|Title:||The Development of ESL Collocational Knowledge||Add Dissertation|
|Author:||Christina Gitsaki||Update Dissertation|
|Email:||click here to access email|
|Institution:||The University of Queensland, Applied Linguistics|
|Linguistic Subfield(s):||Applied Linguistics; Psycholinguistics;|
|Abstract:||This study examines the development of collocational knowledge in learners of ESL. A number of previous studies have underscored the importance of collocations for L2 acquisition, and the problems that learners face with learning and using collocations. However, there have been few attempts to systematically study how the development of collocational knowledge relates to the overall development of language proficiency with a particular intention in identifying possible stages in the development of L2 collocational knowledge. This study adopts a structure-based framework for the study of collocations based on previous studies (Zhang 1993; Biscup 1992) and the BBI Combinatory Dictionary of English, and attempts to describe how collocational knowledge develops across different language proficiency levels with respect to 37 collocation types. Data were collected from 275 Greek learners of ESL at three proficiency levels (post-beginners, intermediate, and post-intermediate) using three tasks: essay writing, translation test, and blank-filling. The essay writing provided evidence of accurate free production of collocations, while the translation and blank-filling tests measured accuracy in the subjectsU knowledge of collocations in cued production tasks. The data were examined with respect to the between- and within-group differences in accuracy on all three dependent measures. Statistical measures were employed to determine the significance of the observed between-group and within-group differences, and implicational scaling analyses was used to reveal accuracy orders in the acquisition of collocations. Results show that there are patterns of development of collocational knowledge across and within the different proficiency groups for both the free and the cued production data. Collocational knowledge was shown to increase steadily as the level of proficiency increased, and there were group-specific accuracy orders showing that grammatical collocations are easier to acquire than lexical collocations. The development of collocational knowledge was found to be influenced by the syntactic complexity of the collocation types, and also by exposure and maturation.
Finally, three stages for the development of collocational knowledge are proposed. In the first stage learners acquire collocations as unanalysed lexical items, and hence the learners are more accurate with lexical collocations than complex grammatical ones. At the second stage the learners' grammatical knowledge develops enabling learners to use complex grammatical collocations with greater accuracy than in stage one. At the third stage of collocational development, learners are able to use both grammatical and lexical collocations with greater accuracy than in the other two stages, and they are on their way to a more advanced level of collocational knowledge.
Pedagogical implications and directions for future research are provided in light of the research findings.