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

Choonkyong Kim

Second Advisor

Edward M. Sadrai

Third Advisor

Tim R. Fountaine

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

TESOL, Pronoun Usage, ESL, Mandarin Chinese, Negative Transference, Competence and Performance


The objective of this project was to study the use of third-person singular pronouns in Chinese English as a second language (ESL) students’ spoken and written English. Specifically, this research studied the possible interpretations of Chinese students’ inability to use correct third-person pronouns with gender features (i.e. mixing “she” and “he”) while the speaker is speaking spontaneously. This study also examined the indistinguishability between masculine and feminine pronouns in spoken Mandarin Chinese and the effect of transference between the native language (Mandarin Chinese, L1), the target language (English, L2), and the lack of communicative English learning. This study reported the error rate of third-person pronoun usage in both spoken and written English of 48 ESL (English as a second language) Chinese students in a Midwest university in the U.S. By using the Suppliance in Obligatory Contexts (SOC) strategy, quantitative research procedures, and within-subject design, this study examined and analyzed the difference in third-person pronoun usage between spoken and written English by Chinese ESL students. The research discovered that the Chinese students had more third-person pronoun usage errors in spoken English than in written English, yet more research is needed to make a stronger case. The future implications for Mandarin Chinese ESL students are that they might benefit from high L2 input exposure and sufficient time to self-monitor when speaking in an L2 environment.