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Writing Attitudes of Iranian EFL Students: A Qualitative Study



This paper reports on one aspect of a qualitative study conducted in an EFL setting, of the perception of writing attitudes of 65 EFL students in the University of Isfahan. An open-ended questionnaire was administered to 65 undergraduates to examine firstly what the Iranian EFL students' attitudes towards writing in general are; secondly, whether Iranian EFL students are active writers, If yes, in which language; thirdly, whether Iranian EFL students feel any difference between expressing ideas while writing in English and Persian.
Writing Attitudes of Iranian EFL Students: A
Qualitative Study
Razieh Gholaminejad
Faculty of Foreign Languages, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran
Ahmad Moinzadeh
Faculty of Foreign Languages, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran
Manijeh Youhanaee
Faculty of Foreign Languages, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran
Hamidreza Ghobadirad
Faculty of Foreign Languages, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran
AbstractThis paper reports on one aspect of a qualitative study conducted in an EFL setting, of the
perception of writing attitudes of 65 EFL students in the University of Isfahan. An open-ended questionnaire
was administered to 65 undergraduates to examine firstly what the Iranian EFL students' attitudes towards
writing in general are; secondly, whether Iranian EFL students are active writers, If yes, in which language;
thirdly, whether Iranian EFL students feel any difference between expressing ideas while writing in English
and Persian.
Index Termswriting, attitude, active writer
A. What Is Writing?
Writing is the expression of feelings, thoughts, desires and plans in black and white (Akkaya & Kirmiz, 2010).
Writing is a way to explore thoughts and ideas to make them evident and accessible. It is a difficult skill for both native
and nonnative speakers in a similar way, because any writers should make a harmony among several issues such as
content, organization, purpose, audience, vocabulary, punctuation, spelling, and mechanics (Hamed Jahin & Wafa
Idrees, 2012).
When thought is written down, ideas can be scrutinized, reassessed, rearranged, and changed, hence, it is fair to say
that writing encourages deep thinking (Hamed Jahin & Wafa Idrees, 2012).
Ranging from "mechanical control to creativity, with good grammar, knowledge of subject matter, awareness of
stylistic conventions and various mysterious factors in between" (Wall, 1981, p.53), writing is regarded as a difficult,
intricate and demanding skill to master (Graham, Harris & Mason, 2005). In order to master the skill, years of practice
and hard work are required.
Many studies (e.g. Collins & Parkhurst, 1996) reveal that many students do not express their ideas clearly in their
writings. Writing is especially difficult for nonnative speakers because they are expected to create written products that
demonstrate mastery of the second language as well as the expression of ideas (Abu-Rass, 2001).
Reasons for creative writing, according to Tompkins (1982), are as follows : 1) to keep amused; 2) to promote artistic
expression; 3) to discover the functions and values of writing; 4) to arouse imagination; 5) to clarify thinking; 6) to
search for identity; and 7) to learn to read and write.
Multiple simultaneous factors are at work to influence writing achievement including a poor life-style, poor health
and inadequate reading habits due to parents' low socio-economic status (Akkaya & Kirmiz, 2010). One of the most
outstanding of them is attitudes to writing. In the following, the term 'attitude' is defined by different researchers.
B. What Is Attitude?
Attitudes play an important role in forming our world view. They influence our perception of the world around us
and determine how we respond to different entities of the world (Jabeen & Kazim Shah, 2011). The common
attitudes of a group of people held for a long time are realized in the form of culture.
As early as 1932, the term attitude was defined by Likert as "an inference which is made on the basis of a
complex of beliefs about the attitude object" (cited in Gardner, 1980, p.267). Ajzan (1988, p.4) proposed a different
definition of attitudes as "a disposition to respond favorably or unfavorably to an object, person, institution, or event".
ISSN 1798-4769
Journal of Language Teaching and Research, Vol. 4, No. 5, pp. 1138-1145, September 2013
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Meanwhile, it was defined by Gardner (1980, p.267) as individuals' entire instinctions and feelings, prejudice or
bias, preconceived notions, fears, threats, and convictions about any specified topic".
Likewise, attitude is considered as individuals' psychological states acquired during a certain amount of time due to
their experiences McLeod (1991) as well as "a hypothetical construct used to explain the direction and persistence of
human behavior" (Baker, 1992, p.10).
C. Attitudes from the Mentalist and Behaviorist Paradigm
Attitudes are usually defined along the mentalist and behaviorist paradigm. Drawing on Wenden (1991), many
researchers including Jabeen and Kazim Shah (2011), Rahimi and Hassani (2012), Karahan (2007), Al-Tamimi and
Shuib (2009), and Musgrove (1999) believe that attitudes have cognitive, affective and behavioral components. The
Encyclopedia of Psychology (2004) discusses the attitudinal model, similarly, on the basis of these three factors. The
cognitive component involves beliefs or perceptions about the objects or situations related to the attitude. The affective
component refers to the feelings and emotions that one has towards an object, 'likes' or 'dislikes', 'with' or 'against'. The
behavioral component means that certain attitudes tend to prompt learners to adopt particular learning behaviors.
Attitude not only predicts behavioral patterns (Speilberger, 2004), it also triggers various manifestations of behavior
(Jabeen & Kazim Shah, 2011).
Thus, emotions and attitudes are different affective states, although an attitude may bring about an emotional
response, as in a student's negative attitude toward writing leads to hatred and apprehension (Musgrove, 1999). As a
matter of fact, emotional responses are among the subsets of attitudes and a dominant aspect of attitude .
