'Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.'
For this class I create a handout of English proverbs with the meanings on another page which I ask the students to keep face down. (Please see links to some of the resources I use at the end of this post)
We then take turns with each student getting a chance to read a proverb out loud. I then ask the class to try and guess the meaning behind the proverb.
After a short discussion we then look at the definition on the answer page.
As we work through the meanings behind each of the proverbs selected on the handout, I also like to ask the students if they have an equivalent or something similar in meaning in their home languages.
It is delightful for all of us in the class to hear the beauty of other languages being spoken as they say them in their mother tongues. I then ask if they could give a literal translation of any they mention in English as well.
The proverbs and sayings from all the different languages are seen to share many golden threads of wisdom and common sense. The variations in other languages are often quite exquisite and delightful.
For instance the proverb, 'Don't tell a book by it's cover' in Hebrew becomes, 'Don't just look at the outside of water jug, look what's in it.'
I often ask the same of students when dealing with idioms. One which I loved and which made us laugh, was the equivalent of the saying, 'when hell freezes over' which suggests that whatever has been requested is not going to happen. In Bosnia to mean the same thing they say, 'When Granny gets wheels!'
When working through proverbs and idioms, do try asking if there are similar ones in the student's own languages. I find that to do so also builds confidence and an appreciation of all of the languages spoken within the group.
I ask the whole class to try and say the variations in the original languages, so as to give us all the opportunity to experience the various beautiful rhythms and sounds that are to be found in all languages as well as in English. .
We often laugh as we find such similarities in meaning and as our sense of our common humanity glitters and sparkles around the room.
When I reflect on the Chinese proverb above, and especially in these tough economic times, it comes to me that teaching someone another language is like 'teaching someone how to fish' with all the opportunities that being fluent in another additional language such as English can bring.
Keep up the great work everyone and as always may all your good times be present continuous and future perfect!
There is a list of proverbs athttp://www.englishclub.com/reading/proverbs-meaning.htm
I found this resource with which you can find English translations of proverbs from around the world at http://creativeproverbs.com/cp-index.htm
For brilliant teaching online resources follow Teaching English – British Councill – British Council and if you are learning English visit and like LearnEnglish – British Council
If you like it would also be great if you could like my facebook page at Learning English with Lawrence
Fluency blog at http://lawrencehilton.com/fluency-with-lawrence.html
Keep dancing your way to fluency with Lawrence's remixes - DiscoTense songs - Good times - Present and continuous at http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLS-eQxgMJEd0d6B32n0jInZFAcDAd84fZ