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Second language acquisition

Essay Topic: ,
string(124) " how language is learned or acquired, what strategies or procedures the learner is employing in his discovery of the rules\."

This is extremely frustrating to adult students of languages, and can have repercussions in the workplace, at school, and in other arenas in which complete grammatical accuracy is highly prized and non-native speakers are Judged against their native speaker counterparts. Adult learners seem to have difficulty acquiring accurate usage of articles on their own, though, and current teaching methods have limited success in eradicating production errors.

In order to improve these methods, the cause of the errors and the patterns of errors have to be better understood.

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Past linguistic studies have found a variety of error patterns in LA article use in English. Studies have found that learners: ; predominantly omit articles (White 2003 or Robertson 2000), ; tend to overuse the (Huber 1983, Master 1987, Parrish 1987), or ; tend to overuse a (Lung 2001). Moreover, as the researcher has observed, the use of articles among students of English has many obstacles that need discovering and solving.

Therefore, the researcher determined to conduct this research paper on “The use of articles in learning English as a foreign language among second year students at FELT, LUIS, VON” with a view to providing interested readers with a brief and comprehensive account of articles commonly used by second year students at FELT. This study is expected to give a quite radical view on the use of articles, with the main focus on the use of definite articles based on three categories: Specification due o anaphoric reference, specification due to immediate surrounding and specification due to catastrophic reference.

Common errors made by second year students were analyzed and synthesized based on these categories. The research question being asked in this study is as follows: Does the increase in the length of exposure have any significant impact on the ability to use articles correctly? Questionnaire was employed as the primary instrument in this study. The questionnaire was in form of a test on English articles. The questionnaire included two parts: part 1 was adapted from the Oxford Placement to measure the General English Proficiency level of the subjects.

The second instrument was a very interesting story from which most of the articles had been deleted and the subjects were asked to insert the concerned article in the appropriate places. After that, data was collected and synthesized into tables to facilitate the process of drawing the findings. The study consists of five chapters Chapter 1 offers the introduction of the study. Chapter 2 – Literature review – provides the background of the study. Chapter 3 – Methodology – describes the participants and instruments of the study, as well as the reoccurred employed to carry out the research.

Chapter 4 – Findings and discussion – presents and analyzes findings that the researcher discovered from the data collected and raises some discussion related to the issue. Chapter 5 presents the conclusion of the study. The article is a formal (grammatical) word by means of which the subject spoken of is closely defined/determined. The primary function of both function of individualistic, specialization, particularistic, familiarization of the related noun. The term “definite” apparently means that the noun to which the article is added, tends for something definite.

It is nearly equivalent to the terms “determinative”, and “defining” (Kalmia, 1981). Wren and Martin (1998) subdivide the definite article into three categories: 2. 1. 1 . Specification due to anaphoric reference A noun which has been used for the second time is preceded by the’ because of retrospective specification e. G. I saw an elephant on the street. The elephant was carrying several people . In the above example ‘elephant’ is specified by the definite article the’ because of its back reference in the preceding statement. 2. 1. 2. Specification due to immediate surrounding

A noun which represents only one particular thing by reason of its locality is preceded by the’ because it is specified in the immediate surrounding e. G. I want to consult the doctor . 2. 1. 3. Specification due to catastrophic reference The specification in the case of catastrophic reference is made clear by the following phrase or clause e. G. The elephant I saw on the street was very big. The specification/determination in all the given three categories (anaphoric, catastrophic and immediate surroundings) are determined by the context in which they are used.

This study mainly focuses the use of definite articles based on the above three subcategories. Corded (1981 : 36) classified errors into the following four categories, formulated in terms of cognitive learning strategies: I) Omission: it occurs when certain linguistic forms may be omitted by the learners because of their complexity e. G. *Put books on table . Both books and table are needed to be specified by the definite article the’. Omission can occur in phonology, morphology and syntax. I) Addition: errors can be due to addition of unnecessary items e. G. *The Iran is a great country. Since ‘Iran’ is a proper noun thus the definite article is not needed. Ii) Substitution: replacing indiscriminately a phonological or grammatical element by another e. G. *There is an university in our town , ‘an’ has been replace by ‘a’. Iv) Ministering: it can be a phoneme, morpheme or a word as in: Good the boy. The definite article must have occurred before ‘good’. 2. 3.

