English Learning Difficulties for Arab Learners

Task: Plan and compose a research proposal
Essay Topic: Writer's choice
Essay Type: Research proposal
Length: 8 pages
Formatting: APA
Requirements: Make sure to use the literature review and references attached.
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Brief description of the proposed study

This study intents to examine the learning difficulties for Arab learners in their first year at the university. The areas of difficulty to be studied will be vowel use associated with first language differences, culture influences of physical sound development , and the concept of language conflict of Arab learners (Khan, 2013; Munro & Derwing, 2008; Fernsten, 2008).

Research Problem

English is recognized as “the medium of a great deal of the world’s knowledge” (Al-Khairy, 2013, p. 1), with learners using English for taking notes, writing essays and compositions, answering written questions, as well as developing academic research for publication . However, English second language (ESL) students often struggle with learning and this discourages academic progress and success . Achieving success in English proficiency will improve the success rate of students in the university, and will provide additional knowledge for the field of ESL, particularly in relationship to Arab female learners , creating opportunities to overcome problems such as “vowel blindness ”.

The primary issues in meeting the needs of ESL students are found in the lack of agreement in literature currently available to create successful lesson plans for learners. This stems from a disagreement in the causation of the problem as well as different learning strategies and methods employed by the researchers . This study aims to use a mixed method approach to evaluate the current method of instruction and the success of the students in their first year of English learning at the university, to review the success of students under the current methodology of learning established . Results will be obtained using both qualitative and quantitative measures to ensure a variety of available data for conclusions.


Education and knowledge bases continue to use English in a large portion of the materials and correspondence in schools and in the business world. This has not declined, even with the addition of other language options found in libraries around the world . In order for students to be successful in the future, students must have a solid foundation in the English language , including the ability to effectively created academic papers for review . This process is currently difficult for many students around the world, including Arab learners who struggle during wi th ESL, resulting in possible academic failure due to inability to achieve English language goals.

Investigation of this problem will enable educators to better understand how to assist struggling ESL students and promote stronger knowledge-bases for learners. Additionally, evaluating the problems of ESL students enables the research to identify gaps in the education processes or in student needs . This study benefits students and educators by creating an opportunity to uncover difficulties and problems that may be addressed for stronger success rates in the future.

Literature Review

The literature identifies numerous empirical studies where ESL students, particularly Arab ESL learners, have been unsuccessful in developing strong and productive writing skills in the English language. This problem includes vowel use and processing , as identified by Ryan and Meara (1991), which found that Arab students tended to make more mistakes with English vowels and confused English words where the constant structures were similar. Additionally, Hayes-Harb (2006), found that higher levels of vowel detection errors were evidence as stemming from the minor role of written vowels of the Arabic readi ng process, which then was projected to the English word processing of the Arab learner.

ESL students struggle with a variety of difficulties during the process of building proficiency with a new language. These difficulties may include vocabulary or grammar, and the third largest problematic area discovered in Al-Khairy’s research was irregular verbs (2013, p. 4-6). However, Arab learners for academic English writing skills also found difficulty matching ideas with the necessary vocabulary during communication as a direct result of inadequate mechanical and stylistic tools . During research developed since 1986, these difficulties have also been found as missing vowels and main language functions (Doushaq, 1986).

Universities work understand the needs of ESL learners in order to improve the success rate of language acquisition as well as academic success and continued success in creating productive academic bodies of knowledge . ESL courses struggle to uncover the most successful methods for instruction due to unclear problems that students must overcome during the learning process. In order to better understand these problems, universities such as Taif University have allowed research to evaluate the proficiency and needs of students in the ESL classes . Al-Khairy (2013) studied English-major students in foreign language departments of Taif University, and found that English writing scores were on average lower than the scores for listening, reading, and speaking, which demonstrated that the skills of the Arab learners were below the expected levels to create strong narrative, descriptive and argumentative essays.

Current research demonstrates that Arab learners have more than 50% of errors in regards to vowels , particularly short vowel letters rather than long ones, and have missing vowels more often than incorrect vowels (Saigh & Schmitt, 2012). Language acquisition can be difficult when the structure of the language is not directly in-line with the first language of the student, such as use of vowels or sounds. Students learning a second language may find remembering how vowels are used, or how to apply irregular verbs, due to first language use of these same concepts . Vowels are one of the most difficult aspects of learning English for Arab learners.

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