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Various studies and research work related to foreign language acquisition, in the recent decades have been centered on the errors made by the learners since such a study facilitates the researchers to understand, analyze and comprehend the various obstacles faced by the L2…
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OMISSION OF ENGLISH COPULA= (VERB TO BE) BY ARABIC Contents This table of contents is purely for your convenience so that you may verify whether all the topics requested have been included or not
Sr. #
Pg. #
Literature Review
Effects of Time Exposure to Language
Methods of Data Collection
1. Introduction
Various studies and research work related to foreign language acquisition, in the recent decades have been centered on the errors made by the learners since such a study facilitates the researchers to understand, analyze and comprehend the various obstacles faced by the L2 learners during the process of learning a foreign language. Also, such studies can be helpful to the teachers who impart training to students in the language, in understanding the various difficulties faced by the foreign language learners as well as the reasons behind such errors made by them. It may help them in taking adequate care and in designing their courses in a manner that takes into consideration such errors and help their students in successfully overcoming them. The copula, or rather the omission of the copula is one such error which is frequently observed in case of foreign students learning English, particularly Arabic students since there is no such verb in Arabic language structure. This paper on “The Omission of English Copula (verb to be) by Arabic students attempts to analyze various studies and historical evidences that supports such a fact and understand the difficulties faced by Arabic students. 
1.1. Rationale
The rationale for this study is:
Several Arabic learners of English language, usually omit the copula and
Arabic learners omit the use of copula because there is no such verb in the Arabic language
Various researchers, have frequently, relied on error analysis as the means of evaluating the occurrence of certain types of errors made by L2 learners to understand the pattern as well as reasons behind such errors. Richards et al (1996) states that error analysis have been frequently conducted by researchers to classify and develop strategies which may help the students in learning any language and obtain information on general complexities experienced by the students and help the teachers in preparing appropriate course materials. Michaelides (1990) suggests that the methodical evaluation of errors committed by students are of immense significance to researchers and all those concerned since it offers valuable insights into the students psyche in comprehending a foreign language (Abu-Jarad, 2008). It is on account of such reasons that this study is focused on the errors committed by Arab students of English language with regard to copula omission.
2. Literature Review
A discussion of issues related to various topics such as: an overview of the Arabic language and its system; the difference between Arabic and English language structure in terms of speaking, writing etc; as well as the omission of copula in Arabic is presented in the literature review to afford a comprehensive understanding of such an issue, to the readers as well as future studies.
Overview of the Arabic language and its System
All languages have their own individual and unique methods of building, arranging and structuring words. Linguistically, all languages rely on inflectional morphology and derivational morphology. There exist minimum two diverse language forms in every Arab country which includes the Classical Arabic, which is alternatively referred to as a somewhat rationalized forms, and the other form which is the colloquial Arabic, which is the basic spoken language for all Arabs. The colloquial Arab is often learnt without any official training and until recently was practically never written or read. The Arabic language comprises of twenty eight letters, of which many letters have as many as four variations, depending on their position in a word. A unique characteristic observed in the Arabic language structure is in the manner in which it is written. Unlike other languages world wide, Arabic is written from right to left, and is written through the lines on the paper, instead on top of them, as written in English. It differs widely in appearance since it is written as a sequence of different strokes as opposed to a continuous flow. This could cause major difficulty for the Arab learners of English especially while writing. Apart from the script which the Arab learners have to adapt while learning English another key obstacle that they have to often face is the direction of writing (Thompson-Panos, Thomas-Ruzic, 1983).
