Critically analyze the acquisition of metaphor through teaching culture to Iraqi learners

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The research study will critically analyze the acquisition of metaphor through teaching culture to Iraqi learners of English as a second language. Additionally, the research will bring to light the various challenges facing different Iraqi learners when studying English as a second language through metaphors. It will also seek to provide recommendations that will help overcome the challenges as well as how best to use metaphors in helping Iraqi learner learn English. Due to globalization characterized with free movement of people, capital goods and services, it has come to be of paramount significance for all human races to strive to learn at least a foreign language (MacArthur & Littlemore, 2008).

As a result a number of countries especially in Middle East have resorted to learn such languages as English to help them cope with the bubbling phenomenon of globalization. However their desire has been marred with a number of challenges especially when such mechanisms as using metaphors are used. It is worth noting that scholars such as Straub, 1999 suggested that the best way to teach a foreign language to student is to use their culture. This can be done successfully when the students are made aware of their culture as well as providing them with some kind of meta-language in order to talk about culture (Low et al.2008).

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The research is of a lot of importance as it closely analyzes acquisition of metaphors by non English speaking Iraqi students. The findings will be of importance to various stakeholders such as teachers of English as Second Language (ESL), students, education sectors, other researchers and learning institution at large as well as Non-governmental Organization,

The developed recommendations will be adopted by learning institutions to help them successfully teach students English, a language that is not native to them. Not carrying out this research will clearly depict that the various ways of incorporating metaphors in teaching English, the challenges faced will not be brought to light.

Research question

Based on the research topic, three major questions were developed to guide the study. These are

How are metaphors used through teaching culture to help Iraqi student learn English? (Littlemore, 2009)

What are the challenges facing both teachers and student when using metaphors?

What are the major recommendations that will help curb the above said challenges and foster English learning?

Literature review

The main objectives of teaching culture to student are it help them to develop a clear comprehension of the fact that all show behaviors that are deeply rooted from culture, social variable/ demographic characteristics do as well as place of residence do impact on how individuals communicate, stimulate their intellectual curiosity with regards to certain culture hence encouraging empathy towards others, developing ability to mention but a few (Littlemore, 2003). This thus was seen as an avenue that can be successfully used to teach English via metaphors.

It is important to bear in mind that numerous theories have been brought forth to help answer the question, how do learners acquire foreign language? Traditionally, grammar translation methods were used to teach students foreign languages. It entailed memorization of long list of vocabularies that were translated. Later in the years, the focus shifted to coming up with language skills such as writing, listening, reading and speaking. Whether knowingly or unknowingly the stage of teaching foreign languages actively involved using metaphors (Littlemore, 2004. One renowned scholar, Light created a metaphor with the aim of helping arrange the various elements of grammar so that it could be used to teach English as second language.

Leeboard held that metaphors and relating theories, "share the effort to organize thinking by setting in motion an interaction between familiar and or comprehensible on one hand and the thing to be explained on the other." Metaphor has the ability of expressing meaning by referring to a different conceptual domain and has been thought as a vehicle through which knowledge is transmitted. According to Laoff & Johnson, 1980 metaphors are "poetic imagination and the rhetorical flourish - a matter of extraordinary rather than ordinary language."

The major types of conceptual metaphor commonly used are structural metaphor, "the source domain supplies a reasonably extended knowledge structure for the target structure". They help increase language understanding. Ontological metaphors are those that have abstraction and represent something deep for instance objects or a person. Learners are made to visualize experiences via objects. Lastly, orientation metaphors provide even less conceptual structure for target concepts than ontological ones. Their cognitive job, instead, is to make a set of target concepts coherent in our conceptual system (Kövecses, 2002).

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Data collection

The research will employ a mixed research design method. It is important to note that theoretical study calls for deeper digging of various literatures ranging from journals, publications, books, other forms of literature and from the internet (Boers & Littlemore, 2000; ). Qualitative research will also be employed in the study; the approach seeks to contextualize the research by immersing the researcher into the study scenario as well as with the study subjects. Hypotheses are developed and data is collected and the results tend to be subjective. A case study as a sub type of qualitative research is used to ensure that the study is flexible enough to give the researcher room to investigate issues that were not previously thought of and could be worth being brought to light (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2000; Littlemore, 2004). Prior to actual collection of data, a pilot study will be carried out in order to help adjust the questionnaires whenever deemed necessary.

Questionnaires will be used to collect relevant information; I will distribute them to respondent situated in the targeted institution of higher learning and would be collected later at an agreed date. According to Beiske, (2002) questionnaire covers a large population at a time as they would be distributed to different participants at a time and be collected later or at the same day depending on the willingness of the responded in addressing the questions, due to it being standardized they are more objective, data collected from questionnaire are easy to analyze, due to familiarity with the tool, responded will not be apprehensive, it is also very cost effective as compared to face to face interviews, the tool also reduces bias.

The questionnaires will be issued to who are in a position to Iraqi students in higher education as they are in a better position to provide the required set of data. Additionally, teachers will also be sought after to give more insight. According to Littlemore, 2001 the major problem with questionnaires as a tool of data collection is that there is tendency of respondent to forget vital information, they may answers the questions superficially when it is a long one, to counter this I developed a short but very inclusive questionnaire, due to standardization, there is no room for explanation incase respondents misinterpret or do not understand the questions (Littlemore, 2005).

The data will be collected from Iraqi students in higher education and will be done over a span of one month. As indicated by Littlemore, 1995; Littlemore & Chevalier, 1997 some of the ethical consideration includes the following; the targeted sample populations that will be involved in the study to provide relevant information are to be informed about the same in advance. The reasons for carrying out the survey as well as how they stand to gain from the study will also be brought out clearly.

As well, research ethics demands that the information be sought after by the researcher will be provided in good faith, and voluntarily without any influence be it monetary or otherwise for instance giving of incentives, rewards, and gifts. It is important to note here that the rights and welfare of the participants involved in the study must be protected and guaranteed. To do this, their identities will be kept confidential. Moreover, the information collected while soliciting for data is to be kept confidential and opt not to be used in any other purpose apart from what was initially intended for (Low & Littlemore, 2009; Littlemore, 1995.).

Methods of analysis

After data collection, coding will be done. SPSS statistical software will be used in analyzing data. To establish which point pose as being the greatest challenge in using metaphor in teaching English, a cross tabulation analysis will be done. Similarly, correlation and regression analysis will be done to test the relationship between the challenges and acquisition of metaphor through culture teaching. Descriptive statistic will be used to depict demographic characteristics as well as other variables. This will be in form of tables, graphs and charts (Chambers et al., 2004).

Original contribution

The paper will fill the gap in literature regarding major challenges facing metaphor acquisition through teaching culture. More importantly, the recommendations to curb these challenges will be a boost to the literature in linguistics. The research topic has not been tackled and presented for an award of any degree in any institution of higher learning hence it is my own piece of work. It will lay ground to further understand the whole issues with regards to challenges and what can be done in future to curb such problems in language acquisition especially English to non native speakers (Boers & Littlemore, 2000; Littlemore & MacArthur, 2006).

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