The Role of Universals in Non-Native Speakers' Learning of English

Abdelfattah Mazari


In this paper, we will study two classes of problems in the acquisition/learning of English by non-native learners, which appear to be common to all language learners. We will try to determine the role played according to language universals in the acquisition of these categories. Research on the issue of grammatical agreement has shown that there are many languages in the world, where the third-person singular perfective verb is unmarked as in Semitic languages. In Arabic, for example, the third person singular masculine is the least marked: dahab (he) went. The omission of the copula is a common problem for many speakers of different languages. In the case of EFL Arab learners, the absence of the copula is attributed either to interference with the L1, because in Arabic there is no copula in the present (S. Scott & G. Richard Tucker, 1974) or to a simplification strategy (H. Dulay & Burt, 1974). The fact that certain types of errors are universal let us believe deeply that there are universal parameters causing such errors. The production of common errors in ESL or EFL, or in any other language, can be explained by both aspects of contrastive analysis and universal grammar. 


Acquisition, Communication, Error, Interlingual, Language, Learning, Parameter, Process, Universal

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