I have obtained my BA in English in July 2013 at Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU), Xi’an, China. I also received my MA in Foreign Languages and Applied Linguistics in March 2016 from the same university. When I was doing my Masters degree at NPU, I also worked as a part-time teaching assistant in the School of Foreign Languages, helping professors and lecturers arrange classes and exams, prepare teaching materials and correct students’ exercises.
What motivated me to undertake PhD study?
I undertook my PhD study mainly for three reasons. Firstly, having a PhD degree is crucially important to my career planning – to be a university teacher and researcher. Secondly, I am eager to gain more knowledge of metaphor-related research, hoping to take both my knowledge and my life to a new level. Thirdly, doing a PhD degree is really challenging, but I want to know more about my potential and limits.
What makes me passionate about my subject?
During those years of studying at NPU, both as a language learner and a classroom observer, I have experienced the magic of metaphor in the classroom-teaching context. By completing my research project on Metaphorical Features of Teachers’ Directives in Intensive Reading Classrooms (No.Z2015180), I found that when teachers’ directives are metaphorical, the students’ responses are often centring around the teaching topic, and sometimes are also metaphorical, which makes the development of students’ metaphoric competence possible. However, such situations do not occur very frequently and the teachers’ awareness of metaphor use seems to be not strong enough, which is not desirable for effective classroom teaching and learning. Therefore, aiming at figuring out a teaching strategy to create more opportunities for effective learning in college EFL classrooms, I then focused on the metaphor use and functions in a group of Chinese English majors' argumentative writing, and the reasons underlying this, hoping to know more about the students' English writing and then contribute to the English writing teaching in Chinese EFL classrooms at tertiary level.
What are my plans once I have completed my PhD?
After accomplishing my PhD degree, I plan to go back to China and work as a university English teacher and a researcher in the field of applied linguistics.
Submission Date: September 2020
A number of researchers (e.g. MacArthur, 2010; Nacey, 2013; Littlemore, 2014; Hoang, 2015; Gao, 2016) have investigated EFL learners’ use of metaphor by focusing on the written work produced by different groups of EFL learners. Chinese English majors struggle with English writing to some degree in order to fill the gap between their English language proficiency and assigned English writing tasks. According to the National College English Teaching Syllabus for English Majors in mainland China and the teaching goals arranged in the academic writing textbooks used by Chinese English majors currently, argumentative writing is an important training objective throughout Chinese English majors’ four-year undergraduate program.
Being interested in how metaphors are used and what kind of role that metaphors play in Chinese English majors’ topic-based argumentative writing, my research identifies metaphors in Chinese English majors’ argumentative writing by following the steps of MIP(VU) (Pragglejaz Group, 2007; Steen et al., 2010), categorizes metaphor types in terms of main word-classes and analyzes metaphor functions in the argumentative writing genre (Goatly, 2011; Deignan et al., 2013; Caballero, 2017). I further classify metaphor use into conventional and unconventional ones (Kovecses, 2010; Birdsell, 2018). Following this textual analysis, stimulated-recall interviews are carried out to explore how Chinese English majors report their thinking processes and awareness of using metaphors during their argumentative writing. My study aims to produce results that can have a positive impact on the innovation of teaching pedagogies for argumentative writing teaching and the development of an academic writing module for Chinese English majors by integrating metaphor knowledge into argumentative writing.