Versione stampabile

Ali Akbar JABBARI

Acquisition of EFL lexis by Afghan Migrants in Iran

Ali Akbar Jabbari
Associate professor of applied linguistics
English Department, Yazd University, Yazd, Iran
jabbari@yazd.ac.ir

Abstract

Iran provides education for Afghan refugee children, even illegal immigrants who have no residence permits. Iran has, for years, been hosting over 3 million Afghan immigrants, and tries to improve the living conditions of these war-stricken refugees (ABBASI-SHAVAZI, 2005). But this article shows that some of the migrants are more successful than their peers and some are even more successful than their Iranian classmates in foreign language learning. This study is to investigate the reasons why some Afghan migrants gain more than others in learning English lexis. To clarify the point more, we need to explore the type of Afghan schools in Iran. There are three types of schools supporting Afghan migrants: 1) Afghan migrant schools funded and run by Afghan refugees, 2) Afghan migrant schools funded and run by both Iranians and Afghan migrants, 3) Iranian state schools with mixed Iranian and Afghan students funded and run by the Iranian government. Almost all Iranian students learn English as a second language; however, for Afghan students’ English is the third language because they already have two languages at their disposal: Afghani’s Dari language as native language and Persian as a second language. The participants of the present study included 150 students of the third grade of guidance schools including 50 students for each type of school with an age range 14-16. The participants included in this study had not been instructed English outside their school in language institutes. Having already experienced two languages, Afghan third language learners could acquire English better than Iranians learning English as a second language, since they needed to learn English to express themselves in academic settings. Moreover, the students of the school type 1 were so interested in their studies because they and their parents had established and the English instructors were from Afghanistan. Finally, the Afghan migrants with better English score tended to leave Iran for a Western country or America.

Résumé

L’Iran assure l’éducation des enfants réfugiés afghans, même des immigrants clandestins sans permis de séjour. Depuis des années, l’Iran accueille plus de 3 millions de migrants afghans et tente d’améliorer les conditions de vie de ces réfugiés souffrant de la guerre (ABBASI-SHAVAZI, 2005). Mais le présent travail montre que certains migrants réussissent mieux que leurs collègues et que certains réussissent même mieux que leurs camarades iraniens dans l’apprentissage des langues étrangères. Cette étude a pour objectif d’examiner les raisons pour lesquelles certains migrants afghans gagnent plus que d’autres en apprenant le lexique anglais. Pour clarifier ce point, il faut explorer les types d’écoles afghanes en Iran. Il existe trois types d’écoles aidant les migrants afghans: 1) des écoles pour migrants afghanes financées et gérées par des réfugiés afghans, 2) des écoles pour migrants afghanes financées et gérées par des migrants iraniens et afghans, 3) Les écoles publiques iraniennes avec des étudiants iraniens et afghans mixtes financées et dirigées par le gouvernement iranien. Presque tous les étudiants iraniens apprennent l’anglais comme langue seconde; toutefois, pour les étudiants afghans, l’anglais est la troisième langue, car ils disposent déjà de deux langues: la langue dari de l’Afghanistan en tant que langue maternelle et le persan en tant que langue seconde. Les participants à la présente étude comprenaient 150 élèves d’écoles d’orientation de troisième année, dont 50 pour chaque type d’école, âgés de 14 à 16 ans. Les participants inclus dans cette étude n’avaient pas appris l’anglais en dehors de leur école dans des instituts de langues. Ayant déjà expérimenté deux langues, les apprenants afghans de la troisième langue pouvaient acquérir l’anglais mieux que les Iraniens apprenant l’anglais langue seconde, car ils avaient besoin d’apprendre l’anglais pour s’exprimer en milieu universitaire. De plus, les étudiants de l’école du type 1 étaient tellement intéressés par leurs études parce qu’ils et leurs parents s’étaient bien installés et que les professeurs d’anglais étaient d’origine afghane. Enfin, les migrants afghans ayant un meilleur score en anglais avaient tendance à quitter l’Iran pour un pays occidental ou pour les États-Unis.

