2. Previous Studies Related to Analysis of Language Learning
This section of this chapter provides the literature review of certain previous studies that been carried out for EFL learners by researchers and linguists. Moreover, this section assembles these studies under two distinct headings. The First heading gives the studies related to EFL learning by Non-Arab speakers while as the second one provides the account of studies of EFL learning by Arab-speakers. In order to account for the previously conducted studies by different researchers and linguists, this section has been provided here.
2.1 Studies Related to EFL Learning by Non- Arab Speakers
Zutell and Allen (1988) studied the effect of particular features of L1 pronunciation on the tactics of FL spelling. Their subjects were bilingual children who studied Spanish of three short-term programs. They were in their second, third and fourth grades. Their findings showed that those students who were less successful committed more Spanish transferred errors than the more successful ones. It was found that the more successful students in spelling, no matter what their language level was, could make a distinction between English and Spanish, thus the English spelling errors that they committed did not show much influence of Spanish. On the other hand, poor spellers used the strategy of letter-name. Due to the fact that these poor spellers heard the letters as Spanish names, their English spellings were not at any linguistic consideration close to that of English native speakers.
In a study investigating the difficulty in SL learning, Chau (1972) has reported the following:
“Interference from the source language is the greatest source of error, accounting for approximately 51% of the total number of errors. The second important source of interference is the systemic complexity of the TL itself, which accounts for 27% of the total number of errors; the subtler the distinctions within the subsystem, the more difficult they are for the learner”. (p.142)
Adetugbo (1984), states that the inability to express the English norms, culture and thoughts as the native speakers does, and imposing one’s way of expressing one’s native language on English is the source of semantic interference. To make this point clearer, he illustrates with words/expression’s ‘sorry’ and ‘well done’. ‘Sorry’ is used in Nigerian English as an expression of sympathy, for example when somebody coughs. While ‘well done’ is used as a greeting to anyone at work. The use of these lexical items in British English would be wrong and inappropriate ‘sorry’ in native English can be used to express a feeling or repentance (I am sorry for what I have done); ‘well done’ according to Adetugbo (1984) is a high praise salutation in native English culture for someone who has excelled at doing something.
Anke Nutskpo (1996) also carried out researches on the influence of mother tongue on English Language and found out that a number of elision errors are derived from mother tongue interference. Some of these include consonant clusters. Most of West African languages have no consonant clusters and this affects pronunciation of English words. Thus, words like ‘look’ for ‘looked’ or ‘pack’ for ‘packed’ appears normal. Also in specific language like the Yoruba or Ijaw language /h/ is also introduced where there is non as in /h_gz/ for egg.
Ying (1987) has examined 120 Taiwanese EFL learners’compositions and has sorted out errors on the basis of three criteria: overgeneralization, simplification and language transfer. A total of 1,250 errors were detected in the 120 compositions, among which 78.9% of the errors were a result of language transfer, 13.6% were overgeneralization of the TL and 7.5% were forms of simplification.
Ferroli and Shanahan (1993) investigated the effect of voicedness difference between Spanish and English upon the types of misspelling that FL students make. Their results manifested that students rely on their L1 spelling system in applying such strategies upon those spelling rules of the TL.
Wode (1978) also carried out some research on the influence of L1 on the L2, and he pointed out, that, first-language influenced errors may only occur at certain stages in development. Wode’s example is quite clear, and is reviewed here.
In English, the negative participle appears after the auxiliary, as in
(1) I cannot go
But before main verbs, with do – support, as in
(2) I don’t know
In German, however, the negative particle appears both auxiliaries and main verbs, as in
(3) Ich kann nicht gehen
I can not go.
and (4) Ich weiss notch,
I know not,
Wode’s children, German – speakers acquiring English as a second language in the United States, produced some sentences using apparent first language influence, such as
(5) John go not to the school.
What is interesting, Wode points out, is that they did not produce such sentences early on. Their first attempt to negation were similar to what one sees in first language acquisition, such as
(6) No, you
(7) No, play base ball
They only produce sentences such as (5) when they begun to acquire the aux + neg. rule, i.e. when they had begun to produce sentences such as
(8) Lunch is no ready,
Only did they “fall back” on the more general German rule. Wode (1978, 1979) “suggests that there is, therefore, a structural prerequisite for first language influence: the performer’s interlinguistics structural description, his idea of the target language rule, must be similar to the structural description of the rule in first language, Wode’s children’s English negation rule was not all at all similar to the German rule in early stages, but it became similar when they progressed to aux – neg stage. Hence, first language influence appeared but not earlier” (qtd by Krashen, 69).
