Idiomatic Errors Among English Learners

Topics: Idiom, Second language, Language education Pages: 6 (1957 words) Published: January 2, 2013
Rustaq College of Applied Science
Department of English Language & Literature (Dell)
Error Recognition & Correction
Course Code: ENSP 3228

An assignment on / Idiomatic expressions errors among Arab learners of English

Submitted in Partial Fulfillment for the Requirement of the Error
Recognition & Correction Course

Prepared by/ Sara Salim Alhadhrami
Submitted to / Mr. Holi Ibrahim Holi Ali
2012-2013 (Fall Semester)
Word counts / 1650 words


This paper sheds light on the Idiomatic errors of Arab learners. First, idioms are one of the most important aspects in English. They are the most frequent and widely used in many situations, such as, daily conversation, meeting and written context. The definition of this aspect according to Kharma, Alhajjaj (1997)," An idiom is a fixed phrase, such as keep something under one's hat, whose meaning can't be predicated from a knowledge of the meaning of the individual words". So, an idiom is a group of words, in which has a different meaning from the meaning of the words taken individually or it could be a word, which its meaning is different from the dictionary meaning. This can make idioms hard for ESL students and learners to understand. Arab learners of English may have comprehension errors or misuse of idioms that will lead them to misunderstanding of native speakers. English idioms are more difficult to understand especially for non-native speakers as Arabic learners. Therefore, it should be corrected immediately in class in order to avoid feeling embarrassed when using them in daily situations or written context.

Sources of difficulty

Arab learners may face problems because of many factors such as the nature of idiom itself, it has special grammatical and semantic features. Thus, they may create special difficulties to foreign learners in general and Arabic learners in particular. Learners are unable to understand the meaning from its individual words, also, the nonliteral meaning of idioms or the odd word grouping of some idioms as Larson (1984:20), emphasis that’’ The real danger comes in translating an idiom literally, since the result will usually be nonsense in the receptor language’’. Therefore, it has to be learned and used as a single unit of language with it specific meaning and use. English language has its own idiomatic phrases which are sometimes similar to Arabic language that related to its culture and believes.

In addition, Idioms sometimes referred to fixed expressions because in many cases the users should not make linguistic changes such as adding or deleting words, replacing a word with another, or changing the order of words, therefore, idioms are unchangeable. The grammar and the vocabulary, however, of an idiom can sometimes have a slight variation. In some cases, slant lines and brackets used in dictionaries to indicate alternative words and words that can be left out respectively.

Another factor is that some idiomatic expressions are commonly used while others are language-specific. Whether common or language-specific, their frequent, spontaneous and suitable daily use is an indication of native or near-native command of the language, Kharma and Hajjaj (1989: 73) say "the foreign learner of English who tries to avoid them will immediately single himself out as a foreigner". The non-native learner's use of idiomatic expressions could be also because of the little of knowledge or ignorance rather than avoidance.

Types and causes of errors

Arabic learners may face the problem of non-equivalence, some idioms are similar in meaning and form with Arabic language while others are similar in meaning but different in form. This is due to the existence of differences at the cultural, grammatical, lexical or stylistic levels. For example, most of the grammatical errors are in the areas of articles and prepositions. First, Addition and omission...
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