In The Name of God
ISLAMIC AZAD UNIVERSITY,
ILAM SCIENCE & RESEARCH BRANCH
Iranian Kurdish-Speaking High School Students’ Beliefs about English Language Teachers and Learners
By: Somayeh Heidarian
Supervisor by: Dr. Akbar Azizifar
Advisor by: Dr. Habib Gowhary
Evaluated by the Following Committee in February 2015 as:
Dr. (Supervisor) Akbar Azizifar…………………………………..
Dr. (Advisor) Habib Gowhary…………………………………..
Dr. (Reader) Heyva Veisi …………………………………..
ISLAMIC AZAD UNIVERSITY
ILAM SCIENCE AND RESEARCH BRANCH
Thesis for Receiving M.A. Degree on English Language Teaching
English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)
Iranian Kurdish-Speaking High School Students’ Beliefs about English Language Teachers and Learners
A. Azizifar. Ph.D.
H. Gowhary. Ph.D.
To My caring Parents and My Family
First of all, I express my special thanks to the department of English Language Teaching at the Science and Research branch of Islamic Azad University in Ilam for their permission to conduct the present study. As well, there are a number of people who have been important to me and whom I would like to thank here.
In the beginning, many thanks to Dr. Azizifar as my thesis supervisor who willingly cooperated, gave me motivation and self-confidence, and encouraged me. I would like to express my special gratitude to him for his patience, support, criticisms, comments, and guidance; without which my study might not have been completed.
I would particularly like to thank Dr. Gowhary, my thesis advisor, at Islamic Azad University for his comments and suggestions to tackle many questions and misunderstandings
I am further very thankful to the all the language teachers and particularly all the language learners whose big favor and participation provided the required data for the present study and helped me to find answers to my research questions.
My deepest thanks are to my parents and my friends for their motivation and help.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Introduction
1.2. Statement of the Problem5
1.3. Research Questions6
1.4. Objectives and Significance of the Study7
1.5. Definition of the Key Words8
1.6. Outline of the Study9
Chapter 2: Review of Related Literature
2.1. Review of the Related Literature13
2.1.1. The Conceptual Framework of Metaphor14
2.1.2. Studies on Learners’ Beliefs about Language Learning and Teaching15
2.2. Teachers’ and Learners’ Roles in the Design of Dominant Language Learning and Teaching Methods29
Chapter 3: Methodology
3.1.3. Design of the Study36
3.1.4. Procedure of Data Collection and Analysis36
Chapter 4: Results and Discussion
4.1.1. Metaphors about EFL Teachers’ Roles40
4.1.2. Metaphors about EFL Learners’ Roles49
4.1.3. Results as a whole57
4.2. Discussion of the Results58
4.2.1. Discussion of Metaphors about Language Teacher’s Roles59
4.2.2. Metaphors about Language Learner’s Roles61
4.3. Relationship between Metaphors and the Roles Proposed in the Design of Language Learning and Teaching Methods63
Chapter 5: Summary & Conclusions
5.4. Limitations of the Study72
5.5. Suggestions for Further Research73
List of Table
Table 4.1. Metaphors developed by Iranian Kurdish-speaking EFL learners for the concept of an English language teacher40
Table 4.2. Metaphors developed by Iranian Kurdish-speaking EFL learners for the concept of an English language learner49
List of Figure
Figure 4.1. An illustration of metaphorical themes about EFL teachers’ roles generated by Iranian Kurdish-speaking high school students48
Figure 4.2. An illustration of metaphorical themes about EFL learners’ roles generated by Iranian Kurdish-speaking high school students57
Language learners come to educational contexts with preconceived beliefs about different aspects of language teaching and learning. These perceptions are not clear and concrete enough to language teachers and even the language learners themselves. In line with the change and increase in the direction of the qualitative studies conducted on beliefs elicited by use of metaphors all around the world, the present study aims at investigating the metaphorical reflections about language teachers’ and language learners’ roles by a group of Iranian Kurdish-Speaking high school students learning English-as-a-Foreign-Language (EFL) as their third language in a local context in Ilam, in western Iran. To this end, modified metaphor elicitation questionnaires as well as complementary short interviews were administered to a convenient sample of 86 participants. Using content analysis, the metaphorical expressions collected via completion of the metaphor prompts were structured into dominant thematic categories in terms of language teachers’ roles and language learners’ roles for further analysis. The metaphors were also examined to determine whether they fit into the roles assigned to language teachers and learners in the design of current language teaching and learning methods. Generally, the results revealed that the metaphorical images were in the same line with other previous studies. In addition, the elicited metaphors were comparatively for and against the proposed roles for EFL teachers and learners in educational settings. There were also several pedagogical implications for language teachers and language teacher educators and language education programs as well as suggestions for further investigations.
