I'd appreciate it if you found time to answer my questions. I'm interested to find out about your experience of teaching articles to ESL learners.
How long, in your opinion, does it take to master articles? Is it possible to do it within a very short time, considering that the explanation is excellent?
Have you ever had students who mastered articles? Is it true that French/German learners, whose language system has articles, are better at masteting them compared to others?
I'd be grateful for your replies.
Hi -- I notice you are teaching in Russia, and my experience is, actually, that it is more difficult for my native Russian speakers than the Swedish speakers in the class. HOWEVER, that doesn't mean they can't learn to use articles.
For now, I am fairly satisfied when they use articles, any articles, even if it is wrong, like "the nature". It just takes practice. I think including articles when they are learning new vocabulary is important. So learn -- a chair and the chair, an apple and the apple, etc.
The rule is that English speakers are lazy, and so one should choose the article that is easiest to say. An easy article!
Thank you for the replies!
I guess the hugest problem with the articles is that we fail to arrive at the full undertaning of that article logic. Whereas the difference between 'a man'/'the man' is more or less manageable, some things such as 'in the street', 'weather/the weather' and 'nature' seem mind-boggling for learners, especially when collocations and set expressions come into play.
It's also interesting to know if you, native English teachers, appeal to students' logic as much as possible (nature but the environment) or just present them on the 'learn-this-expression'-basis.
Are native speakers themselves taught articles at school?
Verona: It's also interesting to know if you, native English teachers, appeal to students' logic as much as possible (nature but the environment) or just present them on the 'learn-this-expression'-basis.
5jj: I generally intrroduced articles fairly logically for beginners. Most learners actually had few problems. Speakers of those languages without articles, such as some Slavonic languages, kept forgetting to use them, but understood them when reminded.
When the oddities started creeping in - to school vs to the school, for example, they did not appear to present real problems, though communicative methodology and 'learn by doing' didn't always work. At some stage I would have to say something like, "You just have to accept that we view certain 'building-words' plus 'to' or 'in' more as activities than buildings. You just have to learn: school, hospital, prison, etc"
The real problems arise at more advanced levels, when even native speakers argue about what is appropriate. This is not helped by gap-fill exercises in course books that reflect the writer's opinion more than what is actually possible.
Verona: Are native speakers themselves taught articles at school?
5jj: Yes, but in a different way from that in which foreign speakers learn. [/QUOTE]
Russian students are like Slovak. The only way is to repeat examples a thousand times, like
the eagle (this eagle) is on the tree
the eagle (in general, all eagles) build their nests ...
I can see an eagle ( I see one)
An eagle builds its nest high ... (=all eagles)
And then you could use what is called the functional sentence perspective (the known - the unknown, mentioned for the first time). Basically it means what comes to the end of the sentence (utterance) is the rheme (new, the most important information), which is not always the case in English. A classical example would be
Once there was a king. The king had a horse. The horse ...