When a cat’s away the mice playMonkey see, monkey do
Using idioms - an efficient way to improve effective business communicationL2 idioms are hard to master most advanced L2 learners expectto proficiently make use of themThis paper demonstrates• problems Thai speakers learning English have confronted• illustrates some solutionsThe study shows that some learners are aware of L1-L2 semantically similar idiomsbut most of them have difficulty supplying English idioms that are equivalent toThai idioms.Abstract
Importance of the study and knowledge of idiomto Thai speakers of EnglishIdioms one of the most difficult aspects of language for learners in allgroups:• L1 learners (e.g., Nippold, 1991; Gibbs, 1994)• language-disordered learners (e.g., Nippold & Fey, 1983; Nippold, 1991)• bilingual and second language learnersAs Thiel (1979:23)Lack of precise idiomatic usage betray the foreign backgroundeven of a speaker with an excellent grammatical knowledge,vocabulary, and pronunciationMost second language learners have a strong desire to master L2 idioms sound “natural” or non-foreign (Richards, 1996:32)
The major research questions1. What do Thai-speaking learners of English recognize pragmaticcongruency between Thai idioms and English idioms?2. What do they produce the corresponding English idioms?
Subjects• 31 graduate students at universities inDelaware, Massachusetts, SouthCarolina, Wisconsin, and WashingtonThai students• Stayed in the US. for 2.5 years at the time of data collection• Received at least a bachelor’s degree• Met their university’s entry requirements• High TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scorethe subjects obtained score ranged from 501- 630
All linguistic items selected for the study have pragmatic equivalents inboth Thai and English.The choices given are “Yes,” “No,” and “Don’t know”the subjects were also asked to supply a pragmatically correspondingEnglish example (if they knew of one) for each given Thai idiomFill in the questionnaire independently at their convenience without theuse of any linguistic toolsMaterialsThe questionnaire – 14 Thai idiomatic sayings in random orderProcedure
Thai expressions/idioms Yes No Don’tknowIf yes, supply one1. hen5 kong1jak2 pen1 dok2bua1see gear as lotus2. luat3 khon3 kwa:2 na:m4Blood thick more water
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199. Where there’s a will there’s a way14 Thai idiomaticsayings2. When in Rome do as the Romans do3. Two heads are better than one4. An apple falls not far from the tree5. Blood is thicker than water6. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound ofcure7. When a cat’s away the mice play
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206. Speech is silver, silence is golden14 Thai idiomaticsayings9. Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goesstraight to the bone.10. Spare the rod, spoil the child11. Preach to the choir12. Wolf in sheep’s clothing13. The way to a man’s heart is through hisstomach14. Monkey see, monkey do
Table 1: Advanced EFL learners’ responses concerning the pragmatic congruencybetween Thai and English idiomsResultsResearch question 1: how effectively do advanced learners of Englishrecognize pragmatic congruency between Thai idioms and English idioms?
Figure 1 Percentage of EFL learners’ recognition of pragmatically congruent idiomsin Thai and English
Categories Wrong Answers1.cross-linguistic influence Rat Mousewhen cat is away, the rat will play2.mismatches Rome wasn’t built in a dayWhen in Rome do as the Romans do3.alternatives ofpragmatically similaridiomsLike father, like son and Like mother, like daughter The apple falls not far from thetree.used as pragmatic equivalents4.paraphrases Success is contingent on hard work suppliedWhere there’s a will there’s a way,5.incomplete idioms Do as the Romans doWhen in Rome do as the Romans do.6.meaning reversal A pound of prevention worths an ounce of cureNot fit into any category Don’t do what people told you to do Monkey see, Monkey do.14 expressions: wrong / incomplete
ConclusionsThe investigation showed thatthe subjects graduate students at universities in the U.S.A.• tended to have a very low ability to recognize pragmatic congruencybetween Thai idioms and English idioms• had uncertainty and inability to decide whether the Thai idioms hadcounterparts in English
ImplicationsFor Educators and L2 teachers educate learners• the nature of mistakes that learners’ made 6 categories• how to prevent themGeorgia and Ioannis, 20081. gap-filling exercises2. making sentences using idioms3. telling stories based on pictures4. retelling and add-on stories5. idiom notebooks and flashcards6. learning the origin of idioms7. playing idiom gamesSample activities
ReferencesCedar, Payung (2008). Learners Recognition of Thai English IdiomCounterparts. The Linguistics Journal: 3(3), Pp.145-159.Georgia and Galantomos (2008). Teaching idioms in a foreign languagecontext: preliminary comments on factors determining Greek idiominstruction Metaphorik.de 15, Pp.7-26.