Collocations To Achieve Near Native Language Proficiency English Language Essay

It is widely acknowledged that collocations play an of import function in 2nd linguistic communication acquisition, peculiarly at the intermediate and advanced degrees. Collocations enhance betterment of scholars ‘ unwritten communicating, listening comprehension, and reading velocity, and that learning collocations enables scholars to be cognizant of linguistic communication balls used by native talkers in address and authorship. This survey investigated scholars ‘ usage of collocations by analysing the production informations with multiple pick trials and composing undertaking. Thirty Persian graduate student pupils participated in this survey to find the collocational mistakes they made and to place the footing for their troubles with collocations. The consequence shows that scholars have troubles with both lexical and grammatical collocations in their authorship. In add-on, the consequences show that the usage of collocations, sing both their figure and their acceptableness, is related to proficiency and there is a strong relationship between cognition of collocations and overall proficiency. There are two of import points. 1. If collocations are non taught, a big set of points are ignored which express complex thoughts merely and exactly. 2. The fewer collocations pupils are able to utilize, the more they have to utilize longer looks with more grammar to pass on something which a native talker would show with a precise lexical phrase and correspondingly small grammar.


This paper investigates the relationship between Persian EFL pupils ‘ cognition of collocations and their general proficiency in English. In add-on this paper intends to find the collocational mistakes they made and to place the footing for their troubles with collocations. Collocations are two or more words which have a strong inclination to co-occur in a linguistic communication and prefabricated combination of two or more words in a peculiar context. They are one of the challenges that adult 2nd linguistic communication scholars have to cover with in their journey of English linguistic communication larning. They frequently come across quite a big figure of troubles in all linguistic communication accomplishments. These troubles vary in their strength and nature depending on a assortment of variables such as pupils ‘ native linguistic communication ( L1 ) background, age, and personality.

Native talkers of a linguistic communication have at their disposal 1000s of words. Using their cognition of grammar, they are, in theory, capable of utilizing the words to bring forth and understand an limitless figure of sentences that they have ne’er said or heard before. In pattern, nevertheless, they do non bring forth every sentence from abrasion. They tend to utilize a great figure of ready-made balls of words and set them together in assorted ways harmonizing to their communicative demands. Wordss become trussed, so to talk, to each other due to repeated usage in the same balls by members of the linguistic communication community. Sometimes, though, a individual usage of a group of words together may be adequate to associate the words in one ball in the memory of talkers of a linguistic communication because of the dramatic consequence of such a usage or the prestigiousness of the user.

When words are therefore combined in a ball, they have the power to foretell each other ‘s happening. On the other manus, due to the fact that English words are non linked in ready-made balls in the non-native talkers ‘ memory ; inappropriate word combinations are frequently produced by most non-native talkers.

The bulk of Persian EFL scholars to some extent have cognition of English grammar and vocabulary ; nevertheless, they seem to hold serious jobs with the usage of collocations. For case ; “ make a error ” is an acceptable collocation in the English linguistic communication. Persian scholars utilizing the Iranian linguistic communication say “ Eshtebah Kardan ” which literally means “ make a error ” and when it comes to English they think in their first linguistic communication and alternatively of “ do a error ” they write “ do a error. ” In other words, Persians say “ Do a error ” while English talkers say “ Make a error ” .

Producing collocations in composing airss peculiar troubles. To heighten EFL scholars ‘ composing competency, English instructors have been doing important attempts, passing a great trade of clip giving themselves to rectifying pupils ‘ authorship and trying to place the hard countries in pupils ‘ English composings. Despite this attempt, the same mistakes continue to happen. In fact, as Bahn and Eldaw ( 1993 ) province, it is normally the instance that the bulk of EFL scholars have different jobs in their unwritten and written production. Harmonizing to Hill, “ Students with good thoughts frequently lose Markss because they do n’t cognize the four or five most of import collocations of a cardinal word that is cardinal to what they are composing about ” ( Hill, 2000 ) . As a consequence, longer, wordier ways of specifying or discoursing the issue increase the opportunity of farther mistakes. These jobs are due to inadequate cognition about the “ companies that words maintain. ” Lexical and grammatical phrases are both legion and functionally of import in written texts. Despite this, L2 scholars frequently find their usage problematic, typically overdriving a limited figure of well-known phrases, while at the same clip missing a diverse plenty phrasal repertory to use lexical phrases in a native-like mode. Hill ( in Lewis, 2001 ) commented that “ within the mental vocabulary, collocation is the most powerful force in the creative activity and comprehension of all of course happening text ” ( p.49 ) . Furthermore, collocation cognition helps scholars to make more native-like sentences ( Nation, 2001 ) . In other words, to develop their authorship ability, pupils need to utilize collocation in their authorship.

