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No Functions... Constructions! CxG and Cognitive Linguistics: Powerful Allies for User friendly L2 Pedagogy

Reyes Llopis-García


This is the video of the talk that was given by Reyes Llopis-García on Wednesday, December 16, 2021

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1Most L2 teaching methodologies and textbooks, especially where explicit instruction of grammar is concerned, have remained largely unchanged since the early 1980s (Tyler 2012, Larsen-Freeman 2015), with their “scope and sequence” vertebrated into notions (i.e. telling stories in the pastor giving advice) and functions that match them (i.e. the preterit and the imperfect or using the conditional and the imperative, etc.). Notions then provide the lexical units necessary to create language around them, while functions teach the grammatical items that structure their content. And while this is the most widely accepted manner of working in the L2 classroom, it is by no means the best or the only way. In fact, usage-based approaches to L2 teaching and learning, like Applied Cognitive Linguistics (ACL) and Sociocultural Theory have been gaining ground and popularity in professional development and academic training for language instructors, and the last few years have seen the first footprints of ACL in textbooks and grammar manuals from the editorial world, as well as in the way some instructors are approaching the teaching of their target language: prototypes and SCOBAS, metaphorical competence, motion and embodiment, or perspective are slowly becoming more frequent and more appreciated in the L2 classroom by teachers and students alike because they make grammar and lexis more accessible and comprehensible for both parties (Llopis-García, Real Espinosa & Ruiz Campillo 2012, Castañeda Castro 2014, Ibarretxe-Antuñano, Cadierno & Castañeda Castro 2019, Llopis-García & Hijazo-Gascón 2019).

2Enter Constructions, and the grammar-lexis continuum acquires new opportunities for further accessibility to not only meaningful form-meaning pairings, but also to a much-needed rhyme and reason in the combination and behavior of linguistic structures. There is enormous potential to CxG in the L2 language classroom, as evidenced both by a growing body of research (Holme 2010, De Knop & Gilquin 2016, Gras 2017, Ibarretxe-Antuñano & Cheikh-Khamis 2019, among many others), and an increasing interest from the teaching community in learning more about usage-based approaches to L2.This talk aims to contribute insights to CxG for the language classroom by exemplifying how constructions may be taught (with a focus on Spanish/L2, since specific teaching materials will be shown), by arguing for best practices for their teachability and their pedagogical inclusion, as well as strongly supporting the presence of CxG approaches from the very early stages of the elementary levels, because their two-fold stability and versatility is very attractive for beginners as they learn to navigate the structure of the new linguistic system. Finally, a case will be made for equal-opportunity collaborations between linguists and language instructors, since the knowledge of the former cannot come to fruitful research success without the input and know-how of the latter.


Reyes Llopis-García

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Castañeda Castro, A. (Ed.) 2014. Enseñanza de Gramática Avanzada de ELE. Madrid: SGEL.

DeKnop, S. & Guilquin, G. (Eds.) 2016. Applied Construction Grammar. Boston: DeGruyter.

Gras, P. 2017. Gramática de Construcciones para Profesores de ELE. Lecture at the Universitat de Barcelona. December 20th. Retrieved online from []

Holme, R. 2010. Construction Grammars: Towards a Pedagogical Model. In Littlemore, J. & Juchem-Grundmann, C. (Eds.) Applied Cognitive Linguistics in Second Language Learning and Teaching. AILA Review 23, pp. 115-133.

Ibarretxe-Antuñano, I, Cadierno, T. & Castañeda Castro, A. (Eds.) 2019. Lingüística Cognitiva y Español LE/L2. New York: Routledge.

Ibarretxe-Antuñano, I. & Cheikh-Khamis, F. (2019). “How to become a woman without turning into a Barbie”: Change-of-State Verb Constructions and their Role in Spanish as a Foreign Language. In Llopis-García, R. & Hijazo-Gascón, A. 2019. (Eds.) Applied Cognitive Linguistics to L2 Acquisition and Learning: Research and Convergence. Special Issue in IRAL 57:1, pp. 97-120.

Larsen-Freeman, D. 2015. Research into Practice: Grammar Learning and Teaching. Language Teaching 48, pp 263-280.

Llopis-García, R., Real Espinosa, JM. & Ruiz Campillo, JP. 2012. Qué Gramática Enseñar, Qué Gramática Aprender. Madrid: Edinumen.

Llopis-García, R. & Hijazo-Gascón, A. 2019. (Eds.) Applied Cognitive Linguistics to L2 Acquisition and Learning: Research and Convergence. Special Issue in IRAL57:1.

Tyler, A. 2012. Cognitive Linguistics and Second Language Learning. New York: Routledge.

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Reyes Llopis-García, « No Functions... Constructions! CxG and Cognitive Linguistics: Powerful Allies for User friendly L2 Pedagogy »CogniTextes [En ligne], Volume 21 | 2021, mis en ligne le 15 mars 2021, consulté le 29 mai 2023. URL : ; DOI :

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