TEFL Brownville New York



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I chose this particular research article because egypt is where I will be working in the very near future and I have the perspective of not only teaching english to Arabic students but also learning Arabic as my L2. Which by the way has been extremely challenging and given me great sympathy for my future students. To try and discuss all the obstacles and problems that present themselves for an egyptian who speaks egyptian Colloquial Arabic while reading and writing in classical Arabic trying to learn english would require a book instead of an article. So for the purposes of this article I will just briefly highlight a few. The alphabet: One major difference between Arabic and english would be the alphabet that is used for reading, writing, and representing (phonemically) the sounds of the language. The Roman alphabet uses a completely different character set and is very different from the classical Arabic alphabet. In Arabic there are 17 consonant characters and 3 vowels that use variations of dots placed above or below to produce an actual total of 28 consonant and 6 vowel sounds. In english, the Roman alphabet has 26 characters 21 consonants and 5 vowels that produce 40 distinct sounds with no visual character distinctions. The only thing that determines the different sounds in english are how the letters are combined within the word and even then there are exceptions. This presents quite a challenge. Pronunciation: When speaking Arabic, the way one uses the tongue and the throat to produce different sounds when pronouncing words is very different from that of english. The speaker of Arabic is accustomed to using the back of the tongue and throat produced guttural type sounds. The english language utilizes the tongue in the mid and front of the palate most often to produce sounds. So not only are you working within a new alphabet structure but also having to retrain the tongue, throat, and palate, to work in a new way which feels extremely unnatural to the learner. Wahba (1998:36) states: • egyptian students face certain problems related to pronunciation. Some of these problems are related to stress, others are related to intonation. However, most of these problems can be attributed to differences in pronunciation between english and Arabic. Vocabulary: Since there are very few english and Arabic cognates the learners must often have difficulties comprehending what they hear and read. To this end the learner must commit most of their vocabulary to memory using only pictures with inferred definitions. It is in this arena where understanding some of the learners L-1 Arabic would be extremely useful with absolute beginners to help shed light on certain definitions. Of course I understand the slippery slope of using the native language when learning english so I say use this technique only when necessary. I see vocabulary as part of the bedrock that is language acquisition and therefore a lot of time should be spent upfront building a good vocabulary. In summary when you begin to look at the obstacles presented to the average egyptian when learning english it can seem a little overwhelming and I haven't even mentioned word structure, noun cases, articles, or any of the other grammar issues that present themselves but it's not an impossible task. It merely takes the right motivation for both the learner and the teacher and some good old-fashioned elbow grease to overcome these barriers.