Pedagogical Potential of Online Dictionaries in Metaphor and Idiom Language Instruction




metaphor, idiom, online dictionaries, dictionary skills, multimodality


Metaphors are an intrinsic part of thought and language that allow us to construe a cognitive domain in terms of another domain. Metaphors are especially relevant to the study of idioms, inasmuch as idioms are commonly underlain by metaphorical patterns of conceptualization. As figurativeness is a common phenomenon in everyday language, tackling metaphors and idioms effectively in the EFL classroom can enhance students’ metaphoric competence and, consequently, increase their level of linguistic proficiency. This article explores the potential of online dictionaries and the multimodal affordances they bring to the teaching of metaphor and idiom in the language classroom. Dictionary skill descriptors are used to relate task types with idiom and metaphor content in online dictionaries and how it may be used to promote students’ learning of both dictionary skills and metaphoric language understanding. Five dictionary skills descriptors are proposed and illustrated with specific metaphor related tasks that show online dictionary affordances present in six selected online dictionaries. On the whole, this article envisions online dictionaries and their multimodal affordances as a powerful learning tool for steering EFL students through the intricacies of metaphoric language.

Author Biographies

Mari Carmen Campoy-Cubillo, Universitat Jaume I

MARI CARMEN CAMPOY-CUBILLO, PhD, is Senior Lecturer at the Department of English Studies, Universitat Jaume I, Spain and Vice-Dean of English Studies. Her main research interests are in the areas of lexicography, multimodality and language testing, and special needs in higher education.

Recent publications include: the chapters Assessing multimodal listening comprehension through informative videos: the operationalisation of a new listening framework for ESP in higher education (2021 Routledge), Assessing multimodal listening (2015 Routledge), Functional Diversity in Higher Education: Online dictionaries for students who are blind (Dykinson), Multidimensional Networks for Functional Diversity in Higher Education: The Case of Second Language Education (2019 IntechOpen) and international journal articles "Fostering Learners' Online Dictionary Skills through Active Dictionary Rubrics" (Lexikos 2021), “Assessing dictionary skills” (2015 Lexicography), “Dysarthria and teaching speaking skills in English as a foreign language: a case study” (2016 Miscelanea), “Functional diversity and the multimodal listening construct” (2019 European Journal of Special Needs Education) and the edition of the special issue University research and practices in the field of special needs: an overview in the international journal C&E Culture and Education (2020).

She is the principal researcher in the INNOVAESP Innovation in Education research group where she has lead research projects since 2013.

Montserrat Esbrí-Blasco, Universitat Jaume I

PhD. Applied linguistics. Profesora asociada, Dept Estudis Anglesos -Universitat Jaume I

Máster Universitario en Profesorado de Educación Secundaria Obligatoria y Bachillerato, Formación Profesional y Enseñanza de Idiomas

Research Group: GReSCA (Grup de Recerca en Semàntica Contrastiva i  Aplicada)

Innovation in education research group: INNOVAESP 




How to Cite

Campoy-Cubillo, M. C., & Esbrí-Blasco, M. (2022). Pedagogical Potential of Online Dictionaries in Metaphor and Idiom Language Instruction. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning (iJET), 17(21), pp. 214–229.