The significance of errors The realization that the second language learners’ errors are potentially important for the process of second language learning, and consequently the designing of the course, incorporating the psychology of second language learning, is a current focus in the literature on modern language teaching. A learner’s errors then provides evidence of the system of the language they are using (I. E. Have learned) at a particular point in the course and it must be reported that they are using some system although it is not yet the right system.

According to Corded (1981:5) Errors are significant in three ways: (a) first to the teacher, in that they tell him how far towards the goal the learner has progressed and, consequently, what remains for him to learn. (b) they provide to the researcher evidence of how language is learned or acquired, what strategies or procedures the learner is employing in his discovery of the rules.

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C) they are indispensable to the learner himself because we can regard the making of mistakes as a device the learner uses in order to learn.

The sample for the present study consists of 10 second year students at FELT who belong to two different groups (A and B) in terms of their exposure to the English language. The subjects of Group A consist of 5 longer-exposed students of English. Group B consists of 5 shorter-exposure students. Subjects were divided into two groups with different lengths of exposure to English to see what kind of errors, if any, get automatically repaired over a period of time. 3. 2. Data collection instruments The first instrument of for the data collection was the Oxford Placement to measure the General English Proficiency level of the subjects.

The second instrument was a very interesting story from which most of the articles had been deleted and the subjects were asked to insert the concerned article in the appropriate places. There are 55 (definite and indefinite) missing articles in the passage (see Appendix). The definite articles in the sentence initial position had been left intact. But the rest had all been omitted except one definite article which remained in the text due to the hypocritical errors. The test was given to all the subjects in the form of a running text.

No blank places were indicated where the articles were to be inserted. The subjects were thus expected to locate the potential places and to insert the articles between the words where they were required. 3. 3. Data collection procedure The questionnaire was distributed in March and April 2011. All questionnaires were filled out in the respondents’ class during the break. 3. 4. Data analysis procedure Data was collected and synthesized into tables to facilitate the process of drawing the findings. CHAPTER 4: FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION 1.

Does the increase in the length of exposure have any significant impact on the ability to use articles correctly? The use of the definite article was analyzed in terms of anaphoric, catastrophic and immediate surrounding specifications. The examination of the use of the zero article in terms of text dependent categories [text independent/ using articles before any other categories than noun, and the performance of the students in distinguishing consonantal from vocalic sounds while inserting indefinite articles ‘a’ and ‘an’ is also provided. S. NO. NP from the test passage

The bank 26. 66 20 2 Opened the door Called the accountant 66. 66 Took the money 53. 33 Write the sum 26 13. 33 It is said the accountant 46. 66 In the bank 8 On the queue At the clerk As the big door Table 1 . Percentage of correctly inserting the definite articles (Anaphoric reference) Anaphoric reference: is a way of marking the identity between what is being expressed and what has already been expressed. The achievement of the both groups in using the definite article when the specification is due to retrospective reference (anaphoric) is slightly higher (Gar.

A 47. 81 and Gar. B 43) than the other two minds of definite articles. The use of the’ with ‘door’ is strikingly high (100% by the two groups). This is possibly due to the most frequent collocation of ‘door’ with the’ and since it has a back reference, the degree of correct retrieval is high. In conclusion we can say that the accurate retrieval of this group of article shows that the learners’ better understanding of the context is satisfactory.

This means the overall achievement of the two groups indicates the ability of the learners’ to use the definite article better when it is required because of anaphoric reference. Except for the case f item (6) which proved the difficulty for the learners of the two groups, the achievement in (6) is relatively lower because the noun ‘sum’ itself hasn’t been mentioned earlier. The person taking the test will have to infer that the six hundred dollars was mentioned at the beginning of the passage. The cognitive process involved in this retrospective identification may be complicated.

