Students’ Responses to CL-Based Teaching of English Prepositions

Bui Phu HUNG1, Vien TRUONG2, Ngoc Vu NGUYEN3
1Ph.D. candidate at Hue University of Foreign Languages and Vice Dean at Van Hien University, VIETNAM,
2Associate Professor at Hue Univertsity of Foreign Languages, VIETNAM,
3Associate Professor at Ho Chi Minh City University
DOI: 10.14689/ejer.2018.73.3


Purpose: Most EFL textbooks suggest the use of vivid pictures and verbal explanations in teaching English prepositions. However, this word class appears in collocations, and rote-learning does not really help learners retain and use this word class successfully. Cognitive linguistics (CL) has implications for English language teaching as it rests against the relationship between the human mind and language. Several experimental studies have aimed to investigate the effects of CL-based treatment on learners’ retention of target foreign or second language. However, most of these studies have not placed an emphasis on the learners’ opinions of CL-based teaching. This current study aimed to collect college students’ responses to CL-based teaching of English prepositions.

Research Methods: The study was conducted for four weeks, with a 90-minute session each time per week. The students learned the spatial meanings and then the metaphorical meanings of the ten prepositions above, among, at, behind, beside, between, in, in front of, on, and under. Questionnaires were administered before the study to collect the participants’ opinions of the traditional teaching (primarily based on vivid pictures and verbal explanations) and after the study to collect the participants’ opinions of the CL-based teaching of the prepositions. The participants’ responses to the questionnaires were subject to comparison. Their responses in the interview after the study provided an in-depth qualitative analysis of the quantitative findings from the questionnaires. Results: All students generally showed positive opinions of the treatment and believed that the instructions were appropriate and positively affected their memories of the prepositions. They especially appreciated the use of image schemas to teach the semantics of the prepositions.

Implications for Research and Practice: Most participants became more confident in both understanding and using the prepositions under CL-based teaching.

Keywords: Cognitive linguistics, English prepositions, spatial meanings, conceptual metaphors, domain mapping.