EFL Learners’ Knowledge and Use of Gender Stereotypes: Evidence from Arabic Native Speakers

Nawal Alzahrani, Shelia M. Kennison


The research explored EFL learners’ knowledge and use of gender stereotypes of common English nouns (e.g., doctor and nurse). In the study, we compared how EFL learners living in Saudi Arabia and native English speakers rated 24 nouns that can be used to refer to either males or females and how they interpreted sentences containing the gender-specific pronouns his and her preceded by one of the three types of these nouns (i.e., male stereotyped, female stereotyped, or gender neutral). The results showed that performance for EFL learners differed from native speakers’ in both tasks. EFL learners rated nouns as generally referring to males more often than did native English speakers. EFL learners were also significantly less likely to interpret her and his as referring to the preceding noun than were native English speakers. The results suggest that in EFL courses, learners are likely to benefit from explicit coverage of gender ambiguous English nouns and the topic of gender stereotyping as an important aspect of vocabulary knowledge.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/selt.v5n4p632


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