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Acquisition of English Article by Native Arabic Speakers

Acquisitionof English Article by Native Arabic Speakers


NativeArabic speakers who seek to learn the English language becomesdifficult just like any other person who tries to do the same whileEnglish is not their first language. Previous studies have shown thedifficulties native Arabic speakers go through in the bid to acquirethe English language before they understand and can use itconvincingly. The difficulties are encountered in using Englisharticles

Accordingto Birch (2014, p. 184-194), mother tongue influence while learningEnglish is a major hurdle Arabic speakers have to overcome whileacquiring English articles. Mother tongue influence is a situationwhere one pronounces words with an Arabic accent while learningEnglish as a second language. The interference comes regarding thepronunciation of words in English, which are done differently inArabic (Hameed and Aslam, 2015, p. 1578). Learning English as asecond language involves pronouncing words which are a hurdle fornative Arabic speakers.

Thecontrastive analysis explains why some features are in a secondlanguage are harder to learn that other in another language. A casein point is syntax errors that native Arabic speakers make whileacquiring English articles. According to Murad and Khalil (2015, p.472), native Arabic speakers have it rough in the contrastiveanalysis of the features they find in English are entirely differentfrom their Arabic language, and thus learning them is tough for them.The features include changing the way writing is done from Arabic tothe way English writers do (Ahmed and Kakehi, 2015, n.p). Arabic iswritten from right to left, while English uses the reverse. Thecontrastive analysis shows the difficulty the native Arabic speakersfind while acquiring English articles. The review summarizes theproblems native Arabic speakers have while learning English as thesecond language. The problems could be vast but are explained inerror analysis and contrastive analysis which will be discussed inthe discussion stage.


Itwas found in the previous studies that learning English articles bynative Arabic speakers attracts a significant contrastive analysisconcept. This paper supports the findings as they are the same foundby the researcher in this task. There is a huge difference betweenArabic article and English article system. Due to this difference,native Arabic speakers have difficulties in learning the correct useof English articles. Learning English article system while the mothertongue either has no article system or the system is significantlydifferent from English is a tough task. In this regard, Arabicarticle system is entirely distinct from the one English dons, andthe definiteness and indefiniteness of the articles are encodeddifferently. For instance, English articles have the use of thedefinite article &quotthe&quot and indefinite article &quotan&quotand &quota,&quot and zero article &quotØ,&quot while thedefinite article in Arabic is &quotAl.&quot The article is used ina similar way as the definite article in English.

However,the Arabic language has no equivalence of indefinite article theEnglish language has, as Arabic encoding is different from English.In English, the most frequent words used are the articles, and assuch, that makes English a unique language. Due to that uniqueness ofEnglish, Arabic speakers have difficulties in learning theacquisition of the articles. As shown in the following table showsthe analysis



zero Article

Speaker 1




Speaker 2




Speaker 3








Inthis research paper, the analysis of what other researchers foundabout the mistakes made by Arabic-English learners in using thearticles. That is because they end up making mistakes or errors whichare involuntary due to the difference in the article systems of thetwo languages.

Itwas also asserted that mistakes made in articles are slips of thetongue and could be self-corrected. Mistakes occur due to lapsesexperienced in the learning process, while errors are deeper thanjust lapses. They are deeper in the sense that they happen due toignorance of the language structure, and the learner of the targetlanguage cannot recognize them (Murad and Khalil, 2015, p. 475).Errors can only be corrected by a teacher as it is notself-correctible since they occur due to gaps in the learners`knowledge or performance.

Basedon the results from the collected data after engaging the threeArabic-English learners, the following graph summarizes the wholeresearch


NativeArabic speakers tend to have continued errors in the usage of Englisharticles, which could at times is considered abuse of the articles.Arabic speakers learning English make three types of errors. First,at times they omit the article, which is similar to using a zeroarticle where there should be a definite article. For instance,&quotSchool motto is: Strong to serve&quot instead of &quotTheSchool Motto.&quot They omit the definite article, and instead usethe zero articles.

Secondly,Arabic-English learners omit the indefinite article &quotan&quotand leave the sentence lacking the English flavor the article putstherein. When a person says, &quotmy friend works in hotel&quotrather than &quotmy friend works in a hotel&quot then omits thearticle only because it does not exist in his mother tongue which isArabic.

Thirdly,the Arabic language has the use of definite article preceding primarynouns while in English system that does not exist. An example of asentence, &quotI work in the Washington&quot instead of &quotIwork in Washington&quot where the article is wrongly inserted to fitthe direct interpretation the Arabic language would bring along.

Theparticipants also used indefinite articles in uncountable nouns wherein the Arabic language it is acceptable which is not the case inEnglish language. The use of an indefinite article before anadjective which is also acceptable in Arabic, but in English it isnot the case. In the case of direction and particularly “North”,English language does not put definite article, while in Arabic it isacceptable (Thyab, 2016, p. 3). All these issues cause confusion toArabic speaking people who are learning English as a second language.

Inconclusion, making grammatical errors and mistakes while learning asecond language is inevitable, but teachers should be free to correctevery error, while the learner should be encouraged to correct everymistake, as it brings the much-needed improvement for the student.


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