D. Language Attitude
Learning a language is closely related to the attitudes towards the languages (Starks & Paltridge, 1996). 'Language
attitudes', according to the Longman Dictionary of Applied Linguistics (1992), are defined as the attitude which
speakers of different languages have towards each others' languages or to their own language.
The relationship between attitude and performance has been viewed as mutual, with each factor affecting the
development of the other (Mathewson, 1994). All in all, SLA literature supports a relationship between attitudes
towards a language and language achievement (Masgoret & Gardner, 2003).
Drawing on Gardner and Lambert (1972), Karahan (2007) states that positive language attitudes give learners
positive orientation towards learning English, and enhance proficiency as well, and vice versa. This is supported by
Brown (2000) who adds the positive attitudes towards the self, the native language as effective factors as well.
Furthermore, Karahan (2007) adds what people feel about the speakers of the language being the learned as an effective
According to Dörnyei & Csizér (2002), positive attitude facilitates foreign language learning while negative attitude
acts as a psychological barrier against it. Thus, attitudes, ranging from negative, natural, and positive, determine
students' success or failure in their learning. This highlights the important role which positive attitude towards the
language being learned plays in learning a second language. Putting it another way, maintaining positive or negative
feelings towards a language may bring about difficulty or ease of learning.
E. Writing Attitude
The relationship between attitude and writing achievement has received rather little attention in TEFL literature
(Graham, Berninger & Fan, 2007). Writing attitude is highly effective on improving or hindering writing achievement
(Bartscher, Lawler, Ramirez and Schinault, 2001).
Writing attitude is defined by Graham et al (2007) as "an affective disposition involving how the act of writing
makes the author feel, ranging from happy to unhappy." (518) In other words, the more positive attitude students have
towards writing, the more energy they spend on the task.
Examining their roots of negative attitudes students have towards writing lessons, Sever (1998) notes that in primary
years of education, the way teachers conduct classes and teach writing lessons is important in forming negative or
positive impressions regarding writing among students. That is, boring writing classes negatively influence attitudes
(Akkaya & Kirmiz, 2010).
F. Writing Apprehension
Writing apprehension can be defined as "a general avoidance of writing and of situations perceived by the individual
to potentially require some amount of writing accompanied by the potential for evaluation of that writing" (Daly and
Miller, 1975).
According to Aikman (1985), negative attitudes toward writing result in predictable behaviors such as delay in
completing writing assignments.
G. Related Literature
Considering the fundamental role played by attitudes in human beings' lives, it is not unexpected to see that
attitudinal studies have a long historical background (Oppenheim, 1998). There is a great body of literature regarding
attitudinal research on attitudes towards different languages (Marley, 2004, Balcazar, 2003, Levine, 2003; Villa, 2002,
Malallah, 2000; White, 2002; Bernat and Gvozdenko 2005; Csizér and Dörnyei, 2005; Graham, 2004, to name a few).
There is a plethora of research conducted to investigate learners' attitudes towards the English language. Besides,
different aspects of language attitudes have been studied such as the relationship between attitudes and language
achievement, beliefs about target language use, attitudes towards English-language speakers, the relationship between
attitudes towards ideology, and language achievement.
Studies such as Vijchulata and Lee (1985), Sarjit (1993), Benson (1991), Buschenhofen (1998), Arani (2004),
Karahan (2007), Qashoa (2006), Al-Quyadi (2002) reconfirmed the importance of identifying learners' motivation and
attitudes towards the English language. These studies help the researchers to understand the how to identify learners'
motivation by focusing on learners' attitudes (Al-Tamimi & Shuib, 2009).
The subjects of this study were 65 undergraduates at the University of Isfahan, one of the most accredited public
universities in Iran. Two different classes consisting of 28 and 37 students were chosen randomly in the spring of 2012.
The participant’s ages ranged from 18 to 30 years and they were non-native speakers of English. Among the
participants, 24 ones did not know any third language (other than English and Persian). And, the 41 subjects who
already knew a third or fourth language were skilled at the language merely in an elementary or intermediate level.
Some of the participants had native-like fluency with English, having studied English since the age of 6 to 9. Others
did not have native-like fluency, but they all claimed to be progressing towards the advanced level studiously and
diligently. Overall, the age they began to learn English ranged from 6 to 13 years old.
A. Data Collection Instruments and Procedures
The instrument used to collect the data was a detailed 4-paged open-ended questionnaire. Questionnaires are one of
the most commonly used methods for both quantitative and qualitative research. An open-ended question is usually
designed to encourage a full, meaningful answer using the subject's own knowledge, opinions or feelings, and is asked
where statistical validity is not the main goal.
By and large, questionnaires are considered as a quantitative method for collecting data; however, open-ended
descriptive questionnaires can be used in qualitative studies as well. Unlike in a multiple choice question, open-ended
questions are unstructured question in which no possible answer is suggested.
B. Data Collection Procedure
The researcher distributed 65 open-ended questionnaires to two different undergraduate English classes. The
participants were required to answer the open-ended questionnaires (adopted from Jabur, 2008) consisting of 36 items
to investigate how their identity is formed and shaped by writing in English as a foreign language.
The questionnaire consisted of only open-ended questions to make sure that the participants write as various and
deeply detailed explanations as possible. The questionnaire has been already validated by Jabur (2008), though the
researcher also adjusted the questionnaire to the new research setting by means of conducting a pilot study on 9
participants beforehand. Based on the analysis and results generated from the answers provided by the pilot study, a
more specific set of open-ended questionnaire and interview questions were designed. Besides, before handing out the
questionnaires among the participants, the researcher translated the questionnaires from English to Persian to assure the
participants' paramount comprehension of what they were exactly asked to write about as well as to assure the subjects'
utmost convenience in production and facing the least problem while trying to make themselves understood.
