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English and Arabic: A Comparison

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Katie Kresge

on 24 July 2014

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Transcript of English and Arabic: A Comparison

English and Arabic: A Comparison
Katie Kresge
Wilkes University

What are the differences between Arabic and English?
How do those differences relate to Arab student errors?
Arabic Overview
No capitalization or punctuation rules
Spoken largely throughout Middle East and by Muslims
Semitic Language
28 letter alphabet, written in script

Written and read from right to left
Language was originally only spoken

Arabic Comparison
English has 3 times as many vowels as Arabic.
Arabic contains /b/ but not /p/ causing native speakers to use them interchangeably.
Arabic spelling is phonetic and words can be spelled many ways. For example:
Mohammed can be spelled M-o-h-a-m-m-e-d, M-u-h-a-m-m-e-d, M-o-h-a–m–m-a–d, or even just M-h-m-d.
This can lead to students having difficulty with the strictness of English spelling.

Arabic is written with diacratics (small vowels above and below a letter) typically only in religious writings (Qur'an).
Arabic Grammar Comparison
Arabic does not contain a
to be
verb in present tense or auxiliary
Arabic also does not contain modal verbs or indefinite articles.
English has many tenses, Arabic contains only single present tense and makes two distinctions: the perfect and imperfect.
Unlike English, adjectives follow verb. In Arabic "the car black" is correct versus the English "the black car".
Meet Saleh

27 year old male from Jubail, Saudi Arabia
First out of his 5 siblings to study outside of the Kingdom
Studied English in United States and then graduated in the United Kingdom with a Mechanical Engineering degree
Employed by an oil company as an Engineer
Speaks Arabic at home and English at work
Came to US only knowing how to say, "how go to gate?" in English
Saleh's Errors
Saleh's Production
Correct Production
I will shaving it tomorrow.
I will shave it tomorrow.
Incorrect tense
Since a long time, I have been working at Chevron.
I have been working at Chevron for a long time.
No agreement
I want cheese grilled.
I want grilled cheese.
Incorrect word order
I need to get my ben.
I need to get my pen.
Incorrect spelling
My hair is tall.
My hair is long.
Incorrect word choice
I just got to the work.
I just got to work.
Incorrect use of article
Where the meeting?
Where is the meeting?
Omission of
be verb
Review of Saleh's Errors
Tense errors
Word order errors due to L1 interference
Spelling errors due to phonetic spelling in Arabic
Confusion with /p/ and /b/
Word choice errors stemming from translating Arabic words
Difficulty using to be verb due to non-existence in Arabic
Conclusion/Teaching Implications
Cultural sensitivity is paramount with Arab students
Practice with dictionary skills to help with spelling errors
Minimal pairs can help mitigate L1 interference
Word order, language typology, and structural patterns are different in Arabic than English so it is important that instructors teach their students to make linguistic adjustments when learning English
Santos, S. & Suleiman, M. (1993). Teaching English to Arabic-speaking students: cultural and linguistic considerations. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED360876.pdf

Shoebottom, P. (1996). The differences between Arabic and English. Frankfurt International School. Retrieved from http://esl.fis.edu/grammar/langdiff/arabic.htm

Thompson-Panos, K. & Thomas-Ruzic, M. (1983). The least you should know about Arabic: Implications for the ESL writing instructor. TESOL Quarterly. 17(4). 609-623. Retrieved from http://tesol.aua.am/TQ_DIGITAL/TQ_DIGIT/Vol_17_4.pdf#page=82

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