The Role of Learners’ Gender Differences in L2 “Inter-Language” Errors of Intermediate- Level Saudi Language Learners


  • Nesreen Saud Alahmadi Tiabiah University
  • Mustapha Lahlali



Gender Differences – Interlanguage Errors - Language Errors- Second Language Acquisition.


Researchers have attempted to examine the unwanted forms (errors) appearing in learners’ spoken or written language production, which are often attributed to the learning process. The level of language proficiency differences in the second language (L2) learning between male and female learners has also been investigated. Most findings show that women are better language learners than their counterparts, (Burstall, 1975; Boyle, 1987), although this assumption has been debated, as other studies have proven otherwise. This study is an attempt to investigate errors resulting from inter-language in second language acquisition through speaking skills. These errors are analyzed in terms of syntax forms between male and female learners to explore the role of gender in error commission. The participants of this study are intermediate-level Saudi English language students. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews. The findings reveal that inter-language errors in L2 speaking are less observed in males than in females. Furthermore, gender plays an important role in the types of errors produced by L2 learners. Errors resulting from the linguistics process of language development from L1 to L2 provide better understanding of L2 acquisition among different gender.

Author Biography

Nesreen Saud Alahmadi, Tiabiah University

Dr. Nesreen Alahmadi is an Assistant professor at Tibah University. She received her P.hD in Applied Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures, and Societies at Leeds University, United Kingdom. Her research interests include, second language acquisition and English language teaching and learning.


Agustín Llach, M. P., Fernández Fontecha, A., & Moreno Espinosa, S. (2006). Lexical errors in the written production of young ESL beginner learners: Sex differences. In M. Amengual, M. Juan, & J. Salazar (Eds.), Adquisición y enseñanza de lenguas en contextos plurilingües. Ensayos y propuestas aplicadas (pp. 35-42). Palma de Mallorca: Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Las Islas Baleares.

Al-khresheh, M. (2016). A review study of interlanguage theory. International Journal of Applied Linguistics & English Literature, 4 (3), 124-131.

Bacon, S. M., & Finneman, M. D. (1992). Sex differences in self-reported beliefs about foreign-language learning and authentic oral and written input. Language Learning, 42(4), 471-495.

Balemir, S. H. (2009). The sources of foreign language speaking anxiety and the relationship between proficiency level and the degree of foreign language speaking anxiety. (Unpublished master’s thesis). Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey.

Bergvall, V. (1999). Toward a comprehensive theory of language and gender. Language in Society, 28(2).

Bhela, B. (1999). Native language interference in learning a second language: Exploratory case studies of native language interference with target language usage. International Education Journal, 1(1), 22-31.

Boyle, J. P. (1987). Sex differences in listening vocabulary. Language Learning, 37(2), 273-284.

Burstall, C. (1975). Factors affecting foreign-language learning: A consideration of some relevant research findings. Language Teaching and Linguistic Abstract, 8, 5-125.

Campbell, C. M., & Shaw, V. M. (1994). Language anxiety and gender differences in adult second language learners: Exploring the relationship. In C. A. Klee (Ed.), Faces in a crowd: The individual learner in multisection courses (pp. 47-80). Boston: Heinle & Heinle.

Carter, R. (1993). Introducing applied linguistics. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.

Corder, S. P. (1967). The significance of learners’ errors. In J. C. Richards (Ed.), Error analysis: Perspectives on second language acquisition (pp. 19-27). London: Longman.

Corder, S. P. (1973). Introducing applied linguistics. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.

Corder, S. P. (1974). Idiosyncratic dialects and error analysis. In J. C. Richards (Ed.), Error analysis: Perspectives on second language acquisition (pp. 158-171). London: Longman.

Coskun, L. (2014). The girls are better at language learning: A comparative approach. Journal of Educational and Social Research, 4(2), 17.10.5901/jesr.2014.v4n2p17.

Derakhshan, A., & Karimi, K. (2015). The interference of first language and second language acquisition. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 10, 2112-2117.

Eckert, P., & McConnell-Ginet, S. (1992). Think practically and look locally: Language and gender as community-based practice. Annual Review of Anthropology, 21, 461-490.

Ehrman, M. E., & Oxford, R. (1990). Adult language learning styles and strategies in an intensive training setting. The Modern Language Journal, 74, 311-327.

Ellis, R. (1994). The study of second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University press.

Ellis, R. (1997). SLA research and language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Faisal, W. (2013). Syntactic errors made by students of department of educational and psychological sciences. Journal of Babylon University: Human Sciences, 21(2), 456-476

Fatemi, M.A., Sobhani, A., & Abolhasani, H. (2012). Difficulties of Persian learners of English in pronouncing some English consonant clusters. World Journal English Language, 2(4), 69-75.

Flege, J. (1999) Age constraints on second-language acquisition. Birmingham: University of Alabama.

