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Academic Paper

Title: Teaching basic-level categories to Arab students of English
Author: Zouhair Maalej
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of Manouba
Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics; Cognitive Science
Abstract: The aim of second language teaching being for students to approximate near-native competence (Kharma & Hajjaj, 1989), subtleties of meaning must be ideally handled at the grass-root level of word meaning. Most studies in contrastive rhetoric focus on the macro-level (Kaplan, 1966-1997; Connor, 1995-1996) at the expense of the micro- or basic-level categories. The damage that lack of mastery of the semantics and pragmatics of the word level can do to English learning among Arab students has not been adequately addressed (Degachi, 1994). To remedy this, cognitive linguistics, which assigns an important place to categorisation (Fillmore, 1975), cultural models (Shore, 1996), etc., includes a strong cultural component (Langacker, 1997), which can be exploited to bring a corrective to this situation. Focus in this paper will be laid on categories used to conceptualise women in English (Nesi, 1995; Pace Nilsen, 1996; Hines, 1999). Tunisian students of English are assigned conventional metaphors, and asked to report what these suggest to them. The results of the experiment are measured against what the English use these categories to mean. The objective of this experiment is (i) to check the students' sensitivity to the packaging of meaning in lexical items, (ii) to measure the degree of interference of the students' mother tongue, and (iii) to raise their consciousness (Deignan et al, 1997) as to the way different lexicons package meaning. Emphasis on word meaning extension is not only crucial for academic tasks such as text processing, text production, translating, etc., but also for cross-cultural communication.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: In Progress
Venue: Paper read to the Second International Conference on Contrastive Rhetoric: Linguistics, Culture and Teaching. Egypt:
Publication Info: Teaching Basic-level Categories to Arab Students of English

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