Influence of native language and general English proficiency on the use of articles in English

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Selma Elyildirim


Second language learners face a great difficulty in the use of English articles since their native language does not have an article system which is similar to the target language they learn. Turkish is one of the languages which have an article system marking the semantic features ‘definiteness’ or ‘specificity’ in different ways.  It encodes these features by using case morphology, word order, stress and tense-aspect modality.  Being aware of the fact that this difference and lack of an article system similar to English may cause problems to learners, this study investigates the acquisition of the English articles by Turkish learners.   The data used in the study came from a fill-in-the blank task and a cloze test.  The former included 20 test-sentences assessing the production of English articles in terms of definiteness and specificity whereas the latter had 20 blanks measuring the proficiency of learners. Thirty five English major students attending a university in Turkey participated in the study. Following the data collection, the data were analysed to find out the effect of the learners’ native language as well as their general English proficiency on the production of English articles.  The results provided supporting evidence that the participants had some difficulties in the production of the definite and indefinite articles in English. In view of this finding, this paper discusses both the results and pedagogical implications of the study.

Keywords: English articles, definiteness, specificity, L1 influence, language proficiency


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Elyildirim, S. (2019). Influence of native language and general English proficiency on the use of articles in English. Global Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 9(2), 110-121.