Figurative Idiomatic Language: Strategies and Difficulties of Understanding English Idioms

Nisreen Al-Khawaldeh, Abdullah Jaradat, Husam Al-momani, Baker Bani-Khair


Learning idioms which is considered a very essential part of learning and using language (Sridhar and Karunakaran, 2013) has recently attracted a great attention of English learning researchers particularly the assessment of how well Asian language learners acquire and use idioms in communication (Tran, 2013). Understanding and using them fluently could be viewed as a sign towards language proficiency as they could be an effective way to give students better conditions to enhance their communication skills in the daily context (Beloussova, 2015). Investigating how idiomatic expressions are dealt with and processed in a second language or foreign language is an issue worth examining further since it may give language teachers a better idea of some of the strategies language learners use in order to interpret figurative language. Despite their importance, learning and using English idioms by Arab EFL learners have not been investigated extensively, and no research has been conducted on Jordanian students’ idiomatic competency. Thus, the researcher decided to work on these un-tackled issues in the Jordanian context. Most idioms-based investigations are the difficulties Jordanians learners of English face when translating them into Arabic (Hussein, Khanji, and Makhzoumi, 2000; Bataineh and Bataineh, 2002; Alrishan and Smadi, 2015). The analysis of the test showed students’ very poor idiomatic competence; particularly a very limited awareness of the most frequently used idioms despite their overwhelming desire to learn them. Data analysis of the questionnaire revealed the strategies students use and the problems they face in understanding and learning idioms.



Idioms, idiomatic competence, figurative meaning, language proficiency, idioms learning strategies

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