Leigh Davidson Leigh Davidson

Intermediate to Upper-Intermediate, Prep Speaking level


In this lesson Ss will look at specific proverbs, arguing in small groups and with the whole class whether they agree or disagree with each proverb's meaning. They will also think about and discuss the universality of proverbs and why they think such sayings apply globally, no matter the cultural or social background, or the time frame of the proverbs.


Main Aims

  • To informally discuss and provide an opinion about old sayings known as proverbs

Subsidiary Aims

  • To translate and understand metaphorical speech, in the form of proverbs, through contextual comprehension


Warmer/Lead-in (10-15 minutes) • To set lesson context and engage students

Write on the WB 'Proverb.' Elicit from the Ss what they think a proverb is. Introduce the Turkish list of proverbs that you collected from your friends. '1) Save the straw and the day will come for the straw.' What does this mean? (an item useless today will become useful tomorrow) '2) Every droplet makes a lake.' What does this mean? (e.g. saving money over time will make you rich) '3) Even if you put a golden saddle on a donkey, it is still a donkey.' What does this mean? (wealth will never improve a person with a poor personality). The Japanese equivalent is "dress up a monkey like a bishop, it is still a monkey." '4) A beggar refuses a crooked cucumber.' What does this mean? (the English equivalent is "beggars can’t be choosers") '5) You can't cook your meal and make your monkey dance.' What does this mean? (the English equivalent is "you can’t have your cake and eat it too") 6) If you are an unlucky Bedouin, a polar bear will have sex with you in the desert. (show the image first and see if the Ss can guess the proverb: Bahtsiz Bedevi) If the Ss were not able to initially describe what a proverb is, return to this question following the Turkish proverb examples. What do the Ss think a proverb is now? T Answer: A well-known saying that states some kind of socio-cultural truth or provides some general advice.

Exposure (14-17 minutes) • To provide a model of production expected in coming tasks

Elicit from the Ss if they are familiar with any other Turkish proverbs (not mentioned in the original list). Write some of the Ss' answers on the WB. Then highlight the two Turkish proverbs with English equivalents. Why do the Ss think that these proverbs exist universally? Why are these sayings not temporally, culturally, or socially specific? "Are cultural values reflected in proverbs? What we find important as a culture/as a society, do we see evidence of that in our proverbs?" Go back to proverb 4 and 5 in the introduction. "What cultural values are expressed in those proverbs?" Discuss briefly when Ss think we use proverbs...in common everyday speech? Mention that proverbs can express a broad emotion, concept, or thought, without having to explain it (e.g. "money talks"). Following the discussion, group the class in pairs and have each pair select a proverb to discuss. The Ss need to first figure out what the proverb means and then do they agree or disagree with the saying, and why. Does this proverb still apply to today? Does it apply to life in Turkey, particularly in Istanbul? Ask each pair if they know of any Turkish equivalents to the English proverb that they are assigned? Provide two proverbs as an example, prior to the productive task (Behind every successful man there is a woman; Money makes the world go round).

Useful Language (6-8 minutes) • To highlight and clarify useful language for coming productive tasks

Before you free the Ss to work on their productive task in pairs, focus their attention to some highlighted vocabulary words on the WB (taken from the proverbs assignment). Try to elicit the definitions from the Ss. Keep these vocabulary words on the WB during the entirety of the productive activity.

Productive Task (25-30 minutes) • To provide an opportunity to practice target productive skills

Allow the Ss time to discuss their proverb. If anyone gets stuck on the meaning of their proverb, either help the group individually or call back the attention of the WC and see if any other Ss can help in defining the proverb meaning. Call the attention back to the WC, selecting each group to explain their proverb, their opinion(s) of the proverb's meaning, and their discussion surrounding the proverb. Go through this activity at least 3 times, starting with PW and then WC FB. "We have been discussing proverbs in text form. Do you know of any common proverbs that can be expressed visually, with a picture or a symbol?" Show the WC some examples if Ss are struggling to answer this question (e.g. 'see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil;' 'the blind leading the blind;' 'birds of a feather flock together').

IF TIME Activity: PAY IT FORWARD Thai Commercial (8-10 minutes) • To provide feedback on students' production and use of language

Inform the Ss that you are going to show them a video that focuses on a specific universal proverb. "This video was shown as a commercial on Thai television in 2013. This commercial has a social message connected with it. The commercial is in Thai with English subtitles." Instruct the Ss to closely observe what the people do in this commercial. "Based on the interactions in this video, which proverb do you think is connected to this commercial's social message." Giving - Thai Commercial Truemove H (around 3 min) Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2x_Fl3NQVd4 Following a viewing of the commercial, allow Ss to discuss in groups their thoughts and reactions. Following the discussion, bring the WC together for FB.

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