Metaphor awareness in teaching vocabulary

Marika Kalyuga*, Slava Kalyuga

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Patterns of language are usually perceived, learned and used as meaningful chunks that are processed as a whole, resulting in a reduced learning burden and increased fluency. The ability to comprehend and produce lexical chunks or groups of words which are commonly found together is an important part of language acquisition. This paper demonstrates how an awareness of conceptual metaphor and grouping of various words and expressions in a metaphorical chunk may improve the process of vocabulary acquisition. Since words that appear in language as a result of metaphorical extensions resemble other etymologically related words, this method may help learners in establishing mental associations and speed up learning, especially if students already know words to which new vocabulary is related. In this way, learners' prior knowledge would assist in assimilating new information by reducing burden on limited-capacity working memory. The current paper offers a specific example of implementing this approach, and demonstrates how Russian words and idiomatic expressions can be presented in metaphorical chunks to facilitate cognitively efficient learning. It suggests that a similar approach may potentially be extended to syntactic properties of words that could be explained via conceptual metaphors encoded in their origin. By exploring this connection, a metaphorical approach could also be used in teaching grammar.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-257
Number of pages9
JournalLanguage Learning Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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