Tense and aspect in the interlanguage of Gulf Arab learners of English
Expression of temporality in English through the use of finite verbs is challenging for LI Arabic learners of English. Non-target language forms have been recorded in the interlanguage of Arabic speaking Emirati students in a third level college system in the UAE. Analysis of the errors suggests that there may be systematicity in these non-TL forms. Two factors are considered in the study as possible influences on the learners' choices of verb forms. The first considers verb type, looking at how the lexical aspect of verb types affects verb form. The second factor considers the possibility of transfer from the Arabic tense/ aspect system and examines how the function of morphological forms in Arabic may affect choice of form in English. Two research instruments in the form of English grammar and Arabic translation tasks were designed to acquire data on English morphological forms selected by learners for both verb types and functions. In addition, the normal tasks required of learners i.e. free composition writing provided a source of verbs which were analysed for learner verb type, function and form associations. Learners at five language levels participated in the research. Data were analysed for rates of accuracy in the most common verb forms found in learner output and measured against expectations set by the grammar component of writing band descriptors used to assess student writing. All observed morphological choices for verb type and function were recorded, categorized and measured against the two selected hypotheses. Results indicate the relevance of certain features of both hypotheses and highlight the importance of taking dimensions other than form into consideration when considering verb use in learners' interlanguage.