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Teaching Global Unity Through
Proverbs, Metaphors, and Storytelling

by Vivan Chu
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ESL teachers working with learners from the international community have tremendous opportunities to foster understanding and harmony between people of different cultures, while simultaneously facilitating language acquisition. When teachers envision language learners from abroad as co-creators in the peace process, a greater goal of helping people communicate in a common language can be to work towards global unity.

The vision is both simple and profound:

  • ESL/EFL educators can foster global understanding and unity while facilitating language acquisition.
  • Language learners from the international community can become individual co-creators in the peace process.
  • Educators and learners can move towards the vision of global unity, through exploration of three paths: Proverbs, Metaphors, and Storytelling.

Through the path of PROVERBS, learners may:

  • Explore universal themes and common values across cultures.
  • Increase consciousness of the universality of human experience.
  • Examine global issues in light of the wisdom of the world.
  • Develop depth of thought on the interconnectedness of all life.
  • Discover the link between language, cultural values, cognition and behavior.

In the language of METAPHORS, learners may:

  • Recognize how metaphors can express boundless connections between unalike entities and ideas.
  • Explore how symbolic language can express transcendent meaning.
  • Appreciate the common ways in which people perceive and make meaning of their world.
  • Harness the power of metaphors as a tool to communicate complex concepts or convey meaning concisely.

Along the path of STORYTELLING, stories can:

Provide opportunity to share personal experiences, explore depth of meaning, and access creativity.

  • Engage our attention, bringing us into connection with each other and ideas.
  • Provide contextual information that helps us make sense of another’s experience and ways of making meaning.
  • Communicate messages indirectly, maintain and create harmony.
  • Involve us in deep listening and empathy.
Proverbs from around the world contain universal themes and often convey similar values. They offer common ground for people from different cultures to express their shared humanity and wisdom. In the language of metaphors, the interweaving of images and words can create transcendent meaning from entities and ideas that are totally unalike. There are numerous possibilities for guided discovery of the similar ways in which people from different cultural backgrounds perceive and make meaning from their world metaphorically. Storytelling is a powerful multi-dimensional communication process that enables individuals to speak from the heart, share values, explore depth and meaning, and access creativity. All three paths are workable for learners at various levels of English language ability, and can be used to focus on supporting peace, unity, and harmony between communities and in the world.

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