C. Data Analysis
Data analysis is the most complicated and most critical aspect of a qualitative research, which aims to find out the
categories, relationships and theories based on the participants' view of the topic. Data analysis is the process of
examining the collected data by observing, categorizing, and understanding to identify themes and reach conclusions.
D. Validity
Keeping in her mind that she will have to explain how she came to the final claims and conclusions from the data, the
researcher made an attempt to avoid coding according to what she wanted to find, or putting words into the participants'
The researcher did her utmost not to impose her bias, narrow-mindedness, presumptions and previous knowledge of
the issue and concentrate instead on finding new themes in her data.
E. Research Questions
1. What are Iranian EFL students' attitudes towards writing in general?
2. Are Iranian EFL students active writers? If yes, in which language?
3. Do Iranian EFL students feel any difference between expressing ideas while writing in English and Persian?
A. Attitudes toward Writing in General
There were various answers provided when the participants were asked to write a short paragraph regarding how they
felt toward writing in general. Their comments revealed a surprising division among them from liking writing because
of its advantages to disliking it for different reasons especially because of its difficulty or being boring.
1. Writing as a difficult task
11 participants reported how they considered themselves as bad writers, elaborating that they did not like writing as it
was a difficult task. To name a few, Mehran complained that unless he had had studied on the matter beforehand, he
was unable to convey his ideas, or put his ideas together and commit them to the paper; thus, he always thought that his
readers would be perplexed. Likewise, Sara insisted that although an amusing and interesting task, writing is so intricate
for her that after she is done with a paragraph, she feels she is relieved!
Looking through a pessimistic perspective, Masood pointed out that writing has always been a difficult task and will
be forever. He added, "When I was in high school and junior high school I used to write compositions which were
admired by everyone, but now I don't like writing anymore."
As another participant who mentioned the disadvantages of writing in comparison with other language skills are,
Meysam, complaining about the restrictions he faces while writing, said, "I like writing but not as much as I love
speaking because following certain rules in writing such as paragraphing, punctuation, etc. should be taken into
consideration which all in all make a hurdle in writing." He added that the essential role of writing in human's life
cannot be denied; the only problem is that writing properly and satisfactorily is difficult.
Being a time-consuming task was another reason Mohammad provided for not taking on writing as a daily activity,
which he attributed to the sensitivity he had in choosing suitable words and structures.
2. Writing as an enjoyable task
While 11 participants addressed writing as a difficult and time-consuming, and as a result not enjoyable activity, 13
participants reported to love and enjoy writing for different reasons.
For example, Maryam who said she really loved writing only when she was free and in the mood, stated, "If I am
interested in the subject, the result will turn out to be good. My readers, in my opinion, can comprehend what I mean in
my writings."
In a much similar way, Homa, discussing why she liked writing, pointed out, "I enjoy it because whenever I write, I
suppose that the entire world is my addressee, rather than a certain person." Thus, imagination, as the distinctive feature
of writing is presented as an important factor to use writing. This was agreed by Mona saying that the reason why she
really liked writing was that it increases the innovation of our mind in addition to the imagination power.
Having loved writing since his childhood when he used to writing stories in Persian, Mohammad stated that "It is
really nice to have a habit to write down one's feelings regularly in different stages of life mainly because when I read
them later on, I really enjoy it, feeling nostalgically."
Regarding it as a task one can start at the very beginning of language learning, Sima commented, "I love writing
because from the very beginning of language learning one can take it up. I used to think that one should be quite master
in a language to start writing in it but now I know that it is not so."
Stressing the role of encouragement in increasing one's interest in writing, Parvin reported that "I remember the first
time that I wrote in English for which my father gave me a gift. This was a big encouragement for me to love writing. I
really like writing and I do with a lot. The texts I have written have been posted online so far and generally have had
interesting feedbacks." For Parvin, receiving feedbacks from different people, which all in all helps the writer promote
the quality of his or her work, is mentioned as another reason to be interested in writing. Parvin said that she really
looks forward to receiving her readers' comments on her writings as soon as she posts a new writing on her weblog.
Nonetheless, being interested in writing was not only stated by those who were active writers. This was demonstrated
by Mahin who although has not enthusiastically been involved in writing in a serious manner, she likes to be able to use
her pen to impress her readers and direct them towards a better world.
3. Writing as a tool for releasing excitement
11 out of 65 participants explained that writing, one of the basic needs of human beings, is a tool for releasing
ourselves, sending out all daily tensions, concerns and negative feelings.
Mina, for example, pointed out, "When there's no one to listen to what I want to say, I start writing. My pen and
paper are my friends in loneliness." This was supported by Saeed who added that our feelings cannot be captivated in
our hearts; they should be released through writing. Likewise, Azin stated, "Writing, for me, is like washing the dishes;
I am released through writing." Therefore, writing is considered as one of the essential fundamentals for human being's
daily life in terms of excitement release. Fatemeh commented that her heart urges her to write only whenever she is
experiencing the apex of happiness or sadness. Sometimes when she starts to write especially when she wants to talk
about her feelings she gets so much brainstormed that ideas jump out of her mind automatically.
Maryam and Aida even saw writing as a must for mental relaxation, believing that writing about what is going on in
our mind is really important for our mental health, because there are sometimes some words we can't let others know
face to face. Therefore it is better to write them down, so that we feel enough tranquility. Aida added: "For me, writing
is a way to release my thoughts and to free my soul. It is the best way to tranquilize yourself when you don't like or
you're unable to say what is in your heart."
