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    Exploring the Effectiveness of the Explicit Instruction of Metaphors in EFL Classrooms: A Case Study of Kuwaiti Learners of English

    Alotaibi, Maye Abdullah (2021) Exploring the Effectiveness of the Explicit Instruction of Metaphors in EFL Classrooms: A Case Study of Kuwaiti Learners of English. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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    This doctoral thesis explores the possibility of mediating between theory and practice in the case of teaching metaphors in the EFL classroom. Littlemore (2003a) and Hwang (2008) identify English metaphors as a difficulty that EFL learners around the world face, explaining that learners tend to fall back on their L1 conceptual and value system to make sense of target metaphors. Many scholars (e.g. Cameron & Deignan, 2006; Gibbs & Matlock, 2008; Kövecses & Szabco, 1996) have investigated making sense of metaphors in different languages, especially in teaching English as a second and/or foreign language. Informed by a range of studies on metaphor sensemaking, this study investigates the effectiveness of an explicit teaching intervention task concerning how EFL Kuwaiti learners make sense of different types of metaphors and how they culturally interpret the suitability of some metaphoric expressions. This study utilises both a qualitative and quantitative approach that consists of a background information questionnaire, a pre-, post- and delayed post-questionnaire, two focusgroup interviews and a teaching intervention inspired by current research on metaphor learning/ teaching. This mixed methods approach was conducted over a period of three consecutive weeks, and a delayed post questionnaire was administered two months later. To fully assess the proposed combination of methods, two control groups (one upper-intermediate level and one advanced level) were included as a baseline comparison with two experimental groups (one upper-intermediate level and one advanced level). The participants were 200 female undergraduate Kuwaiti EFL learners from the College of Business Studies at the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training in Kuwait. The data set reveals that all groups encountered difficulties in making sense of all types of metaphors, from the most universal to the most culture based. This finding disagrees with Charteris-Black’s (2002) and Littlemore’s (2016) findings which suggest that universal metaphors are easy for EFL learners of English. In addition, the teaching intervention designed for this research broke the cycle of the traditional grammar-translation method and encouraged the learners to use cognitive thinking in interpreting the meaning of different metaphors. This was evident in the range of sense-making strategies deployed by the learners in the period that followed the teaching intervention. This study has important pedagogical implications for teachers’ professional development as it outlines how classroom puzzlement can be approached utilising applied linguistics knowledge. In addition, the study provides some tools that might assist both EFL learners and teachers in making sense of different types of English metaphors.

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