Abstract

L’Iran fornisce istruzione ai bambini rifugiati afgani, anche agli immigrati illegali senza permesso di soggiorno. Per anni, l’Iran ha accolto oltre 3 milioni di migranti afgani e sta cercando di migliorare le condizioni di vita di questi rifugiati colpiti dalla guerra (ABBASI-SHAVAZI, 2005). Tuttavia, il presente studio mostra che alcuni migranti ottengono risultati migliori dei loro colleghi; alcuni superano addirittura i colleghi iraniani nell’apprendimento delle lingue straniere. Questo articolo si propone di esaminare le ragioni per cui alcuni migranti afgani ottengono più benefici di altri nell’imparare il lessico inglese. Per chiarire questo punto, dobbiamo esplorare i vari tipi di scuole afgane in Iran. Ne esistono tre tipi che assistono i migranti afgani: 1) scuole per migranti afgani finanziate e gestite da rifugiati afgani, 2) scuole per migranti afgani finanziate e gestite da migranti iraniani e afgani, 3) scuole pubbliche iraniane con studenti misti iraniani e afgani finanziate e supervisionate dal governo iraniano. Quasi tutti gli studenti iraniani imparano l’inglese come seconda lingua; tuttavia, per gli studenti afgani, l’inglese è la terza lingua, in quanto conoscono già due lingue: la lingua dari dell’Afghanistan come lingua madre e il persiano come seconda lingua. Lo studio include 150 studenti provenienti dal terzo anno delle scuole di orientamento, 50 per ogni tipo di scuola, di età compresa tra 14 e 16 anni. I partecipanti inclusi in questo studio non hanno inoltre imparato l’inglese al di fuori della loro scuola, in istituti linguistici. Conoscendo già due lingue, gli studenti afghani di terza lingua potrebbero apprendere l’inglese meglio degli iraniani che imparano l’inglese come seconda lingua perché hanno bisogno di impararlo per esprimersi in un ambiente universitario. Inoltre, gli studenti del primo tipo di scuola sono così interessati ai loro studi perché loro e i loro genitori si sono trasferiti e gli insegnanti di inglese sono di origine afgana. Infine, i migranti afgani con un punteggio migliore in inglese tendono a lasciare l’Iran per un paese occidentale o per gli Stati Uniti.

Introduction

Many researchers, including Dörnyei (1990, 1998a, 2001a, 2001b), Crookes & Schmidt (2001), Gardner (1985), and Clement et al. (1994) have emphasized the role of motivation in foreign/second language acquisition. According to them, motivation is as important as aptitude in L2 learning (GARDNER, 1985). Dörnyei & Otto (1998) believe that without enough motivation neither the most talented learners nor the best curricula and teachers cannot achieve success in long-term goals of their own. According to Gardner & Lambert (1972), motivational factors can override the effect of aptitude which itself accounts for a considerable proportion of individual variability in language learning achievement. For Crookes & Schmidt (2001), the influential motivation means reopening the research agenda, in which they argue that students’affective influences or “reason for studying” are not as important to language teachers as whether or not the student willingly participates in language learning activities.

Schmidt (2001) claims that how much input learners receive, how much L2 learning strategies they apply, to what extent they interact with native speakers, and to what extent they retain L2 skills after language study is over, are all influenced by motivation. The primary impetus and the momentum to initiate and sustain the long and often boring process of second language learning are provided by motivation and motivation is the presupposition of all other effective factors in L2 learning (DÖRNYEI, 2009).

In Brown’s (2007) definition of motivation, it is called a catch-all term which is frequently used to account for success or failure in any complex activity. Gardner (1985) defines L2 motivation as individuals’ attempts for learning the second language because of their enthusiasm to do so and the contentment they experience by doing this activity. The term achievement motivation is also used and emphasis is put on the learners’ attempts and perseverance. According to him, motivation is considered as a stimulus that causes the individuals’ participation in an activity and their persistence until they reach the intended goal of that activity.

Much research has been conducted to investigate how students can be motivated. In this regard, several theories such as social educational theory (GARDNER & LAMBERT, 1972), self-determination theory (DECI & RYAN, 1985), goal setting theories, attribution theory, self-worth theory, and self-efficacy theory (BANDURA, 1993) have been introduced.

Gardner & Lambert (1972) identify two types of motivation: instrumental and integrative motivation. Instrumental motivation is a desire to learn a foreign language in order to gain social or economic advantages; whereas, integrative motivation is a desire to learn a foreign language to be a representative member of the target language community. They note that integrative motivation is more likely to lead to success in L2 learning. But Brown (2000) says that integrative and instrumental motivation are not inevitably exclusive, since learners while learning L2 use a combination of both orientation and rarely select just one of them.

