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).