Ignorance and Avoidance in EFL Written Production

Abdulmoneim Mahmoud


This study focuses on cases where EFL students do not produce the required words and phrases in their written production (i.e. semantic nonuse). To the best of the researcher’s knowledge no quantitative studies have been conducted so far to show the magnitude and the various reasons of nonuse. To fill this gap, this study attempts to quantify and analyze such instances with examples. Data were collected from 71 Arabic-to-English translations dome by university English majors as one of the tasks of an introductory course in translation. They wrote an essay in Modern Standard Arabic at the beginning of the semester and translated it into English at the end of it. Cases of nonuse where students did not use any English words were categorized and analyzed. The students were consulted to justify such cases. Accordingly, three reasons of nonuse were identified: (1) ignorance and perceived difficulty (65%), (2) perceived redundancy (33%), and (3) memory lapse (2%). ‘Avoidance’ accounted for words and expressions that were not produced due to difficulty and redundancy. The distinction between ‘ignorance’ and ‘avoidance’ may give language instructors a deeper insight into the learners’ production problems and help them in planning strategy-based teaching. The findings may also help researchers classify and explain cases of nonuse more rigorously.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijl.v12i4.17533

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