Darus and Ching (2009) investigated the most common errors in essays written in English by 70 form one Chinese students in a public school in Perak in Malaysia. For all of these students, Chinese was their first language (L1). Using an error classification scheme and Markin 3.1 software, 70 essays were analyzed and categorized into 18 types of errors. The results of the analysis show that four most common errors were mechanics, tenses, preposition, and subject-verb agreement. In these written essays, interlingual errors due to L1 interference were clear. Intralingual transfer of Malay and developmental errors were also observed in their writing. This study suggests that teachers need to emphasize on how certain concepts are handled in English, Malay and Chinese in order to make the students aware of the differences in the structure of English, Malay and their L1.
Kay Williamson (1969) did some detailed work on the problems the Igbo learners of English encounters with the learning of English sounds. She notes that most Igbo dialects, with regards to the vowels e and ? are allophones of one phoneme. This is why most Igbo speakers who tend to use e for the English diphthong /ei/ does not clearly distinguish between such words as ‘gate’ and ‘get’. Also the central vowels / ? / ?:/ and / ? / are difficult for Igbo speakers because there are no Igbo vowels that are similar in quality.
Bhela(1999) conducted a case study based on an observation of four adult second language learners. His major concern of his paper has been with the observable features of interference of L1 and L2 and what its effects are on the syntactic structure of a written task of second language learners. He concluded that the learners have used some L1 structures to produce appropriate responses in L2, producing semantically acceptable texts. Subsequently, the learners have also used L1 structures interchangeably with L2 structures, producing inappropriate L2 responses, indicating interference of L1 onL2.
Azevedo (1980) investigated the lexical errors committed by 14th first-year graduate students of Spanish at the American university. His subjects were native speakers of American English. His data was the collection of 61 papers written by the subjects. Findings revealed that subjects committed many lexical errors. The subjects’ Spanish speech revealed many gaps in morphology, syntax, semantics and style. These gaps “…were filled by rules of their own MT” (1980, p. 223)
Ejenihu Juliet Ngozi, (2001 ), carried out a research on “The Interference of Phonology of Igbo Language in Acquisition of English: Ikeduru local Government Area of Imo State” using the oral speech of students in the acquisition of English Language. She found out that the segmental feature of the student’s mother tongue (Igbo) interfered with their responses to the oral tests. She gave an instance of most them pronouncing the English language vowel numbers five /a:/ and diphthong number thirteen as Igbo vowel /a/. The inability of the students to distinguish the long vowels from the short ones is a major factor responsible for their deviation in pronouncing English long vowels.
According to Ejenihu, all the students deviated in pronouncing the English sound segments that were not available in Igbo phonology also constituted pronunciation problems to the students tested.
Aguas (1964) studied errors in English compositions made by Tagalog speakers. He has concluded that the first language interference is the greatest single cause of errors and that CA can be used to predict to a very large extent those errors which arise from negative transfer from first language, though it does not predict errors which arise from a false analogy among linguistic elements in SL.
Alonso, A., ; Rosa, M. (1997). Conducted a study to identify Interlingual errors in Spanish students of English as a foreign language. Through this study, it was possible to define and list the most common type of Interlingual errors, which are constituted by the phenomenon of transfer. The findings revealed that the structures of the mother tongue represent the main factor of interference in the L2. It is important to emphasize that grammar and vocabulary errors are the most common errors identified due to a lack of distinction in Spanish or to the literal translation of L1. Once having the results it is intended to focus on the common type of errors which are seriously affecting the competence of students and how teachers should try thus to eliminate the transfer of structures committed by the students. This can be a challenge, but it is possible to be done by means of making exercises oriented to the practice of the use of linguistic structures and the different part of speech, where these interference phenomena is possible to identify.
Richards (1971) has collected speech samples elicited from two subjects whose source languages are French and Czech. He has found out that of 47 errors made, 25 can be attributed to interference from the mother tongue, 17 to interference from the TL due to overgeneralization and three are performance errors. He has concluded that interference from the source language is the most detectable kind of interference traceable to certain structures, particularly in linguistic areas. In another study using a non-contrastive approach to EA, Richards (1971) has found that interference from the mother tongue is clearly a major source of difficulty in SL learning and contrastive proves valuable in locating areas of interlingual interference? (p.214).