Keywords: Metaphor, EFL, Teacher’s Role, Learner’s Role, Method of Language Learning and Teaching, High School Student, Iran
Exploration of what language learners bring to educational contexts particularly the language classroom environment according to Wan, Low and Li (2011) is extremely important for monitoring and improving various aspects of language learning and teaching. What language learners bring into the language classroom is composed of a set of experiences and expectations related to their beliefs about different aspects of language learning and teaching (Chastain, 1988, p.123; Riley, 2009; Wan et al, 2011). To name several aspects, there are experiences, perceptions and expectation associated with language learners’ roles and language teachers’ roles in their classrooms, the nature of language learning, the language itself, the learning process, the teaching and learning materials, the language teaching and learning environment and the like (Chastain, 1988, p.103; Wenden, 1999; Bernat & Gvozdenko, 2005; Oz, 2007).
According to Bernat and Gvozdenko (2005), beliefs are the result of a number of factors including past experience, cultural background, educational contexts, and many other affective, cognitive, and personal factors. Beliefs according to Richardson (1996) are defined as “psychologically held understandings, premises, or propositions about the world that are felt to be true” (p.102). In this way, those who are involved in the process of teaching and learning, particularly language teacher and language learners and their beliefs and views to learning a new language certainly affect the learning process, the success of the learners and their improvements, the performance of language teachers, the design of language education materials, and the other (Ahkemoglu, 2011; Wan et al, 2011).
Since learners’ beliefs have been emphasized as a helpful factor in the success or failure of language learning and teaching, investigating the beliefs of language learners can provide helpful information for language education (Bernat and Gvozdenko, 2005). There are studies that are about learners’ beliefs about language learning and teaching such as studies conducted by Altan (2006); Bernat and Gvozdenko (2005); Tanaka and Ellis (2003); and Zare-ee (2010). These studies have used different quantitative instruments to elicit learners’ beliefs about language education. For example, many studies (for example Bernat and Lloyd, 2007; Buyukyazi, 2010; Man-fat, 2008; Mohebi and Khodady, 2011) have used BALLI (Beliefs About Language Learning Inventory, Horwitz, 1988). These instruments and studies show the beliefs of learners in a quantitative form and do not provide the personal images of language learners.
Recently, research on beliefs has used qualitative instruments such as metaphors to get learners’ beliefs about different aspects of language education. The main reason for using metaphors is the metaphorical nature of beliefs and the way learners perceive the world and reality (Ahkemoglu, 2011). There are several studies investigating learners’ beliefs about different aspects of language education by using metaphors such as Nikitina and Furuoka (2008); Kesen (2010a, 2010b); Huang (2011); and Wan, Low and Li (2011), to name just a few; but these studies have been done in non-Iranian English-as-a-Foreign-Language (EFL) contexts and they also have focused on EFL learners in academic contexts.
Although there are several recent studies in an Iranian EFL context (such as Parvaresh, 2008; Pishghadam and Pourali, 2011; Farjami, 2012a, 2012b, 2012c; Askarzadeh Torghabeh, Elahi and Khanalipour, 2009) in the area of beliefs about the different aspects of language learning and teaching; they are mostly in academic contexts and EFL learning and teaching in high school contexts especially in local areas where there are bilingual students learning English as a third language is overlooked.
