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The role of explicit instruction on article acquisition in L2 English

Lopez, Elaine S (2015) The role of explicit instruction on article acquisition in L2 English. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Article errors are widely documented amongst L2 learners of English, and instruction rarely leads to improved accuracy (Snape and Yusa, 2013). Generative SLA research has demonstrated an effect of specificity for learners whose L1s do not have articles. Much of this research has tested Ionin’s Fluctuation Hypothesis (2003), which predicts that learners will overuse 'the' with indefinite specifics and 'a' with definite non-specifics. Currently, specificity is not taught to learners of English. This study investigates the effect of delivering such instruction. Three groups of low-intermediate L1-Chinese learners of English (n=50) were tested before and after a teaching intervention. The Specificity Instruction group was taught about definiteness and specificity using linguistically-informed materials developed in consultation with practising English teachers. The Standard Instruction group received instruction on the definite/indefinite contrast using standard teaching materials. Meanwhile, the No Instruction group was not taught about articles. Testing consisted of an untimed written elicitation task, a timed judgment task and a sample of writing. All groups showed similar levels of improvement in accuracy on the elicitation task. Results for the timed judgment task differed between the groups. The No Instruction and Standard Instruction groups made significant improvements whilst the Specificity Instruction group demonstrated no significant change. Article accuracy in the written work of all groups, however, tended to reduce between the two time points, possibly as learners began to focus on other aspects of their writing. I propose that the new instruction on specificity competed with what learners had previously been taught about definiteness and caused the lack of effect. Despite this null result at group level, individual results for the judgment task showed that learners in the Specificity Instruction group tended to improve with indefinite specific contexts, possibly due to the linguistically-informed instruction.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: L2 acquisition, articles, definiteness, specificity, explicit grammar instruction
Academic Units: The University of York > Language and Linguistic Science (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.665056
Depositing User: Mrs Elaine S Lopez
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2015 13:20
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2018 15:20
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/9738

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