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Libyan EFL Student's Difficulties in Acquisition of Third Person – Research Guider

The paper "Libyan EFL Student's Difficulties in Acquisition of Third Person" is a wonderful example of an education research proposal.
Studies have indicated that most EFL learners find it challenging to acquire English third person (s) as compared to other English morphemes (Bernal, Lidz, Milotte & Christophe, 2007, p. 326). The English third person (s) acquisition has been studied from a number of perspectives including context, grammar and even usage (Chan, 2007, p. 57). The English third person (s) has also been analysed in the case of Japanese and Chinese students learning English as a second/foreign language. Additionally, there is a lack of research on Libyan EFL learners on the acquisition of the English third person (s). The aforementioned therefore provides an efficient justification for this particular study which will investigate how Libyan EFL learners acquire and use English third person (s) and various stages of English morpheme acquisition.

Significance of the study

There are numerous reasons to investigate the third person (s). One of them is that the morpheme is associated with social importance as the uneducated and the educated are differentiated using the morpheme. The morpheme third person (s) is a salient feature of the Standard English.

Additionally, this particular study of significance in that it fills and adds to the existing gaps on literature regarding Libyan EFL learners not only in morpheme acquisition but also in challenges they face while acquiring English as a second/foreign language. Additionally, the study could recommend methods that could be used in improving English third-person acquisition at various stages of learning the English language as a second/foreign language. The recommended methods can be of help to not only Libyan students but also other students learning English as a foreign language across the globe.

Literature review

According to Ellis & Gary (2008, p. 145), there is a contrast in the manner in which an individual acquires a first and second language. However after the critical period, it is more challenging for one to acquire the second language easily (Rvachew, Gaines, Blanchet & Cloutier, 2008, p. 86). This reason can be linked to why Libyan EFL learners find it hard to acquire English third person (s). Hence, providing an explanation between the first and second language acquisition process are essential in understanding the ability of human beings to acquire and use language and more specifically English morphemes which have proven to be a problem to EFL learners (Hsieh, 2010, p. 46). Researches have indicated that different studies mainly analyze the elements, characteristics and issues of the second language acquisition through distinct demographics and contexts (Munson, 2007, p. 59). The focus in some circumstances is on language, level of learning, age and even country of origin.

English third person (s) is one of the morphemes in English. The order of acquiring English morphemes is also different. According to Hyams (2009, p. 235) morphemes are easy to acquire than others. Additionally, difficulty in the acquisition of English third person (s) can be associated with intralingual errors while others are inter-lingual. Lightbown & Nina (2008, p. 135) add that EFL learners whose first language lacks the third person (s) tend to follow the accuracy order: zero omitting the third person (s) where it should be Prévost & White (2009, p. 104). A high percentage of EFL learners claim that acquisition and usage of English third person (s) is one of the most difficult English morphemes to learn while studying English as a second/foreign language.

Aim of the study

The aim of the proposed research is to analyse the Libyan EFL learners’ acquisition of the English third person (s) and the problem they face in the acquisition process and usage.

Research questions

The use of English third person (s) is challenging for most EFL students. In regard to English grammar, students experience difficulty in using the third person (s) correctly just like other English morphemes. Errors in the usage of the third person (s) mark a learner as a non-native speaker (Sundara, Demuth & Kuhl, 2009, p. 75). Therefore, the aim of the proposed research is to analyse the Libyan EFL learners’ acquisition of the English third person (s) and the problem they face in the acquisition process and usage. In regard to the aforementioned, the following research questions are proposed:

  1. What are the difficulties and issues that Libyan EFL students experience in learning how to use English third person (s)?
  2. What are the patterned errors that are evident in the use of the third person (s) in both written and spoken English of the Libyan EFL students?
  3. How do Libyan second/foreign language learners mark English third person (s) at different stages of acquiring the English language?


The sample of the study will be students from High Centre of water affairs learning English as a second/foreign language. The participants will be categorised based on their level of competence: advanced, intermediate and beginners. Both qualitative and quantitative research will be used in this study. However, the quantitative study will be longitudinal whereby the performance of the participants on the use of English third person (s) will be tested. The tests will take the form of filling in blanks, online forums, grammar tests as well as other mechanisms.


This section will have a conclusion and the recommendation section. The findings of the study will be presented in this part before conclusions are drawn. The findings will be mainly linked to the motivation of the Libyan EFL learners, how frequently they use the English language as well as the purpose of using English. The methods used in teaching EFL learners will also be analysed and the findings included in this section. Additionally, the significance of the study will be revisited based on the proposed study. Finally, recommendations will be drawn from the findings and the conclusions are drawn.


Bernal, S., Lidz, J., Milotte, S., & Christophe, A. (2007). Syntax constrains the acquisition of verb meaning. Language Learning and Development, 3, 325–341.

Chan, Y. W. (2007). ‘Syntactic transfer: Evidence from the inter-language of Hong Kong Chinese ESL learners’. The Modern Language Journal, 88, 56-74.

Ellis, R. & Gary, B. (2008). Analyzing Learner Language. New York: Oxford University Press.

Hsieh, F. T. (2010). L1 Effects in Taiwanese L2 Learners of English. MA thesis, University of Essex, UK.

Hyams, N. (2009). Aspectual effects on interpretation in early grammar. Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, 4, 231–268.

Lightbown, P, M., & Nina, S. (2008).How Languages are Learned. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Munson, B. (2007). Variability in /s/ production in children and adults: evidence from dynamic measures of spectral mean. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 47, 58–69.

Prévost, P. & White, L. (2009). ‘Missing surface inflexion or impairment in second language acquisition? Evidence from tense and agreement’. Second Language Research, 16, 103- 133.

Rvachew, S., Gaines, B. R., Blanchet, N., & Cloutier, G. (2008). Productive morphology skills of children with speech delay. Journal of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, 29, 83–89.

Sundara, M., Demuth, K., & Kuhl, P. K. (2009). Sentence position effects on children’s perception and production of third-person singular –s. Manuscript submitted for publication. 30, 72-90

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