Monday, June 24, 2013


Proverbs in the EFL class

I've been reading a lot about including culture in the classroom. I think it is important to note that you should never shove your culture down someone's throat. It will only turn them away from the culture and harm your relationship. That being said, most students want to learn English AND they want to know more about the culture. Besides, culture shows up on the TOEFL so they need to understand at least some of where the test is coming from. An easy way to do this is by adding some proverbs in your classes. There are TONS of ways to do this!

This website lists proverbs via repeated sounds making it useful for pronunciation practice.
  • If your class struggles with the sound a "J" makes try: Every Jack has his Jill.
The British Council has some suggestions on how to use proverbs in class (and when to avoid them).
  • Don't teach more than 5 a day (I'm going to break that rule later, but it is a great rule of thumb)
BogglesworldESL has a communication exercise using proverbs
  • In this exercise students become the "experts" on one proverb and go around explaining it to classmates. At the end they take a quick quiz to see how many proverbs they understood.
 I also think proverbs are great to use for a dictogloss
  • Not on their own, but many proverbs are based on a story. Telling a short story and ending with a proverb makes this a great activity.
 There are also quite a few songs you can use that have proverbs.
  • There are multiple ways to use a song, just try to steer clear of clozes if you have already done one that month.
Finally, here's a packet I put together. It plays off of this graphic you may have seen floating around:

Essentially it gives funny endings to proverbs, so I thought, "my students could do that."

This packet contains: The first part of 20 proverbs for students to try and finish. 20 funny endings given by other students. It has opportunities for pair and group work in finding their favorite proverb, a matching section where they can match the start of the proverb with the real ending, 6 different homework assignments (I like to let them choose which one they want).

For upper level students who are practicing writing I also included my essay prompt, essay outline, sample outline, and sample essay all on proverbs.

 The packet is available for free on Teachers Pay Teachers. If you don't already have a membership it is FREE just sign up here.

I'd love to know more about how you use proverbs in class. Do your students like them? Do you?


  1. Hi Carissa,

    Just to let you know that we’ve shortlisted this blog post for this month’s TeachingEnglish blog award and I’ll be making a post about it on today’s TeachingEnglish facebook page, if you’d like to check there for likes and comments.


    1. Thanks Ann, it is always an honor to be considered.

  2. Replies
    1. So glad you find them useful! If you give any of them a shot in your classroom I'd love to know how they turned out :)

  3. okay. you have inspired me.....thanks

    1. I am so happy to hear that Mochamad. If you end up doing anything with that inspiration please be sure to share it with me :)

  4. It really helped. Thx and keep up the good works.


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