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ESL learners encounter many challenges in college writing. Nearly everyone is aware that students’ native language often affects their learning of the target language, English. However, not everyone can actually recognize the extent at which first language (Arabic) may have impact on the students’ second language.
The teachers should have the ability to study the other language to comprehend the reason why students are creating certain mistakes. During learning English, there are some regular errors students make while writing. This paper will discuss some of these challenges which I have experience while learning and how students can solve these issues.
Endlessly, most learners whose native language is Arabic always write continuous sentences with no full tops and infinite commas. The teachers may correct them but they will end up repeating. Arabic writing rules permits run-on sentences; hence there is no mistake in writing them.
Most journals and news papers have run-on sentences and readers can follow these sentences without confusion. Therefore, the students should be informed that it is confusing for English learners to write endless sentences, unlike Arabic (Ellis 4). The teachers should provide them with solutions on how to tackle such issues through the use of periods, commas and connectors.
Just like run-on sentences, repetition of synonyms in one sentence is permitted and encouraged in Arabic languages since it shows the writers’ fluency and stresses the ideas. Some learners can have few vocabularies and sometimes repeat terms such as “good” and “bad” all through the paper for instance. For this case, students should be provided with synonyms example so that they should use them in their essay (Ellis 7).
The teachers should assist the learners with the good writing skills or patterns while understanding that they are changing writing and thinking patterns also rather than being irritated on the repetition of endless sentences by the students. To reduce the learners’ redundancy, they should be provided editing assignments to work on creating shorter sentences without repetition.
A sentence like this may be confusing, “malaria does not spread through greetings with hand,” and it need proper rendering. This example of a sentence makes logical sense in Arabic writing but not in sense; the writer attempt to say that malaria does not caused by handshakes and greetings.
The term “greetings” in Arabic is just same as the word “peace” so the writer simply used it. Some students are likely to plainly render this sentence from their native language to English. Such difficulties might not be solved in one instance as the learner requires exercising and reading a lot. Generating an excellent English foundation to express themselves at the same time the teacher should provide readings to the students while working one on one with student to help in translating Arabic in English language.
Most ESL students who possess Arabic background often have difficulty with punctuation. Arabic language has minimal restrictions in the use of commas and periods than English (Wahba 257). Accordingly, several learners use endless sum of commas in their second language run-on sentences.
While semi-colons, nearly, does not exist and exclamation marks are very frequently used while writing English sentences. Therefore, there is essential for students to learn the use of punctuation in different sessions and relate the rules in editing exercises up to the time they are perfect.
The expressions like “Topic sentence,” “No new ideas in the conclusion” and “Thesis” are all entirely strange to Arabic writing (Ellis 7). The circular way of writing in English essay is differentiated with a linear example in Arabic essay where there is introduction of fresh ideas in the conclusion.
Noticeably, the teacher for this instance should have the ability to develop new sequences in the learners’ minds and identify the dissimilarity between English and Arabic writing.
English writing starts from left to right which is the opposite to that of Arabic writing. While writing, Arabic is performed in cursive, the structure of the letter changes at the time they are occurring alone, in the start, middle, or the last part of the word (Ellis 7).
The above challenges discussed which are experienced by ESL students whose first language is Arabic may be reduced and even removed with reading English, editing exercises, and through the teacher who is assistive and understanding the difficulties of writing the second language. Several mistakes are encountered when students over apply the native language.
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Students should be encouraged to speak English always, at school and home, so that they reduce the errors because of negative first language transfer, but they should also learn more about the convections and rules of writing.
Arabic language is similar to any other language, hard in some aspects and easy in other aspects, relying on the backgrounds of the readers or learners, and capability to cope with new rules. In addition, a person who has ability to speak more than one language has high likelihood to understand it easier, since the person’s brain has the capacity to cope with new vocabulary and rules.
Ellis, N C. “Language acquisition as rational contingency learning.” Applied Linguistics (2006): 28(1), 2-23. Print.
Wahba, Kassem. Handbook for Arabic language teaching professionals in the 21st century. London: Routledge, 2006. Print.