The difference between Arabic and English in terms of Structure
Arabic is a Semitic language comprising of twenty eight alphabets, while English is a West Germanic language comprised of twenty six alphabets . However, unlike in the English language, there are no sounds or letters equivalent to English ‘P’ and ‘V’ in Arabic. Similarly, there are various letters and sounds which do not exist in English. For instance, the throaty sound “ayn” in Arabic, which is produced by squeezing the throat has no equivalent in any of the Western languages. Certain Arabic letters symbolizes certain sounds are written in English with the help of two letters, for example, the word ‘sheen’ which makes a “sh” sound or the combination of alphabets such as “tha” which makes a “th” sound. In Arabic different letters are used to symbolize different sounds, unlike in English, where the same combination of letters are used. For example, a different alphabet is used to denote a sound made from the letters “th” as in “thin” and an entirely different alphabet is used to denote the sound made from the word “the” as they both sound different. Another key difference between the two language structures is that in Arabic the nouns are either feminine or masculine and the verbs and adjectives are used to match the nouns, in accordance with their gender. Also, the case endings are used to assign different parts of speech, in Arabic, i.e., subject, object, preposition etc. There is only one type of script in Arabic, unlike in English where there is capital letters (or upper case), lower case, or cursive writing. /Since there is no copula in Arabic there is a major difference in spoken as well as written English by Arabic students. For example: The Arabic equivalent of the English sentence: “He is a teacher” would be “He teacher”. Similarly other differences are the absence of third person singular in Arabic, which often leads to incorrect sentence formation. Also there are no capital letters in Arabic, which causes a lot of difficulty in terms of writing, for Arab students learning English (Ryding, 2005; McCarthy, 2002; Shay, 2008). 
Omission of Copula in Arabic
Various studies conducted by researchers point towards a general trend of non English speakers of Arab origin to ignore or omit the use of copula (Scott & Tucker, 1974; Asfoor, 1978; Assubaiai, 1979; Beck, 1979). For example common sentences such as You said you were not tired is written by Arabic students as You said you not tired, and the sentence He is intelligent is often written as He intelligent.
According to a study conducted by Diab (N.A.) on a group of seventy three Lebanese students which analyzed the essays written by them, it was found that: the students frequently omitted the use of structures which require use of copula, as there is no copula in Arabic. The sentences written by the Lebanese students were as follows:
* If you are preparing for a party but not sure of its success...instead of: If you are preparing for a party but are not sure of its success...
Usually the exclusion of the copula consequently leads to formation of sentences referred to as zero-copula construction, that is, where the predicate nouns and adjectives are joined to their subject through juxtaposition (Wetzer, 1996). Furthermore according to another study conducted by Zaynab et al (2000) to study the omission of the English copula by Native speakers of Lebanese Arabic, the following data analysis was made:

3. Effects of Time Exposure to Language
Exposure is one arguably one of the most significant factors that influences language acquisition among learners. According to Munoz (1997):
"exposure may be crucial as the age at which initial exposure takes place, that is, the age at which pupils begin their instruction in the foreign language" (Pp. 21)
The above statement is seconded by Harley and Hart (1997) who further add that exposure to the target language is reduced drastically if the medium of instruction in the classroom is the students’ mother tongue rather than the language which is taught. Also, exposure to the target language may prove to be helpful in understanding the behavior and outcomes of the students, depending on the length of their duration to such an exposure (Singleton, 1995). Various researchers have suggested varying lengths of exposure to evaluate its long term impact in natural as well as formal settings. According to DeKeyser (2000) the maximum amount of exposure required to attain optimum language efficiency is a minimum of ten year stay in the foreign country where the language being learnt is studied.
Study abroad programs are one such means of measuring the impact of exposure and time duration on the language acquisition skills of the learners. Past research has shown that students who have lived and studied in a foreign country as a part of a study abroad program, emerge as better learners as compared to those who learn the language in their home country (Magnan, 1986). Study abroad program are considered to be beneficial for students for acquiring improved language skills since the students are exposed to the native speakers and an environment where the language is spoken in its most natural form and also as it offers the students an opportunity to practice it regularly with the native speakers on a daily basis.
Various researches conducted in this behalf substantiate the fact that study abroad programs have a positive impact on the students’ language learning skills. An extensive study conducted by John Carroll, comprising of over two thousand senior college students depicted that the duration of exposure of the students is a strong determinant of language proficiency. In this landmark study, the students were found to have excelled in the speaking ability. Another similar study conducted by Gasparro and Urdaneta displayed similar results where the oral proficiency of the students was found to have drastically improved in a very short duration of time (under one semester) (Liskin-Gasparro, Urdanetta, 1995).
