The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

John Madden

Second Advisor

James Robinson

Third Advisor

Kyounghee Seo

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

English, Korean, articles, second language acquisiton


Correct use of English articles is a challenge for many English learners. English learners of various native language backgrounds make frequent mistakes when it comes to choosing appropriate articles to denote definiteness in English. Korean language falls into a language group that lacks an overt article system, which causes many Korean English learners to struggle with English articles. This study investigates the use of English articles by Korean students who are studying in an American college using English as a second language. An oral translation task of a Korean story into English, which involved voice recording, transcribing those recordings and then calculating each English article use, was employed to examine thirty-five Korean participants’ English article use. The results demonstrate a few features in Korean students’ article use:

(1) Korean learners follow the accuracy pattern of the a/an → zero article in descending order of proficiency; (2) no significant statistical evidence was found between the accuracy of article use and length of stay in English speaking counties; (3) Korean students presented comparatively more accurate article use in definite contexts than in indefinite contexts suggesting that correct article use in indefinite contexts is more problematic for them compared to definite contexts; and (4) when they make mistakes, subjects misused the more than zero article in indefinite contexts where a/an I s required, while misusing zero article more than a/an in definite contexts where the is required. Both in definite and indefinite contexts, participants used the the most and a/an the least.


I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to all the Korean students who sacrificed their time and energy to participate in my project, which was very challenging to them. Without their contribution, this research would not have been possible. I am also deeply grateful for my thesis committee members: Dr. John Madden, my thesis advisor, for his patience, systematic instructions, and insightful comments throughout this research; Dr. James Robinson for his guidance and encouragement as my academic advisor; and Dr. Kyounghee Seo for introducing me to these wonderful graduate programs at St Cloud State University and for her continuous support. Finally, I would like to thank my family in Korea for their long-distance loving support and my husband and best friend, Benjamin Lambertson, for his limitless support and encouragement throughout my graduate study.