Deci & Ryan (1985) in their self-determination theory introduce another classification for motivation comprising extrinsic motivation, intrinsic motivation and a motivation. Intrinsic motivation (IM) refers to the learners’ desire to engage in an activity for enjoying the activity itself. Extrinsic motivation (EX) refers to engaging in an activity in order to gain a desired reward. And a motivation is a condition in which learners do not have specific aims and do not want to engage in the activity.

We need to take into account that learners’ motivation in various social units such as schools is crucial for formal SLA because schools promote different kinds of ethos, and generally have different climates and policies (DÖRNYEI & USHIODA, 2011). Going to a specific school represents a specific type of “actional context” (DÖRNYEI, 2002: 156) which shapes learners' motivation in a unique way.

Having investigated factors that motivated 373 Hungarian EFL learners, Feher (1999) studied the role of motivation on three types of secondary school: grammar, vocational and trade schools. The results showed that regardless of the type of school, motivation had a positive impact on all learners. However, significant differences in instrumental motivation, i.e. the English proficiency among various types of school were resulted; that is, Grammar school learners were significantly more instrumentally motivated than participants from the other two schools. The reason provided by Feher (1999) was that English proficiency was so important for Grammar school learners because they were more aware of the importance of English proficiency to look for jobs.

This study is aims at investigating the reasons why some Afghan migrants gain more than others in foreign language learning. To better clarify the point, we firstly explore the type of Afghan schools in Iran. There are three types of schools supporting Afghan migrants: 1) Afghan migrant schools funded and run by Afghan refugees, 2) Afghan migrant schools funded and run by both Iranians and Afghan migrants, 3) Iranian state schools with mixed Iranian and Afghan students funded and run by the Iranian government.

Methodology

Based on the significance of error analysis, this study focuses on English lexis learning. The current investigation aimed at analyzing formal and lexical errors made by Afghan English learners across three school types. This section presents design, setting and participants’ school types. The procedures of the study are also described. The section concludes by data analysis.

Design of the Study

The data were collected through essays with ten different topics in ten teaching sessions with intervals in the class as school assignments. The corpus including 9600 words which was analyzed based on the categorization of formal and semantic errors of lexis and school types. Similar to the ones normally given as school assignments various topics were suggested as presented in the appendix.

Having collected the data in accordance with the research questions, we analyzed the frequency and commitment reasons of formal and semantic errors of lexis in line with school types. As all the learners were balanced regarding their school type condition, there was no need to run any further placement tests or interview.

Procedures

The present research was designed to investigate the formal and semantic errors made in written English by Afghan learners of English as a foreign language. Learners were not told beforehand that their essays were part of a study. Their writings were regarded as an assignment which was part of their class participation scores. During each session, they were given 10 minutes to write about 160 words while using a dictionary or checking words with their teacher or classmates was allowed. The errors were collected from three schools. The process of error collection was carried out by the researcher. The process of error identification, error counting, and classification was undertaken by the researcher. The data collection and categorization lasted about two months.

Error detection was done by the researcher based on James and Al-shormani’s error taxonomy (1998), according to which formal errors are divided into two subcategories: formal mis-selection, including mis-selection of a prefix, mis-selection of a suffix and false friends, and mis-formation errors. Table 1 provides categorization with some erroneous examples committed by the learners.

Table 1 : Formal errors categorization and exemplification

jabbari tab 1

Al-shormani (2012) classified semantic errors into three categories: lexical choice, collocation and lexicogrammatical errors. The taxonomy is shown in the table 2.

Table 2 : Semantic errors categorization and exemplification

jabbari tab 2

Reliability

To ensure whether the identified taxonomy and their relevant subcategories have been properly assigned, the researcher classified all the errors two weeks after the first classification. In other words, intra-rater reliability was conducted to determine the reliability of the data (TABACHNICK, & FIDELL, 2007). The obtained reliability analysis results using Pearson product moment correlation turned out to be 0.94. This indicates a high degree of reliability for the assigned taxonomies adopted in the current study.

Statistically, there were a number of categorical variables including: (a) three school types, (b) errors of lexis with two levels: formal and semantic, (c) formal errors with two levels, each of which with related sublevels: formal mis-formation and formal mis-selection, and (e) semantic errors with three levels: lexical choice, collocation and lexicogrammatical elements.

