A lot of students tell me that one of their objectives is to speak English like a native … I frequently tell them to raise their expectations – so many native speakers use very poor English!
Proverbs can help us to learn more about the way different cultures communicate and the things that are important to them. They might also make us think about the world around us and using them correctly could make you sound like a native speaker!
Here are just a few proverbs that are often used in English — although not all are unique to the language.
“Actions speak louder than words”.
We can talk all day long about what we think or believe but this proverb means the things you do are more important, and they show more about who you really are.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover”.
We are often told that first impressions are important, but this proverb tells us that we should take time to look deeper before we make a judgment.
The cover of a book does not always tell us very much about what the inside of the book will be like, just as the look of a person does not tell us everything about them.
“Every cloud has a silver lining”.
This is a hopeful proverb, but perhaps not always a true one. It describes light — the “silver lining” — at the edge of a dark cloud. It means that even when something bad happens — that’s the cloud — there could be something good to come from it — the silver lining.
For example, you miss your train but because of this you bump into an old friend. Of course, sometimes we have to look for the silver lining ourselves.
“The pen is mightier than the sword”.
This is a proverb that the world continues to ignore — it suggests that the power of words and ideas is greater than the power of violence and war.
“The early bird catches the worm”.
Starting something early or before other people is the best way to succeed, according to this proverb — although a worm probably won’t be your prize!
· Which of the proverbs featured in the article do you like?
· Are any of these proverbs used in your native language?
· What are some of the most common proverbs or sayings in your language?
· What are your favourite proverbs or sayings?
· Who would you say are the wisest people you know?
· How often do you get a chance to talk to native English speakers?
· What’s your favourite way to learn new English words and expressions?
· How do you make sure to stay motivated when learning English?
· What languages would you like to be fluent in?
· Knowledge of languages is the doorway to wisdom. — Roger Bacon. What are your thoughts on this statement?
Source: This lesson is based on an article by Henry Milward.