AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

An evaluation of collocation tools for second language writers

by Ulugbek Nurmukhamedov

Institution: Northern Arizona University
Year: 2015
Keywords: English as a second language
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2104746
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Collocations, two or more words that co-occur (e.g., extensive research, conduct a study), are linked with native-like lexical accuracy and fluency. Yet even advanced-level second language (L2) learners frequently have difficulty producing appropriate collocations. To help them achieve accurate and fluent collocation production, researchers believe that L2 writers should take advantage of learner friendly collocation tools. To explore whether L2 writers benefit from collocation tools, the current study examined the effect of three collocation tools (two online and one paper) on accurate production of collocations in L2 writing. The collocation tools included (a) the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (LDOCE) (online), (b) Macmillan Collocation Dictionary (MCD) (online), and (c) wordandphrase.info (WPI) (paper). L2 writers of English (N = 45) in an intensive English program (IEP) in the southwestern part of the USA were divided into three groups. Each group was provided with collocation training for a different collocation tool. After training, each group used the collocation tool to correct 16 miscollocations (8 verb + noun; 8 adjective + noun) embedded in an essay-format collocation test. After each test, the participants completed a quality review checklist. The procedure was repeated three times so that each group used each tool but in a different order; thus, the study employed a Latin Square Design. This study used quantitative data to examine the effect of these three collocation tools on L2 learners’ ability to self-correct collocations in their own writing. Qualitative data were used to further understand L2 writers’ use of and perception of the collocation tools. The results indicated that online collocation tools (LDOCE and WPI) contributed more than a book collocation dictionary (MCD) to accurate collocation production in L2 writers’ essays. L2 writers favored WPI because it was easier to navigate and it helped them locate the correct collocations. Furthermore, both online tools, namely, LDOCE and WPI, helped the participants correct more collocations than MCD. Focusing on the type of collocations, the participants made more accurate collocation corrections to adjective + noun collocations than to verb + noun collocations. The study has several implications. First, English language teachers need to introduce collocation tools to L2 writers because without such introductions, L2 writers will remain unaware of the availability of useful collocation tools. Second, L2 writers will benefit from explicit collocation introduction to and practice with strategies for using collocation tools effectively. Such training will help L2 writers improve their collocation accuracy and fluency. Third, learners should be able to differentiate verbs, adjectives, and nouns. These parts of speech are important to assist learners in producing appropriate verb + noun and adjective + noun collocations.