ELL Grammar Key 7: Articles Keys to Teaching Grammar to English Language Learners Keith S. Folse Adriana Fontella, Amanda Barahona, Débora Lafetá
Articles are words that combine with a noun to indicate the type of reference being made by the noun.Types of articles:-Definite articles: a and an-Indefinite article: the
Why are articles problematic for ELLs?Because:1) Some languages (Chinese, Japanese, Malay, Polish, Russian, Vietnamese) have no articles.2) Others languages (French, German, Spanish)have articles as English, but their usage doesnot overlap exactly.3) The use of no article can be very complicatedto understand....
Indefinite articles: a and an-are used only before singular count nounsthat are not specific and are being mentionedfor the first time.*It is a common but serious error for ELLs toomit an article of any kind before a singularcount noun.
How to use indefinite articles?1) Use a before a noun or an adjective (+noun)that begins with a consonant sound.2) Use an before a noun or adjective (+noun)that begins with a vowel sound.3) It is important to remember that wordsbeginning with the letters h or u can beproblematic and that the use of a or an dependson the sound of the word.
How to use the definite article?1) When talking about something specific;2) When the speaker and the listener aretalking about the same specific item;3) When referring for the second and allother references to the same noun;4) With the superlative form of an adjective;
How to use the definitearticle?5) With names of countries that look plural(including countries that end in –s)6) When referring to the parts of something;7) With most bodies of water except individual lakes;8) With geographic parts of the globe andgeographic areas, deserts and peninsulas.
When NOT to use articles?1) Before abstract nouns;2) To talk about a category or group.
Common ELLs errors1) Not using articles before some singularcount nouns;2) Not using a with some nouns that beginwith a vowel sound;3) Not using the with a plural count noun that refers to the whole category;4) Not using the with abstract nouns or ideas.
When planning a class on articles it is important to:1) Know how articles are used within the native language of your students;2) Predict possible questions and errors;3) Provide students with clear examples of each rule;4) Show the difference of the use of articles between their mother tongue and English;5) Practice a lot ;)
Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Russian have no articles. Some of these languages have a word for this and/or that, so students may overuse these two words.ELLs who speakthese languagesexhibit persistenterrors with articles.
French and Spanish have indefinite and definite articles. Unlike English, bothFrench and Spanish havesingular and plural forms of their indefinite and definite articles.
Arabic has a definitearticle but noindefinite article.The definite article isalso used in Arabicwhen referring to thewhole group. InArabic you must say,*My favorite kind ofmovie is the comedy.