SPSS 22.0 software was used to analyze the collected data (RAMASAWMY, 2017). Since the research dealt with the frequency of different types of errors, two types of chi-square tests were used. For variables with one category, a chi-square test for goodness of fit was used while a chi-square test for independence was used for analyses with two or more categories. For each analysis, a separate SPSS data file was formed to define different variables and specific frequency of each particular error types and school types.

All the data were coded and entered into the SPSS. The error types were coded as follows: errors of lexis into 1 and 2 (formal errors=1, semantic errors=2). Formal errors were coded from 1 to 2 (mis-selection=1, mis-formation=2), mis-selection from 1 to 3 (prefix=1, suffix=2, false friend=3), mis-formation from 1 to 5 (direct translation from L1=1, borrowing=2, coinage=3, spelling distortion=4, calque=5), distortion from 1 to 4 (omission=1, mis-ordering=2, over-inclusion=3, mis-selection=4), semantic errors from 1 to 2 (lexical choice=1, lexicogrammatical=2), lexical choice from 1 to 6 (assumed synonymy=1, derivativeness=2, confusion of binary terms=3, paraphrase=4, idiomaticity=5, similar forms=6), collocate choice from 1 to 3( one collocate incorrect=1, both collocates incorrect=2, wrong forms=3) lexicogrammatical from 1 to 8 (adjectives in place of nouns=1, nouns in place of adjectives=2, adjectives in place of adverbs=3, adverbs in place of adjectives=4, verb in place of noun=5, noun in place of verb=6, verb in place of adjective=7, adjective in place of verb =8).

The school types were coded from 1 to 3: 1) Afghan migrant schools funded and run by Afghan refugees, 2) Afghan migrant schools funded and run by both Iranians and Afghan migrants, 3) Iranian state schools with mixed Iranian and Afghan students funded and run by the Iranian government.

In the next section, the comprehensive process of data analysis with the corresponding results and related tables and figures will be described in detail.

Review of Variables and Research Questions

In this study, three types of categorical variables were studied: (a) two levels of formal errors (mis-selection & mis-formation); (b) semantic errors within three levels (lexical choice, collocation and lexicogrammatical choice); and (c) three school types.

Data Analysis

In order to analyze the data, two types of chi-square were used to determine the frequency of specific types of errors across each school type. Chi-square test for goodness of fit was used to compare the data which fell into categories of single variable which was the number of specific errors in each school types. Chi-square for independence was used to find out the relationship between two categorical variables containing two or more school types, error categories and related subcategories which exceed two school types.

Analysis of Lexical Errors

The purpose of the study was to investigate the written formal and semantic errors of lexis. A corpus of 9600 words, consisting of 2583 errors, was analyzed in order to determine the precise frequency of formal and semantic errors of lexis within three different school types. To this end, a combination of James (1998) and Al-Shormani’s (2012) taxonomy classified and quantified the number of lexical errors in the students’ writing.

Analysis of Formal and Semantic Errors

Figure 1 tabulates the total frequency of lexical errors observed in the corpus. Among the distribution of 2583 errors, 2030 formal and 553 semantic errors were found. In other words, 78.6% of errors were formal lexical while 21.4% belonged to the semantic category. Figure 1 visually outlines the obtained results of formal errors which are more frequent than semantic errors, through the pie chart.

jabbari fig 1

Figure 1 : Distribution of formal and semantic errors of lexis

As it is shown in the above table and figure, formal errors of lexis (78.6%) are more frequent than semantic errors (21.4%) in the corpus. A chi-square test for goodness of fit was conducted to find out the statistical significance of comparison between formal and semantic errors among all errors of lexis. The result of chi-square test indicates a significant difference in the frequency of formal and semantic errors, χ2 (1, n= 2583) = 844.572, p= 0.0001. The results indicate that Persian EFL learners committed more formal errors compared with the semantic ones.

Analysis of Formal and Semantic Errors across School type

The school type table (3) shows the frequency of formal and semantic errors across the school types. Errors are more frequent at the school type 1 (40.5%) and school type 3 (33.6%) levels in comparison with the school type 2 (20.9%).

Table 3 : Frequency of formal and semantic errors across the school types

jabbari tab 3

As the above table clearly illustrates, formal errors were more frequent at the school type 1 (42.4%) and the school type 3 (38.1%) compared with the school type 2 (19.5%). The semantic errors, on the other hand, were more frequent at school type 3 (40.5%) and the school type 1 (38.6%) than the school type 2 (20.9%).

