Mapping Language Learners’ Belief Systems: Metaphor Elicitation
Drawing on the Cognitive Metaphor Theory, this article presents metaphor elicitation as a practitioner-friendly means of investigating the implicit beliefs of learners and shares insights gained from the metaphors of 101 Japanese university students. Linguistic metaphors were collected from members of freshman university English classes, which were grouped in terms of their underlying conceptual metaphors. Nine distinct conceptual metaphors for the language learner were identified (striver, container, explorer, baby, work of art, embryo, automaton, acquirer of tools and defective organism). These were interpreted revealing insights into beliefs about the language teacher and language learning. The metaphors were analyzed in terms of whether from a theoretical perspective they were likely to expedite or hamper language acquisition. It was found that metaphor elicitation was effective in providing insights into the learners’ expectations of their teacher, attitudes towards learner autonomy and the nature and degree of motivation of the learners.
Index Terms— Learner Autonomy, Language Learner Beliefs, Motivation, Metaphor