NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ819328
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Dec
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0346-251X
The Acquisition of Four Nongeneric Uses of the Article "the" by Spanish EFL Learners
Garcia Mayo, Maria del Pilar
System: An International Journal of Educational Technology and Applied Linguistics, v36 n4 p550-565 Dec 2008
This paper examines one aspect of article acquisition: the various nongeneric uses of the definite article in English. Previous research (Hawkins, J., 1978. "Definiteness and Indefiniteness." Academic Press, San Diego, CA.) identified eight major categories of nongeneric use. More recent work by (Liu, D., Gleason, J.L., 2002. "Acquisition of the article the by nonnative speakers of English. An analysis of four nongeneric uses." "Studies in Second-Language Acquisition" 24, 1-26.) reduced the categories to four (cultural, situation, structural and textual) and proposed a difficulty hierarchy for those four uses. The aim of this paper is to validate their difficulty hierarchy with a different sampling of learner population and overcoming some problems with the proficiency measures used. The participants, 16 elementary, 31 low-intermediate and 22 advanced Spanish EFL learners, read 85 sentences containing 60 deleted obligatory uses of "the" and 40 distractor items. There was also a control group of 15 native speakers. Our findings indicate that (i) the four nongeneric uses present different levels of difficulty for the EFL learners, (ii) learners underuse of obligatory "the" decreases significantly from elementary to low-intermediate level but this does not hold for the transition between low-intermediate and advanced levels, (iii) the participants' performance in the overuse of "the" is strongly influenced by their L1 and improved significantly with proficiency level, and (iv) the difficulty hierarchy proposed for an ESL setting is validated. (Contains 2 figures and 6 tables.)
Elsevier. 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, FL 32887-4800. Tel: 877-839-7126; Tel: 407-345-4020; Fax: 407-363-1354; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Spain