Some cultural and linguistic problems of Kuwaiti students with written English
This study aims at investigating the causes of some of the problems encountered by Arabic-speaking students in the Secondary Schools of Kuwait when they attempt to write English, which they learn as their first foreign language. Since these students do not in fact reach the stage of free writing even at the very end of their secondary course, we have limited ourselves in this research to the level of the sentence and its parts. Again, since we are here concerned with writing only, the phonological level has naturally been excluded. In general terms, one can assume that the main causes of mistakes committed at the level of the sentence and its parts may be of three types: Cul tural, Linguistic and Pedagogic. Since the scope of these three topics is too wide for anybody to investigate at one time, this study has been limited to the following areas: First: The Cultural factor and how it interferes in the learning of a foreign language. This area is dealt with theoretically and in general terms, with brief references to certain specific aspects. An assessment of the Kuwaiti secondary school students' familiarity with the English cultural background is carried out by means of a special cross-cultural test. Second: In the Linguistic area, two topics have been tackled, namely: (a) The Lexis. This is studied under the following sub-headings: Vocabulary and Culture; Word-Composition (or: Compounding), Prepositional Idioms, and Word-Meaning. Difficulties have been pinpointed on the understanding that they may arise either from the nature of the English Language itself, or from Arabic interference. For the purpose of discovering where the latter is apt to occur, a contrastive study is conducted in each of the said fields. At every step, the results of the theoretical study as well as the specific hypotheses put forward are validated by means of special tests. (b) The Verb System: The Verb Tense (and other necessarily related characteristics) in English and Arabic are studied and contrasted, and the problems that face the speaker of Arabic anticipated and empirically validated. In order that the above parts of the study may be seen in their proper perspective, an introductory part of this paper surveys the Educational System in Kuwait and the place of English language teaching and learning in that system.