American Idioms! is a selection of around 300 expressions which features a pleasant presentation, a valuable set of exercises and learner-friendly characteristics. It also lends itself to a variety of teacher-friendly possibilities for dealing with vocabulary. Teachers and students alike will get in touch with (p. 49) some truly useful expressions in American English that will help make their English sound more natural.
Although Joe Bailey Noble III and José Roberto A. Igreja do not actually mention which corpus they used for determining frequency, the expressions they have chosen are especially useful for Brazilian learners. By selecting expressions that mean something altogether different from the meanings of each of the words they are composed of, the authors draw attention to important metaphorical aspects of English. Clearly presented in alphabetical order, each American English expression has a definition in English and translation into Brazilian Portuguese plus at least two examples of the expression in use, which are also translated. There is a quick reference Portuguese-English glossary at the back that makes it easy for students to find an expression starting from L1.
The Practice Set exercises, conveniently found in the middle of the book, provide an excellent way for learners to “dip into” the expressions. They begin with idiom recognition then move on to definition in English. From there learners progress to applying the use of the expression and actually selecting the best alternative meaning for the idiom. The Practice Sets may be used in a self-study mode by starting from the exercises and going back to the book to look up the expressions in each set. In this way, learners and teachers may focus study and practice on a variety of idioms without necessarily having to follow an alphabetical order. And of course, there is an answer key to make sure (p.107) learners are on the right track.
Teachers have an added advantage of choosing a particular verb and focusing on the idioms associated with it as a vocabulary-teaching objective. The cartoons are well selected and also make for an interesting source for teachers. They are sprinkled throughout the book and are good for understanding the metaphoric meanings involved. This practical guide to idiomatic expressions is a nice little tool to help learners who have trouble making heads or tails (p. 106) of the complexity of idiomatic expressions have a good time (p.58) doing so.
Nancy Lake is the Coordinator of Teacher Training for the CEL-LEP group.