Teaching Global Unity Through
ESL teachers working with learners from the international community have tremendous opportunities to foster understanding and harmony between people of different cultures, while simultaneously facilitating language acquisition. When teachers envision language learners from abroad as co-creators in the peace process, a greater goal of helping people communicate in a common language can be to work towards global unity.
The vision is both simple and profound:
Through the path of PROVERBS, learners may:
In the language of METAPHORS, learners may:
Along the path of STORYTELLING, stories can:
Provide opportunity to share personal experiences, explore depth of meaning, and access creativity.
Proverbs from around the world contain universal themes and often convey similar values. They offer common ground for people from different cultures to express their shared humanity and wisdom. In the language of metaphors, the interweaving of images and words can create transcendent meaning from entities and ideas that are totally unalike. There are numerous possibilities for guided discovery of the similar ways in which people from different cultural backgrounds perceive and make meaning from their world metaphorically. Storytelling is a powerful multi-dimensional communication process that enables individuals to speak from the heart, share values, explore depth and meaning, and access creativity. All three paths are workable for learners at various levels of English language ability, and can be used to focus on supporting peace, unity, and harmony between communities and in the world.
The following are some communicative activities from the teachers’ resource book, Teaching Global Unity through Proverbs, Metaphors, and Storytelling:
Give a brief introduction of the function of proverbs, by exploring some proverbs about proverbs.
You could also create a lexical focus by blanking out some nouns and/or verbs, and ask learners to come up with words that would work to complete the proverb. The proverbs may retain their original meaning, or take on an entirely different meaning.
Give out pairs of international proverbs that contain similar meaning – one proverb per learner. Each learner will interpret the meaning of their own proverb, walk around the classroom and share the meaning of their proverb with others, and find the person who has a proverb with similar meaning to their own. This activity may also be used to pair learners for subsequent activities.
Some pairs of international proverbs:
In multitude there is strength. ( Nigeria)
There is great force hidden in a sweet command. ( England)
A stitch in time saves nine. ( Holland)
Tell not all you know, nor judge all you see, if you would live in peace. ( Spain)
Draw attention to how proverbs from different countries contain similar messages and values. Ask students to discuss the values expressed, and share some proverbs from their own cultures that express similar values.
Interactive theme-based tasks:
Proverbs may be used as catalysts for diving into content-based lessons on various topics or thematic units. Choose proverbs that reflect the topics or themes of your lesson. On the theme of global issues, the following proverbs may be used to introduce a number of topics, followed by extension activities .
Some proverbs on global issues:
For lower level learners, put the topics and proverbs on separate cards and have learners work in pairs to match them. For higher level learners, put the beginning of each proverb and the end of each proverb on separate cards. Learners will join the ‘heads’ and ‘tails’ of the proverbs and could do the following: identify the topics, discuss the meaning of the proverbs, express agreement or disagreement, paraphrase the proverbs, and share proverbs from their own culture that express similar meaning.
Discovering Intuitive Connections in Metaphors
Examples : earth, sun, moon, star, comet, mountain, labyrinth, heart, rainbow, hourglass, rose, tree, dove, unicorn, dragon, butterfly, door, window.
Writing Haiku Poems
Collaborative Story Telling
Create a Unified World
Organize learners into four teams. Each team will create one of the four countries in a unified world. Each country will be embodied with a metaphorical symbol and conceptualized with proverbs that express values on:
Cut a large poster into a circle, section it into four pieces, and cut out the pieces.
Each team will:
This article is based on workshops given for the Global Issues SIG Track at the 38 th International Annual IATEFL Conference in Liverpool, 2004, and at The A.S. Hornby Educational Trust Latin American Regional School, “ELT and Citizenship,” in Bogota, Colombia, June 21 – July 2, 2004. The language activities are from the teachers’ resource book, Teaching Global Unity through Proverbs, Metaphors, and Storytelling by Vivian Chu, http://www.globalunityed.com.
De Ley, Gerd (1998) International Dictionary of Proverbs. Hippocrene Books, Inc.
Gleanson, Norma (1995) Proverbs from Around the World. Carol Publishing Group.
LeBaron, Michelle (2002) Bridging Troubled Waters. Jossey-Bass.
Pickering, David (1997) Dictionary of Proverbs. Wellington House.
Rosenzweig, Paul (1965) The Book of Proverbs. Philosophical Library Inc.
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