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

Ettien Koffi

Second Advisor

Edward Sadrai

Third Advisor

Lisa Loftis

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

Definiteness, indefiniteness, specific reference, non-specific reference, anaphoric reference, omission, substitution, insertion.



English was introduced in formal education in Mozambique in the late 1990s in eighth grade. It is an important language in Mozambique because gives access to new technologies. It is also capital for social, and economic mobility. Proficiency in English is demonstrated mostly in writing. For this reason, articles misuses are taken seriously. Lack of mastery of articles can affect the learner’s academic progress in entrance exams and scores at least 50% to progress to the next level. This is the main reason why this thesis is devoted to articles usage.

A total of 64 questionnaires about article usage were administered to 34 college students and 30 high school students. A total of 7808 tokens of articles usage with both noun phrases and acronyms were collected: 1792 on the indefinite article < a >, 1536 on < an >, 3584 on the definite < the >, and 896 on instances where no article is required. Independent samples T-tests with an alpha level of p< .05 revealed significant statistical differences in articles misuses, except with the indefinite article < an >, with (t = .336, df = 62, p = .738).

Overall, high school students slightly outperformed college students. However, the differences in the level of accuracy were less than 5% in all four categories under analysis. These findings have important pedagogical implications regarding the best ways to teach articles to Mozambican students. Throughout the thesis, explanations for these errors and ways to improve students’ mastery of English are discussed.



I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the US Embassy in Mozambique for making my dreams true through their sponsorship. Special thanks go to Emily Bosio, my program advisor at IIE, Nnenna Ofobike-Lewis and Gabrielle Kasongo, the coordinators of the Fulbright Scholarship Program at the Martin Luther King Cultural Center in Mozambique, for their support and invaluable help.

My exceptional gratitude also goes to my research committee: Dr. Ettien Koffi, Dr. Edward Sadrai, and Dr. Lisa Loftis for their inspirational suggestions and comments. My genuine gratefulness is extended to Miss Rhoda Fagerland for my thesis edition and to Dr. James Robinson, my TESOL program advisor at SCSU, for his advice, support, and readiness for any of my questions.

Special thanks go to my American family friends: Lisa & Rob from Colorado, Ben & Amy, Joel & Tara, Roger & Kathy, and Edle Sanwa from Saint Cloud for their kindness and invaluable help. My sincere gratitude to all my Fulbright and TESOL program friends at SCSU. Special thanks also go to all my childhood, secondary, and college level friends with whom together we believed that education is the key to our success. They are amongst the best friends I have ever made and they will never be forgotten in my life.

Finally, I would like to express my genuine and endless gratitude to all my family members for their priceless and true support in every single challenging step that I took. I owe a special debt of gratitude to my brother David for his constant encouragement during my struggle with the TOEFL exam. Without their love and support my dreams would never become true. As Henry Ford said “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”