A Corpus-Based Lexical Evaluation of L1 Arabic Learners’ English Literary Essays


Evaluating learners’ writing quality has been quite challenging. One important indicator of writing quality is the use of lexis in texts. However, more efficient evaluative guidelines should be explored. Although corpus-based lexical studies have provided analyses of various text genres for word frequencies and keywords indicative of lexical density, and thus writing quality for teaching/learning purposes, learner literary texts remain under researched. This study explores the word frequencies in a corpus of N=206 L1 Arabic learners’ literary essays written in English in one literature course at an English medium university in Lebanon. Lextutor platform was used to analyze the word frequency profiles which indicate the lexical density level and Voyant Tools platform to analyze the content keyword profiles, which preview thematic representations and character features. Main findings indicated a dichotomy between literary knowledge and language proficiency. The content keywords previewed themes and character features adequately which showed the learners’ knowledge of the literary text. The word frequency profiles, however, indicated a low lexical density and, thus, a low language proficiency level. Implications for pedagogy and recommendations are made for further researching this “controversial dichotomy” in learners’ literary essays in developing the literary edge for well-rounded learners versus improving their language proficiency level.


Nahla Nola Bacha, Victor Khachan


corpus linguistics, Lebanon, lexical richness, literary corpora, text analysis


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