Hadi, who considers writing essential in his regular activities pointed out, "Sometimes I feel I am so much in need of
writing that I'd go for it unintentionally. I have always been encouraged for my good compositions throughout my
school time. I don't know why, but it seems as if whenever my hand finds a pen or something around, it starts writing
what is going on in my head, without letting me know it."
4. Writing as a tool for freedom of speech
Freedom of speech was another reason why writing was favored by some subjects including Omid who reported that
principally he enjoys writing because it is only during writing that he is able to think independently and free from others.
Writing in any languages especially in Persian gives me freedom, because there are many things tongue cannot talk
about but pen can write about. Thus, regardless of the language in which writing is encoded, it is considered as a more
liberal way to convey the thoughts and feelings without being criticized directly.
According to Matin, another participant who believed in liberal aspect of writing, writing is a way to discuss in detail
and directly what we cannot talk about openly for others. Thus, he sees writing as the most liberalist activity available
to him.
Laleh adds that in writing, we are allowed to express our feelings in any way we desire. Sometimes, we like to write
ambiguously and sometimes directly. Therefore, we are not restricted, nor do we fear people's criticism. She went on to
say that today, writing our feelings is much easier than talking about them face to face; and the emergence of SMS
proves this. SMS has been a very useful tool to express our words whenever we feel unable to say them directly.
However, Arezoo, who seems to have suffered from lack of self confidence feared, that her writings would the
laughed at, if read, explained:
"When I write I can express myself more beautifully than when I speak. I really like to commit the very moments of
my life to the paper but I always avoid it because I am afraid someone might read it and make fun of it."
Thus, two opposite opinions regarding writing is observed; one of which considered writing as a tool for expressing
ourselves freely while the other complained that writing limits us as it is exposed to be read by everyone. What this may
suggest is that writing is a skill which has contradictory dimensions.
5. Writing as a method to improve the speaking skills
Writing, in a sense, can be considered as a type of careful and cautious speaking which is documented. Accordingly,
it plays an important role in improving one's power of speaking. The mistakes one makes while speaking can be
avoided when one commits his or her ideas to the paper.
6 students commented that they are interested in writing and that they really aim to increase this skill in both Persian
and English as it helped improve their speaking skills simultaneously. Shadi, for example, pointed out, "My writing is
of good quality, although I want to promote it. I always decide to start writing regularly from this very tonight, but the
writing activity seems so boring to me that actually I never start." Similarly, Ali notes that for a university student
writing is a superior way to express one's feelings and thoughts, because it indirectly promotes one's ability to give a
6. Other advantages of writing
Believing that in order to promote one's writing skill, we should keep on writing, many of the participants stated that
the writing skill is actually a technique which all of us, more or less, have the ability to promote. Besides, a person can
find some topics he or she is interested in.
Explaining different advantages of writing, Amirali regarded writing as a way to preserve scientific findings or
literary works: "if not committed to paper, scientific findings or literary works will be forgotten and vanished."
Ramin and Hadi, both of whom have recently started to write their diaries in their journals in Persian and sometimes
in English, emphasized that diary writing has not only affected their writing quality, but also it has made them think
about and improve their daily acts and behaviors.
The following, which is a comment given by Behnaz highlights an interesting use of writing:
"Writing is the best way to express one's feelings both personally and socially. When I want to talk to my daughter,
as she is too young to understand, I'd rather write them down so that she'll read them in the future."
Here, writing is used as a device to connect the present to future; to make a link and remove the age gap; and to
communicate with people not present now, or not able to understand our words at the moment.
Also, there was another attention-grabbing use of writing by one of the students:
"Writing plays an important role in my life. Even it was through writing that I got familiar with my espouse, which is
the biggest gift that writing has given to me. I daresay that writing has changed the whole direction of my life."
Lastly, 3 participants said they had no idea about writing or left the space missing.
B. Being or Not Being Active Writers
The responses provided by the participants when asked whether they were active writers, and if yes in which
language, fell into two categories:
The first group consisting of 20 participants claimed that they are not active writers. The second group including 45
students claimed to be active writers, actively writing their diary in their journals or weblogs. These 45 participants
could be classified into three groups:
First, 7 participants said that they usually write in English. Second, 26 ones said that they are active writers in Persian.
Third, there were 12 participants who stated that they write both in Persian and English depending on the setting, their
mood, and the topic.
C. Any Difference between Expressing Ideas in English and Persian
The second question aimed to explore whether the students' writing in English differed from their Persian ones. If yes,
then what exactly the differences were.
1. no differences between expressing ideas in English and Persian
20 participants, out 65, denied any difference in their writing in English and Persian, noting that there was little
difference (if any), because when a person is writing, although in different languages, his thoughts, feelings and beliefs
are constant and there is only a shift in the language.
2. differences between expressing ideas in English and Persian
40 participants responded "yes" to the question whether their Persian writing was different from their English ones,
adding that, most obviously, since two absolutely different language systems are involved, there must be some
differences in terms of grammatical rules as well as the addressees' view points, cultural values.
Besides, being non-native speakers, participants claimed to have two different proficiency levels; one language is
their mother tongue and the other is a foreign language. English and Persian are two completely different linguistic
systems; hence writing in them has to be different as well. For example, Soheil explained:
"Being a native speaker in Persian, it goes without saying that I write in Persian without needing to look up any
words in dictionaries, but in English I have to do so continually which makes me tired of writing. This is one of the
main differences between my writing in English and Persian which I usually encounter."
