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Yearbook of the German Cognitive Linguistics Association

Editor-in-Chief: Stefanowitsch, Anatol / Schoenefeld, Doris

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Frame-based instruction: Teaching polysemous nouns in the L2

Ronald Kemsies
Published Online: 2016-12-06 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/gcla-2016-0012


Across the various L2 teaching methodologies, polysemy represents a mostly neglected phenomenon. Due to the widespread belief that multiple meaning extensions are largely arbitrary as well as due to the lack of a systematic teaching method, rote learning of polysemous word meanings frequently appears to be a common practice in L2 classrooms. A cognitive semantic view of polysemy claims that polysemous meaning extensions are motivated and form a systematic network (Lakoff 1987). Against this backdrop, this article introduces a CL-based learning/teaching technique in order to systematically approximate the intended meanings of polysemous L2 nouns in context. ‘Frame-based instruction’ capitalizes on the notion of frame-inherent ‘slots’ and ‘fillers’ (cf., e.g., Barsalou 1992; Martin 1997; Minsky 1975). According to this view, polysemy arises through context- dependent slot-filler configurations. The method grants L2 learners access to these structures through a systematic array of questions scanning generic slots within the contextual frame and the polyseme-frame. In doing so, it guides them to unveil the intended polysemous word meaning in context in a step-by-step fashion. After an illustration of the method on the basis of a practical example, an empirical study is presented which tested the functionality of frame-based instruction in a classroom setting with 13-year-old EFL learners in Austria. Although the experiment produced a statistical null result, several future avenues of research crystallized with regard to an improved implementation of the method.

Keywords : cognitive semantics; polysemy; frame semantics; slots; fillers; TEFL; L2

About the article

Published Online: 2016-12-06

Published in Print: 2016-11-01

Citation Information: Yearbook of the German Cognitive Linguistics Association, Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 171–192, ISSN (Online) 2197-2796, ISSN (Print) 2197-2788, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/gcla-2016-0012.

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© 2016 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston. Copyright Clearance Center

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