An article on approaches to teaching metaphors.

There are many ways of learning vocabulary. Recently one of those most talked about in ELT circles looks into the groupings and mind-mappings based on the metaphorical roots of many words and phrases.

Metaphorical concepts strongly influence the way we think about and talk about many things. Lakoff and Johnson first brought this to our attention in their ground breaking work Metaphors We Live By *. One of the best examples they used demonstrated how many of the common English words referring to arguments or disagreements are metaphorical. In this case the key idea is that in a conversation the people talking are like countries fighting each other in a war.


Tony Blair defended his position as the interviewer moved in for the kill.

Michael Rundell in a recent article for the English Teaching Professional** argues convincingly that the dissonance, that we hear when a language learner seems to be speaking a language without making mistakes but something nonetheless sounds 'wrong', is often down to the fact that there is interference from the conceptual, mainly metaphorical, patterns implicit in the learner's native tongue. Languages do not map metaphorical concepts according to a universal schema. 

All language learners have experience of this. We use an expression that is a translation form our L1 and it simply does not conform to the conventions of the language we are learning even when we do not break any grammar rules. 

These lesson plans will attempt to help with this. We will design them to help teachers raise awareness of the metaphorical patterns underpinning English usage. We hope you find them useful.


Metaphors We Live By George Lakoff and Mark Johnson: Chicago University Press, 1980
English Teaching Professional Michael Rundell in Issue 23, April 2002, p 21