Metaphors as Linguistic and Non-linguistic Resource in Tertiary Science Classrooms.

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This paper attempts to examine the use of analogy as both linguistic and non-linguistic resource in the tertiary science classroom through a qualitative approach. . Cameron (2003) has found the use of “sub-technical metaphor” is essential in the teacher’s talk. Evans (1987) further pointed out that examples from everyday life appear to have resulted in an increased ability for the students to generalise and apply concepts to new scenario. One 120-minute lecture in computing was video recorded and then transcribed. Both the lecturer and students were non-native speakers of English even though the medium of instruction was English. A semi-structured interview with the lecturer was conducted after the recording to triangulate the data. Discourse analysis was then applied to the transcripts. The last source of data comes from students’ reflective journals in which they discussed the difficulties they encountered in learning other subjects through English. It was found that everyday life experience was used as the main source of analogy to facilitate understanding. The analogies found in this study have been relexicalised, developed and recalled through words, gestures and visuals. Unlike the previous studies, not all the analogies were spontaneous. As revealed in the interview and the use of relevant props with clear evidence of preparation, the use of some of the analogies demonstrated advanced planning. The analogies found in this study are not only bound by words. Some of them have been found to be expressed through gestures like beats, cohesive, deictic, and iconic (McNeill, 1999). On top of that, recalling previously introduced analogies do not solely rely on the use of words but gestures as well. The orchestration of gestures and words help analogies to evolve as one of the important resources in the tertiary science classroom.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009
Event4th Annual Lancaster Linguistics and English Language Postgraduate Conference - Lancaster University, Lancaster, Lancaster, United Kingdom
Duration: 1 Jul 20092 Jul 2009


Conference4th Annual Lancaster Linguistics and English Language Postgraduate Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

User-Defined Keywords

  • metaphor
  • multi-modality
  • science education
  • gesture


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