L. Listyani, Andrew T. Thren


In an Indonesian setting, writing proper idiomatic expressions poses significant challenges for the majority of EFL students. Oftentimes, the idiomatic meanings deviate from the literal meanings and students are affected by their own first language and cultural contexts in usage. Therefore, this study explores the erroneous mistakes made by Indonesian EFL students and offers insights into teachers’ and students’ perspectives. This research will primarily examine the factors that influence university-level Academic Writing class students in incorrectly translating idiomatic expressions from the source language to the target language. The data for analysis was retrieved from students of Academic Writing classes from two different universities in West Java and Central Java to provide a comparative context in analyzing their mistakes. A comparative descriptive approach was applied, as this was deemed more appropriate for a study on semantic and translation strategies. The research results revealed that the study participants primarily experienced L1 interference, insufficient linguistic and grammatical knowledge, and a lack of lexical knowledge. Another obstacle was the students’ tendency to not heed cultural aspects in their writing and translating. Consequently, it is essential for EFL learners to be able to properly understand and translate idiomatic expressions in their writing to improve their target-language proficiency. Thus, instructors and students play crucial roles in successfully traversing this linguistic endeavor. Through proper instruction and active engagement, EFL learners can improve their linguistic mastery and cultural fluency, facilitating them to write more naturally in English.


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idiomatic expressions, EFL university students, academic writing, translation errors, comparative descriptive approach

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