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Lesson Plan

Proverbs: At Home and around the World

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Proverbs: At Home and around the World

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

John Paul Walter

John Paul Walter

Washington, Washington DC

Publisher

National Council of Teachers of English

 

Overview

From Theory to Practice

 

OVERVIEW

Proverbs in one culture are frequently similar to proverbs expressed in other cultures. For instance, the French "Qui vole un oeuf vole un boeuf" translates to "He who steals eggs steals cattle," but your students will likely be more familiar with the American proverb "Give him an inch and he'll take a mile." In this lesson, students work with proverbs from home and from around the world, exploring how these maxims are tied to a culture’s values and everyday experience. Students first discuss how proverbs convey cultural knowledge and values, as well as how proverbs from other cultures are similar to and different from American proverbs. Next, students share family proverbs and explain their significance. Finally, they select one or two proverbs and use art materials, PowerPoint, or a word processor to create mini-posters that reflect the culture from which the proverbs originated.

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FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE

Cruz and Duff argue that working with proverbs in the classroom can improve students' learning experiences, their language skills, and their understanding of themselves and the world. Among several advantages they mention, they maintain that working with proverbs  "acknowledges the learner as an expert...(and) lightheartedly and often humorously exposes common beliefs and traditions among a diverse set of learners," "encourages respect for oneself, for each other, and for shared values of the community," "provides learners with the opportunity for insight," "creates the transition from home culture to school culture," and "enriches thinking and writing skills."

This lesson gives students the opportunity to use proverbs as a vehicle for exploring other cultures, their values, and their experiences, while making comparisons to their own family and cultural identities.

Further Reading

Cruz, Mary Carmen, and Ogle Burks Duff. "New Words, Old Wisdom." English Journal 85.7 (November 1996): 116-118.

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