Some participants explained that they are more proficient in Persian obviously, so they feel they write better in
English, or they are too weak in English writing, therefore they prefer Persian when they are writing as they are more at
ease in Persian.
Mina and Aida, for example, pointed out that the only difference in their writing in English and Persian is because of
their full proficiency in Persian, which leads to having more words available and facing less grammatical difficulties in
their mother tongue: "There are a lot of differences; obviously my Persian writing is more fluent. As Persian is my
mother tongue, I am more fluent when writing in Persian."
Complaining about the mismatch between the proficiency levels, Matin and Fatemeh commented that in writing in
English the whole effort focuses on avoiding grammatical or lexical mistakes, but in Persian the topic is the main focus.
Matin said:
"In writing in Persian we have a wider range of vocabulary at our service and we have almost no problem in terms of
grammar. Besides, not being familiar with English context, we usually encounter problems in English. Sometimes we
get so involved in grammatical and lexical accuracy in our writings that we forget about the main idea we were to
2.1. Shorter sentences and shorter writings in English
A few students indicated that their English writings have shorter sentences, while their sentences in Persian are
longer. As a result, their writings are shorter in English. Besides, it was mentioned that using compound and complex
sentences in English is somehow problematic for some of the participants.
2.2. Writing more directly in English
Peyman and Masood stated that in writing in English we can be more frank and explicit, in contrary to the Persian
one which goes indirectly. They feel that they write more directly, openly and outspokenly in English, while Persian
writing requires more ambiguity and indirect conveying as meaning. Therefore one may feel less limited while writing
in English.
2.3. Writing more emotionally in English
Mahin, as one of the participants who claimed that there are differences between expressing her ideas in English and
Persian, believes that in writing in English, feelings are more involved, leading to a more emotional outcome. Likewise,
Sanaz commented that she writes more emotionally and simply in English.
2.4. Feeling someone else or imagining oneself abroad while writing in English
Three students, surprisingly, when asked to compare their writings in Persian and English, gave their responses
which were the most outstanding for this question. They explained that when they write in Persian, they feel that they
can express themselves comfortably and that they are themselves: "I am not myself when I write in English; my writing
in English has some kind of artificial feelings in it."
In the same manner, Sima, commented that her writing in English involved imagining herself abroad, in the country
which the language is spoken.
2.5. Linguistically richer and more elaborative outcomes in Persian
Ramin, one of the participants who considered his English writing totally different from his Persian ones, advocated
the quality of his English writings, explaining: "my English writing outcomes has been richer than my Persian ones,
which might be owing to the fact that I've never done my Persian writings seriously." This was agreed by Iman who
said that he is much more at ease when he writes in English, because discussing the topics in detail is more possible and
easier in English. In sharp contrast with this comment was Ali's, who asserted that he could elaborate on the issue in
Persian more than English because he had wider background knowledge about the Persian topics.
As another supporter, Omid believed that the liveliness in his Persian writings was absent in the English ones.
2.6. More respectful words in Persian
As one of the supporters of writing in Persian, Mahin discussed how her Persian writings were different from her
English ones, noting that she can use more respectful words in Persian. For example when she wants to write a letter,
there are a wider range of words to use as a greeting to show respect.
In the end, there were three students who had left the questions missing and one who refused to compare them as he
believed that the two languages are not related to one another, so they are not comparable.
The obvious conclusions to be drawn from the above-mentioned responses are three-folded:
Firstly, the data show that the participants were mostly active writers. More importantly, among those who write
actively, most of them write in Persian; some of them write both in Persian and English depending on the setting, their
mood, and the topic; and, a few of them only write in English.
Second, while the first group of participants reported that writing is a difficult, boring and time-consuming task, the
second believed that writing is an enjoyable task, as it involves imagination and innovation of mind on one hand, and
receiving feedbacks and comments on the other hand. The third group were those who explained that writing is one of
the basic needs of human beings, or more specifically it is a tool for releasing excitement, through which one sends out
all daily tensions, concerns and negative feelings, and gains enough tranquility. The fourth consisted of those who
considered writing as a tool for freedom of speech, explaining that there are many things we cannot talk about but we
can write about, without fear of being criticized directly. The emergence of SMS proves this assertion. The fifth group
of participants considered writing as a way to improve the speaking skill, because they consider writing, as a type of
careful and cautious speaking, and accordingly the mistakes one makes while speaking can be avoided when committed
to paper. Finally, some participants mentioned other advantages, for example writing is a way to prevent scientific
findings or literary works from being forgotten; writing, particularly journal writing, improves the quality of daily acts;
and writing is used as a device to connect the present to future; to make a link between different generations and remove
the age gap. What the list claims is that writing is a multi-dimensional language skill which language learners can take
on for various purposes. The different and sometimes contrary aspects of writing including being difficult, boring and
time-consuming; enjoyable; a tool for releasing excitement; a tool for freedom of speech; a way to improve the
speaking skill; a way to prevent scientific findings or literary works from being forgotten; a way to improves the quality
of daily acts; and a device to connect the present to future all in all suggests the intricacy of this language skill.
Finally, most of the Iranian English-major students feel that expressing ideas while writing in English is different
from writing in Persian. The differences, mainly caused by proficiency mismatch between the two languages, include
shorter sentences in English; more directness in English; more emotions involved in English; feeling someone else or
imagining themselves abroad in English; linguistically richer and more elaborative outcomes in Persian; and more
respectful words in Persian.
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Razieh Gholaminejad, an MA student of TEFL at the Faculty of Foreign Languages, University of Isfahan.
