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LINGUIST List 19.91

Wed Jan 09 2008

Diss: Applied Ling/Lang Acq/Psycholing: Gyllstad: 'Testing English ...'

Editor for this issue: Luiza Newlin Lukowicz <luizalinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Henrik Gyllstad, Testing English Collocations: Developing receptive tests for use with advanced Swedish learners

Message 1: Testing English Collocations: Developing receptive tests for use with advanced Swedish learners
Date: 09-Jan-2008
From: Henrik Gyllstad <henrik.gyllstadenglund.lu.se>
Subject: Testing English Collocations: Developing receptive tests for use with advanced Swedish learners
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Institution: Lund University
Program: Centre for Languages and Literature
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007

Author: Henrik Carl Gyllstad

Dissertation Title: Testing English Collocations: Developing receptive tests for use with advanced Swedish learners

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
                            Language Acquisition

Subject Language(s): English (eng)

Dissertation Director:
Marie Källkvist
Paul Meara
Beatrice Warren

Dissertation Abstract:

The research reported in this thesis has two main aims. The first aim is to
develop tests capable of yielding reliable and valid scores of receptive
knowledge of English collocations as a single construct, for use with
advanced L2 learners of English. Collocations are seen as conventionalized,
recurring combinations of words, and the targeted types are adjective + NP
and verb + NP. The second aim is to chart the levels of receptive
collocation knowledge in advanced Swedish learners of English, and
investigate the relationship between receptive collocation knowledge,
vocabulary size, and learning level. In a series of seven empirical
studies, involving students of English in Sweden as well as native speakers
of English, the two main aims of the thesis are addressed through three
research questions. The informants in Sweden are L2 learners of English at
upper-secondary school and university level, who have had 8 and 11 years of
classroom instruction in English.

The results show that the two tests developed - called COLLEX and COLLMATCH
- yield reliable scores, and show evidence of different types of validity,
such as construct validity, concurrent validity, and face validity. Further
investigation is needed in terms of content validity, and certain lingering
problems are identified with regard to ceiling effects. It is furthermore
shown that a) scores on COLLEX and COLLMATCH increase as a function of
learning level, b) the two tests discriminate well between learners of
different proficiency levels, and between learners and native speakers of
English, and c) scores on COLLEX and COLLMATCH correlate highly with scores
on a receptive vocabulary size test. The results suggest that there is a
close relationship between advanced learners' vocabulary size and receptive
collocation knowledge. The difference in receptive collocation knowledge
between higher and lower proficiency learners is argued to stem from a
dominating conceptual processing mediation of L2 forms through L1 forms for
the lower profi- ciency learners, coupled with less exposure to the target
language. The results also suggest that 4-6 months of full-time
university-level studies are not enough for a measurable increase in
receptive collocation knowledge to emerge. There is furthermore evidence to
suggest that there is a progression in receptive collocation know- ledge
concomitant of learning level, overall language proficiency, and vocabulary
size. This arguably favours a great deal of language exposure as an
important factor for implicit acquisition of collocations, in addition to
explicit instruction. COLLEX and COLLMATCH are quick to administer, hold
appeal with test-takers, and they may be used as tests of receptive
collocation knowledge, both as proficiency tests and as research tools.

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