The effects of the second language on the first
The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
The importance of a second language is immeasurable, but maintaining and developing the first language is just as important. The purpose of this study is to examine the effects that a second language may have on the first. To determine the amount of first language loss, Arab bilingual students who were born or raised in an English speaking environment were compared to their Arab monolingual counterparts who had little exposure to the English language. The bilinguals’ Arabic texts were compared to the monolinguals’. Furthermore, the bilinguals’ English and Arabic texts were also compared to assess both languages. The results indicated that the bilingual students were unable to express their ideas effectively in Arabic and evidence of poor academic writing skills was present throughout the task. However, the bilinguals performed much better in their second language literacy and made fewer errors. Overall, the bilinguals were much more confident in the use of the second language, and such preference was observed by the larger number of English words written by the bilinguals. The bilinguals were able to write more than 8500 words in the second language, but failed to write more than 3050 words in their own native language. Moreover, the total percentage of Arabic errors made by the bilinguals was more than 4 times the percentage of errors made by the monolinguals. The study concluded that the excessive use of the second language can diminish and deteriorate the first language.
second language, Arab bilingual students, English speaking, English language, bilingual students, native language