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An investigation into the nature and causes of reading and spelling errors made by Arab ESL learners

Emery, Helen Heathcote 2005. An investigation into the nature and causes of reading and spelling errors made by Arab ESL learners. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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The main research question of this study was why Arab learners of English as a Second Language should make so many reading and spelling errors. An analysis of a corpus of misspellings, taken from handwritten technical reports, showed that most errors involved vowels: either omission, addition, substitution or inversion, and that misspellings often resulted in the loss of some of the phonological properties of a word. Experiments carried out in the course of the study showed that both phonological and orthographic routes in reading were also affected. Orthographic deficiencies were more pronounced with lower-level learners, indicating that this was a developmental trend, and would improve as learners' English did. Previous researchers have suggested that the errors might be caused by a difference in strategies used for processing the written forms of LI Arabic and L2 English. However, an investigation of current research in L2 reading showed that orthographic similarities between Arabic and English should have meant that ESL learners benefited from their LI reading strategies, rather than being held back by them. According to Frith's (1985) model of reading and spelling development, appropriate instruction plays a vital role in the acquisition of alphabetic skills. Subsequent extensive practice is necessary for a learner to develop good orthographic reading and spelling skills. The second part of this thesis presents an investigation of the state education system in the United Arab Emirates. This study showed that a failure at the level of instructional methodology and materials was probably the major cause of the reading and spelling errors made by Arab learners. As a result of qualitative and quantitative deficiencies in their input, which prevent them from successfully mastering reading and spelling in English, it has become apparent that the learners tested do indeed suffer from a 'developmental lag'

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
ISBN: 9781303165788
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2017 15:27

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