Investigating Iranian EFL Writing Problems and Examining Back Transfer

| March 10, 2014

Investigating Iranian EFL Writing Problems and Examining Back Transfer

Keywords: Argumentative writing, back transfer, contrastive rhetoric, models with explicit instruction, models with implicit instruction, Toulmin’s (1958, 2003) model.


Dr. Farzaneh Khodabandeh, Dr. Manochehre Jafarigohar,
Dr. Hassan Soleimani, and Dr. Fatemeh Hemmati
Tehran Payame Noor University, Iran


Khodabandeh holds a PhD in teaching English as a foreign language and is an assistant professor at Mobarakeh Payame Noor University. She has been a member of the editorial boards of Asian EFL and The Linguistics Journals since 2007.

Manoochehr Jafarigohar has a Ph.D. in TEFL, MA in TEFL, BA in English translation; author of thirteen academic textbooks; presentation in more than 20 international conferences; published papers in various journals; 25 years’ experience of teaching English; 20 years of teaching and research in distance education; advisor and reader to over 100 post-graduate theses and dissertations.

Hassan Soleimani is an assistant professor at the University of Payame Noor, Tehran, Iran, where he teaches computer-assisted language learning and EFL curriculum development for Ph.D. candidates, and research methods and language teaching methodology to graduate and undergraduate students. He has written some books, including An Introduction to Non-parametric Statistics for Applied Linguistics Research (2009), and articles in national and international journals. He also serves as the editorial board member of some journals. His areas of interest include research methodology and statistics, curriculum design, and SLA issues.

Fatemeh Hemmati holds PhD and is an Assistant Professor at University of Payame Noor.


Research has indicated that writing argumentative essays is difficult for second language (L2) students of English. The current project intended to examine the difficulties which Iranian EFL students have in writing argumentative essays and also to investigate similarities and/or differences in the way they structure their English and Persian argumentative essays before and after instruction. This study also attempted to portray how students transfer rhetorical patterns in L2 to first language (L1) compositions. This study shed further light into the impact of the explicit and implicit genre-based approaches in comparison with the no-instruction approach on the argumentative genre. After conducting a TOFEL test, 79 subjects were selected. The selected subjects were randomly divided into three groups. All of the three groups did four pre- and post-tests. The results show that the participants used the basic structure of English argumentative papers in both their Persian and English pre-essays; however, they were weak at handling oppositional structures. The quantitative analysis of the post-argumentative essays revealed that the experimental group outperformed the implicit and no-formal instruction groups after receiving models with explicit instruction on the elements of Toulmin’s model under study. This research provides evidence for the transfer from L2 to L1 writing through within-subject comparisons. The findings of this study offer L2 teachers the chance to enrich their pedagogy through the new strategies which were employed in the current research.


Category: Quarterly Journal