Document Type : Research Paper


Department of English Language and Literature, University of Qom, Qom, Iran


Interference or transfer from language learners’ first language (L1) is one of the significant variables that contributes to the complexity of SLA process and usually persists intensely at the initial stages of L2 acquisition and development. Drawing upon Meriläinen’s (2010) taxonomy of lexical transfer errors, the present study intended to explore Iranian EFL learners’ lexical transfer error caused by word form, word meaning, and word use. To this aim, a corpus of 189 compositions written by 89 male and 100 female students was investigated. The results revealed that females in general had more lexical transfer errors than males, and that a large amount of the errors stemmed from word use (54%) which was followed by word form (36%) and lastly word meaning (10%). The findings of the study suggest that shifting the students’ attention from vocabulary size to vocabulary depth and exposing them to a large number of authentic collocations and prefabricated patterns are advisable activities that might counteract negative lexical transfer.


Main Subjects

Abdul Ridha, N. S., & Al-Riyahi, A. A. (2011). Lexical collocational errors in the writings of Iraqi EFL learners. Journal of the College of Arts, 58, 24-51.
Agustín Llach, M. P. (2005). The relationship of lexical error and their types to the quality of ESL compositions: an emprical study. PortaLingurum, 3. 45-57.
Agustín Llach, M.P. (2010). An overview of variables affecting lexical transfer in writing: A review study. International Journal of Linguistics, 2(1).
Agustín Llach, M.P. (2011). Lexical errors and accuracy in foreign language writing. Multilingual Matters.
Agustín Llach, M.P., Fontecha A. F., & Espinosa, S. M. (2005). Differences in the written production of young Spanish and German learners: Evidence from lexical errors in a composition. Studia Linguistica, 61(1), 1-19.
Atle, R. (1994). Interlanguage signs and lexical transfer errors. Association for Computational Linguistics, 1, 134-137.
Bagheri Nevisi, R., Mohammad Hosseinpur, R., & Sarbandi Farahani, M. (2020). The impact of involvement load on Iranian EFL learners' retention of idiomatic expressions. Language Related Research, 10(6), 55-86.
Bao, X. L. (2015). Analysis on lexical errors in college English writing. Canadian Social Science, 11(12), 127-130.
Bardel, C. (2015). Lexical cross-linguistic influence in third language development. In H. Peukert (Ed.), Transfer effects in multilingual language development (pp. 111–128). Hamburg, John Benjamins.
Burton, G. (2012). Cross-linguistic influence in non-native languages: Explaining lexical transfer using language production models. International Journal of Multilingualism, 10(1), 46–59. 74
Chang, Y. (2019). Lexical transfer from Chinese to English in terms of collocation for Chinese university students. Overseas English Testing: Pedagogy and Research, 1(3), 121-129.
Dissington, P. A. (2018). Addressing the problem of negative lexical transfer errors in Chilean university students. Profile Issues in Teachers` Professional Development, 20(1), 25-40.
Dodigovic, M., Ma, C., & Jing, S. (2017). Lexical transfer in the writing of Chinese learners of English. TESOL International Journal, 2(1), 75–90.
Ellis, R. (2015). Understanding second language acquisition (2nd ed.). Oxford Applied Linguistics.
Gass, S. M. (2013). Second language acquisition: An introductory course. Routledge.
Hemchua, S., & Schmitt, N. (2006). An analysis of lexical errors in the English compositions of Thai learners. Prospect, 21(3), 3-25.
Hinnon, A. (2014). Common errors in English writing and suggested solutions of Thai university students. Humanities and Social Sciences, 31(2), 165-180.
James, C. (1998). Errors in language learning and use: Exploring error analysis. Routledge.
Jarvis, S., & Pavlenko, A. (2008). Crosslinguistic influence in language and cognition. Routledge.
Lennon, P. (1991). Error and the very advanced learner. International Review of Applied Linguistics, 29, 31–44.
MacWhinney, B. (1992). Transfer and competition in second language learning, Advances in Psychology, 83, 371–390.
Meriläinen, L. (2008). ’My eyes were standing in my head’: Lexical transfer errors in the written English of Finnish upper secondary school students‛. In A., Nikolaev, & J., Niemi (Eds.), Two or more languages: Proceedings from the 9th Nordic Conference on bilingualism (pp. 158-167). University of Joensuu.
Meriläinen, L. (2010). Language transfer in the written English of Finnish students. Joensuu, Publications of the University of Eastern Finland.
Nation, P. (2001). Learning vocabulary in another language. Cambridge University Press.
Niu, J., & Ji, H. (2018). Exploring negative transfer in Chinese students’ English writing at lexical level. Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research, (23)3, 905-909.
Ringbom, H. (1987). The role of the first language in foreign language learning. Multilingual Matters.
Ringbom, H. (2007). Cross-linguistics similarity in foreign language learning. Multilingual Matters.
Rullan, A. S. (2016). Exploring negative lexical transfer: A problem cognate's error analysis of written and oral modalities [Unpublished master’s thesis]. University of Barcelona.
Schmitt, N. (2000). Vocabulary in language teaching. Ernst Klett Sprachen.
Shiri, A., Sadighi, F., Azizi, M. & Nekoueizadeh, M. (2017). The nature of lexical collocational errors committed by advanced Iranian learners of English. Journal of Languages and Culture, 8(1), 1-9.
Sinkala, F.L., Kaira, G., Simwinga, J. (2020). His car refused to cry”: an analysis of L1 interference lexical errors in Zambian grade 12 ESL learner’ written discourse. International Journal of Humanities Social Sciences and Education (IJHSSE), 7(4), 1-21.
Wilkins, D. A. (1972). Linguistics in Language Teaching. Edward Arnold.
Yang, L., Ma, A., & Cao, Y. (2013). Lexical Negative Transfer Analysis and Pedagogic Suggestions of Native Language in Chinese EFL Writing. The proceedings of the 2013 Conference on Education Technology and Management Science (ICETMS 2013), pp. 669–672. Atlantis Press.
Ye, Z. (2019). Chinese to English lexical transfer errors in the writing of rural senior high school students. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 9(6), 645-654.
Yule, G. (2010). The Study of Language (4th ed.). Cambridge University Press.