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Explicit instruction and translation: A generative view of the acquisition of English articles

Sabir, Mona Hussien T (2015) Explicit instruction and translation: A generative view of the acquisition of English articles. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

Articles’ substitution errors are commonly documented in L2 research. Ionin, Ko and Wexler (2004) tested the ‘Fluctuation Hypothesis”, which predicts that learners overuse ‘the’ with indefinite specific contexts of article use and overuse ‘a’ with definite non-specific contexts. They demonstrated that specificity has an effect on learners whose L1s are article-less, but left open the question of fluctuation regarding learners whose L1s have articles. Additionally, genericity distinctions (Noun-phrase vs. Sentence-level Generics) are rarely addressed by L2 researchers (Ionin et al., 2011). Meanwhile, classroom instruction is lacking in terms of article semantics, as specificity and genericity are currently not taught to learners of English, whereas definiteness is. This study aims to discover whether explicit instruction in definiteness, specificity and genericity, and translation activities that target article use can contribute to accurate article choice. The study adopts an experimental design including 67 Saudi (Hejazi) Arabic-speaking learners of English and 23 native English speakers. The participants took three tasks (Article Elicitation, Acceptability Judgment and Elicited Written Production) as a pre-test, an immediate post-test and a delayed post-test. They were divided into four intervention groups. Over a period of three weeks, each group was subjected to either explicit or implicit instruction and to either translation or gap fill activities. The results are consistent with Ionin, Ko and Wexler’s (2004) predictions, Slabakova’s (2008) semantic principles and Schwartz and Sprouse’s (1996) Full Transfer/ Full Access Hypothesis. The findings show fluctuation in indefinite specific contexts, which suggests sensitivity to specificity. Learners also distinguished between genericity types even though this distinction is not morphologically marked in Arabic, but showed evidence of L1 transfer in article generic use/interpretation. The study shows that explicit instruction and translation activities did not have a clear effect on article accuracy. It also discusses implications for SLA research and article pedagogy and methodological challenges.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: L2 acquisition, articles, definiteness, specificity, genericity, explicit grammar instruction, translation in language teaching
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds) > Linguistics & Phonetics (Leeds)
Depositing User: Mrs Mona Sabir
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2015 13:48
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2017 11:11
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/11244

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