A comparison of factors affecting Estonian EFL learners’ idiom comprehension

Rita Anita Forssten


The article discusses a study examining the facilitating effect that analysability (i.e. the degree of transparency) and similarity between English and Estonian equivalents have on Estonian EFL learners’ idiom comprehension. A group of (pre)adolescent L1 Estonian learners of English performed an idiom comprehension test, which consisted of idioms categorised into five groups on the basis of the degree of transparency (i.e. the degree to which their idiomatic meaning is inferable from the literal meanings of their constituents or from their figurativeness) and the degree of similarity to their Estonian equivalents. The results revealed that both transparency (in the form of a constituent to be taken literally) and identical L1 idioms facilitate EFL idiom comprehension nearly to the same degree, while the effect of semi-transparency (that is, figurativeness) seems to be clearly lower. However, opaque idioms with partially similar L1 equivalents appear to be even somewhat more difficult than opaque idioms without any L1–L2 similarity. 


Inglise keele kui võõrkeele idioomide mõistmist hõlbustavatest teguritest

Artikkel analüüsib uurimust, mis võrdles kahte inglise keele kui võõrkeele idioomidest arusaamist hõlbustavat tegurit: esiteks sõnasõnalistel elementidel ja figuratiivsusel põhineva analüüsitavuse mõju ja teiseks inglise idioomidega sarnaste ja identsete eesti keele kui emakeele idioomide mõju. Rühm Eesti põhikooli kuuenda klassi õpilasi sooritas idioomidest arusaamise testi, milles idioomid olid liigitatud viide erinevasse kategooriasse: 1) läbipaistmatud idioomid, millel on identne eestikeelne vaste; 2) läbipaistmatud idioomid, millel on osaliselt sarnane eestikeelne vaste; 3) läbipaistmatud idioomid, millel pole eestikeelset vastet (või on see täiesti erineva sõnastusega); 4) läbipaistvad idioomid (milles on vähemalt üks sõnasõnaliselt võetav element) ilma eestikeelse vasteta ning 5) poolläbipaistvad idioomid (ilma sõnasõnalise elemendita, aga kergesti arusaadava kujundlikkusega) ilma eestikeelse vasteta. Ilmnes, et läbipaistvus ja identne eestikeelne vaste hõlbustavad arusaamist peaaegu samal määral. Samas näib poolläbipaistvuse (figuratiivsuse) hõlbustav mõju olevat selgelt madalam ja idioomid, millel on ainult osaliselt sarnane vaste eesti keeles, osutusid kõige keerulisemateks. Vastupidi identse vaste olemasolule, mõjub osaliselt sarnane eestikeelne vaste pigem segadust tekitavalt kui toetavalt ingliskeelsest idioomist arusaamisele.


language learning and teaching; non-native language acquisition; idiom comprehension; language transfer; Estonian; English

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5128/ERYa15.02


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ISSN 1736-2563 (print)
ISSN 2228-0677 (online)
DOI 10.5128/ERYa.1736-2563