Feery, K. (2008). Current perspectives on the role of gender in second language acquisition (SLA) research. The ITB Journal, 9(1).244.

George, H. V (1972). Common errors in language learning: Insights from English; A basic guide to the causes and preventions of students’ errors in foreign language learning. Rowley, MA: Newbury House Publishers.

Jiménez, R. M. (ed.) (2010). Gender perspectives on vocabulary in foreign and second language. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.

Karim, K., & Nassaji, H. (2013). First language transfer in second language writing: An examination of current research. Iranian Journals of Language Teaching Research, 1(1), 117-134.

Keshavarz, M. H. (2008). Contrastive analysis and error analysis. Tahran: Rahnama Press.

Kettemann, B. Cossée, M. Kerschbaumer, M. Landsiedler. L(1998). Fremdsprachen – Mädchensache, Geschlechstsspezifische Aspekte des Fremdsprachenerwerbs in der Schule. In: Moderne Sprachen: Zeitschrift des Verbandes der Österreichischen Neuphilologen 42: 11-25.

Kissau, S. (2006). Gender differences in motivation to learn French. Canadian Modern Language Review, 62(3), 401-422.

Klein, W. (1989). Second language acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kline, R. (1993). The social practice of literacy in a program of study abroad (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Pennsylvania State University, Pennsylvania.

Koul, R., Roy. L., Kaewkuekool, S., & Ploisawaschai, S. (2009). Multiple goal orientations and foreign language anxiety. System, 37(4), 676-688.

Krashen, S. (1983). Newmark’s ignorance hypothesis and current second language acquisition theory. Language Transfer in Language Learning. Rowley, MA: Newbury House. Oxford: Pergamon

Larsen-Freeman, D., & Long, M. H. (1991). An introduction to second language acquisition research.New york. Longman

Lim, M. H. (2003). Interference in the second language acquisition of the present simple tense. Asian Journal of English Language Teaching (Hong Kong), 13, 1-28.

Ludwig, J. (1983). Attitudes and expectations: A profile of female and male students of college French, German, and Spanish. The Modern Language Journal, 67(3) , 216-227

Matsuda, S., & Gobel, P. (2004). Anxiety and predictors of performance in the foreign language classroom. System, 32(1), 21- 36.

MacIntyre, P. D., & Gardner, R. C. (1994). The subtle effects of language anxiety on cognitive processing in the second language. Language Learning, 44, 283-305

Meier, P. (1991). “War of Words: Women Talk about How Men and Women Talk.” Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Muhammed, A, (2017). The Role of Age and Gender Differences in Language Learning: A Case Study on Kurdish EFL Learners, English Language, Literature & Culture. 2, (5),74-84.

Nemati, M., & Taghizade, M. (2006). Exploring similarities and differences between L1 and L2. IRJABS, 4(9), 2477-2483.

Onwuegbuzie, A. J. (2000b). Attitudes toward statistics assessments. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 25, 325-343.

Oxford, R., Young, P. O., Ito, S., & Sumrall, M. (1993). Japanese by satellite: Effects of motivation, language learning styles and strategies, gender, course level, and previous language learning experience on Japanese language achievement. Foreign Language Annals, 26, 359-401

Park, G. P. (2014). factor analysis of the foreign language classroom anxiety scale in Korean learners of English as a foreign language. Psychological Reports, 115(1), 261-275. doi: 10.2466/28.11.PR0.115c10z2

Pica, T. (1998), Second language learning: Multiple perspectives. In: V. Regan (Ed.), Contemporary approaches to second language acquisition in social context. Crosslinguistic perspectives (pp. 9-31). Dublin.University College Dublin Press

Richards, J. and Rodgers, T. (2001). Approaches and methods in language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Saunders, K. (1998) Modern languages in crisis? Language Learning Journal, 18, 63- 67

Selinker, L. (1992). Rediscovering interlanguage. London: Longman.

Schachter, J., & Celce-Murcia, M. (1977). Some reservations concerning error analysis. TESOL Quarterly, 11(4), 440-451.

Silverman, D., 2006. Credible Qualitative Research‟ in Interpreting Qualitative Data. London: SAGE Publications

Tannen, D (1994). Gender and Discourse. New York: Oxford University Press.

Tercanlioglu, L. (2004). Pre-service EFL teachers’ beliefs about foreign language learning and how they relate to gender. Electronic Journal of Research in Educational Psychology, 5(3), 145-162.

Thompson, I., & Rubin, J. (1993). Improving listening comprehension in Russian. Washington, DC: Department of Education, International Research and Studies Program. Department of Education, International Research centre.

Young, D. J., & Oxford, R. (1997). A gender-related analysis of strategies used to process written input in the native language and a foreign language. Applied Language Learning, 8, 43-73.

Zhang, L. J. (2000). Uncovering Chinese ESL students’ reading anxiety in a study-abroad context. Asia Pac. J. Language Education. 3, 31-56.