Categorization of collocations in this survey

Based on Benson, Benson, and Ilson ( 1986 ) , collocations fall into two classs: Grammatical collocations and Lexical collocations. Following Benson, Benson, and Ilson ( 1986 ) , a grammatical collocation by and large consists of a dominant unfastened category word ( noun, adjectival or verb ) and a preposition or peculiar structural form such as an infinitive or a clause. The major types of collocations are: Noun + Preposition/ to infinitive/ that clause ( entree to, understanding thataˆ¦ ) , Preposition + Noun ( in progress, to person ‘s advantage ) , Adjective + Preposition/ to infinitive/ that clause ( cognizant of, necessary to, afraid thataˆ¦ ) , a verb uniting in different ways with a preposition, an infinitive with to, an infinitive without to, a verb signifier stoping in -ing, that clause ( Adjust to, get down to, maintain making, believe thataˆ¦ ) .

A lexical collocation, on the other manus, usually does non incorporate infinitive or clauses. It typically consists of unfastened category words ( Noun, Adjective, verb or adverb ) . Harmonizing to syntactic features Lewis ( 2001, p. 51 ) categorizes lexical collocations into six major types: Adjective + Noun ( strong tea, major job, cardinal issue ) , Noun + Noun ( a pocket reckoner, sense of pride ) , Verb + Noun ( make an feeling, set an dismay ) , Verb + Adverb ( spell accurately, unrecorded perilously, smiled proudly ) , Adverb + Adjective ( purely accurate, wholly soaked, merrily married ) , and Noun + Verb ( companies merged, pose a job ) .

The importance of collocations

1 Enhancing linguistic communication competency

The importance and value of collocations for the development of L2 vocabulary and communicative competency has been emphasized by a figure of research workers ( Benson, 1985 ; Brown, 1974 ; Channel, 1981 ; Cowie, 1981 ( Robins 1967 ) ; Lewis, 1997 ) . In an early survey, Brown ( 1974 ) underscores that collocations enhance betterment of scholars ‘ unwritten communicating, listening comprehension, and reading velocity, and that learning collocations enables scholars to be cognizant of linguistic communication balls used by native talkers in address and authorship.

Channel ( 1981 ) supports Brown ‘s statement and affirms that rising scholars ‘ consciousness of collocations is a really efficient manner of increasing their communicative power. Nattinger ( 1980 ) asserts that linguistic communication production includes “ patching together the ready-made units appropriate for peculiar state of affairss and that comprehension relies on cognizing which of these forms to foretell in these state of affairss ” ( p. 341 ) . Cowie ( 1988 ) further claims that institutionalised units ( lexical phrases and collocations ) serve communicative demands and enables persons to recycle and make the units. He indicates that stableness and creativeness of institutionalised units are complementary and synergistic factors in vocabulary usage and suggests vocabulary instruction should maintain a balance between lexical phrase and collocations.

In subsequent research, Aghbar ( 1990 ) in his survey emphasizes the importance of collocations and indicates that the ground EFL scholars have hapless public presentation in the trial of short formulaic looks is non merely a deficiency of vocabulary but deficient acquisition of linguistic communication balls. He argues that the cognition of formulaic linguistic communication consisting of parlances, Proverbss, expressions, collocations, short set looks, and long fit looks is a critical component of linguistic communication capableness and is used to separate native talkers from non-native talkers.

Nattinger and DeCarrico ( 1992 ) , in their book Lexical Phrase and Language Teaching besides regard formulaic units or lexical phrases, including collocations, as the really centre of linguistic communication acquisition, and they provide some applications of lexical phrases for linguistic communication instruction, including learning spoken discourse, listening comprehension, reading, and composing.