Additionally, the studies conducted except a few (for example, Nikitina & Furuoka, 2008; Kesen, 2010; Ahkemoglu, 2011; Wan et al, 2011) have considered two important factors in the development of language learning and teaching that is learner and teacher and their crucial roles (Chastain, 1988, p.130) in the beliefs of language learners. Therefore, there is a need to investigate Iranian high school students’ beliefs about different concepts in language education in a context where the learners are learning English as a third language and as a school subject.
In order so, this study aims to fill the gaps in the previous studies conducted in this area and to elicit Iranian high school students’ beliefs and views about language learning and teaching particularly their beliefs about the roles assigned to language teachers and language learners by use of metaphors. As well, the present study is to consider to what extent the metaphors of Iranian Kurdish-speaking high school students about the roles of language learners and language teachers are related the results of other studies as well as to the design of the most important language learning and teaching methods, a point which is not studied in the related literature.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
Language learners come to educational contexts with preconceived beliefs about different dimensions of the teaching and learning process (Chastain, 1988, p.123; Ahkemoglu, 2011). These perceptions are at an implicit level that is they are not clear enough and tangible to language teachers and even the language learners themselves. So, there is a need to make these series of beliefs clear because they play an important role in language learning and teaching (Parvaresh, 2008).
There have been a number of studies on language learners’ beliefs about language education using quantitative instruments. In line with the change and increase in the direction of the studies in this area to conduct qualitative studies on beliefs elicited by use of metaphors in different educational contexts, there have been several studies in Iranian EFL settings with more focus on academic centers. Therefore, in addition to filling gaps about language learners’ beliefs about different aspects of language learning and teaching in Iranian EFL contexts; there is a need to do studies on students learning English at Iranian high school contexts especially in local areas where there are bilingual students learning English as a third language and as a school subject is overlooked. Therefore, the present study is to investigate the beliefs of Iranian Kurdish-speaking high school students’ beliefs about language learning and teaching in a context where the English language is taught as a foreign language and a school subject by the educational system. The main focus is on the roles of language learners and teachers as two crucial factors in the development of language learning and teaching.
1.3. Research Questions
Although there are a number of studies about the beliefs of EFL learners about different aspects of English language learning and teaching through metaphor analysis in different EFL contexts around the world and in Iran, but there are some important questions that still remain open to be answered.
One of the gaps which is required to be filled in the present study is the analysis of Iranian Kurdish-speaking high-school students’ beliefs learning EFL by means of metaphorical images. To this end, the present qualitative and descriptive study aims to answer the following research questions:
• Question 1: What are the metaphors of Iranian Kurdish-speaking high school students about language learners’ roles?
• Question 2: What are the metaphors of Iranian Kurdish-speaking high school students about language teachers’ roles?
• Question 3: To what extent are the metaphors of Iranian Kurdish-speaking high school students about the roles assigned to language teachers and language learners related to the proposed roles in the design of the most important language learning and teaching methods?
• Question 4: What are the implications of this metaphorical study for EFL learning and teaching in Iran and other contexts?
1.4. Objectives and Significance of the Study
Following other studies on the analysis of EFL learners’ beliefs about different aspects of language learning and teaching, the present descriptive and qualitative study aims to investigate the beliefs of Iranian Kurdish-speaking high school students’ beliefs about language learning and teaching in a context where the English language is taught as a foreign language by the educational system. One of the significant aspects of the current study is using a research instrument, that is, a metaphor elicitation questionnaire following several other studies (for example, Nikitina and Furuoka, 2008; Kesen , 2010a, 2010b; Huang, 2011; and Wan, et al 2011) to obtain the participants’ beliefs.
The present study also aims to provide the most important metaphors used by Iranian Kurdish-speaking high school students about language learning and teaching particularly about learners’ and teachers’ roles in language education. This is the first study which fills the gap in the literature in this area in this local setting.
