Acquisition of English Articles by Japanese EFL Learners.Report as inadecuate

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As the English article system is one of the most difficult grammatical items for Japanese learners of English to acquire (Japanese has no article system), this paper explored the accuracy order of articles in English by 141 Japanese speakers. A secondary purpose was to examine if these second language results extend Cziko's 1986 proposal that (first) language learners may overgeneralize the definite article into first-mention contexts because they initially associate the definite article with a specific feature; the task-related variation is also investigated. Subjects were given a fill-in-the-blank test and a composition test. Findings indicate that subjects acquired definite articles more accurately than indefinite articles, especially on the fill-in-the-blank test. This result extends Cziko's proposal to second language learners. No statistically significant difference in accuracy ratio was noted. It is suggested that teachers in Japan should keep in mind that indefinite articles and generic nouns are difficult to acquire; that learners may understand discoursal cohesiveness easily; that learners tend to overproduce the definite article into first-mention contexts; and that learners may not develop proficiencies concerning the article system over a 1-year period, when no formal instruction on articles has been given. (Contains 17 references.) (NAV)

Descriptors: Determiners (Languages), English (Second Language), Foreign Countries, Japanese, Language Acquisition, Language Tests, Second Language Learning, Testing

Author: Kubota, Mikio


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