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Bidirectional crosslinguistic influence in the acquisition of L2 English articles by Arabic-English bilingual adults and children

Hamadah, Z. (2022) Bidirectional crosslinguistic influence in the acquisition of L2 English articles by Arabic-English bilingual adults and children. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00115578


Using English articles has been viewed as a challenge for second language (L2) English learners. Two reasons were often given to explain this difficulty: 1) the complexity in mapping forms to meanings and 2) the influence of the learners’ first language (L1). This has been linked to whether or not the L1 has an articles system and to the extent to which the L1 article system (if it exists) is similar to or different from the L2 English article system. In addition to these aspects, it has been found that patterns of using English articles present a variability in relation to L2 age of onset of acquisition (L2AOA) and L2 proficiency. In respect to L2AOA, it was found that early learners often demonstrate higher accuracy in using L2 English articles and their L1 has less of an influence on their performance. Among L1 Arabic-L2 English groups, prior research has focused on adult learners with little attention given to children. Moreover, attention was only given to how L1 Arabic likely impacts the use of L2 English; examining how L2 English article use might affect L1 Arabic use has not been addressed. The current project examined the use of articles in both L1 Arabic and L2 English among two populations of Arabic-English bilingual adults (N = 40) and school-age children (7–12) (N = 13) in two studies employing two different tasks: 1) a narrative-elicitation task and 2) a sentence-repetition task (SRT). The projects considered a number of factors, such as L1 (in children) and L2 proficiency, L2AOA and the length of residence in the L2 context (the United Kingdom [UK]). The studies also examined the role of crosslinguistic influence and whether the use of L2 English is impacted by the learners’ L1 Arabic, and vice versa. Furthermore, in the SRT, the study examined whether adjectival noun-premodification affects the degree to which English articles are omitted. In the two studies, the performance of the two bilingual groups was compared to two control groups: monolingual Arabic speakers (N = 39) and English native speakers (N = 30). The results of the L2 English article use varied across the two studies. In the narrative-elicitation study, the bilingual children were more target-like than the bilingual adults. Both bilingual groups shown instances of L1 influence mainly in their omission of the indefinite article, a/an; however, this was more prominent in the bilingual adults. In the SRT, unlike the first study, the two bilingual groups were less accurate in their use of English articles than the native English speakers. In both studies, the bilingual adults’ patterns of errors showed that they generally struggle in marking noun countability. Additionally, in both studies, the results indicated increased accuracy in L2 English article use, particularly in adults with higher L2 proficiency. The findings of both studies showed no direct L2 effects on the use of L1 Arabic articles by the two bilingual groups. However, in some of the patterns of use of Arabic articles, the bilingual adults showed an increase in accuracy with higher L2 proficiency and prolonged residence in the UK.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Aveledo, F. and Treffers-Daller, J.
Thesis/Report Department:Department of English Language and Linguistics
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Language and Applied Linguistics
ID Code:115578

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