Methods of Teaching Articles in the English Language

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Teaching the English language has long been regarded as critical and a top priority on a global scale. As a result of technological advancements, learner statuses and educator profiles have shifted, and scholars have been looking for additional teaching interventions that better fit the new learner profile. In this sense, active learning methodologies to teach English as a foreign language (EFL) are now considered more effective than teacher-centered approaches (Turan & Akdag-Cimen, 2020). Previous research on English grammar articles has identified various effective teaching approaches and methodologies for the articles a, an, and the (Har, 2011). As learning and acquiring English grammar articles has historically presented difficulties for students, linguists have developed various instructional strategies and methodologies for teaching the articles (Har, 2011). These strategies are aimed at making the process of teaching and learning the pieces more productive. The English grammar articles a, an, and they are classified as determiners (Har, 2011). The English article framework is among the most frequently used features of the English language’s grammar.

The most frequently used words in the English language are the articles a and the, accounting for two top ten most frequently used terms (Har, 2011). The article’s structure is extensively utilized in all four abilities to listen, write, speak and read, whether knowingly or unknowingly. It is critical for language learning because it assists in achieving fluency and accuracy in the English language and communication techniques (Har, 2011). Therefore, some of the methodologies or approaches that instructors may use to teach articles in the English language include the Deductive process – which involves engaging students in jigsaw discussions and group work and employing cloze texts (Har, 2011). Har (2011), in Strategies for Teaching the Articles a, and suggests that jigsaw exercises and group activities enable learners to engage in more real-world interaction while also teaching them to be more accountable for their learning. This teaching method is cost-effective because it can be accomplished easily by guiding students to the grammar rules contained in teacher-prepared handouts.

Secondly, Zugic (2017), in How to Teach the Article System to ESL Students, hypothesized a six-step instructional series for teaching English articles centered on their convenience of elaboration and probability of occurrence. The following six steps were recommended: first, the quantity of nouns (singular and plural difference), for instance, Mary has a pencil, versus Mary has four pencils. Second, generic plural in sentences, e.g., all apples are red, and apples are red. The third step regards the usage of non-count nouns (A lot of verses much and many). For instance, Peter bought a lot of pens against John drank a lot of water. Fourth, regards the use of determiners (Which-NP question and first or subsequent mention), e.g., which cups are green? The cups are on the table. The other step is regarding the use of quantity and quantifiers. For instance, one of the pens on the plains is red. The last step is to use generic articles, e.g., a rat is bigger than a mouse and rats are bigger than mice.

Thirdly, Cansiz and Cansiz (2019) have argued that the traditional methodology is the most convenient way for students to learn the articles in English grammar and instructors to teach them. In contrast to teaching articles regarding concepts or theories to explain how to use the articles as structured guidelines. Additionally, (Cansiz & Cansiz, 2019) reports that the approach contained in grammar books may be deficient in terms of actual concepts and information regarding the proper usage of the articles. Lastly, Lopez (2019), in Definiteness and Specificity in Linguistically-Informed Instruction, suggests that any examination of the English article system’s linguistic properties reveals its sophistication. The complexity explains why prolonged inconsistencies are frequently cited, even among advanced L2 subscribers (Lopez, 2019). Further, Lopez (2019) enumerates some debates in the academic framework about what correctness and precision imply and how they are portrayed in languages with and without an article system.

Lopez (2019) proposes the usage of specificity and definiteness in teaching articles in English grammar. It implies that specificity is contingent upon collective knowledge seen between the listener and speaker, whereas definiteness relies upon speaker knowledge alone (Lopez, 2019). The difference between specificity and definiteness generates four scenarios. As illustrated in the following examples as highlighted by Lopez (2019), the above difference would enable learners to understand the usage and application of articles at their very best.

  • (+definite, +specific)

Peter wants to receive the winner’s prize – but he does not desire to obtain it from Joan.

  • (−specific, +definite)

Peter wishes to receive the champion’s award – until the race is complete he will have to wait.

  • (−definite, −specific)

John desires to marry a nurse – though he is yet to meet one.

  • (+specific, −definite)

John desires to date a nurse – though he does not like her.


