AWEJ Volume.4 Number.3, 2013                                                                    Pp. 251-265

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Language Transfer and Grammatical Speaking Errors among Saudi Students

Nesreen Saud Alahmadi
School of Modern Languages and Cultures
University of Leeds, United Kingdom

Radia Kesseiri
School of Modern Languages and Culture
University of Leeds, United Kingdom

The English language has certainly become the most prominent international language in the world. Various initiatives in non-English speaking countries have sprung out to promote the teaching and learning of English as a foreign language and the Arab world is certainly no exception to the rule. The study will focus on Saudi Arabia where new plans, are to be initiated to improve students’ language proficiency in view of the tremendous importance of English as an international language and its critical role in the commercial, industrial, technological, and audio-economic development of the Kingdom. This brings up to surface the issue of language transfer errors and its crucial role on speaking proficiency. This paper aims to discuss grammatical errors resulting from language transfer amongst Saudi students. The study will discuss the extent to which the language transfer theory is accepted or rejected. Accordingly, thirty Saudi students were interviewed in the process in Saudi Arabia The study will be accordingly divided into three main sections: firstly, it will look into the acceptance and the rejection of the language transfer theory. Secondly, an analysis of students` grammatical speaking errors will be presented according to the source of errors. Thirdly, this study will provide education practitioners to place greater focus on improving spoken English skills in order to raise speaking proficiency in Saudi Arabia. Finally, the paper will conclude with some suggestions to tackle the issue of speaking errors among Saudi students.

Keywords: Language transfer, Saudi Arabia, speaking, grammatical errors, learning input


Dr. Radia Kesseiri is a Language expert in Arabic at Leeds University. She graduated from
Algiers University with a BA in Interpreting and Translation and obtained her PhD from Leeds
University. She specializes in course design, material development and language assessments.
Her research interests revolve around the Arabic language and culture.
Nesreen Saud Alhmadi is currently PhD candidate at Leeds University researching in the field
of English teaching. She obtained a master degree in TESOL studies from Leeds
University (2010). She has extensive teaching experience in language teaching in both primary
and high schools in Saudi Arabia (2006).