First Advisor

Beatrice Oshika

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages


Teaching English as a Second Language




English language -- Article -- Computer-assisted instruction for foreign speakers, English language -- Study and teaching -- Japanese speakers



Physical Description

1 online resource ( vi, 116 p.)


One aspect of the English language which has been overlooked by English-as-a-Second-Language educators is the article system, a, the, and 0. For students from articleless first languages such as Japanese, learning this complex system is a formidable challenge. Performance studies show an error rate among advanced Japanese students of approximately thirty percent. There may be several reasons for this high rate: 1) the differences between Japanese and English, 2) the unusually high degree of complexity/difficulty of the article system itself compared to other English morpheme systems and 3) inadequate treatments of the subject as revealed in this thesis' survey of forty ESL textbooks. Recent pragmatic discoveries about article function reveal subtle, contextual influences which have not been well integrated into traditional treatments. Definiteness may be dependent on sentential, discourse, and situational contexts, on whether referents are unique and manifest to the hearer, and on the nature of certain implicatures induced by the articles. Computerized, interactive tutorials are the best way to capture how these variables interact to constrain article choice. A prototype for a tutorial is submitted with this thesis. In addition to exhaustive explanations of contexts and implicatures in the form of actor's "asides," it features Japanese translations throughout, and, to show how uniqueness may be culture bound, utterances that take place within Japanese culture. Although the tutorial presented here needs enlargement, it is believed that an animated, computerized tutorial emphasizing subtle pragmatic features is more illustrative of actual article usage than have been traditional hard copy explanations.


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