Another study conducted by Brecht, Davidson and Ginsberg, on a group of Russian students demonstrated similar results. The students, who studied the language in the native country i.e. the country where the language was spoken, scored higher (Advanced level) on their OPI scores as compared to those who had studied Russian in their home country for four years at the college level. Almost forty percent of the students who enrolled in the study abroad program achieved significant progress in language learning in merely four months (Brecht, Davidson and Ginsberg, 1993). 
According to a study conducted by Stansfield (1975) to compare the level of foreign language efficiency achieved by a group of students who had absolutely no exposure to the language were found to have achieved the same level of oral proficiency as that attained by those students who had been studying that language in a formal setting in their home country for four semesters, and that too after spending just hundred days abroad. Another study conducted by Snow and Hoefnagel-Hohle (1978) to observe and examine the impact of such an exposure on younger children, it was observed that the younger subjects acquired the same level of proficiency as that of their older counterparts in approximately twelve months if they were given unlimited exposure to the language in a natural setting.
According to a study conducted by Zaynab et al (2000) on Arabic students studying in Australia, to examine the impact of exposure on English language learning, it was found that the female subjects (participants) exposure to and use of the target language (english) outside the classroom was extremely limited in comparison with the male group, who had better exposure to L2. Subjects (female students) main exposure to English was confined to the classroom in the language center, which they attended for six hours per day, five days a week for a period of six months. During this period the subjects received formal instruction in classroom. The subjects tended to use English at the language center only when they spoke to their non-Lebanese friends and to their teachers, but when talking to each other during breaks and other recreational activities; they used their L1 for the most part. The fact that the female group had very little exposure to English outside the classroom explains why the female subjects did not perform as well as the male group during the stages of data collection. This was quite evident from the number of errors produced and the accuracy rate achieved at the end of each stage. This observation seems to correlate with and confirm the findings of McLaughlin (1987), who reported on the importance and significance of contact with the target language in situations in which languages are learned in classroom settings and there is no daily contact with native speakers of the target language outside the classroom.
A significant proportion of the errors committed by the L2 learners was related copula omission. The various types of errors are mentioned hereunder//.
Copula omission errors:
Error Type 1
Error Type 2
Error Type 3
There four people in my family
My sister unhappy in Australia
My brother name Fadi
In Brunswick there two language centers
… and she always sad and alone
Her husband name Anwar
There a big tree in my house
My brother a doctor
4. Methods of Data Collection
For the purpose of this study, it is proposed to collect data samples from about 60 freshmen Saudi students of which 20 would be freshmen at CU who have completed the IP requirements and another 20 of them would be freshmen at QU University in Saudi Arabia who have taken summer or short term courses abroad (for a period of atleast two to three months). The remaining students would be freshmen from QU University who have never been enrolled in any of the study abroad language courses. The subjects would be asked to write three essays about three different topics for instance, what is your ...? why ? etc. Each of these essays would be of approximately 300 words length. Two essays would be collected from among the subjects and the omission of copula verb would be counted manually. The data will then be processed by the SPSS program and finally conclude with an interpretation of the outcomes of the study.
Reference List
Abu-Jarad, H. A., (2008). Evaluating Grammer Development Through Longitude Error Analysis of English Major Students, Department of English, Al-Azhar University, Gaza -Palestine, Pp. 54 - 56
Al-Kasimi, A., Topan, F. and Khan, Y. (1979) Error analysis of Saudi freshmens English. Research sponsored by Educational Research Centre, Riyadh University, Saudi Arabia, Riyadh University Publication
Asfoor, A. A. (1978) An analysis of selected errors of Arabic speakers learning English. Unpublished Ph.D. University of Colorado
Assubaiai, S. H. (1979). Empirical bases for interlanguage of Arab students learning English. Unpublished Ph.D. Georgetown University, Washington D.C.
