Book Review: Cat Got Your Tongue?

Reviewer: Jarrett D. Ragan Jr., Michigan State University

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Authors: Paul McPherron and Patrick T. Randolph
Publisher: TESOL Press
ISBN: 9781931185196
Publication Year: 2014

This is a book for those who want practical ideas and readymade lesson plans and for those who want to delve more deeply into these wonderful words we call idioms that so bedevil our students and ourselves as we try to understand and explain them. The first part is mostly theory and tradition with a bit of practical advice, whereas the second part is mostly practical with a bit of theory and tradition. Throughout you will find interesting and useful information on such concepts as mirror neurons, the Ebbinghaus curse, (our tendency to forget quickly) and why sleep and exercise are important for learning all in chapter three, a must read. There is also information on corpus linguistics, pedagogy, and tidbits of philosophical wisdom and the odd bit of poetry.

Reading this book you will learn about Randolph’s R.E.S.T. method for learning in chapter three (repetition, emotions, sensory integration, and teaching) and the 5-E-System of learning in chapter ten (emotion, examples, energy, exercise, and euphoria) to make it easier for your students to master these slippery phrases we call idioms. If you love to argue have a go at the definitions of idioms presented in chapter 2. Do you love lots of citations and references? There are plenty to keep you happy.  Are you eager to know what other colleagues and students think about idioms? Consult chapters six and seven. If you want help in sorting out how to teach idioms, the ends of most chapters have useful suggestions or complete methods. Do you want complete lesson plans? Chapter eight has a baker’s dozen. Chapter nine contains reviews and ratings of common idiom books and a list of other resources. There are five useful appendixes.

This book is a pleasure to read, yes really, and has something for everyone. It should be on your shelf if you ever have to teach idioms.

A big thank you to Teddy Bofman, who has served as Book Review Editor since the summer of 2010, and is now retiring. Best wishes, and thank you for helping to make the ITBE Link a success. Anyone who is interested in taking on the role of Book Review Editor should contact Heather Torrie at

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ITBE Link - Winter 2015 - Volume 42 Number 4