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Cultivating Metaphor Awareness in English Vocabulary Teaching: An Experimental Study at Vocational College

Author: ZhangJinZuo
Tutor: WangMuQun
School: Yanshan University
Course: English Language and Literature
Keywords: metaphor conceptual metaphor metaphor awareness vocabulary teaching and learning
CLC: H319
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2010
Downloads: 60
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On the basis of Basic Requirements of English Curriculum for Vocational Education, 3400 words and related phrases are required to master by vocational college students. The efficiency of vocabulary teaching makes or breaks the success or failure of the ultimate goal of foreign language teaching of vocational college. However, vocabulary is considered the most headache or troublesome thing for students in vocational colleges.More and more experts and English teachers have been studying various ways and tactics suitable for Vocational College English vocabulary teaching to change the situation. With more focus on the traditional techniques of vocabulary teaching, such as the introduction of word pronunciation, formation, acceptations, the strategies of memorization and the like. However, the cognitive factors in vocabulary teaching and learning tend to be neglected.Traditionally, metaphor has been viewed as a matter of rhetorical device, a deviant use of language. For over 2000 years, metaphor was studied within the discipline known as rhetoric. According to Lakoff and Johnson, metaphor is ubiquitous in everyday life. Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature. Conceptual metaphor, proposed by Lakoff and Johnson (1980), is a matter of thought and action, which lies in daily language and structures our ordinary conceptual system. Lakoff and Johnson hold the view that, concepts are essential to us because they govern our thoughts and everyday functioning as well. However, people are unconscious of it because it takes shape in the human mind. Actually, we can trace its origin because we know that one reflection of our conceptual system is language”(Kovecses, 1986:3). That is to say, language is the product of concept. Metaphor is one kind of means to make the abstract idea concretize in vocabulary teaching, and a vital process of expanding word meanings. It can break the bottleneck of traditional vocabulary learning if combined with metaphor, so efficiency in vocabulary acquisition can be improved a lot. In the light of the fact that there exists a close relation between conceptual metaphor and vocabulary teaching and learning, the researcher conducts an empirical study of raising metaphor awareness in vocational college with the aim to explore the application of conceptual metaphor into vocational college English vocabulary teaching and learning, and foster their interest and stimulate their motivation in vocabulary learning.After the introduction of conceptual metaphor’s definition, working mechanism, classification, philosophy basis, and the close relationship between conceptual metaphor and vocational college English vocabulary teaching and learning, with the purpose of testifying the effectiveness of conceptual metaphor in English vocabulary teaching and learning of vocational colleges, with reference to some previous work done by other researchers, an empirical study based on Boers’study was conducted in Hebei Normal University of Science and Technology. Two intact classes of sophomores from the College of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering with similar English level were chosen in this experiment with one as experimental group (EG) and the other as control group (CG). The experiment lasted 12 weeks, which was composed of a questionnaire, a pretest, two posttests and a series of classroom teaching activities. CG was instructed in the traditional approach while EG, a systematic instruction of metaphors was incorporated into the normal language teaching. After all the raw data collected in the tests, scores and results would be analyzed by software SPSS 16.0. The results manifested that (1) the students in EG showed better ability extending and memorizing vocabulary. (2) the subjects’awareness of conceptual metaphor can be raised by classroom activities.At last, on the basis of qualitative and quantitative analysis, some suggestions concerning pedagogical implications for vocabulary teaching and learning are offered for future research. The present study proves that teaching English vocabulary through metaphor is a promising land in China, which might be the highlight of applied linguistics in the coming years, and considerable contribution has been made to the application of conceptual metaphor theory to the vocabulary teaching in the present study.

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CLC: > Language, writing > FOREIGN > English > Language teaching
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