This study also aims to help high school EFL teachers and language education officials to know about students’ beliefs about different aspects of EFL learning and teaching in order to improve language education in Iranian EFL educational context. Finally, the comparisons of the elicited metaphors about language learners’ and teachers’ roles with the roles assigned to language teachers and language learners in the designs of the most important teaching and learning methods has implications for EFL contexts.
1.5. Definition of the Key Words
Beliefs as one of the key terms in the present study are defined as “psychologically held understandings, premises, or propositions about the world that are felt to be true” (Richardson, 1996, p.102).
English as a Foreign Language (EFL)
English as Foreign Language or EFL in the current study is a term which is used to refer to English learned as a foreign language in a country or a context in which English is not commonly as a language of education, business or government (Brown, 2007, p.381).
According to a definition provided by the Dictionary of Merriam-Webster encyclopedia (2014), metaphor as an important term in the present thesis is “a word or a phrase for one thing that is used to refer to another thing in order to show or suggest that they are similar” ) Lakoff and Johnson, 2003, p. 158).
Language Learner’s Role:
According to Richards and Rodgers (2001, p. 27), the language learner’s role is defined as the learner’s contribution to the process of language learning and teaching as well as a learner’s status and function in the context of language learning and teaching.
Language Teacher’s Role:
Language teacher’s role as another key term in the current study is defined according to Richards and Rodgers (2001, p. 28) as the teacher’s contribution to the process of language learning and teaching as well as a teacher’s status and function in the context of language learning and teaching.
Methods of Language Learning and Teaching:
Methods also called designs according to Richards and Rodgers (2001, p. 24) are plans that consider objectives, syllabus and language content, types of learning tasks and teaching activities, learners’ roles, teachers’ roles, and the role of instructional materials for language learning and teaching.
1.6. Outline of the Study
The outline of the thesis is organized as follows:
• Chapter One is the Introduction section. In this chapter, first a background to the study of beliefs about language learning and teaching will be provided. Then the statement of the problem, four research questions as well as the objectives and significance of the present study are given. Additionally, the limitations of the study and the definition of key words including beliefs, English as a Foreign Language (EFL), metaphor, language learner’s role, language teacher’s role, methods of language learning and teaching used in the present study are presented.
• Chapter Two as the Review of Related Literature section provides the necessary background for the research performed for this thesis. It refers to previous studies done on EFL learners’ beliefs about different aspects of language learning and teaching through different instruments particularly using metaphor analysis of teachers’ and learners’ beliefs about different aspects of language learning and teaching. The studies are classified according to their contexts, that is, EFL contexts all around the world and Iranian EFL ones. The studies are also reviewed and described in detail with more focus on their methodology, findings, and limitations. In the end, there is a summary which makes a background for the present study.
• Chapter Three is the Methodology section. In this chapter, a detailed account of the context of study, the profile of participants, the instruments used to elicit the metaphors and the procedure adopted to get the data is provided. Additionally the way to analyze the data is presented.
• Chapter Four as the Results section shows the findings of the present study in detail. As well, the classifications of metaphors and the required tables and examples are given.
• Chapter Five is the Discussion and Conclusion section. In this chapter firstly the findings of the study are discussed in detail in comparison with previous studies according to the provided research questions. The findings of the present study are also related to the design of the most important methods of language learning and teaching. Then in the conclusion part of the study, concluding remarks, limitations of the study, and the most important implications of the study are provided. Additionally, there are several recommendations for further studies about the beliefs of EFL learners about the roles of language learner and language teacher using metaphors.
In the next chapter, Chapter 2, a review of the related literature is presented.
Review of Related Literature
2.1. Review of the Related Literature
The review of the relevant literature for the present study was done in order to provide a conceptual framework for the present study, to prepare a summary of the studies conducted in the field of belief studies about language learning and teaching in a wide variety of EFL contexts and particularly in Iran; and also to find the gap, that is lack of studies on language learners’ beliefs about different aspects of language learning and teaching in Iranian EFL contexts particularly at Iranian high school contexts as well as local and unique EFL education settings, which is going to be filled through the this study.
