Fostering language teaching efficiency

Fostering language teaching efficiency through cognitive linguistics. Ed. by Sabine De Knop, Frank Boers, and Antoon De Rycker. (Applications of cognitive linguistics 17.) Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton, 2010. Pp. xiii, 388. ISBN 9783110245820. $150 (Hb).

By Nadia Mifka Profozic, University of Auckland

This book is a collection of state-of-the-art articles that aim to promote insights from cognitive linguistics (CL) in language teaching. As emphasized in the introduction, the focus of the volume is on instructed language learning which differs substantially from incidental learning in immersion situations. The book consists of three parts, each dealing with an aspect of the relationship between CL and language instruction. The first part points to the relevance and significance of teaching approaches informed by CL. The second part focuses on the content of teaching from CL perspective, and the third part considers methods of teaching that use insights from CL.

Part 1 begins with an article by John Taylor, addressing the issue of I(internal)-language and E(external)-language and exploring the differences between the generative and usage-based approaches. The following article by Rafael Alejo Gonzales, Ana Piquer Piriz, and Guadalupe Reveriego, examines the treatment of English phrasal verbs in Spanish course books, demonstrating that these books do not reflect the actual use of phrasal verbs as evident from corpus analysis. Xiaoyan Xia and Hans-Georg Wolf explore the psychological phenomenon in first language (L1) acquisition that a basic level of categorization is learned prior to higher levels of learning, and show that this finding is equally valid in second language (L2) acquisition. Helene Stengers, Frank Boers, Alex Housen, and June Eyckmans investigate the effects of pedagogically directed awareness of multi-word lexical ‘chunks’ in English and Spanish L2 classrooms. Their results indicate that activities that raise awareness alone may not be sufficient for acquisition.

In Part 2, JoAnne Neff-van Aertselaer, and Caroline Bunce report on a comparative crosslinguistic corpus analysis of the use of the verb have in advanced English as a foreign language (EFL) writing classes. Zhuo Jing-Schmidt argues for the use of concept explication in foreign language teaching, comparing three languages: Mandarin, German, and English. In their analysis of business press headlines, Honesto Herrera and Michael White argue for more efficient use of idioms in language courses. The article by Jeannette Littlemore, Phyllis Chen, Polly Liyen Tang, Almut Koester, and John Barnden examines the use of metaphor and metonymy in English discourse communities, and their relevance for English for specific purposes (ESP) teaching courses. David Eddington and Francisco Ruiz de Mendoza explore the relationship between argument construction and language processing, based on a priming experiment. The following article by Frank Boers, Julie Deconinck, and Seth Lindstromberg is concerned with the nature of ‘chunks’ and the phonological motivation they can have in assisting L2 instruction.

In Part 3, Kanako Cho reports the results of two studies that applied a cognitive approach in teaching English prepositions to Japanese learners. Phillip Hamrick and Salvatore Attardo focus on auxiliary selection in teaching the Italian passato prossimo. Based on their experiment, they discuss the pros and cons of CL and the traditional grammar approach. Ying-Hsueh Hu and Yu-Ying Fong explore obstacles that L2 learners may encounter when interpreting idioms based on conceptual metaphors. An article by Constanze Juchem-Grundmann and Tina Krennmayr looks at the ways of corpus analysis–based integration of metaphor into the business teaching materials. Christina Sanchez-Stockhammer explores the potential of lexical decomposition in teaching and learning English and German, and the final article of the book, by Helen Fraser, examines the application of CL in teaching pronunciation.