Quantifiers, such as some and any, are words that articulate quantificational connections between combinations (Hazem, 2017). Additionally, Hazem (2017) describes a quantifier as a phrase used in the conceptual or coherent assessment to allude to a collection of items that express quantitative distinctions, such as any, some, all, and each. Additionally, quantifiers are a subclass of determiners that come before a noun phrase to provide information about its quantity. For example, in the following proverb, ‘Birds in their little nests agree ‘little’ specifies the size or amount of the nests. When a noun accompanies a quantifier, it is referred to as a determiner; otherwise, it is referred to as a pronoun (Hazem, 2017). The quantifiers, such as some and any can be used in the following manner.

Uses of the Quantifier Some

In the following sentences (a) some boys are funny, (b) some of them are funny, (c) some of the boys are funny, and (d) some of the boys who are funny are taken into consideration, then the uses of the quantifier ‘some’ can be enumerated (Yi, 2016). Analyzing the some in (a) in aspects of the collective noun existential quantifier is straightforward. Two logical gestures in plural dialects could represent the quantificational some of in (b) (Yi, 2016): the quantifier that contributes to some things and the predicate that corresponds to some of them. As a result, we can assess the quantificational some using the predicate and some in (a). Subsequently, the phrase some of the in (c) and (d) results from incorporating the quantificational some of with the plural the, which is used homonymously in (c) and (d).

Uses of the Quantifier Any

Certain quantifiers can be used with both non-countable and countable nouns (Hazem, 2017). Any is a quantifier that could be used in this instance. An example in a sentence is, that you can read any newspaper. Any as a quantifier may be used in oblique statements and to refer to a generic term (Hazem, 2017). For instance, the instructor refused any suggestions, bringing out the aspects of negativity. Additionally, in the sentence, you can choose any question you like; any is generically used.

Why Quantifiers are Confusing Arabic Speakers

English’s supremacy in contemporaneous international communication has contributed to its inclusion in the education curriculum of several countries (Alhajailan, 2020). ESL (English as a Second Language) is now a core course in all state universities and institutions in Saudi Arabia, as it is in most Arab countries (Alhajailan, 2020). However, a current empirical investigation indicates that the policy’s objectives are not met (Alhajailan, 2020). Arab learners’ English proficiency is typically low, impeding their academic performance, according to Alhajailan (2020). Alhajailan (2020) emphasizes that learners’ insufficient writing techniques increase the frequency of grammatical mistakes. Interlanguage vocabulary is well known to have evolved from cross-linguistic alteration (Albaqami, 2020). Arabic sees no difference between the various possible definitions of the modifier. Arabic, for example, fails not to distinguish between countable and non-countable nouns, whereas English does, as demonstrated in the following example. In English, it is correct to say ‘Much milk’ and wrong to say ‘Many milk,’ whereas, in Arabic, it is right to say ‘many milk’ or ‘much milk.’

Arabic fails to distinguish between nouns that are countable and those that are non-countable with quantity (Alhajailan, 2020). Instead, the Arabic language utilizes the identical modifier qāleel to convey both meanings, as in fārāwlāḥ qāleelah ‘few or little strawberries’ and ḥālyb qāleel ‘few/little milk’ (Alhajailan, 2020). The Arabic quantifier qāleel ‘little or few’ indicates that the quantity would be less than anticipated and does not have a direct English equivalent (Alhajailan, 2020). The forms little and a little denote a small number of uncountable nouns in the plural, whereas few and a few denote a small number of countable nouns in the plural. At the same time, English distinguishes between non-countable and countable nouns by using distinct modifiers, e.g., few strawberries for countable objects and little milk for non-countable things (Alhajailan, 2020).

Input Enhancement (Color Coding) in Teaching Quantifiers and Articles

The word input enhancement is attributed to Jones and Waller (2017), who recommended that certain forms of advancement may be beneficial in increasing the salience of input for students. Without this importance, he argues, students may miss aspects of the input they obtain, as much of it is likely to be analyzed for interpretation. As defined by Jones and Waller (2017), observing is the conscious recording of frequented specific situations of language. Additionally, Fakher Ajabshir (2020) describes Input Enhancing (EL) as a piece of manipulating information in such a manner that it draws students’ focus to the target sequence and makes it more conceptually vivid to them. The concept of input enhancement has sparked a profusion of studies that examined how enhanced input aids in learning the second language (L2) features through various manipulations, such as typographical enhancement and input enrichment. A few researchers have looked into the impacts of textual input enhancement, which involves underlying or bolding target terms in written input; however, the results are mixed.

