Teacher's notes

The following is a collection of traditional proverbs. Do any of these proverbs exist in your own language?
What do they mean? Why do we use proverbs?
  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
  • A friend in need is a friend indeed.
  • A stitch in time saves nine.
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
  • As you sow, so you shall reap.
  • Beauty is only skin deep.
  • Better late than never.
  • better safe than sorry
  • Don't count your chickens before they're hatched.
  • Don't cry over spilt milk.
  • Don't judge a book by its cover.
  • Don't throw the baby out with the bath water.
  • Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy,

  •  wealthy and wise.
  • Every cloud has a silver lining.
  • God helps those who help themselves.
  • Half a loaf is better than no bread.
  • He who laughs last laughs longest.
  • Make hay while the sun shines
  • Necessity is the mother of invention.
  • Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
  • One man's meat is another man's poison.
  • Out of sight, out of mind.
  • Rome wasn't built in a day.
  • The best way to a man's heart is through his stomach.
  • The end justifies the means.
  • The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
  • Too many cooks spoil the broth.
  • Two heads are better than one.
  • Waste not, want not.
  • When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
  • You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make 

  • him drink.
  • You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
  • Let sleeping dogs lie.
  • Hunger is the best sauce.

Which of the proverbs mean the same as these sentences.

1. It is not a good idea to decide if a thing is good or bad just by how it appears at first or by its outward appearance.

2. When a bad thing happens there is always a positive aspect to it.

3. If you don't see someone for a long time you like them better.

4. When you are in a strange place (temporarily) it is better to follow the local customs.

5. You should be happy with what you have got even if it is less than what you want.

6. In many areas in life if you do not confront a problem when it starts it can deteriorate rapidly therefore it is much better to act soon.

7. This proverb was probably written by someone who owns his own house and doesn't stay up all night dancing.

8. Don't become very upset by trivialities.

9. Don't take risks.


Explain one of the proverbs to your classmates. See if he can guess which proverb you are referring to. Remember that your partner may have interpreted the proverb in a different way.


Try to decide which proverb could help you express yourself in the following situations.

1. You make an appointment with your chiropodist for 6pm. You arrive at 6.15. He complains that he has been waiting for 15 minutes. What would you say?

2. Your boss calls you into his office to ask you why you haven't finished the task that he asked you to do earlier and he complains that you are slow. What would you say to him? (you are being cheeky)

3. Your best friend gets married to a very ugly fat person who has a very kind, pleasant personality. Your spouse asks you how he could have possibly married her. What would you say?

4. Your friend smokes 60 cigarettes a day. He has a bad cough and he is always whining (complaining) that he would like to give up smoking. You offer to pay for expensive residential anti-smoking therapy. He says that he doesn't want to do it because he will miss his favourite television serial. What do you think to yourself?


Working in groups of two or three work out a sketch to perform in front of your classmates that encapsulates on of the proverbs in the list above. When you are organising your sketch remember to keep speaking in English. When you have performed your sketch see if you classmates can guess which proverb you are referring to. 


Teacher's notes
In order to use this worksheet you will need to have an almost ideal class. Eg. Advanced enthusiatic students who are willing to participate and contribute.  In my experience some students will have very different interpretations of the proverbs although this can give rise to interesting conversations. In case you are not sure, the answer to number 2 is "Rome wasn't built in a day"
You can do what you want with this worksheet although if you print it we prefer that you keep the http address on it.