Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Education

Research Student: Qiuyun Lu

Photo of Qiuyun Lu

Effects of Teachers’ Metaphorical Instructions on Chinese Adult Learners’ L2 Learning Process in College EFL Classrooms

Submission Date: September 2019

The research on interrelationship between metaphor and L2 teaching and learning has witnessed its vigorous growth in recent years (e.g. Cameron, 2003; Littlemore & Low, 2006; Littlemore et al, 2011; Xin Fang, 2014). Working within the cognitive framework, researchers have drawn upon cognitive theories of metaphor to explore the way learners conceptualize their experiences and ideas, reporting learners’ shift in thinking where metaphor is used as a strategy for deepening learners’ awareness of certain knowledge and strengthening communication (Boers, 2000; Littlemore & Low, 2006,etc). However, though the positive impact of teachers’ explicit mediation of metaphor in the teaching context has been examined in a large number of research, the compelling issue of the research on metaphor and L2 education is how this metaphor knowledge (i.e. metaphorical classroom input) can directly contribute to learners’ language learning processes and outcomes (Chen Yuxiu & Yang Kun, 2012; Ha Hoang, 2014).

Considering the fact that the research on metaphor and L2 education remain scarce in China and the practical applications of metaphor knowledge for L2 teaching and learning have not been fully explored, the focus of my research is set on the linguistic metaphors in teacher talk. In my research, teacher talk is regarded as an effect channel to connect metaphor with L2 teaching and learning. The research aim is to investigate the impact of teachers’ metaphorical instructions on the development of classroom input, output and Chinese adult learners’ metaphoric/L2 competence mainly under the theoretical guidance of cognitive theories of metaphor and theories of SLA.


I have obtained my BA in English in July 2013 at Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU), Xi’an, China. I also received my MA in Foreign Languages and Applied Linguistics in March 2016 from the same university. When I was doing my Masters degree at NPU, I also worked as a part-time teaching assistant in the School of Foreign Languages, helping professors and lecturers arrange classes and exams, prepare teaching materials and correct students’ exercises.

What motivated me to undertake PhD study?

I undertook my PhD study mainly for three reasons. Firstly, having a PhD degree is crucially important to my career planning—to be a university teacher and researcher. Secondly, I am eager to gain more knowledge of metaphor-related research, hoping to take both my knowledge and my life to a new level. Thirdly, doing a PhD degree is really challenging, but I want to know more about my potential and limits. 

What makes me passionate about my subject?

During those years of studying at NPU, both as a language learner and a classroom observer, I have experienced the magic of metaphor in the classroom-teaching context. By completing my research project on Metaphorical Features of Teachers’ Directives in Intensive Reading Classrooms (No.Z2015180), I found that when teachers’ directives are metaphorical, the students’ responses are often centring around the teaching topic, and sometimes are also metaphorical, which makes the development of students’ metaphoric competence possible. However, such situations do not occur very frequently and the teachers’ awareness of metaphor use seems to be not strong enough, which is not desirable for effective classroom teaching and learning. Therefore, aiming at figuring out a teaching strategy to create more opportunities for effective learning in college EFL classrooms, I am interested in exploring the positive impact of teachers’ metaphor use on students’ classroom output and students’ metaphoric competence. I hope that my research will contribute to the field of EFL teaching and learning.

What are my plans once I have completed my PhD?

After accomplishing my PhD degree, I plan to go back to China and work as a university English teacher and a researcher in the field of applied linguistics.

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