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An Empirical Study On Prototype-theory-based Teaching Of English Polysemes In Senior High School

Posted on:2014-07-13Degree:MasterType:Thesis
Country:ChinaCandidate:L H LuFull Text:PDF
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The teaching and learning of polysemy has always been a problem for foreignlanguage teachers and learners. The traditional way to deal with the meaning items ofa polyseme is either to learn them by rote or to infer the meanings by context becausethese meaning items are seen as independent and unrelated. But neither is good forlong-term retention.Cognitive linguistics researches have showed:1) A polyseme usually has aprototypical meaning. All the peripheral senses are related with the prototypical senseon the basis of family resemblance, forming a category.2) The extension of themeanings of a polyseme is achieved by cognitive means of metaphor, metonymy. Butthere are still some limitations:1) Lack of the research on whether their ability to usethe target words is affected by the learner’s awareness of the prototype theory;2) thereis no empirical evidence benefiting polysemes retention in the long term in seniorhigh school. Hence it is a necessity to do an empirical research, applying theprototype theory to the teaching and learning of polysemous words in senior highschools.Basing on the prototype theory, with metaphor and metonymy theory as asupplement and high school students as subjects, the author mainly focuses on thefollowing issues:1) Whether polysemy teaching guided by prototype theory is moreeffective on the acquisition of English polysemous words in senior high school?2)Whether it can improve students’ long-term retention of the meanings of a polyseme?3) Whether it can enhance their ability to use the acquired polysemes?So,126students in Senior One in Laolong Senior High School did a pretest firstand were given questionnaires afterwards. In the following days, the two classes ofstudents were taught with different methods: CC (the control class) was taught in atraditional way while EC (the experiment class) was taught under the guidance ofprototype theory. When the teaching activities was over, the students did a post-testconsisting of the learned words. One month later, another post-test whose content is almost the same to the first post-test was given to the students of the two classeswithout informing them in advance, aiming to learn about the difference on thelong-term retention of the acquired polysemes in the two different classes.By analyzing the data, the following findings were shown:1) Polysemy teachingguided by prototype theory is more effective on the acquisition of English polysemouswords.2) It can improve students’ long-term retention of the meanings of a polyseme.3) It can enhance their ability to use the acquired polysemous words.What is more, the prototype theory can not only change the dull classroomatmosphere and activate students’ interest in learning English, but also deepen thewords they learned in a quick way. This method can lower the level of cognitivedifficulty about the polysemes, enable students to realize that it is not so difficult tomemorize words and intensify their confidence and motivation.
Keywords/Search Tags:polyseme acquisition, prototype theory, metaphor, metonymy
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