The effectiveness of the Conceptual Metaphor Approach to English idiom acquisition by young Chinese learners
Although the Conceptual Metaphor Approach (CMA) has been claimed to be effective with respect to English idiom acquisition for EFL/ESL learners at elementary level, the claim awaits further investigation with empirical evidence (Beréndi, Csábi, & Kövecses, 2008; Boers, 2004). How CMA benefits these learners’ idiom acquisition and in what way it can best be implemented in their classrooms remain unknown. This study addresses these issues and sheds light on the effectiveness of CMA through a quasi-experiment, in which metaphor is exploited as an intervention that explicitly introduces the connection between idioms and the underlying Conceptual Metaphor theme. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected from 43 participants through questionnaires, tests and a semi-structured interview with the instructor. Results from an immediate post-test showed that participants under CMA scored higher than their counterparts who were undergoing a Memorizing Translation Approach, though the difference was statistically insignificant (p = 0.08). A one-week delayed post-test found that CMA facilitated idiom acquisition at a statistically significant level (p < .05). Findings from participants’ drawings and the semi-structured interview showed that CMA had contributed to an engaging and active learning experience. Pedagogical implications of this study are discussed further.
Keywords: learning outcomes, learning experience, conceptual metaphor theory, second language acquisition
Published online: 20 May 2019
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