The review of the related is classified in this chapter into different sections:
First of all, a general overview of the term metaphor as a conceptual framework summarized from different perspectives is presented; then a review of studies on beliefs about language learning and teaching through the recently used instrument of metaphor elicitation in different EFL settings in the world including Iran is provided; afterwards a review of the roles assigned to language learners and teachers in the design of the dominant language learning and teaching methods is presented; and finally a conclusion about the need to conduct the present study and to fill the gap in the related literature is offered. It should be noted that, in the present review, only those studies that were directly relevant to the main concerns of the current study were considered.
2.1.1. The Conceptual Framework of Metaphor
Metaphor is traditionally defined as a device for seeing something in terms of something else (Cameron & Low, 1999, p. 78). According to a definition provided by Lakoff and Johnson (2003) in the Dictionary of Merriam-Webster encyclopedia (2014), metaphor as an important term in the present thesis is “a word or phrase for one thing that is used to refer to another thing in order to show or suggest that they are similar”. As well, according to Lakoff and Johnson (2003, p. 158), in all aspects of life, realities are defined in terms of metaphors and then proceed to act on the basis of the metaphors.
According to Ishiki (2011); since 1980s, metaphor analysis has been one of the most popular methods in language learning and teaching research to explore the way language teachers and student view the different aspects of language learning and teaching. Metaphors have been helping language teachers and students as well as researchers to organize their belief sets and have served as an aid to reflect themselves (Ellis, 2001; Ishiki, 2011). It is through metaphors and its analysis that language teachers and students conceptualize what language teaching and learning involves and their roles and objectives in the classroom.
In other words, language learners’ and teachers’ beliefs and views are embedded in the metaphors they pick so that it is crucial to look at metaphors as a reflection of complex social practice (Ishiki, 2011). As it is significantly useful for language teachers to be aware of learners’ metaphors, the process of producing and interpreting metaphors is also beneficial for learners themselves. Ellis (2001) pointed out that making learners aware of the metaphors they use to conceptualize their learning may be one way of increasing their control over learning. With metaphors as a means of expression and communication, learners can portray their voice effectively and efficiently. Through metaphor analysis, language teachers can have access to learners’ mental images which cannot be described in any other form of communication (Kesen, 2010a; Ishiki, 2011). For example, according to Huang (2011); when a learner says learning English is to plant a tree, the individual sees English learning as a long process and needs patience that you have to work on every single day. Metaphors, in this way, are representations of thoughts and also beneficial communication tools.
2.1.2. Studies on Learners’ Beliefs about Language Learning and Teaching
There are a number of studies that have used qualitative methods and instruments to elicit the beliefs of language teachers and learners about different aspects of language learning and teaching. In this line, there are a number of recent studies that have employed metaphor analysis to obtain the English language teachers’ and learners’ beliefs with the assumption that our thought processes are largely metaphorical in nature (Huang, 2011; Ahkemoglu, 2011). These studies have examined the English language teachers’ and learners’ beliefs about the English language by itself, the English language learning, English classroom practices, English teacher’ roles and English learner’ roles and so on. The majority of these studies on metaphor analysis in EFL contexts (for example Karadag and Gultekin, 2012; Ishiki, 2011; Kesen, 2010a , 2010b; Erkmen, 2010; Ahkemoglu, 2011) have focused on metaphors produced by non-Iranian EFL learners except for a few studies that have focused on Iranian EFL learners but in academic contexts wherein the particiapnts have been monolingual Persian-speaking EFL learners (for example Pishghadam, Fatemi, Akbarzadeh Torghabeh, and Navari, 2008; Pishghadam and Pourali, 2011a, 2011b; Farjami, 2012a, 2012b, 2012c). The orientation of belief studies through metaphor analysis in Iranian EFL contexts reveals the fact that all these studies have been predominantly on EFL learners in monolingual as well as academic contexts. Therefore, there is a need for studies in bilingual and school-level contexts.
