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"Dip into your savings!" Applying Cognitive Metaphor Theory in the Business English Classroom. An Empirical Study.

  • Over the last three decades researchers of Cognitive Metaphor Theory have shown conclusively that metaphor is motivated rather than arbitrary and often used to systematically map out conceptual territory. This cognitive semantic proposal holds the potential for alternative L2 teaching strategies. As an abstract domain, business discourse is naturally rich in metaphors and is additionally filled with consciously used metaphorical language to strategically manipulate clients and business partners. Business English courses especially stand to profit from metaphor-oriented language teaching, as (future) managers aim to quickly improve their language performance to be prepared for international business communication. In using metaphors, speakers as well as hearers conceptualize and thus experience one thing in terms of another. Having been made aware of the conceptual linkage, students are immediately equipped with a whole set of vocabulary they may already have learned for a concrete domain and are then able to elaborate in the more abstract area of business discourse. Enhanced metaphor awareness may thus prove to be a valuable vehicle for vocabulary acquisition as well as for vocabulary retention. This thesis is subdivided into ten chapters. With each successive chapter, the focus will increasingly sharpen on the main hypothesis that metaphor awareness raising and explicit teaching in the business English classroom assists the students to dip into their savings' and transfer already acquired vocabulary to abstract business discourse and thus to become more proficient business communicators. After an introduction to the main objectives, chapter two critically looks at the different strands of Cognitive Linguistic contributions to metaphor theory made within the last three decades and discusses the structure, function and processing of figurative language to single out relevant aspects of the language classroom applications. Chapter three narrows the perspective to the socio-economic discourse as the very target domain in focus and surveys the conceptual metaphors that have been identified for this target domain, namely the source domains most productive for the target and therefore most valuable for the language classroom. In chapter four Cognitive Linguistic findings are put in contact with language didactics; i.e., the Cognitive Linguistic basis is discussed in the context of language teaching and learning theories and a first classification of metaphor teaching in the theoretical framework of language didactics is proposed. Ten cornerstones summarize the theoretical output of the previous chapters and the respective didactic consequences are considered. Theories of cognitive psychology pertaining to noticing, processing, and storing metaphors are systematically revisited and expanded to formulate further didactic implications for metaphor teaching. The consequences drawn from both linguistic as well as didactic theory are translated into a list of ten short guidelines identifying essentials for the explicit integration of metaphors into the language classroom. In chapter five those experimental studies that have already been conducted in the field of Cognitive Linguistic-inspired figurative language teaching are systematically summarized and possible contributions to set up a didactic framework for metaphor teaching are investigated. Chapters six to nine then present a piece of original research. Starting out from five research questions tackling receptive and productive vocabulary acquisition and retention as well as the influence of and on the learner- level of language proficiency, a three-fold study was designed and conducted in a regular business English classroom and results are discussed in detail. The last chapter deals again with specific implications for teaching. Earlier statements about and claims for the language classroom are revisited and refined on the basis of the theoretical linguistic, didactic and empirical findings, and an agenda for further empirical investigations is sketched out.

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Author:Constanze Juchem-Grundmann
Referee:Susanne Niemeier, Jeannette Littlemore
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of completion:2009/12/16
Date of publication:2009/12/16
Publishing institution:Universität Koblenz-Landau, Campus Koblenz, Universitätsbibliothek
Granting institution:Universität Koblenz, Fachbereich 2
Date of final exam:2009/12/15
Release Date:2009/12/16
Business English; Conceptual Metaphor Theory; Empirical Research; Instructed Second Language Acquisition; Vocabulary
GND Keyword:Aktiver Wortschatz; Fremdsprachenunterricht; Kognitive Linguistik; Metapher; Passiver Wortschatz; Unterrichtsforschung; Vokabellernen; Wortschatz
Number of pages:ix, 248
Institutes:Fachbereich 2 / Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik
Dewey Decimal Classification:4 Sprache / 40 Sprache / 400 Sprache
Licence (German):License LogoEs gilt das deutsche Urheberrecht: § 53 UrhG