Thursday, February 14, 2013

Proverbs and What They Say About Us

An interesting book in the Public library is Experiential Activities for Intercultural Learning, edited by Nate Seelye [(c) 1994 Intercultural Press]. This collection describes cross cultural learning activities for groups ranging in size from one to 100.

One of the activities that caught my eye was called "U.S. Proverbs and Core Values," written by L. Robert Kohl s.  Its objective:  "To use proverbs as a springboard to an alnalysis of core values."  Sounds simple enough! to use it as an activity with your learner, you need something to write on, for instance a sheet of construction paper, but not much else.

As a tutor, you can choose some juicy American proverbs from a book such as 101 American English Proverbs by Harry Collis, available both in the Literacy Network and the Madison Public library.

The procedure involves writing some proverbs on your pad of paper, e.g. "Too many cooks spoil the broth," or "Once bitten, twice shy."  Collis recommends starting with a controversial one, like "Children should be seen and not heard," in order to spark conversation.

Next, ask the learner(s) whether they know any proverbs at all, perhaps from their own countries.  From the list of proverbs, you then try to identify the "'core values' or meanings each contains."  Finally, have a discussion about what it shows about the cultural values of a society.  

Have fun!

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