Ahmad Moinzadeh is currently assistant professor of linguistics at the department of English, faculty of foreign languages,
university of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran. He has instructed BA, MA and PhD courses at this department for many years. His main areas of
research are syntax, comparative / contrastive linguistics, morphology and language acquisition he holds a PhD degree in linguistics,
an MA degree in Linguistics and a BA degree on English language and literature.
Manijeh Youhanaee, associate lecturer, holds a PhD in language and linguistics from the University of Essex. She is currently
the head of the English Department at University of Isfahan. She has presented MA and PhD courses in linguistics, Generative
Grammar and second language acquisition. Her areas of interest include syntactic theory, acquisition of L2 & L3 syntax, L2
acquisition of word order versus morphological markers and properties of L2 lexical attrition.
Hamidreza Ghobadirad, an MA student of TEFL at the Faculty of Foreign Languages, University of Isfahan, has been teaching
English for 12 years to both the children and adults. Apart from teaching in Sadr, Sokhansara and Gooyesh, he was the manager of
Kish institute for five years.
... Errors in grammar are so common in many written outputs of the students and can cause miscommunication and comprehension problems (Albano, Go & Posecion , 2011). It is a difficult skill for both native and nonnative speakers in a similar way, because any writers should make a harmony among several issues such as content, organization, purpose, audience, vocabulary, punctuation, spelling, and mechanics (Gholaminejad, et al , 2013). ...
Teachers' classroom practices provide opportunities that make students powerful learners of mathematics. This paper investigates students' performance in mathematics based on the content and cognitive domains and teachers' performance in the classroom practices. Such performance focused on classroom community, classroom discourse, classroom tasks, and teachers' knowledge. A model was developed to predict students‟ performance in mathematics using the parameters of classroom practices. This study utilized a mixed method of quantitative and qualitative. The data were collected through an adapted questionnaire and a semi-structured interview with the first year college students randomly selected as the respondents. The findings revealed that students performed better in Geometry and Number Sense and less in Data and Chance. They also demonstrated strength in knowing skill but poor in reasoning ability. Furthermore, teachers‟ performances were perceived as slightly effective in all areas. However, they were perceived to have a very satisfactory knowledge of the subject matter. Teachers‟ classroom practices were positively and significantly (p < .05) correlated with students‟ performance. Among the variables, teachers' knowledge has the highest contribution to students' performance. The regression model with all four predictors produced a R² of .657 with F-value of 43.686 and p-value of .000 (p < .05). The model illustrated that teachers' performance in the classroom practices explains 65.7% of the variability of the students' performance in mathematics. Keywords: Mathematics, students’ performance, teachers’ classroom practices, regression model, mixed method
... Furthermore, writing skill is an inevitable part of communication. "Writing is the expression of feelings, thoughts, likes and dislikes and plans in black and white" (Akkaya & Kirmiz, cited in Gholaminejad et al. 2013Gholaminejad et al. , p. 1138. However, as Lee (2003) asserts, writing is considered to be one of the most complicated skills to be mastered by second or foreign language learners. ...
... In English as a Foreign Language (EFL) settings, writing has always been regarded as a main skill, since it inspires rationality and forces learners to focus and shape their thoughts (Maghsoudi & Haririan, 2013), thus Second Language (SL) or Foreign Language (FL) learners must definitely pursue means with which develop their writing ability to deal with the demands of real-life (Sadiku, 2015). Regarding this issue, in the Iranian context, EFL learners have shown an increasing apprehension towards commencing communication and applying educational and occupational occasions by means of written communication with people all over the world (Gholaminejad, Moinzadeh, Youhanaee, & Ghobadirad, 2013). Regarding the dominant role of writing in today's world, the essence of increasing writing ability in the arena of SL/FL education no longer stimulates argument among academics (Merkel, 2018). ...
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Writing is considered a very complicated task for many EFL students and Iranian EFL learners have many problems in this regard. Present study through a mixed method design, attempted to investigate the effect of Structured Collaborative (SC) pre-writing task versus Unstructured Collaborative (USC) pre-writing task on the writing ability of Iranian EFL students. Among a population of 300 freshmen learners of English language translation of Islamic Azad University, 169 students were selected based on criterion sampling. The criteria for selecting the sample were English language proficiency of the learners, age of the participants and major of their study. On the other hand, 30 teachers were selected based on convenience sampling for the interview part of the study. Then the students were assigned to Unstructured Collaborative (USC), and Structured Collaborative (SC) pre-writing groups. These two clusters were considered as experimental group and as control group. The study was implemented over a period of 16 weeks and involved pre and post-tests. Results of the quantitative data analysis shows that students’ writing proficiency in both groups were improved. However, the outcomes of the study reveals that the (USC) group outperformed the (SC) group. The qualitative data analysis through classroom observation and teachers interview reveals that teachers of (IAU) practiced the collaborative tasks at the three stages of writing in their classes and they also favored and applied the five components of Cooperative Learning (CL). In this study, the researchers took the initiative to make a distinction between structured and unstructured collaborative pre-writing tasks. Consequently, the results of the current study are of benefit for several groups of people, namely language practitioners, university students and educational administrators.
... Due to the neglect of the writing skill in the educational process and its challenging nature, writing is considered as one of the most demanding skills for EFL students to learn (Du, 2020;Gholaminejad et al., 2013;Jabali, 2018;Tillema, 2012). Therefore, difficulties faced by L2 student writers across a wide range of proficiency levels have received great prominence for a long time (Al Mubarak, 2017;Bitchener & Basturkmen, 2006;Braine, 1995;Casanave & Hubbard, 1992;Johns, 1995). ...
