The Impact of Mother Tongue on the Learning of English: The Case of Moroccan Learners

Submitted by: Abderrazzaq Bazar
Abstract: Many scholars have insisted on the impact of mother tongue on the learning of foreign languages and have tried to account for the interference of mother tongue in the learning of a foreign/second language. Actually, mother tongue interference is more apparent when the gap between the first and the target language is wide. The differences can be the source of errors at the different levels of language (i.e. phonological, morphological, syntactic and pragmatic, … (Khuwaileh, Abdulla and Ali Al- Shoumali. 2000; Ringbom, Håkan, 1987; (Kathleen M. Bailey, Ryan M. Damerow, 2014). In Morocco, English is introduced officially as the second foreign language at the level of the 9th grade in the public education, after students have had six years of learning French as a first foreign language.
The aim of the present study is to investigate the challenges learners face in the learning of English. The main objective is to sort out the challenges that are the result of the influence of L1, Darija, in the Moroccan context. The study adopts a mixed approach making use of both qualitative and quantitative research instruments, namely, class observation, direct observation, participant observation, the interview and the survey.
The sample population involves Moroccan learners of English at different levels of education, from both sexes, in the public sector in particular. The study addresses and tries to answer the following research questions: (i) what are some of the challenges Moroccan learners of English face? (ii) How can we account for these challenges? (iii) To what extent does Darija influence the learning of English?
The data analysis and interpretation will reveal how the features of L1 can facilitate or hinder the learning of a second/foreign language.
Keywords: Learning English; L1; Darija; Language Interference; Second / Foreign language.
Khuwaileh, Abdulla and Ali Al- Shoumali. (2000). Writing Errors: A Study of the Writing Ability of Arab Learners of Academic English and Arabic at University. Language, Culture and Curriculum. Vol. 13, No.2. pp 174-183.

Ringbom, Håkan (1987). The Role of First Language in Foreign Language Learning. U.S.A: Multilingual Matters Ltd.

Kathleen M. Bailey, Ryan M. Damerow (2014). Teaching and Learning English in the Arabic-Speaking World. Co-published with The International Research Foundation for English Language Education (TIRF)