Happy Thanksgiving! 5 turkey-related expressions for class


On the fourth Thursday in November Americans* celebrate Thanksgiving, a national holiday to celebrate the harvest and other blessings over the past year. This tradition dates all the way back to 1621, when English colonists and the Wampanoag North American Indians shared a feast and signed a peace treaty which was to last 50 years.

Thanksgiving sees families come together for a feast which typically includes potatoes, cranberries, pumpkin pie, stuffing and, of course, a turkey. Here at Pearson we’d like to wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving! Though we can’t provide teachers with a turkey to celebrate, we can offer five common turkey-related expressions plus ways to use them in class.

To talk turkey

Meaning: to talk business, to get to the point.

Example: “Quit the small talk Harry. I had a nice weekend and yes this is a lovely restaurant. But we’re here to discuss the deal: let’s talk turkey.”

A turkey

Meaning: an unsuccessful film or play.

Example: Around the world in 80 days is a classic novel, but the film adaptation lost $74 million: what a turkey!  

A turkey shoot

Meaning: something that is very easy to accomplish, a situation to be easily taken advantage of, a one-sided contest.

Example: When Real Madrid were drawn against Alcorcón in 2009, people were expecting a turkey shoot, but the underdogs ended up coming out on top!

Turkeys voting for Christmas (British English: in the UK, turkeys are traditionally eaten at Christmas: Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated).

Meaning: choosing an option that will be directly harmful to you.

Example: Some said that Cornwall voting for Brexit was like turkeys voting for Christmas (the EU investment programme in Cornwall was worth £60million per year).

To go cold turkey

Meaning: to stop a bad habit abruptly: often used to talk about tobacco, alcohol or drugs.

Example: I was addicted to Netflix series, so I went cold turkey by selling my TV!

Activities for class

Have your students write a dialogue in which they incorporate the five expressions above: who can include them all in the fewest words? (Limiting words and getting them to find a way of linking unrelated concepts can be a very creative exercise.)

Have your students think of more examples for the above expressions. Then, students remove the expressions from their phrases and swap with a partner: can they put the correct expression back in?

Have your students research other bird-related expressions and bring them to class with an example (note, there are quite a few with chickens, geese, or just birds in general!).

Play this kahoot with your class to learn more about Thanksgiving.

Make a list of 5 things you have to be thankful for and share with your group.

You’re organising your Thanksgiving feast: which four famous or historical figures would you invite and why? What would you ask them?

* Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of Octoberç


You might also be interested in…

10 weather expressions and ways to use them in class

10 expressions (with talk) to get your students talking 

50 of the most useful English abbreviations and acronyms 

10 common errors Spanish speakers make in English (here and here)

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