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Inasmuch as the fact that writing is a cognitively demanding task and as a step toward overcoming some of the barriers English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners face during writing performance, this study attempted to investigate Iranian EFL learners’ perceptions toward the most common writing difficulties. To this end, 120 Iranian EFL learners from Golestan University, Iran, filled out a reliable and validated questionnaire. The results of the questionnaire and the semi-structured interviews (N = 24) revealed that most of the participants agreed that for teaching grammar and punctuation, they should be embedded in a context and be integrated with the four skills. They also believed that teachers should use punctuation appropriately in their writings themselves and teach them to students explicitly. Besides, it was believed that through using mnemonics, students can better learn words spelling. The results of the interviews revealed grammar, spelling, punctuation, choice of words, organization, and familiarity with genres and rhetorical structures, negative transfer from Persian to English, and idiomatic expressions and collocations are the other factors that make the writing task difficult. Based on the students’ perceptions, the findings of this study can inform English language teachers to teach grammar, punctuation, and spelling by contextualizing them in an appropriate context, and they offer some practical implications for teachers, learners, material developers, and curriculum designers in this regard.
... Writing is a complex cognitive activity that involves synchronous attention at various levels: thematic, paragraph, sentence, grammatical, and lexical [10]. In addition to understanding grammar, writing also involves creativity, knowledge about learning material, and the ability to organize oneself to be able to learn on their own [11] [12]. ...
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Every aspect of education continues to experience innovation after the internet, digital tools and technological gadgets have been easily accessed everywhere marked by online reading, electronic books and audio books along with printed material. Based on that, this study aims to develop learning modules for learning to write narrative texts based on project based learning using mobile devices. This type of research is R&D (research & development). The development model used is a 4-D model (define, design, develop, and assess). The research instruments used were questionnaires, observation sheets, interview guides, and tests. In this paper, the results of the study are more focused on discussing the design of the developed learning modules. By understanding the design, readers can develop learning modules based on project based learning for types of narrative texts at various levels of education. The module design that was designed was validated by experts and concluded that the module was categorized as very valid and could be tested.
... Writing skill plays an integral role in communication. As Akkaya and Kirmiz stated that writers can express their feelings, thoughts, desires and plans through writing (as cited in Gholaminejad et al. 2013Gholaminejad et al. , p.1138. There are four main skills of English such as listening, speaking, reading and writing; however, writing is considered as the most difficult skills. ...
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This study aims to investigate the effects of guided task-based planning on the accuracy of Iranian EFL learners’ writing performance. Participants were forty eight EFL learners' studying at Islamic Azad University in Kerman, Iran. They were randomly divided into three experimental groups of sixteen students: one group with meaning-based pre-task planning; the other group with form-based pre-task planning; and the last one with meaning and form based pre-task planning. Participants in the form-based planning were taught how to plan the form of their written production in five minutes for eight following sessions. In meaning-based planning condition, the learners were given instructions about planning the content of their argumentative writings in five minutes for eight sessions. In the third group, however, the learners were helped to focus both on form and content in five minutes for eight following sessions. Then, they engaged in planning. The three groups received the same pre-test as post-test and the same topic in each of the eight sessions with the same examples. After collecting and analyzing the pretest and posttest data, the results showed the significantly superior effects of form- and meaning-based pre-task planning on the accuracy of the writing performance.
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The importance of meaning-based teaching of the writing skill as an end in itself has mostly overlooked due to the common traditional grammar-based approaches used in writing instructions within the English as a foreign language (EFL) context. Therefore, this study aimed to examine the effects of collaborative meaning-focused and grammar-focused pre-writing task on complexity, accuracy, and fluency in EFL learners’ written products. To this end, 113 Iranian EFL learners were selected. The learners were randomly assigned to two different experimental groups, namely grammar-focused group and meaning-focused group, and one control group. After doing a writing task as the pretest, the participants in the two experimental groups received task manipulations during a fifteen-minute pre-writing phase for seven sessions. Afterwards, all the participants attended a final posttest of writing. The findings revealed significant effects of the meaning-focused pre-writing tasks on the participants’ writing fluency, and the significant effects of the grammar-focused pre-writing tasks on the participants’ writing accuracy. The results also showed that the experimental groups outperformed the control group in terms of complexity. However, there were no significant differences between the two experimental groups. The implications of the findings are also discussed
Conference Paper
This paper focuses on the expectation of faculty on English training and the English language skills they want to improve through online learning. There are two kinds of English language skills to aim, the skills related to academic writing and TOEFL preparation. To identify the required skills to be improved aligned with the expectation, questionnaires have been spread through online to collect data from faculty members in all majors. Collected data consists of faculties' identification, the learning difficulties, the expectation and the required skills. The result shows the required skills that are possible to be learned through online and the expectations of the faculties that are realistic to be fulfilled. The result will be used to develop online English language trainings to improve the required skills of faculty.