Maros, M., Hua, T. K., ; Salehuddin, K. (2017) conducted a study in Malaysia in order to find out the source of the grammatical errors in English essay writing made by rural Malay secondary school students, where certainly occurred the phenomena of transfer during the learning process. Through the researcher’s observation is concluded that although not all errors are due to mother tongue interference, a large number of errors identified are related to the inappropriate use of the parts of speech such as: prepositions, determiners, subject verb agreement where is clearly reflected the interference of the Malay grammar. Thus, the problems of acquiring EFL in Malaysia can still be a big deal due to mother tongue interference. Therefore, so as to find a balance some plans should be taken to implement approaches that could best assist and help students in these problematic areas. This investigation study identified a number of errors that seem to be the result of the interference of L1, in other words it showed how the mother tongue is strongly tie to the language learning process. The best thing is to start to implement new techniques and approaches in order to minimize the chances of these errors in the teaching learning process with the use of teaching materials and teaching practices within and outside the classrooms.
Duskova (1969) has analyzed that the written English of a group of Czech adult learners of English and has stipulated that the learners’confusion of the systems and subsystems of English is the main cause of errors. Her analysis of the syntactic errors has revealed that the following are the problematic areas:
a. Malformation, which includes such errors as omission of plural endings, lack of subject-verb agreement and omission of the third person singular verb endings ‘s’
b. Modal verbs.
e. Word order.
She has also found that first language interference causes the major part of students ‘errors.
In a study investigating the difficulty in SL learning, Tran (1972) has reported the following:
Interference from the source language is the greatest source of error, accounting for approximately 51% of the total number of errors. The second important source of interference is the systemic complexity of the TL itself, which accounts for 27% of the total number of errors; the subtler the distinctions within the subsystem, the more difficult they are for the learner. (p. 142)
In his article, Chan (2004) presented evidence of syntactic transfer from Chinese to English in the light of data obtained from 710 Hong Kong Chinese ESL learners at different proficiency levels. The focus of the study was on five error types: (a) lack of control of copula (b) incorrect placement of adverbs (c) problem in using the « there be » structure to express the existential function (d) failure to use the relative clause and (e) confusion in verb transitivity. The result showed that many Chinese ESL learners in Hong Kong tended to think in Chinese first before they wrote in English.
Keiko (2003:59-85) investigated 32 written English tasks by 36 university freshmen Japanese students. Keiko (2003:70) identified three types of article errors: omission; unnecessary insertion; and confusion. Students were first required to read a short story, and then produce four written tasks (200-250 words each). These consisted of:
? making a summary;
? answering a question;
? creating an original sequel;
? and o writing a critique.
Keiko’s (2003) study examined two error patterns committed by Japanese studying English as a second language: the genitive markers of/’s indicating possession; and the English article system a/an/the. The former was concerned with the misuse of the English preposition of, which Keiko (2003:59) considered to originate in the students’ L1. The other error type analyzed was the error involving articles. The findings revealed that the difficulty arose in students? insufficient understanding of articles, a lack of experience in using them and reliance on oversimplified textbooks.
Huang (2001) has investigated the nature and distribution of different kinds of grammatical errors made by 46 English majors of a Taiwanese university. A total of 1700 errors were found and categorized into 13 error types. The top six common errors were (1) verb (2) Noun (3) spelling (4) article (5) preposition and (6) word choice. Overgeneralization, ignorance of rule restrictions, simplification, incomplete application of rules and L1 transfer were reported as the major causes of EFL learners’errors.
Sarfraz (2011) examined the errors made in a corpus of fifty English essays. The participants were fifty undergraduate Pakistani students. They were non-native speakers of English. The instrument used was the participants’ essays in English. The researcher followed Rod Ellis’s (1994) procedural analysis of errors : collection of errors, identification of errors, description of errors, explanation of errors, and evaluation of errors in analyzing fifty English essays. The results showed that the number of interlingual errors committed by the participants was higher than the number of intralingual errors.
Merio (1978), in a study about interference errors has reported that as much as 58.7% of the errors made by Swedish speaking students learning Finnish can be attributed to the influence of the primary language on the secondary one.