The critical element to emphasize is that the acquisition of a specific linguistic trait occurs due to the learner’s attention to that trait (Kian & Gorjian, 2018). This view is consistent with the belief that language elements made more visible or amplified are more likely to be noticed. Various specialists (e.g., Kian & Gorjian, 2018) have undertaken various scientific research to support the concept that more learning occurs in this discipline when a greater emphasis is placed on the form. It could be achieved by output production or input augmentation, or a combination of the two. As has been demonstrated in recent SLA-related research, a high premium has been placed on the role of input augmentation in the consumption of linguistic properties, particularly grammatical structures.

In the study by Vu and Peters (2019), students learning the German language as a different language go through translated literature in German, with around half the test examples typographically augmented and the other half not. The instant posttest findings indicate that typographic sensitivity had a considerable impact on the student’s ability to remember the structure of formulaic patterns and single words. Clinton, Morsanyi, Alibali and Nathan (2016) examined the relationship between learners’ English manuscripts and the application of color in implicit or tacit supervisory guidelines (knowledge gained from individual perspectives and relevance).

Notably, colorful explicit input was beneficial in educating indefinite articles, despite the absence of a potential connection to the conclusive application of the grammar articles (Clinton Legerski & Rhodes, 2019). In terms of implicit feedback, learners with proper paper usage found that using color in learning grammar is advantageous. Additionally, color coding is extremely effective in explicit feedback and has a beneficial effect on learners’ education in integrated responses. In the example above, color coding enables learners to identify one of the educational hypotheses quickly.


Albaqami, R. (2020). Second language acquisition of quantifiers by Arabic speakers of English: Feature reassembly approach. Arab World English Journal. 11. 376-388. Web.

Alhajailan, D. (2020). A syntactic analysis of Arabic language interference in the written English of Saudi female college students (Doctoral dissertation, University of Roehampton).

Cansiz, M., & Cansiz, N. (2019). How do sources of self-efficacy predict preservice teachers’ beliefs related to constructivist and traditional approaches to teaching and learning? SAGE Open, 9(4). Web.

Clinton, V., Legerski, E., & Rhodes, B. (2019). Comparing student learning from and perceptions of open and commercial textbook excerpts: a randomized experiment. In Frontiers in Education (Vol. 4, p. 110). Frontiers. Web.

Clinton, V., Morsanyi, K., Alibali, M. W., & Nathan, M. J. (2016). Learning about probability from text and tables: Do color coding and labeling through an interactive‐user interface help? Applied Cognitive Psychology, 30(3), 440-453. Web.

Fakher Ajabshir, Z. (2020). The relative efficacy of input enhancement, input flooding, and output-based instructional approaches in the acquisition of L2 request modifiers. Language Teaching Research. Web.

Har, A. (2011). Strategies for teaching the articles a, an, the. Advances in Language and Literary Studies. 2. 129-139. Web.

Hazem, A. H. (2017). Using quantifiers in English university students: Problems and strategies. Al-Ustath Journal for Human and Social Sciences, 1, 79-94.

Jones, C., & Waller, D. (2017). The effect of input enhancement on vocabulary learning: Is there an impact upon receptive and productive knowledge? TESOL International Journal, 12(1), 48-62.

Kian, S., & Gorjian, B. (2018). Effects of input enhancement cues on EFL learners’ intake of English grammar: The case of connectors. Research in English Language Pedagogy, 6(1), 39-55. Web.

Lopez, E. (2019). Teaching the English article system: Definiteness and specificity in linguistically-informed instruction. Language Teaching Research, 23(2), 200-217. Web.

Turan, Z., & Akdag-Cimen, B. (2020). Flipped classroom in English language teaching: A systematic review. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 33(5-6), 590-606. Web.

Vu, D. V., & Peters, E. (2019). Learning vocabulary from reading-only, reading-while-listening, and reading with textual input enhancement: Insights from Vietnamese EFL learners. RELC Journal. Web.

Yi, B. U. (2016). Quantifiers, determiners, and plural constructions. Unity and plurality: Logic, Philosophy, and Linguistics, 121-170. Web.

Zugic, D. (2017). How to teach the article system to ESL students? Journal of Teaching English for Specific and Academic Purposes, 5(2), 179-187. Web.

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