Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 14. Number 1 March 2023                                             Pp.253-265

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High-Proficiency L1 and L2 English Learners’ Morphological Words in Writing

 Xixiang Lou
English Department, School of Foreign Studies
Minnan Normal University, Zhangzhou, China
Corresponding Author:

Guanghui Ma
School of Foreign Languages and Cultures
Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing, China


Received:11/04/2022          Accepted: 02/05/2023                  Published: 03/24/2023


English differs from other languages in morphology, which may cause trouble in EFL learning. The interesting topic is whether ESL learners can obtain the same level of morphology in their English learning as native English speakers. The study explores whether high-proficiency EFL learners differ from native EL1 learners in writing using root words, inflected words, and derived words. This article reported on a comparative study between Advanced EFL learners (TOEFL Testees (n = 318)) and native English learners (writers of the Louvain Corpus of Native English Essays (n = 176)) by lexical frequency profile analysis on their use of root words, inflected words, and derived words in writing. The findings suggest that there are significant differences between the two groups. TOEFL writers used a much higher proportion of root words but a much lower proportion of inflected and derived words than native English learners. The findings will expose the differences between EFL learners and native L2 learners in word learning and contribute to L2 language teaching and learning theoretically and practically.
Keywords: high-proficiency EFL learners, native English speakers, productive morphological words, comparison

Cite as:  Lou, X., & Ma, G.  (2023). High-Proficiency L1 and L2 English Learners’ Morphological Words in Writing
Arab World English Journal, 14 (1) 253-265.


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Received: 11/04/2022 
Accepted: 02/05/2023 
Published: 03/24/2023   

Xixiang Lou (Ph.D. in Linguistics and Applied linguistics) is a lecturer at Minnan Normal University. His scientific interests include Second Language Acquisition, Language Testing, Foreign Language Teaching and Learning, and Corpus Linguistics. Orcid ID: 0000-0002-3080-6684

Guanghui Ma (Ph.D. in English Language and Literature) is a professor at Nanjing Normal University. His scientific interests include Applied Linguistics: Second Language Acquisition, Stylistics in Second Language Writing, and English and Chinese Translation.