A chi-square test for group independence was conducted to find out the statistical significance of comparison between frequency of formal and semantic errors among three school types. The results of chi-square test show a significant association between the frequency of formal and semantic errors and the school types, χ2 (2, n= 2583) = 17.217, p= 0.001, phi =0.082.The learners across the three school types committed more formal errors than the semantic ones.

Analysis of Formal Errors

The result of the analysis reveals that mis-formation errors (98%) were vividly more frequent than mis-selection (2%). A chi-square test for goodness of fit was conducted to find out the statistical significance of comparison between frequencies of formal errors categories. The result of chi-square test indicated a significant difference in the frequency of formal errors categories, χ2 (1, n= 2030) = 1869.312, p= 0.001. The table highlighted that among formal error categories, mis-formation errors are more frequent than mis-selection errors.

Analysis of Formal Errors across School types

The table 4 represents the frequency of formal errors and related subcategories across the school types. Errors are more frequent at school type 3 (42.4%) and school type 1 (38.1%) levels in comparison with the school type 2 (19.5%).

Table 4 : Cross tabulation of formal errors across school type

jabbari tab 4

Table 4 depicts the fact that mis-selection errors (2%) are much more limited than the mis-formation (98%) errors. Mis-selection errors are more frequent at the school type 1 (43.9%) and school type 3 (34.1%) than the school type 2 (22%). Mis-formation errors are also more frequent at school type 1 (42.4%) and school type 3 (38.1%) compared to the school type 2, learners (19.5%).

A chi-square test of independence was conducted to find out the association between frequencies of formal error categories and school types. The result of chi-square test shows a significant difference in the frequency of formal errors categories among school types, χ2 (1, n= 2030) = 52.402, p= 0.001, phi=0.161. The results reveal that all the learners across all the school types committed mis-formation errors more than the mis-selection errors.

Mis-selection errors

The following table (5) shows and the related frequency among school types. As the table clearly reveals, mis-selection errors of suffix (53.7%) and prefix (43.9%) are more frequent than false friends (2.4%).

Table 5 : Frequency of formal mis-selection errors across the school types

jabbari tab 5

As Table 5 indicates, the errors related to the mis-selection of suffix are more frequent at school type 3 (45.5%) compared to the school type 2 and the school type 1 (27.3%). The results are the reverse for errors pertinent to the mis-selection of prefix which are more frequent at the school type 2 (66.7%).

A chi-square test of independence was conducted to find out the association between frequencies of formal mis-selection error categories and the school types. The results of chi-square test showing no significant difference in the frequency of formal mis-selection errors among school types, χ2 (4, n= 41) = 8.386, p= 0.078, phi = 0.452. The result shows that school types did not affect mis-selection error commitment. It can be seen that the percentage of mis-selection of suffix (27.3%) is the same for both school type 2 and school type 3, learners, and percentage of mis-selection of prefix (16.7%) is the same for type 2 and school type 1.

Mis-formation Errors

The noticeable difference in the frequency of subcategories of formal mis-formation errors contains spelling distortion which is the most frequent (84.9%) subcategory.

Table 6 depicts the frequency of formal mis-formation error subcategories across the school types. All the subcategories except coinage and calque are highly frequent at the school type 3.

Table 6 : Frequency of formal mis-formation errors subcategories across the school type

jabbari tab 6 a
jabbari tab 6 b

Table 6 shows that among all the subcategories of mis-formation, errors of direct translation are more frequent at the school type 3 (65.5%) and school type 1 (24.1%) than the school type 2 (10.3%). Borrowing errors are more frequent at the school type 3 (66.7%) and school type 2 (33.3%). Distortion errors due to the spelling more frequent at the school type 3 (44.1%) and school type 1 (36.2%) than the school type 2 (19.8%). Calque are more frequent in the school type 1 (53.4%) in comparison to the school type 3 (28.2%) and the school type 2 (18.4%).

A chi-square test of independence was conducted to find out the statistical significance between frequencies of mis-formation error subcategories and school type. The result of chi-square test showed significant difference in the frequency of mis-formation error subcategories among school types, χ2 (14, n=2030) = 52.402, p= 0.00, phi = 0.161. Analysis showed that school types affected mis-formation error commitment since, except calque which is more frequent at the school type 1 (53.4%), mis-formation subcategories’ errors are more frequent at the school type 3.

jabbari fig 2

Figure 2 : Spelling distortion distribution

Looking at the following pie chart reveals the distribution of spelling distortion subcategories. Figure 2 presents that omission (45.7%) and mis-selection (28.3%) errors are the most frequent errors.