Eun-pyo (2002:1-9) conducted an error analysis study on Korean medical students? writing. The subjects in the study were 35 second year premedical students who took English Writing in the third semester of their two-year English curriculum. The primary purpose of the study was to analyse what errors intermediate to advanced level learners, at a medical college, make in their writing by reviewing their formal and informal letters. Since these learners were considered relatively of advanced level according to their scores of the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC), the results were also compared with other results of basic level learners from a previous study. The number of errors and length of students? writing were analysed to see if they correlated with their official test scores. The subjects? writing was evaluated and the sentences with errors were recorded to identify the types and frequency of errors. The study revealed that approximately one fourth of errors (26%) resulted from L1 transfer. Other major errors identified were wrong words (16%), prepositions (15%) and articles (14%).
Chiang (1993) has examined types of errors of 160 compositions written by senior high school students in Taiwan. The low proficient group wrote mainly in simple sentences. As far as global errors were concerned, the three most commonly made errors were conjunctions, run-on sentences and subject-objects-complements. The investigation of learning strategies showed that language transfer accounted for 70.58% of all the errors.
Ilomaki (2005:1-96) conducted a cross-sectional study with particular reference to Finnish-speaking and English-speaking learners of German. The researcher used learners? written output to analyse learner errors and identify reasons why different errors may have occurred. Ilomaki (2005:12) concludes that learners do not necessarily make the same errors in written and oral production, due to different processing conditions and learners with one native language do not necessarily make the same errors as learners with different native language. The study also reveals that adult learners? errors result from cross-linguistic influence, that is, when one language influences another through borrowing, interference and language transfer. Ilomaki (2005:12) argues that the age factor is not necessarily a decisive factor in second 36 language learning or in cross-linguistic influence. Ilomaki?s (2005:1-2) study is unique because the aspect of previously acquired languages other than mother tongue tend to be neglected in studies of error analysis in L2 learning acquisition process.
Sattayatham and Honsa, (2007) have researched to identify the most frequent errors of first year medical students in Thailand. The results showed that the most frequent errors were at the syntactic and lexical levels which led to overgeneralization, incomplete rule application and building of false concepts. According to the study, mother tongue interference was detected as major cause of errors. However, some linguistic items such as articles, tense and verb forms appeared to be the source of frequent errors.
Odumah (1987) also studied the influence of ethno linguistics on English language usage of Nigerians. He found out that these influences affect all levels of linguistic analysis in the areas of phonology, morphology. According to him, the main pronunciation problems of our people are due to interference from MT. We are so conditioned by the habits of our mother tongue that very often we cannot hear the strong sounds of a new language let alone producing them. This is true of an English man learning Igbo, as of an Igbo man learning English.
Randall (2005:1-10) studied the spelling errors for Singaporean primary school children who dictated target words in English. The aim of the investigation was to determine if the errors produced by the Singaporean children could be attributed to the Mother 39 Tongue influences, to influences from Singaporean English or if they showed similar patterns to those produced by native English speakers at the same level. Randall (2005:1-10) found the errors produced in the Primary 2 classes to be influenced by phonology, that is the study of the sound systems in language; Randall found that the errors were due to influence from Singaporean English, but found both classes different from their native speaking counterparts in the way they processed final inflected clusters.
Onike Rahman (2009) carried out a research on mother tongue interference on the Yoruba learners of English and he found out that ‘a Yoruba – English bilingual stresses every syllable in the utterances he produces in English, e.g. cha 1ra 1cher instead of character or ma1ry instead of Mary. At the level of intonation, because all the syllables are stressed, a carryover effect from the dialects of Yoruba language, it becomes difficult to understand what part of an utterance a Yoruba – English bilingual is trying to emphasize. In the areas of syntactic and discourse problems of Yoruba learner of English, he states that “the syntax of English and Yoruba language have recognized problem areas such as the nominal system (such as number, quantifiers, pronoun) gender, embedded structures relative pronouns, complements) and the expression of passives. According to him, “the discourse level is ‘more pronounced at the level of greeting. For instance, the system of greeting in Yoruba differs considerably from that of English. And a Yoruba English bilingual transfers the system of greeting in Yoruba into English. The system of greetings is also observed via the production of language greetings in place of casual greetings which characterize the English discourse.
2.2 Studies Related to EFL Learning by Arab Speakers
Bataineh (2005) focused upon identifying the kinds of errors that Jordanian undergraduate EFL students committed in the use of the indefinite article. The size of the study population was 209 male and female university students majoring English in Yarmouk University. They were between 18 and 23 years old. Those subjects were asked to write compositions on various topics. The findings of her study suggested that most of the errors that these subjects committed were due to common learning processes as those of overgeneralization and simplification of the English article system. Her study suggested that the interference of the MT in the specific language category that she was studying ‘the use of the indefinite article’ was so limited. However, the only type of errors that could be attributed to L1 interference was the deletion of the indefinite article.
