Metaphors and Gestures for Abstract Concepts in Academic English Writing

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/195298
Title:
Metaphors and Gestures for Abstract Concepts in Academic English Writing
Author:
Zhao, Jun
Issue Date:
2007
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
Gestures and metaphors are important mediational tools to materialize abstract conventions in the conceptual development process (Lantolf and Thorne, 2006): metaphors are used in the educational setting to simplify abstract knowledge for learners (Ungerer and Schmidt, 1996; Wee, 2005); gestures, through visual representation, can "provide additional insights into how humans conceptualize abstract concepts via metaphors" (Mittelberg, in press, p. 23).This study observed and videotaped four composition instructors and 54 ESL students at an American university to probe how their metaphorical expressions and gestures in a variety of naturally occurring settings, such as classroom teaching, student-teacher conferencing, peer reviewing and student presentations, represent the abstract rhetorical conventions of academic writing in English. By associating students' gestures with the instructors' metaphors and gestures, this study found evidence for the assistive roles of metaphors and gestures in the learning process. The final interviews elicited students' metaphors of academic writing in English and in their first languages. The interviewees were also asked to reflect upon the effectiveness of the metaphors and gestures they were exposed to.This study confirmed the roles of gestures in reflecting the abstract mental representation of academic writing. Twelve patterns were extracted from the instructors' data, including the linearity, container, building, journey metaphors and others. Of these twelve patterns, six were materialized in the students' gestural usage. The similarity of gestures found in the instructors' and students' data provided proof of the occurrence of learning. In the elicited data, students created pyramid, book, and banquet metaphors, to highlight features of academic writing in English and in their first languages. These new metaphors demonstrate students' ability to synthesize simple metaphors they encountered for a more complex one, which is more significant in the learning process. The interviews suggest that metaphors are better-perceived and more effective in relating abstract knowledge to the students. Gestures were not judged by the students to be helpful. This could result from the fact that gestures, other than emblems, are often understood unconsciously and are naturally used to provide additional information to the verbal utterance rather than replacing speech, which is more prominent perceptually and conceptually.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
gestures; metaphors; concept development; EAP writing
Degree Name:
PhD
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Second Language Acquisition & Teaching; Graduate College
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Committee Chair:
Waugh, Linda

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoENen_US
dc.titleMetaphors and Gestures for Abstract Concepts in Academic English Writingen_US
dc.creatorZhao, Junen_US
dc.contributor.authorZhao, Junen_US
dc.date.issued2007en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractGestures and metaphors are important mediational tools to materialize abstract conventions in the conceptual development process (Lantolf and Thorne, 2006): metaphors are used in the educational setting to simplify abstract knowledge for learners (Ungerer and Schmidt, 1996; Wee, 2005); gestures, through visual representation, can "provide additional insights into how humans conceptualize abstract concepts via metaphors" (Mittelberg, in press, p. 23).This study observed and videotaped four composition instructors and 54 ESL students at an American university to probe how their metaphorical expressions and gestures in a variety of naturally occurring settings, such as classroom teaching, student-teacher conferencing, peer reviewing and student presentations, represent the abstract rhetorical conventions of academic writing in English. By associating students' gestures with the instructors' metaphors and gestures, this study found evidence for the assistive roles of metaphors and gestures in the learning process. The final interviews elicited students' metaphors of academic writing in English and in their first languages. The interviewees were also asked to reflect upon the effectiveness of the metaphors and gestures they were exposed to.This study confirmed the roles of gestures in reflecting the abstract mental representation of academic writing. Twelve patterns were extracted from the instructors' data, including the linearity, container, building, journey metaphors and others. Of these twelve patterns, six were materialized in the students' gestural usage. The similarity of gestures found in the instructors' and students' data provided proof of the occurrence of learning. In the elicited data, students created pyramid, book, and banquet metaphors, to highlight features of academic writing in English and in their first languages. These new metaphors demonstrate students' ability to synthesize simple metaphors they encountered for a more complex one, which is more significant in the learning process. The interviews suggest that metaphors are better-perceived and more effective in relating abstract knowledge to the students. Gestures were not judged by the students to be helpful. This could result from the fact that gestures, other than emblems, are often understood unconsciously and are naturally used to provide additional information to the verbal utterance rather than replacing speech, which is more prominent perceptually and conceptually.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectgesturesen_US
dc.subjectmetaphorsen_US
dc.subjectconcept developmenten_US
dc.subjectEAP writingen_US
thesis.degree.namePhDen_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineSecond Language Acquisition & Teachingen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.chairWaugh, Lindaen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberHill, Janeen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberWildner-Bassett, Mary E.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberMcCafferty, Steven G.en_US
dc.identifier.proquest2273en_US
dc.identifier.oclc659748118en_US
All Items in UA Campus Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.