It’s amazing how many idioms are associated with school and learning. We English speakers use them all the time, without thinking too hard about them. Idioms make our language more colourful and entertaining. As an English learner you should try to use them too but they are only easy to learn when you hear them in context. Here are four very common ones, all associated with school: old school, you cant teach an old dog new tricks, every day’s a school day and being a slow learner. Some of these are probably more obvious than others and some you may be able to guess the meaning.
I am going to put them in context by telling you a story where I will use each idiom. See if you can understand them.
Last week my friend went to visit her grandmother. She tried to visit her once a month. It was quite difficult to see her more often as they lived in different towns. My friend, Morag, walked into the kitchen where she saw her granny, at the table writing on some very thin, blue paper. The unusual thing about the paper was that it wasn’t rectangular, it had bits sticking out at the edge.
“What’s that strange paper you’re writing on Granny” my friend asked.
“Oh, this is airmail paper. I’m sending a letter to my old friend in Australia, and if I use this paper I can get more words onto it and it’s cheaper”
“But Granny. No one writes letters any more. That’s really old school. Would you like me to show you how to send her a message on my phone? It’s much quicker. Your friend will receive the message as soon as I press the button. You won’t need to go to the post office and it’s even free”
“Oh no” said her granny. “ I don’t know anything about technology. I’m far too old to learn all that. You’ll be wasting your time. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”
My friend Morag was very fond of her granny and she really wanted to help her. She decided it was a great opportunity to teach her how to use a smart phone and she knew she’d love it once she learned. “ Come on granny. I’ll show you. Every days a school day.”
So Morag took out her phone, found granny’s friend’s phone number in Australia and together they wrote a lovely, long message. Granny had been a typist before she got married so she was able to find the letters on the phone very quickly. Morag explained what to do and, to her surprise, her granny followed her instructions easily. They sent the message to Australia and five minutes later granny’s friend replied. Morag’s granny was delighted.
“Let’s reply immediately” said granny excitedly.
“ You really are a quick learner” said Morag.