The review provided below is provided based on different EFL contexts in which studies on beliefs about different aspects of language learning and teaching have been conducted. So, first, studies in non-Iranian EFL contexts and then studies in Iranian EFL settings are presented.
Among the belief studies conducted earlier through metaphor analysis was the investigation conducted by Oxford (2001) wherein the personal narratives of 473 foreign language learners as immigrants from different countries in the United States were investigated and the metaphorical images they used about three language learning and teaching approaches was identified. Oxford in this study reported that these English language learners varied both quantitatively and qualitatively in the content of the metaphors they employed about teachers and teaching in an English as a second language context in an English-speaking setting. In this study, the learner’s role was not under investigation and the implications of results were not provided. One of the positive aspects of this study was using short narratives as the research instrument for metaphor elicitation from the immigrant EFL learners. This was in line with Wan et al’s (2003) comment in which qualitative research tools as reflective instruments are the best to elicit participants’ beliefs and attitudes to the different aspects of language learning and teaching.
In another study, Ellis (2002) examined metaphorical concepts and images in the diaries of six beginner learners about language learning and teaching in a German context. In his qualitative study, he reports five conceptual metaphors and their entailments, giving examples for the key words related to each metaphor including learning is a journey (e.g., I got hopelessly lost), learning is a puzzle, learning is a work, learning is a suffering, and learning is a struggle. These metaphors were collected over a long time and Ellis (2002) suggested that the metaphors provide by these beginner learners revealed two main points as learning a new language was problematic for these learners for cognitive and affective reasons and they constructed themselves as both agents of their learning and patients of experiences they could not control. There were no further discussions in this regard.
A study of Puerto Rican EFL teachers and learners by Guerrero and Villamil (2002) was one of the belief studies in which metaphor elicitation questionnaires and interviews were used to probe into the EFL teachers’ views to the various dimensions of language learning and teaching. Guerrrrero and Villamil (2002) in their investigation identified nine distinct conceptual metaphors for in-services English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) teachers in terms of teacher’s roles, learner’s roles, and the learning process alongside the ESL teachers’ assumptions and theories underlying their beliefs. Various metaphorical conceptualizations of the language learning profession emerged, and teachers were most frequently represented in the classic roles of a leader, a provider of knowledge, an agent of change, a nurturer and an artist, whereas learners were represented by a wide range of metaphors from very active (for example, a musician, a construction worker) to very inactive (for example, a television viewer, a piece of clay). The identification of features of metaphors provided a frame of reference for understanding student teachers’ philosophical orientations, roles and practices in EFL teaching.
This investigation in a Puerto Rican ESL context was in line with the objectives of the present study in terms of the research instrument used, the data collection and analysis procedure, and the frame of reference provided for understanding student teachers’ philosophical orientations, roles and practices in EFL teaching. However, there were some differences as in the present study the participants were EFL learners and interviews as complementary research instruments were employed to validate the results.
Similarly, Ocak and Gunduz (2006) in a Cypriot EFL context elicited 620 metaphorical images through metaphor elicitation prompts from 362 language students and teachers and acquired eleven categories: teacher as a guide, an illuminator, an authority, a source of knowledge, a carrier, an integrator, a role model, a molder, an innovator, and an agent of development. In another study, only the list of the metaphors for EFL teacher’s roles was provided and there was no attention to EFL learner’s roles. Furthermore, no attention was paid to the implication of such studies for language education contexts.
In the same research in this context; Saban, Kocbeker, and Saban (2006) studies 1222 teacher candidates, studying English Education and Instructional Technologies, and grouped 111 metaphors into 10 categories: teacher as a knowledge provider, a molder, a curer, a superior authority figure, a change agent, an entertainer, an archetype of spirit, a nurturer, a facilitator, and a cooperative leader. The main purpose of the study was presenting a list of metaphorical images as well as the effect of gender on these concepts. There were no mention of the underlying theories for these beliefs and there was no attention to English language learners as one of the main roles in the EFL learning and teaching context.
