My Teacher is a

Watering Can:
Metaphors and
Autonomous
Learning

Darren Elliott
Sugiyama Jogakuen
University
Nagoya, Japan

48th annual
meeting of the
British Association
for Applied
Linguistics Aston
University,
September 4th,
2015

1.

2.

3.
4.

Metaphors
in language
education
Measuring
learner
autonomy
Methodolog
y
Discussion

Metaphor and
Method
“grammar
translation is
gymnastics”
(Herron, 1982)

“communicative
language learning is
computational?”
(Nattinger, 1984)

case studies
“learning as
growth”
(Mahlios et al,
2010)

“a
systematic
typology”
(Oxford et al,
1998)

“conceptualizations
of teaching and
learning”
(de Guerrero &
Villamil, 2002)

Could an
analysis
students'
metaphors for
learning provide
an insight into
their propensity
for learner
autonomy?

Can learner
autonomy be
measured?

“Are there any
differences in the
level of selfperceived learner
autonomy
depending on the
students’ proficiency
level?
(Shimo, 2008)

“Technical,
psychological,
politicalphilosophical &
socio-cultural
dimensions of
learner autonomy”
(Murase, 2015)

twenty six point survey
five point likert scale
statements cover four
domains

sentence
completion
“A teacher is…
because…”
student /
classroom/
learning

semi-structured interview
questions about learning habits
students selected pictures which best fit
their metaphors

“Mary”
100
75
50
25
0

technical

affective

hierarchical

social

“I didn’t like study, so when I study in English a
little boring”
“I dislike grammar, or just taking a note”
“Student have to do homework. If teacher say
you should do something, then you have to do
that”
“The teacher has to find a real passion to
students and help students”

“I like YouTubers. They talk in English
so I often see that movie.”
“I really like talking. I can find good
ideas about discussion.”

the teacher is a satnav
“My mother didn’t have a (satellite
navigation system) so she couldn’t go to
a place she didn’t know. Then she got it.
Now she is going everywhere.”

the classroom is a beehive
“There are a lot of students in class.
Students have to sit same table, chair. A
little bit strange. I want to move to my
own desk.”

“Sarah”
100
75
50
25
0

technical

affective

hierarchical

social

“I speak to my sister in English at home,
and I study at a conversation school
twice a week.”
“I really like chatting it’s really fun with
other students. But if those other
students don’t speak English I don’t like
that.”

language learning
“It’s not a mountain. We don’t have any
end. The sea doesn’t have any end, it’s
really big. And English also.”
“I like swimming.”

“Melanie”
100
75
50
25
0

technical

affective

hierarchical

social

“To find my opinion, and say my opinion
strongly is my main purpose.”
“I have to decide which skills I should use,
depends on time.”
“Teachers stimulate us. They help us get a
wider prospect.”

the teacher
“Sometimes I think they are a kind of
god. They are very… I respect them so
sometimes I believe all their opinions. I
understand all their opinions don’t suit
me. I too much believe them
sometimes.”

the class is a family
“We have a chat group, and we always ask
questions. They never ignore me so it’s very
warm. If I have a mistake, they don’t laugh.
They accept me.”

learning is unravelling a ball of string
“Sometimes I get some problems, but I
try to solve them. I can solve them very
slowly. In this ball, I have one jewellery. I
overcame many problems. I know in this
ball there is one thing which is very
good, so I can find it.”

learning is like camping
“Sometimes I couldn’t stand, because I
studied really hard but I couldn’t get enough
result, so sometimes I have to stand. But
sometimes the weather changes and it’s
sunny.”
“I have never hated learning language.
(Campers) don’t like bad weather, but they
still love camping.”

learning is not…
“It’s not a battle. It doesn’t hurt me.”

Why should learners consider metaphors?
…to understand themselves and their
teachers.
…to reflect on their practice and their
principles.
…to express their feelings and ways of
thinking to others.

www.livesofteachers.com
http://goo.gl/FS4NQh

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