Teaching Idiom and Metaphor via Poetry in the Chinese EFL Classroom


I discuss the use of poetry as a vehicle for teaching concepts of idiom and metaphor to EFL students in the Chinese classroom. It is difficult for any learning non-native speaker to understand idiom and metaphor, and the specific difficulties inherent in translating from Chinese to English, and vice-versa, make it such that many students rely on searching for one-to-one correspondences between an unfamiliar English word and the familiar Chinese. Students often resort to working through new texts via literal translation, leaving them with an incomplete understanding of words in context. Poetic diction by nature pushes the boundaries of linguistic capability. Therefore, I argue that close reading of poetry in the EFL classroom in conjunction with task-based language learning strategies helps students gain a more nuanced understanding of the English language. It is my belief that doing so is the best way for students to hone these skills, and thus move from a surface, more rudimentary proficiency in English to a more fluent knowledge of the linguistic subtleties necessary to understand all varieties of academic texts, literary or otherwise.

Author Information
Kevin Kilroy, Wenzhou-Kean University, China
Jeremiah Cassar Scalia, Wenzhou-Kean University, China

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2015
Stream: Education

This paper is part of the ACCS2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon