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Cultural and Linguistic Encounters

Arab EFL Learners Encoding and Decoding Idioms

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Anissa Daoudi

Idioms are universal to all languages, and figurative language is pervasive in everyday discourse. However, idiom studies rarely touch on the problems figurative language can present to non-native speakers. This book sets out to provide an original analysis of the issue, focusing on a number of languages, including Arabic, Berber, French and English. The author addresses the question of idiomaticity from linguistic, psycholinguistic and pedagogical perspectives, highlighting in particular the strategies used by Arab learners (primarily Saudis and Algerians) to decode and encode idioms.
The book explores in detail the process of identifying idioms and the factors that affect comprehension. The author also analyses the current state of bilingual Arabic-English-Arabic dictionaries and asks to what extent learners can rely on them as a source for decoding idioms.

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Introduction 1

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1 is to highlight the problems EFL learners face when dealing with idioms in a foreign language, shedding light on the strategies they might use to understand the figurative language and providing suggestions on how to make dealing with idioms enjoyable to both teachers and EFL learners. The book begins with a consideration of the field of Phraseology, in which the development of phraseological theories is explored through a focus on idioms, highlighting chronologically the development of the whole field in general and idiom theories in particular, and providing the conceptual context for this work. Chapter Two outlines the processes of Idiom Identification and Recognition in language learners, a phase which is crucial when dealing with idioms. The study highlights the strategies learners use to identify idioms. Chapter Three examines the phenomena of language transfer and semantic analysis, insofar as the native language plays a very important role in the decoding and encoding of idioms by foreign language learners. The semantic analysability of idioms is used to test recent theories in Psycholinguistics about idiom decoding. Another strategy is dictionary use, where related issues such as EFL learners’ refer‑ ence skills in general and idiom look‑up skills in particular are highlighted. Chapter Four focuses on dictionary use and idiom production, while the fifth and concluding chapter summarizes the practical contributions of the work to this important field of research and practice. A model lesson (see Appendix 1) is provided to demonstrate a practical way of teaching idioms in a foreign...

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