Modern standard Arabic vs. Non-standard Arabic: Where do arab students of EFL transfer from?

Abdulmoneim Mahmoud*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


This paper focuseson the learning of English as a foreign language by Arabic-speaking students, who are often misled by the partial similarities between the two languages. The problem is further complicated by the fact that there are two main varieties of Arabic in each Arab country: modern standard Arabic (MSA) and non-standard Arabic (NSA). So, which variety is it that students transfer from? To answer this question, 50 third-year secondary-school students were askedto translate into English two versions of a short Arabic text; one MSA and the other NSA including 14 relative clauses. No significant difference was found between the means of the number of clauses produced in both cases. This finding is supported by an analysis of 35 interlingual errors found in free compositions written by 24 students. However, further research is needed with larger samples of errors and different non-standard varieties of Arabic. The results of this study indicate that it is important to take both MSA and NSA into account when making use of Arabic in teaching English as a foreign language.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-136
Number of pages11
JournalLanguage, Culture and Curriculum
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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