Tuesday, January 14, 2020

TESOL MTH New Year's Event Speakers - Interview with Dr Tassos Vogiatzis

Our second speaker for this year's New Year Event is Dr Tassos Vogiatzis whose session will be focusing on "Cognitive Linguistics and political communication in the language classroom". Dr. Anastasios Vogiatzis holds a Ph.D in Cognitive Linguistics from the School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. His primary research focuses on the use of metaphor in crisis management. Areas of great interest to him are the cognitive motivation for idiomatic expressions, as well the application of the cognitive framework in the foreign language classroom.

1. What is the main focus of your talk?

At first glance the focus of my talk is the use of metaphor research in the foreign language classroom, and more specifically the combination of Cognitive Linguistics and Political Communication as means to engage students with language. If, however, we take a closer look, it is all about the teacher and the student.  More specifically, I aim to show how teachers can make use of a relatively new field of study in order to deliver lessons that can attract students’ attention and at the same time improve their language proficiency and research skills.

2. What do you hope that members of the audience will remember about your talk?

The talk is multifaceted and works at various levels. First, I want the audience to learn how to use the framework (i.e. Cognitive Linguistics) so as develop their teaching skills.  Since this talk involves politics I hope that they will gain some knowledge of the role of metaphor in political speech, especially now that world is experiencing constant and unexpected change. But most importantly I want them to remember that there is a lot of research going on that they can use to everyone’s benefit, both their students’ and their own.

3.  Could you briefly explain why the study of metaphor is important to language teachers?

Language is not arbitrary, and does not come by accident. Research on metaphor at a conceptual level has shown that a large part of the way we speak is related to the way we experience the world through our body and through our interaction with the environment around us. For example, consider terms that express motion and direction, such as front/back, up/down.  Terms such as these often form the basis for commonplace metaphorical understandings that are based on our bodily experience.  Have you ever thought why “more” is expressed as “up,” in expressions like “Speak up, please.” What we experience, and our perception of it, can define how we speak. With this in mind, foreign language teachers can explain phenomena in language that do not seem to make sense: in fact, idioms, phrasal verbs, prepositions, even grammatical constructions do make sense conceptually.

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