English spatial prepositions with particular reference to Arabic-speaking learners
The learner's first language (L1) plays a significant role in the learning of a second language (12). This role is depicted as interfering with acquisition and production of (L2). The notion of interference has emerged as a legitimate area of linguistic investigation (Lado, 1957; Selinker, 1972;James, 1980). This study explores and assesses the Arab learners' performance in using English spatial prepositions. It focuses on the role of the Arab learners' first language in learning English, particularly spatial prepositions, as a second/ foreign language. The data of this study consists of the results of five tests which are designed firstly: to examine the learners' performances in acquiring certain English prepositions, which are considered to be among the most difficult items for Arab learners of English (AI-Sayed, 1983; Mukattash, 1985; Zughoul, 1979); and secondly to assess the degree of interference from Arabic in learning English spatial prepositions, the main objective of this study. Three statistical techniques were employed in analysing the data: The ANOVA test, regression analysis and chi-square test These procedures were used to examine performance of the learners over the years, possible sources of errors, and the interchangeability of English spatial prepositions in the responses to tests. The results of this study confirm that a high percentage (48%) of errors committed in the use of English spatial prepositions by Arab learners of English can be attributed to the influence exerted by their first language (Arabic). These findings support the claims of Tadros (1966), Scott and Tucker (1974) and Mukattash (1988).