English Learners' Metaphors and Images of Vocabulary Learning

Document Type: Original Article


Semnan University


The purpose of the study reported in this article was to explore images and metaphors English learners have in mind for vocabulary learning. First, 350 learners in seven cities in Iran with considerable experience of English learning were asked to compare vocabulary learning to concrete objects and activities. Their 130 analogies were reviewed and analyzed multiple times to identify fitting labels and assign inclusive categories. The five most frequent themes which emerged from the analysis were FOOD & DRINK, COLLECTING, JOURNEY, PUZZLE/PROBLEM, and MUSIC. Based on a scrutiny of the metaphorical themes and the images which gave rise to them, some salient practical and theoretical points with implications for teaching language and vocabulary are tentatively discussed.