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International Journal of Research and Innovation in Social Science (IJRISS) | Volume IV, Issue VII, July 2020 | ISSN 2454–6186

A Case Study on the Interference of Bahasa Melayu (L1) on the Tenses Used in Writing English (L2) Essays among Form Two Secondary Students

Amanpreet Kaur
School of English, Faculty of Social Sciences, Quest International University Perak (QIU), Malaysia

IJRISS Call for paper

Abstract: Writing in English language is one of the most challenging skills faced by English language learners in Malaysia especially if they do not have a good proficiency in the language. This study is to identify tenses transferred negatively and positively from L1 (Bahasa Melayu) to English (L2) essays among Form Two secondary students in one of the national schools in Ipoh, Perak. The design of this study is a qualitative which is appropriate to identify the phenomena. Two types of methods were used to collect data. The data collection instruments were document analysis and interview. To execute the study 24 writing samples were chosen from low proficiency level of students. They were instructed to write about 100 word essays on a given topic in English. The tenses were later corroborated and compared to substantiate the theoretical arguments in the field of language transfer. From the findings, it was found that mother tongue highly interferes in students’ writing in simple present tense, simple past tense and future simple tense. In addition, it was found that the sample employed a translation method although they understand the importance of English language.

Keywords: interference; second language acquisition; tenses; transfer


English language competence among Malaysian learners has declined due to the change in the medium of instruction from English to Bahasa Melayu (Malay language) (Darmi and Albion, 2013). Bahasa Melayu interference is one of the major sources in committing syntactic errors. The learners have directly translated the Malay words into English words which led to malformation of the sentences (Gedion, Tati and Peter, 2016). Mother tongue interference negatively which greatly impacts the acquisition of English language skills among secondary school learners (Muriungi & Mbui, 2013). According to Onwubiko (2012) the matter of concern now is how to raise the level of proficiency of the English language in Malaysia to a level as high if not greater than during the days of the English medium. Improving proficiency in English language only through English subjects in the school curriculum is insufficient as curriculum planners at the Education Ministry and teachers in schools have realised this crucial matter over the years.