Table 7 : Distortion subcategories across school types

jabbari tab 7 a
jabbari tab 7 b

As it is shown in the above table and previous figure, among the distortion subcategories omission is more frequent at type 3 (43.5%) and type 1 (36.9%) rather than the type 2 (19.6%), mis-ordering is more frequent at type 3 (40.7%) and type 1 (35.6%) rather than type 2 (23.7%), and mis-selection errors are the most frequent at type 3 (42.1%) and type 1 (40.8%) level than type 2 (17.2%). Over-inclusion errors are more frequent at type 3 (50.2%) than type 2 (22.6%) and type 1 (27.2%).

Analysis of Semantic errors

Table 8 : Semantic errors frequency across the school type

Jabbari tab 8 a nuovo
jabbari tab 8 b nuovo

As the above table shows, errors of lexical choice are more frequent at school type 3 (100%) while the collocation errors are more frequent at type 2 (77.5%). Nonetheless, lexicogrammatical errors of lexis are the most prevalent category across type 3 (100%).

A chi-square test of independence was conducted to find out the statistical association between frequencies of distortion errors categories and school types. The result of chi-square test showed significant difference in the frequency of distortion error categories among school types, χ2 (6, n=1690) = 17.117, p= 0.009, phi = 0.71. As the tested relationship between school types and distortion errors shows, the higher the school types, the more distortion error commitment, as all the spelling subcategories are more frequent at the school type 3.

Errors of lexical choice are more frequent at the school type 1 (100%). Nonetheless, lexicogrammatical errors of lexis are the most prevalent category across the school type 3 (100%).

A chi-square test of independence was conducted to find out the statistical association between the frequencies of semantic error types across school types. The result of chi-square test indicated a significant difference in the frequency of semantic error categories among the school types, χ2 (4, n=553) = 898.223, p= 0.001, phi = 0.901. It is observed that, excluding lexical choice errors at the school type 1, school types have an impact on the percentage of semantic error subcategories.

Lexical choice errors

Lexical choice is the first subcategory of semantic errors of lexis based on James and Al-shormani’s categorization. In school type 1, similar forms (60.3%) and assumed synonymy (22.7%) were more frequent than the other subcategories while derivativeness error (3.6%) was the least frequent one (See Figure 3).

jabbari fig 3

Figure 3 : Lexical choice distribution

Figure 3 lists the frequency of lexical choice categories across the school types. According to the table, assumed synonymy was more frequent at school type 2 (61.4%) than school type 3 (15.9%) and school type 1 (22.7%). The errors related to the confusion of binary terms were more frequent at school type 1 (84.6%). Similar forms were more frequent at school type 1 (43.6%) than school type 3 (34.2%) and school type 2 (22.2%).

Table 9 : Frequency of lexical choice categories across school type

jabbari tab 9 a
jabbari tab 9 b

A chi-square test of independence was conducted to find out the statistical association between frequencies of lexical errors across school type. The result of chi-square test showed significant difference in the frequency of lexical choice among school types, χ2 (8, n=194) = 58.313, p= 0.001, phi = 0.388. The general results reveal that, regardless of the assumed synonymy percentage, the type 1 of the school types, the higher lexical choice error commitment.

Lexicogrammatical Errors

Table 10 shows the frequency of lexicogrammatical subcategories. The results show that among subcategories of lexicogrammatical errors, use of noun instead of adjective (20.9%), use of adjective in the place of noun (19.8%), and noun instead of verb (17%) are more frequent than others.

Table 10 : Frequency of lexicogrammatical categories

jabbari tab 10

Table 11 depicts the results of the Lexicogrammatical errors in terms of school type. Among the different Lexicogrammatical subcategories, the errors related to using adjective instead of noun are more frequent at type 1 (47.2%) than type 3 (33.3%) and type 2 (19.4%). Additionally, the errors of noun instead of adjective are more frequent at type 1 (44.7%) than school type 3 (31.6%) and type 2 (23.7%).