In recent old ages, more research workers and linguistic communication instructors have advocated the significance of collocations in linguistic communication development and instruction. Collocations are regarded as an of import portion of L2 lexical development ( Ellis, 1996 ) . Leffa ( 1998 ) points out, in his research, that collocation is superior to utilizing encyclopaedic cognition to work out lexical ambiguities. Furthermore, the book Teaching Collocation: Further Development in the Lexical Approach, ( Conzett, 2000 ; Hill, 2000 ; Lewis, 2001, Woolard, 2000 ) presents the value of collocations and provides practical and utile ways of learning them. As Ellis ( 2001 ) argues, collocational cognition is the kernel of linguistic communication cognition.

2 Toward Native-like eloquence

Linguists and linguistic communication instructors concur with the necessity of holding consciousness of the importance of collocations in linguistic communication acquisition and ability of automatized usage of multi-word lexical balls used by native talkers of a linguistic communication ( Nattinger & A ; DeCarrico, 1992 ; Paweley & A ; Syder, 1983 ; Skehan, 1996 ) . Native-like choice, as stated by Pawley and Syder ( 1983 ) , is that talkers or authors have the capableness to take and separate appropriate vocabulary and looks for different societal state of affairss.

Nattinger ( 1988 ) indicates that it is comparatively easy to hive away and memorise a new word in a web of associations, and that linguistic communication chunks aid scholars to hive away information. Collocations, particularly, which are utile in heightening comprehension for the association of words, help the scholars in perpetrating words to memory and besides permit people to foretell what sorts of words may be found together. Collocations are besides utile for learning linguistic communication production because scholars will detect certain lexical limitations by larning collocations. For illustration, if scholars are familiar with collocations such as a convenient state of affairs and a convenient clip but non a convenient individual, they will subconsciously recognize that the adjectival convenient is merely used with inanimate nouns. Learners will non hold to retrace the linguistic communication every clip they want to state something but alternatively can utilize these collocations as “ pre-packaged edifice blocks ” , and finally, collocations will switch scholars ‘ concentration from single words to the larger construction of the discourse.

Howarth ( 1996 ) claims that native talkers have a big and important phraseological constituent in their lingual competency and the job that linguistic communication scholars encounter is how to accomplish the naturalness of native-speaker usage that derives from the proper choice of conventional wording. Therefore, collocations play an of import function in L2 linguistic communication acquisition and will assist L2 scholars ‘ linguistic communication to go more native-like. In recent research, Nation ( 2001 ) claims that collocational sequences are all important in developing eloquence and “ all fluent and appropriate linguistic communication requires collocational cognition ” ( p. 318 ) .

Collocations are hence important and alone, and so non merely better scholars ‘ linguistic communication competency ( both perceptual experience and production ) but besides help scholars approach native eloquence.

Literature Review

Robins ( 1967 ) , claims that surveies on collocations started about 2,300 old ages ago in Greece. The Grecian Stoics related collocations to semantics and used the construct of collocation to analyze the intending relationships between words. Harmonizing to these ancient bookmans, words “ do non be in isolation, and they may differ harmonizing to the collocation in which they are used ” ( Robins, 1967, p.21 ) . The British linguist J. R. Firth, whose name is closely associated with collocational surveies in modern times, is in the tradition of the Grecian Stoics. Many of his statements about collocations are evocative of the ancient Grecian bookmans ; for illustration “ words are reciprocally anticipant and reciprocally prehended ” ( Firth, 1957, p.12 ) or “ you shall cognize a word by the company it keeps ” ( p. 11 ) . Harmonizing to Mitchell ( 1971 ) , H. E. Palmer ‘s monograph on collocations may hold influenced Firth in the choice of the term collocation ; nevertheless, it is widely accepted that Firth is the first linguist in modern times who explicitly introduced the impression of collocation into a theory of significance.

