The Effect of L1 Arabic Proficiency on the L2 English Writing Skills of Emirati Grade Nine Male students

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
This study explores the correlation between Arabic proficiency and English language performance in the writing skill of grade nine Emirati male students. A distinction between two styles of Arabic (MSA and Colloquial) was necessary to specify the source of negative transfer. Despite the fact that Arabic is the students’ mother tongue, they still making errors in writing in their mother tongue due to the interference of their colloquial language style. This low proficiency in MSA (Fus`ha) caused ample errors in writing in English as a second language. Having higher proficiency in MSA (Fus`ha) attributes to positive transfer into the target language (English). The study was held in four stages in which the researcher examined the students’ performance in the first two stages through controlled task of sentences translation, and a free writing of a short paragraph. Stage three included semi-structured interviews with three Arabic language teachers who are teaching the same grade in the same school, and finally grades analysis in both subjects. The students` grades in writing composition in both subjects were collected and analyzed. This analysis revealed that those who score high grades in MSA performed better in writing in English. The findings of the study agreed with Cummins Interdependence Hypothesis about the correlation between L1 and L2 with the hope to assist the ESL teachers and the Arabic language teachers in designing the appropriate materials that enhance students` writing skills in both subjects.
Arabic proficiency, L2 English writing skills, Emirati