The question of the acquisition of the English language by L1 Russian (Russian as a first language) learners and particularly the question of the acquisition of definite and indefinite articles by L1 Russian learners of L2 English (English as a second language) has received little attention in scientific literature. And those studies that have been done in the last 30 years, have provided empirical evidence that absence of articles in the first language of L2 learners of the English language leads to problems in producing the right form of article in the appropriate context (Kharma, 1981; Master, 1997); moreover according to Benjamin White Research on ESL writing has found inaccurate article use to be one of the most frequent errors committed (Bardovi-Harlig & Bofman, 1989; Bitchener, Young, & Cameron, 2005) (White, 14). Being a Russian native speaker, I experienced much difficulties with acquiring definite and indefinite articles of the English language, for Russian language lacks articles. This fact can be a reason for errors in the usage of definite and indefinite articles of the English language by the L1Russian learners of L2 English. Although English articles are highly frequent and traditionally introduced at the early stages of English teaching, they cause many difficulties for learners and especially for those whose first language lacks articles.
In this term paper I shift my attention from learners of English L2 to Russian L1 teachers of English L2. My interest can be explained by the realization of the fact that teachers are the principal components of any pedagogical program. So, this research brings to light the question of the acquisition of definite and indefinite articles of the English language by Russian L1 teachers of English L2 and also the question of language transfer, namely, L1 (Russian)-L2 (English) transfer in acquisition of the system of English articles. As a future teacher of English as a Second Language, I am aware of the fact that it is difficult for L2 English learners to acquire a sufficient level in the usage of English articles. L1 Russian learners of L2 English may either omit articles or substitute one article for another (e.g the for a). Conclusions made would help teachers of English as a Second Language to know the future steps to be taken in assisting students in becoming proficient in L2 English and particularly in the acquisition of definite and indefinite articles.
Research question: How well have L1 Russian teachers of L2 English acquire definite and indefinite articles of the English language and what role does L1 transfer plays in the acquisition of the English Articles System.
Hypothesis of this term paper points out that L1 Russian teachers of L2 English will show a persistent variability in L2 articles production, because of their L1 background, which lacks articles. It is also hypothesized that though all of the participants of our test possess advanced level of experience in English and disregarding the fact that they teach L2 English themselves they will still make articles substitution and omission errors, which are resulted from the first language interference (L1 transfer).
Teachers’ reflectivity on their own knowledge, in our case their reflectivity on how well they acquired the system of English articles may motivate them to continue their work on learning to use articles in a second language and also may help them to produce better students’ achievement. Identifying the source of their errors in the system of English articles, teachers may adjust their teaching programs and reconsider their teaching strategies in such a way that it will be easier for L1 Russian learners to acquire definite and indefinite articles of the English language.
1.2 Previous research
Maria del Pilar Garcia Mayo and Roger Hawkins claim in the Introduction to Second Language Acquisition of articles: Empirical findings and theoretical implications that in recent years there has been growing interest in the L2 acquisition of properties of the nominal domain. And as they mention central to the nominal domain is the cross-linguistic distinction between languages that have articles (the the, a and zero article of English), and those that do not (like Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Russian) (Del Pilar Garcia Mayo and Hawkins 2009: 1). There have been a number of studies concerning article choice in L2 English. Ionin, Ko and Wexler (2004) tested, whether L2 learners are capable to acquire parameter values that are not presented in their L1 language and came to the conclusion that L2 learners who have received ESL instructions in a wide variety of institutions, in Russia, Korea, and the United States, all appear to adopt very similar strategies […] (Ionin, Ko, Wexler 2004: 55).
Goad and White (2004, 2006, 2008) suggested a prosodic approach to variability in L2 production. In their research they found out that the Chinese L2 learners overused the in [-definite, +specific] context and overused a in [+definite, -specific] contexts (Snape 2009: 48).
Maria del Pilar Garcia Mayo (2009) occupied herself with two questions. The first of them was, whether Spanish L2 learners (the advanced group and low-intermediate group) of English will use definite article the more accurately and more often than indefinite article a, what considered to be an evidence of “developmental pattern” (Del Pilar Garcia Mayo and Hawkins 2009: 3). The second question brought to light the fluctuation in the performance of speakers of languages with articles. Del Pilar Garcia mayo concluded that advanced group of participants supplied the correct target indefinite article more accurately than the low-intermediate group (Del Pilar Garcia Mayo and Hawkins 2009: 32) and also that Spanish L2 learners of English are “highly accurate in their article choice in the target language” (Del Pilar Garcia Mayo and Hawkins 2009: 32).
Danijela Trenkic (2009) argues that L1 speakers of the language that lacks articles misanalyse articles of such languages as English as “procedural adjectives” (Del Pilar Garcia Mayo & Hawkins 2009: 6) , as a result the and a are omitted by L2 English learners even in contexts where they are obligatory for a native speaker. In her research paper Trenkic also occupies herself with the question of article substitution (errors where the appears in indefinite context and a in definite context).
A number of findings about the acquisition of articles by second language speakers have been done, which also prompted this research and provided it with the scientific basis.
- Quote paper
- Viktoriia Donchuk (Author), 2015, The acquisition of definite and indefinite articles by L1 Russian learners of L2 English, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/334203