In a Malaysian EFL learning and teaching context, Nikitina and Furuoka (2008a) examined metaphors about language teachers’ roles created by a group of 23 Malaysian university students. The aims of the study were to determine whether metaphors produced by language learners in the Asian educational context can fit into the four philosophical perspectives on education outlined by Oxford et al. (1998), and to explore whether students’ gender influences their metaphor production. This study employed both qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis. The results of the content analysis of 27 metaphors produced by the participants showed that Oxford et al.’s (1998) typology of metaphors is applicable in the Malaysian educational context.
In addition, the qualitative analysis revealed that the imagery used in the metaphors is, to some extent, gender-related. However, the results of statistical analysis indicated that there are no statistically significant differences in the perceptions of the teacher’s role between the students of different genders. This study was comprehensive enough and was in agreement with the aims of the present study in which a group of 86 Iranian Kurdish-speaking EFL learners are employed as the participants. The differences between the study conducted by Nikitina and Furuoka (2008a) and the current study were the number and the characteristics of the EFL learners, that is, in the current study the participants were high school students learning EFL educational context. One of the positive aspects of the study conducted by Nikitina and Furuoka (2008a) was the implications of their study to philosophical dimensions, the implications to the design of the language learning and teaching methods as one of the main objectives of the current study was overlook, however.
In a follow-up study, Nikitina and Furuoka (2008b) in another Malaysian EFL learning and teaching setting focused on the student-generated metaphors about language teachers’ roles in EFL classroom environments and employed a quantitative analysis to examine the dimensions around which these metaphors align. A questionnaire containing metaphors about language teachers was distributed to 98 Malaysian students. Factor analysis was employed as a research technique to identify the dimensions along which the students’ perceptions aligned. The findings of the present paper lent support to the previous attempts at metaphor taxonomy by Oxford et al. (1998) and Chen (2003).
Michael and Katerina (2009) in line with other investigations examined the metaphors 156 Greek-speaking in-service teachers to explain their attitudes toward teacher-student roles, language teaching, classroom climate and their beliefs about knowledge of the English language. They employed qualitative research instruments including metaphor elicitation prompts as well as diaries. The findings illustrated that Greek culture and educational system seem to result in the diversity of the chosen metaphors. Furthermore, EFL in-service teachers’ understanding of the metaphors they created and selected could influence and also benefited them since these metaphors had the potential to help teachers analyze their roles and identities.
In the same study, Bagici and Coklar (2010) analyzed 45 obtained metaphors developed by 131 prospective EFL teachers who studied at a Turkish academic context in relation to their roles in use of educational technology. The metaphors were classified under six different categories: being important, useful, assistant, guide, user, producer, designer, learner and attitude. Results revealed that prospective teachers were mostly assumed roles of being important, useful, assistant, guide and user. Another finding of this study was that the metaphors produced by the prospective teachers differed in various departments. This study did not pay attention to assumed roles for EFL learners in the views of EFL teachers and the underlying theories for the choice of metaphorical images were not discussed in detail.
In Cyprus, Kesen (2010a) analyzed language learners’ and teachers’ concepts of an English language teacher through the metaphors they generated. The participants for the present study were 100 English-Language-Teaching (ELT) major learners and 100 EFL teachers. Both the learners and the teachers were randomly chosen from two universities. In order to reveal language learners’ and teachers’ concepts of an English language teacher through the metaphors they generated, EFL teachers were asked to complete the sentence of “An English language teacher is a/an….because…..”. Although this metaphor elicitation prompt was similar to the format of the sentences used in the questionnaires of the present study, the participants were academic-level EFL learners.