Scott & Tucker (1974) have studied errors made by Arabic-speaking students in their speech and writing. The errors were classified into fourteen types: verbs, prepositions, articles, relative clauses, sentential complements, repetition of subject or object, nouns, pronouns, surrogate subjects, word order, quantifiers, adverbs, adjectives, and genitive constructions. From their findings, verbs, prepositions, and articles were major sources of errors. The errors were explained in terms of performance mistakes, mother-tongue interference, or false intralingual analogy.
Al-Khresheh (2010) investigated the interference of L1 (Arabic) syntactic structures on FL (English) syntactic structures amongst Jordanian learners of English. His focus was on the word order errors committed by EFL learners within the structure of simple sentences. The purpose of the study was to trace the effect of the MT upon that of the TL. He used Corder’s (1981) method that was comprised of a multiple-choice test. His 115 Jordanian subjects were tenth grade school students at Al-Mazer District of Education in the south of Jordan. The results of his study showed that the subjects committed (1266) interlingual errors regarding the specific syntactic category that he was investigating, which was the simple sentence structure word order. He found out after the sub-classification of these errors that they were attributed to the transfer from standard Arabic (SA) were more than those of the transfer from non-standard Arabic (NSA). Moreover, these transfer errors were found to be the result of the variance between the subjects’ MT (Arabic) and English in addition to the transfer from two various varieties of Arabic.
Samhoury (1965) has analyzed the grammatical errors in the written English of two hundred Syrian University students in order to provide a partial basis for preparing English teaching materials. He has reported errors in word order, verb formation, tense, sequence of tense, prepositions and articles. His subjects’reliance on the native language was very extensive. However, the fact that he has not reported and figured his subjects’errors or the frequency of their occurrence gives the researcher reason to believe that Samhoury’s study was more of a CA than EA.
Al-Khresheh (2011) studied the performance analysis of a group of 120 Arabic speaking Jordanian students of English at Jordanian schools, located in the south of Jordan. His subjects were asked to write compositions and later analyzed them to find out the extent of interference of Arabic (L1) syntactic structures into English (FL). The main focus of his study was upon the errors made by these students in one particular syntactic category that was the coordinating conjunction ‘and’, that was equal to “wa” in Arabic. His results implied that his subjects made a large number of errors in using coordinating conjunction ‘and’. He suggested that interlingual interference was the main reason behind making such a great number of this type of errors.
Willcott (1974) has studied the errors of sixteen native speakers of Arabic taking a course in history at the University of Texas at Austin. The objective of his study was to find out some of the students’unique problems with the syntax of written English in order to develop efficient teaching materials. Willcott’s study has showed that the most serious problems for this group of learners were those with the concept of definiteness and verb morphology.
Abu-Jarad (2008) studied the errors committed by 179 Palestinian university students studying English in Al-Azhar University – Gaza. He presented to the subjects a grammar test that was composed of 59 questions which were focusing upon 13 grammatical categories. The findings of the study showed that there was an increase in the students’ command of the various grammatical categories and fewer errors committed as a result of the advancement of the students’ language levels. It was found that the level 1 students were good in their results because of their efforts to succeed in the high school general certificate exams. The results showed that in a particular grammatical category ‘the use of articles’; there was a general weakness even for level 2, level 3 and level 4 students. He attributed such a weakness to that of teaching methods. He suggested that English teachers should pay particular attention to the use of articles as a review for their students at the beginning of their courses. It was also suggested that English teachers might attempt to show the difference in articles use in English and Arabic. Thus, it was also suggested that English teachers should conduct a diagnostic test before teaching English articles. The most notable increase in the performance of the specific grammatical categories was the use of the reported speech, present perfect and prepositions. However, the students’ weakness was manifested in the use of articles and irregular comparatives.
Kambal (1981) has analyzed syntactic errors in compositions written by first year Sudanese students at Khartoum University. His subjects experienced most difficulty with verbs, tense, concord, articles and prepositions. He explained these errors in terms of both native language interference and the influence of the systems of the TL itself.
