Metaphor analysis in L2 education

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In this chapter we draw insights from our previous empirical research on metaphor analysis and discuss theoretical aspects and methodological challenges concerning the use of metaphor in L2 education. Two of our previous studies are summarized: one on teachers’ metaphorical conceptualizations of ESL teaching and learning and another one on the metaphorical conceptualizations of ESL writing. Implications are drawn from these studies regarding sociocultural theory, the theoretical stance adopted in our research, and effectiveness and validity issues. Sociocultural theory, a framework that is consistent with the notion of conceptual metaphor, was found useful in providing a view of metaphor as a tool of the mind, helping explore predominant cultural beliefs in L2 education, supporting reflection as a mediator in conceptual development, and offering a rationale for using metaphor as pedagogical intervention. Several issues are explored, such as the effectiveness of metaphor analysis in eliciting conceptualizations and beliefs about teaching/learning an L2, the extent to which our studies promoted reflection and change in metaphorical conceptualizations, and the problem of making valid interpretations and inferences in analysing exemplar metaphors. Strengths and limitations are pointed out in an overall assessment of our research and several recommendations for future research are offered.


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