The errors related to using adjective instead of adverb are more frequent at school type 1 (53.6%) than school type 3 (25%) and school type 2(18.8%). The errors related to using adverb instead of adjective is more frequent at school type 2 (40%) while those of verb instead of noun are more frequent at school type 3 (52.9%). The errors related to using noun instead of verb are more frequent at school type 2 (58.1%) than the school type 1 (29%) and school type 3 (12.9%).

The errors related to using verb instead of adjective are more frequent at school type 3 (42.1%) and school type 1 (31.6%) than school type 2 (26.3%), whereas those of adjective instead of verb are more frequent at school type 1 (40%) than the school type 3 (33.3%) and school type 2 (26.7%).

Table 11 : Frequency of lexicogrammatical categories across school types

jabbari tab 11 a
jabbari tab 11 b
jabbari tab 11 c

A chi-square test of independence was conducted to find out the statistical association between frequencies of lexicogrammatical errors and school type. The result of chi-square test showing no significant difference in the frequency of lexicogrammatical among school types, χ2 (14, n=182) =22.842, p= 0.063, phi = 0.251.

Conclusion

The current study is contributive to EFL research since it has shed light on the lexical errors made by Afghan EFL learners in Persian context. It has further revealed the difficulties encountered by EFL learners in learning English lexis.

The results suggest that Persian EFL learners face more difficulties with lexical formal errors (78.6 % of the total number of lexical errors) than with lexical semantic errors (21.4% of the total number of lexical errors). In fact, according to the result of the study, formal errors of lexis were more frequent than semantic errors of lexis.

The primary purpose of this study was to explore the most frequent formal errors types. Among formal errors of lexis, mis-formation errors (98%) were more common than mis-selection errors (2%). Raimes (1985) suggests that such mis-formation errors occur because unskilled L2 writers “concentrate on the challenge of finding the right words and sentences to express their meaning instead of editing” (p. 247).

Errors of mis-selection category are committed due to insufficient knowledge of target language items. These errors indicate the learners’ competence at certain stage in the process of learning second language. These errors also expose the learners’ inability to distinguish two languages. They illustrate some of the general characteristics of language acquisition. Such errors may be caused by overgeneralization which the learners employ in an attempt to reduce their linguistic burden.

The most frequent semantic errors types, comparing the semantic errors categories and related subcategories, similar forms (59.7%) and assumed synonymy (22.4%), among lexical choice subcategories, were more frequent than other categories of semantic errors.

As for the sources of the semantic errors committed by Persian-speaking learners, there are two different sources of such errors, namely, L1 and L2. As for L1 based sources, it has been found that the sources of these errors vary between following different strategies such as translating from Dari language as in the case of some categories in lexical choice errors.

As for the L2, i.e. English based sources, the main source is having false conceptions of the way meaning networks function in English as in the case of paraphrasing, collocation and lexicogrammatical choice errors. In addition, L2-based errors are obvious as in the case of mis-ordering, over-inclusion in distortion due to spelling, formal mis-selection and lexicogrammatical errors.

It has also been found that the common L2 source is the insufficient knowledge Persian learners have about the English semantic system which makes them commit such errors. However, it has been found that there is some kind of interrelated or interchangeable source which can be called “hypothesis testing strategy” followed by Persian learners of English.

In sum, it seems reasonable to expect learners to keep on committing lexical errors along their way of acquiring the target language. Errors are inevitable and necessary for the development of language. Before mastering any lexical item completely, students will be subject to some types of errors. In this sense, lexical accuracy may be liable in distinguishing school types.

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Appendix

Topics suggested for assignment :

  • If someone gave you a second chance, how would you change your life?

  • Describe a hardship you have experienced

  • What does freedom mean to you? What do you do with freedom?

  • Science is important because…

  • Write about an unforgettable person- someone you will always remember (Why will you always remember this person? Why is this person special to you? What are their special characters? What did he or she teach you?)

  • What impacts has the technology impacted on the community as a whole?

  • Cheating helps students learn…

  • What policies can we apply to reduce traffic? (cycle path, fines, public transport)

  • Do you think our society is too dependent on technology like smartphones? Why? Why not? (in case of food, fashion, transportation, jobs and education)

Per citare questo articolo:

Ali Akbar JABBARI, Acquisition of EFL lexis by Afghan Migrants in Iran, Repères DoRiF n.19 - Enjeux de l’acquisition des langues secondes en contextes migratoires, DoRiF Università, Roma septembre 2019, http://dorif.it/ezine/ezine_articles.php?id=441

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