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This study addresses whether it is more effective to provide English Language Learners with illustrations or to let them develop their own images when teaching idioms using etymological elaboration. This quasi-experimental study considered differences in immediate and delayed recall of idioms. English Language Learners at a community college were taught a series of idioms using etymological elaboration. The control group viewed images of the etymology. The experimental group received no visual stimulation but was encouraged to generate independent mental images. Both groups were administered a quiz immediately following the teaching session and again after three weeks. While there was no statistically significant difference between the groups in mean scores, the experimental group had lower standard deviation scores, indicating that self-generated imagery may have produced a more consistent result.