Becoming a Better Learner: Improve your fluency with the help of proverbs

Becoming a Better Learner: Improve your fluency with the help of proverbs

Nick Michelioudakis’ column Becoming a Better Learner suggests techniques to engage, empower, and facilitate students through a series of simple activities.

This month, improve your fluency with a speaking activity on proverbs and their meanings!

  • With your partner, find a site with proverbs (those can be in a language other than English, too). Alternatively, you can create and print a worksheet listing your favourite or most illustrative proverbs.
  • Choose one of the proverbs and write it down without your partner seeing it. 
  • Explain the meaning of the proverb and give one or two examples of the situation in which one might use it.
  • Your partner has to guess which proverb you meant. If they do, they score a point because they explained it well.

Searching for the right proverbs? James Chapman’s 15 illustrations on proverbs might help! 

Proverbs pack a lot of meaning in a short phrase, so students improve their fluency and vocabulary to help their partner understand what they mean. Here is an example: ‘We use this expression to encourage someone to keep trying to find a solution to a problem. The idea is that if you really want to achieve something, you can find some way of doing it’ (see the answer below).

This fluency activity can improve your fluency regardless of your level, as long as you adapt the proverbs. Besides, where there is a will, there is a way! Have fun!

Help your students revise vocabulary, better grasp nuances, and understand cultural contexts with this lesson plan on proverbs!

Nick Michelioudakis (B. Econ., Dip. RSA, MSc TEFL) has been active in ELT for many years as a teacher, examiner, presenter, and teacher trainer. He has worked for a number of publishers and examination boards and he has given seminars and workshops in many countries.

He has writtenextensively on Methodology, though he is better known for his ‘Psychology and ELT’ articles which have appeared in numerous newsletters and magazines.


His areas of interest include Student Motivation, Learner Independence, Teaching one-to-one, and Humour.

For articles or worksheets of his, you can visit his YouTube channel [] or his blog [ ].

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