Beck, R. D. (1979). An error analysis of free composition. Teachers of English: Arabian Monthly (TEAM). 30:20-26
Brecht, R. D., Davidson D., & Ginsberg, R. B. (1993). Predictors of foreign language gain during study abroad. In B. F. Freed (Ed.), Second language acquisition in astudy abroad context (37-66). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins
DeKeyser, R. M.,(2000). The Robustness of Critical Period Effects in Second Language Acquistion, Studies in Second Language Acquisition, Vol. 22, Pp. 499 - 533
Diab, N., (N.A.). The Transfer of Arabic in the English Writing of Lebanese Students, the ESP, Sao Paulo, VOl. 18, No. 1, Pp. 71 - 83
Liskin-Gasparro, J., and Urdaneta, L. (1995). Language learning in a semester abroad: Research on learning language and culture in context.Columbus: Ohio State University National Foreign Language Resource Center, Pp. 138-160
Magnan, S. S. (1986). Assessing speaking proficiency in the undergraduate curriculum:Data from French. Foreign Language Annals 19, 429-38
McCarthy, A. C., (2002). An Introduction to English Morphology: Words and Their Structure, Edinburgh University Press, Pp. 16 -17, 100 -101
Noor, H. H. (1987). A linguistic analysis of the manipulation of adverbial clauses by college of education students at Madina Munawwara. M.A. Thesis, King Abdulaziz University
Richards. J. C. , Plott, J. & Platt H. (1996). Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics. Longman, London
Ryding, K. C., (2005). A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic, Cambridge University Press, Pp. 1-2, 10 - 25
Scott, M. S. and Tucker, G. R. 1974 Error analysis and English language strategies of Arab students. Language Learning. 24/1:69-79
Shay, S., (2008). The History of English, Wardia Press, Pp. 4 - 11
Singleton, D., (1995). Introduction: A Critical Look at the Critical Period Hypothesis in Second Language Acquisition, In D., Singleton: The Age Factor in Second Language Acquisition, Multilingual Matters, Pp. 1-29
Stansfield, C. W. (1975). Study abroad and the first-year student. System 3(3). 198-203
Thompson-Panos, K., Thomas-Ruzic, M., (1983). The Least You Should Know About Arabic: Implications for the ESL, TESOL Quarterly, Vol. 17, No. 4, Pp. 609 - 610
Wetzer, H., (1996). The Typology of Adjectival Prediction, Walter de Gruyter, Pp. 135 – 137
Zaynab, I., Aydelott, S. T., Kassabgy, N., (2000). Diversity in Language: Contrastive Studies in Arabic and English Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, American University in Cairo Press, Pp. 181 – 185

Recommendations for further studies:
The discussions and views presented in the above sections clearly define the significance of this study. It is a proven fact that a large majority of Arabic students learning English regularly omit the use of copula in sentence formulation. At the same time it is also observed that several researchers consider such an omission as – a result of differences in language structures, since there is no copula in Arabic. The basic hypothesis tested in this research was the impact of time exposure to language on learning English for adults whereby a group of Saudi students who have studied abroad for a brief period of time were studied for language acquisition skills against those who had no such exposure. Several studies conducted in the past have proved that even a brief exposure to the language being studied by the students in the country in which it is spoken plays a major role in developing their language acquisition skills.
Copula omission is a subject with various dimensions and is an important element in the field of linguistic studies. Future studies may include factors such as the relationship between age of the students and the omission of copula; effect of early exposure (i.e. young children) to the language on omission of copula; impact of differences in language structures as a reason behind omission of copula; duration of exposure to the language being studied in achieving native like language skills; as well as relative studies which investigate the impact of other similar languages which has the same type of language structure as that of Arabic could be studied to understand the impact of a language devoid of a copula in learning English as well as the frequency and extent of copula omission errors committed by the language learners. Read More
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