Why do Hong Kong Cantonese ESL learners choose a certain English article for use?

Alice Yin Wa Chan



This article reports on a study which investigated the reasons underlying Cantonese ESL learners’ choice of an English article and the hypotheses they made in their selection. 33 Cantonese ESL learners majoring in English participated in the study, which included two cloze passages with all the articles deleted. Participants were required to provide a suitable article for each blank based on the context and give the reason behind each selection. Results showed that although English majors performed well when selecting an article for use, they did not have enough knowledge about the English article system. Certain inappropriate hypotheses were made about the effects of linguistic contexts on reference interpretation. Misconceptions about generic reference and the concept of definiteness were apparent. ESL teachers are suggested to design suitable formal and explicit teaching programmes to eradicate learners’ misconceptions about the English article system.



Second language acquisition; English article system; learning of English articles; Chinese learners; Hong Kong

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