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The main thrust of this study was to determine whether a genre-based instruction improve the writing proficiency of Iranian EFL learners. To this end, 30 homogenous Iranian BA learners studying English at Islamic Azad University, Bandar Abbas Branch were selected as the participants of the study through a version of TOEFL test as the proficiency test. The selected participants were 15 females and 15 males who were randomly divided into two groups of experimental and control. The both experimental and control groups were asked to write on a topic determined by the researcher which were considered as the pre-test. The writing of the students were scored using holistic scoring procedure. The subjects received sixteen hours instruction—the experimental group using a genre-based pedagogy and the control group through the traditional methodology which was followed by a post-test—the subjects were, this time, asked to write on the same topic which they were asked to write before instruction. Their post-writings were also scored through the holistic scoring procedures. In analyzing the data, t-test statistic was utilized for comparing the performances of the two groups. It was found that there is statistically significant difference between the writing ability of the participants who go under a genre-based instruction and who don’t. The study, however, didn’t find any significant role for gender.Keywords: genre analysis, writing skill, holistic scoring procedure, pre-test, post-test, t-test
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Writing is a difficult skill for native speakers and nonnative speakers alike, because writers must balance multiple issues such as content, organization, purpose, audience, vocabulary, punctuation, spelling, and mechanics such as capitalization. Writing is especially difficult for nonnative speakers because they are expected to create written products that demonstrate mastery of all the above elements in a new language. In addition, writing has been taught for many years as a product rather than a process. Therefore, teachers emphasize grammar and punctuation rather than decisions about the content and the organization of ideas. My students tell me they have been exposed to the rules of writing and grammar from the outset without developing their ability to express their ideas. Based on the positive findings of previous research with ESL students at the elementary level (Abu Rass 1997; Elley 1991; Ghawi 1996), I designed an integrated reading and writing course for first-year Arab EFL students at Beit Berl College, a four-year teacher training college in Israel. Previous research Elley (1991) writes about four studies comparing language development of children who learned a second language in traditional classrooms and those who participated in a book-based program in New Zealand. Results showed superior performance by participants in the book-based program in the three tests administered to examine its effectiveness. In comparisons, the participants in the book-based program outperformed their peers who learned in traditional classrooms. Two other research projects were conducted at a university in Arizona to examine the usefulness of integrating language and content and exposing ESL students to a massive amount of reading (Abu Rass 1997; Ghawi 1996). In both case studies, participating students demonstrated significant gains in language proficiency. The students were also eager to read the assigned novels and enjoyed reading even though they encountered many unfamiliar words.
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Since the inception of systematic discussions on ELT in the 20th century, teaching of target language culture has been an issue of hot debate. Target culture teaching has been severely criticized and passionately defended by the educationists and language teachers. Muslim countries have shown severely negative response to the target culture teaching. Recently another dimension i.e. the attitude of learners towards the teaching of target language culture in ELT classroom has been added to the existing debate. This paper targets the same issue and analyses the attitude of Pakistani learners towards target culture teaching. Being a case study, it focuses on the attitudes of the students of Government College University, Faisalabad. With the help of a questionnaire which pertains to different aspects of target culture, we have measured learners' responses. The questionnaire was divided into different sections pertaining to the beliefs, customs, social organization, gestures, and notions of personal space and arts of the target language culture. The findings indicate that learners have an overwhelmingly negative attitude towards the teaching of target language culture in Government College University, Faisalabad (GCUF). These responses are in line with the overall reaction of Muslim countries against target culture teaching. This also indicates Muslim community's preference for Islamic culture in ELT material.
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This paper argues for an interdisciplinary approach to beliefs about language learning research, and suggests that current studies in this area do not go far enough to examine the extent to which stable factors, such as individual learner differences, account for the nature of beliefs. Next, it elucidates how cognitive and personality psychology provides a foundation for a possible relationship between learner beliefs and personality, and emphasizes the need for further research and a strong theoretical foundation before any attempts to change language learners' beliefs are made in the classroom context.
A survey to study the students' motivation for learning English in Universiti Pertanian Malaysia (UPM) was carried out in the second semester of the 1982/83 academic year. The subjects of this study consisted of approximately a thousand students from all the different faculties in UPM who were taking the five English proficiency courses (BB 051, BB 151, BB 251, BB 253, BB 254) and one special English course BB 252. The students' responses were analyzed in terms of frequency distributions; and where appropriate, cross-tabulation, Pearson's product-moment correlation, t-test and multiple range test were also used to establish relationships among some of the factors under study. It is found that UPM students are both integratively and in strumentally oriented in the English language-learning task. In terms of motivational intensity, students from the more advanced English courses seem to be more motivated than those from the lower level or more basic courses. In general, UPM students expressed a strong desire to learn English. Overall, the majority of the students perceived their lecturers as encouraging towards their English language- learning task, as compared to their perception of their parents in the same respect.
Over 300 freshmen in a Japanese university were surveyed to assess their attitudes towards English. In addition to a background profile addressing the student's amount of informal exposure to English, the survey asked for a self-assessment of English skills, the motivation for studying English, and the functions for which English was felt to be most useful. The results showed students who have had little exposure to English, and whose self-rating of their own skills showed extremely low morale. Surprisingly, integrative and personal reasons for learn ing English were preferred over instrumental ones. English was seen as being useful for a selection of modern functions, but not useful for domestic and local ones. Such findings pose problems concerning the role of English language teaching at university level in Japan. It remains unclear what precise combination of regulatory control, cur riculum, methods, faculty, and texts would best achieve higher levels of motivation and achievement.
The purpose of this study is to examine how the significant sociocultural changes that took place in Hungary in the 1990s affected school children's language-related attitudes and language learning motivation concerning five target languages, English, German, French, Italian, and Russian. The analyses are based on survey data collected from 8,593 13/14-year-old pupils on two occasions, in 1993 and 1999. Besides investigating and comparing a number of motivational aspects with regard to the learning of the five target languages, the repeated measure design also allowed us to explore the changes that characterized the learners' motivation between the two phases of the survey. An unexpected but potentially important finding was that during the examined period the learners' general language learning commitment showed a significant decline, with only English maintaining its position. This can be seen as a reflection of a more general 'language globalization' process, whereby the study of the world language (i.e. English) and that of other foreign languages show an increasingly deviating motivational pattern.