Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Special Issue on CALL Number 9. July 2023                     Pp.147-160

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Online Learning is a City without Police: Influence of Proficiency on Libyan EFL Learners’

 Aliakbar Imani
Language Academy, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities,
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
Corresponding author:

 Mohammed Abulqasem Mohammed Elasfar
Language Academy, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities,
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
Department of English Language, Faculty of Languages,
Sebha University, Libya


Received: 02/14/2023                Accepted: 05/04/2023                Published:07/24/2023


With the spread of COVID-19 and the replacement of face-to-face classes with emergency online learning, many studies have investigated English as a Foreign Language learners’ perceptions regarding their experiences of emergency online learning. However, the influence of EFL learners’ proficiency levels on their perceptions is still a neglected area. Conducting in-depth interviews with a group of Libyan EFL learners (n=18) by employing the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique, this study investigated their metaphorical perceptions regarding emergency online learning across the three proficiency levels of Basic, Independent, and Proficient Users according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Considering the large number of EFL learners around the world and the felt literature gap, this study investigated the relationship between EFL learners’ proficiency levels and perceptions. The three main features of online learning reflected in the participants’ metaphors were (i) lack of the teacher’s physical presence, (ii) lack of peers’ physical presence and (iii) lack of nonverbal communication cues. Furthermore, this study reveals a significant relationship between the learners’ language proficiency levels and perceptions. For instance, Basic Users perceived the lack of a teacher’s presence by metaphors of ‘unsafety’ and ‘fear’, while Independent and Proficient Users respectively perceived it by metaphors of ‘freedom’ and ‘power’. Accordingly, the learners reported different class behaviors and learning strategies in response to these features.
Keywords: English as a Foreign Language, Libyan EFL learners, online learning, perception, proficiency, Zaltman
Metaphor Elicitation Technique

Cite as:  Imani, A , &  Elasfar, M.A.M. (2023).  Online Learning is a City without Police: Influence of Proficiency on Libyan EFL Learners’ Perceptions.  Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Special Issue on CALL (9) 147-160.


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Received: 02/14/2023
Accepted: 05/04/2023
Published: 07/24/2023  

Dr. Aliakbar Imani, Ph.D., is a senior lecturer at Language Academy, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM). His research interests are Critical Discourse Analysis, Health Communication, and Language and Communication in society. In particular, he investigates the role of metaphor in discourse and as a research tool. ORCID:

 Mohammed Abulqasem Mohammed Elasfar is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Language Academy, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM). He is researching Apology and Request Strategies among Arab Postgraduates with their Supervisors. He is also an assistant professor of English at the Department of English Language, Sebha university, Libya. His research areas are ESL, Semantics, Pragmatics, Discourse Analysis, and Language and Communication.