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Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Shawn Jarvis

Second Advisor

James Robinson

Third Advisor

Roland Specht-Jarvis

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

English linguistics, transfer, second language, education


The teachability of the English language's system of articles has been researched many times over. It is widely known that for English language learners whose language does not have a system of articles, or is [-article], acquiring this system can be difficult, even problematic. Likewise, it is well-documented that even learners whose language is [+article] might encounter problems of their own while acquiring this system.

My study has in part attempted to replicate Crompton's 2011 study of native speakers of Arabic and the effects of transfer from their LI while producing English's system of articles. To facilitate his research, Crompton posed four questions. The first question asked how common were errors made in production of English's system of articles were. His second question asked which type of error was the most frequent. His final question asked if transfer was responsible for these errors. His research found aspects of generic reference were especially problematic for his study's participants.

My study set out to expound upon Crompton's work, but instead of using participants who were native speakers of Arabic, my study used native speakers of Croatian and German. There were four groups in all who participated. The first two groups were comprised of native speakers of Croatian. The first group was comprised of 72 first-year university students majoring in English. The second group was comprised of 49 graduate-level students who were completing their Master's degrees in English and Linguistics.

The second and third groups I studied were comprised of native speakers of German who had been evaluated by the German Ministry of Defense's Federal Office of Languages as being intermediate and upper-intermediate level in proficiency of English as a foreign language. Twenty-eight participants in total took part in the second part of this study, with 14 in each group.

To enhance my research, this study investigated a fourth question: Were there signs of transfer recovery by the Croatian Advanced Group and by the German Upper Intermediate Group? Errors in production of English's system of errors were reported and tallied. Furthermore, my study echoed Crompton's findings of generic reference being problematic for non-native speakers of English. Finally, my study suggested there was evidence of transfer recovery the Croatian Advanced Group and the German Upper-Intermediate Group.


I would like to thank the members of my thesis committee, Dr. Shawn Jarvis, Dr. Jim Robinson, and Dr. Roland Specht-Jarvis for their insight and guidance during the writing of this thesis. In no particular order, I am very grateful for the support I received from Dr. Mateusz-Milan Stanojevic at the University of Zagreb, and Dr. Christine Hoidis-Fehler and Kai Beckert at the Federal Office of Languages in Germany by making their students available to me for my research. I would also like to thank Erica Anderson for her editing and proofreading of this thesis.