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Issues in Applied Linguistics

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Huebner's (1983) Semantic Wheel for NP Reference and L3 Acquisition


In the literature on the acquisition of English articles based on Huebner's (1983) model, Thomas (1989) suggested that data on the use of articles in the generic context is critical in deciding whether L2 learners associate the definite article with thefeature Specific Referent, [+SRJ, or Assumed Known to the Hearer, [+HK], as suggested by earlier studies (Huebner, 1983; Master, 1987; Thomas, 1989). This paper discusses the results ofa cross- sectional study, undertaken in 1996, which examined the phenomenon of referentiality in the acquisition of English as a foreign language by francophone English major college students in Burkina Faso. The researchfocused on the acquisition ofthe article system. The study involved 177 undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Ouagadougou with at least 7 years of English instruction. A cloze test of 107 items was used to collect the data. Demographic information was also collected using a 16-item questionnaire. The result does not give support to Thomas ' (1989) view that L2 learners associate the definite article with [+HK] context since the L3 leaners in this study associate the zero article with [+HK] feature.

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