THE ACQUISITION OF ENGLISH MORPHOLOGY: A QUANTITATIVE COMPARATIVE STUDY OF ENGLISH LEARNERS WITH L1 INDONESIAN AND L1 ARABIC BACKGROUNDS
This study investigated the acquisition of 8 English morphemes for L1 Arabic and L1 Indonesian learners speaking English as a second language. The eight morphemes were pronoun case, articles (the/a), progressive -ing, copula, plural, auxiliary, past regular, and past irregular. The hypothesis was made per Krashen’s Natural Order Hypothesis, predicting that speakers from different L1 backgrounds learning L2 English would show similar acquisition orders for grammatical morphemes as suggested by the NOH. This study used a quantitative method to compare the acquisition of morphology by the two groups of L2 English learners. Through informal interviews, speech data were gathered from participants from two different language backgrounds, Arabic and Indonesian. The findings revealed that the participants performed virtually similarly within the groups. Regardless of some variations in the acquisition sequence of the morphemes, the Mann-Whitney U tests showed no significant difference in the performance of the two language groups (ps>.006). However, the acquisition sequence obtained from the two groups was only partially similar to the NOH proposal. The deviations then provided strong support for the existence of L1 transfer. This finding leaded us to propose a weaker form of the NOH suggesting that the Natural Order only affects particular morphemes. These results not only confirm the existence of L1 transfer in L2 acquisition but also introduce an innovative perspective on the interplay between L1 and L2 morpheme acquisition.
Key words: NoH, acquisition order, language transfer, English morphemes
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