Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 11. Number 2  June 2020                                              Pp.243-257

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A Qualitative Inquiry into the Difficulties Experienced by Algerian EFL Master Students
in Thesis Writing: ‘Language is not the Only Problem’

 Boufeldja Bakhou
Laboratory of African Studies for Human and Social Sciences
Department of English, Faculty of Arts and Languages
University of Adrar, Algeria

Bachir Bouhania
Department of English, Faculty of Arts and Languages
University of Adrar, Algeria



For the last few decades, difficulties encountered by non-native English students in the process of thesis writing have attracted considerable attention from researchers. However, most of the previous research on this topic has given priority to the language-related/linguistic problems and has focused on international students studying in L1 contexts. Thus, the aim of this qualitative study was to gain insight into Master students’ experiences of thesis writing in a conspicuously underexplored EFL context, Algeria. Specifically, the study explored both students’ and supervisors’ perceptions of the difficulties and challenges encountered during the course of thesis writing, with a focus on the non-linguistic factors underlying this academic undertaking. Semi-structured in-depth interviews, supported by open-ended questionnaires, were used to obtain from 30 students and six supervisors, purposely selected from English departments at eight Algerian universities. Findings indicate that the process of thesis writing is a formidable and daunting academic undertaking for Algerian EFF Master students due primarily to sociocultural challenges and then linguistic difficulties. These latter ones included students’ lack of some academic writing skills and their limited knowledge about thesis writing and research whereas the identified sociocultural challenges included lack of supervisor and family support, lack of cooperation of the research sample, and insufficient academic preparation. Pedagogical implications for stakeholders and suggestions for future researchers were presented in the end of the current study.
Keywords: Algerian EFL Master students, thesis writing, linguistic difficulties, sociocultural challenges

Cite as: Bakhou , B. , &  Bouhania, B. (2020). A Qualitative Inquiry into the Difficulties Experienced by Algerian EFL Master Students in Thesis Writing: ‘Language is not the Only
Problem’. Arab World English Journal, 11 (2) 243-257.


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Boufeldja Bakhou is a current PhD student at the department of English at University of Adrar,
Algeria. He got his Linguistics and Didactics Master’s degree from the same university in 2014.
His research interests include academic writing, thesis/dissertation writing and supervision, and
English language teaching. He has taught English as a foreign language in high school since 2014.

Prof. Bachir Bouhania holds a doctorate in Sociolinguistics obtained from the University of Oran
in 2007. He teaches at the department of English, Faculty of Arts and Languages of the University
of Adrar since 1997. Former head of department and vice-dean for scientific research, he is the
actual institutional representative for the European projects, Erasmus+.