The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Ettien Koffi

Second Advisor

Lisa Loftis

Third Advisor

John Madden

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

Keywords and Subject Headings

ESL, Arabic Language, Tense-Aspect, Grammar, Language Transfer, Error Analysis


With English as an increasingly common second language for native Arabic speakers, there is a growing need for scholarly attention to the language transfer patterns among this group of English language learners. This thesis aims to assess commonly recurring errors in one area of language, tense and aspect construction, in order to contribute to the existing literature on tense and aspect production among Arabic learners of English and to analyze whether language transfer can serve as a plausible explanation for these patterns. Drawing on a sample of 93 student essays produced by native Arabic speakers (included in the appendix) and bostered by an analysis of tense-aspect construction in the Arabic language, this research builds on previous studies of commonly occurring errors as well as presents new observations on errors patterns. Significantly, this research found copula deletion to occur before noun phrases, prepositional phrases, and adjective phrases alike. Also, this study documents challenges students faced in correctly forming progressive aspect verbs, as well as speculating about potential causes and remedies for this phenomenon. Furthermore, a preliminary investigation into unnatural tense shifts within and between clauses among this group of students was included. Where possible, descriptions and analyses of these errors have been followed with pedagogical suggestions.