Publication details [#8931]

Ponterotto, Diane. 1994. Metaphors we can learn by: How insights from cognitive linguistic research can improve the teaching/learning of figurative language. Forum 32 (3) : 2–7. 6 pp. URL


One of the many problems in the teaching/learning of a foreign language is the acquisition of competence in the area of figurative language. All aspects of figurativeness (metaphor, idiomaticity, and semantic extension) seem to present difficulty for learners. The ability to grasp expressions like "She cast a spell over me" is considered characteristic of advanced stages of language competence. Most textbooks skirt the issue of figurativeness and concentrate on the denotative aspects of language. Although some idiomatic phrases are usually included in first-level coursebooks, they are usually presented as exceptions to the rule, things to be learned very often as fixed expressions and to be used in specific contextual situations. In later phases, work on figurativeness is suggested through reading and vocabulary building exercises, and students are often referred to specialized learner dictionaries of idioms, phrasal verbs, etc. It is common that intensive work on the figurative use of language is left to courses on literature, and metaphor especially is tackled through the presentation of literary texts. (Diane Ponterotto)