Metaphor instruction in the L2 spanish classroom: Theoretical argument and pedagogical program

James P. Lantolf, Larysa Bobrova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


In this article we argue that figurative language, specifically realized as metaphor, must become an essential aspect of any pedagogical program. The ability to understand and produce appropriate metaphors in a second language can no longer remain on the margins of linguistic proficiency; on the contrary, without such ability a speaker cannot effectively express him or herself or comprehend fully what a native interlocutor may be intending to communicate. That is, to genuinely achieve an advanced level of proficiency it is necessary that a speaker develop a metaphorical capacity in the second language. We begin the article with a discussion of the theory of metaphor proposed by Lakoff and his colleagues. We explain the principal concepts of the theory that we believe to be relevant to second-language pedagogy. We then present some examples of materials from a pedagogical program that we have developed to teach metaphors that communicate emotions and that use colors, animals and sports as source domains. Included among the materials are a dictionary of metaphors, classroom activities, and a teacher’s guide to help instructors implement the activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-61
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Spanish Language Teaching
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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