizing over parallel sentence structure, expanding their vocabulary,or reducing their accents, they are wondering when their boyfriends are going to pop the question, why they always insist on going Dutch, and how they can rekindle the flame.  Love, truly, is a universal language, and we use an awful lot of English idioms to talk about it.  Your students aren’t typically learning this kind of informal language in class. Why not introduce them to idioms so that they can relate better with their English speaking friends and lovers?

Here are 5 of my favorite idioms:

1. Fall head over heels = to completely fall in love

“He fell head over heels for her the moment he met her.”


2. Lovey-dovey = a couple who shows everyone how much they are in love

“They’re so lovey-dovey, always whispering to each other and holding hands.”


3. Have a crush on someone = to feel excited about someone

“When I was in high school, I had a crush on my classmate.”


4. Have the hots for someone = to find someone very attractive

“She’s got the hots for her new colleague.”


5. Have a soft spot for someone = to favor someone

“She has a soft spot for Kenji – he can do anything!”



It takes two to tango = it takes two to start an argument

“Don’t put all the blame on me.  It takes two to tango.”


What are your favorite idioms? Have you taught English idioms to your students? If so, what activities did you use?

For a list of idioms and their origins, here is a great file, and for activity ideas and ESL resources, check out Tutor Nirvana’s board on Pinterest!




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About Amy Penner

I've worked in the education sector for over 7 years in Asia, and am currently an ESL tutor and communications consultant in Victoria, British Columbia. When I'm not blogging or preparing for my next lesson, you'll find me running by the ocean.