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Applying Cognitive Linguistics to Teaching a Second Language

Andrea Tyler (Georgetown University)

One of the most exciting developments in L2 teaching over the past 10 years is the usage-based trend which emphasizes the gradual emergence of language as learners use language to express meaning and interpret their interlocutor’s contributions (or input). Foremost among the usage-based theories currently being applied to L2 teaching is Cognitive Linguistics which emphasizes that language structure is meaning driven, sensitive to context, and that meaning itself is tied to a number of factors such as human’s embodied experience. This workshop will introduce participants to key concepts from cognitive linguistics that are particularly useful to second language teaching and provide examples of how these tools have been successfully used. The first hour will focus on the notions of embodied experience, experiential correlation (primary metaphor), understanding language in terms of spatial scenes, and force dynamics. An important part of the presentation will be demonstrating a number of activities and use of simple realia by which to introduce students to the concepts. The second hour will present an analysis of the English prepositions to, for, and at, with an emphasis on how to move from the analysis to creating engaging teaching materials. The final hour will focus on a CL analysis of English phrasal verbs and the creation of successful teaching materials.

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