Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Grammatical Errors by Arabic ESL Students: An Investigation of L1 Transfer through Error Analysis
by Alasfour, Aisha Saud, M.A., Portland State University, 2018, 86; 10826886
Abstract (Summary)

This study investigated the effect of first language (L1) transfer on Arabic ESL learners’ acquisition of the relative clauses, the passive voice and the definite article. I used Contrastive Analysis (CA) and Error Analysis (EA) to analyze 50 papers written by Arabic ESL students at the ACTFL Advanced Mid proficiency level. The analysis was paired with interviews with five advanced students to help determine whether L1 transfer was, in fact, influencing students’ errors predicted by CA.

Students in this study made L1 errors along with other errors. Although no statistical difference was found between the frequency of transfer and other (non-transfer) errors, L1 transfer errors were still common for many learners in this data. The frequency of the relative clause L1 transfer errors was slightly higher than other errors. However, passive voice L1 errors were as frequent as other errors whereas definite article L1 errors were slightly less frequent than other errors. The analysis of the interviews suggested that L1 still played a crucial role in influencing learners errors.

The analysis also suggested that the frequency of transfer errors in the papers used in this study might have been influenced by CA-informed instruction students received and students’ language level. Specifically, learners reported that both factors helped them reduce the frequency of L1 transfer errors in their writing.

The teaching implications of this study include familiarizing language instructors with possible sources of errors for Arabic ESL learners. Language instructors should try to identify sources of errors by conducting their own analyses or consulting existing literature on CA paired with EA. Finally, I recommend adopting a CA-informed instruction to help students reduce and overcome errors that are influenced by their L1.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Conrad, Susan
Commitee: Hartig, Alissa, Spitzer, Linnea
School: Portland State University
Department: Applied Linguistics (TESOL)
School Location: United States -- Oregon
Source: MAI 58/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: English as a Second Language
Keywords: Arabic ESL learners, Contrastive analysis, Error analysis, Grammar, L1 transfer
Publication Number: 10826886
ISBN: 978-0-438-61378-2
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