The door of a bank 73. 33 The counter marked A/c The son off rich man The accountant’s counter The ball of money 33. 33 The ceiling of the bank Table 2: Percentage of correctly inserting the definite article (Catastrophic reference) Catastrophic reference: is one way of marking the identity between what is being expressed and what is about to be expressed. For example, I said the following… Where the meaning of the following must be specified in the subsequent context, where the words refer forward as opposed to anaphoric words which refer backwards.

The specification in the case of catastrophic reference is made clear by the following phrase or clause. Again contrary to our hypothesis, Group A scored higher marks than Group B (50. 99 vs.. 33. 33). The highest correct retrieval was identical (both groups have secured (73. 33) in the first item the door of a bank. Interestingly enough both of the groups have been unable to insert the correct article in item (3), Gar. B with zero achievement while Gar. A only 13. 33. Those who have found the need for inserting articles e. . (Gar. B) have preferred the indefinite article ‘a’. The result of such confusion can be better explained if we consider the frequent collocation of son with ‘a’ in most second language learning situation. White (2003), in a study of a Turkish speaker whose proficiency in English was advanced, reports no definiteness violations, even though the subject did make errors in article suppliants, in the form f omission. Some of the major findings are: 1. The general control on the use of articles is still lower.

It shows far greater variation and does not seem to improve with greater exposure in terms of time. 2. The analysis based on proficiency test revealed that Gar. B with more exposure to English has had a better performance in the overall language proficiency than Gar. A which means the overall proficiency of English is influenced by the amount of the time for which students learn English. But as far as the analysis of the data from the test on article is concerned, the exposure or English neural proficiency seemed not to play any role in improving the performance on articles.

Such a result leads the researcher to realize that use of articles in English is a grammatical area that should be independently studied and an overall proficiency in English will not guarantee proficiency in the use of articles. 2. Some The results in the above two cases suggests that the teachers of English should not only familiarize the students with the items such as: ‘a’ occurring before a consonant and ‘an’ before a vowel sound, but also, they should shift the focus from letters to sounds.

The rule that in English only nouns can take articles seems to be well established and rare was the case where learners of the two groups use an article before grammatical categories other than nouns. The various categories of nouns which don’t take any articles in any situation were also well understood by both groups of learners, which indicates that high percentage of the students inductively realized that articles normally occur before nouns but in relation to this point we also observed that a remarkable number of articles indiscriminately were omitted I. E. N each group there was 45% of omission (not inserted). In order to minimize the rate of the habit of dropping and inserting the articles indiscriminately, the pedagogical techniques should be based on the following important points: I) It is not enough to tell the students that in English only nouns and noun phrases take articles. They have to be drilled upon intensively and shown sufficient example of other grammatical categories which don’t take article. Particularly in the case of ‘an’, students need to be told that expressions such as ‘an obliged’ etc. Are not possible.

Along with other grammatical categories, those nouns (verbs, adjectives, adverbs) which don’t take articles, students should be introduced to nouns and noun-like expressions which never take articles. This includes such text-independent categories as names of unique objects, greetings, vocatives and nouns like ‘home, hospital, school etc. Used for their primary purpose. Though the performance of the students in this category was considerably good, the above points are suggested as a general method of teaching the article. Next the students may be introduced to nouns which don’t take articles under specific circumstances; e. . Unspecified abstract or mass nouns. It is at this stage that the students should be exposed to situations in which articles are inserted before every noun excluding the above mentioned categories; indefinite article if the noun is unspecified and definite if it is specified. This may also help the habit of dropping the articles. Students should be told that all nouns excluding the above categories should be preceded by an article. There are certain areas for example the habit of dropping articles, which have obviously not received sufficient remedial attention at any stage. Moreover is the choice.

There are indiscriminate insertions sometimes correct and sometimes incorrect which show that their behavior is yet not fossils. It is possible that the situation may improve if the pedagogical implications suggested above are incorporated in remedial courses for those students in teaching articles in English. It) Experiments concerning language teaching have revealed that good teaching affects learning. There will always be a place for intensive work of one kind or another because it is beyond the capacity of human being to absorb perfectly and retain indefinitely everything they are presented.

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