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コロナ禍の授業について―Part 07「Proverbs: Words of Wisdom」|英語英文学科 David S. Ramsey教授






 Part 07:「Proverbs: Words of Wisdom」
David S. Ramsey教授

Proverbs: Words of Wisdom

“The greatest of all pleasures is the pleasure of learning.”
One of the many fun and meaningful activities that my first-year Active English students enjoy sharing in small groups, even during the coronavirus lockdown, involves proverbs, known as kotowaza in Japanese. Each week, students research and learn about a different proverb, explaining its meaning in English in their own words, and finding examples of it in daily life.  Students learn important life lessons, discuss them in English, and apply these lessons to their own lives.

We call these small groups “Study Buddy teams,” and each team has about four students, with a captain that they have chosen to lead the team. Throughout the year, we rotate members, so everyone gets to work with and make friends with all class members. Each team also chooses a team name based upon a theme. For example, with an animal theme some groups have chosen to call themselves the Panda, Cat, Unicorn, or Butterfly teams. With an ice cream flavor theme, some groups have chosen to call themselves the Strawberry, Choco Mint, Macha, or Rum Raisin team. Whether online, or in person when we are on campus, students connect with classmates and make friends as they learn about the world and develop their English.

The proverbs that students research are very common and important ones in English. They are used in daily conversation, in business, in politics—indeed in all fields. They are part of the basic cultural knowledge of the West, part of the basic cultural language, we could say, and it is expected that people know them and their meaning. If you were to ask a Japanese person to  finish the half-spoken Japanese proverb “Saru mo . . . ,” she would readily answer “ki kara ochiru.”  Similarly, if you were to say to a person from America or Europe “Don’t count your chickens,” she would know that the rest of the proverb is “until they’re hatched.”

“What really counts can’t always be counted,” chants a  
wise chicken in one of Seishin’s many beautiful gardens.

If you were working for UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund) after graduating from Seishin, and an American co-worker said “Don’t count your chickens” about a proposal you made, you would know that he wasn’t really talking about chickens at all (just as the Japanese proverb isn’t really about monkeys.)  The proverb advises us not to make assumptions about what might happen in the future, and then expect that those things will certainly happen.