ANALYSIS OF SPELLING PERFORMANCE IN ENGLISH AMONG STUDENTS WHOSE FIRST LANGUAGE IS ARABIC
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One of the main differences between English monolinguals and English language learners is that the latter use their knowledge of their first language in spelling in English. Previous studies have shown that the nature of first language affects spelling in English. One of the factors which influence spelling in English is the phonology of first language. The main aim of this study was to examine the spelling performance in English among students whose first language was Arabic in two novel phonemes (/p/ and /v/) and their phoneme pairs (/f/ and /v/). The analyses were based on a dictation task. There were eight target words for each phoneme. Each word had a target phoneme embedded in the initial or the final position. There were 99 Arabic speaking participants from fourth grade whose performance was compared with 40 monolingual English speaking participants. Findings of the present study indicated that the Arabic participants had particular difficulty in spelling the novel phonemes /p/ and /v/ with large effect size. The participants mostly confused these two phonemes with their phoneme pairs and spelled /p/ as b and /v/ as f. The Arabic participants also had some difficulty in spelling the phoneme pairs /p/ and /v/, and spelled /b/ as p and /f/ and v. This finding had a medium effect size. Finally, both groups of participants generally performed better when the target phoneme was in the initial position. The present study is a contribution to the current literature about the effect of first language on spelling in English. In order to establish a universal theory about how language learners acquire the English spelling and to compare and contrast the acquisition of spelling of native speakers of English and English language learners, it is fundamental to examine the world's various languages and their effect on second language spelling acquisition. Additionally, the findings of this study can provide practical implications for language literacy classes which are designed for Arabic students.
Allaith, Zainab A. (2009). ANALYSIS OF SPELLING PERFORMANCE IN ENGLISH AMONG STUDENTS WHOSE FIRST LANGUAGE IS ARABIC. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from