Do metaphors help or hinder second language vocabulary acquisition?




conceptual metaphors, L2 vocabulary learning, non-literal language


The use of non-literal language and its influence on second language (L2) vocabulary acquisition is a widely debated topic. This article focuses specifically on the role of metaphors as an example of non-literal language and a pragmatics related phenomenon, beginning with how conceptual and enactment-based metaphor awareness can support L2 vocabulary acquisition. Opposing arguments suggesting that metaphor may hinder L2 vocabulary learning are also explored, such as the role of an individual’s first language (L1), along with insufficient vocabulary size and depth. Implications for both L2 vocabulary research and practice are discussed before reaching an overall conclusion.

Author Biography

  • Rachael Howe, University of Oxford

    Rachael Howe graduated from the University of Southampton in 2020 with an MLang (Hons) degree in German and Spanish Linguistic Studies. She then completed the Cambridge CELTA, followed by a PGCE in Modern Languages at the University of Chester. She is a full-time Modern Languages teacher, and she is also a part-time student at the University of Oxford studying for an MSc in Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching. Her research to date has predominantly focused on various areas of second language acquisition, with a particular interest in second language speech. She is currently investigating second language phonological decoding and the importance this has for the Modern Languages classroom with teenage learners of Spanish.

Howe (2024)







How to Cite

Howe, R. (2024). Do metaphors help or hinder second language vocabulary acquisition?. Journal of Language Teaching, 4(1), 1-6.

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