American Journal of Educational Research
ISSN (Print): 2327-6126 ISSN (Online): 2327-6150 Website: http://www.sciepub.com/journal/education Editor-in-chief: Ratko Pavlović
Open Access
Journal Browser
Go
American Journal of Educational Research. 2016, 4(11), 806-810
DOI: 10.12691/education-4-11-5
Open AccessArticle

An Empirical Study of Figurative Competence of Chinese EFL Learners

Fushou Xiao1,

1Shanghai University, China

Pub. Date: July 16, 2016

Cite this paper:
Fushou Xiao. An Empirical Study of Figurative Competence of Chinese EFL Learners. American Journal of Educational Research. 2016; 4(11):806-810. doi: 10.12691/education-4-11-5

Abstract

Figurative language, which has drawn increasing attention from applied linguists over the decade, plays an indispensable role in language learning and proves particularly challenging for language learners. However, few attempts have been made to thoroughly investigate learners’ difficulties with figurative language so far. This paper aims to investigate, through an exploratory study involving a cohort of 63 subjects, Chinese EFL learners’ knowledge of figurative language, their difficulties as well as the sources of their difficulties. The learners took an in-class quiz on figurative expressions motivated by three different cognitive mechanisms (i.e., metaphor, metonymy and world knowledge). All the data were analyzed in order to explore the overall patterns of the learners’ figurative competence, the differences between good and poor learners and the relationships between figurative competence and overall English proficiency. It is found that the learners had the least difficulty with figurative expressions based on metonymy, but the greatest difficulty with those based on world knowledge, that huge differences existed between good and poor learners in their figurative competence, that metonymy-motivated figurative competence was positively correlated with overall language proficiency, almost at the .05 significance level.

Keywords:
figurative language metaphor metonymy world knowledge

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

References:

[1]  Aldahesh, A. (2013). On idiomaticity in English and Arabic: A cross-linguistic study. Journal of Language and Culture. 4(2), 23-29.
 
[2]  Aljabri, S. (2013). EFL students’ judgments of English idiom familiarity and transparency. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 4(4), 662-69.
 
[3]  Blasko, D. G., & Connine, C. M. (1993). Effects of familiarity and aptness on metaphor processing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 19(2), 295-308.
 
[4]  Boers, F. (2011). Cognitive semantic ways of teaching figurative phrases: An assessment. Review of Cognitive Linguistics, 9(1), 227-61.
 
[5]  Charteris-Black, J. (2000). Metaphor and vocabulary teaching in ESP economics. English for Specific Purposes, 19(2), 149-65.
 
[6]  Erman, B., & Warren, B. (2000). The idiom principle and the open choice principle. Text, 20(1), 29-62.
 
[7]  Gao, L., & Meng, G. (2010). A study on the effect of metaphor awareness raising on Chinese EFL learners’ vocabulary acquisition and retention. Canadian Social Science, 6(2), 110-24.
 
[8]  Gibbs, R. (1994). The Poetics of Mind: Figurative Thought, Language, and Understanding. New York: Cambridge University Press.
 
[9]  Glucksberg, S. (1998). Understanding metaphors. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 7(2), 39-43.
 
[10]  Howarth, P. (1998). Phraseology and second language proficiency. Applied Linguistics, 19(1), 24-44.
 
[11]  Johnson, M. (1987). The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination and Reason. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
 
[12]  Kalyuga, M., & Kalyuga, S. (2008). Metaphor awareness in teaching vocabulary. The Language Learning Journal, 36(2), 249-57.
 
[13]  Lakoff, G. (1993). The contemporary theory of metaphor. In A. Ortony (Ed.), Metaphor and Thought (pp. 202-51). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
 
[14]  Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
 
[15]  Langacker, R. W. (1987). Foundations of Cognitive Grammar (Vol. 1): Theoretical Prerequisites. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
 
[16]  Littlemore, J., Chen, P., Koester, A., & Barnden, J. (2011). Difficulties in metaphor comprehension faced by international students whose first language is not English. Applied Linguistics, 32(4), 208-429.
 
[17]  MacArthur, F. (2010). Metaphorical competence in EFL: Where are we and where should we be going? A view from the language classroom. AILA Review, 23(1), 155-73.
 
[18]  Martin, J. (1996). Computational approaches to figurative language. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity, 11(1), 85-100.
 
[19]  Ortony, A. (Ed.). (1993). Metaphor and Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
 
[20]  Pollio, H. R., Smith, M. K., & Pollio, M. R. (1990). Figurative language and cognitive psychology. Language and Cognitive Processes, 5(2), 141-67.
 
[21]  Roberts, R. M., & Kreuz, R. J. (1994). Why do people use figurative language? Psychological Science, 5(3), 159-63.
 
[22]  Saddock, J. M. (1993). Figurative speech and linguistics. In A. Ortony (ed.), Metaphor and Thought (pp. 58-70). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
 
[23]  Yağiz, O., & Izadpanah, S. (2013). Language, culture, idioms, and their relationship with the foreign language. Journal of Language Teaching & Research, 4(5), 953-57.
 
[24]  Zyzik, E. (2011). Second language idiom learning: The effects of lexical knowledge and pedagogical sequencing. Language Teaching Research, 15(4), 413-33.