Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Special Issue on Translation No.4 May, 2015                            Pp. 269-288

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   Negative Transfer: Arabic Language Interference to Learning English 

 Sabah Salman Sabbah
English Language Center
Community College of Qatar



This paper is a survey of literature review whereby the researcher explored previous studies and pieces of research conducted to investigate the negative effects of Arabic language interference to learning English. Theories of negative language transfer were discussed, definitions of errors and mistakes were highlighted, sources of errors were stated, and different taxonomies of types of errors made by Arab students learning English were listed. It was not a purpose of this paper to discuss the sampling, or the setting of the previous research. Rather, it aimed at pinpointing their findings that can clarify the differences between Arabic and English and how these differences cause Arab learners of English to make mistakes in producing the target language. The researcher elucidated the types of syntactic, lexical, phonological, morphological, and orthographical errors made by the Arab learners of English as quoted from previous literature. Errors in forming tenses, pronouns, relative clauses, adverbs, adjectives, nouns, articles, pronunciation, and punctuation were listed. A lot of examples were used to illustrate these errors. At the end of the current paper, the researcher listed recommendations as a contribution to guide the English as a second language instructors on what might be regarded good pedagogical strategies and techniques to deal with their students’ errors.
Keywords:  contrastive analysis; errors and mistakes; negative transfer.


Dr. Sabah Sabbah holds MA in TEFL and Ph.D. in English Language Curriculum and
Instruction. She has worked as a teacher trainer, a supervisor and an assistant professor. She
attended courses in English pedagogy in Jordan, Britain and U.S. She published research. She
presented papers in Innovations 2014 Conference in Anaheim, U.S.A., in CCQ Humanities
Conference, and in Qatar and Dubai TESOL, 2015.