Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Grammar or Conversational Fluency -- Which Is More Important?

 To Correct or Not To Correct

Thanks to Peter Spraggs on Facebook at ESL English Teachers (Off2Class Official)

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

A Phrasal Verb Metaphorical Poem

All words are defined in terms of other words.  Everyone has looked up a word only to find a synonym we also don't understand.  So we look up word #2.  And what is the definition?  Word #1!  The chain of definitions can be longer than that, of course.  When you are frustrated, Google images can save the day.

I've finished the book "Metaphors We Live By" which deals with "conceptual metaphors". This term refers to the understanding of one idea in terms of another. points out that often this involves mapping between an abstract concept and a more concrete concept.

Well that's often true of poetic metaphors, too, isn't it?  

Here's my first attempt at a poem using multi-word verbs metaphorically.  It uses the phrasal verbs "bring up" and "take up" and it compares a problem to a very large stone.

To Bring Up a Subject & To Take Up a Problem

The department had a problem
Weighing heavy on my mind.
I put it in a canvas sack;
Never left the thing behind.

I brought it to the meeting;
Heaved it up onto the table.
My friend said, "Glad you brought this up
Since I just wasn't able!"

The boss said, "Take this up right now!
We can't just sit and drift!
All grab onto the edges, tight.
And one, two, three -- we lift!"

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

The Ghost of Christmas Future Imperfect Conditional


More Metaphors!

 I didn't realize what a large subject I opened up when I started researching phrasal verbs as metaphors.  I'm now reading "Metaphors We Live By" by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson".  I'm only on Chapter 5 so far.  This is not a long book but it's not a quick-and-easy beachside read.  Each page brings insights I need to pause and think about.

The values of our culture shape our language.  Since the values are embeded in our language, our language helps shape the values of the children learning to speak, too!

For example we think:

More is up. Less is down.
Good is up.  Bad is down.
More is better. Less is worse.
Up is better.  Down is worse.
The future is ahead.  The past is behind.

But in some cultures, the future is behind!

More on this, later.


Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Phrasal Verbs as Metaphors

How many phrasal verbs are there in English?    Bob the Canadian wrote a story using just the verb "to get" 99 different ways!  Of course multi-part verb variations were a part of the narrative!   

According to one article on the internet there are over 10,000 phrasals.  Now, that article might have included some prepositional verbs by accident.  I don't care to quibble over definitions.  Any way you look at it, multi-part verbs are a challenge for ESL students.

Most language courses teach phrasals grouped by the main verb  This can be logical if you have just taught the verb's tenses and want the student to practice them in different ways.  

Personally, I prefer to teach multi-part verbs grouped by preposition.  Since there is no way a student can memorize 10,000 definitions, they must get a feel for the way in which each preposition will affect the verb it is attached to.  Phrasal verbs are best understood once you realize that they are metaphors!  Wikipedia has a good article on the subject and here is the link to my page summarizing it.  Also, here is a link to a blog entry by Denise Santos explaining the concept in detail.

But isn't a metaphor one kind of figure of speech most often used in poetry?  That is what most people believe.  English speakers, however, use conceptual metaphors all day long without giving it a second thought.  How can you impart the meaning to an ESL student?   One way is to draw an illustration; however I'm not a very good artist.  Another is, of course, to use the words truly figuratively in a poem!  That's what I've started doing.  Here's a link to my first effort, using the preposition "up",  So far I have 2 poems using the metaphors as metaphors and one using the "up" verbs in simply a literal, tongue-in-cheek poem.