Upon the completion of the metaphor elicitation prompt in Kesen’s study (2010a), Cypriote EFL learners as the main participants were interviewed both to clarify the unclear points about the metaphors. In addition, participants were asked to write their thoughts on paper by concentrating on their own metaphors. As for the learners’, the list of the metaphors were given to them and they were asked to choose one metaphor that they believed to best represent an English language teacher’s role in an EFL classroom environment. The obtained data were analyzed and interpreted using the content analysis method. The findings of the study suggested that EFL teachers’ and learners’ concept of a foreign language teacher display both commonalities and differences.
The metaphor elicitation prompt, the complementary short interviews following the completion of the questionnaires as well as the content analysis employed as the data analysis procedure were the characteristics of this study which were highly in agreement with the design of the current study in which Iranian Kurdish-speaking high school-level’ beliefs were elicited through metaphors and analyzed to find the dominant metaphorical themes and their implications.
Erkmen (2010) in another study on metaphorical analysis in Cyprus investigated the beliefs about teaching and learning English of nine non-native novice teachers at a private center, and the extent to which these beliefs changed in their first year of teaching. Data was collected over an academic year of nine months by means of semi-structured interviews, classroom observations, post-lesson reflection forms, stimulated-recall interviews, and diaries. The main focus of the study was highlighting the metaphors employed during this time by novice teachers. Although there was differences between this study and the objectives of the current study, using metaphor elicitation tasks in which participants were prompted to provide and present their beliefs and attitudes to different aspects of language learning and teaching through metaphors were in line with the objectives of our study. The study found that novice teachers’ prior learning experiences were influential in shaping their initial beliefs. However, the findings also showed that the majority of the teachers’ beliefs were re-structured and strengthened, suggesting that beliefs are dynamic.
The dynamic nature of beliefs and the effects of some influential factors including gender, cultural background, previous language learning and teaching experience, language proficiency, other cognitive, affective and socio-economic factors were the highlighted points which can lead to a wide variety of metaphors. Therefore, in the studies in this regard, these factors and the dynamic nature of beliefs should be taken into account.
Ahkemoglu (2011) in another study in a Turkish EFL learning and teaching context investigated the conceptual metaphors of both ELT-major and non-ELT-major learners in regard to their perceptions of an English language teacher. The roles assigned to English language learners were not considered in this study. In addition, the study searched into the similarities and/or discrepancies between ELT-major learners and non-ELT major learners in how they perceive an English language teacher. Data were collected through metaphor elicitation sheet, semi-structured interviews, and personal essays. Both qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis were used. Personal metaphors were analyzed and the main conceptual themes were identified. The main results of the study indicated that while some metaphors were peculiar to English language teacher such as an oracle, a schizophrenic, and a gum, some metaphors seemed to be common with the ones developed for the concept of a teacher such as a light, a guide, and a bridge.
This study had positive and negative dimensions. Using non-English-major learners was one of the main positive aspects of this study in line with the characteristics of the participants in our investigation. Employing metaphor elicitation sheets as well as complementary semi-structured interviews were also similar to the design of our study. This study had two negative aspects including concentration on academic-level EFL learners and lack of attention to the roles of EFL learners in the language learning and teaching context.
In a study on Japanese EFL learners beliefs about the various aspects of language learning and teaching, Ishiki (2011) examined the use and analysis of Japanese students’ metaphors in an EFL setting. This study highlighted how students’ metaphors on the English language learning changes over time as their proficiency improved. The participants were 14 college-level students who were enrolled in an international business program. Students’ metaphors were collected two times throughout the semester with participant observation and interviews in order to better understand their rationales behind. This procedure of data collection and data analysis, that is, using metaphor elicitation and complementary structured short interviews were similar to our investigation into students’ beliefs in an Iranian EFL context. The results of the Ishiki’s study revealed that learners did not change their metaphors whereas their level of proficiency developed, and students’ imagined self had a great impact upon their metaphors as it served as a driving force to master English.
Huang (2011) in another study emphasized how the metaphor can be influential on language learner identity particularly second language learning and what