Conceptual Motivation and the Teaching of Figurative Language
Keywords: Conceptual metaphors, idiom teaching, learning styles
Bunkyo University, Japan
Zorana Vasiljevic is Associate Professor at Bunkyo University, Japan. She holds a PhD in Applied Linguistics (University of Queensland). Her interests include vocabulary acquisition, discourse analysis and EFL methodologies.
Idiomatic expressions often present difficulties for L2 learners due to their semantic opacity and seemingly arbitrary selection of their lexical components. Recent studies in cognitive linguistics, however, have revealed that a large number of idiomatic phrases are semantically motivated. Like other types of figurative expressions, idioms can be viewed as instances of conceptual metaphors (CM), which are grounded in physical and social experience. The present study explores whether raising the learners’ awareness of the underlying conceptual metaphors will help them retain the meaning and the form of the idiomatic expressions and whether this approach will have the same effect on the visual and auditory students. Two different learning conditions are compared: 1) idioms grouped by CM with definitions provided in Japanese (students’ L1) and 2) semantically unrelated idioms with definitions provided in Japanese. The results of the study suggest that regardless of the learning style, semantic grouping of idiomatic expressions facilitates their retention.