Second linguistic communication instructors have looked at collocation as both an chance and a job after Palmer ‘s work in 1930s ( Palmer 1933 ) . Some factors have helped collocation in peculiar and ‘formulaic linguistic communication ‘ in general to come into focal point for scholars of linguistic communication in recent old ages: The extension of computerized texts and plants of Sinclair ( 1987 ) showed the rapid spreading of the usage of collocations. To Pawley and Syder ( 1983 ) multi-word ‘lexicalized ‘ phrases have the cardinal function in bring forthing fluent and idiomatic linguistic communication ; frequent and uneven balls are at the bosom of those usage-based theoretical accounts in both linguistic communication description and first linguistic communication acquisition ( Tomasello 2003 ) . Smith ( 2005 ) declares it is of import to include collocation in the course of study for several grounds. The first ground is the widespread trouble faced by non-native talkers in choosing the accurate combination of words. Even in instances where the scholar knows the single words, collocations are still likely to be debatable. The 2nd ground, as Lewis ( 1993 ) provinces, is the demand for scholars to acquire beyond the ‘intermediate tableland ‘ . These pupils can get by in most state of affairss, but they tend to ‘avoid ‘ or ‘talk around ‘ the more ambitious undertakings of advanced linguistic communication acquisition. Collocation direction is particularly actuating for upper degree pupils ( Williams, 2002 ) . The 3rd ground is that holding a cognition of often happening collocates deepens vocabulary cognition and increased eloquence and AIDSs emphasis and purpose ( Williams, 2002 ) . A concluding ground is that collocation mistakes are more dissentious to the communicating procedure than most grammatical mistakes. The consequence is unnatural sounding looks or odd or out of day of the month phrasing.

While the demand for research on collocations has long been identified, merely late have academic probes been conducted, A little figure of recent surveies on collocations show the first efforts to mensurate collocational competency. In one of the surveies Aghbar ( 1990 ) examined 97 ESL pupils and 44 American pupils by utilizing a blank-filling trial which included 50 verb-noun collocations. The consequences showed that ESL pupils did good where ‘get ‘ was the desirable word.

In another survey, Aghbar and Tang ( 1991 ) gave 205 ESL pupils a cloze trial, which contained 30 verb-noun collocations and the found that collocations including ‘take ‘ , and ‘find ‘ are early-acquired verbs and are comparatively easy for low proficiency pupils.

In another survey which is a instance survey, Neves Seesink ( 2007 ) investigated intermediate pupils with Arabic, Chinese, Japans, and Korean background to see if teaching vocabulary and collocations in peculiar improves the authorship of the pupils or non. She used an on-line plan to learn pupils collocations. At the terminal she concluded that attending to collocations had a positive impact on the pupils ‘ consequences. But she did n’t clear up that what type of collocations she used. In her survey she did n’t demo what types of collocations are hard for the scholars. Since it is non possible to learn pupils all types of collocations due to the immense figure of collocations, it is clear that those collocations which are more debatable to pupils should be recognized and taught foremost.

The literature reappraisal shows that collocations so deserve the attending of linguists and linguistic communication pedagogues. Experimental studied have been conducted to mensurate linguistic communication scholars ‘ cognition of collocations, to observe the development of collocational cognition at different degrees, and to happen the common collocational mistakes that linguistic communication scholars make. Several surveies focus on the development and relationship between collocations and linguistic communication production, particularly composing. Language pedagogues besides discuss the importance and methods of learning collocations.



The participants in this survey are 15 Persian, male and female, postgraduate pupils at UKM University. Their age varies from twenty four to thirty five. Their degree of English is intermediate and above as it is mandatory for pupils to hold a minimal IELTS 5.5 to be able to register at the university. English linguistic communication is their foreign linguistic communication. Students those who do non hold IELTS are required to take a placement trial and they are required to hit at least 80 % . The university has an intensive English class plan to suit those who score less than 80 % in the placement trial. Students remain in this plan until they satisfy the university ‘s admittance demand.


Writing trial

Students were asked to compose about the undermentioned subject: 1. Write about unforgettable experience you have had. 2. How did you pass your last Norouz vacation ( Persian New Year vacation ) ? In order to do it easier for pupils a figure of facets are considered in the choice of these rubrics. First, composing about an unforgettable experience is a personal affair and that is assumed to be stimulating and challenging. Second, the subject related to friends, household, and civilization are familiar plenty to compose about easy for the pupils. The holistic step of composing proficiency was used to tag the documents. The evaluation graduated table for composing trial was 1-6. Two adept raters, who are physicians in Linguistics and Education experienced in authorship, marked the documents. One of the raters is a indigen of English linguistic communication.