Tahaineh (2010) investigated the kind of errors that the Jordanian first, second and third year university students made in the use of English prepositions. They were students majoring in English at Al-Balqa Applied University in Jordan. His 162 subjects were asked to write free compositions. His results showed that the interference of the MT (Arabic) accounted for most of the errors that these EFL students committed (58%=1323). However, intralingual errors, which were attributed to the TL itself were also the second major cause of errors (42%=967). These students showed the tendency of using the correct preposition in English if it had the same equivalent in Arabic. They selected the improper preposition in English if it did not have the same equivalent in Arabic, for example, *Amman is famous by its ruins. They also deleted or inserted prepositions in English according to their MT rules of inserting or deleting such prepositions. He concluded that Arab students’ incorrect use of English prepositions was so vast even for the more advanced English language learners.
Zughoul (2002) investigated syntax of the interlanguage of 25 Arab learners of English from seven Arab countries who were attending an intensive English program at the University of Texas, Austin. The focus of the study was on the area of the noun phrase concerning the closed system elements that can occur before or after the noun head. He analysed the first 500 vocabulary of each subject’s interlanguage; then he classified them according to a typology of errors that he designed according to a pilot study. His findings showed that noun phrase errors constituted 32.8 % of the total number of errors in the sample, which came second after verb phrase errors. The noun phrase errors according to their frequency were in the use of articles, especially the omission of the indefinite article in obligatory contexts, the use of “the” excessively, omission of the article “the,” and redundant use of the articles “a” and “an”. He concluded that the errors committed by Arab learners varied according to their dialects backgrounds. He also concluded that errors committed by Arab learners were very much similar to those errors committed by English learners of other language backgrounds.
Miqdadi (1997) conducted an empirical study on the role of the native language, Arabic, in learning English relative clauses. A sample of 100 male and female students was drawn from first-year and second-year students in the English department of Yarmouk University. The analysis of the errors made by those students in the formation of the English relative clauses revealed the clear effect of negative transfer from Arabic into English.
Al-Hazaymeh (1994) performed an analytical study on the errors made by secondary students learning English verb tenses. The study was based on a random sample survey of 759 students drawn from secondary schools in the city of Irbid, Jordan. The sample consisted of 587 students from public schools and 172 from private schools. The sample consisted of males and females and science and arts students. The statistical analysis found that the errors made by the students in using the English verb tenses were significantly different for different groups; that is to say, public and private students, male and female students, and science and literature students. The researcher further found that the errors made by the students were mainly due to the interference of their mother tongue, overgeneralization, and the complex structures of the English verb tenses, the parallel structure strategy, and lack of awareness of grammatical rules.
Al-Haq (1982) conducted a study regarding the syntactical errors in compositions written by 96 secondary male and female students in urban and rural schools of Irbid. His results manifested that no significant differences between male and female were found regarding noun-phrase and verb-phrase errors, except for prepositions, particles and tense. In addition, it was noticed that there were significant differences between urban and rural students concerning the definite article, prepositions and particles. Those errors were attributed to L1 interference, overgeneralization, and performance, ignorance of usage rules, restriction, formation and developmental errors.
Arabi’s (1999) study investigated the writing performance among preliminary year students in three Sudanese universities. The investigation arrived at different lexical errors in the students ‘writing performance at level of the right lexical word, sentence connection, and structure. The composition scripts for preliminary year students were sampled and analyzed in order to predict and pre–estimate the main trends of errors ‘distribution among the member of the data population. The problem of the study was the weakness of the students while the methodology was a free composition on one of four topics. The errors of each group e.g. the right uses of lexical words and idioms were analyzed in relationship to whether they were due to intralingual. The study concentrates on the syntactic aspects. The study identified the major areas of weakness of the performance of writing and referred to the errors observed in the students’ compositions which are attributed to first Arabic language background, the complex nature of writing process and linguistic difficulty as setbacks factors in writing performance.
Al-Naimi (1989) investigated the errors made by Arab EFL learners of the category of English Adjectives. His sample was composed of 150 students enrolled in the classes of the Orientation Program of the language Centre in Jordan. They were asked to write essays. It was found that interference was the main reason behind committing the biggest number of errors in adjective formation, selection and comparison.
Nada Salih A. Ridha (2012) the main purpose of this study was to identify and specify the errors in English written works of EFL Iraqi students, in this case essay writing. The findings of the study developed indicate that most of the students’ errors can be due to the L1 transfer. This is supported by the fact that most of the learners rely on or depend on their mother tongue at the time of expressing their ideas. Although the data gathered revealed that the students’ essays included different types of errors, the grammatical errors were the most serious and frequent ones. It is believed that there is a considerable influence of Arabic language on the students’ writing of English. The study also indicates some remarkable contributions to the language field where teachers need to take a special attention of transfer and interference phenomenon. Seriously, both issues are part of the main obstacles students have to deal in their production (spoken or written).
