The Problems of the Use of Articles in English by Second Language Learners in Akwa Ibom State

The Problems of the Use of Articles in English by Second Language Learners in Akwa Ibom State
The Problems of the Use of Articles in English by Second Language Learners in Akwa Ibom State

Abstract: This research explores the problems of the use of articles in English by second language learners in Akwa Ibom State: a case study of English language learners in secondary schools in Eket. The English article system presents many problems for non-native speakers of English, particularly when they do not have an equivalent structure in their first language. Different approaches to the teaching of articles have attempted to overcome this problem by encouraging students to address the notion of count-ability and to identify specific uses of articles in English, the study was able to improve students’ understanding of this difficult area and guide them to a more accurate usage of the English article system.

The researcher adopted survey research design for the purpose of this study. This design was so adopted because it examines the problems of the use of articles by English language learners. A ten item questionnaire was administered for data collection; Data was analyzed using simple percentage. The present study aims at providing evidence on the positive relationship between exposure to English language articles and how they are used. This exercise was carried out in a single session, but it is suggested that a longitudinal study would show the lasting benefit of this method of teaching.

The Problems of the Use of Articles in English by Second Language Learners in Akwa Ibom State



1.1 Background to the Study

The acquisition of English grammatical articles has been of considerable concern since early 1970s Chesterman A.  (2009) For native speakers, the proper use of English articles is acquired unconsciously and at an early stage, Master, P. (1997). However, English language learners, especially those whose first languages (L1) do not have the equivalent article systems, tend to have difficulty acquiring English articles Ionin, T. and Montrul, S. (2010).

This study explored the problems of the use of English article by English language learners whose L1 has, or does not have, the equivalence of English article system. Article ‘the’ was used for different   purposes. The major use of the definite article ‘the’ was to demonstrate that the noun referred to a particular example of something Richards, J. C., Platt, J., and Platt, H. (2002). According to Yotsukura, S. (2012) and Palmer, H. E. (2013), there were two types of zero ‘article’. Yotsukura found it necessary to separate two types of noun phrase (NP) occurring without visible articles, which he defined as the zero forms. This is consistent with the according to Palmer (2011), Sinclair, J. M. (2009), Chesterman, A.  (2009), and Master (2009), who separated zero indefinite, with mass and plural and null definite, with singular proper nouns and some singular count nouns.     However, no unified theory of English articles was yet available Chesterman, A. (2009). This study was governed by the definition mentioned above and focuses on ‘a’ or an, the, and zero article.

Articles such as ‘a’ and ‘the’ are the most commonly used words in English, and yet their usage is in fact surprisingly complex. Part of the complexity can be attributed to the fact that the English article system does not consist of one-to-one form and meaning relationships. This complexity poses a number of challenges for L2 learners of English Andersen H. (2004). This is true even for those learners who have studied for years. Teachers of English as a second language find it difficult to understand how or why their students choose to use articles in the ways that they do; effectively teaching the article system to their students often remains an elusive goal.

Students use of articles “bears little or no resemblance to established English practice; the students seem to use articles almost randomly”. Do L2 learners really use articles randomly, or   do they develop theories of the English article system that do not readily make sense to teachers? It thus becomes very important to examine theories about the English article system by L2 learners at different developmental stages. If indeed they develop such theories and to understand how such theories relate to L2 learners’ uses of articles. This paper offers one approach to this issue by attempting to reveal and examine L2 learners’ meta-linguistic knowledge with regard to the use of articles. In doing so, we may better understand the nature of L2 learners’ problems with articles and thus lay the groundwork for addressing such problems.

The Problems of the Use of Articles in English by Second Language Learners in Akwa Ibom State

1.2 Statement of the problem

Using English articles effectively entails that readers should be competent in all aspect of the English including appropriate use of words. Overtime, it has been observed that learners of English as L2 have issues in making use of articles in sentences. It is for this reason that this study attempts to examine problems of use of English articles by learners of English as a second language in Akwa Ibom State. Although it is well known that many second language (L2) learners have trouble using article “properly” the primary causes of their difficulties remain unclear.

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