Collocation trial

A multiple-choice trial of collocation including 50 points selected from the Oxford Collocation Dictionary. This trial, which was made up of both lexical and grammatical collocation, was divided into 4 parts. Each portion offered the undermentioned types of collocations:

1. noun+verb

2. verb+noun

3. adjective+noun

4. noun+preposition

Data analysis process

There would be a coding process after informations aggregation. All the stuffs will be placed into booklets with an placing figure on each. To guarantee participants ‘ namelessness, placing Numberss will be used alternatively of names.

Procedure for hiting the information from the trial

The lexical collocations trial will dwell of 50 sentences or points in multiple picks format. The tonss on the collocational trial will demo the participants ‘ cognition of collocations. The maximal mark for replying 50 inquiries right will be 50 points. The research worker will hit the trial with the aid the BBI Dictionary, Mr. Stockdale ‘s Dictionary of collocations ( 2000 ) , and Oxford Dictionary of Collocations ( 2009 ) .

Statistical processs

The topics ‘ tonss on the Collocations trial, their tonss on the authorship proficiency, and the frequence of Collocations analyzed to demo the correlativity between the linguistic communication proficiency and cognition of collocation. As a quantitative research for analysing the information, Sciences Statistical Package for the Social ( spss 19 ) version 19 was used for the computer science subdivisions.

Consequences and Discussion

The statistical steps performed clearly indicate that the relationship between pupils ‘ cognition of collocations and their linguistic communication proficiency exists.

Table 1. Correlation coefficient between proficiency and collocations

Pearson correlativity




Pearson Correlation



Sig. ( 2-tailed )






Pearson Correlation



Sig. ( 2-tailed )





** . Correlation is important at the 0.01 degree ( 2-tailed ) .

Spearman correlativity



Spearman ‘s rho


Correlation Coefficient



Sig. ( 2-tailed )







Correlation Coefficient



Sig. ( 2-tailed )






** . Correlation is important at the 0.01 degree ( 2-tailed ) .

The consequences of the survey, presented in Table 1 above, indicate that: There is a important positive correlativity between proficiency and cognition of collocation.

Table 2: Frequency of usage






















Std. Deviation















Table 2 shows that some types of collocations have wider differences in grade of trouble. To be precise, there is a statistically important difference between the public presentation of the topics on adjective+noun collocations and other types of collocations. The mean for adjective+noun collocations is 6.5, whereas the mean for the others is at least 7. It besides illustrates that adjective+noun collocations and noun+verb collocations are the most hard 1s for the pupils while on the other manus verb+noun collocations are the easiest class for the topics.


With the deficiency of consciousness of collocations and without cognition of collocations, as Pawly & A ; Syder ( 1983 ) reference, which has been subsequently supported by Lewis ( 2004 ) , it is hard to see ESL/EFL scholars ‘ English as ordinary, natural or fluent. Their looks can be judged to be unnatural, uneven, and foreign even though they are grammatically right. However, During 2nd linguistic communication acquisition, peculiarly classroom 2nd linguistic communication acquisition, two practical restraints non present in L1 acquisition determine that L2 and L1 lexical development processes differ significantly. The first restraint is the poorness of input in footings of both measure and quality. Classroom L2 scholars frequently lack sufficient, extremely contextualized input in the mark linguistic communication. This frequently makes it highly hard, if non impossible, for an L2 scholar to pull out and make semantic, syntactic, and morphological specifications about a word and incorporate such information into the lexical entry of that word. EFL learners normally focus on the single words and ignore other of import information, viz. , what these single words co-occurred with. They learn collocations as separate words instead than in balls. As a consequence, when they want to bring forth collocation, they refer to their first linguistic communication to happen a suited word for bring forthing collocation in mark linguistic communication. When it happens the effects are under the influence of L1 on L2. This phenomenon is referred to by linguists as transportation. Transfer can be positive or negative. Positive transportation occurs when the forms of L1 and L2 are the same. Negative transportation occurs when the forms of pupils ‘ L1 and L2 are different, in which instance jobs may originate.

