The Use of Prepositions by Arab Efl Learners: Looking on the Bright Side

Abstract

Throughout the history of teaching and learning EFL, prepositions earned a reputation of being difficult for a number of reasons such as the large number of prepositions in English, the complexity of the preposition system, the mismatch between the first language and EFL, and the lack of rules of usage in most cases. Prepositions are believed to be problematic even for university students. Impetus to this study was given by the fact that claims about the difficulty of learning prepositions in EFL run counter to my observation that university students use most of the English prepositions correctly. Having analyzed 50 compositions written by Arabic-speaking EFL university students, we found that more than 80% of the prepositions were correct. Accordingly, claims about the difficulty of the prepositions cannot be made without conducting a holistic performance analysis including both the correctly used prepositions as well as the incorrectly used ones. The pedagogical implications of the findings are discussed in light of some frequently suggested teaching techniques

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