Sunday, June 11, 2017


(TESOL Worksheets--Vocabulary)

Google Drive Folder: HERE
Quizlet Folder: HERE

Lesson 1: "Birds of a feather flock together vs. Opposites attract" Slideshow (slides, pub), Worksheet (docs, pub), Lesson 1 Quizlet
Lesson 2: "The early bird catches the worm" Slideshow (slides, pub), Worksheet (docs, pub), Lesson 2 Quizlet
Lesson 3: "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence." Slideshow (slides, pub), Worksheet (docs, pub), Lesson 3 Quizlet
Lesson 4: "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." Slideshow (slides, pub), Worksheet (docs, pub), Lesson 4 Quizlet
Lesson 5: "Familiarity breeds contempt"  Slideshow (slides, pub), Worksheet (docs, pub), Lesson 5 Quizlet
Lesson 6: "The pen is mightier than the sword" Slideshow (slides, pub), Worksheet (docs, pub), Lesson 6 Quizlet
Lesson 7: "Better late than never" Slideshow (slides, pub), Worksheet (docs, pub), Lesson 7 Quizlet
Lesson 8: "It is better to give than to receive" Slideshow (slides, pub), Worksheet (docs, pub), Lesson 8 Quizlet
Lesson 9: "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" Slideshow (slides, pub), Worksheet (docs, pub), Lesson 9 Quizlet
Lesson 10: "Out of sight, out of mind" Slideshow (slides, pub), Worksheet (docs, pub), Lesson 10 Quizlet
Lesson 11: "A fool and his money are soon parted" Slideshow (slidespub), Worksheet (docspub), Lesson 11 Quizlet
Lesson 12: "You can't have your cake and eat it to" Slideshow (slides, pub) Worksheet (docs, pub) Lesson 12 Quizlet
Lesson 13: "Many hands make light work" Slideshow (slides, pub) Worksheet (docs, pub) Lesson 13 Quizlet

For advanced classes, or classes where I don't have time to do all the exercises, I just give them them information on the Quizlet quizzes, and have them work through the Quizlet exercises on their own time.  That information is in this hand-out here (docs, pub)

Explanation and Discussion
In my many years of teaching ESL, I've occasionally taught a lesson or two on proverbs.  In the past, I viewed it as simply an enrichment lesson--i.e. something that the students didn't necessarily need to know, but something that was a fun little topic.

Recently, though, I've been changing my opinion on this.  I've noticed that for my advanced students, their lack of knowledge of English proverbs and other idioms seems to be the major barrier that prevents them from breaking into authentic material.
Often advanced students know all the grammar and vocabulary, but still can't make sense of authentic texts because they don't understand the idioms.
The difficulty is increased by the fact that many texts only mention half the idiom, and rely on the knowledge of the reader/listener to supply the rest.  (e.g. Birds of a feather, When in Rome, The Early bird, etc...)  Which makes it impossible for the ESL student to guess the meaning of the proverb.
So, I thought I'd make studying English proverbs a priority in my class.

There are a couple more reasons for this.  Since reading The Lexical Approach, I've come to agree with Michael Lewis that most teachers spend far too much time teaching grammar, and not enough time focusing on vocabulary.  So teaching one proverb a day is a step towards a more lexis focused classroom.
Michael Lewis also argues that if students memorize lexical phrases, that can help the students internalize the grammar structures.  The caveat here is that the students have to memorize the lexical phrases exactly.  (If they remember the wrong preposition, then they are internalizing incorrect grammar).  Quizlet  can be a big help with this, because quizlet requires the student to type in the whole phrase exactly in order to get credit for it.

Lastly, I took inspiration from Scott Thornbury's book Beyond the Sentence.  In Beyond the Sentence , Scott Thornbury demonstrates that there is a lot of grammar to be extracted from even very small texts if teachers and students minutely analyze everything.
I have, therefore, taken each proverb as a small text, and tried to wring as much grammar as I could out of each proverb using many of the same prompts that Scott Thornbury uses on p.15-16 of Beyond the Sentence.

Each slideshow contains at least one example of the proverb, but in many situations I've found that this one example is insufficient to explain the proverb, and I've had to supplement it with further oral explanation in the classroom, or further class discussion until I was satisfied the students fully understood the proverb.

In my classes, I usually hand out one worksheet to each pair of students.  They fill it out together, and then we do all class feedback using the slideshow.
This will hopefully help build up the students' grammar system as a whole, but it will also help them understand why this grammar is used in this particular sentence.  And hopefully an understanding of  the grammar will help them remember the proverb correctly.

The quizlet urls are then cut up and given out to the students for homework at the end of the class.

The proverb sections takes up about 15-25 minutes of class time every class.  (In my classes, I have 2 hours to fill, so I can afford to take some time for this.)  But they can be lengthened or shortened accordingly.  Just copy them over to your own Google drive folder, and make whatever changes you like.
These lessons were designed for a group of pre-intermediate students, but can be adapted for other levels.

This project is still in its early stages, so I only have a handful of lessons right now.  But I'm hoping to keep it going for a while, and eventually create a lot more of these.  If I do create more, any more lessons will be added to the top of this blog post.

The first lesson contains 2 proverbs.  There was for a couple reasons.  First of all, in order to start off the quizlet, I wanted to have at least two proverbs.
Secondly, I originally had it in mind to do several lessons on dueling proverbs, and then ask the students to discuss which they agreed on  (e.g. haste makes waste versus He who hesitates is lost, absence makes the heart grow fonder versus out of sight, out of mind,  the pen is mightier than the sword versus  actions speak louder than words, et cetera).
However, I abandoned this plan after the first lesson, when I discovered that it was challenging enough just to get one proverb across the language barrier.  One proverb at a time became the new plan.

I've also found this site useful in preparing these lessons.  The definitions they give of English proverbs are so concise and simple, that I've borrowed some of them for the quizlet.

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