Positive transportation

It was clear that in reacting to certain trial points, participants were aided by positive

transportation from Persian. That is, some collocations had equivalents in Persian, and therefore were easy for pupils to react to. The undermentioned points are among the positively-transferred points listed by their figure in the Trial of Collocations:

album comes out

ball turn overing

make housekeeping

33. clean tape

36. aureate chances

penchant to

success in

Predictably, the collocations in the list above, can be classified as high-frequency collocations, which were answered by the largest figure of pupils. Learners ‘ trust on their first linguistic communication ( L1 ) in larning English was examined by assorted SLA research workers. Such a scheme was found to be used by L2 scholars in the usage of collocations as good. Biskup ( 1992 ) , Bahns and Eldaw ( 1993 ) , and Gitsaki ( 1999 ) found that, in ESL, collocations that had equivalents in pupils ‘ L1 were easier, and therefore were more likely to be elicited than the 1s holding no equivalents in pupils ‘ L1. For this ground, Bahns and Eldaw ( 1993 ) and Biskup ( 1992 ) suggested that, since the figure of collocations is excessively big to cover, the deliberate instruction of collocations should be limited to collocations that have no equivalent in pupils ‘ first linguistic communication.

Negative Transportation

Like positive transportation, negative transfer/ intervention, is a common phenomenon among L2 scholar. The consequences indicated that pupils had jobs with collocations that had no equivalents in Persian. As a consequence, when pupils did non cognize a certain collocation, they negatively transferred collocations from their L1. The collocation incrimination falls on, for case, was one of the debatable collocations. In add-on to the fact that such a collocation does non hold a Iranian equivalent and therefore present a trouble to pupils. As such, the trouble pupils had with incrimination falls on may be explained by either the nature of the collocation or negative transportation factors.

Another beginning of trouble can be the cultural factor. Both civilization and vocabulary are really closely related facets in any linguistic communication. Culture is expressed through linguistic communication, and no look of linguistic communication can happen without words. It is through words that the civilization of a linguistic communication is transmitted from coevals to coevals. Therefore, larning vocabulary is besides learning civilization. In pattern, most foreign linguistic communication lessons dedicate extended intervention to grammar and pronunciation, while vocabulary and the civilization intrinsic to the linguistic communication are frequently neglected.


This survey investigated the relationship between Persian EFL pupils ‘ cognition of collocations and their general proficiency in English. In add-on this paper intended to find the collocational mistakes they made and to place the footing for their troubles with collocations. The consequences of Pearson correlativities showed that there was a strong correlativity between pupils ‘ cognition of collocations and their general proficiency, as measured by the Writing Test. This survey illustrated that adjective+noun collocations and noun+verb collocations were the most hard 1s for the pupils while on the other manus verb+noun collocations were the easiest class for the topics. When there was a convergence between the English collocations and Iranian equivalents, the pupils tended to supply the right collocation.

Conversely, when there was a divergency between the collocations in the two linguistic communications, pupils found the trial points hard.

In amount, while Persian EFL pupils ‘ cognition of collocations develops alongside their general linguistic communication proficiency, they would still profit from a course of study that includes a assortment of collocations, and one that emphasizes collocations that are linguistically and culturally distinguishable from those in Persian.

Based on the findings of this survey it is recommended that:

1. In visible radiation of the trouble of the production in collocations, scholars are in demand of more pattern bring forthing collocations. Besides, they should have as much collocation input as possible.

2. Non-congruent collocations should have more attending in linguistic communication instruction without pretermiting congruous collocations as some research workers suggested ( Bahns, 1993 ) .

3. In learning collocations, more attending should be given to learning adjective-noun collocations, which the consequences showed to be more hard, if non a challenge, to the participants, where the focal point should be on the adjective that causes the greatest troubles.

Collocations are peculiarly of import in composing in specialised Fieldss. Acquisition of the specialised collocations will assist the scholar to pass on in a professionally acceptable mode. Besides, when clip is limited to explicate a message and acquire it across in authorship, authors would experience a more urgent demand to utilize prefabricated looks to salvage processing clip and energy. Training the pupils to utilize collocations efficaciously and suitably in composing can lend to efficient communicating. Particularly with big ESL/EFL scholars, who are peculiarly self-aware about their limited structural and lexical cognition, the

instruction of collocations can hold extra advantages. This is because collocations can take down their affectional filter by supplying them with ready-made structural frames and prepackaged edifice blocks so that their concern about construction and deficiency of words can be reduced.


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