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Juan Salvador Busaid Daz MESOB 2012-2013

Idiomatic expressions have been seen for many years as arbitrary phrases which must be learned by rote. The role they were assigned in the big picture of both theoretical linguistics and second language teaching has been a very peripheral one until recent times.

Recent findings from Cognitive Linguistics have proved that idioms are not as arbitrary as they seem to be, but are motivated.
Teachers should take advantage of this, in order to make idiom instruction a much more fruitful activity.

1) Study the use of idioms in English language classrooms in Secundaria and Bachillerato by: a. Analysing different textbooks. b. Examining the perceptions of Secondary School teachers.

2) Propose a series of sample activities which may help teachers and learners tackle this complex category taking into account findings the field of Cognitive Linguistics.

Idiomaticity is a matter of degree. Central and peripheral members, fuzzy boundaries, overlaps. A set of properties forming an intricate picture of the category. Characteristics of idiomatic expressions (Nunberg et al. 1994; Penttil 2010; Wulff 2008): Institutionalisation Non-compositionality Syntactic restrictedness Multiwordiness Figuration

Books examined:
Gateway B1 (Macmillan, 2 ESO) Activate B1 (Pearson Longman, 3 ESO)

Viewpoints 2 (Burlington Books, 2 Bachillerato

Idiomatic expressions found:


Typical idioms Idiomatic formulas Idiomatic phrasal verbs Collocations Quotations & Proverbs

11 Secundaria & Bachillerato teachers 8 open questions ---------------Question 3: To what extent do you believe it is important for ESO students to learn this kind of expressions? What about Bachillerato students?

Question 4: Which approaches do you think work best when trying to teach idioms in the Secondary School and Bachillerato classrooms?

Question 5: To what extent do your students pick up the idioms you teach? Is it difficult for them?

Question 6: Do your students include in their written and spoken output the idioms you have taught them?

Central concept: motivation Semantic motivation

arbitrariness
use of CMs

examination of origin

Structural motivation

catchy sound patterns (mainly alliteration, rhyme)

1.

Introduction to conceptual metaphors

2.

Students are given a story with phrases belonging to three different CMs (e.g.: LOVE IS MADNESS, LIFE IS A GAMBLING GAME and TIME IS MONEY).
Students identify the different expressions in the text and classify them according to the CM

3.

The presence of typical idioms in textbooks seems to be low, especially in ESO books. When we take into account the whole range of expressions with shades of idiomaticity the results are much more promising. Secondary & Bachillerato teachers think that there is a deficiency with regards to idiom instruction in English classrooms. Teachers should show the motivation behind idioms to their students, in order to make idiom instruction much more fruitful.