Al-Jarf (2000) conducted a study of nine Saudi seniors at the College of Languages and Translation, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia whose major was translation. She analyzed 159 grammatical agreement errors. Statistics showed that the percentage of disagreeing verbs was more than pronouns, which in turn was more than adjectives. It also revealed that gender errors were higher than number agreement errors. Interlingual errors were more than intralingual ones. 27% of the errors were due to incorrect gender assignment to the controller or target, 3% were due to inability to determine the number of the controller or target, 24% were due to inability to associate the verb, pronoun or adjective with its correct referent.
Kharma and Hajjaj (1985) described the characteristics of conditional usage in writing by learners whose first language was Arabic. The Type 1 conditional (If + present + future) was the next most common form they encountered. They stated that it generally did not pose a problem for Arab learners. They found out that Arab teachers of English language used Arabic for explaining difficult lexical items and grammatical rules. These teachers had the belief that using their MT is useful and they were pleased for that. They concluded that the L1 should not usually be used in FL classrooms, since the aim of FL teaching was to approximate near-native competence. However, if there was need for that, a limited and systematized use was recommended.
Kharma (1987) carried out research on Arab students’ problems in learning the English relative clause. His study found 14 types of errors, mainly due to negative interference from their native language, Arabic. Kharma further concluded that these were errors of form and did not affect communication.
Hashim (1996) revised most of the recurring studies that focused upon syntactic errors made by Arab learners of English. He classified these errors into seven various categories: verbal, sentence structure, relative clause, adverbial clause, conjunction, articles and prepositions. Findings of his study revealed that the interference of the MT (Arabic) was the main reason behind committing such types of errors. He added that when Arab learners tried to formulate an English sentence, they used strategies parallel to those of MT learners as simplification and overgeneralization. For example, *The son of the teacher is named Ali, and
*He play football with us.
Hamdan (1984) investigated the lexical errors committed by 60 Jordanian second year English majors in the use of Basic English vocabulary. Findings revealed that 63.85% of the subjects’ responses were incorrect; whereas 36.15% were correct. The committed lexical errors were classified as lexical substitution, paraphrase, and the use of negative forms, coinage and translation. Analysis showed that 48.2% of the total number of lexical errors was attributed to L1 interference, whereas 14.6% were intralingual ones.
Karadawi (1994).He used the cross –sectional design questionnaire, and teachers’ opinionnaires in analyzing the Sudanese Higher Secondary School third year students’ composition. The study claimed that both inadequate and ineffective exposure to composition writing in the Higher Secondary School (HSC) is the reason for the inability of the final year students of the Higher Secondary School to write error-free types of texts. The impact of the mother interference was also claimed. The study proved that the students today do not do any sort of private readings that help them acquire the skill of composing a readable text. It could be observed that although Karadawi’s study succeeded in investigating the syntactic errors in terms of subject tense errors and lexical errors, however, he did not specifically shed enough light on lexical errors. Karadawi’s study argued that the EFL lexico- semantic handling becomes a problem to the learners to the extent that they get bound to no choice except a transfer from the first language Arabic.
Gharab’s (1996) study which investigated the performance errors made by the first year Iraqi university students in written English. Gharab analyzed the errors using a free composition writing test as an elicitation technique for data collection. Interviews were also made to students, teachers and supervisors. The study found out that Iraqi university first year student make spelling, syntactic, and lexical errors in their writing due to the transfer from the mother tongue. With regards to the Gharab’s study, it investigated a wide range of orthographical, syntactic and lexical errors which resulted in the failure to concentrate on lexical errors. In terms of Gharab (1996) it could be argued that errors made by the university students are not sufficiently addressed and tackled by the teachers. This might ring the bell and notify the syllabus designer all over Arab region to care more and tackle these errors in general and in particular teachers’ inefficiency. Gharab’s findings proved the impact of the mother language, lack of interaction and cultural factors on the students’ weakness.
