Culture in expressions

I just thought I’d share a worksheet I’m doing with my students tomorrow. It asks them to examine some common English expressions for the cultural values they reflect and then compare those cultural values to Korea.

A useful way to understand a culture is by examining the expressions people use in everyday conversation. These common expressions, after all, reflect what most people in a given society believe in or value. With your partner, discuss what these expressions suggest about American culture. From peacecorps.gov/wws/culturematters/ch2/thethingswesay.html

Example:

He thinks he’s better than so and so.

She’s always putting on airs.

That person should be cut down to size.

It’s gone to his head.

Value/belief:______Egalitarianism

1. Talk is cheap.

2. Put your money where your mouth is.

3. He’s all talk and no action.

Value/belief:

4. She’s always beating around the bush.

5. Tell it like it is.

6. Straight talk, straight answer, straight shooter: that’s what we need.

Value/belief:

7. She did something with her life.

8. Nice guys finish last.

Value/belief:

9. Every cloud has a silver lining.

10. Look on the bright side.

11. Tomorrow is another day.

Value/belief:

12. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Value/belief:

13. Stand on your own two feet.

Value/belief:

14. Don’t judge a book by its cover.

15. All that glitters isn’t gold.

Value/belief:

16. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Value/belief:

After checking your answers with the class, would you say that the same values/beliefs are highly valued in Korean culture? Support your answers with examples from Korean culture (for example, Korean expressions – use Korean and translate into English). Your comparison/contrast of these values/beliefs will be submitted for a grade.

1-3: Americans value action and doing over talking, especially if it’s talking instead of action.

4-6: Directness

7-8: Emphasis on accomplishment, achieving things, in addition to being a good person.

9-11: Optimism.

12: Self determination.

13: Self-reliance, independence.

14-15: Don’t judge or be fooled by appearances; look beneath the surface.

16: Risk-taking, experimentation.

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Comments (2)

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  1. priscila says:

    Hi, I’m Priscila, a Brazilian student.

    I thought your blog very interesting specially for English teachers as I am. I’m studying yet but I teach children for 2 years. I really would like you to send me a message with some tips of how to teach English for children in your opinion.

    Have a nice night!

    Bye

  2. James Trotta says:

    I have no idea how to teach children. Sorry.