Perception of Culturally Loaded Words by Arab EFL Learners

Abdel Rahman Mitib Altakhaineh, Aseel Simak Zibin


Societies are defined by their cultures which are deeply entrenched in their minds, and thus reflected in the way they perceive the world around them, and in their communication with others. Hence, this study investigates the extent to which Arab EFL students' understanding of culturally loaded words is similar to that of native speakers of English and whether their English proficiency level plays a role in their understanding of these words. The sample consists of three groups; 10 native speakers of English (NS), 10 advanced learners of English (ALS) and 10 intermediate learners of English (ILS) studying at the University of Jordan in Amman, Jordan. The respondents were asked to rate the suitability of seven culturally loaded words in fully contextualized sentences. The study concluded that EFL learners both (ALS) and (ILS) have insufficient awareness and comprehension of culturally loaded words. Statistical analysis of the three groups’ ratings demonstrated that (ALS) understanding of culturally loaded words seemed to approximate to that of the (NS) but still their results differed statistically from those of the native speakers. Additionally, the English proficiency level of the (ALS) and the (ILS) did play a role in their perception of culturally loaded words.

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