Mahmoud (2002) investigated the interlingual transfer of idioms by Arab learners of English. His data was collected from essays that were written by 230 Arab second year university students in the Sultan Qaboos University majoring English. Students from various branches of study wrote those essays as weekly tasks in partial fulfillment of the requirements of their reading and writing courses. 124 idioms (excluding phrasal verbs and binomials) were found in 3220 pieces written by his subjects. Out of the 124 idioms detected, 25 (that is 20%) were grammatically and lexically correct. More than 2/3 of the used idioms (18 idioms) were found to have similar Arabic counterparts. They were very similar to those of the Arabic idioms at the context, formality and semantic levels. It was found that the other remaining idioms (7 idioms) did not have any Arabic counterparts. Many explanations were presented by the researcher as the proficiency level in EFL, the teachers’ attempts to avoid using such idioms in order to make the learning process as easy as possible, and the common non-use of these teachers because they were not native speakers of English. In general, students’ encounter to idioms was very rare because the articles that these students used to read were mainly academic or scientific, which usually did not include idioms. It was found that the main interaction between these students and the idioms was in the general discourse of the articles found in the first and second semesters of their first year, which included English for general purposes curricula.
Abisamra (2003) found out that 35.9% of the errors were of transfer/Interlingual errors, while 64.1% were developmental and Intralingual. She found that the highest percentage of transfer errors was in semantics and lexis, and as for the highest percentage of developmental errors, it was mainly spelling. Other studies by George (1972), Richards (1971) and Brudhiprabha (1972) also found that only one-third of the foreign language learners’ errors could be attributed to native language transfer.
The study of Al–Bone’s (2004) investigated the types and frequency of errors at the Faculty of Arts. The study has employed the descriptive and inductive approach. Two tests were used to collect the data, oral test and written tests. The results of the study confirmed that the students improved relatively in both written and oral production. Also the results indicated that Arabic interference was most visible in the students’ tests. However, the study did not shed enough light on other causes of the university students’ lexical errors as the improper choice of lexical items in both oral and written communication may, more often than not, lead to a breakdown in communication. Al–Bone’s referred to the interference of the mother tongue as the most obvious source of the error committed by the students as claimed by the current study.
Na’ama (2011) investigated the English consonant clusters, which he believed to be the most difficult aspects in pronunciation that Yemeni University students faced. The sample of his study was 45 students randomly chosen from the three levels of The English Department., Faculty of Education and Hodiedah University. These students belonged to various language levels after conducting a language placement test: good, moderate and low. He found out that they committed many errors in the use of the English clusters. These subjects repeatedly committed errors in this difficult form of pronunciation work. Thus, when given various vocabularies to pronounce which fell under this category as “spread”, “splendid”, “play” and so on. They applied the technique of ‘Epenthesis’ in English clusters.
By definition: ”epenthesis is the insertion of a vowel or consonant segment within an existing string or cluster reduction” (Celce-Murcia, Briton and Goodwin, 1996, p.83). They pronounced these words as follows: /spIred/, /spIlendId/, /pIleI/ and so on. Findings revealed that these subjects committed many errors in English consonant clusters pronunciation. These errors were explained based on L1 interference into L2 because of the various phonological differences between Arabic and English regarding consonant-clusters. The second potential reason was that Yemeni university students did not use any listening aids. The third probable factor was the English language teachers themselves who were not masters of English pronunciation because they were not native speakers of English.
Al-Jarf (2007) investigated the English spelling errors for 36 freshmen students majoring in translation at the College of Languages and Translation, King Saud University. They were all first year students in their second semester. The spelling errors were categorized into sources of whole word errors, and sources of faulty graphemes. She tried to figure out the causes of English spelling errors for these subjects. She concluded that: Communication breakdown was considered as the main factor that determined the vocabulary spelling and comprehension capacity by ESL students at the College of Languages and Translation.
Students’ inability to hear or spell words was determined by their language levels. The second most important factor was the almost ignorance of these students of the rules that governed English spelling rules. It was found that teaching spelling was not one of the parts of the ESL instruction or the evaluation system in that university. The third common source of spelling errors was the interference of the Arabic spelling system into English because of “the orthographic complexity difference between English and Arabic (p.8).
Flege (1980) studied the productions of English /p t k/ by native speakers of Saudi Arabic. He found that the Saudis’ productions exhibited many phonological aspects of native Arab speech. However, he also found that over time Saudis gradually acquired the ability to approximate English characteristics of stop production so that their productions were not typical of either native Arab speech or of native English speech. He determined that the Interference from L1 into FL Saudis’ productions were the output of what he called an interlanguage phonological system, a system that exhibits phonological characteristics that were intermediate to L1 and FL phonological norms.