Teaching Students About Figures of Speech: Enhancing Language Skills in the Classroom

Discovering the beauty behind the words we use can be an enlightening experience. This is especially true when it comes to the various figures of speech that play an instrumental role in language and communication. By teaching students about these remarkable linguistic tools, we can not only help them become better speakers and writers, but also instill in them a deeper appreciation for the intricacies of language. In this article, we will explore different figures of speech and share tips on how to teach them effectively.

Similes and Metaphors:

A simile is a comparison that uses the words “like” or “as” while a metaphor is a comparison without those words. Teaching students the difference can be as engaging as it is informative. Encourage creativity by letting students create their own similes and metaphors, then analyze examples from literature or poetry to showcase these figures of speech in action.


Hyperbole is an intentional exaggeration for emphasis or humor. Teach students to identify this figure of speech by introducing common examples that they may already recognize (e.g., “I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse”). Then, let them try their hand at crafting original hyperboles.


By giving human qualities to inanimate objects, personification helps to make abstract concepts more relatable. Teach students this technique by examining popular examples like, “The wind whispered through the trees.” Then, involve their creativity and let them practice writing descriptive sentences using personification.


Words that mimic sounds are called onomatopoeias. Start teaching students about onomatopoeia by familiarizing them with examples like “buzz,” “pop,” “clap,” or “meow.” Encourage students to brainstorm sounds they encounter in daily life and create their own list of onomatopoeic words.

Alliteration and Assonance:

These figures of speech are rooted in the repetition of sounds. Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words (e.g., “She sells seashells”); whereas assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds within words (e.g., “The rain in Spain”). Present students with examples from literature or poetry and discuss how the use of these techniques enhances both the sound and meaning of the text. Have students create their own examples to practice using alliteration and assonance.


Idiomatic expressions are phrases that have a figurative meaning different from their literal interpretation (e.g., “break a leg” meaning “good luck”). Teaching idioms can be great fun, as students often find them amusing or perplexing at first. Share common idioms with your class and encourage them to deduce the underlying meanings before revealing their true significance.

Teaching these figures of speech should incorporate diverse methods such as classroom discussions, multimedia resources, games, and individual or group projects. Remember to create an engaging environment where students feel comfortable sharing their interpretations and experimenting with their new linguistic tools. With practice, understanding, and enthusiasm, your students will soon be equipped with the knowledge to recognize and apply various figures of speech in language, ultimately becoming more skilled communicators and appreciators of the art that lies within words.

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