The development of the article system in the L3 english of basque-spanish bilingual primary school children
Eizmendi Alvarez, Mauriñe
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Research about the acquisition of the English article system has established that child and adult learners show difficulties at the time of using definite and indefinite articles. Results from these studies have revealed differences between patterns by learners from [+ article] and [- article] first languages (L1s), learners whose L1s lack articles misuse and omit articles to a higher degree than those with article systems in their L1s. The present paper presents data from Basque-Spanish bilingual primary school children focusing on the development of the L3 English article system in a four year period. The aim is to verify if these students’ rates of overuse and omission follow those in previous investigations with bilingual learners. The results from a storytelling task revealed that Basque-Spanish children’s rates of ‘the’ overuse and omission of articles resemble patterns by learners with [- article] L1s. They also show that, after four years of learning, these subjects still have problems with the production of articles although improvement is noticeable. It is concluded that it is the controversial nature of the Basque definite article ‘-ɑ’ which makes the participants have unexpectedly high rates of ‘the’ misuse and omission of articles.