• Uncategorized

The Acquisition of English Article by Native Arabic Speakers

TheAcquisition of English Article by Native Arabic Speakers

TheAcquisition of English Article by Native Arabic Speakers

  1. Literature Review

TheEnglish and the Arabic article system are different. Arabic does nothave the indefinite article. Therefore, many Arabic speakers do notuse the indefinite article when communicating in English forexample, article ‘a.’ Instead of saying “This is a boy,”Arabic speakers say “This is boy.” English uses the definitearticle. It is correct to say “The house is big.” However, Arabicdoes not apply definite article. Arabic speakers communicate that“House is big.” Arabic, therefore, replaces the definite articlewith the zero articles. Arabic uses the article ‘the’ to refer tonouns of places, diseases, and names. Arabic speakers say “TheEgypt is a beautiful country.” In English, then it is correct tosay “Egypt is a beautiful country” (Rana, 2016, pg. 3).

TheEnglish articles can be acquired by Arabic speakers if they areproperly trained on the English article system. The Arabic learnersshould be informed about the two common English words, ‘the’ and‘a.’ Common words introduce the Arabic learners to the Englisharticle system. Indefinite articles, ‘a’ and ‘an’ are used insentence that has a single countable noun. For example, “This is anArchitecture.” Non-definite English articles, ‘a’ and ‘are’are used in sentences that have singular or plural nouns. A sentenceexample is, “They are footballers.” Arabic learners mustunderstand how to use indefinite articles ‘a’ and ‘an.’ Forexample is “This is an apple” (Muhammad, 2014, pg. 1).

Theresearch has two key questions. The first question is: Whatdifficulties do Native Arabic speakers experience when learningEnglish? Arabic speakers make mistakes when they communicate inEnglish because of the articles error. Three errors are common. Thefirst one is the omission of the definite article. They say “Bus iscoming” instead of “The bus is coming.” The second error isomitting indefinite article. They say “My father is driving car”instead of “My father is driving a car.” The third mistake is thewrong usage of the definite article. They say “I work in the NewYork” instead of “I work in New York.” The second researchquestion is: How can the understanding of English articles, by Arablearners, be improved? Teachers should assist the native Arabicspeakers to compare and contrast the Arabic and the English articlesystems. This improves understanding of the proper usage of Englisharticles, definite, non-definite, and indefinite. The hypothesis ofthe research is: Mother-tongue interference refers to the influenceof the native language of the learner on her/his acquisition of thetarget language. English and Arabic have different article systems(Muhammad, 2014, pg. 1). English teachers should inform native Arabiclearners about the English article system, and how to use thearticles effectively.

  1. Results

Allthe L2 participants took the research test within 10 minutes. Theymade mistakes in the use of articles in the test essay. On average,16%, 7%, and 13% of the respondents made errors in the use of thea/an, the, and zero articles respectively. The results of the studysupport the hypothesis of the research because the Arab learners (L2)have challenges in the fluent use of written and spoken English(Awad, 2011, pg. 42). The influence of the Arabic language systemnegatively affects their understanding of the English language. Theteacher can however, enhance the understanding of the L2 studentsthrough revising essay tests and encouraging team discussions on thecorrect English sentences. The English learning process of Arabstudents is difficult because they make mistakes involuntarily andunconsciously (Muhammad, 2014, pg. 1). The two languages havedifferent articles systems.

Contrastiveanalysis is a study method that shows the differences between twolanguages. In this research, the Arabic language is differentiatedfrom the English language. The analysis indicated why Native Arabicspeakers have difficulties in understanding the usage of the Englisharticles. The Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis (CAH) indicates thatthe difficulty in English language acquisition can be understood bythe teachers through analyzing the differences between English andArabic. However, the hypothesis has several shortcomings. It does notillustrate errors of second language acquisition. The mistakes madeby the participants in the test are because they use concepts ofArabic when they experience challenging items in the English language(Rana, 2016, pg. 2).

  1. Discussion

Theresearch hypothesis states that the Native Arabic speakers havechallenges in acquiring and using the English article. This isbecause of the influence of mother tongue in the learning process ofthe second language. Several errors in the English language arecaused by the influence of mother tongue (Awad, 2011, pg. 47). Usageof indefinite articles is one error. This communication challengeoccurs because the Arabic language does not have the indefinitearticles. Many Native Arab speakers use the definite articles in theplace of indefinite articles. Nouns and adjectives agreement showedlanguage error by many Native Arabic speakers, in a definitenessstate (Rana, 2016, pg. 3). In the Arabic language, it is acceptableto say “odd choice.” However, in the English language, it iscorrect to say “an odd choice.”

NativeArab speakers use sentences with uncountable nouns regularly. Thishinders their ability to communicate in the English languageeffectively. Another error is that the Arabic language allows theindefinite article to the placed before the adjective. In the Englishlanguage, this is considered as a recursive error in the adjectives.Native Arabic speakers have challenges in explaining directions. Thisis because they place definite articles before directions forexample, the North Square (Awad, 2011, pg. 39). The English languagerequires zero articles when illustrating direction. Arabic is aSemitic language. Its grammatical system is thus very different fromEnglish, which is an Indo-European language. Arabic speakers havechallenges producing articles. The Arabic language does not have anindefinite article. The definite article is applied differently inthe two languages. Arab speakers, therefore, experience confusionwhen communicating in the English language (Atia, 2014, pg. 18).


Atia,I. (2014). English–and Arabic-Medium of Instruction and SecondLanguage Acquisition of English Articles System by ESL ArabSophomores in Sharjah. Retrieved from http://bspace.buid.ac.ae/bitstream/1234/669/1/120147.pdf

Awad,D. (2011). Theacquisition of English articles by Arabic speakers. Lancaster:Lancaster University Press.

Muhammad,A. (2014). How does the acquisition of English articles pausedifficulty to native speakers of Arabic? Retrieved fromhttps://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140903052122-191887878-how-does-the-acquisition-of-english-articles-pause-difficulty-to-native-speakers-of-arabic

Rana,A. (2016). Mother-Tongue Interference in the Acquisition of EnglishArticles by L1 Arabic Students. Retrieved fromhttp://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1089791.pdf