It's All about My Mother [Language]: The Effect of Mother Language on Spoken Errors Made by EFL Arab Students

  •  Iman Garra-Alloush    
  •  Abeer Kettanie-AbuMock    


There is a paucity of empirical research documenting the errors made by Arab learners, specifically those enrolled in higher education, when acquiring spoken English. The current study examined the most common types of verbal errors made by 20 Arab tertiary students of English in Israel. Data were collected based on in-class oral presentations made by first-year students and observations of English lessons taught by third-year students. The most frequent errors were classified into three main categories: (a) grammar and syntax, (b) pronunciation, and (c) vocabulary choice. 

Errors were documented by the researchers, who also served as course instructors/mentors. A significant number of errors (1050) were documented in the delivery of the presentations and lessons. Analysis of the results suggest that the documented errors are largely attributable to L1 interference (interlingual causes), although some derive from challenges inherent to English itself (intralingual). The importance of this study is that it clarifies the difficulties Israeli Arab learners face while speaking English as a foreign language, which can cast light on potential remedies. 

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